Monday, 20 November 2017

Summer Teaching at the Lake!

I think I am now .........

regarding blogging for the moment!

This rather belated post is going to be about my teaching at the Lake School of English during the summer months from July through to October this year.

Comic tool used:

I had the great pleasure to teach a variety of levels ranging from AO (Complete Beginner) to B2+ (Upper Intermediate).  All the learners were wonderfully receptive and I enjoyed teaching each individual class.  It was also as usual, fantastic to be back in the staffroom and be an active member of the dynamic teaching team.

If you are on Facebook, you can see the many social activities that are organized by the school, and it is plain to see that all the students are happy with their studies and with the school in general.

Lake School Facebook Page:

Never Stop Learning
Not having taught in a physical classroom for a number of months, I was pleased to see that I slipped straight back in as if I had never been away.  This was encouraging, and over the nine weeks I challenged myself to be creative and try out new lessons whenever possible.

Whilst in Oxford, in September, I quietly celebrated my 38th year of being an EFL teacher / Teacher Trainer.  Looking back on my very first day of teachng at the Briam Institute in Madrid in 1979, I was able to reflect on how things have changed since those early days when I was a novice teacher. I guess the most important  point I have learned along the way is to always strive to develop as a teacher, and to never stop learning.

I will outline some of the tools I used in my lessons. They are tried and tested ones, and I have used them time and again to create colourful visual aids to help motivate my learners.

The Joy of Teaching Teens

I taught classes mostly consisting of adult learners but also included a lot of Under 18s.  I particularly enjoyed teaching a group of Teens from Switzerland, who really kept me on my toes and forced me to think quickly during the lessons.

I hadn't taught a specific teenager class for a little while and with a 40 year+ age difference, I asked myself this pertinent question:

 'How can I motivate these lively teens and hold their interest, and how on earth can I gain an insight into their psyche and interests in a short period of time?'

Well, the lessons worked out fine and I found the learners to be very knowledgeable with a good level of English and keen to communicate.  The age gap did not make any difference to how I felt about teaching them and I really enjoyed the buzz from their collective energy. 

The following articles make for interesting reading:

  • Teaching Teenagers, English Teaching Professional, Issue 23, 2002 
  • Teen Power,  English Teaching Professional, Issue 39, July 2005
  • Teenagers! Motivating the teenage brain, MET, Vol 13, No 4, 2004
  • Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class, ELT Chat summary, 19/01/2011 
  • How to motivate teens to extend their speaking activities, ELT Chat summary, March 15, 2011
This article written by Tiziana Angiolini , outlines a summary of a presentation she attended called Motivating Teens and Youngsters

I have bookmarked it as essential reading for my next class of teens in the future.  Thanks Tiziana!

Jazz Chants

What the class above seemed to enjoy most of all was doing Jazz Chants.  This was a good way of drilling them on stress patterns in a fun way.  I asked them to create their own jazz / rap chants to recycle some phrasal verbs I had taught them and then to recite them in front of the class.  It helped that one of the students was a keen rapper, so he offered to keep the dialogues flowing in a rap style by beating the rhythm on the desk to keep the flow moving smoothly.  They did really well on this activity and although they had protested at the beginning that they didn't really like studying phrasal verbs, it was amazing how many verbs came up in their rap chants and all were used in a great context.  I wish I had recorded a few of them!

The Wonderful World of Word Clouds

I used word clouds very often in my lessons for recycling / revision purposes, as lesson summaries and as vocabulary pre-teaching.

Below a selection of lesson ideas using WordArt

A summary of one of my classes.  The umbrella shape was chosen because it had rained during some of the lessons and I had asked the students if they had all brought their brollies with them!

Here is a summary of the Green Room class I taught.  The bike represents my cycling to work every day!  The cloud shows what topics we covered in one of the weeks and some adjectives about the group, who were receptive and hardworking!!

Below a summary of a 1-1 lesson, where we had a cup of tea whilst discussing a wide variety of social topics around the world...

Below a smiley word cloud to recycle phrasal verbs with 'OFF' particle:

Below a word cloud used with my AO class to review family vocabulary relevant to them:

Reviewing some classroom language with this Beginner group:

I asked B2 students to create a dialogue / short story using some of these verbs in the cloud as prompts:

In the example word cloud below, you can see some informal English expressions which were included in a lesson from OK 4 book.  I simply added them into a word cloud and used it for revision and recycling purposes.  The students were given a copy to refer to.

The general feedback I received was that learbers liked the word clouds very much as it / they helped them to remember the expressions in a memorable and visual manner.

 Using Comics to Motivate Learners

I love using comics in my classes as they can be powerful learning tools for learners. My scoop it site contains many links to comic creation sites and information on how comics can be used in a challenging, creative, and pedagogical manner:

Here is a comic I created a while back and I always use it when presenting phrasal verbs. 

Asking questions about the weekend using informal expressions:

Some sentences my students created with 'OFF' phrasal verbs transfered into comic form:

Mind Mapping Introduction!

I used Popplet mind map to create a simple introduction to myself, and students had to ask me questions to find out more information.  They were then invited to do the same.


I used this tool for revision and recycling of colloquial expressions with one of my groups.  I invited  members of the class to go to the computer and then the rest of the class had to help them complete the tasks.

This was great fun and the students were invited to create their own flashcard sets if they wanted to.

Newspaper Info


The time spent teaching face to face during the summer months went by too quickly. Teaching is in my blood, and I guess it is one of the most satisfying jobs one can ever do.  Of course it all depends on the students, the staff, and the working environment.

All three aspects and many others were absolutely .........

