Thursday, December 29, 2011

Flash Games for Learning English Vocabulary

While learning a new language, remembering words seems very difficult for us. Although I have been learning English for many years, I always have trouble remembering new words from memory.

This week, in our methodology lesson, we brainstormed about how we learned words in English. All of us had some techniques to memorize them. Then, I searched the internet with a view to find both visual and enjoyable ways of learning vocabulary. This web site appeared.

In the web-site, there are both some vocabulary lists and flash games. 
  • I like the prepositions game and hangman. 
  • Students have difficult times in using preposition in the right place. In this game, they say the sentences and according to this preposition, you put the items. 
Flash based games for language learners
These games are very enjoyable and they put words or prepositions in a meaning by showing them in the picture. By doing these activities, students will be motivated to complete them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


The challenge is on.  Looks like METU.NCC has some more catching up to do, but now both SFLs are getting its students in the act.  Bookmark this post, with the interactive chart which we'll update daily.

  1. Just go to and create an account if you don't have one. 
  2. Then go to GROUPS and search for METU. 
  3. Join the relevant group, and then when viewing the GROUP DASHBOARD click PLAY to the right to send any rice that you start earning to that group.
    1. SFL Instructors:
    2. SFL Students:
    3. ELT Programme:
  4. Please encourage your METU NCC students  to chip in, as the EMU SFL students have a big lead, and there isn't too much time left to catch up.  However, if only 200 METU students spend 15 minutes playing FREERICE before the 31st, they will each earn 5,000 grains of rice, or 1,000,000 in total.  That would put us almost on an even keel with EMU.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From Talip's desk: Timers in PowerPoint

Another thing I found while I was looking for timer animations for powerpoint presentations was a few ideas on how to do it. Then I found some samples and ideas from a forum site (I think I got them from

  • I've worked a bit on the design and elements and tailored some for my class's needs. 
  • You're welcome to use the slide timers I've put together by downloading  PowerPoint Timers.
  • You can use the various timers as they are, of if you want, you can copy the PowerPoint slide and just save the individual timers you want, so you can just launch the timer directly.
  • If you are familiar with custom animation, you can customize them to suit your need.s
  • If you have any questions about the fine points of adapting these timers, leave a comment here or drop by my office.  You're welcome anytime...

From Talip's desk: Countdown timer for exams, quizzes, and activities

There is an online stop-watch or countdown timer which is pretty easy to use at this address :  This one is the full-screen version. 

  1. You just click/type in the duration, click on set and start...
  2. Then you have a great timer to use during quizzes and even the longer midterm exams.
  3. I use the countdown timer in my class and my students got used to it very easily because it is huge and the colors are distinct so they can see it clearly.  The most important thing is that I no longer disturb/bother students sitting next to the white board.

Friday, December 23, 2011

From Gokçe's desk: Creative writing and speaking ideas

There are some great ideas about writing on I used them as speaking activities in my class and they worked well. If you have 5 minutes or if the students get bored, you might want to use them!
In the Busy Teacher Facebook page, there is a Creative Writing Prompts photo album, with lots of great visuals to go along with the prompts.

The actual BusyTeacher website also has 350 creative writing prompts as well, displayed in sets of fifty.  Here is an example from one of the sets:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Powerpoint for teachers part 2 | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

Powerpoint for teachers part 2 | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC - Interesting to see how one teacher uses powerpoint, albeit at a very basic level. Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. ;)  Nevertheless, I couldn't resist adding a comment to show how we took this idea to a whole new plane at METU.NCC, with reference to Talip and Erhan's examples.

The Scribe Story | Xiosis Pvt. Ltd: Developer of Xiosis Scribe Word Processor

For a glimpse into what the future holds in store for 'advanced' word processing, see what is already possible today at The Scribe Story | Xiosis Pvt. Ltd: Developer of Xiosis Scribe Word Processor.

