Κυριακή, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

National and European Quality Label

The National Quality Label has been granted to the etwinning project "myMagazeen"
that our school in collaboration with five more countries implemented last year.
Since the UK, France and Bulgaria have also received the Quality Labels from their NSS
the project automatically receives the European Quality Label as well. Congratulations to all of us, teachers and students, who have worked hard for our international e-magazine!
You can visit the blog http://mymagazeen.blogspot.com/to have a look at our work.

Πέμπτη, 22 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

European Day of Languages Competition

On occasion of the International Day of Languages I decided to run a school competition. The topic is the "Power of Language". Students are asked to produce
a short story illustrating the power of language. The most original story will be used to produce a short film that we will shoot with the students.

To inspire them we will start with a brainstorming on why we need language
and how language shapes our world.

Then I will show them the following short film:

We will discuss on the film, the main idea, the characters, the point the director is trying to make. I will ask them if they know of any other situations when language can change the way other people view us or when it is used to persuade us (eg. advertising).

Afterwards I will give them a worksheet to keep notes about their own story.


They will write the story at home....

When I collect the stories I will publish them at the blog. Wish me luck :)

Παρασκευή, 16 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

Ice-breaker for YL

• Introduction

The activity chosen is an ice-breaker called “Two Truths and a Lie”. It is selected due to the fact that it is suitable to create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom and a non-threatening environment for the learners to produce language without fear and discomfort. It can be used with pupils of elementary level at any time during the school year since it is always crucial to promote group dynamics so that a good working relationship is established between the group members. Also recycling of vocabulary and grammar occurs while having fun. Here it is used for Simple Present revision. The materials needed are some slips of paper and pens.

• How to set up the activity
The teacher tells the pupils they will all play a game called “Two Truths and a Lie”. She writes 3 sentences about herself (I always, usually, never….) and encourages the learners to discover which of them are true and which are not. After modeling the activity she asks ‘concept’ questions, e.g. “Mary is true that you always..”. Then she tells them that they will all write two true sentences and one with a lie about themselves and then each one will read their sentences and the others will try to find out which one is not true. For correct guesses they get 1 point. S/He who gathers most points is the winner. She hands out slips of paper with the fragments of the sentences, as mentioned above, for students to finish them off. The pupils are given 5’ to produce their sentences. A pupil is asked to go first, reading aloud the sentences and the others are encouraged to guess the lie by raising hands and then s/he reveals the answer. After everybody finishes, the teacher asks them if they liked the game and why they think they played it. She asks how we talk about habits and writes some examples on the board to choose the grammatically correct one. Potential problems are related to time management and clear instructions. Teachers should have the cards prepared, otherwise they might lose time. Also they should make sure they do not just ask if the pupils understood the instructions, which would merely lead to a yes/no answer.

• Learner reaction
The learners I have worked with found the activity very enjoyable, they all participated enthusiastically, even the weaker ones. They felt comfortable and safe and they used the language without being aware that they did. Most of the pupils formed correctly the tense, having heard it repeatedly by their classmates.

• Reflection
A major advantage of this activity is its simplicity and adaptability. It could be used for other tenses’ revision or for recycling wishes at an intermediate level. In these variations flashcards could be included and the goal could also be to guess who wrote the sentences. I would definitely use it again since the student talking time is increased in a meaningful and stimulating context.

Δευτέρα, 12 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

First day at school

It's been a few days now that I am trying to decide how to break the ice with
the newcomers at school..What activity to choose, not something too childish
(they are 16 years old) nor too demanding for their level in language (B1+).
Should I focus on helping them meet each other by introducing themselves
to the classmates? A cliche. What's more, most of them have known each other
since they were babies..
How about playing a board game using language as the medium and stress the similarities
between learning and playing games?
Not a bad idea, but it could cause a lot of noise and give the wrong message for
the rest of the school year..
So I found -what I think is - the perfect solution:
My Dream School.
  • What would it be like?
  • What are the things in my school that I like the best?
  • How could I change my school to make it better?
  • What 's the dream teacher like?
I decided to adapt a nice lesson plan and the worksheets I found in


and show them a clip on You Tube, the trailer of Jamie Oliver's Dream School as a stimulus for further discussion


So let's have a nice school year!

Παρασκευή, 2 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

Story telling and Young Learners

“When children create and tell a story in the foreign language the story and the language become theirs” (Wright 1996).

Story telling is an appealing and motivating, real life activity that can be used in the EFL classroom as a valuable and enjoyable resource for promoting language learning. Listening and narrating stories is a familiar procedure for all learners in their mother tongue and it takes several forms. Reporting one’s own stories and personal anecdotes or telling jokes is a fascinating, everyday routine that people enjoy sharing with each other. The universal nature of stories in relation to their content and structure and the cultural elements that they convey make them relevant to the learners’ interests and background. Moreover they are easily accessible and there is a wide variety of sources, such as the media, songs, myths, fables, fairytales etc., from which they can be drawn.

Stories are not only closely related to the learners’ experiences but they provide a “rich comprehensible input and a stimulus for real communication in English” (Rossner 1988). Their use in the classroom is not a passive process. They are employed as a stimulating starting point for further activities that promote purposeful learning within a meaningful, familiar and relaxed context and provide practice in language, social and communication skills. An extremely motivating and fun activity is the retelling of a story by the learners themselves, after it has been presented by the teacher, whereby they are given the chance to use the language for real communication and internalize its aspects while being creative and having fun.

It has been already mentioned that stories have a universal appeal and that children are familiar with them from an early age, either in the form of traditional and folk tales or as everyday events to which they are constantly and naturally exposed. The young learners are “natural story-tellers” (Jennings 1991) in their own mother tongue because they assimilate the structure and the information of the stories and then they recreate it and form new ones. This procedure can be applied in the teaching of English for a variety of purposes.

  • The most essential reason for using stories with young learners is that they are motivating and fun.
  • Stories are stimulating because they provide an opportunity for the learners to process meaning actively, while being creative.
  • Another reason that story telling is considered to be a valuable activity is that it provides an excellent context for the learners to use the language for their purposes, to share their ideas and not just learn about it.
  • A relaxed atmosphere is created whereby the most important thing is to help the student overcome his/her inhibitions and adopt “a positive attitude to ‘having a go’ with the language one knows” (Wright 1995) so as to use it for real communication in meaningful situations.
  • Furthermore they can be used to trigger the learners’ interest in other subjects across their curriculum. 

  • Jennings, C. (1991). Children as Story-tellers. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Rossner, R. (1988). The Whole Story: Short Stories for Pleasure and Language Improvement. London: Longman.
  • Wright, A. (1995). Storytelling with Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wright, A. (1996). Creating Stories with Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.