Monday, January 15, 2018

Genyally - it's simply great

I came across Genially just recently thorugh a Twitter post by Nick Peachey and I simnply loved it. I think it's got a lot of potential for presenting information in a nice and visual way for our students.  Nick's great Genially presentation on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs here (there are links to Nick's social media at the end of the presentation) is a wonderful example of how you can use it.

I have now created a Teacher account and will start exploring it asap as I can see it can be very useful for me as a teacher trainer and learner myself. I'll keep you posted as I'll report soon on how I use it while reviewing it from a teacher's point of view.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Google Keep - a must keep!

I came across Google Keep not long ago and it's been an incredibly flexible tool so I decided to write a short entry here to share what I've been using it for and how useful it's been. There are other programs out there to make notes and organise one's ideas, commitments, etc., like EverNote, OneNote, Swipes and many more. Jimmy Daly's blog post here offers up to 14 different ones!

As I said earlier, I've been using Google Keep and it's been really simple to use and very useful so I would definitely recommend it to anyone doing lots of different things and wanting to be able to make, classify, find, edit, etc., notes in their daily lives.  As I have several roles besides my full time job, Google Keep is helping me organise all those extra commitments I have easily as you can create labels for the different categories you need and also colour code them.  They're accessible to you anywhere you go and so it's easy to keep track of all the different things I need to do. Here's a Google Keep video with the basics and do share the good stuff!

Update - after using it for over 6 months now (Jan 2018) I can say that Google Keep is definitely a tool worth exploring and using. I have at least 4 or 5 different jobs and so Keep helps me keep tabs on all my commitments and projects offering a lot of flexibility as I can create to-do lists or simply notes, I can also label them by creating the label I need to group them together thus making it is easier to organise. I can also add visuals, pictures and links to specific notes so this has been very useful when I get specific info from different parties at the same time on different projects or activities. Once done, I can archive them and move on and the best feature of all for me: that you can access your notes and important info anywhere on any browser and on your phone so I would recommend it without reservations.

Here we go again!


It's been four months since my last post and I must confess it's been hectic to say the least. This is, of course, no excuse for my absence so here's an update on all the things I've been working on since then.  As regards my full time job, it's going well and as usual I'm enjoying it immensely. I think it's great when you can honestly say you do want to go to work in the morning so in spite of the usual ups and down we all go through, things are going well and changes are ahead as my role is changing from DoS to Academic Manager with a more supervisory capacity, but still very involved in the academics of the school and of course, Teacher Training and Development, which is my true love.

My external activities are also thriving and this year I started working for IDP as a language consultant so a very exciting opportunity from which I'm learning lots and also traveling a bit more! Language assessment can be said to be my second true love and as such I'm getting more and more involved in it as a lead trainer also for Cambridge so I'm very pleased that I can learn and also make a difference in the lives of those colleagues I'm to lead for.

Study-wise, I had said in late September last year after finishing my second MA wonderful results that I would have taken a break from study for a year as I have not stopped studying in the last 12 years and was feeling it was a time for me to focus on work and on making a bit of money! However, I cannot help it! So I've enrolled in the Diploma in Academic Management offered by International House London. As part of the Ih Family I know lots of people there and some of the tutors so I can't wait to learn with and from them!

As part of my Head of Teacher Training role, I will be leading the team offering the International House Certificate in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers at GIGA Ih Catania and so I'm now busy making sure the transition from the Cambridge YL Extension to CELTA into the IHCYL&T course, also validated by Cambridge, is smooth.  So if you're interested our next teacher training and development courses are:

CELTA 5-week course Mon through Thu: Aug 1 - Sep 5

IHCTYL&T 2-week course Mon through Fri:  C1 - Sep 11 - 22 & C2 - Sep 25 - Oct 6.

You can email me at for information and an application pack.

Bye for now!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Time to come back!

It's 2017 already and time does fly when one is having fun! I finished my MA in September last year and it seems like it was yesterday when I got the great news that I had got a Distinction. After that, it's all been really busy with new projects, courses, training, assessing, inspecting and examining! You name it!  I wanted to get on to a PhD, but it's all been so busy - enjoyable and challenging at the same time - that I have decided to have a short break and dedicate myself to all the different projects ahead of me.

