The book begins…

book-first page

Here’s a post describing a structured procedure for a reading lesson: from quick reading to reflection, there are all kinds of interesting stages that are meant to help students read authentic literature. Yes, the lesson is based on real fiction, the first pages of well-known books. What a treat!

As the author says, it could be particularly useful for Cambridge exam preparation, but I know quite a few people who think it their mission to develop a love of reading in their students (whispering: we know who we are…). So, what are you waiting for? 🙂



Taking sides re retrieval practice


Here is a thought-provoking article from The Learning Scientists about different approaches to revision. Some teachers think that tests are boring, and try to hid retrieval practice behind other activities; others do not mind doing a lot of low-stakes non-threatening tests (these unassuming little checks reduce text and exam anxiety, provide regular revision and, of course, increase the sense of progress).

And which side are you on?

Testing at its best

flowerIf you feel that you are stuck in the barren land of assessment, just check out this new post from Bethany offering a very positive view of pre- and post-testing. There is little else that can demonstrate learning and capture that elusive sense of progress. She also recommends adding ‘yet’ to ‘I don’t know’ in multiple choice questions: “I don’t know yet, but I really hope to find out!” And what I particularly like about her post is its wonderful aura of positivity – do you?

Just a teeny tiny minute, only 60 seconds in it


Check out this very comprehensive description of a classical little activity called ‘Just a minute!’. It can help you energise your students when you’re not in the mood for slow teaching. I have tried it myself, even with one-to-ones: it helps keep the focus on accuracy or target language, at the same encouraging students to speak quickly and coherently (very useful for exam preparation). You might want to complement it with the famous radio show, but I rarely get students who are proficient enough to enjoy it!

Helping students with exam nerves


Whether you work as an examiner or not, how do you feel in a test situation when you see nervous students in front of you? Do you sympathise? I sincerely hope that the preparation course they took was similar to what David Petrie described in his IATEFL 2017 presentation (so sorry I missed it!). Having subject knowledge, task knowledge and, perhaps most importably, self-knowledge – this is what can really help the candidates. Perhaps we are all ‘exam whisperers’, teachers and examiners alike?

For a teacher-oriented take on being a Cambridge examiner, you can also check this post by Kate Bailward.