Thursday, 26 January 2012

Part 24 Idioms (Money) Infographic & Interactive Game

Take a look at this superb infographic from, study the idioms, then put yourself to the test by playing the game (click on the image below the infographic). If you would like to see the detailed explanations, go here. For more on idioms, go to the index file in Google Docs and scroll down until you see the heading Idioms.

[Infographic provided by]

For more on idioms, use the tag to search.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Doubling consonants rules

In my first class of a new course, the subject of spelling came up, but because I didn't want to interrupt the flow of what we were doing at that time, I promised them that I'd explain the rules in the following class. This post accompanies that explanation.

One of the "strange" things about English language is the spelling, and one of the pet hates of learners is the doubling of consonants. Why do we have to spell "swimming" and "running", but "cooking" and "playing"?

There are rules regarding this which apply to endings -ed (past tenses, past participle), -ing (gerund, present participle), -er (comparative ) and -est (superlative):

  1. If it's a one-syllable word and it ends in one vowel + a consonant, the final consonant is doubled: drop-dropped, swim-swimming, thin-thinner-thinnest.

  2. If it has more than one syllable, we only double the final consonant if it satisfies rule #1 and if the final syllable is stressed: begin-beginning, prefer-preferred but visit-visited, endanger-endangered.

  3. Exception: we don't double w, x, or y: sew-sewing, box-boxing, sway-swaying.

  4. Another exception: In British English, l is doubled even though the final syllable isn't stressed: travel-travelled, cancel-cancelling; in American English, l is only doubled if the final syllable is stressed, but most of the time, they prefer one "l".

Can you think of words ending in -ed, -ing-, -er or -est associated with the above images?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Project 366: The Third Week

Yes, that's right, 21 days have flown past and on the last count, 84 photos in my Project366 folder in Flickr - that's not counting those that didn't make it that far! Here's a selection from the third week.

Lesson ideas?

Divide class into seven groups, and randomly allocate 1 photo each (throw a dice, for example).  First, elicit all the words they can think of, words which, in their mind, they can associate with the image. Get them to explain later. You (and the students) may think, oh, we've got #3, the worst. What can we say?

That's where critical thinking comes into play. Water and tiles might come into mind, right? I can think of a multitude more: rain, raindrops, dew, transparent, wet, cold, lines, squares, geometry, wall, window, glass, damp, humid, blue, colourless, odourless, etc, etc... get the gist?

Then, use their image to describe a mini story either orally (can be spoken, sung, rapped...) or written (prose, poetry, lyrics...)

Review by asking a group to describe another group's contribution.

Friday, 20 January 2012

#ELTChat January Blog Challenge: How do you manage your bookmarks?

I've been meaning to write on something like this for some time, but like a lot of my ideas, it was gradually heading towards oblivion - when one tries to juggle too many balls, some of them are bound to fall, aren't they? - until I saw @tarabenwell's tweet on an #ELTChat blog challenge: What are the best methods for organising bookmarks?

Seeing that it was Tara who proposed the challenge, she was the first to take it on, and her favourite is Scoop.It. You can read about her ten reasons here.

Unfortunately, I'd missed the chat on the advantages and disadvantages of social networking for language teachers, but I saw some of the chatters' favourite bookmarkers here.

If you're reading this, you are probably one of those who finds it increasingly challenging to be able to read everything you would like to, and, no doubt, you spend more time skimming than reading, and if you're quite organised, you might bookmark some for archiving or for reading later.

Well, that's what I do. I used to use the browser's bookmark feature until I had just so many bookmarks that I hardly looked at them unless I was trying to find a website I'd forgotten.

I'd also used Google Reader, but I found I stopped going through the list after a while. I'd also dipped my fingers in Delicious, Diigo, Livebinders, but none of them lasted very long for me.

I like, and I can understand Tara's choice, but, unfortunately, it only allows five topics for the free version. is fabulous, and I use it, but not for day-to-day bookmarking, not for sifting through all the stuff I want or may want to read.

So, what do I use? Which are my current favourites?

For indexing useful ELT resources, apart from, I use my Useful Resources page; I categorise them under meaningful headings, its weakness being I have to do it manually. Still, I think it's a good place to have them for myself and to share with others.

I'm scratching the surface with Evernote, but it has so many possibilities that I'm afraid it may get so overwhelming and may follow the footsteps of the others I've used. I'm trying not to put too much stuff on it, but just my to-do list alone threatens to fill up pages, and what I don't see I tend to forget!

I still use my Chrome bookmarks, especially the bar, where I put things I'd like to get to easily. When they are no longer required as frequently, and if I remember, I remove them. I also use the option where Chrome reopens all previous unclosed tabs upon reboot, but this gets cluttered up pretty quickly, so I put it all in a folder called 'Pending' until...

A few weeks ago, I discovered this new tool, which is just perfect as a complement to the others I'm using. I tweeted about it, but none of my followers seemed to have pick up on it.

