The word of the year: from 2018 to 2019


To revisit the tradition I started on this blog one year ago, I’m looking at the word of the year from the world experts.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s toxic.

Cambridge: nomophobia

Merriam-Webster: justice

Collins: single-use misinformation

Which of them could be your words of the past year?

And, perhaps more importantly, which words would you like to make your own in 2019?

P.S. Incidentally, there’s a nice article about choosing your word of the year if you’re into this kind of thing – I’m still thinking about mine!

P.P.S. Happy New Year, everyone!


New Year at my home

The fun of misnegation


“The author never fails to disappoint” – can you imagine that a phrase like that ended up on the cover of a book? And yet it happens, and there is an explanation for it in this post by Stan Carey about the issue with several negatives in one sentence and how our brain sometimes fails to process them correctly. It can be particularly useful when you’re teaching students with a negative-concord native language – though I suppose words similar to ‘overestimate’ and ‘understate’ can be tricky regardless of how many negatives your language allows you to have in one sentence!


Looking for serendipity


Do you remember this cool book called ‘Teach like a pirate’? Well, Dave Burgess, the author, is not alone: there’s a group of innovative educators who write books, speak and generally inspire teachers and learners. These two books in particular seem exciting: The Path to Serendipity and The Princes of Serendip by Allyson Apsey. The former is about life, the universe and everything – how you can find joy in lucky and beautiful moments (that’s what I got from the blurbs, but the book is now on my Kindle). If the first book is for adults trying to make sense of their life, the other one is its companion for children, instilling the same values through a story with pictures. And now I really want them both 🙂

Why I’m telling you all this? Just to ask if you have any thoughts about serendipity and if it has any place in your classroom or workplace. Are you one of those princes on the journey to Serendip? Do you want your learners to be?

Should or must

Warning: this is a rather touchy-feely post, and it’s not really about grammar rules! Nevertheless, I think it builds quite nicely on the idea of Do-Nothing Teaching, and the questions the writer asks are very close to my heart. It’s actually a book summary, and it seems that the whole book is a worthwhile read. Call me an idealist, but isn’t this a great quote? 

“When you follow Must every day, you impact not only what you create for your work, but also who you become in your life. This is how your work and your life become one and the same.”

That said, you can also use the article for extra noticing practice with higher-level students 🙂

P.S. My ‘Listening to now’ widget has stopped working, so here is a nice song I got stuck on as an illustration: 

Napoleon learning English


You may have seen it around your networks, but it would be too much of a shame to miss it – an article about “Englich” lessons that Napoleon took on Saint Helena, his reactions to the learning process, mistakes he made. Hilarious and so true! Like so many learners of today, he tries to calculate how many words there are in the English language and how many years it will take him to learn it, complains about no sense of progress, insists on using French pronunciation – and at the same time plays with words, tries his hand at book reviews and courageously makes jokes in a new language. Some good learning habits there!

12 ways to innovate


This article on modes of innovation by Julian Stodd popped up in my LinkedIn feed some time ago, and I keep coming back to it: perhaps because the topic is so attractive, or maybe because of all the neat labels the author has given to different innovative approaches: frugal, iterational, breakthrough… There are a dozen of ‘modes’ with explanations, and I find myself applying this categorisation to my thinking in all areas of my work: do I want to optimise the process here? What’s the connection there, and what does it give? (And yes, it doesn’t have to be academic management – I could see it used, say, for lesson planning.)

For people like me, who are not particularly innovative or creative by nature, frameworks like this are a godsend. I won’t ask if you include yourselves in this category, but do check out the article anyway 🙂