Another post about the Lake School will be written soon. I will include a mention of a very special landmark event for the school in 2018!!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Janet's Abruzzo Edublog is 9 years old!

Image source:

Janet's Abruzzo Edublog is now officially 9 years old!  My very first post was on November 8th 2008.  It was a short and simple introduction.  I remember feeling a bit nervous yet at the same time, very excited about taking such an enormous step in publishing to the world for the first time.

Back in those days I was a technophobe and did not possess much confidence in using the web.  That all changed when I took an informative and excellent course on Blogs with The Consultants-e.  I had a knowledgeable, friendly and sympathetic tutor, and my coursemates were all in the same boat as me.  This was a huge confidence booster and I loved every moment of the course.  It opened up new possibilities and awakened a passion for writing which had long been dormant.

I clearly remember pressing the 'Post' button on that life-changing day on 8th November 2008 and the feeling of exhilaration when the deed was done. It was a definite 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' kind of moment, and I have no regrets!

Thanks so much to my blog readers and for all the comments thoughout the years which have encouraged me to keep going.  I have learned so much from everyone!

A special mention goes to my dear friend and fellow blogger Natasa, who left me a message on my previous post.  That has inspired me to write this post today, so I would like to say a personal thanks to you!!  I hope we both carry on blogging for many years to come!

Image created with Keep-calm-o-matic

Thursday, 16 November 2017

It's been a while......

.........since I last posted, and I am now going to set thngs right, before even more time passes.

The honest reason for my recent lack of posts is that I simply lost 'the flow'.  I have discovered over the years that writing blog posts is a special art form and you need to be creative and be in the right frame of mind.

I have decided to reignite this lost 'flow' by planning to write 5 special posts, over the coming weeks, on topics which have inspired me recently.

  • Summer school teaching at the Lake School of English, Oxford
  • Lake School of English successful BC Inspection result, and 40th Anniversary in 2018
  • Bumper Olive picking harvest November 2017
  • Little Free Library of Abruzzo Initiative
  • Roccascalegna Castle, Abruzzo
Watch this space!!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

IATEFL Glasgow April 2017

It's been a long time since my last posting but now is the time to begin again.  It is the IATEFL conference in Glasgow this year and it starts on April 3 and runs until April 7.
It's going to be an action-packed event with guest speakers from around the world.  Sadly I won't be in Glasgow in person this year, but I hope to catch a few of the sessions online from the comfort of my own home.
On each day of the conference you will be able to watch live coverage from 09:00 to 17:00 GMT.

Live coverage starts on April 3.  More information on how to view the event here:

IATEFL Online Banner 2017

Monday, 16 May 2016

Amalfi, Villa Rina

Touring the Amalfi Coast by motorbike was a wonderful experience, if a little bit hair raising, especially on the many hairpin bends along the 40 kilometre coastal route!

We booked a one-night stay at Villa Rina. Below a youtube video from the website, which shows you exactly what it is like.  We enjoyed our short stay very much indeed!!!

Reading reviews about the famous 400 steps to get to the villa, was a good preparation, and the walk was not so bad.  We passed stunning views along the way!

The entrance to Villa Rina,

 with a few more steps beyond it....

A one night stay at Villa Rina high on the cliff top overlooking the sea, was peaceful and energising.  We stayed in the room called Positano, and it was fantastic.

We were welcomed warmly by Rina, the friendly and charming owner of the villa. She was waiting for us with a jug of her delicious and freshly made lemonade.  We had parked the motorbike in a secure garage below on the seafront, and at 20 Euros a day this is a bargain compared to the 2 euros per hour unsecured parking on the street if you are lucky enough to get a parking space in the centre of Amalfi.

We had dinner at the villa as a special anniversary treat, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable affair.  Rina is an amazing cook and she prepared some wonderful dishes including bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil, stuffed aubergine with pecorino cheese, fried mozarella in breadcrumbs, then delicious cannelloni as a main course, then very tasty meatballs on a vine leaf, with a homemade strawberry dessert.  All this was washed down with a lovely jug of homemade wine, and then finishing off with Rina's special Limoncello.  We were totally full up after this spledid feast!!

The appetizing breakfast the following morning was a real treat, with Rina's homemade jam to go with the fresh croissants and toast, totally delicious.
After breakfast we took the downhill coastal path to get to Amalfi centre to do a bit more sightseeing.

Visiting the Paper Museum wasfascinating....

.... and I treated myself to some beautiful handcrafted paper produced locally in Amalfi.

and along the way, away from the crowds of tourists, we came across this neat model village of Amalfi.

The cathedral was well worth visiting and one of the sightseeing highlights of the trip.

Another highlight was seeing lovely lemons everywhere, the scent was so nice!!

I bought some to take back with us, and I will be doing chicken with lemon, salad with lemon, and pasta 'al limone' for a little while!!  Admiring the many lemons along the way to Villa Rina,

View of Amalfi port below.

We had to go through this tunnel to get to the centre.

Villa Rina is right at the top of the cliff.

The view of the sea from high above was breathtaking!

We enjoyed a nice meal on the sea front at La Marinella Restaurant with beautiful views of the beach and saw all the tourist boats arriving and leaving.

All in all a wonderful trip to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary.  I was thrilled that we travelled by motorbike, as it gave us a unique advantage in enjoying the coastal road.  For me as a pillion rider it was exciting, however, it must have been quite challenging as a rider, but K coped admirably with the chaotic traffic, narrow roads and hairpin bends!

I would love to visit Naples, see Pompei and Mount Vesuvius and explore the Amalfi Coast further on a future trip.