Sunday, December 12, 2010

My TESOL France experience

It’s been two weeks and I finally managed to find time to blog about the best ELT conference I’ve attended so far. The 2010 TESOL France event that took place in late November was simply fantastic.

I have blogged about the power of Twitter before, having met Anna and Guido while travelling but it was in Paris that I understood how great my PLN is. Although I arrived in France on my own I didn’t feel lonely for a second. From the moment I entered the venue it felt like being among family though some of us were meeting for the first time in real life.

Obviously, it wasn’t only the Twitterati that made the conference a spectacular event.

The sessions I attended after a very long and careful selection (as I wanted to attend so many!) were all a hit.

Lindsay Clandfield’s ‘Captured on video’ explored the possibilities of using and creating videos with students.

Anna Musielak’s ‘Drama: is it never too much of a good thing’ woke us up, gave a shot of positive energy and left with tons of inspiring ideas.

Russel Stannard’s ‘Gems on the Web’ showed us all the goodies one can find at TeacherTrainingVideos and now we know it’s all easy J

Katerina Martincova and her ‘Drama-based pedagogy for nursery and primary learners’ made us see how beneficial using drama with Young Learners is.

And then there was my session about documentaries in the midst of these. Thank you all for coming! I hope you enjoyed it despite the little technical difficulties. A big THANK you and a hug go now to @eannegrenoble who helped me fix the problem and saved my presentation J

Last but not least, thank you Beth for being such a wonderful host!

I will definitely be back next year!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Virtual Round Table and...

I love conferences. I love listening to interesting people and sharing ideas. I love learning new things.

But conferences are expensive and it’s usually very difficult for a regular teacher, like myself, to attend them. Also because our employers frown at the idea of giving us a day or two off.

That’s why the Virtual Round Table Conferences are so incredibly awesome. The only thing you need is a computer with access to the Internet, some free time and willingness to learn. 

All the sessions I virtually attended last weekend were motivating, well prepared and super informative so let me thank the members of my PLN that made my participation in the conference a worthwhile experience :)


Thank you Janet for sharing so many sites and tips on how to make students enjoy learning Phrasal Verbs!

Janet Bianchini Fun with Phrasal Verbs!

Thank you Mike for showing us how to start Faceblogging!

Mike Harrison Getting some Facebook time with your colleagues

Thank you Miguel for reminding me that I have a Flip and I should get busy making good use of it!

Miguel Mendoza Flip Cameras in the ELT Classroom

Thank you Guido for the best session about Twitter I’ve ever attended – it was great to see you again!

Guido Europeaantje Twitter: Turn 140 Characters into a Virtual Staffroom

Thank you Heike, Shelly and Berni for all the hard work you put into organizing the conference.

Great, great job ladies!

Last but not least, I’ve recently realized that on the 6th of October my blog turned 1 year old
So Happy Birthday L_missbossy’s Playground!

Thank you Lindsay for the inspiring session about blogging in Budapest last year and thank you PLN for stopping by, reading and commenting! Hadn’t it been for you, I definitely would’t be here!

You may also read Barbara Sakamoto’s fantastic account of the 3rd Virtual Round Table conference here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From Spain about Spain

It’s so good to be back on track!

I finally got the Internet at home and have so much to catch up with! So many new posts, a new version of Twitter and the Virtual Round Table conference!

Almost everyone has been asking me what happened (‘You said you were staying in Poland!’) and where I ended up – so here we go :)

Where I live now
I’m currently working at Clen College IH Pamplona in Spain. I never actually planned to work in Spain but… it sort of happened. It’s been almost a month since I got here and I slowly started settling in. The decision to leave Poland and work abroad again was pretty sudden. As in the case of leaving Turkey, there are tons of reasons behind my decision which I don’t really feel like discussing here.

In order to avoid confusion and to answer all the questions, I’ve divided all my musing into a few categories. Enjoy!


-I teach 22.5 hours a week (1 hour=60 min) and my timetable consists of YL, teenage and adult classes

-As I live very close to the Medebaldea center (the school has 2 more), most of my classes were scheduled to take place there. It takes me 5min to get to work on foot which is awesome especially after travelling to school for more than an hour in Istanbul.