I'm back now and looking forward to getting back into creating videos, trying out apps and tools and briefly writing about them so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Slack - making communication easy

I came across Slack last year while working on my MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching and decided to give it a try with my peers on the course. Well, I signed up, created an account and then invited my classmates. It was easy and very quickly we started using it to keep up with our own lives, tasks and assignments for the course and above all to share resources, materials and encouragement before and through our dissertation writing months.

We quickly took to it and although we were using lots of the basic features, it really helped us get through it without losing touch. I've now started exploring the extra resources they offer e.g. video tutorials here and extra resources here as I've created a private group inside it for my school and we will be using it from next month to enhance communication between staff. I'm sure it will be as useful as it's been so far as it can be used on a web browser and mobiles devices both Android and IOs. I've got an iMac at home, an iPad and a desktop and Samsung laptop at school and Slack works wonderfully across all of them. 

You can create a free account which has worked wonders for me as an individual and want to see how it will work for me at school with a small number of colleagues. I'm sure it will be fine.  In any case, you can also get a paid for subscription and unleash its potential, which I think it's definitely worth it!  For the time being, as an individual teacher, I'm sticking to the free account but would highly recommend it based on my experience of it so far!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching? Done!

It's been just over a year since I last posted here and so I thought it was about time I came back.  As per my entries on the MA course tabs I created to track and help me reflect on my second MA studies, I finished the content modules in Dec 2015. This year has been dedicated to the dissertation and I'm now back posting here as I managed to finish it 2.5 month early.  No, I'm not a nerd - ok, maybe, a little! This is mainly because of my work load during the summer where I regularly act as Main Course Tutor on our full time CELTA courses and so I couldn't see myself writing am MA dissertation and working 10 hours a day on top of that, so I got very well organised from the beginning of the school year and managed to completed it in record time. It's now time to wait for the results and once they come out organising the trip to Nottingham for the graduation ceremony in Novemeber - I think.

Anyways, I wanted to bring everybody up to speed here and so I also wanted to share my dissertation topic.  Fro my previous MA in TESOL I researched a topic which is still very controversial: Pre-Teaching Vocabulary in Receptive Skills Lessons. Results showed that there is indeed a place for PTV but under specific circumstances.  Anyways, the topic for my second MA was: The Role of Social Media in the Continuing Professional Development of English Language Teacher Trainers and the results were very interesting.  As part of the program we were asked recently to prepare a quick presentation on the what, the why and the how of our dissertations and so I thought I'd share it here. I hope it helps you see it from my perspective.

What's next? Well, I'm doing soem research into another MA or as suggested by my tutors on both MAs, a PhD. I've attended a couple of PhD webinars and also looked for what's out there so I'm carefully considering the options. In order to keep me busy in the meantime though I'm doing a Level 5 CMI Management and Leadership course online with FutureLearn which I'm enjoying a lot as I'd like my future studies or research to go in that direction. We'll see what happens next!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm back with more Methodology Pills (No. 26 Planning a Speaking Skills Lesson and No. 27 Lesson Planning Quick Steps)

It's been almost two months since my last post on May 18 on Peer feedback in my MA in DTLT Reflective blog. It's been a hard year so far with lots of work and study, but very rewarding altogether! Since my last blog post above I've been very busy with MA work being completed and submitted before the summer break, examining like crazy all over the place and also preparing for our summer intensive CELTA and YL Extension to CELTA courses. We're now almost half way through the second full time CELTA and so I can say it's been tough.

Anyways, as usual one of the greatest things about being a teacher trainer is that you are the first learner in the room and so while trying to help trainees get their heads round the theory and practice of lesson planning, I came up with the following two Methodology Pills:

No. 26 Planning a Speaking Skills lesson and No. 27 Lesson Planning Quick Steps. These include  steps we were going through in assisted lesson planning sessions so I thought it made sense to recap and put them nicely together in two separate screen casts for trainees and anyone interested in watching or listening to them at leisure!

Here's Pill No. 26 on Speaking Lessons...

And Pill No. 27, a short video (7.49') looking at the 5 quick steps you can focus on or follow when planning a receptive skills or language-based lesson while adopting a Guided Discovery or Text-based approach. Needless to say, this is just another way of approaching lessons and particulary suited for Guided Discovery or Text-based lessons because of the text at the core of the lesson and the approach we focus on during the course here at our centre. Of course, we also expose trainees to the other approaches e.g. TTT (Test-Teach-Test), TBL (Tsk-based Learning), PPP (Presentation Practice Production), etc. but focus on Guided Discovery when it comes to language work. OK, here it is then - enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching - My progress report

It's been over 2 months since I last posted anything here so I think it is long due! We just finished the first semester of my second MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching with the University of Nottingham and we're about to start the second one! So far, so good I'd say!  I'm really happy as the course has been challenging and also very interesting and above all practical. I'm hyper by nature so if it wasn't I would probably be bored out of my wits, but the tutors have been great, supportive and have also pushed me a little so I'm 100% satisfied about my decision to do this MA.

