Monday, 9 December 2013


Let me get off to a cracking start by wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year 2014! So with a bit of history on the Christmas cracker - a super Brit tradition and some Christmas carols with a difference I hope you thoroughly enjoy the festivities! Don't stay up until the crack of dawn waiting for Father Christmas or crack out the champagne on New Year - most of you aren't old enough!

Christmas Crackers!
(Vocabulary in bold explained below.)

When the Christmas table is laid in Britain there is always a cracker at every place setting. The crackers are pulled with a loud CRACK!! and out pops a small toy or trinket, a paper hat in the shape of a crown and a slip of paper with joke, motto, riddle or trivial fact written on it. Crackers were invented by Tom Smith a London confectioner who was looking for a new way to promote his boiled sweets. Little did he realise his invention would become a tradition!

laid (pp verb lay) = to ready the table for a meal
place setting = knives,forks, spoons and plates as set around the table for each person
crackers = card tubes filled with a toy a joke and a Paper hat
trinket = toy, ornament, jewellery
slip = small piece
motto = slogan
riddle = verbal puzzle
trivial = not important
confectioner = somebody who makes sweets
promote = advertise

Do you like cracking jokes? Here are some I got in crackers last year - will they have you cracking up?

Q: What do elves learn at school?
A: The elf-abet!

Q: What do you call a snowman in summer?
A: A puddle!

Q: Who is a snowman's favourite relative?
A: Aunt Arctica!

Q: What sits under your Christmas tree and sings all day?
A: Elvis Pressie!

Q: Where do snowmen go to dance?
A: A snow ball!

Q: Who brings presents to animals at Christmas?
A: Santa Paws!

Q: What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
A: Can you smell carrots?

Malapropism/Mondegreen Carols
I was never known for my great singing voice (this is still true!). Cracking under the pressure our music teacher warned us to sing up or else... so I put all my heart into it, his comment was "Nice to hear the boys at last!" On the merit of my weird deep voice, I got into the school choir and one of the things I remember most vividly was the Christmas Carol Concert in the local church. Huddled in our uniforms under between the sparkling tree and the altar, the dare was who would sing the wrong words to the carols. Here are some of my favourites and some I found on the Web.

We Three Kings of Oil and Tar
We three kings of oil and tar,
one in a taxi, one in a car,
one on a scooter blowing his hooter
smoking a fat cigar.

While Shepherds Wash Their Socks by Night
While shepherds wash their socks by night
all watching ITV,
the angel of the Lord came down
and switched to BBC.

Jingle Bells
Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Robin flew away.
The bat mobile lost a Wheel
and Joker got away.

The Twelve Days of Fast Food (Last verse only for brevity!)
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My drive through gave to me:
Twelve bags of Pepto,
Eleven pounds of blubber,
Ten baked potatoes,
Nine polish hot dogs,
Eight bowls of chili,
Seven pints of coleslaw,
Six chocolate milkshakes,
Five onion rings,
Four Egg McMuffins,
Three Biggie Fries,
Two Happy Meals,
And a Big Bacon Classic with Cheese

White Christmas(Inspiration for a young J.K.Rowling?)
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
just like the wands I used to know
Where tree tops glisten
and Children listen
to hear slave elves in the snow.
Police car ahead,
(or) Police got my dad,
(or) Feliz mommy died,
Prospero aρo y Felicidad.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
From the bottom of my heart.

Fleas naughty dog,
There's fleas on your dad,
Fleas naughty dog,
Protect us and the fleas from my dad

Police car ahead,
(or) Police got my dad,
(or) Feliz mommy died,
Prospero aρo y Felicidad.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
From the bottom of my heart.

Fleas naughty dog,
There's fleas on your dad,
Fleas naughty dog,
Protect us and the fleas from my dad


Why don't you have a crack at writing your own?

