Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Talking Turkey!

Turkey phrases and expressions!

Thanksgiving falls on the 26th of November this year, in the United States. It is always the fourth Thursday in November and the food of choice is a turkey. So I thought it would be a good idea to talk turkey about turkey idioms and expressions in relation to the events that take place for this celebration.

I sincerely hope you are not as poor as Job's turkey or doing cold turkey, if the latter then perhaps you ought to see a couch turkey in relation to your problem. To avoid spending the holiday with jive turkeys it is good advice to hire a turkey bacon to keep them away from your House. For those of you watching that all-important ball game, I hope it's not a turkey shoot for your favourite team; if you've placed a bet on them and it is, that would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Match the expressions to their meanings:

1 accept a difficult situation
2 psychiatrist/therapist
3 policemen/security officers
4 easily lost (or won) situation
5 suddenly stop doing something addictive e.g. give up smoking
6 speak bluntly/ honestly; to talk business
7 have no money
8 stupid/ignorant people

You will find the answers here
Printable Version

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Q: What is an acrostic?

A. A means of learning new words?
B. A poem?
C. A means of remembering how to spell difficult words?
D. A type of crossword?

If you answered all of the above then you got the right answer! The word acrostic comes from two Greek words ἄκρος (akros) meaning highest and στίχος (styhos) meaning verse.

You have probably filled in puzzles in languages lessons which are acrostic; you know the ones that when you have all the right answers a word or phrase is spelled out.

It's a great way to remember the spelling of difficult words. Think of something humorous!


(This came from the Jolly Phonics books)

I think this is a super way to remember vocabulary for a theme too.

Endangered species
Vegetation depletion
Icecaps melting
Ozone layer/hole
Non-toxic materials
Make a difference
Energy alternatives
Natural resources
Tropical rainforests

If you fancy stretching your writing skills why not be adventurous and make up a poem on a theme? Start with a word and then write the lines of the poem along that theme but don't forget, the first (or last etc.) letter must be the next letter in the word you have chosen. It might take a while to do and be frustrating at first. Search in a dictionary or a thesaurus for words that suit your needs. I'd love to see anything you have written. Why not post it in the comments below?

Here's one I rustled up for, well, I let you guess! (Clue: An autumn celebration.)

High in the mountains,
A lone wolf barks.
Low in the valley,
Lanterns light up the dark.
Over in the dale,
Where the witches pass,
Evening becomes night and
Enchantments are cast.
No danger will they know, where the pumpkin heads glow.

(Copyright N.O.A. Rawle 2015 All rights reserved)

Have a happy one! ;)

Friday, 28 August 2015

EFL e-reader reviewed: Against the Night + How to write a book review.

When I say "Let's write something today." most reactions are negative. Writing in a foreign language is the hardest thing to do as it requires so many skills: reading the task properly, vocabulary suitable for the topic, good grammar & spelling, and most of all, planning.

I had a surprising response last term to a request I made of my Proficiency students. For their holiday homework I suggested they read a book or watch a film and write a review. With nothing but a skeleton plan and a few hints and tips I left them to it. I didn't even put limits on word count so there was total freedom in the task. The reviews I got back were enthusiastically written, there was the odd Instance of Internet pilfering but plagiarism is a crime easily spotted by using Turnitin!

Below you will find a similar skeleton plan to the one I gave my students and a sample review to illustrate how to put it into practice! Why don't you give it a go? Remember reviews are real writing that you can post on the Internet on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads and get feedback from your work.
You already know, if you read my stories, that I have a penchant for spooky, weird fiction (better known as Speculative Fiction as the writer speculates on a certain situation or the future). Generally speaking, I read this genre writing too. With that in mind, I went searching for an affordable spec.fic. graded reader (a book written or abridged to make it suitable for specific learning levels) to use in this blog post and, low and behold, I found the perfect candidate in Against the Night from Hippo Books
  • 1. Title, author/editor/contributors, publisher, edition, type of work. You may add other important information here too.
  • 2. Summary of the story without spoilers (giving the end away). If you tell the whole story in the summary there will be no reason for the potential reader to open the book!
  • 3. What you thought of the characters/story-telling/stories both good and bad. (This could be 2 or more separate paragraphs.) This is where your vocabulary really comes to the fore. Give reasons for your point of view and use expressive vocabulary.
  • 4. Recommendation. Here you can give details of the audience the book is/should be aimed at, the price and availability.
NOTE: It might seem a bit more than obvious to state this, but you do have to have read the book you are reviewing so that you can provide some details about it in the review! I advise you to jot down a few things that you like/dislike as you read to save going back through the book searching for the bit you remember but may not be able to find again. (If you are reading an e-book you can do this automatically on the text using the features of your e-reader.)