-I also get to teach in a public Catholic school called Larraona and Ikastola San Fermin (Ikastola means school in Basque as I was told)

-Every Tuesday and Thursday I walk for 25 min to get to Mutua Navarra for my 7.30 off site company class - don’t mind the walk though – the students are great there!

-My biggest challenge will be the, already famous on Twitter, 3 year olds. As I have never taught such small kids, it’s going to be tough. During my first class one girl started crying and I had no idea why. I’ll update you on how things go :)

-After a two year break – I got three adult groups – all on a Pre-Intermediate level. How I enjoy these classes!

-Some of my classes are in blocks and the longest one is 4.5 hours without any breaks. By no breaks I mean no breaks. The classes are scheduled as follows: 16-18, 18-19, 19-20.30. No comment.

-We were all handed cheap MP3 players in order to download all the tracks we need. There are no CDs available to use so everyone has to carry the MP3 player and the speakers all day long to every school they teach in. Interesting.

Spain and Pamplona – first impressions and observations

-Trying to get the Internet at home is a pain. That’s all I have to say about it. Eventually you end up buying one of these ridiculously expensive USB sticks or whatever they are called or knock on the neighbours’ doors asking for their password offering money in return.

-Shops close on Sundays. Only bars and cinemas are open. If you want to buy bread on Sunday – fat chance!

-Dubbing in cinemas will drive me mad. Apparently there is no chance to watch films with subtitles in Pamplona.

-It seems impossible to pay with a 500Euro banknote – none of the shops or restaurants want to accept it.

-People jog a lot, even at 7 am when I go to work.

-You can buy cigarettes either in special tobacco shops or from vending machines in bars.

-There are tons of twins around – is that a Pamplona thing?

-Wines here are awesome and food is great – people who were telling me that the pintxos in Pamplona are delicious were 100% right!

-It seems impossible to buy a prepaid sim card without buying a phone – the shop assistants always say they have just run of them so everyone ends up buying the phone as well.

-The siesta. From around 14 till 16 shops, banks, offices etc close down. Every day. Why didn’t we have it in Turkey I wonder?

-I simply love entering supermarkets and seeing the jamón after living without pork products for three years :)


-Life is OK now - it was harder at the beginning without the Internet but now things are fine. It’s not paradise though – starting your life from scratch in a foreign country is always tough at the beginning. Once you’ve experienced it, you know it takes time to make friends and start feeling comfortable.

-Thanks to Couch Surfing I managed to meet some very nice people who took me around and gave some useful tips concerning Pamplona and life in Spain in general – in case you’re reading this – thanks a bunch!

-I still don’t know where exactly my apartment is located. Seems like its somewhere between Medebaldea and Barañain. But then again there is Etxabakoitz which is close as well. No, I haven’t misspelled that – Etxabakoitz. It’s gonna take me weeks to learn how to pronounce that so don’t worry if you can’t.

-I live with a lovely Hungarian couple – Katalin and Peter. Katalin works at Clen College as well and I’ve just learned that her CELTA tutor in Hungary was working with me in Poland 4 years ago. Small world!

-People keep calling me Ana which I will probably have to accept soon :)

Spanish students and teaching in Spain

-I was warned many times that they can be naughty and talkative, misbehaving and nasty. So far, I haven’t really noticed that.

-The first thing I realized having entered the classroom was the students’ pronunciation – sometimes I have no idea what they are saying. The sound /g/ is the biggest issue as it almost always gets pronounced as /h/. There seems to be an issue with /s/ and / ʃ/ as well but I have yet to figure out why.

-Some students here don’t think of themselves as Spanish. They say they speak Euskera (not Basque) and feel very proud of that. Sensitive issue?

-Teaching English seems so much easier than back in Poland in Turkey. So many words in Spanish are similar to their English equivalents that you end up saving a lot of precious classroom time for explanations.

-Last week one of my teenage students asked for a translation in Spanish and didn’t get one. What followed was a 10 min discussion – the students simply couldn’t understand how one can decide to live in a foreign country without speaking the language spoken there. Does that mean I’m crazy having made such a decision?

