Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Are you making these mistakes in class?

Found pic @The Blaze Blog
Another gripping article by Claudia Pesce for "No ESL teacher is perfect, no matter if you’ve been teaching for 20 minutes or 20 years... Anyone can make mistakes, most of which are results of our trying too hard or being too impatient. 
You complete their sentences for them. Your student says, 'Playing soccer is…' And you jump in and say, 'fun?' Talk about eager beavers!... Sometimes the teacher is the eager beaver in class and doesn’t give students enough time to come up with the right word or answer. Students need time. If you jump the gun and complete the answer for them, you’re taking away their opportunity to prove to you just how much they’ve learned. Also, consider that it could actually annoy the student. What if, in the situation above, the word the student was actually looking for is 'boring'? Completing students’ sentences is like cutting someone else’s food. You do it when they’re little, but at some point they have to start doing it for themselves. You ask them if they understand. Imagine I am looking straight into your eyes, and I ask you 'Do you understand?' Most students will feel compelled to squeak out a tentative 'yes…' Who would actually face the teacher and say 'no'? Who wants the rest of class to think that they are not the brightest bulb in the box? Don’t put your students in this position. There are ways to check for comprehension without having to put students on the spot. Try asking them questions, instead, to make sure they’ve understood. You echo their answers. A student says, 'I work at Google.' You say, 'You work at Google. Great! You work at Google.' First of all, there is absolutely no learning value in parroting your students. Second, if you do it immediately after they speak, you may be interrupting their train of thought and may even cut them off from whatever else they were going to say. What if your student was about to tell you what he did at Google? After a student speaks, give him or her time to add something else. If you feel compelled to say something, simply reply with a 'How interesting!' And pause to give them time to add a new piece of information. You don’t check to see if they’ve understood your instructions. So, you rattle off a set of instructions in rapid-fire succession and say, 'OK, let’s get started!' This is usually when students start whispering to each other things like, 'What did she say?' or 'What do we do now?' Always check to see if they’ve gotten your instructions straight. Ask the class, 'OK class so what do we do first? And then? Good! You may begin.' If it’s an exercise they must complete, it’s a great idea to do the first question with them as an example.'

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

European Day of Languages

Image credits:
N-Media-Images, license:
The European Day of Languages is celebrated on September 26, 2012. It is a day to alert the public to the importance of language learning to increase pluralism and intercultural understanding. Furthermore it shall provide the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe and encourage lifelong language learning. The day is celebrated annually. The European Day of Languages was proclaimed by the Council of Europe on December 6, 2001. On this day a range of events are organized across Europe. Among this are happenings for children, television and radio programs, as well as language classes and conferences. There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe – roughly 3% of the world's total. Since the end of the 18th century, the most widespread language of Europe (both in terms of geography and the number of native speakers) has been Russian, which replaced French.
In, EDL (shortened)

This week the Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help children appreciate the excitement of learning a foreign language. Eighty-one per cent of adults regret not having learned another language and while of course it's never too late, children do have the advantage in language learning. The European Day of Languages is a wonderful opportunity to inspire young people and get them excited about learning languages and there are some excellent resources on the Guardian Teacher Network to help. From language speed dating to running a mini-Eurovision song contest, the European Commission education team have some useful ideas on how you can mark the European Day of Languages and have created a set of inspiring resources to celebrate European languages on 26 September and beyond. Read the full article so as to access the list of resources provided.
In, The Guardian (shortened)

As a 10th form teacher, I will present this topic to my students only in the second term, as it is by that time that I'll be lecturing the unit 'A world of many languages.' It will be a great opportunity to test some of the resources suggested above. What about you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TTT - Teaching Talking Time

"Oscar Wilde once said, 'Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes'. This holds true for everyone starting out in a new career, and ESL teachers are no exception. But one thing is accepting we’ll make mistakes as we go and chalk it up to a lack of experience, and another is completely ignoring the worst kind of mistakes you could make. Since anyone can learn from their mistakes, then we can certainly learn from the five worst mistakes beginner ESL teachers make. 

In an ESL class, what is the most common reason students are enrolled? They want to SPEAK English! And what happens when the teacher speaks most of the time? They don’t have enough chances to actually practice their speaking skills. Those who are new to ESL teaching often make this very crucial mistake: They take up too much of the talking time, either because they feel uncomfortable around silence or long pauses, or because they are over-enthusiastic to share their knowledge. So clearly, hogging most of the talking time is out of the question. But, how to find the right balance between student talking time and teacher talking time?

