Treasure trove

October 22, 2012

A colleague, who in turn had been shown by a student, led me to this site recently. Not sure why I had never come across it before as it is an incredible resource for games and material which can be either printed or used on an IWB in class. My kids have also used it for fun and practice at home. Well worth checking out.

Box those tools

September 13, 2012

Starting the new school year here so a couple of sites worth exploring. They are not TEFL based but offer lots of ideas and tools which are worth investigating. is a site of classroom tools, simple, even basic but ideas worth exploring here. is a little bit “glossier” but again has some fine material. Check out the templates on the right from a simple stop watch to time activities to a random name generator which decides which student answers the next question!

If you are also starting back these day have fun and good luck.

Babbling on

May 7, 2012

This is fun. Add photos and then talk over them. Greaat for student homework / projects. It can be used to practise any language point. You do have to sign in however, but you can use your facebook account. Well worth investigating if you don’t know it already.

The Dark side … may the force find us

April 23, 2012

English is growing at the rate of 8,500 words a year. What is more, there may be now a million words in English, far more than any standard dictionary contains: more than half the language in use is “dark matter” which effectively avoids dictionaries. These are just two of recent conclusions from a study by physicists (yes!) of the Google collection of scanned books. The study is being called the first study in the new field of Culturomics. Read the complete article at:

Far older but perhaps related is the concept of Zipf’s law which states: “that given some corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. Thus the most frequent word will occur approximately twice as often as the second most frequent word, three times as often as the third most frequent word, etc.” The quote is taken from’s_law but do search Google for more information.

So, what does it all mean for us teachers in the classroom? Well, the old chestnut that the language and vocabulary found in textbooks is incredibly limiting as, perhaps, are the language tasks we ask students to complete. Back to Dogme perhaps on one level but it has to be Dogme including the wider world: will students needs alone guide them to exploring all that dark matter out there? What is the role of the teacher in introducing our students to the dark side?

A graphic for your thoughts

March 12, 2012

Here is a fun site for mind-mapping your ideas. You do have to sign up to save them but worth a look.

Shake it up speare

March 5, 2012

Four short days to the TESOL-SPAIN 2012 convention where David Crystal is one of the plenary speakers and will also be doing a reading of Shakespeare at the opening cocktail. I have followed his blog for a long time but have only recently become acquainted with his website on Shakespeare following an interview on the TESOL-SPAIN website. The shakespeareswords website is absolutely fabulous if you have any interest at all in the man, his work, or simply the English language. Do check it out!

It’s only words

February 15, 2012

I have always been fascinated by dictionaries and how they are compiled and particularly the use of technology in the process. The Macmillan Dictionary blog makes great reading on this front. As an example check out Michael Rundell on the past tense of verbs