Excerpt from the site:
This is a word processor we are talking about. Where are the advances in text analyses and language processing? When I give it a topic, why can't Word write a few lines? The data is there on the Net. The processing power is there in the PC as well as in the cloud. Can't it at least suggest the phrases that I have been typing in documents for over a year and save me some keystrokes? No, Word can't do that.
However, Scribe can. Scribe's research tool set can help you search the Net simultaenously with multiple search engines, clip useful information, summarize them, plug them into the document and help you remember your sources. And using on-line third party tools, it can provide information about your style, tone and more information about your writing than Word (or any other software that I know).
Scribe also uses machine learning. It takes advantage of your hardware and is continuously learning while you write and compiles the information when you press save. When you switch on Type Assist, it will use what it has learned to suggest to you the most likely phrase or word to complete your sentence based on what you wrote just before. It may take some getting used to, but in our tests, it saves a lot of key strokes and corrections.
Now, does it make sense to expect our students to only write in pen on paper, when the other students in the 'real world' will be using 'corpus-assisted language production' (CALP) like this?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Türkçe anlamak "iki" beyin istiyor!

For some insight into how the mother tongue of an individual may affect how that person's brain processed language, see Türkçe anlamak "iki" beyin istiyor! If my limited Turkish serves me correct, this is interesting research into the actual time it takes the brain to process language, and how people with different native languages display different time lags in certain language processes. It seems that people whose mother tongue is Turkish, which is an agglutinative language in which the verb comes at the end of sentence, can process content more quickly than European languages like English. What is also significant is that this research is based on 'normal, healthy' brains, as opposed the bulk of traditional research which tends to discover how a brain functions by looking at people with disorders or brain damage. So....what does this mean for me as an EFL teacher with the majority of my students having Turkish as their mother tongue?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Examples of 10 things a teacher does with Mini-WhiteBoards

Following on from a previous post about the use of 'mini whiteboards' in class, here is a good example of a teacher who lists the 10 things I do with my Mini-WhiteBoards.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Can students use artificial intelligence (AI) and online chatbots to practice situational language?

Do you remember the character 'Hal' in Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 Space Odyssey? Now in 2011, it seems that the real 'Hal' is no longer fiction.  Here is a BBC NEWS new report from 2006 about a robot who enjoys online chat. In fact, the artificial intelligence behind this 'chatbot' can be found on several websites that anyone can use for free.

One of these sites is - the site can be accessed via your browser at any time.
  • The artificial intelligences that you chat with have learned how to respond from the millions of people that have chatted with them,  Jabberwacky warns that because the chatbots have learned the behaviour and words of Jabberwacy's users, they may use language and produce apparent meanings that some will consider inappropriate. 
  • So, be sure that you use this site with discretion, and be aware of the risk. It could be okay to use with adult learners, but it wouldn't be recommended to use it with young learners.
  • Joan is one of the avatars you can chat with at
If you really like this idea, note that it is possible for you to create your own 'bot' with your own character.
  • It costs $30 a year, and you have to spend some time to transfer your character and knowledge to the 'bot'.
  • But remember that your 'bot' is 'intelligent', so not only will it learn from you, but your 'bot' will also learn from the people it chats with, so it will grow according to the input it gets from the people it chats with.
How to use with students?
  1. With adult students, you could give them a task to find out more about George and report back to the class. For example, you could choose different themes, e.g., sport, hobbies, work, etc. and students could attempt to have a conversation with George about a topic.
  2. I could ask the students to email a copy of their conversation to themselves, and then highlight any useful language that they learned from George and report back to class.
  3. I would also ask them to identify responses by George that were not appropriate, and tell me why and what they would suggest George should have said instead.

Here is a sample of a chat I just had with George.  You can email the conversation or simply copy and paste it from the web page.  For example, I've highlighted some useful language that emerged from my brief chat with George.

George: Are you male or female?
User: I am male.
George: I am also male.
User: What is your name?
George: I'm George of course. Otherwise known as Geo.
User: Are you married?
George: No, I'm not yet married. Too much work I suppose!
User: What kind of work do you do?
George: All sorts of things for the family, school and business.
User: Do you come from a big family?
George: Not yet.
User: Who are your parents?
George: That's none of your business!
User: Where did you go to school?
George: In a town called Cranehurst.
User: Were you born and raised in Cranehurst?
George: Naw, dude. I was born and raised in Qatar.
User: What is your nationality?
George: I am English. How about yourself?
User: I am Canadian.
George: That's cool, do you like Justin Bieber? He's Canadian too.
User: No, I don't like Justin Bieber. However, I do like Celine Dione. There are many famous Canadians.
George: Yes, indeed.
User: How long did you live in Qatar?
George: I was born in England. I have never lived in America.
User: Whereabouts in England?
George: Middle England.
User: Which city?
George: I do not feel comfortable telling you that.
User: Do you speak any other languages, other than English?
George: Yes but first of all tell me what other languages you speak.
User: I speak a bit of French, as that is the one of the official languages of Canada.
George: Yeah, right! Show me!
User: Well, it was nice chatting with you, George.
George: Don't go!
User: I'm sorry. I have work to do. Talk to you later.
George: No keep talking.
User: Perhaps tomorrow my students will talk with you.
George: Machines don't need to sleep. Anyway, about that source code. .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Education World: Whiteboards Stimulate Student Learning

