Sunday, January 29, 2006

A few photos from the awards do. It all went off very well and we got fed!!!!

awards presentations

No, not the Oscars or BAFTAS, rather the school is having an award ceremony at the Mediterranean hotel for this year's students who achieved success in the Cambridge and Michigan exams in May. Wish me luck as I have to give a small speech to congratulate them and tell them how to keep up their English outside the classroom (YIKES!!!) this morning. Now where's my tie ?


Ahh, like hi, can you hear me at the back ?
Well, you know it's like great, you know that you came, like.
So good on you, like, you know.


Read more, don't, like, you know, make mistakes, alright?

As you can see The ancient art of Rhetoric lies safe in my hands.LOL

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Well, I'm not sure what a meme is either, apart from meaning some kind of list about yourself. But it seems to be all the rage in blogging circles. So thought I'd do one here and then post the questions on the class blogs in order for my students to post their answers.


Four jobs I've had:

1 Clerk in a dreary office in Bristol.
2 Did voice overs for tourist DVDs.
3 Translator (Greek - English).
4 Teacher

I've also been a cleaner, shop assistant, farm hand, florist, examiner, proof reader (LOL) etc.

Four movies I can watch over and over again:

1 Casablanca
2 Lost in Translation
3 Fight Club
4 Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Four places I lived:

1 Bristol
2 Liverpool
3 Thessaloniki

That's all (folks)

Four places I've been on holiday to:

1 Prague (Perhaps the world's most beautiful city)
2 The Cyclades (I've seen most of them)
3 Holy Cross, Tipperary (Stayed on my grandmother's farm when I was a kid)
4 Kriaretzi, Halkikdiki (Camped on the beach for a month)

Four of my favourite dishes:

1 Grilled Octopus
2 Roast beef with roast potatoes and gravy
3 Chilli con carne
4 Revani

Four sites I visit daily:


Four places I'd rather be now:

1 Tokyo
2 On a beach in Australia
3 Paris
4 New York

Four TV programmes I watch regularly:

1 Ρεπορταζ Χωρις Συνορα
2 Deperate Housewives
3 not much else as I have an IQ higher than my shoe size.

Friday, January 27, 2006


In the gapped text exercise in FCE, CAE and CPE there are many ways to
identify the correct answer. Of course the first step involves reading the
base text before we do anything else. Once you have done that you
should look out for the following “markers”.


E.g. he/she, they etc. Can you say who or what the pronoun refers to?

Time references

E.g. In those days, then, later, that year. When do they refer to in the text?

Lexical groups i.e. words that naturally go together

E.g. car, road, windscreen. Is there a natural continuation in terms of subject ?


E.g. The house, my home, the place. Is the writer using synonyms to avoid repetition ?

Chronological order

E.g. In the morning, later that day, in the evening. Does the order make sense i.e. did the person eat breakfast then leave the house?

Cause and effect

E.g. as a result, then, as, since. Can we see that something is the result of
something else ? If so what? Sometimes these connections are clearly
signposted; on the other hand they may be implied.


E.g. First of all, next, lastly. Is there any ordering in the text?


E.g. On the other hand, however, while. What follows? Can you see the opposite idea in the text?

Common sense

Don’t forget to use your common sense to make sense of the passage. You know how the world works so apply that to the text.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No lessons today

Due to the bad weather here in Thessaloniki I won't be doing any lessons. Good for the soul, lousy for my bank balance. For any student who will miss lessons, don't worry I'll email you your assignments. How I love technology !!!
(In the background can be heard the sound of demonic laughter echoing off the stone walls of my crypt).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

snow has finally arrived

The media has been warning us that the cold front that is now affecting Russia is coming this way. It finally reached us yesterday. Still it's not as bad as they all made out. I was expecting the heat death of the universe, judging by what the TV channels were saying.

However, this does mean that I won't be doing any private lessons outside the city for a few days as I don't fancy taking my chances on the Vespa in this weather

Anyway, some pictures taken from the balcony this morning.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Geeking out

Things I learned today;

1 How to download mp3s to my ibook. Talk about convoluted.
Windows has a much simpler procedure.
2 How to put music from someone else's computer on my ipod and visa versa.
3 How to get free internet access via wi-fi hotspot in the city.

I think I've geeked out enough for one day. On the other hand, I managed to get loads of music that I like and I figured out how to share this with others.

If you want to find out how send me an email.

DVDs and teaching

I happen to love movies and so I've accumulated quite a few films on video (wot's that grandad ?) and dvds. A few years back I found a way of using them to help me teach. So instead of being a saddo film buff/anorak I'm collecting valuable teaching material. LOL.

Anyway, The idea is that I give my students a film to week to watch. In that way;

1 - They get about 50 to 60 hours of listening practice per year as opposed to the paltry two to fours hours usually provided by course/exam practice books.

2 -The subject matter is more fun. Better they watch Harry Potter than listen to mind numbingly dull discussion on bee keeping in Shropshire.

3 - It's more realistic. Movies come closer to reflecting real life spoken langauage than most of the stuff in their course books.

4 - You get a wide variety of English, both geographically and socially.

5 - Students realise that you don't have to understand every, single nuance in order to get the message. A great confidence builder.

Usually, I choose movies I bought in the UK that don't have subtitles in foreign languages (or at least not in Greek) to ensure "honesty" in my students. For those students who find this overwhelming in the beginning ask them to put on English subtitles to begin with.

What do you do afterwards ?

Write a summary of the plot.
What you liked and disliked
Review as article
Review in the form of a letter to a friend
Ideas for a sequel
Comparison of the film with the book
Find the IMDB review (see user comments section) you most agree with

If you have any other ideas feel free to post them in Comments or -mail me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Using music as an icebreaker

I thought I'd repeat an idea I had a few months back which I believe is great for helping students get to know each other at the start of a course. Ask each student to create their own music cd (audio or mp3) which they bring in to the class. They explain to the other students or the teacher what the music means to them. Alternatively, we try to guess which student brought in which cd.

Then the students swop and copy the music onto their computer and hence you can get a killer music collection in a matter of weeks. Just don't tell the music companies, it's our secret, ok?

It's good to see this site is drawing interest from abroad, but where are my fans in the southern hemisphere ? LOL.

A cheat's guide to lesson planning

Too tired, lazy, hungover to think up your own stuff ? Try the Britlit webpage at the British Council teaching English site. I've already done Killing Time and A House in the Country which were good for getting to think about a story as something other than just a bunch of unknown words and grammar rules. All you have to do is download and print out the materials and you have an instant lesson for B2 level and above.

Also Killing Time has an interesting listening component which you can download as an mp3.

Human cloning

I was having a discussion with one of my students about the ethics of human cloning and it occurred to me that I can't think of a single serious reason why somebody should be cloned. Any suggestions ?

In the meantime check out this site on the BBC web site which looks at both sides.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Teacher Dude has gone international

I put a wonderful piece of extra stuff on the blog which tells you where in the world people who view the blog are. We're now international. That's something that really blows my mind.

Teaching idea of the day

I'm using The Pocket and the Pendant audio book by Mark Archer as a teaching tool.I give the students a cd with the whole book in mp3 form and ask them to listen to a chapter each week and write a summary. It's great listening practice and a great alternative to the boring listening practice that they do in their course books.

The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jeffrey

From the Kirkus review:

"A sci-fi adventure steeped in the lore of an ancient civilization that will appeal to children and adults alike...driven -- and driven well -- by good old-fashioned sci-fi storytelling."

Max Quick's life drastically changes after time suddenly stops. The young man of 12 -- harassed by bullies, living as an orphan in a violent home for boys and about to be thown into juvenile hall -- is mysteriously immune to this chrono-freeze. He soon discovers other children who are impervious as well -- namely, Casey Cole and Ian Keating -- and the three find themselves embarking on a thrilling quest ... Heavily inspired by the folklore of the Sumer civilization of ancient Mesopotamia, the narrative shines brightest in the chapters that focus on the re-telling of this fascinating history. Jeffrey skillfully infuses the story with authentic historical context, and then thrusts this narrative into the future by introducing aliens, time travel and massive gems with the power to stop time and minds -- and difficult task indeed, but one that he successfully accomplishes.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A taste of Christmas

A few snapshots from my Christmas. If you can, post some photos from your holidays on your blogs.