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Drunken Australians and the Truth about their Accents

There’s a new story circulating on the interweb right now which tells us that the Australian accent came about because the European settlers to Australia were all drunk and so they passed on their slurred speech to their children.

Apparently these settlers would come home from a hard day herding kangaroos or sheering rabbits or something and get drunk on a case of VB then talk in…

Can English save Taiwan?

Taiwan is hoping to save its economy and raise its global rankings by making English a second official language in the country.

That’s the theory at least and a number of academics and officials have put forward the idea to help Taiwan in the international market.

The plan is that within 10 years everyone in Taiwan will have a decent knowledge of English. But how this…

IELTS Scores withheld in China

Some Chinese students have had their IELTS score “permanently withheld” by IELTS.

According to reports, IELTS have decided to withhold the scores for some students. They have declined to tell the student their score and refused to pass on any information about the score to anyone outside the organization.

Those students involved are understandable angry and frustrated. IELTS are refusing to tell them anything about their…

English School to begin at 4

A new report from the Dutch government recommends English teaching to begin at 4 years old when children first start primary school.

As is well known, the earlier someone starts, the easier it is to pick up a foreign language. Beginning English at 4 will give Dutch children a headstart when it comes to speaking English and will lead to a more employable and competitive global workforce…

Racist TEFL Church Ad for teachers in Hong Kong

A church school in Hong Kong has come under fire after posting an advert asking specifically for a “Caucasian” English teacher in their school.

The blatantly racist ad was pulled after a barrage of criticism was directed towards the church school who beat a hasty retreat with an “apology” which seemed half-hearted at best.

They said the ad has been removed and then clarified they were…

ICAL TEFL Resources

The ICAL TEFL site has thousands of pages of free TEFL resources for teachers and students.

These include:
The TEFL ICAL Grammar Guide.
Country Guides for teaching around the world.
How to find TEFL jobs.
How to teach English.
TEFL Lesson Plans.
… and much, much, more.

To find what you’re looking for, you can either use the links in the right-hand sidebar of this site…

Pronoun Panic in Tennessee

People are panicking in Tennessee.

They are panicking about pronouns.

It all began when the University of Tennessee posted on its website a guide to what pronouns were acceptable at the university. This included the usual suspects of course plus a few extra pronouns which are commonly used amongst some transgender people.

(Those last ones, in case you are not familiar with them, are invented…

New Opportunities for TEFL Teachers in Cuba

It is only recently that diplomatic relations have been restored between the USA and Cuba and the consequences are already being felt.

Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, reports that teaching English is to become a priority for Cuba in the very near future with schools restarting language programs which were effectively halted in the 1970s when Cuba switched foreign language teaching from English to Russian.


Korea to Cut English Lessons

The Education Ministry in Korea wants to reduce the number of English language lessons in state schools by 30% within the next couple of years.

The ministry claim that the current workload for school students is just too much and wants to reduce it with English lessons being their main target along with Korean and Math. However, the plan is drawing a lot of criticism from educators and businesspeople…

Prisencolinensinainciusol – what does English sound like?

In 1972 the Italian singer Adriano Celentano released a song entitled Prisencolinensinainciusol which did something very special.

The lyrics were complete and utter gibberish except they sounded exactly like English does to an audience who don’t speak English.

Celentano deliberately wrote the “words” to sound as if he were singing English except, of course, they meant nothing.

“Ever since I started singing, I was very…

Thailand to recruit 4,000 new English teachers

The Thai government plans to recruit some 4,000 Filipino English teachers to head to Thailand and teach English there.

The idea will be discussed when Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha visits the Philippines.

Many of the teachers will be working in schools opened to help prepare for the ASEAN Economic Conferecne taking place there at the end of the year.

For more, see here…

TEFL Teachers deported from China

According to the CRI news agency, two TEFL teachers have been deported from China after they were found to be working illegally in Shanxi province.

