These are a few of my favourite things (2022)

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to my first post of 2023! Wrapping up and reflecting on the past year is a thing, so I can’t stay behind. I’d like to kick off this year by looking at some of the people and things that made my life easier and pushed me forward. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them.

As I’m looking at my last year’s post, These are a few of my favourite things (2021), I can’t help but smile at how much has changed over the last 12 months. I closed 2021 with 2,301 visitors and 6,673 views in total. In 2022, I had 19,189 and 45,060 views! How crazy is that?! I can’t imagine what this year is going to look like.

JoannaESL stats

I think that this year I would like to focus on my small achievements first and share with you some of my most viewed posts. My top three posts were:

I must admit that changing the layout of the website and making it easier for everyone to access any of my older lesson plans has increased the views. Who would have thought?🤯At the moment, all my lesson plans are available based on levels. In the future, I’m planning to divide them based on topics.

I’m a big fan of maps, so here is the view of all the countries I reached in the last 365 days. The top countries are Spain (10,684 views), Italy (3,680 views) and Vietnam (1988 views).

I think it is important to mention everyone who featured my blog posts this year. It’s always so exciting to see that people enjoy my lesson plans and share them with their followers. Thank you, everyone! I hope that I didn’t miss anyone!

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Books for teachers

This year, the book that I looked at the most was English Grammar in Use 5th Edition by Raymond Murphy (Cambridge University Press). It helped me prepare much better and more in-depth explanations. It also provided me with many engaging and comprehensive tasks that I implemented in class and also often assigned as extra homework. It has never failed, and many of my students appreciated this extra work as it made them feel a bit more confident with the structure and use of English.

Coursebook

I used to focus primarily on Cambridge exam preparation. I still do it occasionally, but now most of my students look for conversational and general English classes. For this reason, I was looking for a perfect general English coursebook. I love all English File 4th edition books, but to keep myself sane, I decided to use some other coursebooks. Since last year I loved all the coursebooks published by Oxford University Press, I had a go at their Headway 5th edition. It’s got a bit different approach to grammar, but the reading and listening materials are topical and interesting, which makes for a great learning experience.

Teacher influencer

I wouldn’t have made it this far without Martin Sketchley (@ELTExperiences). I had been following Martin for quite some time before I really started paying attention to his incredible content. In February of last year, I was preparing for my first Preply trial lesson and his video A Real Preply Trial Class / 55 minutes / Unedited Lesson on Preply was exactly what I needed. It’s needless to say that he saved me a lot of time. Even though my Preply trial lesson style has changed, I still use his class as a scaffold.

Martin has quickly become one of the online teachers who I follow religiously now. His walk-and-talk series was one of my favourites this year. He was also the person who gave me a space to talk about my online teaching experience. It was a nerve-racking experience as it was the first time for me to speak online, but he put so much effort into making this video as informational and enjoyable as possible.

Another teacher influencer who put me on an online EFL map is Miguel Míguez (@onthesamepagelt). Whenever I need to find some good lesson plans, I end up on his website On the same page. His website is an endless source of classroom ideas. I think Miguel is best known for his Facebook page, though. I believe so far, two of my blog posts were on his radar and got promoted on his page. Thanks to him, many people found out about my blog and became regulars.

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Teachers on WordPress

It’s almost impossible to find one or two EFL teachers who blew my mind this year. Everyone is great and unique. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I tend to miss a blog post or two every now and then. If I have to pick from the posts that I saw this year, there is a certain post that comes to my mind.

Pete from ELT Planning (@eltplanning) posted Where do my materials writing opportunities come from? in which he talked about, you guessed it, his writing opportunities! I read it and started dreaming that maybe one day, I will reach the same level and receive some opportunities to write a short lesson plan. Besides this post, there are many other posts and lesson plans, so click and check it out for yourselves.

Another person who never ceases to amaze me is Svetlana (@ELT_CATION) from ELT-cation. I always look for new activities to use in my classroom. That’s why when I saw her 12 5-minute vocabulary revision activities, I knew she would be on my list. I used this post to implement quick vocabulary revisions at the beginning of my lessons. However, she’s more known for teaching tutors how to create their courses and build their websites. If you are at the beginning of your online teaching/presence journey, give her a follow -you won’t regret it.

Tools

Ever since I joined an online teaching platform, I ditched a Microsoft Calendar and switched to a Google Calendar, as it is just easier to use. It synchronizes to all my accounts and books any open spots for me. I have a widget calendar on my phone, so I can quickly check my next class, and so far I haven’t missed even one lesson, so I guess it’s been my little success this year.

I also moved away from my Instagram account and focused on Twitter. I find it a much better tool to socialise with EFL teachers all over the world. Unfortunately, despite a good following on Instagram, I felt like I was interacting with bots. The number of followers didn’t reflect under my posts. This was quite discouraging and ultimately lead to my account being permanently closed.