Learning Spanish

-So far my knowledge of Spanish consists of random words and phrases such as ‘una caña’ ‘si’ and ‘cafe con leche’ :)

-I should be starting classes after 19th Oct but so far I’ve been using this wonderful site to learn the basics (The Mi Vida Loca series is fantastic!)

-After Turkey, it’s pretty easy to figure out what people are saying even without knowing the language so, well...


Where I'm going soon 
-The only thing planned for now is a trip to Zaragoza on the 12th October but it has absolutely nothing to do with blogging or ELT. It’s going to be pure fun, inşallah :) I’m planning to visit the Virgen Del Pilar as, believe it or not, she seems to be one responsible for me being where I am now :)

-I definitely have to learn Spanish.

-I'm waiting impatiently for some of my friends to come and visit and I do hope to meet some other bloggers from Spain soon!

I'm really sorry I wasn't able to make it to the IATEFL Poland in Bydgoszcz this year but there is TESOL France coming up in November. I've already bought the tickets and booked a hotel so hope to meet some of you in Paris!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A very quick update

I´m terribly sorry for not posting anything in a very long while but there has been so many changes in my life that I found it difficult to catch up at times.

Anyway, as some of you may have already heard, I ended up in Pamplona, Spain.

We´ll see how things will work out here but I'm pretty positive about this experience :)

The main issue is - I have no Internet access at home so until I get it, I will have to stay away from blogging, Twitter and my PLN. I´m doing everything I can to fix this problem asap but god knows how long it´s going to last.

Who said life in Spain will be easy...

Keep your fingers crossed everyone! :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Twitter Connecting People

Having travelled quite a lot during the past few years, I have always chosen places with rich historical past or ones that my guidebook recommended.  Since the birth of my blog and my joining Twitter  though –  there has been one more criterion that helps me plan trips.

This July, I have spent 12 wonderful days travelling around Portugal. I may have never visited Braga, hadn’t it been for Anna Pires who took her time to show me and my friends around. And how do I know Anna? From Twitter, of course!

The best thing when you travel is to meet locals and having a gang of fellow Twitterati, it has never been more fun!

One can say that people can always meet at conferences so why bother travelling around meeting folks you knows from Twitter. But conferences are not the same. People are busy, someone has a presentation, there are tons of teachers you want to talk to and little time. Meeting  in a neutral environment is a totally different ball game. You have time to talk, feel relaxed and the topics for conversation are plentiful.

Now why am I writing this?

First of all to thank Anna Pires again J

Second of all, I’m going to travel around Spain at the beginning of September (3-12.09.2010). Having spent days planning the route, me and my friend have decided to stay in Madrid for two days and then travel south to Seville, Malaga, Granada and … hmm… Murcia/ Valencia/ Toledo?

If anyone reading this is into a little get-together somewhere in Spain -  let me know! :)

With Anna and my friend Sasha in Braga :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

How to get a job abroad - my advice to non NESTs

I’ve been asked a couple of times how I (a non NEST) managed to get a job as an EFL teacher abroad. I'd lie if I said it was easy. It took me a year to get ready and still many things went unplanned. I had to take risks, count on people I hardly knew and experienced things that are better left forgotten. Nevertheless, it was worth all the time, money and effort.

So, if you are a non NEST who’s dreaming of working outside of your country, read my tips and get inspired!
  1. Get certified – CELTA or TEFL might be expensive but they’re totally worth the money. You may have a Master’s from your local university but the employers need an internationally recognized document proving that you’re a teacher. It will simply make your life easier though it certainly is possible to get a job abroad without CELTA / TEFL. I wouldn't recommend doing the courses online though - good schools won't accept that!
  2.  Look for a job on reputable websites this one has worked for me. 
  3.  Send out tons of resumes – don’t get discouraged if you get hardly any replies. Send more and more and more!
  4.  Try to get some international experience – short summer courses are a good option. Summer schools need  plenty of teachers every year so your chances are a lot higher.
  5.   Don’t be fussy – most likely you will have to teach kids, business English and/or 1 to 1 classes.  Take what they give, you can get picky later on.
  6.   Do a thorough research – there are plenty of forums and message boards – get  to know people who have worked in a country you want to work in. Check out the visa regulations and the local market requirements.
  7.   Be realistic – if you’re not and EU citizen, your chances of getting a job in Europe might be slim. Some countries employ only NESTs and you won’t be considered at all. Sad but true.
  8.   Save some money. You might need it for the flight, flat deposit, first rent, getting a new phone etc.
  9.   Once you’ve been offered a job, check out the employer. Google the school  and check whether they have a website. Look for reviews and opinions.
  10. Be cautious – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use your common sense!

