Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teaching Collocation

Although not exactly a resource book, we have chosen this volume to feature in the last post in this series as it is an excellent combination of accessible theory and useful practical ideas for classroom activities.

The activity we have selected is the collocation game. This game can be used to revise all kinds of collocations, and the examples given include:
verb + noun: collect, provide, volunteer, conceal, gather, withhold information
adjective + noun: huge, growing, profitable, domestic, export, black market
adverb + adjective: fairly, relatively, ridiculously, comparatively, dead easy
verb + adverb: carefully, thoroughly, properly, closely, in minute detail examine

Tell the learners that you will read out a list of words, all of which collocate with one noun (or adjective, etc.). As you read, the students have to guess what noun it is. When they think they know what it is, they stand up. Once they are all standing, you check their guesses.

This activity only works properly if you choose the order of the words carefully, moving from more general words to stronger collocates. Make sure there is one word at the end, like withhold (+ information) which collocates very strongly and will enable everyone to find the word they're trying to guess.

Michael Lewis (Ed.) (2000) Teaching Collocation: Further Developments in the Lexical Approach Hove: Thomson Heinle Language Teaching Publications

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vocabulary Games and Activities 1

This title in the Penguin English Photocopiables series is a spiral-bound resource book with over a hundred pages of ready-made materials to photocopy, arranged in sections according to level from Beginner / Elementary to Upper Intermediate / Advanced.

The activity we have selected is a version of dominoes designed to practice compound nouns. As well as the cards with the words to be matched, there is also a board to lay them out on, which is illustrated with the vocabulary items that learners need to find, such as newspaper and postcard. Each card has the end of one compound noun and the beginning of another. Students in pairs or groups have to find the cards that match and lay them in order as in the game of dominoes.

As all the necessary materials are provided, this activity can be used with very little preparation time. Alternatively, like many of the activities suggested in these resource books, it can be adapted to practise any area of language that you want to work on. Another example using dominoes in this book has cards with food words, and you could make similar cards for any set of concrete nouns.

Watcyn-Jones, P. (2001) Vocabulary Games and Activities 1, Harlow: Pearson

Friday, December 12, 2014


This title in the excellent Resource Books for Teachers series has over a hundred activities, many of which are suitable for learners of all levels from beginner to advanced. There is a strong emphasis on humanistic activities, but also a range of activity types encompassing working with texts, using corpora and concordances, word games, and many others.

The activity we have selected, Find the word a picture aims to get students to link words and visual images, using word cards and a collection of pictures from magazines. Depending on the size of your class, it's suggested that you use sixty words from previous lessons that need revising, and a hundred pictures. The pictures don't need to be specially selected, as they don't have to illustrate the words, but can simply be related to them in some way.

Give out a few word cards to each student, and spread the pictures on tables around the classroom. Students circulate to find pictures that somehow match each of their words. The picture doesn't have to illustrate the word directly, but may symbolize it, or be suggested by it through association or context. Ask the students in small groups to explain to each other how they have matched their words and pictures.

Morgan, J. & Rinvolucri, M. (2004) Vocabulary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vacancies in Athens for ELT materials writers

We have two vacancies in Athens for writers of English Language Teaching materials to start in January.

Job Description

This position is with Greece’s leading publisher of ELT materials located in Athens. Hours of work are 9 - 5 Monday to Friday. Duties include writing / editing /sub-editing of English Language Teaching materials.


Applicants must have a degree and speak English as their first language. Candidates with a degree in English Literature or similar will be preferred, but any degree will be considered. Experience of ELT materials creation is preferred but not required.


A competitive salary is offered depending on qualifications and experience. Furnished accommodation may be provided if required.


For further information or to apply, please email your CV to or phone (+30) 27410 53511.

Teaching vacancy for January in Komotini

We have a vacancy for a teacher to start in January in Komotini, a city in North-eastern Greece between Kavala and Alexandroupoli.
The successful candidate will teach 25  hours per week,  working with students of all ages and levels, but concentrating mainly on young adults at proficiency (C2) level. 