Now, as part of my studies we had to keep a reflective bloog which was initially private. I have now made it public so that if you feel like reading my reflections on the literature related to the world of technology and its assessment, integration, and implementation in language teaching then all you need to do is click here for my Reflective Blog.

Also, one of the aspects of the course so far that I have enjoyed the most is the creativity and flexibility - IMHO - as regards the work required. For instance, part of the assessment included writing an essay and part of the criteria against which we wanted to be assessed against. We were also encouraged to think outside the box and we were also allowed to choose how to present the essay beyond the traditional writing by incorporating media in as many forms as appropriate. I found this extremely motivating and so I presented in its traditional writen form, but also embedded it into a wiki while using Tellagami to introduce it, PodOmatic to present the Abstract and the main body of the assignment in the wiki to include video and links to different sources such as Dropbox, etc.  I wish I had had more times as I had other ideas which I think would have been great to include but doing it while working full time and wearing all the different hats I do proved limiting in many senses.  I can't wait to get onto the dissertation stage, which I have already started working on to save time!

Anyways, I hope you enjoy and find my reflections useful if you're considering to implement technology into your teaching in a more informed way.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Methodology Pill No. 25 Planning a Writing Skills Lesson

Hello again,

This entry is about how to plan a writing skills lesson and the reason for it and the accompanying videos is that often trainee teachers and sometimes also teachers cannot identify the main stages of a writing lesson. Writing, like all the other skills, needs to be approached by looking at what specific sub skill(s) we want to focus on in the classroom as simply saying 'We'll do some writing today' or 'We'll write a letter today' is enough.Needless to say, we need to exactly which are of writing we are going to focus on in that given lesson e.g. genre or text types, accuracy, fluency, coherence, cohesion, punctuation, layout, paragraphing, etc. Often when observing writing lessons either on teacher training courses or as part of the internal teacher training development program, stages are not clearly identified and this usually means there is not enough of clear scaffolding for students to complete the tasks successfully and benefit from going through the process.

Now, there are different ways to approach writing depending on what you want to achieve with your group of learners, what level they are, what their immediate writing needs are, the course syllabus and the time available.  Here I just want to offer a set of suggestions on what stages may be followed when approaching Writing skills in the ESOL classroom as found in the literature available.

I created both a longer video which addresses all the stages one by one and also give ideas for each stage - ideas which I have tried and tested over the years :-)...

and a shorter one using PowToon for those on the go and which may help you quickly revise those ideas you are already familiar with.

Bye for now and I hope your find this post helpful.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Methodology Pills No. 23 and 24 - Planning Receptive Skills and Language Focused Lessons

It's been almost 6 weeks since my last public post so I think it's time for one more before my few followers think I'm gone! I started my second MA in October and so I've been rather busy with work and study and family troubles :-(, but I'm back!

This entry is about Planning Receptive Skills (reading/listening) and Language Focused (Grammar, Vocabulary or Functions) lessons while on a CELTA course, but the suggested stages and ideas given here are certainly applicable to receptive skills lessons in general and beyond the course. The main idea behind this entry and accompanying video is that of supporting my trainees on the course by offering a few ideas for each of the different stages. It became more evident than ever on my last course that if we want to get the message across and we want our students to 'see' what we mean, then the best way to do it is by 'showing' them what we mean.  With this in mind and a few questions posed by my trainees, I created this Methodology Pill No. 23 so I trust it will be useful not only while on the course but after it.  The video is also up on my YouTube channel and it is public so I'm simply linking it here for ease of access.

The Methodology Pill No. 24 Planning Language Focused lessons aims at showing different ideas and examples for the different stages of any of these lessons. Something to take into account is that all the suggestions made are while adopting a Guided Discovery approach so very different from the traditional PPP (Presentation Practice Production). Again, the reason for this video was also in response to my trainees' request for extra ideas and a way to be able to access these ideas other than through their notes.

I hope you find both screen casts useful.