Police arrested the two – a 59 year old American woman and a 25 year old Pakistani man – after raiding an English school which was not certified to employ foreigners and later deported them, banning their return to China.

Copyright and Photocopying in the TEFL Classroom

There is a persistent image that crops up again and again when it comes to teachers: a sad and lonely figure standing at a photocopier printing off a huge pile of material for their class.

But is that sad figure breaking the law? Could the teacher who supplies their class with copies of an Auden poem to analyze be fined?

This article looks at copyright and…

Terry Deary: Schools are “awful places”

One of the most popular children’s authors in the world today is Terry Deary.

After working as a teacher of English he began writing the massively successful Horrible Histories series.

In a very illuminating article in the British Daily Telegraph, he says:
“Now I never go into schools. They are awful places. They don’t teach anything worth knowing. I’m on a mission to get schools closed…

Thai Schools Check Teachers for Sex Offenses

A number of foreign teachers with records for sex offenses back home are working in Thailand as teachers of English, often teaching children.

The British Embassy in Bangkok recently approached the Thai Ministry of Education with names of suspect British teachers and since then the ministry is warning schools to be on the lookout for teachers with records of sex offenses in other countries working…

TEFL Teacher Fighting for Life in Taiwan

On June 26th this year, Alex Haas, an American TEFL teacher working in Taiwan, was badly injured in an explosion at a theme park in Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

Alex, along with some 500 others, was the innocent victim of a terrible accident when colored powder sprayed into the crowd suddenly burst into flames. He is suffering second and third degree burns on…

The Irony of Criticism in India

English teachers in the Punjab, India have recently come under scrutiny after their mistakes in English were paraded for all to see. The teachers took a test and produced English snippets such as:

“leak of interest”
“staff of our school was vacant”
“our school has situated remote area”

…and so on.

So there’s an obvious problem here and one which needs to…

Chinese? Then Study Abroad to boost your Social Status

If you are Chinese and want to improve your social standing it’s simple – just study English abroad.

A recent survey by the China Daily newspaper revealed how 61% of students wanted to study abroad simply to improve their social status back home while only 47% felt it would be good for their employment prospects.

Meanwhile the survey also revealed how many students were concerned about…

Keep the Classroom English

I’ve just been reading a very interesting article about language interference.

It recounts the story of a Chinese student in the US who, during a fluent English presentation, happened to glance over to her Chinese professor and accidentally used a simple Mandarin word instead of the corresponding English word.

Further studies showed that when we speak a language we have a lot of cultural baggage associated…

Morocco Urged to drop French for English

A major Moroccan think tank has urged the Moroccan government to drop French and bring in English in schools throughout the country.

The Rabat Center for Political and Strategic Studies understands that for any country to compete in the modern world it needs to have a strong base of English and Morocco – a former French colony – will not be able to compete without it…

Under Qualified English Teachers in Japan

Almost half the English teachers in Japanese high schools are not advanced speakers of English.

The education ministry has released a survey which shows that almost 50% of English teachers in high schools do not have advanced levels of English.

And the situation is even worse when it comes to junior-high schools with less than 30% qualified as advanced level speakers of English.

By 2017…

Teaching English in Scandinavia

Scandinavia is a collection of countries in Northern Europe with a common heritage. Although there are different definitions of which countries Scandinavia comprises, a good general list is:


Generally speaking the people of Scandinavia have a reputation for excellent linguistic skills. English is taught in state schools to a very high level and to work in…

ICAL Student Testimonials

Over the years we have collected a lot of positive feedback on our TEFL certification courses and now, with the students’ permission, we proudly share it with you.

I enjoyed the progression of the course modules that gradually encouraged students to create fully formed lesson ideas and to really analyze why they were choosing specific content to help students learn English. I currently teach at a…

Open English: teachers needed for USA

According to recent news reports, Open English, one of the major players in online English learning based in South America, is moving into the USA market.

