The word of the year: 2019


I can’t believe it’s my third post about the word of the year 🙂 Incidentally, it’s Kate’s Crate’s second anniversary: I started this blog a few days before the New Year in 2017. It’s been really rewarding in many ways – but this post is not about blogging, it’s about what lexicographers have chosen as the most significant word for the whole world this year. So, without further ado:

Oxford: climate emergency

Cambridge: upcycling

Merriam-Webster: they (the link is to the behind-the-scenes video explaining how they chose the word – so cool)

Collins: climate strike existential

P.S. You can compare this to the words of the year in 2018 and in 2017.

P.P.S. What’s your word of the year? And what would you like your 2020 word to be?





Sweet memes are made of these


Here’s a great post about the value of memes for learning by Glenn Wiebe. Don’t be surprised that it’s mostly about history and social studies – a lot of his ideas can easily be implemented in an EFL classroom. Also, he does talk about literacy integration, vocabulary learning and even the Frayer model. Some of example activities are to use memes as discussion starters or project tasks, and he recommends several tools for creating memes online. Definitely something I’m going to try out in the new year, and what about you?


The watercooler factor

watercoolerIf you’ve ever wondered how materials writers get their ideas, don’t ask them, check this great post by Rachael Roberts. She writes about the myriad decisions one has to make when writing: e.g. how to consider ‘the watercooler factor‘, i.e. the intrinsic interest of materials that would make the learners discuss them later with their colleagues or family.  Then again, interesting input doesn’t always mean interesting output! There’s a lot more there about learning objectives, tasks and getting feedback, so do go back to the source.

P.S. I couldn’t help but notice that Rachael quotes Neil Gaiman, and, on a personal note, I have the fondest memories of him from my translator days – from 10 years ago! Feel free to check my old post in Livejournal if you’re interested, there’s a rough translation into English if you scroll down.

Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess


Here is a great post by Taylor Veigga at RichmondShare about how our names reflect our identities and how it is connected with speaking a foreign language. Do you encourage your students to change their names? Do you insist on them using their national version? What about your own name? To me, it was really interesting to read about the evolution of Taylor’s views on this  – maybe someone else would like to share yours?

My own thoughts: why not have several names for different occasions? I find that I introduce myself as Kate to younger students, Katherine to colleagues and adult students, and use any Russian/Belarusian/Polish/Ukrainian versions when the atmosphere calls for it 🙂



Unparliamentary language


If your (hopefully, adult) learners ask you for ‘real English’, you might find this post from Language Log quite useful: it describes how the expression ‘with all due respect‘ has developed to mean the exact opposite, and gives a few rather strong examples. It could certainly make for a very interesting discussion of phrases that look innocent but can be seen as really offensive or impolite.

Teachers have a duty to point things like this out to students, don’t you agree? Or do you usually gloss over ‘unparliamentary language’ in your lessons?

Adjusting your marking practice


Here is a great post from Teachers on Fire by Katelynn Giordano which tells a story of how the author, an experienced teacher, was reminded to adjust their principles to meet the needs of a particular student. It all happened on a parents’ day (they call it a parent-teacher conference, and as a bonus you can read about an interesting student-led format for this day): a student and the teacher had different views on marking. In short, the student wanted to see corrections in her submitted paper, and the teacher had strong beliefs about not discouraging students with a paper full of red ink. It’s great that they were able to talk and find a solution that would help the student and not discourage her.

And I’m wondering now how many times my beliefs have stood in the way of learning for this or that particular student… I just hope they will keep telling me what exactly they need!

Tongue twisters and history

Merry Christmas everyone! But since I don’t celebrate this tradition myself, here’s another work-related post for you. If your learners are interested in pronunciation and etymology, this article will make them (or you :)) extra happy: it tells a short but entertaining story behind each of the most famous tongue twisters in English. Could make for a nice holiday read!

How to write a great quiz


Here is a very interesting article from Moodle about best practice for test writing, not necessarily on Moodle and not just for languages. Whatever you are testing, it seems that the key is to consider how the students are going to do the test and what you can improve to get more reliable results. There’s practical advice about introducing quick low-stakes checks, using mock tests, preventing cheating – a riveting read!

Testing your creativity


If your students don’t mind personality quizzes, how about giving them this amazing test by Adobe to determine their creative type? It reminds me of Meyers-Briggs and Belbin, only it’s visually much cooler. The questions are easy enough for B1+ (better if they are adults), and the results warrant loads of fun and discussions. There’s even an article about the test was made – really great stuff for those who’d like to question the results or simply find out more. And the best thing about this test is that it brings home a very important message: we can all be creative in our own special ways, even if we don’t dance or paint.

Have you tested yourselves yet? Apparently, I’m a cactus.

Printable Business English delights


The Oxford Teachers’ Club is a real friend in need – for example, have you seen these ‘print-and-go’ lessons? They are not exactly lessons, of course, but original standalone activities that can take up to 30 minutes of class time and provide useful revision, consoludation or simply an unusual take on the good old Business English grammar or vocabulary. Some of the handouts focus on soft skills, which is even better. For example, ‘Stressed!’ is a great activity about time management – I’d love to do it myself, and I should probably do it every day! (You do need to register to be able to download the file and the teacher’s notes, but believe me, it’s totally worth it.)