Online Resources and Tools for Language Teachers

Our little language school has recently been dumped by a major company whose language classes we had been organizing and teaching for over 20 years. Their human resources department felt they could invest their training budget better by buying licences to two online platforms and releasing the practice of organising and learning into the hands of their employees.

Though I am very sad about this development – I lost groups and students of many many years – I don’t see online platforms as competition to our coaching. Even if some companies might believe in using them to replace us ‘real teachers’ (and save money?), most online platforms are there to support us. And those I would like to thank here for their very valuable services and introduce you to some.

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The Biggest Obstacle to Learning

Much of what I believe about learning – through experience and studies – I have already written about elsewhere (for instance in my post: ‘The Best Curriculum in the World’). But the topic regularly pops up in classes, often in connection with questions concerning memory – memorizing and forgetting – or when talking about ‘grammar’, where I still hear things like: “I hate grammar, I’m bad at grammar etc.”. Even from course members whose English is on an advanced level.

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The best school curriculum for a peaceful world

The topic of schools, schooling, and education is one that frequently comes up. The reason is simple: education is of the utmost importance and many agree that our school systems do not always provide the best environment for learning. The whole structure is unnatural (large same age groups with one adult) and forces kids and adults (the teachers) into a strait jacket that might fit some, but many it doesn’t.

There have been educators who try to fight for better educational concepts, better schools, for approaches to education that consider the psychological and cognitive nature of humans. For concepts that cater better to our minds: our brain’s fascinating capability to figure things out, to recognize patterns, to be curious about our surroundings – and enjoy the whole process.

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NPR: National Public Radio

A great website I first found in 2014. And rediscovered in 2023. It has short podcasts you can listen to repeatedly for great learning effect.

NPR Podcasts and Shows

Some I’ve listened to lately (updated May 12, 2024)

Related to Béyonce’s new album ‘Cowboy Carter’, there are several great podcasts. For instance: What her cover of ‘Blackbird’ means to a member of the Little Rock Nine. 

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Post-pandemic: Useful Lesson Links retire to page status

(October 2023 update)

It seems, we will have to live with Covid 19 as an additional health threat here to stay. 2023 was very quiet in relation to the virus, and things feel almost ‘like before’. Every once in a while you hear of new infections, but the virus doesn’t seem to be as contagious as it was. Some changes in workplaces seem to have become more permanent. Office employees have returned to their offices at least for a few days a week, hybrid models and more flexibility seem to have become more common and Working from Home also seems to be here to stay. Since my class members are among those enjoying the flexibility of a hybrid working system, I am still mostly teaching online; and beginning to think whether I could become a digital nomad and work from a cottage at the coast or a tree house in the woods, or something like that – good internet connection provided.

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The benefits of constructive confrontation

Being nice and treating each other with respect does not mean only saying what others want to hear. Harmony and cooperation is created by honest communication.

This post is about constructive feedback, and how important honest exchange is in every aspect of our lives. Avoiding open disagreement, hiding things away or pretending to be on the same emotional and intellectual plane when you are not, causes tensions and hurtful feelings; the opposite of what we actually intend.

In the short video below, the speaker, Bo Seo, argues that openly disagreeing with each other instead of pretending to be on the same level leads to richer human relationships.

This topic can be supplemented by pages from the chapter on candor in the book about Netflix’s company culture: No Rules Rules (summary of the book’s main points under link).

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Word(s) of the year 2022

The word(s) of the year, sometimes capitalized as “Word(s) of the Year” and abbreviated “WOTY” (or “WotY“), refers to any of various assessments as to the most important word(s) or expression(s) in the public sphere during a specific year from: Wikipedia)

Another one of my favorite and recurring topics. Different dictionaries like Cambridge, Oxford, Merriam Webster, Collins, dictionary.com come up with WOTY lists every year. The ways they choose differ slightly and a brief summary of how they decide can be interesting for an introduction to the topic. Most dictionaries, though, choose the words that were looked up most frequently on their websites. The Wikipedia entry (above) describes some of them.

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Exerpt (3) From Louise Penny: All the Devils are Here

The pages below are from Louise Penny’s Gamache series book 16. It plays in Paris, France. The exerpt is an exchange between the wife of the main protagonist Chief Inspector Gamache from the Canadian Sureté, herself a retired librarian who worked in top position at Québec’s Bibliothèque et Archives nationales, and the Chief Archivist of the Archives Nationales in Paris.

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Exerpt (2) How does the story continue?

The page below is from a very recently published novel. The author has written a large number of highly successful stories, many of which have been adapted to movies. He likes experimenting with different genres from science fiction, magic realism, fantasy, crime and suspense, to name just a few. His books often relate to current topics of social or political relevance, and frequently, though not always, include supernatural elements or twists. All stories evolve around human relations and conflicts. His strength lies in creating atmoshere and drawing the reader into the story – you feel you are there. He creates complex characters and a vivid sense and atmosphere of the locations or places where events unfold.

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Verb Structure Circle: Brief Summary

The English verb system in its basic structure is very regular and fairly free of inflection. It does not consist of 12 to 17 tenses as some sources claim. It is a combinatorial system whose building blocks are: two simple forms (traditionally called ‘simple present’ and ‘simple past’), two auxiliaries (BE and HAVE) and two participles (verb + ing, commonly called ‘present participle, and ‘past participle’). Together they can be combined to form various structures of different semantic complexity. This I demonstrate with the Verb Structure Circle.

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