Following on from Alla Askarova; comment about the whiteboarding concept (in our post at, here is Education World's idea about how whiteboards stimulate student learning:

"Start with a clean slate next semester -- introduce mini-whiteboards to your classroom! Students love working on their own whiteboards; it's a great way of keeping an entire class actively involved in a lesson. Education World offers five lessons to engage students in learning with whiteboards. Included: Tips from whiteboard users plus alternatives to whiteboards! 
"Individual student whiteboards are the 21st-century version of the chalk slates used by students in colonial times! As thousands of teachers have found, whiteboards are a great way of actively involving students in the learning process -- and a terrific tool for immediate feedback and assessment."
More details and five simple lesson plans can be found at their post at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More IPA tools to use with students

Worth reading this New York Times article about gratitude...for us teachers, especially note the Arizona experiment of giving students feedback to their writing. :)

Anyway, I just came across another tool that creates an IPA phonetic transcription from an English text.  
  • The site can be found at and it works directly from the web page (giving 'RP' UK pronunciation).  I tried it, and the results are below.   See the other posts in this blog about IPA at 
    • I haven't tried the PC/MAC version, but it apparently supports American pronunciation as well.
  • I was thinking that this could be a nice idea to introduce a reading text (like the one above), by giving the students some IPA to transcribe back into English, so I came up with these three sentences, which  handily transcribed on the fly in the web page.   
    • These three sentences demonstrate some useful features of English pronounciation, e.g., oF, haLf and THe and healTH.  
    • By transcribing the sentences, the students would automatically start thinking about the topic of the reading.

‎"Hey, it could always be worse."
[heɪ ɪt kʊd ˈɔːlwəz biː wɜːs]

"Seeing a glass half full instead of half empty."
[ˈsiːɪŋ ə glɑːs hɑːf fʊl ɪnˈsted ɒv hɑːf ˈemptɪ]

The science of 'being grateful' indicates that it has many positive benefits, such as sleeping better, better health, and less aggression.
[ðə ˈsaɪəns ɒv ('being) (grateful') ˈɪndɪkeɪts ðæt ɪt hæz ˈmenɪ ˈpɒzətɪv ˈbenɪfɪts sʌʧ æz ˈsliːpɪŋ ˈbetə ˈbetə helθ ənd les əˈgreʃən]

Natural Reader - Students creating and controlling audio from text

Quite a few teachers have been experimenting with text-to-speech via GoANIMATE or xTRANORMAL animations, courtesy of YouTube at
  • There are quite a few other options for converting text to speech around; you may have noticed that we've added a 'Listen to this blog post' button to our blog posts.  
  • You can try this free service out and create an MP3 of the text in any of the blog posts.  This functions like a podcast, if you want, because you can save the MP3 file and listen to it later.
Another program that I have used is - it has a free version which allows anyone to convert text to speech.  
  • You have to download the program and use it on your computer, but the results are surprisingly good.   
  • There are obvious applications for creating listening tasks in class, and getting students used to different accents.  Even in the free version you are limited to the standard Microsoft voices...but at least this is different from the voices of their teachers that they get used to.

What is particularly good about this technology is that you can adjust the speed of the a natural way, just as you would get if you were to ask someone, "Could you please speak more slowly, please?"  
  • This would afford an opportunity for students to do their own extensive listening practice.  It could also get them used to listening to lectures, especially if the lecturers would provide their lecture notes.  
  • There are lots of appropriate academic materials in the OpenCourseWare project, or at OpenLearn.
  • See our READING page for other sources of texts that could be sources for creating MP3s.
  • As teachers, we could even use extracts from these sources for extensive reading and use the LessonWriter website to create reading lessons with more skills practice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bank of exam questions for dialogue completion and situation response practice

From the desk of Demet Hoca. (Benim eskiden öğretim ortağı çok teşekkür ederim. ;) )

