Failure And How To Stop It Before It Happens

Picture taken from here.

I think we need to talk about failure. If you teach adults, there’s a good chance you’re teaching a room full of people who have failed to learn English at some point in their lives. I should clarify that when I say failed, I don’t mean that they were a complete disaster, but they probably didn’t reach the target they set for themselves. They’ve probably taken a bit of time off, which could be six months, five years or maybe even longer, and they’ve decided to have another crack. Continue reading “Failure And How To Stop It Before It Happens”

Two Kinds Of People – A Getting To Know You Activity

Two types 5

As it’s the start of a new school year, I thought it was time to try out a new ‘getting to know you’ first lesson activity. I came across the website 2 Kinds Of People which simply and beautifully portrays how easily the people can be separated into different groups. I thought it was a fun way to help the students learn something about each other, while giving them the chance to learn some very useful contemporary vocabulary and functional language.

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Seven Word Biographies

A couple of weeks ago, I started some new classes, so I decided to create a new getting to know you activity based on seven word biographies. I think it’s an enjoyable way to kick off the new term and should provide some interesting language opportunities for my intermediates and up. It also makes a good accompaniment to the My Life in Twenty Lines activity I shared here earlier, which could be done later in the course as an expansion activity.

2018 Update: Now with added ppt! To download, click here.

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My Life In 20 Lines – a simple storytelling activity


Here’s a simple idea for practicing the past simple with lower level students. I got it from Quora, a website that allows its users to ask and answer each other questions. Unlike other similar sites, you are required to sign up to get access, resulting in a higher calibre of contributions. If you’re interested in the big questions, I recommend signing up. Continue reading “My Life In 20 Lines – a simple storytelling activity”

Songs In The Key Of ELT: Don’t Worry About The Government

Here’s a funny thing. Despite music being my number one passion and hobby in life, I’ve never once written about it here on my blog. In fact, I don’t tend to make a big thing out of it in my teaching either. Well, I plan on changing both those things, starting here with a new strand on my blog, Songs In The Key of ELT. Continue reading “Songs In The Key Of ELT: Don’t Worry About The Government”


Here’s a lesson idea I came up the other day. I was trying to spice up a rather dry FCE coursebook reading on animal cheats so I decided to add a video to the mix. After figuring out these activities, I realised that I wasn’t so much improving the reading activity as I was replacing it with a listening, so I changed direction and did something else.

But rather than waste all that hard work, I thought I’d share it with you here instead…

Is JR Cheating Off a Cheater? Or Will He Turn Rat?

Continue reading “Cheat!”

A North Korea Q&A

Last month Ann Loseva, a fellow teacher in Moscow, asked me to answer some questions from one of her students about North Korea. She asked me because I visited the country in 2010 and had written about it for the travel website Global Grasshopper. She had used the article with her student who wanted to know more, so together they made a list of questions and sent them over to me.

I’m certainly no expert, but since I’ve been there, I did my best to answer the questions. I decided to answer the questions in a video, and since I’d gone to the effort of making it, I thought I’d might as well share it with you. Hopefully some of you will find something useful in it.

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A Classroom Full of Poets

Poetry is one of those things I rarely use in class, but whenever I have, I’ve got a great reaction from the students. For example, my Korean teachers loved making their own stem poems. This involved them completing sentences to describe their classmates which became a poem. However asking someone to just write a poem could be a very intimidating thing to do, so I always try to limit the activity and place parameters on it so they can create without that pressure.

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