Sunday, 21 December 2014

Online Teacher Toolkit

I find it hard to believe that a year has passed since starting my blog.  So much has happened this year, I've met so many new and interesting people and have learnt so much.  In order to celebrate this one year milestone, I thought I'd try to put together a basic toolkit for online teachers.  Earlier this year I wrote a guest post for the British Council's Voices Blog about online teaching and I often receive messages asking for advice about how to get started and where to advertise for students; I'm no expert, but I can share the websites, tools and platforms that I use and find useful.  

I've created a 'Toolkit for Online Teachers' using Symbaloo, it's divided into 7 categories, each category contains a selection of web pages grouped together with a different coloured background.  I learnt about Symbaloo in a 'Google Tools for Education' webinar that I attended by Rich Kiker; it's a visual bookmarking tool, that allows you to access your bookmarks anywhere with any device and share your online resources with others.

Click to view the interactive toolkit: Online Teacher Toolkit


Lesson Plans: A collection of websites containing ready-made lesson plans.

Teaching Platforms: A collection of free platforms that can be used for teaching.

Finding Students: A collection of websites and online marketplaces, for advertising your teaching services.

Creating Materials: A collection of web tools that are useful for creating your own online materials, presentations, interactive video lessons and free downloadable pictures.

Cool Tools: A collection of websites that I find useful: an online file converter web app for storing articles to read later and an app that rephrases and simplifies difficult texts.

Reference Tools: A collection of useful tools for you and your students: a translator, speaking dictionary, a tool for improving written English and a Grammar website with explanations, daily activities and exercises.

For Inspiration: A collection of websites that I use for self-development and lesson ideas.

Most of the links are self-explanatory, but I would like to give a little bit more information about the 'Finding Students' category.  I've been experimenting with a few of the online marketplaces and I thought it might be useful to share my experiences.  

italki : You can sign up for professional lessons or informal tutoring, it's a marketplace and community where people can teach and learn languages. You can boost your profile by writing articles and correcting student's work. The platform sends you updates and tips and it's a very well thought out, reliable system. One of the main advantages of italki is the booking system, students see your availability in their local time and then send you a request for a lesson within the system. It's a quick, no nonsense way to set up lesson reservations. italki charge a 15% commission for each lesson, so take that into consideration when pricing your lessons. Your revenue is transferred to your Paypal account on request. *Update 01.01.05 Of the platforms that I have been experimenting with, italki has undoubtedly been the most successful.  I highly recommend using italki, their system is professional and reliable. 

Blabmate: Is a directory for qualified English teachers, tutors and conversation partners.   It's a new website, designed to connect teachers and students online. Teachers pay a small fee of £1.40 per month and that's it, no further charges or commission. The recommended rate for conversation practise is £8.00 per 40 minutes. *Update 01.01.05 the Blabmate team are dedicated to helping teachers find students, the platform is currently being improved.  I have received a number of emails from potential students since signing up, but it seems many of them are looking for free lessons.  Due to the fact that the platform is new, I think that it's worth being patient, I have a feeling that it will be a good source of students in the near future.

Blogger: I added Blogger to this collection because I believe that having your own blog or website is your best online 'calling card'; it is 'the' way to introduce yourself and guarantee to a student that you're an authentic, professional, established teacher. Offers the possibility for independent teachers to advertise themselves and add a link to their blog or website, for free. 

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough space in my Toolkit to add all the blog posts by the incredibly talented teachers that have helped and inspired me this year.  However, the link to the British Council Teaching English Facebook page, in the 'Inspiration category', is the best place to discover these blog posts and teachers. I highly recommend visiting there regularly and would like to thank all the teachers for sharing their ideas, knowledge and experiences.

* I must state that I am not being paid to endorse any of the above websites, nor can I take any responsibility for anything that may occur should you choose to use them.  

Season's Greetings, Happy New Year and Happy Online Teaching!

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:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

'Do those who have less, give more?' - An Intermediate level video lesson, created in less than an hour.

October was a very busy  month, filled with new opportunities and experiences, but no time for blogging.  I've been teaching day and night, writing materials for a state of the art E-learning platform and have been interviewed about Online teaching for the British Council's 'English Agenda Podcast' series. I have also decided to experiment with the online language learning marketplace, italki and have created an account there.  It has been a very productive month. 

Due to my busy schedule, I decided to set myself a one hour challenge, to create an interactive lesson using a web app, in just one hour. Speedy lesson planning has never been one of my strong points, but thanks to eduCanon and a You Tube video, that a friend posted on Facebook (thanks Sarah), I am pleased to report that I succeeded.

Do those who have less, give more?