Terms of employment are according to our standard contract.

For further information or to apply, please email your CV to or phone (+30) 27410 53511.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vocabulary Activities

This title in the Oxford Basics series has lots of good ideas for teachers of young learners.The activity we have selected, What's Missing? is a creative way of reviewing groups of items connected with a place or situation, for example, things on a table at mealtimes.

Gather together the actual items if possible, or else pictures of them. Review the words, saying the name of each item as you show it, and getting the learners to repeat. Then tell the learners to turn away, and while they aren't looking, remove one of the items. When they turn back, the first person to name the missing item takes the place of the teacher.

Slattery, M. (2004) Vocabulary Activities, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Teach Vocabulary

The activities that we have looked at so far in this series are classics that can't be attributed to a specific author. To conclude the series, our posts over the next couple of weeks will introduce one activity from each of our favourite vocabulary resource books.

Show a large picture containing many different items for a few seconds. After you remove the picture, learners individually or in pairs write down as many English words as they can remember for the things shown in the picture. Once they finish writing, show the picture again for them to check. The team that remembers the most words wins.

This is a variation on the classic Kim's Game, but using a picture - which could be projected onto the whiteboard - extends the scope of the activity, while enabling you to focus on a real context.
Thornbury, S. (2002) How to Teach Vocabulary, Harlow: Pearson.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Hangman is one of the most commonly played word games and is a very popular filler activity in lessons. However,  compared to the other activities we have introduced in this series, it's of rather limited value, and its popularity is due mainly to the fact that it requires no preparation.

As in the matching games described in our previous post, most vocabulary activities aim to reinforce the association between the words - including pronunciation and spelling - and their meanings. In contrast, there is no need for students to remember the meaning of a word in order to succeed at hangman. 

The main value of this game is in practising spelling, particularly with words that are a little tricky. For example, this is an effective way to get learners to notice the spelling of numbers in order to overcome common errors such as *threeteen* and *fiveteen*.

While hangman can be useful at the early stages where learners are still consolidating their knowledge of the English alphabet, we wouldn't recommend using it regularly after that.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teaching opportunities with Angloville in Poland

Our friends at Angloville in Poland welcome applications from graduates of the TEFL Corinth TEFL certificate course. In addition to volunteer positions, they are currently looking for a Programme Coordinator / Activity Leader to join the team. See the attached documents for details.

TEFL Corinth has exclusive links with TEFL employers throughout the world, giving you preferential access to jobs teaching English.

Teaching vacancies with EF in Indonesia

Our friends at EF Indonesia welcome applications from graduates of the TEFL Corinth TEFL certificate course. See the attached poster for details.

TEFL Corinth has exclusive links with TEFL employers throughout the world, giving you preferential access to jobs teaching English.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Matching games

Matching words with pictures is a useful way of presenting new vocabulary to young learners, and is equally valuable as a technique for reviewing words that have already been learned. This is particularly suited to lexical sets such as animals.

One way of doing this is to have all the words up on the board - preferably on flash cards as this is a lot quicker than having to write them. As the teacher says and points to each word, learners take the corresponding picture from the selection on the table and stick that on the board. This can be done as a competition, with students racing to grab the correct picture and scoring points for doing so. The pictures can then be matched up with the words on the board, or stuck in a separate section.

Alternatively, a less competitive version of the activity would be for the teacher to give each word to one student to match with the correct picture, going around the class in turn. In either case, this activity reinforces the spelling and the pronunciation of the word, and the association of the word with the picture. 

Using pictures is a simple way to avoid translation when working with young learners, so they get into the habit of associating the English word directly with the object.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Bingo is obviously a useful game for practising recognition of numbers, especially the difference between numbers like thirteen / thirty, but it can also be used to review any area of vocabulary.

In preparation, type up a selection of words from recent lessons. It's always good to insert a table in your document to do this, so the words are neatly arranged in grids, and this is particularly useful for making bingo cards. Once you have all the words, make a different bingo card for each student. If, for example, you have twenty words, you might make twelve cards so that each student has a slightly different selection of words. Apart from the bingo cards, you will also need to print a complete set of all the words on separate slips of paper.

