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.

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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

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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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 (


(image taken from:

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

Give It A Voice: An online project for English Language Teachers

How many times have you tried writing your own script for listening tasks but not being able to convince anyone in the staffroom of the school you teach to record it for you?

I have faced this problem many times, especially during teacher training courses (creating original material is of great importance when being observed.

Give It A Voice - Cover Photo

(Photo Source:

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Why Did I Go Online?

I have just launched a new online course (click here for more information) and I would like to share with you the reasons I decided to go online.

First, let me thank my Delta tutor, Marisa Constantinides, and my new online friend and soon-to-be mentor for online teaching, Jack Askew, for ‘opening up’ this completely new path in my career. Deciding to go online is not easy; had it not been for the support of these two people, I would have never done it. Continue reading