To follow up on the comic strip creation site workshop, and coming up with suitable dialogues and situations, I'd like to share the link to the OSYM website where you can download three types of exams which include English tests consisting of questions about dialogues and situations:
  1. The first exam type is "Öğrenci Seçme ve Yerleştirme Sınavı (ÖSYS)". 
  2. The second type is "Kamu Personeli Yabancı Dil Bilgisi Seviye Tespit Sınavı ( KPDS )". 
  3. The last type is "Üniversitelerarası Kurul Yabancı Dil Sınavı ( ÜDS )". 
The first type is the easiest; however, the others are worth looking at as they may also include some questions relevant to our students as they approach the proficiency level. 
  • The exams are arranged according to the years in a descending order. so the ones at the top have the most current questions. 
  • Although some of them may sound meaningless, the majority is good, and we can make use of them as they are prepared by a committee and most probably piloted.
When you click on each exam, you will see a list of the exam components. Look for "İngilizce Testi" and/or "İngilizce Testi Cevap Anahtarı". When you click on it and you will download a PDF and find the questions (and in the case of the second type, the answer key.)

If you do make comics based on dialogue completion or response to a situation, please share your images by uploading them to our blog and TAG them with 'EPE DIALOGUE' or 'EPE SITUATION'.  Thanks!

New EPE test items: dialogue completion and situation responses

The revamped English Proficiency Exam here at METU now includes a number of new test items.  The format, content and skills works related to some of the new items in will produce some challenges for teachers.

As normal, the test items will be devoid of any context, other than textual clues. Here is an example of what students will face on the EPE for the new test item for dialogue completion. What is the answer?  

Clerk: Next please. How can I help you?
Dina: I‘d like to open a bank account. ____ (22)____
Clerk: Only a copy of your ID card.
Dina: I only have my student ID card with me. Is it OK?
Clerk: Sure. And please fill in this form while I‘m photocopying your ID card.

For teaching purposes, working with such a dialogue in text-only format may present a challenge both for teachers as well as students.

Visualization and context through comics
  • Visualization clues, using pictures, realia, etc., are all tools of the teaching trade.  Creating a comic strip is another technique that is not normally available to teachers who are 'drawing-challenged' (such as myself!) 
  • However, the Internet has the answer.  Here is an example of a test item for dialogue completion as a comic (using

There are many other other comic creation sites around, but is probably the easiest.
  • The site is all black and white, but the characters have a useful range of emotions to choose from.  
  • Note that you cannot change anything once you've published it (unless you save it as a JPEG and edit it in an image editor like PAINT or GIMP).  
  • Also, make sure you send yourself the link to the comic so you can retrieve it in the future in case you lose the picture that you copy (generally using PRINT SCREEN or any SCREENSHOT program that you have.)
The other site that is worth a good look at is  This is a much more sophisticated than MakeBeliefsComix, but you can also waste a bit more time using all the features until you get used to the interface.  You can register and save your 'toons' in your account. Although you can't change them from your own account, others you share the 'toon' with can make changes.  Here is an example of the same dialogue complete in a ToonDoo to get a flavour of the difference in output.

If you find another site that you like and find useful in this context, please share your link by adding a comment.
Visualization and context through animation

There are other 'multimedia' options for dialogue completion, perhaps to add a bit of variety to comics, and the other techniques you employ from your personal bag of teaching tricks.
  • There is another animation tool, XTRANORMAL, which you can find in Youtube's create video option (, that allows you to add pauses and gestures.  
  • Using these you can create a 'gap' in the dialogue which could be another way to expose students to dialogue completion tasks.


Preparation for another test item, responding appropriately to a situation, may also benefit from the use of comics when presenting and practicing the skill in class.  Here is an example of a test item for response to a situation. What is the answer?

Your friend is supposed to pick you up from the station and you know that he/she is waiting for you now, but you have missed the train and you will be one hour late.
Call your friend and apologize by explaining the situation: ____(27)____

Again, creating a simple comic strip can perhaps bring the situation to life in class.  Here is a simple example of a MakeBeliefsComix for the situation above.  Click on the image to see the full-size version.

Learner awareness

If you are thinking of how to introduce the new test items in class, here are two draft worksheets (with tasks created using Teacher's Pet) that you can download and adapt.  These are in OpenOffice format.
  1. Worksheet to introduce Dialogue Completion
  2. Worksheet to introduce Response to Situation.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Now, a web site that makes a reading lesson for you

The site claims that all you have to do is find a suitable reading text, then "copy, paste, and submit. Simple, fast, and free" way to create a reading lesson.

