The year is coming to an end! It’s been a difficult year, full of changes and new beginnings. I’m happy that it also marks my six months of blogging. Over 2000 of you have entered my website, and hopefully, found in here some useful information. In this last post of 2021, I’d like to share with you my personal favourites, people and places that I visit frequently and often get inspired by.
Without any further ado, let me tell you about my favourite books, textbooks, platforms and people who have got me through this year and filled my head with so many incredible ideas!
Books for teachers
My all-time favourite grammar book that I open at least once a week is Teaching English Grammar – What to Teach and How to Teach It by Jim Scrivener. Whenever I look for a strong lead-in, I immediately go for this book. It’s more than just lead-ins. Each section goes over practice tasks, games and also the most common errors. I learnt about this book a while back but started using it on CELTA. I think what I truly love about this book is its simplicity and range of topics. The book was published in 2010 and some of the tasks need to be adapted to modern times or online teaching, but it’s a great point to start preparing for any lesson.
This title surely goes to English File 4th edition by Oxford University Press. I was introduced to this coursebook last year by no one else but the best DOS I’ve ever had. Gemma swore by these books and it’s hard to disagree with her. If I need to find inspiration or solid and engaging tasks, I always open one of their books. First of all, the range of levels available is overwhelming, all the way from A1/A2 to C1.2. All the topics are interesting, and one short speaking exercise can fill the whole class. What I love the most is their unique and refreshing grammar approach. They stay away from the typical grammar separation you see in other books. Students respond so well to that and not only them! Everything is so well-explained that I often feel like I learn something new each time!
Teacher on YouTube
Anyone who teaches online or needs to up their technology game should head to Charlie’s lessons on YouTube. This man has got everything – knowledge, charisma, sense of humour…What I particularly enjoyed was his series of YT shorts called Websites English Teachers should know. I don’t know about you, but I tend to use the same websites over and over again (looking at you Baamboozle!). Even though I love them, and it’s so easy to find something great over there, I feel like students need some variation. The problem is that it’s not a walk in the park to find a website that is as engaging as Kahoot or Wordwall. Charlie solves this problem for you. Not only that, he manages to give you a full tutorial in less than one minute! Here is a sneak peek at one of his shorts. I highly recommend visiting his YT Channel because it’s an endless source of ESL knowledge.
Teachers on WordPress
There are so many TEFL teachers out there that it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the one that I like the most. The truth is that I follow many teachers and gain inspiration from every single one of them. Instead, let me share with you blog posts that I thought were top-notch.
My all-time favourite blog post of this year was Questions about teaching Very Young Learners (aged 2-5) by Sandy Millin. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again – I wish I had had this post with all its resources when I first started teaching VYLs. As an inspiring ESL blogger, I found this post to be a top example of what blogging is about. First of all, the research and sourcing of materials used in the blog is another level. From the perspective of a reader or an ESL teacher, it’s got everything you may need – the post starts with the idea of teaching VYLs, ways of dealing with children and a plethora of activities that you can follow. Sandy is an experienced teacher, and all of her posts are worth checking out.
When I first started blogging, I wasn’t sure how to find my people and stand out from the overcrowded ESL teachers community. I started by looking for different people on Instagram. Amongst so many ESL teachers, some of them drew my attention. Let me start with the Dogme expert – teaching_with_tracey. I tend to overprepare for classes and still get nervous when I don’t have everything planned to the minute. Tracey does the opposite. She shows great low/no preparation ideas and talks about going with the flow. Hopefully, with some more time and experience, I will reach this level of confidence!
As a non-native speaker, I often get stressed about being not good enough. That’s why I love seeing other ESL teachers like me who are great, professional and well-respected. That’s why when I learnt about the_non_native_speaker I went through her whole content immediately. She isn’t afraid to speak up and deals with the injustice of native-speakrism. I truly relate to her and this problem as I’m frequently surrounded by native speakers with no experience who are being praised for their place of birth. Meri motivates me to move past this issue and continue being myself.
Since I’ve completely transitioned into working online, I decided to abandon my good ol’ paper agenda and started recording everything I do on the laptop. As stupid as it sounds, Microsoft Calendar is just the best. It motivates me to see students slowly filling my schedule while helping me stay organized. I also started using Microsoft To-Do. I open it every day, organize my lesson planning and note any new blog post ideas.
As for my blogging and digital resource making, I wouldn’t get this far without Grammarly and Canva. All my Instagram posts are made with the simplest version of Canva. It also helps me create unique worksheets and presentations that I, later on, share or sell on Teachers pay Teachers. Grammarly is like a friend that doesn’t complain about proofreading my writing. It’s so hard to read your material and it’s even more difficult to see your mistakes! I usually draft all the blog posts in WordPress and then go paragraph by paragraph in Grammarly. For sure, it would have been much easier and faster to do it with the paid version of Grammarly, but it’s somewhat stimulating to go over all the yellow lines and try different ways of correcting them.
From me to me
To end this post, I think I should acknowledge some of the things that I’ve created and are my favourites. First of all, I feel extremely proud of my B1 Christmas themed speaking and B2 Halloween themed speaking. They were a huge hit and got recognized by so many of you. These were the posts that went viral and made me feel that maybe I’m doing it for a reason. Another post was about The flakiness of adult students that encouraged many ESL teachers to message me and share their own experiences. It made me realize that I’m not alone in this difficult ESL teaching world and showed me that many people understood my everyday battle.
So these are a few of my favourite things! Let me know if you agree with them and what else you would add to the list! Thank you for being with me and I hope that next year will be even better!
Hope to see you again in 2022!