It goes without saying that when you are a teacher you are able to meet a lot of people. If you are lucky, your students can share great stories with you, tell you about amazing places and experiences, offer you useful tips on how to do something - starting from cooking a delicious risotto ending up with an innovative way of changing a tire in your car.
I think that in a way I have been blessed with an abundance of such stories and anecdotes, advice, strong opinions, recommendations, dos and don’ts -you name it. And … I thought that I would like to give you a glimpse of some of them. That’s why I am presenting - the one and only- Interviews with my students.
In English, but not necessarily about English.
Season 1, Episode 1 - The one where Basia tells us about a cooperative coming soon!
Christmas time means Christmas break. And even though this break is not so long as for example the summer one, it's hard for some students to face this difficult truth :)
that there will be no classes and absolutely no homework!
What to do then? You ask.
Nothing! I answer.
Anyway, once you feel that you really have too much time on your hands or you would like to incorporate some English into your Christmas celebrations, or you want to continue reading this post and get to know some of my ideas for this festive season ...
Well, I won't disappoint and here they are. You can also check the ones from last year HERE.
FOOD, glorious food
I well remember that a few years ago, when I wasn't a 100% online teacher and I had some students whom I would meet in person, before Christmas we were always baking cookies. The cookies are really easy, healthy and so much fun to do with other people. Here's the recipe. Enjoy and share!
1 cup oatmeal
a handful of nuts and dried fruits (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or dried cranberries)
1 tablespoon coconut flakes
a pinch of cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange peel
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large ripe banana
2 tablespoon honey
Mix all the ingredients ----- preheat oven to 200 degrees C ------ bake for 10-12 minutes (until they are slightly brown).
And if you are up to for something more sophisticated than the cookies please do check these ideas
MUSIC, glorious music
GIVING, glorious giving
I am sure you have your own ways of giving and sharing. I do not wish to tamper with that. But, if you find that you want to do yet another thing, I encourage you to prepare a 1kg package (not more-it's very important) which can include one of these:
CDM Upendo Children's Home
P.O. Box 734
NETFLIX, not so glorious netflix
Ok, this post is getting too long now.
Enjoy your time!
Merry Christmas to You ALL!
So here it is. My first Q&A. I am sorry I haven't included all your questions. Some of them, like the one about the apps for learning and dictionaries, will be answered in a separate posts dedicated only to them. Some I've saved for Part 2. Yes! The story will continue.
What is the biggest CHALLENGE during online lessons?
A student without their notebook.
How many sticky notes have you prepared for your students ?
I assume you're asking me about my "cards on sticks".
Well, not enough.
I am glad you all like that that much.
How to learn English effectively?
There're many ways of learning. I'm trying to show you them in the lessons. But for any method to be effective it has to be used systematically. When you learn words by Quizlet - you need to do that on a regular basis; When you record your talks - you need to be relentless; When you go through your Grammarway - you need to do it frequently.
Do a little. Do it every day. This is being effective.
The Best Source of reading, vocabulary, Listening is ...
Hmmm, it's really hard to say what's the best. When you look for different resources, however, it is your interests that should guide you. Make a list of areas, topics, themes that you would like to find more about. Once you have a list start searching Youtube channels for videos. Watch a few and then choose some to subscribe to. Follow them and read the info they insert under their videos - it's usually packed with links to websites/blogs/articles which can give you more insight.
You can check who I follow HERE.
I also use Scoop.it (link HERE) to find different reading materials, latest teaching news and so on. I absolutely love it.
What's the most difficult for you in English?
rI think that what's difficult changes over time. But I think that English pronunciation will always have a chance to surprise me.
Let's take the word
How do you think it should be pronounced?
Well, here it is
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ENGLISH AND teaching as your JOB?
Oh why ?, oh why?, indeed.
But seriously, I have always wanted to work with adults.
Watching people grow, develop and becoming bolder is just so great. I don't witness this every day, don't be fooled, but when I do I tell you there is little that it compares to.
Do You have aNY special THINGS THAT MOTIVATE YOU?
Yes! Students with their notebooks!
Honestly, there's nothing more motivating than a motivated student.
DO You have a MentoR?
First of all, I'd like to say that I think having a mentor is awesome. I remember watching Kim Kaupe a few years ago talking about mentoring. You can watch the video HERE. I found it very inspiring.
As for me, I don't have a mentor as such now. But I used to have- my university teacher; my boss at St.Gregs - they taught me a lot. I value this experience like nothing else.
Why Do You POST SO LITTLE on INSTAGRAM?
I know. I am sorry. I'll try to be better.
What about Agnieszka and her students having a beer/tea one day?
Well, that's sadly the end of Part 1. If you have more questions, please put them HERE.
I will be thrilled to answer them soon.
Summer time means holiday time. But that does not necessary mean that you need to stop learning English. Maybe summertime is a good opportunity to take a more relaxed approach and try the things you have been too busy to try before.