Phrasal verbs and idioms with crack.
be crackers about something = to be crazy about it
get off to a cracking start = begin very well
the crack of dawn = early in the morning
crack out the champagne (also break out the bubbly) = celebrate/open a bottle of champagne
crack a joke = tell a joke
crack up = laugh until you cry/go crazy
crack under the pressure = have health problems due to stress
have a crack at = try to do something

Enjoy the holiday!  Stay safe and see you in the New Year! Happy 2014!

Police car ahead,
(or) Police got my dad,
(or) Feliz mommy died,
Prospero aρo y Felicidad.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
From the bottom of my heart.

Fleas naughty dog,
There's fleas on your dad,
Fleas naughty dog,
Protect us and the fleas from my dad


Monday, 4 November 2013


Remember, remember the 5th of November, 
Gun powder, treason and plot,
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason,
should ever be forgot!                                                                 

Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night is one of those quirky English celebrations that everyone enjoys but which comes from a grizzly event in times past.

The year is 1605 and the Protestant King James I ruled England. Guy Fawkes along with twelve other Catholics plotted to assassinate King James I and return a Catholic queen to the throne of England. Guy Fawkes was in charge of the gunpowder that had been placed under the Houses of Parliament. However, an anonymous letter was sent to the government warning them of the plot and when a search was carried out Guy Fawkes was discovered. He was tortured until he gave up the names of his conspirators. On 31st January 1606, he was due to be hanged but committed suicide instead, to deprive the government of the satisfaction of the public spectacle his hanging would become.

King James declared that the public should celebrate his lucky escape by lighting bonfires every November 5th. This has been done sine that day. Usually a Guy, a life size doll made out of newspapers, straw and old clothes is burned on the bonfire. Children take the guy around the streets begging "Penny for the guy." and the money is used to buy fireworks to accompany the celebration. Most towns and villages now have a large professionally organised firework display with an enormous bonfire in the hope that the number of injuries to children can be reduced.

Guy Fawkes

treason                 rebellion/betrayal
plot                      plan
quirky                  funny/strange
grizzly                 gruesome/ revolting
assassinate           murder
tortured               hurt in order to get information 
conspirators         people who plan (bad) things together
commit suicide    kill oneself
spectacle             something (nice or nasty) to be seen
straw                   dry grass that is used to feed animals

Although this is a purely English celebration you are probably quite familiar with Guy Fawkes if you liked the film V for Vendetta. Here the hero takes the face of Guy Fawkes in the form of a mask as he stands as a hero for the oppressed.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013


I always loved autumn as it heralds two of my favourite festivals. The first is Hallowe'en and the second is Bonfire Night. This month I'll be looking at Hallowe'en and little bit of the history of the celebration and a little bit of the usual fun!


Name and  History

Many people worry as they think of Hallowe'en being a pagan festival but this is not (wholly) true. It is a Christian one although now it is mostly an excuse for commercial excess!

Hallow e'en is short for All Hallows even(ing) - hence the apostrophe in the spelling. It is the Eve of All Saint's, October 31st in most western countries. It is the beginning of Hallowmas in the church (liturgical) calendar, the time when saints, martyrs and faithful departed believers are remembered.

The festival used to be celebrated on May13th but was moved to October 31st at the request of Pope Gregory IV in 853AD, as this also happens to be the same day as an ancient pagan festival some of the traditions have gotten rather confused.

Costumes and Trick or Treating

Why do we dress up or Tick or Treat? When we remember a soul in the church we eat food to 'feed' their souls and pray that their sins are forgiven. In the past the poor would go from house to house on the eve of All Saint's to beg for 'soul cakes' and so the tradition arose. Masks (and of course now costumes) were worn for protection in the form of disguise against the embittered souls of the dead who wandered the earth until the night of All Saint's and so Hallowe'en was the last chance for them to get revenge!

Jack o' Lanterns

The spectacularly carved pumpkins are one of the most stunning symbols of Hallowe'en. There are several stories behind these but the two most logical are that in the past Christians had lighted candles in their houses on this night to guide the souls of their loved ones back to them before they rose to heaven.