Alternatively, you can do what I did:
  1.      Choose a country you want to work in.
  2.       Find a CELTA course there.
  3.       Save some money.
  4.       Do the country/ visa/ local market research.
  5.       While you do your CELTA a) ask the local teachers for help and advice b) start looking for a job and a flat.

Don’t give up! If I did it, you can do it too

Any questions? Bring it on!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


It’s the first day of a month and I haven’t posted anything new in a while. That’s why I owe you all an explanation.

Life has been pretty hectic recently and I have found myself packing and looking for a new job.

Having lived in Istanbul for three years, the time has come say goodbye to that amazing city. There are many reasons behind my decision most of which I don’t want to discuss here.

So here I am – back in Poland, not really ready for a new start. But there’s no choice.

I’ve met some fantastic people here and the future, though largely uncertain, seems bright again.

I’ll be in Istanbul at the end of August but otherwise you’ll be able to find me in and around the beautiful TriCity in Poland. If you’re planning to attend the 2010 IATEFL Poland conference, I’ll see you there!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eight Enjoyable Games

The school year is coming to an end at least here in Turkey. It’s hot, some students no longer feel the need to attend classes and the rest… Let’s say, they also deserve to have some fun J

Following my successful (seventeen times tweeted!) post about simple blackboard games, I have decided to share some of my favourite non-blackboard games.

1. Drawings on the floor - Teacher puts large pieces of paper (ideally A4) on the floor (one for each student) and tells students what will be drawn (e.g. a monster). Music is played and students walk or dance around the classroom. When the teacher says stop/pauses the music students are told to draw something on one of the pieces of paper e.g. if you a drawing a monster – two eyes, seven noses etc. Students should choose a different paper each time they stop and mustn’t pick them up. Eventually you’ll have a nice collection of pictures and a class vote for the best one may be organized.

The game may be modified depending on what are working on. The students can draw, for example:
- a picnic basket ( two apples, one banana etc)
- a kitchen ( a table, two chairs, a fridge etc)
- a student’s school bag ( three books, a pencil case, two erasers etc)
- a clothes’ shop ( one dress, three pairs of shoes etc)
- on ocean ( thee sharks, one big whale, an octopus etc)

2. The Dolmuş game – a dolmuş is a shared taxi. Once you get in, you have to pay the driver which is complicated if you sit somewhere at the back. So what people in Turkey (and elsewhere, I guess) do is pat the person sitting if front of them on the shoulder and ask to pass the money forward.

During the game, students sit in rows, one student behind the other facing the board. Each student has a pen and the ones sitting at the end of the rows hold a piece of paper. The teacher then calls out a category e.g. words beginning with S, animals, past tense verb forms etc. Each student writes one word belonging to the given category and passes the paper forward. The team that hands the paper to the teacher first, wins. Extra points may be given to the team that wrote the longest/ most sophisticated word.

3. Hot seats - The class is divided into two teams. A member of each team sits facing the class, with his or her back to the board. The teacher writes a word on the blackboard and the team must define the word or give examples of its use – without saying the actual word itself. If the student guesses, the team gets a point. I always subtract points if the student speak their mother tongue.

4. Stand up if you... – students sit in a circle, the teacher stands in the middle of the circle and says: ‘Stand up if you have brushed your teeth today’. Once students stand up, teacher sits down on the nearest chair and students quickly do the same (no need for explanation, they just get the idea!) but one is left standing. S/he must now say ‘Stand if you have...’ and sit down on the nearest seat available. There is no winner in this game and it may continue for as long as one wishes.