If you are lacking ideas and you still haven't read my post on learning tips, try to dig a bit HERE.
In one of my posts I talked about AUDIBLE. It's a great app for audiobooks and you can enjoy their vast collection for free for a month.
If you didn't take part in the short programs through the year you can still explore them HERE.
But if you want to take a more academic approach to learning you can try one of these suggestions.
1) Short tests - it's a collection of grammar and vocab multiple choice question tests from elementary to advanced level. I especially recommend these test to B1/B2 students as a revision program but there's also a section for the more advanced ones so have a look.
2) FCE practice tests - a booklet with a few FCE tests; if you're a strong B1 student maybe it would be a good idea to try a few test here.
3) Tedx video lessons - great lessons; loads of topics to choose from. Have a go.
My all time favourite suggestion is to find yourself a language buddy - somebody whose level of English is similar to yours and with whom you can talk on regular basis. It maybe even 5 minutes a day but make it regular: once, twice or five times a week.
And one last option for lazybones and social media addicts. You can join me on my Instagram to learn a few words or phrases this summer.
UPDATE: Thank you very much for your interest in this course. At the moment all places are taken. But if you're interested please fill in the form below and I can put you on a waiting list. I do hope to organise the second edition soon.
I will be launching a new online course. This time it will be on PUBLIC SPEAKING AND PRESENTING.
WHAT THE COURSE IS
The aim of this course is to combine your existing language skills with presentation techniques that will move your presentations to the next level.
During the course, you will be able to to get to know different techniques, master the ones that are right up your alley, work on combing visual aspects and your verbal output, improve the quality of your message and explore and make use of your presenting potential.
WHAT THE COURSE IS NOT
The course is not about following somebody’s else way but it’s about finding your way of being heard.
The course is not a language course as such. During the course, we don’t learn what to say but how to say it effectively. For that reason, your current level of English should be B2+
This is the first edition of this course. It’s designed to be a short and intensive one. It will include five sessions: four 75-min sessions and one final 60-min session.
As it is an individual course the exact days and times can be negotiated.
The regular course fee is 400 PLN
but I will be offering the 1st summer edition with a 25% discount.
The number of places is limited. At the moment I am having 4 places left.
If you think that this course is something you would like to take part in please fill in the interest form below.
If you know anybody who would find this course interesting, please feel free to spread the word.
Today I would like to talk about preparing our presentations; more specifically about the relationship between the script (what we say) and the graphics (what we show).
Many of us wrongly assume that showing the audience a text at the same time as saying it is beneficial. But we need to remember that our brains, much as we’d like them to, cannot multitask. It’s impossible for us to read and listen at the same time. When we expose our brains to such a challenge the process of switching between listening and reading begins. Our brains need to constantly drift between these two activities. I guess it’s not really difficult to imagine the result of such shifts.
When we’re preparing a presentation we need to make sure that what we say complements what we show. By no means what we say and what we show should be the same. Our audience waits to receive one, consistent and focused message. That’s why they shouldn’t get the complete idea from either what has been said or shown to them. To keep our audience engaged we can sometimes convey our message by the script, other times by the graphics - we need our audience to pay attention; not to be idle.
I am sure that we are all guilty of preparing slides packed with texts, points to consider, action plans etc. Then, we go through them thinking that we're able to reinforce our visuals by simply reading them out loud. But we need to face the truth- such a practice doesn't engage our audience. It can help us to say what we what to say but it certainly doesn't help people remember our message. Hard as it might be, we need to resist the temptation to use bullet-point lists in our presentations. Reading to the audience what they can read themselves has little or no value. If we really feel that we need to show some text to our audience- let’s do so - but we also need to give them time to read that in silence.
Our aim is to give a good presentation- the one which is remembered and has tangible outcomes. Learning how to integrate what we show and what we tell can sound like a daunting challenge but, believe me, the benefits are amazing.
When a few years ago my niece told me that she wanted to be a YouTuber I must confess that I didn’t really get what she meant by that. I was at that time a frequent YouTube user but saw very little value in following people and watching them talking about what back then I had considered loads of nonsense.
Thank God, I kept my mind opened and at some point, my friendship with YouTube went to a completely new level. I don’t know, maybe the videos started to get better, maybe more people saw YouTube as an opportunity to promote their ideas, maybe I finally found the channels I really enjoyed.
I have picked up 3 of my most favourite ones to share with you.
#1 Living big in a tiny house. The channel is full of inspiring stories of downsized, eco-friendly living. A real gem!
#2 Pick up limes. The lady who runs this channel has won me over. She is so gentle and softly-spoken that it literally melts my heart. Plus she talks about things I love dearly: fruits and veggies.