The other is the Irish folk tale of Jack who likes to drink a little too much. One night on the way home he meets the Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. Jack carves the cross onto the tree and so traps the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that when he dies the Devil will not be able to take his soul to Hell. Jack lives a rather drunken and sinful life and finally dies. Of course because of his terrible life he cannot go to Heaven but at the sane time he has excluded himself from Hell. In fact the Devil throws one of Hell's coals at him. Jack keeps it as it is a cold night but to stop it going out he puts it into a hollowed out pumpkin and then wanders the earth for an eternity looking for a place to rest.

Fun and Games

Some of my favourite films are perfect for this night! In no particular order but with the following categories S=Scary, F=Funny, D=Drama.

Hocus Pocus(F)
Jeepers Creepers(S)
She's a Witch (out-take from Monty Python The Holy Grail) (F)
The Scarlet Letter (D)
Pink Panic(F)
The Shining 1980 not the remake!(S)
Bram Stoker's Dracula(S/D)
The Craft(S/D)
The Lost Boys(S/F)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(F) (Just for the pumpkin Patch scene!)

There are 100s of real horror movies but they are not the sort of thing I can recommend here or I'll have your parents after me! There are also 100s more I'm sure you think are better. Add your own suggestions.

Here are some activities you can do on line. Hit the Halloween Activities bar and choose all kinds of things!

Stories and Poems

Christopher Walken reading The Raven a poem by Edgar Allan Poe
A Tell-Tale Heart - A short film of the Edgar Allan Poe Story by The Film and TV channel. Type short scary stories into the You Tube search bar and get a variety of weird and wonderful tales read to you! Creepypasta is also a fave site! You have to be 18+ to get to this site because it's so full of scary stuff!

Write a ghost story (in English) and get it published...
Check out the Halloween Ghost Story Competition at
There are categories for kids, teens and adults. Closing Date 22/10/13. (So you better hop to it!) The winners will be published throughout the night of October 31st, 2013 and you win a t-shirt.

Most of all have fun and enjoy yourselves!


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Want to be a Grammar Genius? Grammar Girl Will Help!

Hope the start of the new school year hasn't been too traumatic! Welcome and lets get to it! December exams are already casting a shadow over the learning process and I'll be giving you some writing tips in a future post as well as useful things to remember other than your ID, pen, pencil and rubber!

One of my students recently asked me about the difference between AFFECT and EFFECT so I dutifully wrote out an example on the board and said something like, "Basically affect is a verb and effect is a noun." But being conscientious, I felt that I was brushing my student off because I wanted to deal with the query quickly without getting off a very different topic I was teaching at the time. So when I was looking into fun things to do in this area I discovered Grammar Girl!

Grammar Girl a.k.a. Mignon Fogarty, offers "Quick and Dirty Tips" for grammar conundrums of the English language! So if you want to read about grammar in a very entertaining and informative way check out and click on the tip that you are interested in.
She has posted tables and cartoons to help you with all the things that confuse and befuddle!

Grammar Girl also has pod casts that you can listen to. They are very informative but as they are aimed at native speakers you may find them a little hard to follow!


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

School's out for summer!!

Well I've been a bit tardy in my posting of late I'll admit. My excuses? I was examining!!! I've been working on all my other jobs and projects. (If you want to know more take a peek at my profile.) And then there is that long and glorious summer holiday!

Oh yes! Teachers, just like students, love that long seemingly endless time of few academic obligations. We recharge our batteries. Forget that school exists so that in the autumn we can return to duty with open hearts and enthusiasm - something that gets drained more easily than you might imagine.

I like to lose myself in a book or a good movie. As promised to my Proficiency class, I've come up with a list of movies that show regional accents, not all these movies are recommended for younger classes so check the trailer first.

If you're really into developing an accent check out It's got lots movie suggestions and some short video lessons which are so simple!

As for books well I won't make any recommendations there. If you have never read a book, which to me is a real shame, find one in the same genre as the movies you like to watch and see if it grips you! Go to the library for stuff in your native language (it's free!) or look up a story on, for stuff in English. Some of it's pretty trashy and there seems to be a lot of teen fantasies about One Direction, but there's something for every taste and it's also free! If you are confident, you can even add your own story!