  • Level: Intermediate.
  • Method: Online class, flipped class or a self study assignment.
  • Age group: Suitable for teenagers and adults
  • Skills: Listening, understanding, making predictions, discussion, expressing opinions.
  • Language: Hunger and poverty issues, opinions, describing, opposites, synonyms, antonyms.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Business English Idioms - Risk Management

I used to be a risk taker.  In my younger days, I was carefree and often careless. However since becoming a mum I've gradually become more and more cautious.  When we hear the phrase 'risk management' we usually think about business, but as a mum of two teenage boys, risk management is an essential part of parenting.  During the summer holidays I heard myself chanting various mantras over and over: "Be careful" "It's not worth the risk" "Better safe than sorry" "Just in case".  I realised that we use many idioms in English to talk about taking risks and being careful, so I thought I'd prepare a presentation to explore some of these expressions with my business students (and possibly fellow parents).

 Business English Idioms 

Risk management

What is risk management? 

It is a strategy used to understand, evaluate and take action to increase the likelihood of success and reduce the possibility of failure.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, risk management has become a business priority.  However, the necessity to be cautious often interferes with a company's need to take risks in order to develop and remain competitive.

Risk management is a common topic of conversation in both everyday life and at work, so let's look at some of the common idioms used in English to talk about taking risks and being cautious. 

Do you 'throw caution to the wind' and take risks or 'play it safe' and prefer to be cautious?

Click to see the full-sized presentation

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

How to order pizza - Elementary level lesson plan

It's been a long time since my last post, life has been rather unpredictable lately and it's also the school holidays; I've been spending less time online, but on the upside I've been spending more time with my family, which has been wonderful.  However the holidays are coming to an end and I've been thinking about my wonderful group of beginners and decided it was time to start planning some lessons for September.

This year I would like to continue to focus on improving the group's spoken proficiency, I want them to feel comfortable and confident to speak in real life situations. The objective of this first lesson is to learn how to place an order for pizza over the phone.   It's a situation that will give them the opportunity to review some of the language that they've already learnt, for example: giving information like name/address/telephone numbers, using 'can' to request and in addition to that, there will be lots of opportunity for speaking, listening and role-play. 

How to order pizza

Lesson level: Elementary

Target vocabulary: 
Food: Pizza/toppings/drinks/side dishes. 
Numbers: Money/Prices. 
Restaurant language: Menu/Take-away/Eat-in/Order.  
Requests: I'd like/Can I have.  
Giving information: Name/address/telephone number/Verb to be.

Materials: Menu handout/dialogue handouts/ toy money/ fake telephones or mobile phones/ paper and pens.

1. Hand out the menu (prices should be changed according to your country).

Pizza Menu

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Back to basics 2 - The Verb To Be

This is the second post in my 'Back to basics' series.  As I told you last time I'm working with a wonderful group of adults who prefer paper to technology;  I have been creating printouts to use in class and as with all my infographics, my objective is to transmit each grammar point in a simple, one page format. One of the main challenges of teaching this group, is finding a way to help them retain vocabulary.  By using only specific language in order to constantly recycle, I feel that I'm starting to make progress, it's a case of 'one step back, two steps forward':

This is the infographic that I created to introduce the verb - To be in the Present Simple tense:

Monday, 23 June 2014

How to get started as an online teacher of English

As winner of the British Council's Teaching English blog award last month, I was invited to write a guest post for their  'Voices' blog.  My post gives advice about how to get started as an online teacher:

How to get started as an online teacher of English
Online Teaching - Voices

If you have any ideas regarding this topic, please comment;  Google+ members please comment below.  If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course you can always send me an email:

Thanks and I hope you found this post helpful :-)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Present Simple 1 - Back To Basics

I am very proud to announce that this post has been awarded the 'Teaching English Blog Award for Innovative Teaching Ideas' by the British Council.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Teaching English  for their support and thank everyone who voted :-)

This post is the first of a series of three, on the topic of the Present Simple tense. It contains a printable infographic covering the basics of the Present Simple and three printable worksheets.  

Getting back to basics:

If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I've been on a journey of discovery, concerning using technology to create materials and using technology to teach and study.  

A few weeks ago I began teaching a group of 12 adults face-to-face.   I was excited to get back into the classroom, I mainly teach online today, and try out some of my new creations on a group. I checked the equipment: I had a computer and projector, a fast internet connection and a full class.  I was ready and raring to go.....
We have had three lessons so far and I must say I'm thoroughly enjoying teaching the group.  It's a pleasure to teach face-to-face and a challenge to teach adults at this level; it's really great to get 'back to basics'.  This experience has reminded me that although using technology to teach is amazing, it's not always appropriate.  As teachers we shouldn't allow it to distract us as I did, from what is really important, 'the students'.  The truth of the matter is, the tools we use are far less important than the way we teach.