#3 Inc. I must say that it was a tough choice as it normally wouldn’t be in my top 3 but since I would like to show you a bit of diversity in my subscription choices I’ve decided to include Inc. here. The channel gives you loads of info and advice on business topic ranging from sales and marketing to management. Plenty of short videos to broaden your knowledge.
My choice is very subjective and might not be to everybody’s liking but this is not the point of this post. The point is to encourage you to find your own channels to follow. The closer they’re linked with your interests the better. They need to be some sort of your guilty pleasure, but the one with benefits. And what are the benefits - first of all, you have some contact with a contemporary, daily language. Also, your vocabulary range should increase; your listening skills become stronger and there’s a chance your pronunciation improves as well. But, I guess, the biggest benefit is that you’ll be able to talk about your areas of interest with confidence.
I recommend starting by picking up 3 channels to follow. I don’t think I need to say that the channels need to be in English :) You don’t need to choose channels run by native speakers but make sure that the quality of the language is good. For example, I used to love watching Jenny Mustard. She is a Swedish vlogger and I absolutely adore her food video recipes.
Choosing your channels should make you happy; watching them should be relaxing. By increasing your positive experience, you increase your motivation. And you know, your motivation can take you higher than you have expected.
When we ask people how they are we often hear the word BUSY.
I guess we all love to be busy, or at least say that we are. It definitely sounds better than lazy. This “busy-ness” is the number one excuse in our learning process.
And today I’d like to talk a little bit about what you can do with your learning when you are really busy or really lazy. The method I present requires some planning but once you get a hang of the preparation phase you can be literally unstoppable.
So, without further ado let me begin by asking you a few simple questions.
Let me for a moment assume that you are not the cleanest person in the world and you keep your daily cleaning teeth to an absolute minimum. Based on this assumption I can quickly calculate that you spend at least 6 minutes a day brushing your teeth. Let me also assume that you purely focus on the activity and there is no multitasking going on here.
As a result of this quick deduction, I have figured out that you have at least 6 minutes to spare every single day. The precious minutes that you can use up to brush up your English!
Of course, we can come up with many ideas what to do with this time now -you can listen to a short podcast, revise the words on Quizlet, practise speaking in your mind etc. All these ideas are good but I guess they require a tiny weeny more prep.
My idea is to start simple. On a post-stick note/s write down 1 word/phrase. Bend the paper note and write an explanation, a synonym or your translation on the reverse side. Stick the note/s to your mirror. Make sure you don’t use more than 5 - you don’t want the post-ins to clash with your interior design, plus your brain may be too reluctant to process too much info in such a short time :) You can also prepare spidergrams containing only initial letters of the words (excellent idea for more advanced learners). Once our preparation phase is completed, we can start our learning phase. Each time you are in your bathroom brushing your teeth go over the notes, repeat, come up with examples. Do it over and over again, repeatedly until you feel you know the word inside out. Then remove the note from the mirror and substitute it with a new one.
This method is super simple; requires minimum preparations and makes use of your passive time effectively. It might not be the fastest one, but it should give you some sense of progress, especially when finding time for learning is a struggle. Try it out, I am sure it can bring a totally new dimension to your cleaning routine and who knows - maybe it will inspire you to look for new learning methods.
I am sure that for everybody who is actually celebrating Christmas, it is the time to meet with family and friends, go to church, sing carols and eat delicious things. On your to-do Christmas list, there is probably no space for English - and good - so it should be.
But, when it is all said and done and you are ready to cherish the spare time this holiday has to offer, you may want to try out one of the recommended things below.
Let’s start with music. I know that I do this time and time again but my number one December music set every year is Sting’s If on a Winter's Night album. I take enormous pleasure in listening to these songs and I can guarantee they will put you in a winter and Christmasy mood. Here is a link to the album on Spotify.
Next, I want to recommend two series. I am going to start with a shorter one. It has got only 3 episodes and it’s called Mrs Wilson. The series is based on a true story but the facts are one great mystery. I am not going to reveal more, apart from the fact that Ruth Wilson plays her own grandmother and she does it brilliantly. The series is now available on BBC; for other sources please search the net.
The second series would be for those of you who like crime stories, the 1920s and a bit of a romance. Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries is always fun for me to watch. The series is witty and playful, the acting is a bliss and the fashion of the 20s - yes- it's a must see. The series is available on Netflix.
There was a bit of music, a bit of something to watch so now it’s time for a book. I have one book in mind that I believe reading would be worth your while. It’s the latest Seth Godin’s creation- This is marketing. You can access this book, or the audiobook- to be more precise, on Audible. The app is a paid one but you can enjoy one free month, which I am sure is enough for you to listen to one book. And for those of you are not especially keen on the topic of marketing, I personally believe this is very unlikely- in my book everybody is interested in marketing :), anyways- should you be not - then Audible gives you the abundant choice of different genres and titles.
I am singing off now; Wishing you ALL a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🎄
Written by Agnieszka Kansy