TESOL Greece 2013 – Preliminary Programme

The 34th TESOL International Convention is coming up in Athens (30-31 March 2013), have a look at the preliminary programme here and don’t forget to visit www.tesolgreece.org for latest news and updates.

new tesol greece logo 2

Bite-size English – Food and drink

Bite-size English looks at vocabulary and common phrases you should expect to hear at a restaurant or pub in the UK.

Ordering your meal – note that the word for a meat dish can be different to the word for the animal it comes from:

 Animal                Meat

Sheep          =           Mutton

Lamb           =           Lamb

Calf                =          Veal

Cow/Bull        =          Beef

Pig                  =         Pork/Ham/Bacon

Having a drink? – Types of beer ( these are general types, you can get many different variations, which we’ll go through in another post)

bitter = dark brown colour/bitter taste
pale ale = light colour/bitter taste
lager = light colour/smooth taste
stout = dark brown colour/bitter taste/strong

draught = served by tap ( instead of bottled beer)

Get accustomed to English units of measurement:
pint = 0,568 litres
half a pint = 0,284 litres

More Bite-Size English soon!

*resources: C.N.Grivas




Aesop’s fables – storytelling to practise English

We’re right in the middle of March and “ArtofEnglish” have reached a decision: looking at Aesop’s fables from a different angle!

This month our primary students took the lead, after watching the film Balto: Wolf Quest, following a lesson on nature and wildlife.
During the workgroup’s meeting, there was a lot of talking about how amazing wild animals are and what they know about them. With a little help from B1 students, the discussion was directed towards myths and legends involving wild animals and Aesop’s fables came up quickly, as they are well known among greek children of all ages. “The boy who cried wolf” instantly became the topic.
B1’s suggested flipping the fables a bit – “we know what happened with the kid who shouted “wolf” but was lying – what about the wolf in the story?” Younger students started coming up with stories about the wolf in the fable – what did he look like?, where did he live?, did he know the boy? how did he feel?

And so it was decided. They would tell the fable of Aesop from the wolf’s point of view. Brainstorming ideas is always the first task and as there were plenty, B1 students thought it best to have younger students draw the wolf as they’d imagined him while they talked about what would be necessary for the project – materials, information, related vocabulary, meetings’ schedule, etc.

At the end of the meeting, each B1 student became a leader for a mixed group of primary and A2 students; all drawings were collected and discussed and a selection of them was approved by all members. Storyboarding had begun . . .I’m really anxious to see what the following worgroup meeting will bring!


Five things I think I know about teaching reading

Oxford University Press

Woman teaching young girl to readBarbara Hoskins Sakamoto, co-author of Let’s Go, shares five principles for teaching reading effectively in the classroom.

I’ve tried quite a few different approaches to teaching literacy over the years, initially with students learning to read in their first language, and now with students learning to read English as a foreign language. Like most teachers, I’ve settled on a fairly eclectic approach that seems to work well for me, and my young learners. Here are five principles that work for me.

1. Build a strong oral foundation first

When students begin learning to read in their first language, they have a working vocabulary of between 2,500 and 5,000 words. They learn to connect printed text to words that they already know. We want to be sure that our young learners have a strong foundation of oral language before we begin asking them to attach symbols to sounds, particularly…

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Summoning the Spirit of the Dodo

A wonderful article by Chris Franek – and a quick personal observation: sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward.

Oxford University Press

Chris Franek returns with a word of warning to teachers about getting caught up in the speed of technological change.

In a previous post I talked about the infamous dodo bird that mysteriously became extinct in the late 17th century and how we teachers should take care not to suffer the same fate due to our occasional blind love affair with technology. It’s quite funny. My girlfriend often affectionately refers to me as a dodo. More accurately, she calls me a “dodo bird” which is somewhat confusing because I don’t know if she’s referring to an extinct bird or an idiot. I suspect both.

It got me thinking about the evolution of the meaning of the word dodo. As I mentioned in the previous blog post titled, “Is the Teacher Going the Way of the Dodo?” I talked about how the original dodo was the infamous now extinct…

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“TheArtofEnglish”- practicing English creatively!

“TheArtofEnglish” came about three years ago, when I noticed some of my A2 students drawing out a dialogue we had practised in class.  It was one of the funniest cart00n-like set of pictures I’d seen, as they had added extra details to the story to make it more familiar to their own reality.

Being a huge fan of crafts, I suggested creating a workgroup in which they could express themselves creatively while using English to communicate; a suggestion met with more enthusiasm than I could ever hope for! It would be fair to say they went mad for the idea and started promoting it to everyone – in the end, 15 students at different levels, ranging from A2 through B1, decided that such a workgroup would be brilliant and wanted to begin straight away.

We had some difficulties at first, but about a month in the course A2 students became more confident in using English with higher level schoolmates and always helped each other understand what the conversation was about and what they had to do. The group chose to work on  subjects connected to the students’ relevant courses; an interesting dialogue or story would jump from the classroom onto drawing paper and a game we’d played in class would become an actual board game.
They worked together perfectly; higher level students asked around for suggestions or came up with new ideas if there weren’t any from their younger schoolmates and then planned the course of action – they set a time schedule and deadlines, they divided the worgroup in smaller teams, who were each responsible for a different task, arranged meetings in times convenient for all members so as to monitor and review progress and then proudly presented the results in classs.

It’s obvious that there wasn’t – and isn’t – much teacher involvement – the only “rule” I set was that all communication had to be in English. The most important factors that led to this decision were that students rarely get the chance to practise what they learn outside the language school and my belief that teaching is actually learning. When a B1 student corrects the grammar use of an A2 one, it’s a memorable experience for both.
There was of course a lot of background work in this group for the teachers. With a colleague, we monitored what went on during their meetings, helped out with vocabulary if necessary (although we’d noticed that group members were quite as pleased to use dictionaries as asking us for an expression) and kept records of what had been done and how during a project – all of which went into our progress reports.

Creating and sustaining such a workgroup was certainly no easy task; its progress depended a lot on student engagement and there have been times when no meetings were held and no creative projects were started, but never for a long period – perhaps a short interval was actually necessary in order to recharge batteries and renew interest.

Today, even though I have transfered to a new language school, the “ArtofEnglish” has followed me and is again received with interest and a strong sense of commitment by my new students – the series of posts tagged “ArtofEnglish” is dedicated to all my students (old and new) involved in the group, to show and promote their wonderful work!

Book suggestions – ECPE – Hellenic American Union

Preparing ECPE candidates? Try Build Up your Proficiency-Writing Skills, with 12 units on organising writing properly and developing writing skills for the C2 level examinations.

I’d suggest using it in courses of at least 40 hrs, as there’s plenty of material to cover and it can be a bit difficult for students at a low competency level. If, however, you don’t use a coursebook in C2 level courses, but only focus on exam preparation (e.g. a one-year-course), this book can prove quite useful.

Extra tip for greek EFL students: it’s a really helpful coursebook for students who find producing written speech challenging in their native language as well. I’ve used this book “backwards” with remarkable results.