A fix for notebook junkies


I’m travelling now, and every time I go past a bookshop I can’t resist the attraction. But it’s not books I’m after – I’m looking at all kinds of cool diaries and notebooks and trying to convince myself that I don’t need another planner right now.

That’s probably why this post by Charity Preston seems so exciting to me – I’ve found a kin soul who likes to make good notes, but she goes much further and creates adjustable templates. Check out the whole process there and enjoy the cool pictures: it seems much easier than one would think, and allows you to adjust the cover, layout and number of pages to your liking.

Anyone else who likes to keep good records? Or at least have a nice place to store them 🙂


Thoughts about ultralearning


Scott Young writes about this method of learning that is ‘aggressive’ and self-directed (there is a new book coming out, and his posts are advertising it – not that it reduces the value of the ideas in any way). His research shows that difficulty, direct practice and opportunity for retrieval are what can make learning more effective.

Ok, then if this is applied to more or less traditional ELT, what have we got? The communicative approach gives at least some direct practice e.g. in role-playing games and simulations – check. Opportunities for retrieval practice are there provided the teacher does review activities, mini-tests and so on. So — not always. And desirable difficulty is a big pain point, isn’t it?

Receptive strategies for language learning


Here is a very enjoyable read by Andreia Zakime from WhatisELT.  She writes about top-down and bottom-up processing in reading, and I love her take on the Ukrainian and Russian linguistic landscape (she is staying in Ukraine at the moment). She analyses her own experience as a beginner reader, combines it with her teaching and teacher training skills and gives an excellent overview of the two strategies and how they can be used in the classroom to develop both receptive skills. Really nice!

Time to gather stones together


Here is a post by Clare Maas to inspire your summer work: how to reassess and improve the materials you created for your classes during the academic year. She recommends taking a week to look through the semester’s worth of materials, and check for issues with the timing, staging, examples etc – while your memory of the lessons is still fresh. Something we should do every week perhaps, just like Clare suggests at the end of her post, but there’s never enough time during the year!

Are you flustrated by portmanteau words?


This post from Scholastic made me research the topic for a while: apparently, there are more portmanteau words in English than I thought! Hangry, bromance, chillax… Great stuff. (And did you know that they are sometimes called centaur words? Not sure if it’s widespread enough, but still – wow.) Martin Wilson, the author of the post, suggests that these words should be taught to learners of English and lists several reasons for it. And if you are looking for more inspiration, this post from Macmillan is an absolute must-read: a lot of well-known ELT authors, linguists and bloggers have shared their favourite portmanteaus, and ‘flustrated’ from the title is just one of them.

What’s your favourite portmanteau? Anyone? 🙂


Coaching learners of all ages


In my exploration of teacher training and coaching posts, I’ve stumbled upon this (now sadly silent) blog again: Daniel Barber and Duncan Foord wrote about different aspects of coaching as teaching. There’s a lot of useful information: interviews with other experts interested in coaching in ELT, activities to try out in and out of the classroom (try Drives, for example), articles and ideas for teaching and for thinking about teaching.  A few hours of reading, and suddenly I remember that I haven’t posted the morning blog yet – so here it is 🙂

P.S. I wrote about their ‘Evaluationator‘ in my series about the Sense of Progress, by the way. Good stuff for learner motivation, too!