My update


Well, the picture kind of says it all. As of 8 January 2020, I’m a committee member of the IATEFL Leadership and Management SIG! I could list one hundred reasons why it’s so important to me, but here are my top three:

  1. IATEFL is one of the biggest and certainly the most well-known international organisation in the field of English language teaching.
  2. LAMSIG is one of 16 IATEFL special interest groups and the closest to my heart: five years ago this SIG gave me, a very new and inexperienced academic manager, a scholarship to come to the 50th anniversary conference. It made me more confident, encouraged me to reflect and develop a more academic approach to my work, and to go out and meet more like-minded people. And now I have a chance to give something back.
  3. I’m one of the 10 committee members, and the other 9 are incredibly cool. I know most of them from before because I’ve been attending their talks, reading their articles, admiring them from a distance – and now we can actually work together!

So, there you go. This also means that my blogging schedule is moving from daily to weekly, but I promise I will continue to read and share the best bits of ELT goodness 🙂 Keep watching this space – and see you at the next IATEFL, maybe?


Linguistics with laughter


It’s easy to fall into an Internet rabbit hole on holidays, isn’t it? But look what I’ve found: an absolute gem of a web zine for linguists and the linguistically-minded called Speculative Grammarian. Between their News Bites (/nuz baɪts/) to rather horrible puns in ‘reasons not to study linguistics’ (Juθt don’t θtudy liθpθ; theðe thingð are θyθtematically impoθible) or the exploits of the Great Predicato, I haven’t been able to stop laughing.

And of course I’m still reading the poems. What do you think about this one?

There once was a linguist from Mordor,
Whose vast minions obeyed every order,
So their lines never crossed
When their foes they’d accost,
And each spear held a hidden recorder.
—Morris Swadesh III

That said, I wouldn’t recommend taking any of it to the classroom unless you’re teaching at linguistic university!

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?




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?

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!