Before I get on to my list of movies, I'm often asked what accent I have. Well after having been away from home for many years or donkey's years as they say in the West Country, my accent has rather mutated but just so you know what it used to be like I thought I'd show you a clip from "Hot Fuzz". Yes, I can understand this without the 'translation'!

Harry Potter (A variety of British accents; Hagrid is from the West Country)
A Fish Called Wanda (A good standard 'Queen's English' with John Cleese as a lawyer.)
Notting Hill (Mostly English but the character Spike is Welsh, and Julia Roberts is American of course!)
Billy Elliot (North-East English)
Waking Ned Devine (Irish)
Braveheart (Scottish)


ghoti is pronounced 'fish'!

How the Henry? You ask yourselves, let me explain...

gh as in cough or laugh
o as in women
ti as in nation or salvation

Thanks to CB for that one. I liked it!

Finally CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who passed the May exams! I shall miss those of you who are officially proficient in English! To the rest of you I'm looking forward to seeing you in September!

Keep soaking up the sun!


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fun pronunciation challenge and some tips!

Here's the challenge!

Can you pronouce this word?


It's not a real word, it's made up of all the oddly pronounced letter combinations.

the choices are:

a) hotty    b)fish   c) goatee

The solution will be posted next time!

Here are some tips!

I have written them in no real logical order. Please remember that there are also many exceptions to these 'rules'!

1. 'When two vowels go walking the first does the talking.' In other words the first in the pair is      pronounced and with the hard sound that one used when reciting the alphabet.
    In the word 'goat' the 'a' is ignored and we say 'oh'.
    In 'eat', 'a' is ignored and we say 'ee'.
    in 'train', we say 'a' and ignore the 'i'.

2. In words that contain a double consonant we often pronounce the vowel before it with a soft sound.
    In 'little', or 'batty' or 'silly'

3. 'Tha' or 'thee'
     Before a vowel we say 'thee' eg. The End
     Before a consonant we say 'tha' eg. The dog

4. With words that are both nouns and verbs and spelled the same way.
     VERB                      NOUN
      rebel                        rebel
      content                    content
      reject                       reject
      project                     project


Friday, 12 April 2013


If you think grammar is difficult or listening or even writing, I beg to differ. I believe the most difficult thing in English is pronunciation. How do you read a word? How do get the right sound from the jumble of letters that form the word! It goes without saying that spelling is also affected by this - that's pronunciation in reverse if you think about it!

Even native speakers have difficulties with it. The Americans tried to iron out some of the problems when Noah Webster standardised spelling (1783-84) and it is from this that Websters Standardised dictionaries and thesauruses are based today. In Britain and other countries where English is a native language we prefer to persevere with the anomalies!

This is the first in a series of posts I have planned on this topic and I hope that I will entertain you and give you some clues and tips for better spelling and pronunciation at the same time.

As a learners of English as a foreign language please know that you are not alone in being baffled by spelling and pronunciation. The following poem is an excerpt of a three page whopper poem written by a Dutch man during his exile from The Netherlands during WWII and published in the newspaper 'Vry Nederland'.

The Joy of English Pronunciation
This Phonetic Labyrinth
by George Nolst Trenite

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, copse, horse and worse,

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain,
(Mind the latter how it’s written.)
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say – said, pay – paid, laid but plaid.

Wholly, holly, signal signing,
Same, examining but mining,
Scholar, vicar, cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

From ‘desire’: desirable, admirable from ‘admire’,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, some.

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition,
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?
Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough?
Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough?
Hiccough has the sound of sup!
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

If you want the full version of this ask me! Vocabulary and pronunciation will be provided in the next post!!! Hope you liked it!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SHROVE TUESDAY!! MMMMmmmm..........

Well we're coming up to a long weekend here in Greece so I thought I'd make you a mix'n'match selection of Lenten things English and Greek to try out at home!

