Saturday, 9 July 2016

Engage, Enhance, and Energize - Sharing info and links from ETAI's 7th International Conference

At the beginning of July, I had the pleasure of attending the 7th International ETAI (English Teachers’ Association of Israel) Conference in Ashkelon.  

To be honest, I was a little concerned that the content of the conference sessions would be directed towards school teachers, therefore not relevant to my online teaching. However, when I discovered that Marjorie Rosenberg was one of the plenary speakers, I renewed my membership and registered. The conference slogan was ‘Engage, Enhance, Energize', and it successfully delivered all three E’s.  I came away inspired and motivated. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from some amazing educators and participate in an excellent international conference.

In this post, I'll write a few words about the sessions that I attended and share useful links related to the speakers, their work, and further information about the content of their talks.

Andy Curtis - President of TESOL International

Enhancing Effectiveness Through Contextualization

Andy’s keynote talk was thought-provoking and inspiring. He spoke about the importance of context in teaching.  He made the case that where we do what we do is at least as important as - and possibly even more important than - who does what to whom, in the language classroom. Andy is a wonderful speaker and a natural-born anthropologist.

Related links:  

Penny Ur OBE - Retired English teacher, teacher trainer, author and ELT guru

Enhancing Language Learning: The Primary Goal

In Penny’s plenary, she shared valuable insight into the art of effective language teaching in schools. Her advice was clear and understandable, informative and extremely down to earth.  She challenged many of the traditional myths concerning classroom teaching techniques, like the effectiveness of group work, and checking homework in the classroom.

Related links:

Hugh Dellar - Teacher, teacher trainer and author

Making the Leap from Grammar to Lexis

Hugh gave a hilarious and brilliant plenary about the importance of teaching 'lexically'. He suggested a number of practical ways to successfully teach lexis and gave many examples of why traditional teaching methods don't work. It was an inspiring and entertaining session.

Related links:

Hugh Dellar - Teacher, teacher trainer and author

Language-focused teacher development

Hugh’s keynote talk focused on how teachers need to develop their language awareness on an ongoing basis, in order to effectively respond to students' language needs in the moment.  I found Hugh's sessions particularly relevant to my style and method of teaching. I came away feeling confident about what I’m doing in my online classes, and motivated to continue developing my materials and lessons to teach students 'lexically'.

Related links: (Test your awareness of word frequency)

Dorothy Zemach - Author, publisher, and teacher trainer

Teaching Study Skills

A superb session looking at the importance of teaching students how to study. Dorothy demonstrated useful techniques for teaching and practicing academic study skills. This should be an obligatory workshop for all teachers and parents.  

Related links:

Marjorie Rosenberg - IATEFL President, teacher, teacher trainer and author

Engaging and Fun Business English Activities

I thoroughly enjoyed Marjorie’s lively, and extremely engaging workshop.  We participated in a variety of NTP (no teacher preparation) activities suitable for Business English groups. Marjorie asked for feedback and gave examples concerning how the activities could be adapted to suit any class.  I must admit after Marjorie’s inspiring workshop, I found myself yearning for the energy and interaction of a group class again.

Related links:

Marjorie Rosenberg - IATEFL President, teacher, teacher trainer and author

Making Lessons Memorable

Marjorie’s closing plenary was a treasure trove of practical lesson ideas.  She shared activities and tips for creating fun, relevant and engaging lessons.  She highlighted activities for different learning styles and explained their methodology. I hope to add the PowerPoint presentation of the plenary at a later date because it contained a tremendous amount of information.

It was a memorable plenary to end an excellent conference with.

Related links:

I would like to thank everyone involved in organising this conference, I can't imagine the amount of work that goes into planning such an event here. And a special thank you to the local and international speakers for sharing your wisdom!

Feel free to comment, your feedback is always appreciated.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below.  If you're on Facebook please message me there and you can always send me a message via my website: Talk2meEnglish.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

New Year's Resolutions - Lesson Plan

This is a lesson plan I created a few years ago, I have used it in my online lessons many times and it is a good lesson for promoting discussion.  It would also be suitable for a classroom lesson.  I have updated it and I am reposting it for my students and for any teachers looking for a ready-made lesson this week.  

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my blog readers a very happy New Year and all the best for 2016 :-) 

  • Level: Intermediate/Intermediate+
  • Method: Online class, face to face class, one to one or group.
  • Age group: Suitable for teenagers and adults.
  • Skills: Listening, understanding, discussion, expressing opinions.
  • Language:  Resolutions, opinions, describing, promises, conditionals.
  • Equipment: Whiteboard, the list of 13 questions below and YouTube (via screen share with sound, projector or individual mobile phones). 


1. What is a New Year's resolution?

A New Year's resolution is a decision that you make, to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

2. Can you think of some examples of common New Year's resolutions?

3. Here are some popular New Year's resolutions:

1. Save more money 
2. Get out of debt 
3. Get fit/lose weight
4. Change job/career 
5. Quit smoking 
6. Give up alcohol
7. Spend less time working
8. Spend more time with family/friends 
9. Give up chocolate 
10.  Move house 

4. Why do you think that people make resolutions?

5. Why do you think most people fail to keep their resolutions?

6. If we could focus on what will be the advantage of keeping a resolution, would it help? 

For example:

If I stop smoking, I will save money.
If I stop smoking, I will be healthier.
If I stop smoking, I will live longer.

7. What is this sentence structure called in English?

We call this the 'First Conditional - We use the first conditional to talk about a real possibility.
If + present simple, will + verb.

For example:

If I eat less, I will lose weight.
If I use Facebook less, I will have more time.
If I do sport 3 times a week, I will be healthier.