It's called Read It Later, and claims to work in your tablets, mobiles, browsers, and more. I've only been using it on my Chrome browser. It offers the all-important one-click button on your bookmark bar: click it and that page gets filed on your read-later list. When you've finished, tick it off and it disappears from the list. The tool's getting a facelift, and below I've included two different ways of looking at your list.

So, there you have it. Yes, I cheated - I didn't choose one, but these are what I'm using at this moment. To sum up:

1. Read it Later: used mainly for pages I intend to read in the short term. However, I noticed that the list has extended to two pages, which means I've slacked!

2. Evernote: I pile up my things-to-do here. I'm starting to bookmark some web pages here, too, so it could very well be where I 'archive' them after I ticked them off #1.

3. Chrome bookmarks: I don't close the tabs of pages I haven't "finished with" so that they reopen automatically the following day. When they stay too long, they get moved to #1.

4. Scoop.It: The five topics only means that it is the first to go if I had to make a choice, much as I love it. I've used up the five topics - I didn't know about the limit when I started. Perhaps I might have done it differently had I known, but I don't feel like changing now. These are pages I share with others.

5. The other place where I can readily share my bookmarks is my Useful Resources page. Added 22/01/2012: I'd forgotten to mention that I follow so many blogs that it does get out of hand, so I created a blog to follow their feeds; when I have some spare time, or I'm looking for a person's blog and can't remember what it's called, I go to Take a look!

So, what are the tools you use for bookmarking? How do you organise the information bombarding us from all angles?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Project 366: Second week

The weeks are going fast, and the shutter's been clicking away... We've now completed the second week, and I'm displaying a selection of seven images with a challenge for you.

Use them in your next lesson!

OK, I'll give some ideas. The obvious would be to have your students tell/write a story based on these photos. They could work in groups and you could have the whole class vote for the best story.

Before that, however, you could work on the images individually. Think question words, think the five senses. For more ideas on how to use images, go to Index File, ctrl+F, and search on "images". Also see Shoot to CLIL. For more choices of pictures from the second week or if you want to see them one by one  in greater detail, go here.

Have you got any more ideas on how you would use these?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Lesson idea: Internet shopping

Here are some photos I took partly for purpose of proof, and partly for Project 366, but it occurred to me that they would act as a springboard for an interesting lesson or two. I am just going to suggest a few possibilities, but the way the lesson will flow depends on your students and you.


Internet shopping
Digital piracy
Home entertainment
Leisure activities


Conditionals (If I could afford it... If my purchase arrived like this... If they had packed it properly...)


bubble foam
bear (the cost)


I would appreciate it if...
I would be grateful if you could...
Would it be possible for me to...
I'm sorry to hear that...
Regarding the damaged item...
Under these circumstances...
If you would prefer to return the item...
We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Oral discussion on topics (go to Index File, ctrl+F, and search on "speaking")
Writing (complaint, request for refund, negotiation for discount)
Role-play (telephone conversation, forum, chat)
Webquests (assign a product [and a budget] and students purchase it: discuss the whys and wherefores later)

Those are just a sample of what could come up in such a lesson. If you have further ideas, you might like to share them here. If you need further spoon-feeding, I'll be here!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Holding a camera: Is the right way wrong?

It is funny that James should have found it funny, but, he was, of course 100% right (James was referring to the photos I published in the post Shoot to CLIL. As I told him in my immediate tweetback, the lanyard was actually on the camera taking the photo of "the right way". Just like him, I always use a lanyard: for a small camera, I twist it around my wrist, and for a bigger camera, I have it around my neck. The lanyard is not only to avoid dropping the camera, but to add stability, even if it's only psychological. So, here it is, then, the right right way, with the cameras the other way around! :-) Thanks, James!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Shoot to CLIL

Well, with photos being much the flavour of the moment (see Project 366), I think it's just apt that my guest post for the ELTPics blog, "Take a Photo and..." was published yesterday.

That post, unlike this one, is somewhat lengthy, and is divided into two parts. The first part is devoted to a lesson idea as the blog is, after all, a source of ideas on how to take advantage of photos in the classroom.

The second part, however, is a "tutorial" by an amateur (me) for amateurs where I attempt to pass on what little knowledge I have of photography to readers of the blog, especially the contributors and would-be contributors to ELTPics, where I explain some of the tips and tricks on how to make the best out of your little automatic camera.

You can read all about it here.

Wrong way
Right way

Project 366: The First Seven Days

Here was how it all started with me.

I thought about it, and being keen on photography anyway, it was a challenge that wouldn't fade away from my mind. Out came the camera, and it's been snapping ever since.

The difference between my endeavour and Carol's is that I decided against using ShutterCal, and started my own stream in Flickr. My goal is a minimum of 1 photo a day (with no maximum), and you can see all of them here. Here are my selection of 7 from the first seven days.

01/01: Home-made Xmas Sweets
02/01 Waiting for student...

03/01: Lines & Contrast
04/01: Unplugged
05/01: Street band
06/01: Shoes fit for the kings
07/01 God! What have I let myself in for!
I think there are some latecomers joining in this challenge - are you up to it?