The minute the lights went out, the atmosphere changed in the classroom and I felt the tension rise.  One student couldn't see well, another said the writing was too small, another said she was getting too hot from the projector.  I had made an extremely basic mistake. The group's native language is Amharit, they have all had to learn Hebrew, so English is a third or for some of them a fourth language; at beginner level, the experience of a first lesson with a new teacher was daunting enough, without adding unfamiliar technology and teaching methods. Most of them don't have smart phones and for this group, this method, at this stage, was just not suitable.  So I switched off my overhead projector, sharpened my white board pen, dusted off my flash cards and reverted back to traditional methods.  

I have been working with the group on the topic of places in a town and shops.  I highly recommend using the lesson materials from the British Council's Teaching English website, my students really enjoyed them.  In our next lesson I'm going to use the language that we've worked on to introduce the Present Simple tense. I have created some printable materials in order to do this: 

Click on the link below to print or save:

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Thoughts From Within - A Modern Poem
Poem - Thoughts From Within 

In this post I have created a lesson based on a poem written by a famous actor (Advanced level)

Lesson Objectives:

  • It is designed for a one-to-one lesson, but could  be used with a group.  
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • The idea of the lesson is to give students a taste of some modern poetry in English. Students will expand vocabulary, use their imagination, improve their listening skills, practise expressing opinions, analysing text and recognising and interpreting figures of speech in poetry. They will also improve their pronunciation and poetry reading skills. 

Friday, 11 April 2014


How would you define Freedom?  

This lesson is based on a wonderful article from the BBC Magazine concerning Freedom.  I created it for one-on-one lessons with Upper Intermediate and Advanced students.  However I'm certain that it would work just as well, if not better with a group.

Lesson Objective : 

The main objective of this lesson is to promote discussion, to encourage students to talk about the topic of freedom and the difference between the feeling of freedom and the state of freedom. In this lesson students will practise listening, expressing opinions, describing how something makes them feel, practise using comparatives and generally expand their vocabulary.  

Warm up:

Ask your students the following questions:
  • How would you define freedom?
  • When you think of the word freedom, what topics/issues/situations come to mind? (Prison/animals/war/slavery/media/religion/free time)
  • Can you think of any synonyms for the word freedom? (Exemption/immunity/liberty/ability)
  • Can you think of any antonyms for the word freedom?(Restraint/captivity/confinement/imprisonment/restriction/slavery)
  • Can you name some different types of freedom? (Discuss the meaning of each with your student:Freedom of speech/Political freedom/Physical freedom/National freedom/Freedom of belief/Freedom of the press/Economic freedom/Freedom of expression) 

Freedom 2014: What freedom looks like to you

As part of the BBC's freedom 2014 season they asked their webpage viewers to send in photos of what 'freedom looks like to them'. They received more than a thousand responses and showcased them in the article that this lesson is based on.
BBC News Magazing: Freedom 2014

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Present Perfect Tense - Simplified

In this blog post I have created an infographic to simplify the Present Perfect tense, my objective is to make this tense less intimidating for students. 

Students arrive with a built in aversion to the Present Perfect tense and generally speaking they find it illogical and confusing. I have experimented with a number of different ways of teaching the Present Perfect tense: I've tried combining it with the Present Perfect Continuous, contrasting it with the Past Simple and teaching just one use of the tense at a time. I have found that the most successful method is to start by focusing on four common uses of the Present Perfect tense.  I provide my students with lots of practical examples and situations, focusing on the use rather than the meaning of the tense.  Once they have become more confident, I then move on to comparing and contrasting with other tenses. 

In addition to the infographic, I have given some examples of ways to practise the four uses in class and a list of web exercises with answers that could be given to students for self study.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Bridging the gap to Africa - Intermediate video lesson

A video lesson about a young girl named Tippi and her special relationship with Africa.
Tippi in Namibia courtesy of You Tube

Friday, 28 February 2014

Mobile Learning

As winner of the British Council's Teaching English blog award last month, I was invited to write a post for their blog 'Voices'.  My post looks at different ways to motivate students to self-study, using their mobile phones:

Mobile Learning - Voices

If you have any ideas or tips regarding this topic, please comment;  Google+ members please comment below.  If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course you can always send me an email:

Thanks and I hope you found this post helpful :-)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My Valentine - A fun lesson for Valentine's day

Photo by Talk2Me English

I discovered the song 'My Valentine' by Paul McCartney this week and thought it would be perfect for a Valentine's day lesson.  The song is so romantic ♥  My lesson ended up being rather funny and very lively, I hope your students will enjoy it as much as mine did :-)  


Lesson activities: 
Talking about Valentine's day, using sign language to learn vocabulary, listening practice and fill the blanks exercise.