Ghost story anthology Against the Night, written by Patrick Kennedy, Cooper Baltis and Danny Weiss, is published by Hippo Books. The collection includes six spooky and traumatic tales written specifically for students from upper-intermediate level (CEFR B2+) and beyond.
The anthology opens with Floating Girls by Cooper Baltis. Set in Idaho, it is the chilling tale of two ghost hunters' encounters with the other side. Messages by Patrick Kennedy, transports the reader to Mexico City to solve a murder mystery. Gone by Danny Weiss investigates strange disappearances in Boston. Sixteen Years by Patrick Kennedy looks at the lives of three school friends and how they have changed over sixteen years of course! Danny Weiss's Mr. Clean is a blood curdling urban legend and in the last story, Mechanical Turk, Cooper Baltis explores the haunting world of antique collecting in a tale reminiscent of traditional horror.
All the stories are written in short parts and chapters so not only is Against the Night a versatile class reader that can be adapted to short lesson times, perhaps as an end of the lesson read, it is also suitable for home study for learners who have limited reading time or short attention spans. The stories are gripping and compelling, although Gone was a little confusing as there are a host of characters to keep track of. The stories take the reader across Europe and America, meeting a multicultural blend of characters without falling into stereotype traps. Such a chilling read is it that your blood will run cold but that's to be expected from an anthology of ghost stories! The recommended age range is 8-18 but some of the content such as over consumption of alcohol, may not be considered appropriate for primary ages. The overuse of dull adjectives (big) was a little grating and not to be expected of an Upper Intermediate level reader however, the majority of the vocabulary was varied enough to be educational. The e-book was missing a Contents list so I could not jump straight to the story I wanted to read first.
All in all, Against the Night is a thrilling introduction to ghost stories! Recommended to students of High school age and up the e-book is easily affordable at 2.99.
This review is also on Amazon, where I bought the book, and on Goodreads. Remember you can do this too - don't think that reviewing has to be just for your teacher, you can post your reviews on these two sites easily and many others as well.


Thursday, 25 June 2015

When it comes to 'The Crunch', are you prepared?

As you know, I live and work in Greece which, just in case you have been living under a stone, is going through a crisis at the moment. The government has been given the final countdown by Europe to play their game or get out. Having seen what happened when Cyprus wouldn't play by the rules and with the images of Argentina's bankruptcy still in mind, like any mum, my concerns were feeding my family in difficult times. A pantry well stocked with basic supplies is something modern living has little need of with 24 hour shopping, so I decided to Google it and, low and behold, I found a whole subculture who live in fear of disaster. I thought I'd shared my findings with you!

When Robert Baden-Powel, founder of the Boy Scouts, chose the motto “Be Prepared” he intended that a Boy Scout should be ready to face any situation. Scouts take wilderness treks, go camping, cook on an open fire, learn to tie knots, light fires without matches and how to communicate using semaphore. It all seems like an adventure and a fun thing to do if you are a kid. However, there are people who live everyday of their lives honing their survival skills just in case disaster strikes.

They are called “Preppers” or “Survivalists”. This is not a new concept and Preppers are currently in the third wave of development. The first were those born in the 1930s-50s who experience World War II, then there were those of the 70s and 80s who were worried about nuclear attack more than anything or socio-economic collapse and since the 2001 September 11th attack in the US there is a new generation of people who see impending doom, be it natural disaster, nuclear war or even alien or zombie invasion, looming just around the corner! On the web there is a plethora of sites dedicated to the Prepper Lifestyle and culture.

Preppers have lists of supplies with which to fill their store rooms or bunkers, these include edible products and non-food items that are used in everyday life and are seem to be essential for survival. Not only that but they keep themselves fit by hiking and working out, they are usually skilled hunters as they will tell you that the apocalypse is no place for a vegetarian. They have there own terminology (see below).

Sound crazy to you? Even reputable organisations such as The American Red Cross recommend having an emergency box. (More information on their site.)

Survivalist terms
(Adapted from Wikipedia)
  • Alpha strategy: Having extra supplies of consumable to swap or use to be (seen to be) charitable.
  • Ballistic wampum: Ammunition used for bartering. (Wampum are beads that Native Americans used in Exchange.)
  • BOB: Bug-out-bag/G.O.O.D. kit = an Emergency supply kit.
  • BOL: Bug-out location. = a place to escape to.
  • BOV: Bug-out vehicle = an escape Car.
  • Crunch: any major, long-term disaster.
  • EDC: Everyday carry. The things we ordinarily carry with us in case disaster strikes, this could include a weapon.
  • EOTW: End of the world
  • Goblin: A criminal,
  • Golden horde: The people who will escape from the cities when disaster strikes.
  • G.O.O.D.: Get out of Dodge (city). Escaping a city in time of disaster.
  • I.N.C.H. Bag: I'm Not Coming Home Bag. = a bag carried at all times so you don't have to go home and pack if disaster strikes while you out.
  • Pollyanna or Polly: You are probably one! Someone who doesn't believe the worst will happen.
  • Prepper/ survivalist/ retreater: someone prepared for disaster.
  • WROL: Without rule of law. 
  • YOYO: You're on your own.
  • Zombie: Those of us who weren't prepared and rely on other's preparedness. (Eating their brains - get it?)
  • Zombie apocalypse: a metaphor for any natural or man-made disaster (and sadly in some cases it seems to be taken literally!)

What situations do you need to prepare for?
Do you think people who prepare for disaster have genuine concerns or are they extremists, crazy or both?
Would be able to survive if disaster struck?
Do you already have any of the skills/supplies that are mentioned in the text above?
If you had 24 hours to prepare for impending disaster, what would you do?
What items do you consider are essential to survival?
If you had to escape now, what one thing would you take with you?
Where do you think a threat to our lifestyle is most likely to come from?
Are you a Prepper? Why? If not, would you become one? Why?
Have I put you in the mood for a disaster movie? Try these ones to keep this crazy theme going!
The Maze Runner
Terminator II/Salvation
The Hunger Games
The Day After Tomorrow
 Cast Away
Children of Men
The Host
Dante's Peak
Mars Attack!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

GETTING AROUND (by unusual means of transport)!

How do you get around?

My students know that come rain or shine you will, my favourite means of transportation is my bike. I do take my car occasionally. The other day I was listening to a compilation CD and came across the song Commute  by Theatre of Tragedy and got to thinking that means of transport would be a good thing to explore!

The way you get from A to B on a daily basis will obviously depend on which neck of the woods you live in. You also need to think about how you travel further afield perhaps on a business trip or a day excursion or even a weekend break. If you go abroad you may want to travel by air or sea and if you are travelling cross country you'll most likely go on land.

There are many means of transport and most you probably already know but what about some more unusual types? Click on the key words to explore the ingenious world of transport! In a town you might see someone on a tandem - a bicycle made for two, or if you travel to the Far East you might go for a ride in a rickshaw. In big cities like London, you can often see business men on scooters or even skate boards or if you want something a little more futuristic how about a Segway. In the air you might want to travel by hot air balloons or airships also known as dirigibles. The first aeroplanes were called biplanes as they had two wings. Or how about seaplanes that land and take off from water? Another vehicle that can be used on water or land is a hovercraft. There are also DUCWs (pronounced 'duck'), you can take a tour of London on one before sailing up the Thames.
I hope you have enjoyed the brief glimpse at means of transport. If you want more on transport check out these films:
The Polar Express
Murder on the Orient Express
The Wild West
The Hunt for Red October
Trains, Planes and Automobiles
Summer Holiday
Air Force One
The Aviator
Top Gun
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Perfect Storm
Mutiny on the Bounty
The Runaway Bus
Thelma and Louise
Rebel Without a Cause
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Mission: Impossible
Yellow Submarine
The Hindenburg
Up (if a flying House counts as Transport!)
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (flying car!)
Black Beauty


Friday, 13 March 2015

Books vs Movies! Reading Awareness Month.

Why is it that many students have this READING=STUDYING=BORING equation in their heads? This month is National Reading Awareness Month so I'm challenging you to READ something! Anything! A classic, a sci-fi novel, a biography, a comic book, a book of poems, the newspaper in the doctors surgery! ANYTHING! If you don't know where to begin try exploring these!

Reading is a form of ESCAPE or a way to DISCOVER the world around you and certainly a way to let your IMAGINATION RUN WILD! When I was a kid, I read anything and everything I could lay my hands on. If you don't read you are missing out! How many times have you wished you knew what someone was thinking? Books are magic because when you start to read you are looking inside the author's/narrator's head!

Now I know that there are those of you who say "Well why should I read the book when I can watch the film?" The Guardian recently published a list of the best book-to-film-adaptations.  I'm sure you'll be able to add another ten favourites to this list but if you ask me books win hands down every time! Below are a few reasons why.

For Reading:
  • You get inside the writer's/narrator's head. (Yes, I already said that!)
  • You understand the characters' emotions because everything is explained in detail.
  • You know what motivates the hero or the villain as there is background information and sub plot which movies often miss out on. (Read Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist and compare it with the American version of the movie and half the book is missing!)   
  • You visualise the characters and places within (and beyond) your own experiences, you are not forced to 'see' a particular place or person but 'guided' by the author. (There was upset over The Hunger Games in relation to character changes in the movie adaptation.)
For Movies:
  • There is no need to think, movies are passive entertainment. Perfect for couch potatoes!
  • There is no need to use your imagination, everything is done for you. After all, dreaming is such a bore! 
  • There are special effects and music to enrich the story. Like words have no power, right?
  • It's quicker to watch a movie. (So what? No one is going to criticise you for wasting time if you are reading for hours!)
So what are you waiting for? Go read a book! Not convinced? How about some worst book-to-movie adaptations!


Tuesday, 10 February 2015


This is a post for those proficiency students who really love English and are interested in the origin of words as well as those who like the discussing finance and politics! I cannot say that it hasn't been inspired by all those politicians who like to show off their English and those who wish they could!

Disclaimer: May I emphasise that I intend no political bias with this, I merely wish to highlight a great (linguistic) speech and instigate lively debate on current affairs!

Ever heard of Xenophon Zolotas? He was director of the Bank of Greece as well as interim non-party Prime Minister for a short period. He was a proud Greek and wanted to emphasise the influence his language has had on English and so in two speeches, one in 1957 (which I deal with here) and the other in 1959, both (if I am not mistaken) as closing speeches to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he spoke using using predominantly words of Greek origin. I have included discussion points to give you food for thought!

Whether you are Greek or English you may find this a little hard to decipher so click the link after the text for 'translation' into more familiar English/Greek.

I always wished to address this Assembly in Greek, but realized that it would have been indeed "Greek" to all present in this room. I found out, however, that I could make my address in Greek which would still be English to everybody. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, l shall do it now, using with the exception of articles and prepositions, only Greek words.
Kyrie, I eulogize the archons of the Panethnic Numismatic Thesaurus and the Ecumenical Trapeza for the orthodoxy of their axioms, methods and policies, although there is an episode of cacophony of the Trapeza with Hellas. With enthusiasm we dialogue and synagonize at the synods of our didymous organizations in which polymorphous economic ideas and dogmas are analyzed and synthesized. Our critical problems such as the numismatic plethora generate some agony and melancholy. This phenomenon is characteristic of our epoch. But, to my thesis, we have the dynamism to program therapeutic practices as a prophylaxis from chaos and catastrophe. In parallel, a Panethnic unhypocritical economic synergy and harmonization in a democratic climate is basic. I apologize for my eccentric monologue. I emphasize my euharistia to you, Kyrie to the eugenic and generous American Ethnos and to the organizers and protagonists of his Amphictyony and the gastronomic symposia.

English translation here, Greek translation here


"But, to my thesis, we have the dynamism to program therapeutic practices as a prophylaxis from chaos and catastrophe. In parallel, a Panethnic unhypocritical economic synergy and harmonisation in a democratic climate is basic."
(But to get to the point, we have methods that can prevent catastrophe. Also, sincere international economic cooperation is necessary.)

This particular sentence caught my attention almost immediately as it is indicative of how little times have changed though indeed time has passed.

(It seems to me that Zolotas would have been in favour of the European Economic and Monetary Union as he assisted Greek accession into the European Union).