As a general rule of thumb, students should speak for 70% of the class time, while teachers speak for the remaining 30%. These percentages could be tweaked in cases where students are absolute beginners (50-50), or at the other end of the spectrum, very advanced learners in need of intensive speaking practice (90-10). This means that in most cases, your participation should be limited to giving instructions and explaining essential points, but above all to eliciting response from students and facilitating all types of speaking activities."

Image Credits:

This article was written by Claudia Pesce for She has been an ESL teacher for 20 years and has taught a wide variety of students from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, complete beginners to advanced students. This vast teaching experience has helped her write over 100 articles for Follow this link in case you want to read the full article, the title of which is '5 Worst Mistakes All Beginner ESL Teachers Make (And You Too?)'. Suggestions of speaking activities are also presented.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Autumn Season Teacher Guide

photo credit: Anguskirk via photopin cc 
Autumn, also termed as 'Fall' in North America, is an intermediary phase in between summer and winter. Autumn is a specific season in the temperate zone. It begins in September in the North, while in the Southern part of the Planet, the season of autumn arrives in the month of March. The end of summer signifies the arrival of autumn, which is characterized by mellowness. This is a time when trees get rid of their old look in the process of shedding leaves. Autumn leaves have a reddish tinge which falls away during this season, thereby paving the way for further growth. 
In, Maps of World (abridged and adapted)

Many people in Canada, the United States, Japan, China and Korea travel around their home countries during autumn just to watch the leaves change colors and fall off the trees because it is such a beautiful site of nature. In fact the tourist season of leaf watching is a popular time to go hiking, camping and enjoying being outside with nature since the temperatures are mild, as the heat of summer has past and the chill of winter has yet to come. 
Picture via Google Images
Some holidays that fall during the time of autumn are Thanksgiving and Halloween. Thanksgiving is a tradition that is symbolic of the Native Americans feeding the first colonists who were not prepared with steady crops of vegetables and fruits. We celebrate Thanksgiving to give thanks for the sharing of the harvest during the first years of settlers. Halloween is a time where people decorate pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, and make displays of cornhusks and hay bales, also celebrating the harvest time of year. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot and the Chinese Moon Festival are celebrated by other cultures to show appreciation for the good food of the season and to get ready to settle indoors for the next season of winter, which often keeps people indoors and isolated. This makes autumn more of a fun and relaxing time as people anticipate the cold weather that is just around the corner. Follow THIS LINK, if you are interested in Fall Lessons Plans / Teacher Guide to the Autumn/Fall Season.
(abridged and adapted)

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Mr. Atwadder's math tests

Many students actually look forward to Mr. Atwadder's tests...
A cartoon by Randy Glasbergen
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Roald Dahl

Picture via Google Images
Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screenwriter. Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the British Royal Air Force during World War II, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence officer, rising to the rank of Wing Commander. Dahl rose to prominence in the 1940s, with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's best-selling authors. He has been referred to as 'one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century'. In 2008 The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of 'The 50 greatest British writers since 1945'. His short stories are known for their unexpected endings, and his children's books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour. Some of his notable works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits, George's Marvellous Medicine and The BFG.
In, wikipedia (abridged and adapted)

In Roald Dahl's birthday week, The Guardian has pulled together a marvellous selection of links, articles and teaching resources to help teachers celebrate in class. Roald Dahl said 'I only write about things that are exciting or funny. Children know I'm on their side.' And that's probably why he has done more to turn round reluctant readers than any other author on the planet. It was the great man's birthday this week - celebrated across the world as Roald Dahl Day – and we've found lots of fantastic links, lessons and resources to help you and your students enjoy his marvellous work, and perhaps even get ready to for your own Dahlicious Dress Up Day on September 28th. Follow THIS LINK to know more about this issue.
In, Learning with Roald Dahl (abridged and adapted) 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scooping ELT