Looking to target the 53 million Spanish speakers in the US, Open English has raised over $120 million to fuel the expansion and this means they are looking to employ more teachers for their online courses.
This is good news…

Make or Do a Presentation?

I was asked this question the other day by a learner of English; quite simply, do we MAKE or DO a presentation?

If you go online there are different stories, but as usual I went along to Google n-grams and checked out what they had to say.

It’s interesting. Prior to 1960 nobody really did anything with presentations. They didn’t often make, do, or give them. But soon…

China – a crisis point in getting new teachers

China is facing a crisis in English teachers this upcoming year.

With over 4,000 teachers needed in China, recruitment companies are finding it harder and harder to get well qualified and committed teachers.

There are two main reasons cited for the problem.

The government and teaching authorities are raising the standards required of foreign teachers, sometimes asking for as much as 5 years previous experience…

Fossilized Errors in TEFL

If you’re a TEFL teacher then chances are you have had to deal with Fossilized Errors in your classroom, especially if you deal with older students or those past the Beginners‏ stage.

Basically a fossilized error is a mistake a student has made so many times that it has becomes part of their natural speech.

This article, then, is all about how to deal with these kinds…

n-grams and TEFL

In the fields of computational linguistics an n-gram is a sequence of items from a corpus‏‎ of language.

An n-gram could be any combination of letters, phoneme‏s, syllable‏‎s or words‏‎, etc. Looking at n-grams is useful to help work out how language works and is used in everyday situations.

Google Books offers an n-gram search online. This allows users to see how a word, etc, is used. It…

The Most Common Words in English

In 1953 the General Service List was published. This was a list of about 2,000 most commonly used words in English. For many years this was used as a basis for materials writing.

This list was useful in learning because anyone who knew all the words on the list would understand about 90% of spoken general English and about 80% of written general English.

However, since…

ESOL – English to Speakers of Other Languages

ESOL is an acronym meaning English to Speakers of Other Languages.

It is all about people who do not have English as a mother tongue, learning English.

A more common term to ESOL is ESL which means English as a Second Language and refers to people learning English to live in an English speaking country, e.g.

immigrants who have moved to a new country…

Linking Verbs or Copulas

A linking verb links the subject of the sentence to more information about that subject (the predicate). A linking verb is also known as a copula (plural copulas or copulae.)

In English most verbs‏‎ describe an action. For example:
Sofia directs her new film
The verb here tells us what the subject does. However, a linking verb doesn’t describe an action, it describes the subject and gives us more information about…

Classroom Management

If only teaching were all about teaching and not about keeping order in the classroom or, as it’s sometimes known, Classroom Management.
A major part of teaching has nothing really to do with imparting information and helping your students learn. Instead it’s all about the lesson-to-lesson issues of running a class. This can be anything from late students, missing coursebooks‏‎, forgotten homework, noisy roadworks outside, malfunctioning air-conditioning and so on…

Chalkface – Chalk & Talk

Chalkface is a term believed to have been coined by Professor Ted Wragg in the Times Education Supplement in the 1980s. It is a reflection of coalface, the toughest point in coal mining where coal is hewn from rock.

Like the coalface, the chalkface is where the real, dirty, tough, hard work is carried out. All the planning and preparation leads to this point and it is here where…

Five Tips for your First Day of TEFL

It’s your first minute in front of a new class. You have a room of expectant faces looking up at you waiting.

First impressions count. If you stand there and falter the class will know what they’re dealing with. If you allow little Jimmy to answer his mobile phone then the class will know they can do what they want. If you don’t know what you are doing, they…

Accent, Dialect & Language in English

What is the difference between Accent, Dialect and Language?

This article looks at the differences between the three terms. People often confuse them and there is a certain degree of overlap (even linguists don’t always agree on what the difference is between them) but generally speaking we can talk about:
Accent is all about pronunciation. Two people may use the same grammar, the same syntax and…

A First Time English Teacher in Italy

Welcome to Ally – a former ICAL student – writing this guest post. Ally began her TEFL life after a career in banking; here she talks about her first experience teaching English which happened in a small town in northern Italy.