Give out the bingo cards, and explain to the students that if they have the word that you define, they can cross it off. The first person to cross off all the words on his/her card is the winner. As you pick each word from a bag, give the definition, and monitor carefully to ensure that the students cross off the correct word on their cards.

Once they have the hang of the game, you can get students to take it in turns to give the definitions instead of doing it yourself.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Story from the Hat

This is a simple activity to review vocabulary while practising speaking, and can be used with small groups of students of any level from Elementary to Advanced. In preparation, select words from a few recent lessons, write them on slips of paper and put them in the hat.

At the start of the activity, one student picks a word from the hat, and uses the word in a sentence to create the beginning of a story. The other students then take it in turns to pick words and add to the story. They need to listen to each other carefully in order to follow the development of the story, and they need to remember what the words mean so they can make meaningful sentences. This is a highly effective review activity as students are using the words creatively in new contexts, thereby consolidating their grasp of the words and moving beyond passive recognition to add the words to their active vocabulary.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Memory - as the name implies - is a good game for helping to consolidate new vocabulary, as the learners are focused on trying to remember the words. It's particularly suited to reviewing concrete nouns, so it tends to be more useful at Beginner and Elementary level.

In preparation, you need to make two sets of cards - one set has the words you want to review, and the other set typically has pictures of the things that these words name. Alternatively, the second set of cards could have definitions, synonyms, antonyms or example sentences using the word.

Depending on the level of your learners, you may want to use between six and twelve words each time. If you add more than that, the game starts to become much more difficult.

It's also very helpful to keep the two sets of cards separate, and this is easier if you make each set
with cards of different size or colour. Remember also to lay the cards face down on the table in neat rows, keeping the two sets separate. 

As with any new activity, a demonstration can be much more effective than verbal instructions. Start by picking a card at random and turning it over. Then pick a card from the other set and turn it over. If the cards match you keep them. Otherwise, you put them back in the same place face down, and try to remember them.

In subsequent turns, the element of randomness decreases as players remember the cards in each position. The aim is to find as many matching pairs as possible, and the person with the most pairs at the end wins.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Pictionary is another game similar to Taboo and Charades, but whereas Charades lends itself to vocabulary relating to actions that can be mimed, Pictionary is more suited to simple objects that the students can draw.

As with the other games, you prepare slips of paper with the words you want to review, and students take it in turns to pick a word. They draw the object on the whiteboard, and as soon as they start drawing, the other students start guessing what the object is. The first person to guess correctly wins a point and takes the next turn to draw.

It's always a good idea to demonstrate a new activity, as this is usually a lot simpler than giving verbal explanations. Once the learners are familiar with an activity like Pictionary, it can be an efficient way to  review recently-learned vocabulary.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Charades is similar to taboo, but is more suitable for Beginners as they don't need to come up with definitions for the words. Instead, they simply mime the words, so this is particularly suited to practising vocabulary relating to actions. Students take it in turns to select one of the words that you have prepared, and act out the word for the others to guess. 

As with taboo, this can be done as a team game, with a point being awarded for each correct guess. You may find it useful to run over all the words quickly before starting the game, which in itself constitutes a useful review, and anticipation of the game should ensure that the learners are attentive. It can also be useful to ensure as students start their turns that they actually know what their word means.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Taboo is a simple game for reviewing vocabulary which can work with students at almost any level, and with any size of class. For preparation, simply select the words that you want to review from one or more recent lessons, write them on slips of paper and put them in a small box or bag.

Divide the class into two teams. One student takes a word from the bag, and has to enable his / her team-mates to understand what the word is. (S)he can use definitions, examples,or any other techniques - the only thing that's not allowed is to say the actual word. If the team finds the word, they get a point.