Credit: Google Images
Now that I've finished scooping the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, (as I mentioned on yesterday's post), my 'new' is about English Language Teaching. I started curating this topic on July 6, being my first scoop 'Yes, you can: 8 keys to being a successful ESL teacher.' My purpose is to gather information about ELT, update teaching practise and share resources that might be useful for any English language teacher. From all the articles I have already scooped so far, I would like to recommend 'An open Thank You letter to Teachers', 'Teaching and learning through social networks' and 'Too tired to teach? 7 tips to detox, de-stress and regain your energy', among others. The Grammar series posters by are also quite handy. From now on, this will be displayed on the right side bar of T@PT. I hope it is of worth value for you.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Found pic
I've been scooping the London 2012 Olympic Games for some time now. Even though the Games are already over, I have scooped some more topics on this issue. London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - Thank you from Samsumg was my last scoop! You can take a look at all the topics I've been curating, by following this LINK: from the Torch Relay, to the Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremony, news on the athletes and competitions, as well as on the Paralympics... T@PT has also dedicated twelve posts to the Games, from July to August: The Founder of the Modern Olympics, London 2012 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps's last Olympic Games, The Opening Ceremony, David Boyle tweeted:'Proud to be British', I'm back... to the Olympic Games, Team GB by Sir Chris Roy, London 21012 burst in pride, The Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, The Paralympic Games, Amazing athletes and Look up at the stars. By gathering (or curating) all this information in one place, I have access to all the news that I have considered relevant during the Games. I have been using some of that information in my first classes as a way to diagnose my students' skills: from reading small texts to listening to videos, talking about the pictures on the articles and writing their opinions on the Games. This web 2.0 tool has been quite useful!... I do recommend it!...
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Keep calm and...

... pretend it's NOT monday!...

Found pic @Motivational Mondays
The author of says: 'When the thought of Mondays gets you down, do not fear... Motivational Mondays is here! Everyone can get motivated on Mondays. As an enthusiastic young woman, I will share with you what motivates me every week. My hope is to turn your Monday frown upside down...'. Well, she can always give it a try!

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Look up at the stars
Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of 'A Brief History of Time', which was an international bestseller. Now Director of Research at the Institute for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, his other books for the general reader include 'A Briefer History of Time', the essay collection 'Black Holes and Baby Universe' and 'The Universe in a Nutshell'. In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. Since 1979 he has held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.
In, (abridged)
At the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Stephen Hawking challenged athletes to 'look at the stars'. To huge cheers, Mr Hawking, paralysed and in a wheelchair, kicked off the show with a call for a new age of enlightenment. 'Look up at the stars, and not down at your feet,' he said. 'Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Through a voice synthesiser he added: 'The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world. We are all different, there is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being but we share the same human spirit. What is important is that we have the ability to create. This creativity can take many forms, from physical achievement to theoretical physics. However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at.'
In, (abridged)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never forget...

A photo taken on September 11, 2001 by the New York City Police Department as the North Tower collapses, engulfing lower Manhattan in smoke and ash. The day the world, as we know it, has sadly changed... Follow this LINK for updates on 9/11 Memorial...

Photo: AP Photo/NYPD, Det. Greg Semendinger
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.
In, (abridged)

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Amazing athletes

'The summer of love has passed. This greatest of all sporting seasons closed with millions hoping the spirit set free by the Olympics and Paralympics can achieve a lasting hold in British life. At a minimum, they were days of boundless fun. (...)'
Take a look at more pictures HERE
'The Closing Ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Games has wowed crowds with fire, a stunning light show and music from megastars. The show at the Olympic Stadium in east London was dubbed the Festival of the Flame and featured more than 1,000 volunteers. The spectacle began with a war hero who lost both legs in a blast on the battlefields of Helmand climbing a flagpole and proudly flying the Union Flag. The National Anthem was sung by blind singer Lissa Hermans, who is also autistic. Read more...'

David Davies/PA
'One million Brits pay tribute to Olympic and Paralympic heroes in London's biggest ever street party. Britain's astonishing summer of sport came to a colourful and emotional climax as hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic athletes paraded through the capital to finally bring the curtain down on London 2012. Tens of thousands of spectators lined the streets as the procession wound its way through a sea of Union Jacks to Buckingham Palace. Up to 700 British Olympic and Paralympic athletes, including more than 90 per cent of the medal winners, took part in the parade.' Read more and take a look at a fantastic photo gallery of this venue HERE

And last, but not least, my selection of photographs of these amazing paralympic athletes whose moto is: 'Focus on the ability, not on the disability.' - Oscar Pistorious

Marcus Hartmann Photography
Getty Images
Marcus Hartmann Photography

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Curiosity landed on Mars

On August 6, NASA Curiosity rover landed on Mars . One day it is hoped that humans will travel to Mars and take a personal look at the rocky terrain. Following Neil Armstrong's famous 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind', as he landed on the Moon surface, I wonder what might be the astronauts' first words on Mars surface... 