Living in Italy had been my dream for years, but I never wanted to go down the usual trodden paths – Tuscany, Umbria, Rome, Naples…

A First Private TEFL Lesson

You’ve been asked to give a private TEFL lesson to a new student. You know virtually nothing about them but you know you’ll be sitting in a room with them, one on one, for an hour and half.

This article is all about how to prepare for a First Private Lesson.
What Interests Them?
First lessons with private students are often difficult since before going into the…

TEFL to Adults vs TEFL to Children

Do children have all the advantages when it comes to learning a foreign language?

This article looks at the fundamental general differences between language learning amongst adults and children.

Talk to any family who have moved abroad with young children and you’ll soon find out that whilst the children have had no problem learning the language of the new country (and have often become almost bilingual)…

Get Ripped Off to teach in North Korea

You may have seen the ad in today’s press: North Korea has decided it needs to exploit some naive TEFL teachers to work in the country and teach tour guides how to speak to the hordes of visitors the country is expecting sometime in the future.

For this they approached Juche Travel Services (JTS) in the UK who are promoting the idea for them. However, despite insisting…

How to Murder your Teacher

Brain of the Day: An English teacher in Maryland, USA, has been forced to apologize after setting her English class an assignment where they had to use “3 gerunds, 3 infinitives, and 3 participles” to describe how they would kill her.

As anyone with any sense might have guessed, when parents discovered the topic they reacted immediately and badly. The teacher, Patricia Lorenzen, issued an immediate apology…

Principle vs Principal

At the —– School of English, we believe in the principals of accuracy, hard work and having fun.
I came across this snippet the other day whilst looking at a school website and it frightened me.

If they can’t spell properly, how can they believe in the idea of accuracy?

But it’s an easy mistake to make and you’ll find many people – not just learners but…

Korean Students Unhappy with English Classes

Almost 70% of Korean high school students are unhappy with their English lessons, according to the results of a new survey.

They typically say that what they are being taught is not what they need to learn and that they are leaving school without the essential tools to engage in the international sphere.

The study asked almost 1,000 students about their English lessons and the results…

Politics Cut from ELT Materials

In Japan, the Osaka board of education has cut material from its online course deeming it too political.

The board found the material objectionable and said it promoted the image of the mayor of Osaka to first year Junior High students.

The material was to be used for practicing the third person singular and included statements like these:
My name is Toru Hashimoto. I work hard…

HK Universities Snub Mainland China in English

In a move bound to upset mainland China,  2 top Hong Kong universities have rejected the Chinese CET test in favor of IELTS.

In future, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong will ask for student applicants to present their IELTS score instead of their Chinese based CET score.

The College English Test or CET is a foreign language test used…

Language is Dying Out and this Infographic is Proof

The statistics are frightening.
Language is dying out and this infographic proves it.
In less than 100 years at least 50% of the word’s languages will have disappeared and some linguists estimate that almost 90% of the world’s languages will have died out by then.
Right now there are 100 languages spoken by less than 10 people and 576 languages on the “endangered” list.
It is vitally important something be done.
If we were talking…

How My Teacher Saved My Teaching

My first term teaching was a disaster. It was many years ago but I remember it vividly as painful, awkward, and at times, frightening.

I had started my first EFL teaching job in October in a large language school in Athens (my first trip abroad). From the outset I decided that I wanted to be like my favorite teacher at school: I was going to be a good “friend”…

Who or Which or That?

People often confuse Who or Which or That and when they start to talk about when to use them, grammarians and supposedly learned people often talk rubbish.

Take these sentences for example:
The guy who stole your wallet was an actor.
The guy that stole your wallet was an actor.
The wallet that you lost was empty anyway!
The wallet which you lost was empty anyway!
Depending on who…

English Teacher Faces 5yrs Jail for Faking Degree

An English teacher in Poland is facing up to 5 years in jail after authorities discovered her teaching with a fake degree.

