About mindfulness in ELT (again!)

Last year I wrote a blog post about what I perceived as a commodification of an amazing Buddhist concept: mindfulness, or sati. Today, I would like to go back on the topic, after I’ve recently attended:

  • a one-day Vipassana meditation retreat;
  • a two-hour training session on mindfulness for teachers.

I now feel I have familiarised with both aspects a little bit more, so I would like to update my previous post with some more in-depth considerations on the issue.Read More »

‘I don’t understand nothing!’

How many times have we hear this phrase coming out of one of our student’s mouth? The student who feels she can’t understand ‘nothing’ because she missed a word — or even a phrase — and so switches off completely for the rest of the listening activity, or of the whole lesson.

Recently, one of the tasks I have completed for Delta module 1 preparation asked me to suggest remedial strategies and activities to help such student, so here is what I usually do.Read More »

Exam preparation: a lesson plan

Today I’d like to share a lesson with you. It’s a lesson structure more than a lesson plan, as it is easily adaptable to many exams — I used it with all the Cambridge suite, but I’m sure you can adapt it with IELTS or TOEFL too. I generally use it as first lesson for exam preparation groups, but I have sometimes been able to adapt it for one-to-one students too.

The lesson usually takes about 90 minutes, but you can adapt it to make it shorter or longer depending on your students needs and time constraints.Read More »

Freedom in the classroom: Open Sankoré

Some time last year I wrote a couple of posts on using free software in the classroom: I briefly explored the ethical and practical benefits, as well as recommending some interesting software I use every day for work.

In the school where I work now we (unfortunately) run MS Windows in all the classroom computers, but there is a piece of good news: instead of expensive — and not always reliable — proprietary software, we use a powerful free interactive whiteboard called Open Sankoré.Read More »

Reflections on lesson planning

Some time ago we had a training session about lesson planning at our school. Due to quality standards, we are required to write formal lesson plans for every lesson we teach, which can be quite overwhelming when you teach an average of 25-30 hours a week.

So to vent my frustration I went online and had a very positive conversation on Twitter with Vendrana, Laura, Maria, Liam and Gemma about the issue, where they suggested different ways to keep lesson planning effective while cutting the actual time spent writing plans.Read More »

Freelancing vs working for a school

As some of you may know, I recently went from self-employed to working for a private language school. It was a welcome change as I was getting really tired of working long hours for peanuts, and after a few month I can still say that I’m happy with my decision.

In case someone else is thinking about going one way or the other (from freelancing to working for a school or vice versa), I thought I write down the pros and cons of both worlds as I see them — bearing in mind that this is specific to the Italian job market so I’m not sure it would equally apply to other countries.Read More »

My own activity book

I recently had the pleasure to read Marc’s blog post on a very interesting first-day-of-school activity book. Marc expressed both strengths and weaknesses on the book, which in turn created some discussion in the comment section. In particular, Chris suggested every teacher should create a personal collection of first day activities that work for them, rather than rely on such books.Read More »


Primary school nightmare

I’m writing this on a sweltering day here in Italy, so I apologise in advance if any of this is going to sound a bit harsh. I also want to point out that most of the colleagues I met during the experience I am going to describe were great teachers and wonderful colleagues, to whom I wish best of luck in their teaching career.

Let’s get to the point. Around Christmas last year I was interviewed and offered a job as English Teacher for years 4 and 5 in a local primary school. Unfortunately all previous teachers had left and the school was desperate to find a good replacement. The children had already changed three teachers since September, furthermore the parents of year 5 pupils were very concerned that the children wouldn’t get a good education in English, resulting in a disadvantage in secondary school.Read More »