You can play this game to practise a number of things:
- past tense e.g. ‘Stand up if you watched a film yesterday.’
- like/ hate etc +V ing e.g. ‘Stand up if you like swimming.’
- describing appearance e.g. ‘Stand up if you have blue eyes.’ (this is my Turkish students’ favourite :)

5. I went to the market and bought... - Everyone sits in a circle. One student or the teacher starts by saying ‘I went to the market and bought apples’. The next person repeats the sentence and adds another word following the pattern given e.g. ‘I went to the market and bought apples and bananas’. The game continues and everyone adds something new repeating what has been said before. The students that cannot remember all the words are out.

The game might be used for practising vocabulary as well as grammatical structures e.g.

*        like/hate (verb) + ing I like sailing, reading, dancing…
*        past simple Yesterday I went to the cinema, bought a newspaper, drank tea…
*        conditionals (e.g. If I had a lot of money) I would buy a Porsche, I would go to China
*        there is/are In a kitchen there is a table, there are chairs, there is a lamp…
*        a/an/ some (C/U nouns) I’m having a party so I need: a list of guests, some invitations…
*        vocabulary e.g.
-         clothes In my wardrobe I have: a dress, trousers...
-         animals In a zoo there are monkeys, lions…

The game may also be played at the beginning of the year when everyone has to learn each other’s names.

6. Call my bluff - Students are put into teams and given dictionaries, one for each team. The teams choose a few difficult words from the dictionary. They have to create definitions for each word only one of which should be correct. The other teams must decide which definition is correct and which ones are wrong.

For example: A protractor is:
a. an extremely infectious disease
b. a device used for measuring and drawing angles
c. a character in a book, play, film, etc. who harms other people

The students may also use free online dictionaries, e.g. this one or that one.

7. Envelopes - On small pieces of paper the teacher writes words belonging to one category e.g. food, professions, love, S-words, T-words or words from a unit you wish to revise. The cards are put in envelopes. The class is divided into pairs. Each pair is given an envelope; the students’ task is to explain all the words from the envelope to their partners.

You may also ask the students to prepare the envelopes as homework. It's pretty useful before an exam! I've tried it once as a revision - the students brought the envelopes having chosen the categories themselves so we had e.g. T-words, Unit 6 words, Adjectives. Some students chose the same categories but it isn't an issue - the words inside the envelopes are never exactly the same!

8. Who am I? – The teacher prepares small cards with famous people’s/ film/ book character’s names – one for each student. Each card is pinned to the students’ backs. Students walk around asking questions to find out who they are e.g. ‘Am I an actor?’, ‘Do I have long hair?’.

Many thanks to all the teachers from whom I learned J

Friday, June 4, 2010

Six simple blackboard games

I like games that require little or no preparation, ones that you can always adapt and adjust.

With races to the board in large classes, experience taught me to tell students to sit instead of waiting in a line. Otherwise, the ones at the back get bored and start fidgeting, shouting and doing things they’re not supposed to. I always let the teams choose a name and give them 5 extra points for a good start. If they speak their mother tongue, misbehave or cheat, the points are subtracted.

Here are my favourite blackboard games:

1. The Spelling Race – students line up in 2 rows facing the board. The teacher calls out a word. Students have to write it down letter by letter i.e. each letter is written by one student. Every student has one move – s/he can write down a letter or make one correction if a mistake has been made. The team that finishes first wins (provided that they spelt a word correctly!). Perfect for a revision before an exam!

2. The longest word – students line up in 2 rows facing the board. The teacher writes a long word horizontally on the board twice (there should be one word for each group). The students run to the board one by one and write down words beginning with one of the letters in the word written by the teacher. It’s good as a filler or an ice-breaker. The team that finishes first, wins. Extra point may be given to the team that writes the longest word.

3. A-Z race – students line up in 2 rows facing the board. The teacher writes all (or some) letters of the alphabet on the board twice (there should be set of letters for each group). The teacher chooses a category e.g. clothes, food, animals, sports etc. The students run to the board one by one and write words beginning with one of the letters of alphabet. The tam that finishes first wins.

