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ESL teaching guides for your English classroom.

Amusing fun activities, funny stories as well as word games, for ESL-EFL students.

Are we fetishising marking?


When you make something a fetish, ashes and dusts will laugh at you, because they know even the most valuable fetishes will turn into dusts and ashes!

Mehmet Murat ildan

Last night I innocently posted the following tweet:

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 19.49.28


2012 Undergraduate Scholarships for International Students

2012 Undergraduate Scholarships for International Students

Our team is always dedicated towards the students who are searching scholarship for further/ higher education worldwide. There are many lucrative scholarships available, which are offered to international undergraduate students. These renowned scholarships can help you in achieving your goals. With the help of these scholarships you will be able to attend the best college and universities


Having said that it is worth pondering around with EFL in the mind. As soon as you seriously drill through it and keep this in your mind I believe it will make a difference on a long term.

I am not saying that anyone need to stay with it no matter what yet considering it as a harsh guidebook will make a change. Let us get back to it .

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First, do you teach college-age students? Check out Tumblr. You may have heard of it because of its purchase by Yahoo!. It’s a simple blogging/sharing site primarily aimed at images. Text and sound can also be shared, but its focus is on one piece (or highly related set) of content per post.



It’s a little difficult to explain. Like most technology, it’s much easier to understand if you just try using it. You can always delete your account if you don’t like it!

It’s pretty different from the way that people blog at WordPress, for example; the barrier to posting and the expectations of what a post should include are both pretty low. This makes it a lot easier to use. It’s more two-way than most blogs: you can use Tumblr to follow and view other people’s posts, all mixed together, and you can make your own posts/reshare others’. Some people only follow; some post, but rarely; some post prolifically. People in their late teens to mid-20s seem to make up most of the users, and for some of them it’s replaced Facebook as a way to have fun. (Facebook is where your mom checks up on you, after all.) I love art, so I enjoy all the art shared on Tumblr. It also has a major social justice faction, which I appreciate, enjoy, and learn from.

Tumblr could work well for ESL/EFL students: upload a photo and comment on it, reshare an image and say why.

The big caveat is that Tumblr is akin to an unfiltered image search in terms of the chance of seeing a NSFW (not safe for work) image. You can add something called Tumblr Savior that will let you filter things tagged #nsfw, but not everyone uses that tag. Therefore, I would not use Tumblr with students who were not legal adults. If you get used to using it yourself, you can probably think of ways to use it that will minimize problems.

Possibly Related Posts:

6 Great iPad Apps to Organize your Class

October 10, 2014

If you are using or planning to use iPad in your instruction the apps below are definitely a must have. These are apps that will help you organize your class and enhance students learning. Some of the things you can do with these applications include: create virtual spaces for your classes, share materials with your students such as files and documents, get students to pass in their assignments, post reminders, share quizzes and homework assignments with students, send reports to parents and school administrators  and many more.

1- Schoology

Manage your classroom, create and submit assignments, participate in interactive discussions, perform assessments, collaborate with your peers, and much more! With Schoology’s iOS mobile app, you can have rich and engaging academic experiences anytime, anywhere.

2- Classroom Organizer

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

The Classroom Organizer iPhone app works in conjunction with Booksource's Classroom Organizer web application to allow educators to organize and track books in their classroom library. The app features barcode scanning functionality to eliminate the need to manually enter ISBN numbers for books.

3- Complete Class Organizer

The one app to organize all your classes! Take notes while recording lectures and the audio syncs to the text, manage homework & exam dates, store & calculate grades, and organize info for every class. This app differs from other note-taking apps in that it's designed specifically for students to help them manage all classes throughout their school career.

4- Edmodo

Edmodo makes a teacher’s daily life easier by providing a safe and easy way for teachers and students to engage and collaborate for free, anytime, anywhere. Some of the features that Edmodo provides include:

Secure classroom discussions

Posting assignments

Gradebook tracking

File sharing and uploading

5- Socrative

Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races all with their Socrative app. Socrative will instantly grade, aggregate and provide graphs of results to help you identify opportunities for further instruction. Save time and visualize student understanding when it matters, now!

6- Nearpod

Nearpod is a must have application for teachers and schools that have access to a set of iPads, iPods, iPhones or Macs for their classes. The Nearpod platform enables teachers to use their iPads to manage content on students' iPads, iPhones, iPods or Macs. It combines presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution.

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Ring! Ring! Ring! After three months of going through the classified ads of his local Sunday paper, Alex finally got the call he was expecting for so long.  He had been selected for a job interview. Why did it take him so long? Well, he hadn’t been able to apply to a lot of institutions because he did not fulfill all the requirements of their different positions. First, Alex was in his thirties and most of the jobs were for people in their early twenties. Second, most of the positions required Alex to have two or four years of experience. He had finished college two years ago and had just presented his thesis, and therefore, he did not have such experience.  However, Alex’s perseverance paid off and he was awarded with an opportunity to demonstrate the world that he had all the skills and personal traits to succeed in anything he set his mind to.

