EAP: Overqualification and Professional Boredom

My first experience with EAP was when I wanted to study at an English-speaking university. This was an American institution of higher education in which students who were not native speakers of English had to attend EAP courses that aimed at developing language skills. Once we reached a proficient level of English (what we now call C2), we were officially accepted to the University. Then, as part of the general education requirements, we had to attend three composition classes: an Introduction to Academic Writing course, a Research and Academic Writing course, and a Literature and Academic Writing course.

Six months ago, I received my first offer from a UK university for an EAP teaching position (in the UK, these courses are called ‘pre-sessionals’). Having read the requirements for this post, I immediately thought that this was going to be a very demanding but exciting role. They were looking for people who had an MA and/or a Cambridge Delta (preferably both) and an extensive teaching experience. Continue reading

Essential Online Tools and Activities for Summer School Teachers – Part 1

With summer being around the corner and summer schools being a huge business in the ELT industry, I decided to share some ideas which may be useful to both experienced and new summer school teachers. The following was used in a webinar I presented earlier this month as part of Moodle MOOC 6.

Here, you can watch the recording of that webinar:

This post is the first part of that webinar and focuses on building rapport and engaging students in out-of-class communication.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 07.27.24

There is no doubt that during summer there are so many better things to do than working 12-15 hours per day, running up and down a campus, teaching 50 teenagers/day, and organising activities. Coming from a country whose summer has been the object of jealousy for many other people, it is always very hard for be to get on a plane and head to the north. But… Continue reading

What Is Your Colleague Type?

(Note: An edited version of the following post was originally published on the iTDi blog. To access the original post, click here.)

Many things have been said about the importance of understanding our learners and how this can positively affect our teaching. What about understanding our colleagues, though? Undoubtedly, these are people with whom we already share common interests and spend much time of our daily schedule, be it in a staff-room or online. Is there a need to ‘categorise’ them? Will knowing our own or our colleagues’ type affect our job?

staff room

Image taken from Malta Union of Teachers

Having spent 9 years in various hallways, staff-rooms, FB groups, Twitter discussions, etc. I have come across similar types of colleagues all of whom had and still have something to teach me. So, here is my list:

The Newbie Type A:

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Improve Your Feedback With Technology

Writing feedback on learners’ written work is one of the most important, yet time-consuming ‘duties’ of language teachers. Not only should we provide learners with detailed feedback, we are also expected to do so as fast as possible.

How many times have you found yourself spending your ‘free’ time writing feedback on your learners’ essays? How many times have you wished to spend extra time per essay so that your feedback is more detailed and useful for your learners?

I used to face similar problems with the ones mentioned above but technology has helped me overcome them. Here’s how:

Screencast Feedback


When I use my laptop or desktop, I prefer recording feedback using a tool called Screencast-O-Matic. This tool allows teachers to talk learners through their written work pointing to parts of the essay that are strong or that need some revision.

Facebook IM


Facebook is one of the most widely used social media (at least in the western world). Either through mobile phones, laptops, tablets, or desktops, teachers can record their voices with comments about learners’ work. This presupposes that learners (and teachers) use Facebook for non-personal reasons, too.



VoiceThread is another great tool with infinite possibilities for teachers. As far as using it to provide feedback is concerned, it allows teachers to upload the learners’ written work as an image and add voice recordings with comments about it. What is more interesting with this tool, though, is that feedback can take the form of Q&A with the learners; so, instead of sending a long commentary to them, teachers can ask questions about specific parts of the text and involve them in the correction process.



Kaizena is a fairly new tool designed specifically for offering teachers (and editors, I guess) another feedback tool. It is a very promising tool, especially if one uses Google Docs. So, what a teacher can do with Kaizena is to add audio comments to a document. Just like we do with any word processor, we select the extract upon which we want to comment and instead of adding a written side comment, we record our voice.

There is a variety of tools designed for the providing feedback and other teaching purposes. The reason I chose to share the ones above is that they are very easy to use and, once accustomed to using them, teachers can use them while on the bus, on their way back home, during breaks, etc. From the learners’ perspective, tech tools make feedback a much more interactive process that stimulates learners of different learning styles.

Feel free to share your experiences with these or any other tools you use with your learners.

Implementing Blended Learning: An Institutional View | Eric Baber and Carla Arena de Aquino’s presentation | IATEFL Manchester 2015

Abstract: Implementing blended learning successfully requires more than just giving teachers and students access to digital materials. In this talk, we will look at key considerations including administration of learners and teachers; teacher and learner training; monitoring teacher behaviour within an LMS; and resource and cost considerations. We will be using Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brazil, as a case study.

Here is my summary of Eric and Carla’s session:

Teacher and Learner Administration

Eric Baber started the presentation by drawing parallels between the learner administration that goes on in a face-to-face school (diagnostic testing, needs analysis, etc.) and the one that happens in an Language Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). As happens in a f2f school, administrators must create classes in an LMS, learners must enroll in the LMS and be put in the correct class(es). At this point, Eric highlighted the fact that all this requires time and in some cases it requires very much time.

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Use Technology to Help Learners Develop Gist Reading Skills

One of the challenges I face with learners’ reading skills development is training them to read for the gist of a text, i.e. skimming. “A typical skimming task would be a general question from the teacher, such as ‘Is this passage about Jill’s memories of summer or winter?’” (Scrivener, 2005:185) Another skimming task is to ask students read the text in order to check whether they guessed correctly in a preceding prediction task.

How many times, though, haven’t you seen learners not trying to find an answer quickly? How many times do learners use their pens to follow every single word of the passage? How many times have you stopped and asked them “Will you read every word of the text? (Students answer: No), Do you care if there are any unknown words? (Students answer: No),” etc.?

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Lessons From Technology

It is widely known that there are as many arguments for as there are against technology and its effects on our psychology. There are those who believe that technology alienates us from one another, while others believe that it brings people together. Some of these arguments are scientifically supported, some are the result of personal observations, and others are just opinions.

I am definitely not willing to draw any definite conclusions on the issue of technology and people’s psychology. Recently, though, I have come across a very interesting fact that I would like to share: social media experts encourage people to press the like button on their own Facebook updates, pics, etc. in order for the specific update, pic, etc. to reach a wider audience.


(Image taken from: http://cultureslurp.com/how-to-add-facebook-like-button-like-box-for-different-languages/)

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Younger Teacher Self – Initiated by Joanna Malefaki

Before I write anything else, let me say a huge thank you to Joanna Malefaki for inviting me to take part in this great blog challenge. Talking to the younger teacher me has been a good enough reason to reflect on this wonderful journey. So, here it goes:

2006: This is the year I graduated from high school. I started teaching English to make money and pay for my tuition. (Not for university; for acting school!)


(Image taken from: http://www.illinoisonlinehighschool.org/)

 -Teaching English is not a hobby. Get serious. One way or another, you’ll not become an actor. A classroom has more drama than the stage! Continue reading

Apps in ELT

#ELTchat is a group of ELT professionals discussing topics of interest every Wednesday at 12pm or 9pm on rotation. Every Saturday, one of the moderators puts up a blog post on the #ELTchat Blog asking teachers who follow #ELTchat to propose some topics for the next chats. #ELTchat followers can go to that post and suggest topics in the comments under the blog post. On Sunday evening, the moderators review the topics and create an online poll. #ELTchat followers are then invited to vote on the topics until Wednesday morning (eltchat.org)


(image taken from: http://itechtriad.com/apps/)

This week’s topic was “Apps in ELT” Click here for the transcript of the discussion. Continue reading