4. Swat the fly – students line up in 2 rows facing the board. The teacher places flashcards on the board in random order. Once a word is called out, a student from each team has to run to board and touch a corresponding picture. To avoid confusion, my students are allowed to touch one picture only. Otherwise, they may keep on touching all the pictures until they find the right one! The student that touches the right picture first wins and gains a point for his/ her team.

Variations involve writing down words in English and calling them out or calling out the words’ equivalents in the students’ mother tongue.

5. Draw the word, guess the word - students gather in 2 groups in front of the board. Two students (one from each group) approach the board with a marker/ chalk in their hand. The teacher secretly shows them a word which they have to draw on the board. Their team’s job is to guess the word. The team that guesses first wins.

6. Tick-tack-toe (Noughts and crosses) – divide the class into two groups. Draw the grid on the board and fill it in with e.g. new words you’ve taught. Each team has to make a correct sentence using a word from the grid until they get three X's or O’s in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal).

You may also:
- put verbs in the grid and ask the students to make sentences in e.g. past simple tense
- put adjectives in the grid and ask the students to make sentences using the comparative /superlative
- put words (that go with a preposition e.g. ‘jealous of’) without the preposition and ask the students to make sentences using both

A more advanced version of the game involves making a bigger grid (with 5 rows for instance). Before a class, prepare a question/ task for each square in the grid e.g. What’s the opposite of ‘cold’?, ‘What do you call a person who looks after animals?’ etc.

If you have your favourites – do drop me line!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My first student

I started giving private lessons during my first year of university. Not that I knew a lot about teaching at that time. Like most students I simply wanted some extra cash and since I studied English, teaching English was the easiest option available.

My first (an only) student that year was my cousin, Kamila. We used to meet every Friday and the poor thing had to cope with my lack of experience and obsession with grammar and vocabulary. I was, apparently, a very strict teacher, getting very angry had she forgotten anything we had covered the week before.

Sometimes we would simply sit and chat, half Polish, half English about a number of issues – old age, money, parents, environment and the future. Gosh, how many dreams we had. It did feel weird and unnatural to speak English to a member of your Polish family but once we started talking, all inhibitions were left behind. And then we talked for hours which I considered, at that time, a waste of time.

Kamila was a very bright and hard-working student, always doing her homework and picking up things very quickly. No wonder that in due time, she got the highest grade form her oral Matura (end-of-high school) exam. How proud it made me feel!

Now, a couple years later, I can’t help wondering. What does a student’s success depend on? The student or the teacher?

Is it his/ her intelligence and motivation or the teachings skills and attitude of a teacher that matter?

My mum used to say that a bright student will learn anyway regardless of how good or bad a teacher is.  Can we hold that true?

My first student, Kamila, lives with her husband Paul in Brisbane, Australia.

How about your first student?

Kamila and Paul :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shadow Puppet Theatre by Claire Bingham

I attended Claire’s Shadow Puppet Theatre session at the Istek conference with a bunch of misgivings. The Shadow Puppet idea was very appealing but the preparation and the amount of work involved, I thought, would be the biggest problem. I was wrong.

Over to Claire, who at my request, decided to share her brilliant ideas with you.

Shadow Puppet Theatre 

Materials required:

·       Cardboard
·       Scissors
·       Pencils
·       Sellotape
·       Thin wooden sticks
·       Light source, e.g. torches, lamps (NB: In rooms with plenty of natural light position the screen in front of the window as the sun can be used)
·       Material for the screen, e.g. thin white table cloth, white tissue paper.
·       Envelopes including job descriptions
·       Target language to be included in dialogues.

Shadow Puppet Theatre is an engaging activity that uses simple techniques to make the process of learning about new characters more enjoyable and rewarding. This hands on approach allows learners to develop their speaking and writing skills, as well as giving an opportunity to use real language in a positive student centred environment. It is suitable for use with primary students but can also be adapted to suit higher levels. Shadow puppet theatre can be used to introduce characters from readers and main course books or to support general language learning in the classroom.

The basis of this technique is very simple. Students should be in groups of 4-6 students for the duration of the project. Groups could be friendship based, teacher chosen or randomly chosen. A useful way to organize groups is to give each child a colour and then ask all the reds to group, all the blues.. etc. Once the groups are formed, students should be provided with a number of characters, ideally projected onto a whiteboard. These characters could be from material used in class or totally fictional. As a starter activity, learners should describe two characters in a set time and note down their groups ideas on a post-it. During feedback students can stick their post-its next to the characters on the board so that the teacher can share and elicit sentences from the material provided.

After feeding back to the class, the outline of the task should be shared with the group. The teacher should reveal that groups choose at least two characters and create a short shadow puppet sketch. A good way to organize this is to hand out envelopes containing a matching activity of job descriptions and roles to the groups. The learners then complete the activity before the teacher shares the answers on the board. Students can then be asked to choose a role. To ensure success, these roles should be clear and a realistic time frame should be given. The jobs should include:
•       Script writers- write the story and narrate during the performance.
•       Puppet makers- make the puppets and read the dialogue during the performance.

A group size of 4 is ideal for this activity as 2 students can be assigned to each job, so the learners feel supported by working in pairs. Larger groups can be given more characters to work with and the extra students can help by holding the screens or being responsible for the light source during the show. Groups are then assigned a target language to include in the production as a focus point. The target language should be used occasionally within the dialogue to make communication more natural. Using the target language exclusively could lead to unrealistic dialogues with limited meaning.

The script writers should write a short dialogue including the target language for the performance. It is important to remind learners to include some background information before the dialogue begins, e.g. One day Homer and Bart were in the kitchen…
The puppet makers should draw and cut out the characters on the cardboard provided- cutting holes for eyes and other features creates a great effect. They can then stick the character to a pencil or wooden stick to complete the puppet. It is a good idea to give time to experiment for both script writers and puppet makers- creating an opportunity for peer assessment within the group before the performance.

The final product can be presented either in front of the whole class or between two groups. Before the performance it is a good idea to explain where students are expected to sit or stand during each show. This will allow a smooth transition between groups. During the performances there is an opportunity for peer (audience) assessment and students should complete feedback forms accordingly. The criteria used could be discussed and agreed on with the class, or created by the teacher and shared before the performance. Alongside assessment for learning, filming is a valuable tool to be used with learners. In fact, it has a double effect, firstly learners really strive to achieve their best (and often ask for two takes!) and secondly, it gives a chance to revisit the material in the future for further analysis in the class.

When using new activities it is important to know how the strategy will benefit learners and how much time should be devoted to the process in its entirety. This technique can be extended or reduced to suit the needs of a variety of language learners and language teachers. When time is restricted it can be completed in as few as three lessons, one for set up, the second for dialogue writing and puppet making and the final for the performances. However, students can get a great deal from the sessions and a longer time period would be preferable to allow for trial and error during the developmental stages. Shadow puppet theatre can be used as an example of CLIL in the language classroom and as such be extended to include a number of subject areas, e.g.
•       Learners could research ideal screen materials in Science, learning keywords such as transparent, translucent and opaque. They could also investigate light sources alongside screen materials to produce the optimum environment for their puppets to be show cased.
•       In Design Technology, students could use the design process to make screens
•       In History traditional puppet shows could be explored- this would be of particular interest in countries such as Turkey as shadow puppet theatre was used for entertainment in the past.
•       Voice projection and intonation could be explored in the Drama class.
•       Scenes could be created in the Art class.

In fact planning time with other subject areas would be a fantastic way of incorporating a real cross curricular approach.

In conclusion, this technique is a flexible activity that can be altered to suit a variety of situations. It engages learners and allows freedom of thought in the EFL classroom. The roles and time restrictions given support learners by keeping them focused allowing the language teacher time to advise students as and when required. Therefore the teacher is facilitating the learning process while students take ownership of their projects, improving their self esteem as they strive to achieve their potential.

Claire Bingham, currently working at Özel Bodrum Marmara Koleji as a teacher of English, has taught in the United Kingdom for a number of years and recently relocated to the warmer Turkish climate. Her personal interests include cross curricular activities and task based learning. She has a background of experience in the teaching of English Language, Science and Physical Education.

Thank you Claire!