In Greece you celebrate 'Tsikno Pempti' which I jokingly translated as 'Toasted Thursday'. I guess the best translation would actually be 'sauteed' or 'roasted' or even 'charred'. (Depending on how well you cook!) As far as I know this is a day when you eat up all the meat in preparation for the 40 day fast of Lent. Then you have 'Clean Monday' when Lent begins.

In England, in times past, we celebrated 'Callop' or 'Fat Monday' (Callop is an old English word for fat). This was the last day before Lent when all the forbidden foods such as fats, eggs and meat could be eaten.

Now we celebrate 'Shrove Tuesday' only. Traditionally this day was the last before Lent and Christians went to church to confess their sins and were 'shriven' or forgiven in other words. Nowadays, the Collop Monday traditions have been absorbed into one big Shrove Tuesday celebration. We eat pancakes, something like a crepe, on this day. Traditional pancakes are sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.

In England people do fun things with pancakes other than just eating them. They toss them, they race with them, they use them for raising money for charity. Check out these politicians and reporters racing and tossing pancakes to give you an idea of what I mean!

Lent = 40 days before Easter
Lenten = relating to Lent
saute = to cook lightly in a frying pan
char = to burn until black
fast = time when no meat products are consumed
forbid = not allow
confess = tell something secret
sin = an action considered bad/ against the teachings of Christianity
toss = throw in the air to turn upside down

Want to try it at home? Have no fear! Just watch yourselves with those hot frying pans!



2 eggs, beaten
225grs plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
600mls (2 1/2 cups) milk
a pinch of salt
2 tsps oil/butter for frying

lemon juice
white sugar (caster, chef's)

1. Put all the ingredients EXCEPT the oil/butter into a bowl and mix with an electric whisk/mixer for five minutes.
2. Heat enough oil/butter to cover the bottom of a frying pan.
3. Spoon in enough mixture to cover the base of the pan and cook until the mixture begins to bubble.
4. Check to see if it's golden brown underneath and then turn it or, if you are feeling brave, toss it.
5. When the other side is cooked turn it out onto a plate and squeeze lemon juice over it and sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on that then roll it up and serve hot.

Yummy, yummy in your tummy!

So now you have stuffed your faces it's time you got out and took some exercise!

Kite flying is a Greek Clean Monday tradition that I love. But I bet you have experienced difficulties wielding those huge hexagon kites they sell everywhere for piles of cash. And if it's not windy then what? This year's forecast shows very little wind for Monday so I have the solution. I was given two beautiful handmade kites which fly if you run fast enough (and I don't mean that fast, really!)

I was going to show you how to make one but then I found a super PDF download at (Under where it says NAVIGATE click on 'search' and type airplane kite) which if you print it up, even on ordinary A4 paper, will make a great little kite. I advise using a slightly thicker card so it doesn't tear so easily. Button sewing thread is all you need for the string. Follow the very simple instructions that are provided and you have a kite that needs no wind and that even a three year old infant can fly!(Tried and tested!)

Have a great long weekend!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


'Money, money, money,
must be funny,      
in a rich man's world.'

or so wrote the Swedish disco band ABBA.

Pocket money! Do you get it? Who from? What do you do with it when you get it? Do you spend it, if so, what on? Or do you save it? Is it enough? Do you have to do chores* around the house to get it? Do you think that working for money makes kids more responsible?

* chores =  small jobs such as making beds or putting the rubbish out, feeding family pets, taking the dog for a walk etc.

Remember use your school code, your level and your initials to leave a comment!

Thursday, 7 March 2013


I had planned a different topic for the first debate but having seen the news item about the Trikala woman who was bitten by a rabid cat (there hasn't been a case of rabies in a human in Greece for 40 years) I figured that this was more appropriate.