8. This is a good idea, but it is still only a possibility.  Which word in the sentence could we change to make this possibility more certain?  

Change the 'If' to 'When'.

When + present simple, will + verb.

For example:

When I give up smoking, I will be healthier. 
When I get a new job, I will be happier.

9. 'When' makes the likelihood of the resolution more certain, but it still does not guarantee that you will succeed in keeping the resolution.  Is the name 'resolution', the problem?  What about changing the name from 'New Year's resolution' to 'New Year's promise'.  Could that help?

Word Definition:
Resolution: A firm decision to do, or not to do something.
Promise: A declaration that you will definitely do something in the future.

10. How do we structure a 'promise' sentence in English?

I + promise + to infinitive

For example:

I promise to stop smoking.
I promise to do more sport.

I + promise (that) I + will/won't + verb.

For example:

I promise that I will do more sport.
I promise I won't spend so much time on Facebook this year.

11. Now watch this excellent video by 'Because I said I would' about making New Year's promises.  While you are watching, try to write down the promises that you hear and read in the video:

 12. Share with your teacher/class, which promises you were able to note down and give your opinion of these promises.

Here are some examples:

I promise to:
- rescue more animals.
- push myself out of my comfort zone.
- be who I want to be, not who society wants me to be.
- drop under 200 lbs.
- make 5 people smile every day.
- go vegetarian.

13. What about you? Are you going to make any New Year's promises this year?  


I appreciate any comments and feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below.  If you're on Facebook please message me there and, of course, you can always send me a message via my website: Talk2meEnglish.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Wix - Building My Own Website

I am rather proud to announce that I have just finished building my very own website.  

About a year ago, I decided, that in addition to my blog, I needed a website.  I wanted to have a calling card for my business and a website for my clients.  I wanted to clearly define and promote the courses that I offer, and provide an easy to use online booking system.  

Initially, I thought it would be worth investing money and paying a professional to create the website, then I discovered how much they charge.  I did some research and learned that there were a number of website building platforms, I chose WIX.  From the reviews, Wix is user-friendly, it offers a free plan, gets the most online searches, has a good selection of designs, and a mobile editor.  For anyone thinking about building a website, the mobile editor is absolutely essential.  It enables you to preview how your website is viewed on a mobile device.  What works on a computer screen often does not work on the screen of a tablet or a mobile. It is crucial to be able to edit the mobile view and check in advance that your design works on different devices.

Mobile View Of My Website

I must admit that although Wix is very user-friendly, building the website was not as easy as I thought it would be. To my great disappointment my first attempt was a scruffy disaster, it looked extremely homemade.  I became frustrated and gave up.  About two months later, I returned for a second go.  I watched tutorials, read 'how-tos' and with a lot of trial and error, grasped how to add, remove and adapt each element on each page. This time, I found a more suitable design and things just fell into place.  

There are so many tiny details that need to be thought about when creating a website. Choosing the design and colour scheme is the fun part, adding the content is more challenging. It is necessary to have a very clear idea of your brand, your niche, your clients' requirements, your prices and what exactly you are offering.  When I started my blog I began fine tuning my business; the process of creating my website has taken this a step further.  I can honestly say that Talk2Me English is no longer just a teacher's blog, it is an established business and it feels great!

I'm sure that the website still needs some work doing to it.  I plan on adding a video or two at some point, but for the meantime, I can finally go back to sleeping at night.  

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate any feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always send me an email:

Saturday, 1 August 2015

"Would you rather" - A no prep speaking activity

"Would you rather speak a second language fluently or be able to talk to animals?"

"Would you rather"  is a party game; the idea is to present a dilemma in the form of a question that has two options. The players have to choose one option, they cannot say “neither” or “both”, and then they have to explain their choice.

I came across the mobile app and decided to try it out in class. It is an excellent, no prep game for an English conversation class or as an end of lesson speaking activity, and my students love it. You present the dilemma, it could be between two positive options, "Would you rather eat chocolate or chips?” or it could be between two negative options, “Would you rather live on the streets or live in a prison cell?”.  The more difficult the dilemma, the more interesting the game is.

"Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate?"

You can create your own topic-related dilemmas,for example if you’ve been working on the topic of travel, you could use dilemmas like, “Would you rather go camping or stay in a hotel?” or "Would you rather have your flight delayed by 8 hours or lose your luggage?".  An alternative is to use one of the apps available and ask random questions (be warned, some of the apps have the odd dilemma that's not appropriate for the classroom).  

Would you rather is a great way to get students talking, they need to talk about their personal preferences, give their opinions and defend their choices.     


Lesson Objective:
Speaking practice and fluency.

Target Language:
Talking about preference, giving an opinion, making your point, comparatives and superlatives, advantages and disadvantages.

A list of pre-prepared dilemmas or one of the following apps:

Web apps:

Mobile apps:

Lesson Plan:

1. Quickly review expressions of preference:
  • Would rather and would sooner:

  • Base verb - I would rather swim in the sea than in a pool.

  I would sooner swim in the sea than in a pool.
  • Prefer:

  • Noun - I prefer chicken to beef.
  • Gerund - I prefer eating chicken to eating beef.
  • Infinitive - I prefer to eat chicken than to eat beef.

2. Present the dilemma and ask the student/s to make their choice and explain why. Students should be encouraged to speak fluently without interruption, take notes and make corrections at the end.

3. In a group class, you could then set up a debate. In a one-to-one class ask further questions to encourage the student to thoroughly explore the dilemma and their choice.

Please feel free to comment. If you are a Google+ member please leave your comments or feedback below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course you can always send me an email: