The weekly round-up [22nd January]

Happy Friday everyone!

This week I was determined to encourage my Upper-Intermediate class to read more and guys, guess what? I DID IT. I FREAKING DID IT. On Wednesday I brought a box of books into the class and asked each student to pick a book, then told them we would read quietly for 15 minutes. It was deadly silent. The only noise was the turning of pages. I’m not even kidding. I nearly cried (see my blog post on things that made me cry this week…) After 15 minutes, “No, 5 more minutes, please?”

We had 5 minutes of ‘reflective writing’ – What have you just read? How do you feel about it? Share your thoughts with the person next to you…

At the end of the lesson they asked if we could do the same thing tomorrow. I could not believe it. So on Thursday, we had 20 minutes of silent reading. 3 students brought their own (English) books and 2 students checked out books from the library. I’m proud of myself for achieving that alone this week.

Even today two asked me why we weren’t reading today… #proud

I have also taken on a social media role at the school because I wanted to keep busy and focused. I get to interact more with the students, ask them to share their photos and talk more about their experiences here in the UK and at the school. Finding decent photos to take and uploading them to Instagram and Facebook… it’s all making my brain tick a little faster but I do love a project.

Thankfully, I think it’s paying off. We’re already getting more followers, hitting a pretty big audience and the main thing is that it’s fun. Everyone likes a good Instagram and I can only hope I achieve that.

Finally, we say goodbye to a group of 40 Argentinian students who have been an absolute wonder to teach. I’ve never met such dedicated, hard-working, lovely people in my life. For 16, 17 and 18 year olds, they are amazing. I have no doubt that their parents must be so proud of them. They are full of life and have great senses of humour, they’re kind and thoughtful and considering they didn’t know each other 4 weeks ago, you’d have thought they’d been friends since birth!

Next week brings even bigger challenges, but I’m ready for them.

  • To complete the newsletter
  • To improve the social media accounts and increase engagement
  • To plan more appealing lessons
  • To help my students speak and write more fluently (possibly starting with speaking)

Oh, one more thing, I’m off on a tour of Stonehenge and Salisbury tomorrow… but am one of the group leaders!! Eeek… I’m super nervous. Stay tuned, because I’ll be taking my camera and definitely be blogging about that tomorrow or Sunday.

Lots of love xo


The weekly round-up [15th January]

4 weeks Christmas holiday – sounds good, right?

Well, in all honesty, 10 days was more than long enough of a holiday before I was getting bored. I suppose because I love my job, having the weekend off is plenty of time before I’m ready to head back.

My first week back at school was challenging, without a doubt, but it has only reassured me that I absolutely love the career path I’m finally on.


  • 2 x 90 minute lessons – I felt rusty and like I’d lost my spark but good to be teaching some of my previous students, and some lovely new ones too


  • INSET session – you can read all about that here

  • I also met up with one of my previous teachers, and now a lovey friend, for catch up and coffee ☕️


  • Then my mum, sister and I went to watch The Greatest Showman and it was absolutely fantastic!!


  • In desperate need of coffee all day. Luckily I came home and my skinnycoffeeclub package had arrived! (Stay tuned for my blog post!)

  • I had short stories printed out for each of my Upper-Intermediate students, as I’m determined to get them reading before I head of to China. It went well, except for one student who sat and stared into space for 15 minutes. He definitely does not like reading.


  • I was in school before 8 again and desperately trying to find some fun things for my classes, but I was ready without realizing it.


  • The young Argentinian students I’m teaching are delightful. They’re so self-disciplined and well behaved. They’ve got loads of energy and always want to get involved – it’s lovely!


  • I had another reading session for the Upper-Ints and they seem to have enjoyed it. They’re just short stories that we tell children, to help them learn those sub-text morals – don’t go off with strangers, being kind goes a long way, don’t tell lies, etc.
Credit to: Simini Blocker
  • Then I walked into town and had dinner with my sister – aaaah how I love Mexican food!!


  • Another pre-8 start and absolutely exhausted at this point. I’ve hardly slept well and really struggled this week. Today was especially trying my patience as I was over-tired, emotional and feeling down on my luck.


  • The lessons went well – we had a lot of pace; bits of grammar, vocab games, idioms and some writing work too.


  • In my ‘speaking’ class I used my favourite game – ‘Matching news headlines’: Each group gets two or three ‘phrases’ taken from different news headlines, they put them together to create their own story. Then the story has been created they swap groups and role-play interviews. We had a lot of laughs and good energy in the room! For an elementary / pre-int class these guys did impressively well with their vocab for this.


  • After my final lesson I spent an hour planning before heading over to AFC Bournemouth for a stadium tour with two of my colleagues and a group of students! It was a fantastic afternoon. Even though I used to work there, I never got to see the changing rooms or the VIP boxes. The students had a fantastic time and definitely enjoyed taking lots of photos. Andy and Jordan were great at showing us around, telling us lots of stories and about the history of the club. Thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an hour with the school!

  • Between 4:30 and 7:30, I had a looooong time to wait for the school’s music night – A sing along evening! I planned my lessons, walked up to subway, did some reading. By this point I was almost crying, almost falling asleep and extremely tempted to go home. I am so happy I stayed.

The music night happens every two weeks or so, and our Assistant Director Martin plays the guitar or ukulele and sings some favourite songs from traditional English to Oasis to The Beatles. Everyone joins in – clapping, dancing, funny shout-outs! It was such a mood-lifter. To make it even better, one of my students was celebrating his birthday and his friends had surprised him with cake, coffee and sweets, which they shared with the rest of us. I must admit, I absolutely love Arabic coffee. I must learn how to make it. Anyone got a recipe?


  • After finally getting into bed at midnight, I slept soundly until 7am. Thankfully my mum gave me a lift to work but I was so full of energy.


  • Intermediate class was brilliant – I had 5 students and I started with a word-search, followed by teaching them some new idioms and we tried to find Arabic and Turkish alternatives – I think we all enjoyed that! Then we played the ‘Headlines’ news game and that was brilliant. Some excellent stories about English teachers being kidnapped by pandas, a school director fell in love with a secretary after saving her from robbers… Such fun!


  • My Upper-int class was great. My lovely, lovely students bought Arabic coffee and chocolates for everyone. They know how much I love their coffee. We started off with an idioms recap, then played the matching headlines game – I just love how you can adapt this game to any lesson, any level. You can ask students to write out their story, write a dialogue for an interview… it requires them to speak, think, use their grammar and vocab correctly and it helps with pronunciation too, of course.


  • Then the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti gents went to mosque, which left me with the lovely Laura! We did some phrasal verbs, talked about applying for University, looked at using Pinterest for learning languages and started a reading comprehension. It felt like a really productive hour and hopefully she felt that way as well.


  • Unfortunately my speaking class didn’t go too well… I’m not sure why. I don’t know if the language was too difficult or if they just wanted to head off and start their weekend early… I felt guilty but I didn’t have a back up plan. Why didn’t I? I naively thought I wouldn’t need one.


  •  After work I was exhausted. I was so glad for Friday afternoon but I was determined to enjoy my weekend. I sat down and took up three spaces on the desk and planned out each of my three classes. I photocopied worksheets for grammar, role-play cards, board game work-sheets. I am ready for Monday!!

My brilliant colleagues all in matching shirts – totally unplanned!

My job is so rewarding and I am so grateful for the chances the management took employing me. I was a nervous wreck on my CELTA course but all I needed was the chance to improve and prove myself. I have worked so hard for this job and I will continue to do so every day.

big, big thanks to those that have given me tips and left lovely comments this week – please keep them coming as I am always looking for new ideas and genuinely appreciate them.


Terve! Learning Finnish?

Terve! Olen Claire…

Which means, ‘Hello, I’m Claire’ in Finnish. Although, apparently, Finnish people would struggle to pronounce my name because they don’t have the ‘ai’ together… Interesting right?!

My first day back at BEET meant only two double lessons before lunch, followed by an INSET. As a new teacher these INSETs are extremely insightful and beneficial for me, and Monday’s was by far the best one I’ve been to so far.

One of my colleagues, Janet, who was also my CELTA tutor, ran a lesson entirely in Finnish (she’s bilingual) and it was just fantastic. At first I thought, ‘oh God this is going to be so embarrassing and I’m not going to enjoy this!’. Mainly because I’m such a weirdo about talking to people in foreign languages (I really don’t understand why…).

Janet started the lesson by waving to everyone, saying “Terve!” – we figured straight away it meant hello… but it didn’t stop there!

“Olen Janet, enta sina?” She repeated again, and again, and again, whilst shaking hands with everyone.

I’m Janet, and you?

I was absolutely baffled by this language. I’d never heard it before and I couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.

She didn’t use a single word of English, nor acknowledge any English we spoke either (perhaps to pretend she didn’t speak it?).

Her aim of the lesson was to teach us a few food and drink items, which she did by having the pictures on the board, and labeling each item one at a time, repeating new words, wiping the labels off and having us tell her the name, over and over again.

We learned:

  • punaviini – red wine
  • valkoviini – white wine
  • olut – beer
  • kakku – cake
  • voileipa – sandwich?
  • vesi – water
  • mehu – juice
  • maito – milk
  • kahui – coffee
  • tee – tea

That’s it. I’m proud to say I remember them all after just 2 days!

We did a flashcard game, matching the photo with the label

We also did a role play, ordering food and drink in a cafe – this was hilarious as our accents were all over the place, we couldn’t quite remember the words or pronunciation. It was brilliant! Janet was trying to correct us on tone as well, encouraging us to be more polite or more enthusiastic.

(Although I can’t remember how to say, ‘I would like…’)

What I also remember is:

  • kiitos – thank you
  • hyvaa – good

The aim of Janet’s INSET was to remind us how challenging it is for students to learn a new language, especially at beginner / pre-intermediate level, and that as teachers we need to be repeating new vocab continuously for it to stick in the students’ minds…

We were all exhausted after that lesson and with not a word of English ,it meant we really had to focus!

It makes me empathize so strongly with our students at how hard they have to work to grasps the basics of a language, especially if you’re in a classroom under pressure not to embarrass yourself or get things wrong.

Definitely my favourite INSET.


First week back at work and I need some teaching tips…

Happy Wednesday guys and gals! I’m finally back at work this week and my first few days back at work have been brilliant – all guns blazing! (or so I’d like to think…)

I’m teaching a lovely intermediate class, with a mixture of Argentinian teens, a Turkish lady, a Turkish man and three Kuwaiti students… and they are all delightful! So far, I’ve hardly heard anything but English (always a huge plus!) and although they’re shy when I’m asking them questions, they work so well with each other!

My second class is an upper-intermediate with a mixture of 5 students I used to teach (at different levels), a lovely Spanish girl and also some Argentinian students. These guys are on fire! As soon as they realize they know something, I can’t get them to stop! We spent fifteen minutes today talking about idioms and sayings in Spanish and Arabic – it was brilliant and some of the sayings are absolutely hilarious!

For example, if someone is always looking for the negatives, they say

  • You’re looking for the fifth leg of the cat
  • You’re looking for the second tail on the dog

The equivalent to our English saying ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home’ is

  • You have no lights

My lunch-time speaking class is pre-intermediate, with two students I taught before Christmas. Today we role-played interviewing actors or journalists and it was hilarious (once they’d done the writing part). It’s been ages since I’d seen a class laugh so hysterically over not very much, but it was great!

My main focuses this week are:

  1. To get my upper-int class reading
  2. To encourage my int class to be less shy
  3. To break down my instructions more clearly for my pre-int class (I noticed today at least 3 out of 5 of them didn’t follow my instructions, and realized I probably waffled on a little bit)

Teachers – what are you working on this week? If you have any suggestions on encouragement for reading, please share them with me? I love reading and I’m struggling for ideas on how to encourage others, other than saying “YEAH READING IS GREAT!”


How to use Pinterest in the classroom

As an extremely new teacher, it’s sometimes difficult to come up with classroom ideas, especially as I don’t have a draw full of back-up ideas or past teaching plans. Sometimes, common sense is fairly useful – things like, ‘you can only have 5 things on a desert island, what do you take?’ or ‘students must turn their phone off after 10pm – write an opinion piece’ can work well, but not always!

I started off teaching an elementary class and an intermediate class – both were delightful, but I was being bombarded with questions such as ‘why do we use phrasal verbs?’, ‘why do we say which and not that?’ and so many more! Occasionally, and embarrassingly, I was stuck for an answer to some of them.

I was reading books, teacher’s blogs, articles on how to become a better teacher, how to lesson plan more efficiently, but none of them prepared me for questions that I didn’t have an answer to! My only option was to start learning as much as possible, as quickly as possible!

That’s when I realised, Pinterest! I took to Pinterest to see if I could find answers and inspiration…

“Isn’t it just like Facebook?” Many people have asked me.
The answer, as many of you know, is no, it isn’t.

Pinterest is far less personal and much more beneficial for business, products and learning, especially learning languages. “How?!” I hear you asking… I’ll tell you…

Once you’ve made an account via Facebook, Google or your email, you start off with a blank canvas. Essentially you have a pin board and you can stick whatever you like on it. You can create separate pin boards for different topics.


I created a separate Pinterest account specifically for my teaching – and my boards contain the headings: Phrasal verbs, comparatives and superlatives, IELTS writing, English slang, Passive tense… to name a few.


Benefits of using Pinterest in general

  1. When you see an image you like, you save it to a board (or under your chosen heading) and you can refer back to it whenever you like. You can also download an image to your phone or computer, you can share it via Facebook, Whatsapp or email.
  2. There is a vast amount of ideas for all situations
  3. People aren’t sharing their breakfast photos or updating about their latest break up – AND you can tailor what you want to see, keeping your homepage entirely relevant to you and your interests.

Benefits of using Pinterest for teaching

  1. You can connect with other teachers and their pin boards
  2. You can create pin boards for separate lessons, levels, topics
  3. You can share these pin boards with your class, whether that’s in class or allowing them to access the board at home via their phones or computer
  4. You can keep your board completely relevant to your classes, no images of avocados or work-out plans!
  5. It’s PG! There’s no spam or unwanted images that you have to worry about, unlike many of the social networking sites
  6. It’s brilliant for brainstorming – whatever age or level you teach, wherever your students come from or whatever their reason for studying.
  7. Most students love being able to use social media for learning. They appreciate being able to use it in the classroom and that you give them the opportunity to use other methods, not just books and handouts.

Believe me when I say there’s something for everyone on Pinterest!

For more ideas on how to use Pinterest in the classroom, you can read an in-depth post by the writers over at Best Colleges Online here.

Are you using Pinterest in the classroom? Let me know how in the comments.


Education, Uncategorized

Moral Dilemmas – A subject for the classroom?

For my first lesson back in the classroom I’m starting, conveniently, a brand new chapter of the book. The topic is morals and dilemmas, where half-way through the lesson there are two short stories that each contain a moral. It will be the students’ jobs to create an ending for each story, then decide what the moral is.

In the book I’m using, they never provide any warm-up or introductory activities and in many ways, I love it because it gives me the chance to create something myself. On the other hand, this usually takes me forever.

I’m going to start off by asking if anyone enjoyed reading as a child, if they remember any childhood stories and what do you think children gain from reading, or being read to.

(The answer I’ll be hoping for is that stories often have morals and children can learn from them, by remembering the stories.) 

Moving on, I have chosen the following three words

  • Moral
  • Ethical
  • Dilemma

for students to discuss what they think these words mean and then ask them to look up, and write down, the definition before moving onto a discussion.

I have chosen a few issues people may face and will ask them to discuss them in pairs.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Your bank accidentally transfers you $100 instead of $10, do you tell them?
  • You win a lot of money on the lottery, a family member you dislike is in serious debt, do you tell your family about your win or keep it a secret?
  • Your classmate cheats on her final exam, do you tell your teacher?

I will allow 10-15 minutes for a discussion in pairs, then a class discussion on the topics given on the handout, to prepare students for the main part of the lesson.

Thanks to a member of TeacherTrove for writing this post, which gave me loads of good ideas for my lesson. Please share any suggestions or feedback you may have in the comments! I’m always looking for new ideas.


Back to the daily grind.

Whilst most of my colleagues went back to work on the 2nd, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d be going back at all. Since my work permit application is taking a while, I’ll be in the UK for another few weeks. Thankfully BEET needed another teacher and I get to go back to my job for a little while longer.

What that does mean, however, is back to the never-ending nights of planning, creating worksheets and losing sleep over how I can help all of my students. I’m worried about how I’ll fit it all in with my packing and getting ready for China.

Yesterday afternoon I spent 4 hours trying to plan how I’m going to start off my lessons this morning… do I need worksheets? do I take it easy? Should I encourage them to write on a Monday morning? Should I bring games? I DON’T KNOW!!


I’ve missed my job so much in the past 4 weeks! My colleagues are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and knowing that I’m working my butt off every day to try and help make a difference for my students makes me feel so positive.

I’m back guys. I’ll be doing my very best for you. I promise.