According to CNN, the rover Curiosity successfully landed on Mars on August 6, flawlessly executing the improbable acrobatics of touching down on the Red Planet intact. Curiosity also completed its test drive and passed many initial inspections. Follow this link for Mars Rover Curiosity updates.

A cartoon by Oliver Schopf
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Neil and Lance Armstrong

Due to nearly simultaneous news on Neil Armstrong's death (Aug 25) and Lance Armstrong's ending fight against doping charges (Aug 23), many people have been misleading the two names, especially on social networks, like Facebook or Twitter. Hence this cartoon by Rico Schacherl, one of the best I have ever seen: 'According to TWITTER, that's the guy who cycled to the Moon seven times and then got busted for doping! / Dude... Where's his bike?' Saint Peter's reaction and Neil Armstrong facial expression are simply amazing!... From my point of view, humour is one of the most effective ways to pay tribute to the ones we cherish and respect, besides being a balsam to our soul!... People don't forget what made them laugh and feel happy!... (Black humour is not considered in this reasoning).

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Neil Armstrong and the Blue Moon

August 31, 2012 Blue Moon 
has coincided with Neil Armstrong's Memorial Service
The blue moon over New Mexico
Photo: UFOsAlienLife/Twitter
Pretty auspicious timing: there was a blue moon for the first time in over two years. And as it happened, the memorial service for astronaut Neil Armstrong took place. Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on the moon. He died August 25, at the age of 82, as mentioned on the previous post. Of course, the name 'blue moon' is a little misleading: our moon didn't colour that friday night. A blue moon is 'the second full moon in a month with two of them,' according to For folklore, the second moon in a month is blue, which is where the name comes from. On other occasions the moon can actually take on a blue colouring but these are the result of ash spewed into the sky by volcanoes. The phrase 'once in a blue moon' usually refers to something really rare, but blue moons aren't that unusual - they take place an average of once every 2.7 years. Sometimes there are even two in one year (it happened in 1999).

Even though the moon looked as grey as usual that evening, it's kind of nice to think that our best-known satellite was feeling a little blue in sympathy for Neil Armstrong's family and friends. In a statement released after his death, his family had a suggestion for people who want to pay tribute to him: 'For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request. Honour his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.'
(abridged and slightly adapted)

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and take a look at THIS photo gallery of Aug. 31 Blue Moon

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A reluctant American hero

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012
Found pic @Sidney Morning Herald
Neil Armstrong, US astronaut, the first man on the Moon, died last August 25, aged 82. A statement from his family says he died from complications from heart surgery he had earlier that month. He set foot on the Moon on 20 July 1969, famously describing the event as 'one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind'. US President Barack Obama said Armstrong was 'among the greatest of American heroes - not just of his time, but of all time'. Last November he received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian award. He was the commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. More than 500 million TV viewers around the world watched its touchdown on the lunar surface. Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs, while Michael Collins, the third astronaut, remained alone in the mothership Columbia. 'The sights were simply magnificent, beyond any visual experience that I had ever been exposed to,' Armstrong once said. Apollo 11 was Armstrong's last space mission. In 1971, he left the US space agency Nasa to teach aerospace engineering. 
Born in 1930 and raised in Ohio, Armstrong took his first flight aged six with his father and formed a lifelong passion for flying. He flew Navy fighter jets during the Korean War in the 1950s, and joined the US space programme in 1962. Correspondents say Armstrong remained modest and never allowed himself to be caught up in the glamour of space exploration. 'I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,' he said in February 2000, in a rare public appearance. In a statement, his family praised him as a 'reluctant American hero' who had 'served his nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut.' The statement did not say where Armstrong died. 
(abridged and adapted)

Image Credits NASA
You might  like to take a look at this photo gallery on Apollo 11 and its crewmen HERE.
You might also like to read these 9 facts about Space Exploration in the early 1970's.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Are you ready?

A cartoon by Randy Glasbergen
T@PT is back this week but not to welcome the 2012-2013 school year yet, as today begins the exams season, part II, for 6th and 9th form students who failed their exams back in July... You were given a new possibility to succeed and hopefully start the new school year either in the 7th or 10th form. Having said this, on your marks, get set, GO!