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Friday, 29 April 2016

It will never work (part 1)

I know I haven’t been posting recently. My apologies. Some of you know that I’m taking the IHTT (IH Teacher Training) course online, which has been extremely helpful, but also hasn’t allowed me much time for anything else.
Last week’s module was about “Reflexive Practice”. As I’ve found throughout the course, things seem to be fitting in with exactly what I need or with what I’m doing at the moment. And it so happens that last week I ran my first workshop at APPI (Associação Portuguesa de Professores de Inglês), over 100 sessions and people were actually interested in what I had to say? That certainly came as a surprise. My session was entitled “Learning? Sorry, not interested.” and it focused on strategies teachers could use with more challenging groups. A few days before the session I found myself wondering “What are you doing, Sandra?” you see, I’m a relatively young teacher (38) but I’ve been teaching for 20 years. So if yu do the maths this means I started when I was 18. No pre-service course, not even a degree. Fresh out of Proficiency, I was literally thrown into a classroom with nothing but a coursebook and a huge amount of determination.
A lot has evolved in these last 20 years. The teachers and how we look at teaching. The students and their world. All the gadgets and technology available to both them and us. A whole planet, with new challenges that willing or not we are forced to take into the classroom. Like I said, last week was all about reflection in our course so this will be my (almost) first post related to reflection. This time I’d like to talk about new ideas in general. Throughout the conference I saw brilliant PPTs with perfect descriptions of how activities should be staged. I saw a lot of innovative ideas and shared the smile on some people’s faces while secretly telling myself “Yes, that is brilliant, and it will never work.” You see, I find that some of the things (quite a few, actually) that are usually presented at conferences, or even teacher development sessions, are quite utopic. What happens is that sometimes teachers are unable to put them into practice or adapt them to their classes. We live in a world where you either need to always use IWB or never use them at all, because children can’t concentrate for over a minute, these days, and we need to “make” them “be aware” and “focus” on the world around them. It’s funny how I always find that the latest are those who will also tell you they have a hard time using technology. :-)

I heard a number of comments of things like “Yes, everything works for them, nothing works for us.” Or “Of course it will work for him. He’s got a class of 12 while I’ve got 32 kids in my room!” Are we helping teachers? I still have a hard time calling myself a teacher trainer, it’s almost like if I am I move up in the ladder and I don’t know more than them – It’s just not as easy to reach me. In my session I used pictures of the students performing the activities. I wanted to show that is was possible, that it was not just theory, that I was just like them. Because, you see, when I grow up, I want to be just like them: passionate teachers, always looking for different things that might work. No guarantees, just a lot of good will and hope and love for teaching.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Phrasal Verbs in Everyday Conversation

Phrasal verbs are used, mostly, in informal conversation. They are a natural way, usually shorter to convey a number of ideas. Are they simple? Unfortunately the answer is "No. Not really." There are so many phrasal verbs that you can find dictionaries specialised only on Phrasal Verbs. Here's a post introducing the topic, if this is the first time you've heard about them.

Today I'd like you to watch this short lesson about using phrasal verbs when speaking. Write down one or two that might come in handy and try using them the next time you have a conversation in English.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy New Year

Yes, it's been a while and yes... it's quite embarrassing that I haven't written in such a long time.

2016 will be a different year. I can feel it. I don't have big plans, but I do have plans and one of them is to revive both the blog and the Facebook page. I also plan to write more articles for journals and to go to attend more conferences. I plan to finish the courses I'm developing and the book with teaching ideas I've been writing...

Well, reading the last paragraph makes me realise I'm quite ambitious for the coming year. I'm ready for it. 2016 will be a great year.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Welcome September

I haven't posted anything in a long time.

It has, indeed, been a long time. There are a lot many things I haven't been doing, but I hope it will get better.

I'm not going to talk about grammar or vocabulary right now. I'm here to apologize and say I haven't given up. I'm not going to stop posting. I've just been very busy with a lot of many things apart from me. I've been lucky to have been invited to participate in projects I believe in. Projects I know are valid and solid. I know. But something else happened. J. told me today she's planning on spending more time doing sports this year. Looking after herself. I think it's high time I did the same. So, just letting you know: this year I plan on taking care of the people and things I love and that means the blog too.

Welcome September. We're back :-)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Punctuation rules -

Punctuation can be a bit tricky if you're not very confident with the language. Here is a small guide with some tips and rules for punctuation. Remember to leave a comment if you need any help.

Monday, 12 January 2015

214027PCAA - CICCOPN - Video tutorials

I've said this a number of times, I know ;-). However, I have to say it again. My students are brilliant and they've produced these wonderful tutorials to help you know what to do, should you need them.

Congratulations 214027PCAA - CICCOPN

Bárbara Azevedo & Sara Raquel

Flávia Guimarães; José Pedro Campos & Vitor Barbosa

(due to file size, I can't display the video but it can be seen at the above address)

Ana Rita Sousa, Diana Oliveira & Carla Nogueira


Ana Teresa, Cátia Cunha & Miguel Sousa


Bruno Torres, João Silva & Diogo Teixeira


Friday, 31 October 2014

Spooky Halloween!!!

As most of my friends know, I absolutely love Halloween. I like carving pumpkins, welcoming the (very few kids) who come trick-or-treating, making cards and painting monsters with my boys. I think it's better than Carnival, actually I think it can't be compared to Carnival. However, Halloween isn't that popular in Portugal, really. It's still seem as a "foreign", "modern" activity so there's not a lot of attention going around it. Just that teachers, English teachers, that is, love it. Time to have fun and let the mean, (not that) nasty vampire come out, come out, wherever it is....

So, what do I have to share? Probably nothing new. If you go online there will be thousands of resources available. However, if you need a quick guide and you don't have time to scroll down Dr. Google's list, here are a few resources and ready-made worksheets that can help save the day.


The History of Halloween (a short documentary by the History channel, quite good for an activity with adults)
Halloween Songs for Kids! (half an hour of wonderful Halloween songs for VYL by Super Simple Songs)
Short Story – Halloween is Grinch's night (looking for a short film? This could be it. Dr. Seuss story for children about the Grinch)
Halloween Cartoons (a playlist with 65 videos related to the theme. Great for VYL if you're looking for a different way in which to finish/start your lesson)

Crosswords, Puzzles & Word searches

Word search (good for YL and teenagers)
Halloween Scramble (a simple worksheet related to safety on Halloween, good for YL)
Crossword (a sort of a Halloween trivia that is sure to keep  your students busy for a while)
Word search builder (make your own word search with this on line program, you will only have to print it)


Halloween worksheets (@ you'll find lots of printable worksheets you'll be able to use with your students)
Halloween worksheets and activities (you have everything here, from Reading comprehension, to vocabulary practice. @ you'll find resources from several sorts)
The teachers corner (you'll find recipes, puzzles, wordsearch, etc.)
Super Simple Learning (this website will provide you with lesson plans, recipes, party ideas and so on)


Dream English Halloween (focuses on songs that can be used, mainly, with children)
Halloween songs (over 8 pages of different songs that can be used with other levels)

And of course, if all else fails...
The (you know why, don't you ;)
Printables, crafts, poems (not many people still remember this site, but it's one of the oldest around)