  • In fact, I tried it and it is pretty good, I must admit. 
  •  However, you do have to do some thinking and make some decisions along the way. But the end product is certainly more than worth the effort. Check out the teacher introductory slidecast at Introduction to LessonWriter

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Make Ideas Real with SketchUp

I've played with SketchUp a bit in the past, but I hadn't thought too much about using in an English language teaching context. This short video just gives you a flavour for what can be done in Sketchup.

Here is a recent promotion that illustrate how GOOGLE SketchUp can 'mash' with GOOGLE Earth, in terms of modeling buildings and even neighbourhoods.

And here is an example of using SketchUp to visualize a project.

How to use this with students?

  1. Even at beginner or elementary levels, students can exercise their creativity and design their 'dream' home. They could then present this to their friends, to recycle vocabulary about furniture and rooms, as well as giving a 'guided' tour using directions, etc.
  2. Sketchup isn't restricted to architecture. Inventors use it to draw designs, and my friend suggested I use it to plan our garden. So, students could use Sketchup to visualize almost anything, and then use this visualization as a basis to practice real language, either by describing their creation or fielding questions from their peers.
  3. You could set a task to redesign the classroom, and have competitions for the best overall conception.
What I like about Sketchup
  1. Well, for a starter, it is free.  
  2. It seems to be fairly intuitive, and there is a GOOGLE SKETCHUP for Educators page at and a blog, so you can get up to speed quite quickly.
  3. Students find this sort of 'virtual' reality tool quite intuitive, so as teachers we can give them licence to put their imagination to work and then use their creations as access points to focus on the language that naturally evolves.
  4. Learning vocabulary is especially enriched when students can make their own associations to images; creating their own designs would allow them to individualize their lexis development.  Especially at university preparatory schools, where students will enter their undergraduate programmes after reaching the English proficiency required, this could provide a great way to allow students to learn English in the context of their field of interest.
  5. It is part of the GOOGLE suite of applications, so you can mashup up with GOOGLE earth, publish to YouTube and easily blog in BLOGGER.
What I am not sure about Sketchup
  1. The free version does have limitations.
  2. You need to download the Sketchup program on your computer (a bit like GOOGLE Earth), so you need relatively good Internet connection.
  3. Students would need to have concrete language tasks linked to any project that is assigned, to create a solid connection to the language syllabus.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Language and Your Brain

Lots of new research on the brain and language.  This is in fact, quite an nice infographic of relatively well-established research, but it might be interesting for students who are attempting to learn a foreign language.  The site itself has some ideas for using it in a lesson.

Certainly is comforting to me, who still struggles to communicate in basic terms in Turkish after living in North Cyprus for quite a few years. :)

Via: Voxy Blog

Monday, November 7, 2011

IATEFL webinar on Mobile Learning

Talip's demonstration of the mobile phone app for flashcards would suggest that the IWB is NOT the way of the future, but mobile learning is.

  •  The very simple example of creating flashcards 'on the fly' in class, and then publishing them to a web-based flashcard site was impressive in terms of its simplicity. 
  •  However, the real revolution was revealed by the fact that student can immediately download the flashcard set on their smart phones on their way to the canteen during the break. 

 So, have fun with the IWB when you can, but if you're looking to the future, then you should start getting up to speed on mobile learning technologies and techniques. IATEFL is hosting a webinar on Mobile Learning on 18 December, which will reveal the current state of mobile learning.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Innovative Educator: Why Smartboards are a Dumb Initiative

I love technology, but I must admit that when it comes to justifying the purchase of an interactive whiteboard, I am more of a luddite. Here is a good article that sums up my reservations about the interactive white board...

The Innovative Educator: Why Smartboards are a Dumb Initiative: By Michael Staton Cross posted at Edumorphology:  "I roll my eyes every time I hear people talk about putting Smartboards in the classroom. Ug..."

Friday, October 28, 2011

What can we do in the TV Room?

A brief history

The TV used to work!

  • It was linked to satellite and students could watch news and sport in English.
  • However, it seems this can't happen any more.

At present the TV room can be used for speaking practice, or for short readings, jokes, magazines etc, or just as an overflow study room.