You can set a time limit for each turn to keep up the pace of the activity, so this is a useful way to reinforce recently-learned vocabulary without taking up too much time in the lesson.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Crosswords take a little more time to create than some of the other activities, but you can save time by using an online facility like Puzzlemaker to generate them automatically. You can also find ready-made crosswords for common lexical sets, like these food crosswords.

As crosswords usually require definitions, students need to be of a high enough level to be able to understand these. Clear and accurate definitions can be time-consuming to write, but you will probably have already prepared definitions for use when you first taught these words. You could also use a learner's dictionary to find definitions, or use example sentences taken from the lesson in your coursebook.

For learners at lower levels, if the words you want to review are concrete nouns, definitions can be replaced with pictures.

Solving crosswords is generally regarded as a solitary activity, but can also be done in pairs or teams, and if you project a crossword on the whiteboard, the whole class can work on it together.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


A wordsearch is a fun activity to reinforce new vocabulary, and is particularly useful for Beginners as it doesn't require them to remember the meanings of the words, but simply to be able to recognise them. The ease with which learners can complete this type of puzzle gives a boost to their motivation, and focusing on finding the letters in the grid is a useful way to reinforce spelling, particularly for learners who are having to get used to a new alphabet.

Wordsearches are quick and easy to create, using either a word processing programme or a website like Puzzlemaker. Don't use too many words to begin with, or make the grid too large. It may also be simpler to start with all the words arranged horizontally. 

Although wordsearches are usually printed out for learners to work on individually, it can also be fun to do them as a group. You can project the wordsearch that you make yourself, and you can also find websites with ready-made interactive wordsearches like this one from

The Mother of all Learning

A recent article on this blog mentioned that a vocabulary of around 3500 words is enough to get by at B2 level. Given that most learners take at least five years to reach this level, that means they need to acquire about 700 words a year, approximately twenty words a week during the academic year. This seems like a fairly modest accomplishment, but still one that many learners fail to achieve.

One reason for this difficulty is that students waste time learning words that aren't useful. But the main cause of failure is that the words are forgotten. Unlike grammar, vocabulary is particularly easy to forget - whereas grammar builds up into a system of interrelated knowledge, vocabulary tends to be memorised as individual items. And it is estimated that if learners only have a single exposure to new vocabulary, 80% of it will be forgotten within a few days.

This indicates an obvious solution - we need to recycle the vocabulary in subsequent lessons. Taking a few minutes at the start of each lesson to review the words learned in the previous week can make a tremendous difference to retention rates. Over the next few weeks, we'll be posting on this blog lots of suggestions for quick activities that you can use to recycle new vocabulary.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Teaching vacancy in Halkida

Due to continuing growth, one of our long-established clients in Halkida will be opening a new school in November 2014 and currently has a vacancy for a teacher of young adults.

The school is located near the centre of Halkida, which is the capital of Evia, the second-largest Greek island, forty minutes north of Athens.

The new branch will be dedicated to the teaching of young adults, including:

  • preparation for advanced and proficiency level exams
  • preparation for IELTS and study in the UK
  • General English for adults
  • Business English
The successful candidate will teach 25 - 28 hours per week. The initial contract will run until June, with the option to renew and continue teaching throughout the summer.

The salary is 8 euro net per hour, plus health insurance, pension contributions and bonuses. Single accommodation is provided in a large newly-built apartment in the town centre, ten minutes walk from the school.

For further information or to apply, please email your CV to or phone (+30) 27410 53511.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Corpora, concordances and collocations

The TEFL Greece collection of corpora links contains links to a wide variety of tools for exploring text, all of which are free to use at least on a trial basis.

There are two interfaces to access the British National Corpus, one hosted at Oxford and one at Brigham Young

The Oxford one offers a Simple Search facility that makes it ideal for novice users. Simply type in any word or phrase, and the site will give you a sample of fifty complete sentences containing that word or phrase. These authentic examples show the correct use of the language, and can be used for all kinds of activities with your advanced learners. For example, get them to analyse examples with "take part" and "take place" and they will quickly have a clear idea of the difference in meaning. This site also has brief introductory texts on What is the BNC? and Using the BNC.

