Monday, 20 June 2011

Happy Birthday to me!


Today, this blog celebrates its 2nd birthday, and I'd like to think that it has helped some of you some of the time during this period. Thank you for your support, even though most of you have been rather quiet!

I have been too busy blogging ;-) to bake a cake, I'm afraid, so a virtual one will have to do!

According to Blogger's statistics, the blog has received a total of 80,464 page views over these past two years, and here are the top 3 posts:

Label the animal cell (1,366 page views)
Daily Routines tagging game (1,127 page views)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

RSCON3: 3rd Reform Symposium e-Conference 29th - 31st July 2011

The Net is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of the 3rd Reform Symposium e-Conference, organised by teachers for teachers, to be held over 3 days from 29 - 31 July. It's free, naturally. Their last conference, held earlier this year in January, managed to attract over 4,100 teachers from 80 countries. This time, they're hoping to gather 8,000! Are you going to miss out? I've embedded two of their flyers for you to distribute among your friends, colleagues, and schools - the first one is a one-page version, and the other is a comprehensive five-page one.

The main focus this year is on how teachers can create engaging and motivating lessons.

I'll be presenting on Sat 30th July. I hope to see you there!
RSCON Flyer One Page Version

The Reform Symposium Free Online Conference Flyer for Schools

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sir Ken Robinson on work, talent, opportunities and passion

When Sir Ken Robinson speaks, one usually listens. He's a wonderful storyteller, a great speaker. He has no need for notes, merely relying on his memory, his experience, his passion. And, he's funny. Talking about passion is his passion. Recently, in March, to be exact, he spoke in Conway Hall, London; he spoke about finding our purpose in life. So, when I found out that Vimeo has published a video of his sermon, I rushed straight in. As usual, he spoke with his typical wit, recounting story after story. Even though it's 50 minutes, I can assure it'll be well spent.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sheltering Change, more ideas for your lessons

I've always loved this song (written by Jagger/Richards, and released on the Stones' Let It Bleed album towards the end of 1969), and, as you probably already know, I'm very fond of Playing for Change, too. They are good enough reasons for me to link it here in this blog.

But how can we use it in our lessons, you might ask. Well, think about it and tell me!

I can think of numerous ideas - I'll just give you a few clues.

Before you even start playing the song, look at the title, 'Playing for Change'. What is change? What does playing for change mean? What does this organisation stand for? How did it start?

Then, the title of the song, 'Gimme shelter'. What's 'gimme'? What's shelter? What collocations can you think of? What do you think the song is about?

There is also the caption: It is in the shelter of each other that the people live
Have you heard of it? It's an Irish proverb. What do you think the 'shelter' here refers to? Why the definite article in 'the people'?

Finally, make sure they know what 'sign up' and 'mailing list' are.

So, even before you play the song, there's enough material for a whole lesson, depending on your class.

So, you've played the song; you've rocked the building, the DOS has come to see what's going on..., now what do you do?

Where were the musicians from? Can you name the country and nationality? How many instruments appeared in the video? How many can you name? Webquest: find out the names of those you don't know. Which instrument did you like best? Which performer? Which singer?

Diagnose the lyrics. Focus on phrases such as:
  • a storm is threat'ning my very life today
  • I'm gonna fade away
  • It's such a shot away
  • the whole of the third verse
The whole song is very metaphoric. Elicit interpretation. Elicit more examples. Get them to write more verses in groups. Choose the best.

More stuff you can use:

Related posts:

Thursday, 9 June 2011

New Blog: Dogme Diaries: Plugging the unplugged

For those of you who have been following my tweets, you may have read that I promised 2 new blogs. The first promise was fulfilled yesterday with the publishing of Exclusive Interviews. Today, I unleashed the second, The Dogme Diaries! Here's hoping you'll enjoy them!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

New Blog: exclusive interviews

As if I didn't have enough work with this blog, I've started up another. This one's dedicated to exclusive interviews with teaching professionals whom I consider important to us all. I hope the interviews will be a source of inspiration to everyone. The first one is with none other than the great Scott Thornbury.

The blog's called IAskU. All the names I wanted had been taken, so I settled with this.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Wagging the question, tagging the dog

You can tag the dog, but can you wag the question? Watch these two hilarious videos, and my question may become a little clearer. Reading Idioms Part 12 may also help.

UK version:

US version:

The main issue, as you've probably noticed, is that of question tags (in both versions). In the US version, one of the girls constantly mixes up idioms - this is difficult to understand if you don't know the idioms to begin with!

Either or both of these videos can be used with intermediate level upwards (even up to non-native teacher level) - you know your students, you judge. What I'd normally do is to play the video once. Hand out the script. Play the video again. Then, ask them to find and correct the mistakes. Check and explain. Later, discuss the making and correction of mistakes. Are they afraid/embarrassed to make mistakes? Do they feel people might laugh at them? Do they like being corrected by their teachers/peers? What are their most common errors? Why do they keep making them even though they realise it? Elicit methods from the class of  'tricks' they use to help them remember.