Here is some information for you:

*The majority of stray dogs and cats were once pets but have been abandoned by their owners.
*Despite laws which require pet owners to have their animals immunised and micro chipped, this is very expensive and is rarely done. Thus stray animals cannot be returned 'home'.
*The Greek government passed laws in 2012 which require the local governments, usually in association with local animal welfare groups, to gather up and provide necessary treatment and care for stray animals.
*Local government and animal welfare groups rarely have enough qualified staff, equipment or facilities to fulfil the above requirements.
*Stray animals are not only a nuisance in city neighbourhoods but they can also be a health and safety problem. (See the recent Rabies reports. Links below.)

Here are some links so that you can do some background reading before you add your comment. (You will find details about Rabies here.) (You may know them as G.A.W.F from their writing competitions.)

REMEMBER: Add your name to your comment using the school code I've given you, your level (C1 or C2) and your initials. eg. NRC1AB If you want to use your real name you can of course! There is no word limit but you do need to justify your opinions or else you'll just be preaching!
If you aren't one of my students you can still add your comments!

Have a great 'Toasted Thursday' by the way!!!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Pronunciation is vexation,
Grammar is as bad,
The FCE perplexes me
And essays drive me mad!

to vex = to annoy
to perplex = to confuse

I have substituted the original words relating to Maths with words about English language learning(underlined and in purple). Can you make similar changes to make your own rhyme? It doesn't have to be about English, you can make it about any school subject!
How to make it work for you? The first line word must have -ation as a suffix. the second and fourth line words must have two syllables and the third line word must end in the sound (i:) like tree or three.
I'd like to see your rhymes.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Which day were you born on? This is what my B1 students were discussing in their lesson last week. They were also wondering why the days have such weird spellings in English. So this I’ve prepared this for you.

 Which day were you born on? Is it significant?

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is blithe and bonny, good and gay.*


*At the time the poem was written gay meant happy, not homosexual!
Sabbath = Sunday in a Christian country.
woe = sadness
blithe  = care-free
bonny = attractive

If you want to find out what day you were born on and your folks cannot tell you, Google a calendar for the month and year you were born. I’m a Tuesday child by the way!


Despite being known as the Lord’s Day in many predominantly Christian countries – Greece included – the English name goes back to the time of sun worship. The strength of the sun was given to the first day of the week. This is true of most countries which were ruled at some point in history by the Roman Empire, as Britain was. The origin of the word is Saxon; Soonedaeg.


You guessed it! The moon’s day. This also dates back to the Romans. Perhaps to bring a balance as the power of the moon was considered evil! The origin of the name in English is from the Middle Ages.


The Saxons are responsible for this name. They worshipped the Norse gods. The god Tiw was the god of war, courage and the sword.


Woden’s Tag or Woden’s Day morphed into the name we use today again from the time of the Anglo-Saxon’s. Woden was the top god, the Norse equivalent of Zeus if you like. He was a magician and a healer as well as bringer of winds apart from many other things.


Thor, god of thunder and rain, is probably the most well-known Norse god and Thursday is named after him. The Normans are responsible for the name as they worshipped Thor under the name of Thur.


Frigga was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of married love, housewives, the sky and the clouds and it is to her we owe the name Friday.


Saturn was the Roman god of seeds and sowing and was the ruler of the gods until Jupiter stole his throne. Saturday is named after him.

If you want to learn more about days check out my information source, The Days Of The Week by Paul Hughes.

(Thanks to E.T.,K.K.,L.G.,C.T.,N.V.,A.P. & F.T. for the idea!)

Friday, 1 March 2013


Well, the week is done. Hope yours was good! Mine was! :-D
It’s March! (Have a cool month!) There’s lots to be done and lots to look forward to, what with carnival and all.

Coming up in posts this month:
The Days of the Week. Why are they called what they are?
Pronunciation tips and fun!
ShroveTuesday - Mmmmm!
Before I say toodle-oo let me just share a great joke with you; one of my students told me it on Tuesday. (Thanks V.B.!)
Q: What’s the difference between me and a calendar?
A: A calendar has dates!

More next week!

Thursday, 28 February 2013


Hi there!

English Teacher on the Loose! Watch out!

I’ll keep this intro. short and sweet! This blog is for at B1 to C2 level students, their teachers, friends and whoever else besides.