What are your ideas? What could we do there? Post your suggestions!
Please bear in mind that :-  
  • The SAC has no budget, and operates on donations and teacher created materials.  At the Staff Meeting Eda Hn did mention that she might be able to get some money.
  • There would have to be someone on duty if  anything of value was there (apart from the students that is!)
  • Running any sort of 'club' would also mean someone needs to be there to organise and help.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The things we do...

Here is a thumbnail of a bar chart of the responses to the poll on the use of computer and data projector in class.  Click on it to see the full size version.

The things we do with technology appear to fall into several broad categories:

  1. Typically, over half of our use is to deliver content--the bulk of this is delivering content based on files/media created and stored on the computer, with a smaller portion being content that is accessed via the Internet.  
  2. Almost one-third of our use of the computers is going beyond straightforward delivery of pre-determined content, but rather interacting with Internet resources to access content live in the classroom.  
  3. While almost 90% of our use is either delivering or accessing pre-existing content, we can see a trend developing to create our own content based on the specific needs of the students and to fill any gaps in the materials. 

Since we have a lot of pressure to keep pace with the curriculum and syllabus, the amount of time to create content will remain limited.  Quite naturally, we have seen teachers sharing content (flashcards, animations) to maximize the value of the time we can find to create materials.  In fact, this blog is one example of how a community of practice  can be built by teachers to share ideas and creative output to the benefit of the students.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poll on the use of computers and data projectors in the classroom

It's been over a month since we started teaching, so it might be useful to see what trends have been emerging about the use of the computers and data projectors in class.

  • The following poll is on POLLDADDY, so the responses are anonymous.  
  • Just tick as many of the uses of the data projector that you have used in the class, and we can get a general picture of the emerging uses of this technology.
  • You can see the results as they come in.
Thanks in advance for your input.

Commonwealth Scholarships

Just saw details about 2012 Commonwealth Scholarships via Facebook.

Goanimate - TNF unit 10 lesson 1

Thanks Gülşen for sharing this!

This is a really great example of using GoAnimate to provide a bit of variety in the class.

  • I haven't used this 'scene' before, but I like the way you can control the characters' movements! Neat! 
  • Also, hats off to you for combining two scenes in one. Did you do this using the YouTube video editor? Very professional!

Gülşen--I am really curious to know what your students' reaction was, and how you exploited it in class.

  • I wonder how long it took you to put this together? Upon reflection, do you think that the time it took was well spent? 
  •  In fact, like the example of Erhan's flashcard stacks, I guess it would be possible for teachers to form a small working group, and create a set of these to share.  What do you think?

Flashcards in practice

Really inspiring to see how teachers can take a few ideas from a workshop or a friend, and build something truly remarkable.  We all have to walk a tight-rope between trying to cover the syllabus while at the same time attempting to find time to create opportunities for meaningful learning.

The vocabulary 'journal' is a good case in point, and thanks to Erhan, we have a nice example of how such a resource can be made more 'interactive' and more 'fun' for students. Erhan has been plugging away at the target vocabulary for the past few days, and has already amassed a considerable number of flashcards in his 'channel' at

  • I really like the way he has numbered the stacks, making it easy to sort them and find a particular set matched to a particular point in the syllabus.  And, as Talip showed us in his workshop, you can 'tick' multiple stacks to create activities (I love the hangman game) to use directly in class. Combining words from multiple stacks means that students can start to see how learning vocabulary is cumulative, and not just learning words one week and then forget about them.
  • Also, the PRINT option to create crosswords, wordsearch puzzles, and matching activities as a worksheet to use in class is a great way to add variety to a lesson, and have on hand when the technology lets us down.
  • Also, it is possible for students to download these to their smart phones, as Talip showed us.  

In fact, it might be an idea for teachers at one level to 'share the load', and each do one stack apiece and share the results.  Of course, as Algi mentioned to me in the hall, it would be even better to shift this responsibility onto the shoulders of students, and get them to build the stacks for us. Now that prospect is really attractive....


Thanks to Talip for his excellent workshop on using flashcards in and out of the classroom.

  • His technique of using a simple table in Excel to capture lexis during a lesson using the data projector is a great example of how easy it can be to meaningfully integrate technology into the classroom.  
  • However, it was a revelation when he showed how in an instant he could upload the words and definitions written by the students in class, to an online flashcard site ( before the lesson finished.  

What was truly mind-boggling was how the students could use their smart phones as they walked to the canteen to download the flashcards just published from the classroom, and start using them on their phone before they had ordered coffee.