The unnamed woman taught English at various kindergarten schools for 5 years before being caught.

The degree was bought off an open air market in Lodz and the woman used it to obtain work in various schools in the Kutno area. Using a fake degree is…

What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?

At its simplest, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (aka Linguistic Relativity) says that language affects the way we see the world around us.
In other words, if you speak English like Benjamin Whorf (picture right, in black and white) you will think differently from Worf (picture right, in color) who speaks Klingon.Whorf and Worf will see the world differently not because they are different people, but because they use different languages.
But is this…

Top 3 Tips to Make the Most of your Online TEFL Course

We get thousands of students each year taking our online TEFL course and a lot of new trainees joining us don’t quite know what to expect so here are 3 simple tips to help you make the most of your training.
1. Use your Personal Tutor!
Our tutors are experienced, knowledgeable and have often taught in many different countries around the world. They know what they’re talking about!


How Many is a Billion?

Simple question: How many is a Billion?

Awkward Answer: It’s not always what you think it is.

First, if you are American, then a billion is one-thousand-million:
This is known as a short-scale billion.

However, many British people regard a billion as one-million-million:
Which is known as a long-scale billion.

This is despite the fact that “officially” in the UK since 1974…

English the Most Influential Language

A new study has mapped the global influence of different languages and as a surprise to absolutely no one, English comes out as the most important and influential language.

Russia, somewhat more surprisingly, comes in second with other languages following up well behind.

The data was collected by researchers at MIT and essentially looked at texts which had been translated from one language to another. They mapped the…

Buddhist Monk slaps English Teacher in Thailand

A Buddhist monk has slapped an English teacher across the face on a train in Thailand leading to questions about the spirituality of some monks.

The event was recorded on video and was posted online.

The facts are these. Jeff [last name not given] was traveling on a train between Bangkok and Phitsanulok in Thailand a few days ago when he was approached by two women who asked…

Illustrate: The Video Dictionary – app review

Essentially Illustrate – The Video Dictionary is a dictionary. But it does things slightly differently.
After you look up a word you have the option to watch a short animated video.
Let’s say you look up the word POUT. You see an explanation and there’s also the option to watch an animated video which helps illustrate the word: up pops Dad explaining to his daughter that he has to cancel their appointment…

Where have You Taught English?

Anyone who has taught English abroad knows that TEFL is a fantastic way to travel and experience life in different countries.

I started teaching three weeks after I graduated from university. I got on a plane and headed off to Spain and the start of an incredible journey which has seen me working in Spain, Italy, Thailand, India, Tunisia, Mexico and the UK.

I’ve had classes of 40…

Different Types of English in TEFL

When you teach English as a foreign language you don’t just teach “English”.

No, you teach a specific type of English depending on your class: different people need different English.

You can view this in the same way as dance. If you go to a dance class you don’t just learn to dance in general but instead learn Latin or Ballroom or Jazz or Modern, etc…

YouGov, Accents, and Misleading the Public

And the Ugliest British Accent is…
It’s raging through the British press: the ugliest accents in the UK are Scouse, the whining, whinge from Liverpool and the blocked nasal drone of Brummie from Birmingham!
And then, barely raising a surprised eyebrow, at the top of the scale with the most attractive accent is the soft, gentle lilt of Southern Ireland.
It’s all utter baloney of course but the papers won’t tell you that…

Making Questions with Do/Does/Did

This is all about Making Questions with DO or DOES or DID:
Do you like coffee?Does he speak Italian?Did she just ignore me?
A standard English statement follows this pattern:
{subject} + {verb}…
You + enjoy + swimming.Joe + lives + in New York.Amanda + worked + at the local supermarket.
If we want to make these kinds of statements into a question, we simply follow this pattern:
do/does/did + {subject} + {infinitive}…
Do + you +…


The International Accreditation of TESOL Qualifying Organisations or IATQuO is an accreditation organization for TEFL certificates and similar courses.
Currently IATQuO accredit 6 schools and have done for the past few years.
Note that IATQuO does not accredit online TEFL courses.
Although a limited company, IATQuO Ltd says on their website they are not-for-profit.
IATQUO was set up by Dr Alan Moller in 2004, after he retired from Trinity and the British Council. He…

Famous TEFL Teachers

Ever think that TEFL doesn’t lead anywhere?