There’s so much that I just don’t have time to say in class as there are things like deadlines to be met and a syllabus to follow so I thought I’d put it all down here.

Hope you find the content fun and interesting. Make sure you comment and I’ll try to meet any requests you have for future posts!



“Hooray!!!! I passed Lower!!!!!”

“Congratulations!” to all of you who got a B2 qualification this month. Well done see how your hard work paid off?


One of the most difficult decisions to make in your English experience is whether or not to take Advanced (C1) or Proficiency (C2) level.

I bet you’ve got your mum, dad, granny, ‘frontisteria’ owner etc. telling you you’re future depends on it and you’ll be a ‘nobody’ in the job market without it. Well they all have their reasons and some of them are justified. There will also be the other camp telling you that it’s not worth it and you’ll only have to take it again when you apply for that dream job or university place abroad. They’re partly justified too.


On the plus side: You will not have a huge gap where all the vocabulary and grammar you’ve learned to date is forgotten. You will get another certificate under your belt and be free to study a third foreign language or your Senior High School exam etc. Or you’ll have more time to surf the Net and chat on Face book!

On the minus side: Most businesses like to know the ‘present level’ of English and may conduct an interview in English or get you to sit a computer test (E.g. TOIEC or IELTS) just to be certain that you can still communicate at the level stated on that certificate dating back to 1st,2nd or 3rd year High School.

Universities want to know that you can deal with the huge volume of reading material and lectures etc. like a native speaker. In Britain and the U.S. it is usually compulsory to take a year-long EFL (English as a Foreign Language) course, either to brush up on the language or to gain the qualification specified by that university.

These things are the least important in my books despite the fact that I actually earn my living from teaching you to speak proficiently! More importantly, HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE READY FOR AND/OR CAPABLE OF C1/C2 LEVEL?

Check out my quiz and see.

1. Do you dream in English?
A) Yes.                         
B) No.                                      
C) I don’t dream.

2. Do you regularly correct your friends when they speak English?
A) Always.                                 
B) Occasionally to never. 
C) I don’t understand them.

3. Are you the one that translates everything for the weaker ones?
(Does your teacher ask you to do this for him/her?)
A) Of course.                            
B) Sometimes.               
C) I struggle enough as it is.

4. Do you think directly in English when writing an essay or talking in class or do you translate from your native language?
A) Only when I use new words.
B) Frequently.   
C) I don’t write essays.

5. Do you spot the mistakes in English on food packaging, advertisements, menus and road signs etc.?
A) Yes, there are lots.   
B) Haven’t noticed any.
C) I only read my native language.

6. Do you actually like the English learning experience?
A) It’s great!                            
B) I can live with it.       
C) Are you serious?

7. Do you enjoy class discussions?
A) Of course.                            
B) They’re OK    .          
C) I suffer in silence.

8. Do you talk to your English teachers, native and non-native speakers in English in and out of the lesson?
A) All the time!             
B) Should I?                  
C) Do I wanna look like a swot?

9. Do you read English publications, watch English speaking TV programmes or listen to English music outside of the classroom?
A) Sure, it’s fun!            
B) Yes, but with difficulty.   
C) No, that’s why there are lessons!

10. Do you hate English lessons but use the language on the Net a lot?
A) Yes                                      
B) No                           
C) Of course not                        

Mostly As: You are a prime candidate to continue your studies in English!
Mostly Bs: You should continue ONLY if you are willing to make the effort needed to pass these levels.*
Mostly Cs: Wait until it’s necessary for you to get the qualification then you’ll be willing to work.*
*Did you choose answer A) to question 10? Chances are you have quite a good knowledge of the basics and it won’t be too hard for you to progress with a little determination.

You seriously answered the test with Bs and Cs but your parents have just forked out the astronomical exam registration fees for you, what should you do?

Knuckle down to some hard work!! Look at answer choices A) in each case and turn your English learning experience around! It’s not long ‘till May/June!

Printable version of the quiz here!