In February, I also started teaching on an online platform called Preply and quickly got students over there. Despite its flaws, I wouldn’t have made it this far without it. It gave me a chance to become a group tutor, which I talked about in Group lessons on Preply. The format of teaching has changed, but I remained the group tutor in a new format. I think that one of my resolutions for this year is to put a bit more energy and effort into creating group courses, as it also brings me a lot of content to the blog.

Here are my stats and favourite things about 2022. This year has been revolutionary for me and showed me that if I put my mind to something, anything is possible. I think I should keep the ball rolling, and aim for four blog posts a month (I’m sure I will regret those words later!). Thank you for another year with me, and let’s see what will happen in 2023!

Happy New Year and hope to see you around!

Native speakers only!

Native speakers wanted! Our academy hires native speakers only! Learn English with native speakers! Sounds familiar? What if I tell you that it is all a lie…

If you’ve ever looked for an ESL job, surely you were bombarded with native speakers only! as the top requirement. When I saw it for the first time I was mortified – who’s going to hire a Polish girl to teach English? Luckily for me, Spain has one of the lowest percentages of English speakers in Europe with less than 30% people being able to use it! (El Pais, 2017). Language academies, especially in smaller towns or in less popular areas, would do anything to have you on board – with or without any certifications. That is precisely what happened to me and how I discovered my love for teaching English.

Even though I am a certified teacher with a few years of experience and good reputation among my students, every now and then I get side-eyed by some parent or an older student when they learn that I am not a native speaker. This raises a question Can you be a good ESL teacher without being a native speaker? The answer is simple – Yes, you can!

I remember starting CELTA and thinking What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t understand everything? Will I ever be able to teach higher levels? In fact, the thought of teaching a B2 level group kept me awake at night, to the point that I decided to address my concerns to Mike, my CELTA tutor. He told me a story about a guitar student who kept attending guitar lessons despite being better than his teacher. When asked why he continued taking lessons, he answered that he has fluency but the teacher has the technique.

Needless to say, Mike boosted my confidence and helped me with teaching higher English levels. I passed CELTA with flying colours and realised that I am a good ESL teacher. A teacher who listens and understands her students. A teacher who isn’t afraid to look for help or admit that there are some things beyond her current knowledge. A teacher who continues learning and growing to accommodate the needs of her students.

A message to all language students: If you ever look for a language teacher, don’t reject non-native speakers. If they have university studies, years of experience or any extra language teaching certifications, you are much better off with them than with a non-certified native speaker. A native speaker without any certification or knowledge of language can give you fluency but will not be able to give you the technique.

A message to all language teachers: If you ever look for a teaching job that in a description puts native speakers only or rejects you based on your nationality – it is for the best. It may seem like a bummer at first, but you don’t want to be somewhere where people are discriminated based on their passport. Look for a work place that appreciates your expertise, allows you to grow and most importantly accepts you for who you are!

CELTA – one year later

The year 2020 – what else is there to say? This is a story about the time in my life when I lost almost everything, but at the same time gained so much more. It’s the year when finally decided to invest in myself.

I arrived in Spain in September 2018 and decided to change my career path. Up until this point, I was an environmental engineer who was getting a bit unhappy with the career choice. Spain was like a breath of fresh air – a new place, new climate and new job as an ESL teacher.

I quickly learnt to love the profession as it allowed me to be me, have fun and develop my creative side. However, it is not as easy as it seems. It requires a lot of patience, attention and definitely planning – something that I learnt with time.

I was a teacher in a small village in Extremadura and over time I wanted to become a professional. I started researching Cambridge teaching courses when I stumbled upon CELTA. I decided to find out more so I emailed CLIC Seville, the academy that offered a 50% online course and the teaching part done in person every Friday for 10 weeks. Great deal! Except…not as I was already teaching every Friday and was unable to take that time off. Time passed by and I forgot about the course, but then the unexpected happened – 14th March 2020, aka you are unemployed for the next two weeks and another two weeks, and another two weeks…

This is how I ended up having way too much time on my hands. During this time I looked for new jobs, started knitting, watched a lot of films, baked cakes… Suddenly, on one fine May morning, I received a message from CLIC Seville talking about a 100% online CELTA course. There was no time like then. I replied, got an interview, got accepted and paid 1440 euros. That was the beginning of the CELTA adventure.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin

1st June 2020 came round and I was very nervous. I was afraid that I would be the worst addition to the course and the tutors would tell me not to teach ever again. I was wrong. It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I learnt a lot of new techniques, but what I valued the most was the feedback and the observation of other great teachers. After spending five truly exhausting weeks, averaging eight hours a day in front of the computer, teaching, planning, completing the tasks, I made it to the very end with a Pass A.

This is what finally brings me here. This newly found confidence, realization that I am a better teacher than I ever was an engineer and the freedom, and ability to create – is what I truly appreciate about being a teacher. So here I am, at last ready to share my ideas with other teachers.

Hope you embark on this journey with me and help me build this creative space.