Warm up questions: 

1. What do you know about Valentine's day?
2. Which shape symbolises Valentine's day?
3. What are common gifts that people give on Valentine's day?
4. Does your country celebrate Valentine's day?
5. What does 'My Valentine' mean?
6. What's the most romantic song that you know?
7. What is sign language? 
8. How do you think you sign the word Valentine in sign language?

My Valentine - Paul McCartney

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Introductions - "Pleased to meet you"

I have a new group starting this week and we'll be working on 'Introductions' in order to get to know each other.  Due to the popularity of my last few blog posts I have come to the conclusion that students LOVE infographics; consequently, I decided to update my materials and use some of the amazing applications that I have discovered online (see my blog post on the topic) to prepare for my lesson:

Warm up:
I may play The Rolling Stones Sympathy for the devil as a 'warm up' exercise or use it as a 'guess the topic of the lesson' activity. Of course the focus needs to be on the intro and chorus:
0.20 "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste".
- Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm  ___________ (a student/20 years old)
0.59 "Pleased to meet you , hope you guess my name".
- Pleased to meet you, _____________ (my name is Emma)

I've created a new printable infographic using Piktochart to present the vocabulary and expressions:


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Me, Myself and I - Pronouns

I frequently correct my students misuse of pronouns and understand their frustration and confusion when it comes to choosing the correct pronoun. This week I decided to create an infographic to try to simplify this topic.   I hope you and your students will find it helpful:

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Eye Idioms

I've just discovered (a little late) that January is 'Eye Care Awareness Month', so I thought it would be a great opportunity to look at some Eye Idioms!  

The Esl Library created this excellent downloadable poster:

To feast one's eyes on: To look at something beautiful/amazing.
"Now turn around and feast your eyes on that view".

One's  eyes pop out of one's head: To be shocked or amazed.
"When I told him I was leaving the company, his eyes nearly popped out of his head."

Keep one's eyes peeled: To look for intently.
"Keep your eyes peeled for a parking space."

Out of the corner of one's eye: To catch/see something without really looking for it.
"Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move, I turned to look and saw a little mouse run across the floor."

The apple of one's eye: A person you have great affection for.
"His son is the apple of his eye."

In the blink of an eye: Very quickly.
"The holidays will be over in a blink of an eye."

Eye candy: Someone who is very attractive.
"My friend likes sitting at the bar looking for eye candy."

Red eye: An overnight flight.
"Red eye flights are usually cheaper."

Get some shut eye: To get some sleep.
"I have to get some shut eye, I'm exhausted."

Listen out for the Eye Idiom in the song "You are the sunshine of my life" by Stevie Wonder:

Monday, 27 January 2014

Top 10 Tools for Creating Teaching Materials

UPDATE: Featured blog of the month!!  
I am very proud to announce that this post has been awarded the 'Blog Award for Innovative Teaching Ideas' by Teaching English British Council.

I am absolutely over the moon!  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Teaching English  for all their support and thank everyone who voted :-)

This week I set out on a mission to find some quick and easy ways to create interesting teaching materials.

Multisensory Materials:

When planning a lesson I always take into consideration the fact that students process information in different ways, so I need to use a variety of instructional approaches to reach all of them.  Some students are visual learners, they need materials that contain pictures, videos and diagrams.  Other students are auditory learners they benefit from the use of music, discussions and recordings.  There are also the kinesthetic learners, they learn by 'doing', so activities that involve movement are necessary; using games, acting out expressions and allowing students to create their own quizzes/presentations can be beneficial.  

In this post I will 'put forward' some free and easy ideas on how to create original teaching materials: 

I have used a selection of 8 phrasal verbs with the verb PUT in order to demonstrate how the tools that I have discovered can be used to create original, multisensory materials and activities. 

1. Exam time mind maps: 

Very user friendly, excellent for creating visual materials for visual learners. 
Free and easy to use. Creates modern colourful mind maps.

You have to sign up to use it, but it only takes a minute.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Happiness - Intermediate Lesson

The beginning of January is always a difficult time for my students.  It is not easy returning to work after the Christmas holidays. This year is no exception, and everyone seems to have the 'January blues'.  At the weekend I heard a song by Pharrell Williams (thank you Arnon +מישקה ארנון), it made me feel so happy, that it inspired me to prepare a 'happy' lesson for my students:


Lesson objectives: To beat the January blues and to cheer up my students. To practise expressing opinions, talking about feelings and expanding vocabulary.

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions - First Conditional and Promises.


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.

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

Look at the top ten resolutions last year according to: 

1. Save more money – 31%
2. Get out of debt – 22%
3. Get fit/lose weight – 18%
4. Change job/career – 16%
5. Quit smoking – 13%
6. Give up alcohol – 11%
7. Spend less time working – 9%
8. Spend more time with family/friends – 7%
9. Give up chocolate – 6%
10.  Move house – 2%