If you have ever wondered what happens to all the TEFL teachers who close their grammar books for the final time and lock the classroom door behind them, then here’s a selection of former TEFL teachers who have made their way to fame (and sometimes infamy) and occasionally fortune, and have, in some cases, even won the respect and admiration of their…

IATEFL & the Accreditation Scam

We had an enquirer write to us the other day asking about our accreditation and IATFEL.
He could not decide which TEFL course to take: ours or another one. And one of the factors which worried him was that the other TEFL course was “accredited” by IATEFL.
Now you’ll notice I put “accreditation” in inverted commas. I did that quite simply because it was a scam.
And here’s why…
IATEFL – as you may…

This Will Revolutionize Teaching

For years they’ve been telling us that new technology will revolutionize teaching.

First it was film. Then radio. Then TV. Then video. Then computers. Then MOOCs…

And they were wrong. Wrong every time. Wrong all the time.

In this insightful video from Derek Muller he explains that the reason why all these ideas failed was simple: they got the role of a teacher wrong.

You see…

Purposely vs Purposefully

This one crops up all the time. Someone writes something like:
I made that mistake purposefully.She stood there purposely and refused to let me pass.
And all the grammar fiends come down on them for such basic errors.
So once and for all, here’s the difference between these two words.
purposely = intentionally = on purpose
Beckham purposely kicked the Argentinian player.Beckham intentionally kicked the Argentinian player.Beckham kicked the Argentinian player on purpose.
In other words…

Chinese Whispers: Offensive or Not?

We have a TEFL teaching activity on our site called Chinese Whispers or Telephone.

Some say it’s a demeaning and offensive title, if not outright racist. Others say it’s fine and that it’s ridiculous to question it.

So opinion is divided which means, of course, that we need to ask the question outright and try and find an answer for sure: Is the name Chinese Whispers…

Is TEFL in China really a Scam?

There’s a lot of hype these days about TEFL teaching in China. This poll is to try and find out what the truth is.
Some say that it’s full of scams and if you go to China through an agent you are destined to be ripped off and end up being deported for the wrong visa, the wrong qualifications or some other reason.
Others say that it’s perfectly safe and there’s no…

How to Get a TEFL Certificate Online

If you want to teach English abroad then the two basic qualifications you need are a degree* and a TEFL certificate.

Twenty years ago if you wanted a TEFL certificate this meant spending several weeks at bricks-and-mortar school, attending class in the traditional way, taking your exam and then hopefully coming away with your certificate at the end of that time.

Nowadays thanks to online learning…

Worcestershire Sauce Fail (TEFAL)

It’s doing the rounds of the internet – an Italian YouTube chef shows how frustrating and impossible the English language can sometimes be.

In the video quite simply he just wants to say “Worcestershire Sauce”.

But Pasquale Sciarappa fails and in the end he gets fed up and comments, “I don’t know what kind of country this came from, but I’m Italian – so I’ll read…

Saudi to Sack All English Teachers

According to an Emirates expat site (link below) the Saudi government is preparing to sack all native English teachers from state schools.

This is part of the ongoing plan to nationalize teaching jobs.

The government will not extend the job contracts for all foreign English language teachers in the next scholastic year as part of Saudization of teaching jobs in the country the Okaz Arabic language newspaper said…

Irish teacher denied job in Korea due to “Irish Alcoholism”

Are you a well qualified English teacher? Great. Are you Irish? Not so great. You must be an alcoholic.