To combine this with the present day political and financial climate here are some things to discuss:
  1. Do you think monetary unity is a viable solution?
  2. To what extent do you think the European Economic and Monetary Union is working?
  3. Do you think that the basic principles Zolotas laid down (unhypocritical and democratic) are in place? Explain why/why not.
  4. Does monetary union encourage or discourage these two principles within a Society? Explain why/why not.
  5. What are the benefits and drawbacks of monetary union for a)large and b)small member states?
  6. Why do you think Britain and Denmark chose not to join the Eurozone but be part of the EU?
  7. Does a single currency really encourage unity between (vastly) different nations? Why/why not?
  1. Zolotas emphasised how much Greek has influenced the English language but has Greek and Greece had any other influences on foreign culture? Consider other areas of life, not only language.
  2. What other languages have influenced English? Or your own language? What effect has this had?
  3. How has English affected your native language?
  4. Are there any words which are universal - understood without translation? What are they? 
  5. If there were a common language would we all speak it the same way?
  6. Would there be fewer misunderstandings if we all had the same language because and meanings would not be lost in translation?
  7. Have you heard of Esperanto?
  8. What do you think of it?

Monday, 19 January 2015


I am a West Country girl and proud of it!I was born in Somerset and grew up in Wiltshire, both predominantly rural areas. Now as you are aware, because this misunderstanding holds true world-wide, country folk are supposed to be a little bit behind city dwellers in all things. This month's post brings you a legend from Wiltshire, courtesy of which proves this is not always the case! (You will also find the article here as a PDF for class use, which includes the poem mentioned in the text. I haven't posted it here as it is long and written in a dialect that will be hard for most to understand!)
The Legend of the Moonrakers
The story behind the Wiltshire Myth...
The legend of the Wiltshire moonrakers is well known, but while the outline of the story is well documented, filling in the details largely depends on which book you read. The story is simple, though, and its message clear.

A pair of Wiltshiremen, engaged in smuggling brandy, hide a barrel of the contraband from the excisemen in a nearby pond and when they return at some later time, in the dark, they are caught in the act of raking the barrel back to land.

They immediately claim that they are trying to rake cheese - the reflection of the moon - from the pond and the excisemen, amused by the apparently simple-minded rustics, leave them to it.

The moral of the story is that, despite their earthy accents, Wiltshire folk are not as slow-witted as some would believe and, to this day, people born in the county are proud to call themselves moonrakers.

Just when the incident took place is far from clear, particularly as smuggling is by no means restricted to any one period in history, but at least one historian has claimed it originated in the 18th century.

The site of the pond is a matter of fiercer conjecture, with any one of the many Wiltshire towns and villages which boast a pond laying claim to be the home of the original moonrakers at one time or another.

Bishop's Cannings, which has produced a number of tall stories over the years, is named in one book, Ralph Whitlock's 'Wiltshire Folklore and Legends'. He claims the two original moonrakers were from this village, which is a stone's throw from Devizes and its suitable pond. Local people certainly seem to favour Devizes as the site of the pond.

Perhaps there are some clues in the verses written by Edward Slow, which are reproduced below. Published in 1894, this is at least closer in time than the modern versions of the story, though that, too, has surely been coloured by time.

At the end of the day, there isn't even any evidence that the story is based on fact. Most fables are fiction.

Whatever details the original story had have been twisted and lost as the moonrakers' legend has been handed down from generation to generation.

And that's exactly as it always is with all the best legends.

Text/artwork courtesy of

Be engaged in = to be involved in/do
Smuggling = carrying illegal things from one place to another
Contraband = things smuggled
Excisemen = police in charge of preventing smuggling/making sure dues or taxes are paid
Be caught in the act = to be found doing something you should not be
Simple-minded = not clever, uneducated
Rustics = country people
Earthy accents = country accents (specifically of people who work the land)
Slow-witted = stupid
Be a matter of fierce conjecture = debatable, controversial
Be a stone’s throw from = be close to
Be coloured by time = be changed by time
Hand down = pass on

Were the Moonrakers really as ‘slow-witted’ as they appeared to be?
Why do you think Wiltshire people ‘are proud to call themselves moonrakers’?
Why do you think no one really knows the exact location of the pond in the legend?
Why are country folk generally considered to be ‘slow-witted’?
Are there similar legends from your area that explain why people have a particular name or reputation?
Wiltshire is famous for dairy products such as cheese as well as those produced from pork, such as ham, sausages and bacon. What is your area famous for?
Can you think of any other legends or myths that are passed on from generation to generation within your family, country or culture?