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PechaFlickr – exam speaking practice


One of the common complaints students have about exam speaking is that they never know what to say.  In practice sessions, I've had students dry up completely and embarrassedly freeze half way through a sentence, I've had other students refuse... Continue Reading →

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The Colour Coded Essay – #IHTOC7


With the introduction of a compulsory essay task in the Cambridge English: First & Advanced exams, it's become quite important for learners to understand essay structure and organisation. Here's a ten minute talk I did for the International House Teacher's... Continue Reading →

Cambridge Advanced writing – learning to answer the question


Keeping writing relevant to the question is something that learners often have difficulty with.  Sometimes this is because they mis-identify the key content points, sometimes it's because they write their answer for the wrong purpose. This is the outline of... Continue Reading →

The Cheating Art


If you teach, you will have encountered cheating.  And if you're honest, you've probably cheated yourself at some point in the past - I don't remember specific incidences of cheating from when I was at school, but I do remember... Continue Reading →

Keep Calm and Write On – #IHTOC3


For those that may have missed it, here are the slides (as pdf) from the webinar I gave at the IH Teachers' Online Conference on 3rd November. The session was a look at common problems learners have with writing for... Continue Reading →

Do learners know what they need?


There is a lot of talk about learner needs, needs analysis and learner centred lesson planning and course planning.  But do learners really know what they need?  Or do they just tell us what they want? The difference between "wants"... Continue Reading →

The Twelve Days of Geekmas: eleven tips for writing


On the eleventh day of Geekmas, teflgeek gave to me:  11 tips for writing Welcome to the teflgeek Christmas celebration!  Themed around the classic Christmas carol – but going backwards, mostly because it’s more like a countdown that way: 12 blogs worth... Continue Reading →

Say that again? avoiding repetition & developing paraphrase


Trying to come up with new and interesting ways of saying the same old thing is a skill that taxes most of us on a daily basis:  "I like your hair."  "Your hair looks nice."  "Wow!  Have you had your... Continue Reading →

From Riddle to Twittersphere: David Crystal tells the story of English in 100 words


Following on from the success of the recent Radio 4 series "A History of the World in 100 objects", linguist and novelist David Crystal attempts to do the same for the English language.  An interesting read for any and all... Continue Reading →

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