  • This is truly a glimpse into where technology is heading in terms of education and individualized learning.  
  • Makes me almost want to run out and buy a smart phone!  To whet your appetite, just watch the video below that illustrates the power and ease of use of flashcards on smart phones.  Thanks to Talip, we now know that we have this power at our fingertips in class, and how we can take just several clicks to move words we focus on from the keyboard in our classrooms to each individual student's smart phone in their hand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

5 Non-Verbal Ways to Do Error Correction

Here is a nice reminder about 5 Non-Verbal Ways to Do Error Correction in class. The site is a 'social staffroom network' where ESL and EFL teachers post ideas and share worksheets. Worth a bookmark, and you can share your ideas there as well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

11th METU ELT Convention: Claudia Harsch talks at the 11th METU Internationa...

One of the invited guest speakers at the 11th METU ELT Convention: Claudia Harsch talks at the 11th METU Internationa...: Dr. Harsch is currently an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Applied Linguistics, The University of Warwick, United Kingdom ...

Friday, October 14, 2011

full time instrument: Follow me on twitter!I am not a new twitter user...

Not sure how many of you use TWITTER, but if you do and wonder how it could be used in teaching, this is a really nice find by Buket Cam, one of the teachers-in-training in the ELT programme at METU that I follow.  If you have no idea about TWITTER and are curious, then this is a good introduction. 
I've been trying to use TWITTER for a couple of years now--I have been making use of it to build my personal learning network, but I haven't yet been effective in using it in teaching. The video that Buket found gives me some inspiration to keep trying. :) If you have experiences to share about your use of social media in general, or TWITTER in specific, please comment. Here is the link to Buket's post.

full time instrument: Follow me on twitter!

I am not a new twitter user...
: Follow me on twitter ! I am not a new twitter user. Actually, I want to make a list about why I use Twitter. * It is easy to get news al...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Death by Powerpoint

I'm sure many of will have seen this classic 'What NOT to do with PowerPoint', but I have watched this over and over again and still find it amusing.  Perhaps MLP ENG211 students would benefit from watching this too?

BUZZWORDS poster - affect/effect

Dindy is publishing her collection of language point posters in SCRIBD. Here is an example of one of them.  You can join Dindy's channel on SCRIBD and get updates of new posters as they appear.  If you have a poster you want to share, send it along to Dindy to add to the collection.

Affect Effect

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ELTons 2012 - Call for Applications!

I am a member of the Lexitronics research group, based in North Cyprus.  Our research group (John Eldridge, Nilgun Hancioğlu and I) were nominated in 2009 for the ELTons awards and the nominated again in 2010. Although we didn't win either time in the International Category, it was a good experience to help focus our research interests and projects. 

The ELTons, sponsored by Cambridge ESOL, are the only international awards that recognise innovation in the field of English language teaching.   They have some interesting new categories this year...maybe you are involved in an area that would qualify for entry? The Macmillan Education Award for Innovative Writing is also open to any ELT author who has not yet published any of their work. The winner receives £1,000 and the opportunity to publish their work. 

Find out more about the categories and how to apply on the ELTons 2012 websiteThe deadline for applications is 2 December 2011.  Any queries should be addressed to  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Steve sent me some sites for JAZZ CHANTS, which I used to use a lot previously. If you want to add a new dimension in your classroom teaching, I've got a copy of some of the books and the audio files.  Come to my office or send me an email and I'll share my copies with you..

This is a good video, aimed at teaching young learners, by Carol Graham who came up with the idea in the 1970s.

Good luck

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs at the iPhone launch (Jan 2007)  BBC Picture

Let's remember what we owe to this guy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons

Pictures are a great resource in any type of lesson, and learning English as a foreign language is no exception.

Here is a useful post by Larry Ferlazzo with some classic ways of exploting photographs in class: The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons

It would be logical for teachers to share a 'virtual' image bank.  Talip suggested having a shared repository in the Local Area Network, so that any teacher can upload and store images which can be accessed and shared by other teachers.  This would be an idea that could be pursued with the Computer Centre...Talip, would you like to investigate the options?

Meanwhile, here are some sources I have come across that might be useful.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Persuasive Essay Thesis Builder and Online Outliner

Here is an interesting site for MLP teachers.
Step-by-step guide to writing a thesis statement and creating a persuasive essay outline 

Go to to try it out.  This was suggested to me by my colleague Jennifer Walden, English literature teacher at Pinole High School in California.  I know of Tom March from his work and research with Bernie Dodge on WebQuests (see and his offshoot site at  But, I had never seen this site before.  Semra Hanim -- what do you think?  It is designed for high school students in American schools...would it be relevant for ENG101 students?