The Brigham Young interface is slightly more complex as it offers more functions on the homepage, including the ability to perform a KWIC search which presents examples of the Key Word In Context, and the option to search only certain types of language such as spoken, fiction, newspapers and many more. The site also offers a five-minute guided tour which is a very useful introduction to the facilities.

The collection also includes links to a variety of smaller and more specialised corpora, including:
In addition to a selection of the most useful corpora, there is also a section with links to resources that list and describe numerous other relevant sites.

Finally, there are a few selected articles introducing the uses of corpora. Hopefully, these will give you additional ideas about the many ways in which these resources can be used to enrich your teaching.

The igloo paradox

In the previous post, it was mentioned that a vocabulary of 3500 words is considered sufficient to pass the Cambridge FCE. This irresistibly raises the question, which 3500 words are they?

Unfortunately, the answer isn't so straightforward. While it is claimed that the Cambridge Vocabulary for First Certificate "covers all the vocabulary First Certificate candidates need", clearly it doesn't cover all the basic vocabulary that candidates will be assumed to have acquired in their first years of learning, and it doesn't actually contain 3500 vocabulary items anyway.

One sensible approach to identifying the words that learners need is that taken by Michael Lewis and other advocates of the Lexical Approach. Building on the research of early corpus linguists which showed that 70% of our everyday conversation is made up of just 700 words, they designed a course that set out to teach those words in the first year. 

There are some practical problems with this approach, particularly because most of these very frequent words have several different meanings, so it isn't a simple matter to teach or to learn words like "get" or "take".

Nonetheless, teaching materials, particularly reference works such as dictionaries and grammar books, are informed by the principle that the most frequently used vocabulary items and grammatical structures are the most useful ones for learners.

And accessing the tools of corpus linguistics through a simple website searchbox, we can very easily discover which the most frequent items are. Conversely, for any given item, we can find how frequent it is. For example we find that the word "igloo" is ranked as the 26,896th most frequent word in English, compared to:

ice - 1234th
island - 1517th
iron (n) - 2294th

That would seem to indicate that if we're looking for a useful word to represent the letter "I" when teaching the alphabet, "igloo" wouldn't be a good candidate.

Of course, the relative frequency of a particular word depends on whose English is included in the corpora from which the frequency counts are derived. Most corpora are based on adult language. While analysing such corpora can accurately predict which words will be useful for adults, these aren't necessarily the same words that children need.

Looking at lists designed specifically for teachers of children, such as the Fry word lists, we find that there are several function words beginning with "I" in the 100 most frequent, including "in", "is", "it", "I", "if" and "into". The most frequent concrete noun beginning with "I" is again "ice", which occurs within the most frequent 700 words for children, whereas "igloo" doesn't occur in the lists covering the 1000 most frequent words.

This is hardly surprising. Imagine a Greek learner of English working as a waiter in a cafeteria, or using English while travelling abroad. Offering or requesting ice cream, or ice for drinks, would be a  pretty useful thing to be able to do, more useful than being able to ask for an igloo.

This is a word which most people are unlikely ever to use, and yet in many schools of English, it's one of the first words taught. Most authors and publishers of coursebooks are doing a great job, but we still owe it to ourselves and our students to reflect on the materials that we use and adapt them in cases where the contents aren't useful. A small but significant first step would be to consider the words that are used to teach the alphabet. And if you're using one of the many courses that include the word "igloo", replace it with "ice" or "ice cream", which are twenty times more frequent and twenty times more useful.

Turn phrasal verbs into an interesting lesson

Phrasal verbs are an essential part of everyday speech, as they are much more common than the Latinate verbs with equivalent meanings – it’s much more usual to say “turn into” rather than “transform”. As phrasal verbs are notoriously difficult for students to learn, we need to find ways to teach them more effectively.

Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that the verb + particle combination often has a meaning quite different from the sum of its parts. But there are also lots of cases where the meanings are quite predicable, even if they're not immediately obvious. For example, phrasal verbs with up often have the meaning of coming together, as in meet up, team up, gang up, etc. Getting students to notice systematic patterns like this will enable them to learn more easily and also increase their motivation by removing the frustration of trying to memorise what sometimes seem to be random combinations.

Another part of the problem is that students are often required to memorise long lists of phrasal verbs out of context. As a result, they're likely to confuse the meanings of the phrasal verbs, and in any case this rote learning doesn't enable students to use the phrasal verbs naturally. This treatment has the same effect as the "Words often Confused" sections that feature in so many coursebooks, a feature that is itself the cause of the confusion.

As with all areas of vocabulary, the key to successful teaching is to create memorable lessons, with clear and accurate definitions and examples that are also interesting and authentic. We should also consider the amount of vocabulary that students can learn in a single lesson. If they learn about a dozen words in each lesson, that's well over a thousand words a year for learners who have three lessons a week. As long as we continue to recycle the vocabulary to aid retention, this number is more than enough - a vocabulary of 3500 words is considered sufficient to pass the Cambridge FCE.

So instead of trying to teach all the phrasal verbs with turn in a single lesson, teach just one, but teach it thoroughly in the context of interesting activities that also develop other skills. Songs are always a great way to introduce language. There are many well-known songs that contain turn into in the lyrics or even the title. Choose one of these as a lead-in to the lesson.

You think it's funny
Turning rebellion into money

Focus on the use of turn into in the song lyrics and ask students what they think it means. This inductive approach to introducing the meaning is far more memorable than simply telling the students what it means.You might also ask students if they can think of any other songs with turn into in the lyrics.
Ask students for their interpretation of what turning rebellion into money means, then get them to think also what other things can be turned into money, or what other things rebellion can be turned into.

This could be a good opportunity for a quick and painless introduction to a corpus like the British National Corpus or, for a simpler interface and broader range of styles, one of the Leeds corpora. This allows you to select from a variety of sources, in this case a random selection of internet sites.

This query, using the wildcard .* returns examples of all forms of TURN (turn, turns, turning, turned) followed immediately by into, with results looking like this:

The query can be amended by adding two dots between the two search terms:

This will return results including examples where there is an object between turn and into:

These searches only take a moment to perform, and getting students to look at the results, either printed out or online will enable them to notice the kind of words that typically collocate with turn into, and the difference between the transitive and intransitive use:

Transitive: He's really turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception.
Intransitive: Wembley has turned into a financial disaster.

The same technique could also be used to highlight differences in the meaning between separable and inseparable uses of a phrasal verb (She turned him on / She turned on him), sensitising our learners to the ways in which meaning and grammar inter-relate.

Analysis of authentic examples is the most immediate way to determine how frequently a structure occurs, which can help our students to speak and write more naturally. So here's a quiz question to finish with - which one of the four structures below is far less frequent than the other three?

 "Subject + [turn] water into wine"
 "water + [turn] into wine" 

 "Subject + [turn] water to wine"
 "water + [turn] to wine"

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Online activities for young learners

In addition to teaching practice with classes at local schools, we also provide opportunities for our trainees to teach individuals and small groups. Here are some of the online resources that we have used with our young learners during the past month.

TEFL Corinth trainee feedback

"We were guided during lesson preparation and the feedback after the teaching was always helpful. The practice both in the school and in private lessons helped me to become more confident, which enabled me to enjoy all the parts of the course."

Beatrice Vecchio

"The practice, the diversity and variety of activities, the different teaching levels, the input of grammar and methodology were all appropriate and useful."

Brahim Ben Brahim


"All the input sessions are very interesting and stimulating. It is very useful to review grammar etc. We started to teach from the beginning, which is a good point because we can improve our teaching during the following weeks."

Virginie Ruiz

"The material covered was all highly relevant to English Language Teaching, and was presented in a pleasant, thorough, practical setting conducive to learning. The practical teaching exercises were very useful, especially the feedback. A very good overview of all the materials, methods, exams, the market."

