Sunday, 15 April 2012

Recommend a book for me

I am a person who reads in the morning while having my morning coffee, at lunch while eating my soup, in the afternoon while grading student homework, in the evening with a hockey game on TV (my husband's choice) in the background, at night when all the world around has fallen asleep... I'd also read at the lessons but I know it is impossible, unfortunately.

I am an omnivore. I read everything. But I have my preferences.

The books you see in the picture have been taken from the shelf randomly, not because they are my favourites, although I loved these too.

I read travel books and crime stories, I read memoirs and biographies, I read psychological thrillers and children's books, I read drama, romance and love stories, I read action and adventure books, I read cookbooks and gardening books, and of course I read books on methodology and didactics.

For me, a good book should open up a new world (like Elif Shafak's The Bastard of Istanbul), make me fall about laughing (like Bill Bryson's Neither Here Nor There), shock me (like Kate Long's The Daughter Game), surprise me (like Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife), shake me (like Anita Shreve's Testimony), entertain me (like Jo Nesbo Nemesis),  terrify me (like James Rollins' Amazonia) and soothe me (like Maeve Binchy's Evening Class).

I'd like you to suggest a book for me which I could read next. I have been given great recommendations before (like Elif Shafak's book suggested by someone on Twitter - I am hugely grateful for it), and this is the time when I ask you, my readers. I am curious and I am impatient to make new discoveries in my world of written word.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

EFL In The Information Age

Guest post by Sofia Rasmussen.
Sofia is a graduate student in journalism who writes for blogs and newspapers around the world in her free time. Her primary interests are science and education. When she's not reading or writing, Sofia enjoys traveling, hiking, and cycling.

Classrooms around the world are becoming much more accepting of different types of technologies as the educational potential of different systems improves daily. As educators in English as a Foreign Language, or EFL, classes are discovering how technology can be used to disseminate information more quickly, expedite the process of gaining fluency, and even improve a student’s desire to study independently.

Industry organizations for EFL and related disciplines are working hard to spread the word about technology use and increase access to those tools. The global education association
TESOL, or Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, reports that there will be at least five EFL, TESOL or ESL conferences during 2012 that focus mainly on the use of technology in EFL classrooms. Accreditation programs around the world, including traditional master's and online doctoral programs in ESL/EFL, are re-molding their curricula in order to ensure that new teachers are teaching students how to harness the power of chat programs like Skype and online vocabulary flashcard sites.

Workshops & Seminars

Some organizations use communicative technologies, such as the Internet, to increase access to workshops, seminars and other educational opportunities regarding EFL. For instance, TEFL Tech, a Britain-based company, develops workshops for EFL educators that inform teachers about new technology advances in EFL and ESL teaching. TEFL Tech also offers consultancy services to educators who are interested in purchasing computers, software or other technical equipment for EFL classes.


Teachers of English as a foreign language also benefit from the use of ebooks in the classroom. An article published by Language Magazine reports that EFL students introduced to a wide selection of ebook material are more likely to engage in independent reading, reinforcing the lessons learned in the classroom. Rich text applications that feature illustrations and additional content about authors can also encourage independent reading among EFL students with access to ebooks. eBook content currently available on the market runs the gamut from classic literature to basic instructional communication. The variety of content and the ease of downloading new materials make ebooks a valuable addition to the EFL curriculum.


Hardware devices are becoming smaller, encouraging hand-held use as well as the ability to keep technology with the student instead of tying the student to a computer station. The use of handheld tablets and technological devices among students is becoming more acceptable in educational settings. An April 2012 story published by
The Greenville News talks about the use of smart tablets and related devices by elementary school students near Greenville, S.C., for English language instruction and other subjects.

The use of educational technologies like tablets and other smart devices can be enhanced through learning management systems, also known as LMS. An LMS can be used to store lesson plans and group activities online for access by students while away from the classroom. EFL classrooms utilizing an LMS can store English educational videos and other types of English language learning content for students.


Writing in the English language helps to cement the lessons learned in class by English as a foreign language students. Many blogging services offer free blogs that EFL students can publish their work to. This also allows for teacher feedback as EFL educators can read these blogs and offer constructive criticism on the student’s use of the English language.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Using pictures in language classes

Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, a phrase attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte although other sources say it has originated in ancient China. Be as it may, teachers use pictures in the classroom very often and with good reason. 

Pictures stimulate thinking, encourage creativity, boost learners' confidence, appeal to visual students.

Take for instance pictures of babies. The internet abounds in them, and you can find numerous images having their own story behind. Here I made a collage of extremely eloquent baby pictures. These images may be used for speaking about human emotions. Students would find it easier to identify themselves with a baby rather than an adult, recognizing familiar emotions easily.
Students can write a caption for each picture or they can simply name emotions/ feelings displayed by a baby in each picture.

Another win-win object in pictures perfect for speaking practice is an animal. As popular as the pictures of babies, and possibly even more favoured, are images of different animals caught in various situations. Animal "faces" are no less expressive than human faces. 

Students can devise a story based on the moment caught in the picture, or they can combine several pictures to use in one story. They can write an allegory where animals represent humans. Again, the pictures are fantastic for describing emotions, feelings, attitude.

 More resources:

Excellent ideas and tips on The eltpics ideas site for teachers Take a photo and... 
Picture This: 5 Unique Ways to Practice Grammar Using Pictures 
Picture Projects for Visual Learners
On Twitter follow the hashtag #eltpics.