IATEFL Hungary – Towards Becoming an Autodidact

Title Screen - Becoming an Autodidact
My presentation at IATEFL Hungary 2019 in Budapest

This October I gave a workshop/talk at IATEFL Budapest on the idea of using etymology in the classroom to train our students in the ways of the autodidact. By giving them a toolkit based on this approach, we can help our students help themselves to the world of vocabulary, freeing us up to look at other areas in the classroom.

If you’d like a copy of the presentation, you can download it here. I want to take this opportunity to thank the International House World Organisation for their support – without them I wouldn’t have made it to Budapest to begin with!

SCELT Bratislava – Supporting Teachers With Dyslexia

Putting the final touches to my presentation.

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the SCELT Bratislava conference in late September. The focus of the session was on Special Education Needs (or SEN if you prefer acronyms). I ran a session on Supporting Teachers with Dyslexia, the powerpoint presentation for which you can download here.

I want to thank both the Chamber for having me, and for my school. International House Bielsko-Biala, for their support.

IATEFL Poland – Creative Writing Workshop

On Friday 20th September I was lucky enough to find myself in glorious Gdansk at this year’s IATEFL Poland conference. My 60-minute workshop was all about a simple framework for giving a creative writing lesson in the EFL classroom. We looked at how to find a ‘point of interest’, and how ‘motivated characters’ could interact with that point in order to give us the foundations for our plot.

If you’d like a copy of the presentation, feel free to download it here. I don’t mind if you use it in your own classes, or as an input session at your school.

Thank you to all who attended, and thank you also to my school, International House Bielsko-Biala, who sponsored me on this trip.

‘Zero Preparation Games’

ZeroPreparationGames
‘Zero Preparation Games’ – a PowerPoint presentation for English Language Teachers

On March 16th I presented a short talk at the International House Torun Teacher Training Day, entitled ‘Zero Preparation Games’. The presentation covered a number of communicative, fun activities that could be used in the language classroom with no materials or advanced preparation required.

If you’d like a copy of the original ppt file used in the presentation, it can be downloaded here. Feel free to use this ppt in your own school – but if you do, please be so kind as to let me know how it went, and if there are any ways in which this file might be improved!

‘Sixty-Six Lessons for Autodidacts’

The front cover of the new book, ‘Sixty-Six Lessons for Autodidacts’.

English grammar is not really all that difficult. Sure, some aspects take a while to master, but by the time you’ve been studying English for three or four years, you’ll have met all the grammar you’re ever going to need.

That’s not true with vocabulary!

English vocabulary seems to go on and on, and yet to be considered fluent you need to know a massive amount of it. How can anyone be expected to learn so much?

Well, that’s where my book, ‘Sixty-Six Lessons for Autodidacts’ comes in.

The book contains – you’ve guessed it! – sixty-six lessons, each of which looks at the words you might use when you talk about a particular topic. Then you’ll look at a selection of words that are related to the originals, and expand out from there. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself learning ten words instead of one, and because they’re all logically related, they’re easier to remember.

The book is available as a paperback here:

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

And as a pdf digital download through the Closely Observed shop.

Christopher Walker on Slawomir Mrozek

Read my article about the life and work of the Polish satirist and absurdist, Slawomir Mrozek, author of ‘The Elephant’ and other books and plays.

I was first introduced to Mrozek through my wife, who bought one of his books for me as a Christmas present – I have been indebted to her ever since, as Mrozek is in many ways just as fascinating a writer as Franz Kafka. His brilliantly dark absurdist tales are definitely worth reading if you are of an anti-establishment kind of bent, but if you are more into antidisestablishmentarianism, I’m not sure if his is the work for you. Well, it might be – I’m not 100% sure what the word rightly means…

The Closely Observed Book of Exam Preparation

Are you an EFL teacher preparing students for one of the Cambridge Assessment English main suite of exams?

  • B2 First & First for Schools
  • C1 Advanced
  • C2 Proficiency

In that case, you might be interested in my new book, available as a pdf download (with a complete Listening paper at C1 Advanced level as mp3 files) from my Shop for only 5 EUR.

The book looks in detail at every part of every paper in the exams.

Part of the Open Cloze section
Part of the Reading paper
Looking at how to approach the Writing paper
One of the many exam-based activities found in the book

The book, which runs to nearly 280 pages, contains a detailed break-down of all the different aspects of the various exams, and shows both how students can best approach each section and what you as a teacher can do to support them on the road to success.

The Appendices include a full Speaking paper at each of the three levels, Writing templates, and Writing feedback forms. These photocopiable worksheets will help you to make your Writing lessons more approachable, and will help to fix in your students’ minds the best approach to the different genres of writing.

Take a look at my Shop now to learn more.

Cambridge Speaking Practice – Resources for Teachers

When you prepare students for any of the Cambridge main suite of exams (B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency), you come up against one particular problem: the lack of materials. While there are practice test books out there, they are quite expensive and only feature four rounds of test material – which, when you accelerate preparations close to the time of the exams, you can easily find yourself working through in a matter of lessons.

C1 speaking test extract
Here is an example Part 2 long-turn speaking task from the C1 Advanced exam.

To help teachers prepare their students for the Speaking paper of the main suite of exams, I have produced this resource: the zip file contains 10 practice tests for each level, presented in the form of Powerpoint slides with accompanying instructions.

If you’re interested, please visit my store to take a closer look.

Sixty-Six Little Lessons – A Resource Pack for EFL Teachers

Are you an English language teacher? Do you need a new resource to help you in individual and small group lessons?

‘Sixty-Six Little Lessons’ might be just the thing for you. It’s a resource designed by an EFL teacher for other EFL teachers – and I know it works well because I’ve used it extensively in my own lessons.

The idea is fairly simple. Each lesson begins with a picture description, and a few B1/B2-level questions. The next page then widens the topic, supplying B2-C2 level questions and some suggested language; then there is a speaking task, again with supporting language, and finally a homework task for students to look at.

Front cover, Sixty-Six Little Lessons
The front cover for the resource ‘Sixty-Six Little Lessons’

The front cover image for an example lesson

The second page of an example lesson.

The printed book is available online at Amazon (UK and US), and you can download the pdf along with the optional ppt slides from my Shop.