John Stratiotis

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Free flights offer

We are offering free flights from London to Athens for the November 24 - December 19 TEFL course in Corinth. The offer is valid for enrollments made by October 31 and must be claimed at the time of enrolling. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Part-time TEFL course in Corinth

The next part-time TEFL course in Corinth is October 20 – December 19.

For the first four weeks, October 20 – November 14, take the morning sessions, 10.00 - 1.15.
Week off between the two halves of the course.
For the next four weeks, November 24 – December 19, take the afternoon sessions, 2.15 - 8.00.

  • Less pressure to complete the intensive course
  • You receive all the theoretical training before you start teaching
  • Plenty of time to absorb all the new information
  • Spare time to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings
  • No extra cost apart from accommodation for the second month 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Is this a pen?

"We studied English in high school, but when I hear them talk in films or on the subway, it's like they're speaking Martian. They never want to know, 'Is this a pen?'"

David Mitchell, Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut

It's the start of a new school year so a few weeks into the book, seven-year-old learners of English will soon be inquiring "Is this a pen?" But as the quotation above indicates, this is a question it's quite unlikely they'll be faced with in real life - most speakers of English recognize a pen when they see one and have no need to ask. 

In fact, a quick search of the British National Corpus, returning 50 random results for the phrase "Is this" doesn't contain a single example of "Is this a [singular noun]?"

The most common types of question in the 50 examples are:
  • five examples such as "How is this done?", with this used for anaphoric, not exophoric reference
  • two examples of "Is this the ..." as in "Is this the start of a new series then?
The great majority of the examples showing how "Is this..." is actually used in authentic discourse are affirmative statements where "is" and "this..." happen to co-occur in cleft sentences such as:

  • It is this state that fascinates particle physicists.
It's a relatively simple matter to avoid teaching the obviously useless vocabulary contained in coursebooks for beginner students, but we should take an equally critical eye to the grammar in our lessons.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TEFL Corinth trainee feedback

"I really enjoyed the course, it was informative and educational. My teacher was friendly and energetic, making each lesson personable and easy for me to ask any questions necessary. I feel more confident and comfortable teaching students at any level.."

Maria Ezanidou

"The best thing about the course was its great learning environment. The teacher produced a very positive and healthy learning atmosphere. I very much enjoyed the course. It has helped me get a better grasp of the English language, rules and guidelines, and practical teaching practice. ."

Bill Sinis

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The course has not only given me experience as a teacher but it has also helped to build up my confidence. I enjoyed the teaching practice, and socializing with my classmates. I have learned so much over the past four weeks and I am so grateful for all the support I have received."

Eleni Demetriou

"The whole course has been a positive experience – the support and encouragement from Georgia has kept me going. The different teaching opportunities were invaluable as they allowed me to gain a true experience of what TEFL would be like. I would recommend the course to anyone as whilst being challenging, you get opportunities that you would not get online."

Helen Daley


"It was an intensive four weeks of learning but it was honestly great! Georgia was very patient despite my lack of grammar and teaching experience. She balanced all of our weaknesses and strengths so well. Angeliki was so welcoming, Vrahati was the perfect location, the teaching experience was invaluable, and all the TEFL training classes were informative and beneficial!."
Liana Sinclair

"I have had a great time!!! The class sessions were interesting and engaging. I really appreciated the teacher Georgia’s attitude. She has been supportive, patient and very professional.."

Elisabetta Boatti

Monday, September 8, 2014

Try something new

New tools for the new school year

 Here are collections of links to lots of tools for digitally-enhanced teaching:

TEFL Greece collection of links to resources for recording and editing audio, downloading podcasts, and creating activities using songs.

TEFL Greece collection of links to resources for downloading and converting video, recording, editing, hosting and sharing video, and video podcasts.

TEFL Greece collection of links to online dictionaries and translation tools.
TEFL Greece collection of links to useful sites for finding and editing pictures and creating cartoons.

TEFL Greece collection of links to useful sites for creating, hosting and sharing presentations.