As a Native English-Speaking Teacher (NEST) who didn't learn any English grammar at school, it wasn't until I started training as a teacher and then teaching that I really started to get to grips with the English grammatical - and later lexical - system. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a point where I've felt I understand the whole system. That's one of the great things about being a teacher - you keep learning. When I first started out as a language teacher in the mid-1990s, I...

Humans (like all intelligent hunters) seem innately disposed to notice things which move rather than things which stand still. Cook, 2000 Don't move a muscle. by Chris Isherwood CC-BY-2.0 It is often argued that the English language class should try to emulate the ‘real world’ as much as possible. Tasks and activities should reflect what people do in real life, in order to give learners the tools that they’ll need to use English outside the classroom. While this is no doubt good advice, I believe there is also a valid and useful...

Picture the scene: There I was, a shy 13-year-old boy, dressed in an itchy, ill-fitting school uniform in the middle of a German language class. Our teacher, Mrs. Dawson, a strict woman who ruled the classroom with an iron fist, is going round the class calling out people to read chunks of a text out loud, in German. Nothing could be more embarrassing for a nervous teenager in the throes of adolescence than having to read out a short passage (badly) in another language to a room full...

10 years ago I was teaching in in a school in central London. At that time the internet as a teaching resource was just beginning to take off, and while I and many of my peers were starting to get to grips with how to get the most out of it, there was always the trusty Metro. Metro was (and still is) a popular free newspaper which is distributed on the London underground. It has broad appeal both due to the nature of it's articles and the range...

Think of a baby. What is it you associate with it most - the smell? The sound of the baby crying? Perhaps you think about how it feels to hold a baby, or even just what it looks like? The chances are that most people reading this (assuming there's more than one!) will have answered that question differently, since it's intuitive to think that we all perceive and interact with the world around us in different ways. ...

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.Blaise Pascal, 1669   He took some persuading. When the 17th Century Christian philosopher wrote that in 1669, it was as a part of a description of human intellect. But these are words which still hold true for many of us teachers who have had any level of basic training. We can all remember that one boring teacher at school or university who used to lecture us. Sometimes...

Ok, so you need to read the text and answer the questions. These questions here. You need to answer these questions…Do you need to answer the questions? Simple. (Black Dyke Mills 2 by Tim Green CC-BY-2.0) This is something I recently heard a teacher on a pre-service training course say to a group of (mildly bewildered) students. Interestingly enough, the same teacher commented in the feedback discussion later that he felt like he was patronising students asking this question, but that he knew he ‘had to ask an ICQ’ (Instruction Check...

Have you taken many selfies recently? If so, was it because you were enjoying some me time, and wanted to share the moment with friends, or were you just in a bit  of a dappy mood? Squee!   Image: Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net If you followed that paragraph, then well done, but perhaps it’s time to move on, as that was so 2013. Oxford Dictionaries announced at the end of last year that selfie (a photo you take of yourself ) was 2013’s word of the year. Other notable new words of 2013...