If this does have potential, have a look at March's other thesis builder and outlining tool for cause and effect essays at

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A corner or a dead end?

Although I arrived late to the world of Social Networking, I am interested in the 'connectivist' theory of learning, and the idea of 'social language learning', epitomized by the site  As with all things Web2.0, it doesn't seem long before the 'clone brigade' starts cranking out the copy sites.

I got this link from Nilgun Hancioğlu: but I haven't had a chance to try it out.  I've asked a couple of my colleages (students in the TEFL programme here at METU NCC) to have a look and see what they recommend.  Watch this space.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Using Go animate

This is my African animation. 

A few ideas for using this animation with students in the early days:-
  • They could introduce themselves using an interview format
  • They could create a dialogue in pairs about their cities
  • In pairs they could talk about their first impressions of the campus, the SFL, learning Englsih etc etc 
You just need a YouTube account and channel (easy to create) and use Goanimate.  See Steve's post at for more details.

Ideas, suggestions and comments

If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments (about anything related to teaching), please add a 'sticky' note to our public noticeboard.  This functions just like an ordinary noticeboard.

  • The simplest way is to just add a sticky note with a text comment.  
  • In addition to adding test, you can stick on a picture or a document, or embed a video. 
  • You can add your name if you want, or you can remain anonymous. 
Looking forward to a great exchange of ideas and constructive suggestions!

BTW...this is a free tool, and there are obvious ways that you could use this with students.  See for some ideas on using such Web2.0 noticeboards in teaching.

GOOGLE 'define' in class with a data projector

I was recently teaching a class with Iranian, Azerbaijani, Libyan and Russian students, and the word 'primitive' came up in a reading.  I did what I thought was a pretty good job of explaining it, and all the students were nodding their heads.

  • Then, I noticed that the Iranians whispered the translation in Persian to each other to check if they really had understood.  Several other students also sought confirmation on their electronic dictionaries in their mobile phones.  
  • If only I had been able to call up a quick definition on the screen, shown a few pictures, and perhaps had a quick list of common synonyms...all is now at your fingertips with a data projector and the GOOGLE 'define XXX' command.

How to use this on the fly in class:

METU NCC blogs

If you are a METU NCC instructor and you like blogs, but don't want to use a commercial blog server like or (and don't want to fork out a subscription fee for you are entitled to your own METU blog (an instance of WordPress MU) at

  1. Just log in at with your METU username and password (the same one you use for your METU mail) and voila, instant blog!

Generate a debate and a class survey

Generate a debate and a class survey

A new tool that I just became acquainted could be used for a start of the year activity. This is - the name is a morph of DECIDER, to illustrate the three steps in reaching decisions: propose a solution, debate the pros and cons, then vote on the solution.

Again, such a tool is open to your imagination.
  • One idea appropriate at the start of the year, is to highlight some classroom management issues, such as "What should the teacher do when a student misses the deadline for an assignment", and see what sort of solutions the students propose, and what they vote for.
  • This is a great way to inculcate a culture of critical thinking in the class, and if it works well at the start, then you would be able to use it at relevant points during the course. This is particularly good for controversial topics where students may have strong feelings, or current affairs topics that are of interest to the students and can be used to highlight language points under study.

Create a class noticeboard in the cloud

Create a class noticeboard in the cloud

Two tools to explore are and Both are free and students can post to the public noticeboard without signing up. Posts can include text and embedded media.
  • Personally, I find LINOIT neater, as WALLWISHER can end up with a lot of overlapping 'sticky notes' if you attempt to do this in a lab with all the students at the same time. 
  • Again, the use for this is limited only by your imagination.It is worth noting that the 'sticky notes' can be added anonymously, so this could be an advantage if you want to promote candor. It can also be a disadvantage, if your students are not mature enough to take on the responsibility.
  • Some examples could include:
    1. Create a notice board with ideas for class rules
    2. Get students to share what they most like about being in a class.
    3. Share sticky notes with pictures or videos about home towns, hobbies, etc.
    4. Post sticky notes with their favourite song as a YouTube video.
  • Again, you could refer back to this in class if you have a data projector, and students could use these as prompts to generate questions to find out more information, etc.