My contribution to A Disabled-Access Friendly world: Lessons for the ELTclassroom

Marisa Constantinides challenged us ”to contribute lesson ideas for the foreign language classroom which will be aimed at younger learners and teens and which will promote the concept of a disabled-friendly world where people who have mobility issues can have easy access to services, places of learning, public and private spaces easily and safely.”

Before New Year’s Eve, as an awarness activity, my school hosted a group of people who were disabled. These people were getting training and rehabilitation by some volunteers. There was a concert and at the concert our students and our guests had a chance to enjoy themselves together.

The following day, with my year 10 students I asked them how they felt. Some of them told me about their sympathy, how they felt sorrow for them. They said they realised how lucky they actually were and then we discussed what kind of problems the disabled people experience in society. To my surprise, my students were very well-aware that life for disabled people were very difficult as the society makes them ‘the other’ ‘a stranger’ ‘somebody who should be kept at home and under surveillance’. Then they said the only thing the society feels for them was ‘to show pity’ and they added that it shouldn’t be like that and we should all learn to live together without feeling sorry for them and making them part of our lives.

When I watched the commercial, I remembered the things we talked in the classroom and when Marisa’s challenge came, I thought this is a great video to start a discussion in the classroom.

Here is my idea:

Play the video and stop at 0:09 and ask students to guess why this video is called ‘Dreams Academy’

Then watch the commercial until the end and discuss together.

The message can shortly be translated as If we see from different angles/perspectives, their lives change.

Because of this message I find this video very powerful. By not accepting them in our lives, we make everything more difficult. If only ….

Blog Posts for Marisa’s Challenge

My post for Marisa Constantinides’s Blog Challenge-A Disabled-Access Friendly world: Lessons for the ELT classroom by Vicky Loras

A Disabled-Access Friendly World: A Lesson for the Business English classroom

My Post for the “Disabled Access-Friendly World” Blog Challenge

Blog Challenge: A Disabled Access Friendly World: Lessons for the ELT Classroom

From Critical Pedagogy to Disabled Pedagogy

Teachers as Storytellers



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”I actually think one of my strengths is my storytelling”.
Quentin Tarantino

Last week we talked about storytelling at ELTChat and Leahn summarised the chat on her blog. You can find many interesting ideas and links there.

While chatting I realised the chat is more focused on students’ telling or writing stories.I attended the winter warmer at British Council Istanbul and listened to Carol Read and Alec Williams and amazed how powerful their stories were and then I had another chance to listen to a great storyteller, Jan Blake, at Istek Elt. It didn’t stop there and luckily I attended Michael Berman’s IATEFL talk and I’m very much interested in telling stories in efl classrooms at the moment.


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I’m not a good storyteller. I invented stories for my kids but I must confess I was not a master but as they were ready to hear my stories, they used to listen to me attentively. Yet, listening to all these wonderful people I mentioned above, I decided to tell a story to my grade 5 students. I chose a story with a lot of repetition and rhymes. I found some drawings for the animals in the story, prepared a handout to pre-teach vocabulary then instructed some very easy tasks for while listening and after the story finished, we found other rhyming pairs together and they wrote their own stories.

Last week at BESL 2011, Prof. Sy-ying Lee suggested preparing power point for the images in the story. The alternatives to tell stories in the classroom are almost endless.

I usually find my students’ stories very dull and I’m sure you also complain from time to time that those stories lack imagination. Recently, I put some of the blame on teachers. Students cannot tell stories if they don’t hear stories. I’m sure there are wonderful teachers telling stories in their classrooms but I’m pretty sure that there are others who are mainly concerned with the curriculum. Teaching is role-modelling. If we do something with great enthusiasm, our students will also follow us. I go back to the 1st plenary of Istek Elt and remember Jan Blake, she just led us to the amazing world of stories.

What kind of stories we can tell in the class?

  1. Real stories, our stories to make them realise that they also have stories to tell.
  2. Stories with a lot of repetitions and rhymes to teach certain grammar point or vocabulary.
  3. Fairy tales, cultural tales to encourage critical thinking and discussion.


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Some useful links for storytelling

Alec Williams in Istanbul
Jan Blake at Istek Elt and more Jan Blake on youtube.
The magic of story time
 Story telling for preschoolers, guidelines and how-to tell a story
While writing this post I came across with this wonderful post, Fairy tales continued on  The Hedghog Blog.
‘Stories in Language Teaching’
And don’t forget to bookmark Leahn’s wonderful summary with lots of ideas and links for the production stage.

Another Great Conference, BESL 2011

At Bahçeşehir University, on May 14th, I had the chance to listen to Stephen Krashen, who was the person on my linguistics notes, PD courses I attended and there he was talking about his acquisition theory.

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I’m not going to tell about the whole event as I was there only in the morning and rushed to my school, to be in the school yard with my friends for the school reunion.

Here are some very useful tips from Professor Krashen

Stories are very important.

Reading is the key for improvement. Free Voluntary Reading will help our learners do better.

From listening to stories, we evolve to reading books and literature.

Teachers should be storytellers. -I’m sure he didn’t mean we should be like amazing Jan Blake, I simply can’t 🙁

Literature is at the core of language arts, it is the philosophy

Compelling comprehensive input is a must. Interesting is not enough.

The better the school library is, the reading score goes up.

School libraries are great opportunities for the ones who cannot buy the books.

To stay young or to prevent Alzheimer we should do the followings.



DRINK COFFEE: He suggested 3 cups of freshly brewed coffee a day.

And you can do all three at once.

Here are some useful sites from his handout:

Essential TEFL, a Book Review

The blurb on the back describes “Essential TEFL ”, written by James Jenkin and Emma Foers, as a source ‘Crammed with 300 activities, teaching aids and full guide to English grammar’.

The book aims to support the new teachers and help them build confidence in planning lessons in their first years in TEFL. It is a very well-planned guide for any new-comer who graduated from university or has just done a CELTA or DELTA training.

The book is clearly divided into four sections.

How to Teach is a guide to teach English written in a very simple format. It starts with a top 10 dos and don’ts and continues with how to use course books and resources.

Activities is the next section where you can find twenty-four must know warmers, some classic activities and techniques for different skills and an A-Z activities with photocopiable materials.

Lesson Plans is a clear guide with different lesson plan options. You will also find another A-Z list of ready-made lesson plans and accompanying photocopiable materials. These lesson plans are prepared around certain topics such as cooking, cultural differences, dream holidays, etc.

Grammar section of the book is planned for beginner to intermediate learners with clear explanations and examples. After each grammar point there is a teaching ideas part where teachers are also warned with the difficulties of these certain points.

Essential TEFL is a useful companion and a reference book for an EFL teacher with lots of useful ideas and support.

Next Blog Carnival, Right After the Summer Break

I’ll host the 24th edition of ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival on 1st of September. As schools start in September in most of the countries, I’m planning to do a Warmers, Fillers and First Week Activities edition. If you want to participate, you can use the easy submission form or you can contact me from here or twitter if the form doesn’t work.

I know we still have time but I’m so much excited…

Looking forward to compiling great ideas to motivate us in 2011-2012 🙂