The day before his interview Alex checked if he had everything ready. His shoes were as brilliant as a mirror and he had picked up his nicest suit from the laundry. He had also bought a new tie that matched the light blue shirt his grandma got him for Christmas. Then, he stood in front of the mirror rehearsing different handshakes and ways to introduce himself. He also went over the possible questions he might encounter at the interview and pretended to answer them as if he were practicing for an audition.

The expected day finally arrived. Alex woke up very early, took a shower, got dressed and went out without having breakfast. He was just too nervous to eat. He arrived at the building where the interview was going to take place thirty minutes early. Watching other people waiting to be interviewed for the same job made him more nervous and anxious.  “Alex Costa, you go next.” said the receptionist.  With a very timid “thank you” Alex headed to the office of the General Manager of the company he dreamt of working for.

The General Manager asked Alex about his educational background, why he wanted to work there, what his strengths and weaknesses were, what other interests he had and what his salary expectations were. Alex answered some of those questions in a very confident way. However, when talking about his strengths and weaknesses, Alex was afraid he might appear too vain or inappropriate for the job if he was too sincere. Also, when discussing his salary expectations, Alex didn’t want to sound too cheap, but he didn’t want to sound too unrealistic, either. All in all, the interview went well and Alex was sent to Human Resources where he had to take a little test.

What was the test about? He was given a booklet with different exercises. First, Alex had to draw several pictures. He remembered his friends telling him about these drawings and he followed his friends’ advice even though he didn’t see the purpose of drawing a line under a man since he was asked to draw just a man, not a man standing on the floor. Likewise, he didn’t understand why he had to draw a boat with the sea underneath it since the task was to draw just a boat, not a boat sailing on the sea. Then, he had to answer some questions about some hypothetical situations. For example, he was asked what he would bring to a desert island if he could only bring three objects. Trying to leave a great impression he answered all the questions without seeing the point of what they had to do with the position he was applying for. He didn’t believe that drawing a man or imagining he were on a dessert island made him a better or worse financial analyst.  So, after handing the booklet with all his drawings and answers, Alex was told that they were going to call him within the next three days to let him know if he was the new asset of that institution.

Finally, after such a long morning, Alex went home a little more relaxed, prepared himself a nice late breakfast and the wait for the second magical “ring, ring, ring” had started.


1. fulfill (v) : to do or have what is required or necessary  Ex: Students must fulfill the requirements stated in the bulletin board in order to apply for the scholarship.

2. in his thirties/ (twenties) (exp) :  between the ages of 30 and 39 / (between the ages of 20 and 29)  Ex: I think she must be in her twenties because she’s about to finish college.

3. pay off  (v) : to turn out to be profitable, effective, successful  Ex: His efforts finally paid off and he got promoted.

4. trait (n) : a characteristic, quality  Ex: Being punctual is one of his best traits.

5. rehearse (v) :  to practice a play, a piece of music, etc. in order to prepare it for public performance / to prepare in your mind or practice privately what you are going to do or say to somebody   Ex: On her way to his interview Alex rehearsed what he was going to say.

6. head (v) : to move in a particular direction  Ex: We were heading to the beach when the accident happened.

7. background (n) : the details of a person’s family, education, experience, etc  Ex: His background was in advertisement.

8. strength (n) : a good characteristic or quality   Ex: Patience is one of her strengths.

9. weakness (n) :  a personal defect   Ex: His greatest weakness is his lack of self – confidence.

10. Human Resources (n) : the department in a company in charge of employing and training people   Ex: To apply for this position, send your resume to Human Resources.

11. booklet (n) : a small book usually having a paper cover   Ex: The CD comes with a colourful booklet that contains photos of the band.

12. within (prep) : inside or not further than an area or period of time   Ex: I will send the letter within the week (= before the end of this week).

13. asset (n) : a person or thing that is valuable to somebody/something  Ex: Linda will be a great asset to our team.

Have you ever had any funny experiences at a job interview? What do you think about psychological tests? How do you prepare yourself for a job interview?

Send us your comments, opinions and any kind of feedback to You can either write us an email or send us a voice message.


¨Ring! Ring! Ring! After three months of going through the classified ads of his local Sunday paper, Alex finally got the call he was expecting for so long.¨

By reading the first line, we can infer that the word ring refers to the telephone. This is what we call onomatopoeias, that is, words that denote sounds of objects or animals.

With that in mind it is worth considering it with EFL teaching activities in the forefront. In case you seriously drill through it and keep this in the mind I believe it will make an impact on a long term.

I'm not saying that anyone should stick with it whatsoever nonetheless, accepting it to be a harsh guidebook will make an improvement.

Let’s go through some examples:

Zip: It is an example of onomatopoeia because it is the sound the zipper makes when you move the zipper 

Boom: The classic sound when a bomb explodes. It denotes the sound.

Hiss: You’ll hear that sound when you are next to a snake.

Knock: Can you see who is at the door? I’m hearing the knocks coming from it.

Meow: Meow, meow said the cat waiting for milk.

Can you guess what objects or animals produce these sounds?





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Get on the MOOC and tell Houston we have a problem!