A quick explanation on question tags

We add these at the end of sentences to confirm what we are saying; it's like saying, 'Do you agree?' or 'Don't you think so?'. They're the equivalent of, for example, n'est-ce pas? in French and verdad? in Spanish.

The tag comprises of an auxiliary verb (or the verb 'be') and a pronoun:
    We've met before, haven't we?
    She's really gorgeous, isn't she?

Usually, a positive tag follows a negative sentence, and a negative tag follows a positive sentence:
    You don't know where I can find a locksmith, do you?
    You were supposed to be here at five o'clock, weren't you?

Notice that the tag agrees with the verb in the preceding sentence:
    She won't do it, will she? (modal auxiliary 'will')
   They were singing really well, weren't they? (past continuous with the past form of 'be' as a tag)

The verb 'have' sometimes causes confusion. As you may know, the British usually use 'have got' to talk about possession:
    Janet's got a really stunning voice.

We can only use the verb 'have' as a tag in this case.
    Janet's got a really stunning voice, hasn't she?

However, if we use 'have' as the main verb, both 'have' and 'do' are acceptable as tags:
    Janet has a really stunning voice, hasn't she?
    Janet has a really stunning voice, doesn't she?

Note the tag we usually use with 'I am':
    I'm clever, aren't I?

Or you may hear
    I'm clever, ain't I? (non-standard)


Hi! Are we all on the same English course?
Oh yeah, how's it going?
Not bad, but sometimes I have trouble with grammar, isn't it?
Sometimes I spot on and other times I don't, aren't they?
I'm all right with my grammar; my problem is spilling.
Can't spill to save my loaf!
I have to rely on my spill chock on my compluter!
Well, don't worry about it too much.
I'm sure you'll be treated with a lot of understanding and COMPASSION!
All right!
I've got problems with my spilling not my herring!
She's got trouble with her punctuation, isn't it?
Yeah, sorry.
I sometimes put an explanation mark at the end by MISTAKE!
It's all right for you lot; I've got a very small vocabulary.
What's that like?
It's all right for you lot; I've got a very small vocabulary.
Sometimes I have trouble with my emphaasis.
Your emphaasis?
Yes. In variious different parts of my senteences.
In my job that can cause a lot of awkwordness.
What do you do?
I'm a speech theraapist.
A speech therapist who can't spike prifferly!
I'm surprised your boss hasn't sucked you!
It's all right for you lot; I've got a very small vocabulary.
Can I make a suurgestion?
Why don't you purchaase a dictionary? You'll save yourself a lot of embarraasment.
I know! We could all try studying together, isn't it?
How doesn't next week sounds?
It's all right for you lot...


Hey! Aren't we all on the same English course?
Oh yeah, how's it going?
Er, not bad, except that I sometimes have trouble with my grammar, isn't it?
I mean sometimes I perfect but other times I don't, won't they?
You see, I'm all right with my grammar; my problem is spelling.
I can't spell to save my loaf!
Yeah, I have to rely on my spell chock on my compluter!
Well, you know, look at it this way. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't eat it, too. You know what I'm saying?
No, no, not really.
Er...I think that she sometimes has trouble mixing metaphors, aren't she?
Sorry, guys. I'm always crying over spilt chickens before they're hatched.
It's all right for you all; I've got a very small vocabulary.
What's that like?
It's all right for you all; I've got a very small vocabulary.
That's ok. I have problems with my emphaasis.
Your emphaasis?
Yes. My emphaasis. On different parts of the sentances.
In my job that can cause a lot of awkwordness.
What do you do?
I'm a speech theraapist.
A peach therapist that can't spike prifferly!
I'm surprised your boss hasn't sucked you!
It's all right for you all; I've got a very small vocabulary.
Can I make a suurgestion?
Why don't you purchaase a dictionery? You'll save yourself a lot of embarraasment.
I'll tell you what. Why doesn't we all try studying together, isn't it?
How does next week sound, didn't we?
Brave idea!
Yeah, You give 'em an inch, it's worth two in the bush.
It's all right for you all...
SHUT UP! Isn't it?

The correct idioms are:

    You can give someone the opportunity, but you can't force him to take it.
    To want to have two things which are incompatible.

It's no good/use crying over spilt milk  or There's no point crying over spilt milk:
    It's no use getting upset over something that had happened but that cannot be undone.
Count one's chickens before they hatch:
    To imagine what you'd do with the results of something that hasn't been accomplished yet.

give someone an inch (and they’ll take a mile/yard):
    This refers to people who wants more and more of what is given to them.
a bird in the hand (is worth two in the bush):
    What you definitely have is far better than something which, although it could be better, is not guaranteed.

Related posts:

Ideas for using videos in the classroom

If you need the corrections to the text, email me.