Evidently you don't need to be a rocket scientist to create a positive MOOC (massive open online course) experience, if the fallout from the recent failed Coursera offering on Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application is anything to go by.

You don't even need to be a world-renowned expert in online learning and instructional design. Ask Fatimah Wirth, the Instructional Designer for Georgia Tech Professional Education and an instructor for one of the NASA Electronic Professional Development Network (ePDN) courses.

Well, I wouldn't have guessed this. Normally I like unique views on out of date strategies as English teaching news isn't like working on something brand new day after day. Of course it's not at all like manufacturing car engines the whole day then again you can always find something to change slightly. Even if you tend not to accept the beauty of life hides in the changes. Let us see what lengths we could go.

No, if the Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application MOOC proves anything, it is that you need to be something much more (or much less?) than that.

Apparently (and this will be old hat to the 41,000+  who joined the MOOC) the planned six-week course crashed out after the first week, and there were quite diabolical problems right from the first day.

For a very detailed (and in my opinion, insightful) account of how it all went pear-shaped, I recommend reading Chewing Thistles' 24 Hours - A long time in online learning.  There is also this account from the Washington Post: How online class about online learning failed miserably.

Perhaps knowing something about Artificial Intelligence is a better predictor of one's capability to really plan and deliver effective massive open online courses, as this article demonstrates.

Personally, I wouldn't be trusting anyone to teach me about online learning if their MO is reading aloud word-for-word over the bullet points of a PowerPoint (including material about the dangers of using PowerPoint...), never mind expecting 41,000 people to efficiently access a Google Doc that only allows in 50 users at a time.

And the fact a course about online learning, planning and application failed quite spectacularly on all three fronts... well, beyond the easy irony and as much as I sympathize with Ms. Wirth, there's more than one lesson to be learned in all of this.

Despite the time wasted and copious frustrations, at least those 41,000 didn't have to pay for the failed course. I had a somewhat similar experience with an online MA unit in ICT for Education, and I had to pay through the teeth for it.


Related articles

A Lesson in Letting Go – Checkin’ in with Courtney

imageCheckin' in with Courtney - a spotlight of democratic learning at Raki's Rad Resources I had the amazing privilege to teach with one of the best teachers in the world last year.  While we taught together, she provided me with inspiration – for my classroom and my blog – like no one else I’ve ever taught with.  Luckily for you guys, she has agreed to periodically share with us what is going on in her classroom.  Today is the first edition of Checkin’ in with Courtney.  For more of Courtney’s awesomeness, you can check our her class Weebly.

Our first unit of the year is Magical Morocco! I have always felt that one of my strengths is allowing kids to chose and discover what and how they learn through an inquiry based approach. I knew that I wanted to teach them basic geographical skills and to increase their understanding of Moroccan culture as well as their own, but I wanted to leave it up to them to guide our learning.

Then last week, we had the best morning! In the middle of a read aloud we somehow stopped and began a wonderful conversation in which students shared their thoughts and ideas, and we sorted it all out through a majority voting process. Before I knew it we had agreed that the kids would break into 4 research groups: Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fes. They were anxious to use recycled products and our new supply of Legos to recreate the cities. While they were at snack I whipped together a “City Planning” sheet to help students organise their research by listing common buildings, transportation, landforms and bodies of water. Over the course of a few days the groups looked at maps, drew from their own knowledge, and looked online to fill out their planning sheets.

photo 1The fun began and before I knew it miraculous cities were forming before my eyes: roadways with cars and trains, airports, palaces for the King, hotels, mosques, souks and more. When I conferenced with one group they informed me that the building they had worked on for over an hour was a spaceship. I quickly dismissed it and told them that it had to be one of the several buildings they had written on their city planning sheet. As the day went on I felt uneasy about it, but I had convinced myself that I was allowing enough creativity. The next day I watched the boys continue to work with such diligence on their city, I began to ask them questions and knew that they definitely understood everything I wanted them to from the lesson. So why was I having such a hard time accepting their spaceship? I suggested that perhaps their “spaceship” was actually a mosque.

Finally, this morning I woke up and knew what I had to do. During our photo 2 morning meeting I told the kids I had something very serious to discuss with them. I told them that I was disappointed in myself because I am constantly emphasizing, “the one thing no one can ever take from you is your ideas.” and here I was, their teacher, telling them their ideas were wrong. I explained to the class that I knew the boys had done a great job thinking and writing the buildings of Casablanca, and that after they had worked so well together to build a spaceship, I told them that it couldn’t be what they had intended. The class looked at me quite seriously, and I asked the particular group to forgive me and confessed that it was hard as an adult admitting to kids that I had made a mistake. They quickly forgave me, and the whole day was pretty incredible.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we want kids to not just learn information but to analyze and synthesize it, when we accept the responsibility to encourage such freedom, we must also work hard as adults to relinquish the control we have been programmed to maintain. LET GO!!!!!


I wouldn't have guessed this. I always like new opinions on ancient guidelines as ESL is not like having something new day by day. For sure it is not like constructing car engines all day long yet there are always something to change slightly. Although you usually do not admit the beauty of life hides in the changes. Let's see what lengths we could get.

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