An experienced English teacher has been denied a job in Seoul simply because she was Irish and the school decided that all Irish people are alcoholics.

Katie Mulrennan (26) is an English teacher from Ireland with 3 years experience teaching English abroad in Spain, the UK and…

“Incapable & Unfit” English Teachers

The Malaysian Education minister recently revealed that two-thirds of the English teachers in the country were either “incapable” or “unfit” to teach in schools.

Following the revelation there’s been a lot of soul searching in the country as to where the blame lies and what can be done about it.

On one side the teachers themselves are being blamed. Reports of appalling grammar, barely recognizable English…

All About Shall (vs Will)

When we talk about the future, most often we’ll use words like will or be going to:
They will arrive tomorrow afternoon.
I’m going to see the match.
However, there is an alternative: shall.

These days, people often talk about shall as though it’s on its way out and that before long it’ll be consigned to the garbage heap along with other archaic words like foresooth and verily but…

More than 1 Octopus?

An octopus has 8 legs. Or arms, depending on your point of view. The name octopus comes from Ancient Greek and is made up of 2 parts:
ὀκτώ = okto = 8πούς = pous = foot/leg
So octopus is originally Greek. Remember that, it has implications later in this article!
Now when there is more than just one octopus confusion arises over how to make the plural. There are possibilities here and these…

The ICAL TEFL Site Mobile

The ICAL TEFL site is popular, no doubt about it, with thousands of visitors each day. But we did start to accumulate some criticism.

It wasn’t about the content but about the design. We found that everyone was quite happy looking at the site on a modern desktop computer. The general consent was that it was clear and easy to read and the information was there for…

On Foot vs By Foot

Oh language! Do we want to go down the route of there being no rules, just a few nebulous suggestions which change over time? Are we like the freethinking parents at sports day who declare that every child wins because they are all special? Or are we on the side of traditionalists who don’t split infinitives‏‎ and who think anyone using a preposition at the end…

TEFL to Blind & Visually Impaired Students

This article looks at a few ideas you should bear in mind if you have blind or visually impaired students in your TEFL class.

Over the years we at ICAL TEFL have had a number of blind and visually impaired teacher trainees taking our course and we have worked with them in preparing material and instruction based on their individual needs. We have also had sighted teacher…

ICAL TEFL Course 150hr with Practicum – Syllabus

This page has the full syllabus for the ICAL TEFL Course 150hr with Practicum (Teaching Practice),
Course Syllabus
Module 1
In this first module, we introduce the subject of English Language Teaching. The module begins right at the beginning by talking about what it means to be an English teacher. It then brings in some basic ideas, words and concepts you will need to know to do the job.
We realize that many students…

Thai Leader Rescues English Teachers

At first there was concern amongst TEFL teachers in Thailand after recent crackdowns aimed at preventing teachers without the correct residence permit from working in the country.
It was reported in early August that border guards were pulling aside English teachers making their regular visa runs and some feared they would not be allowed back into the country to continue teaching, having instead to leave there and then.
But then it all…

American TEFL Teachers & Tax

For many Americans teaching abroad, the first year away can be both exciting and challenging.

Hopefully, however, filing your US tax return will not be one of the challenges!

The following FAQ addresses some basic tax-related questions for American teachers. (Note, for a more general look at TEFL and tax, see the article Taxation for English Teachers Abroad).
Do I Need to File a Tax Return?
Almost certainly…

Tougher Laws for TEFL Teachers in China

From October 31st, 2014 new regulations come into force in China which will affect all TEFL teachers.
Notably teachers will now need a TEFL certificate to prove they have qualifications to teach English.
In future, all English teachers will need:

a bachelor’s degree
a clean criminal record
to be aged between 18-60
a TEFL certificate

This final requirement for a TEFL certificate has been put in place to try and deter the “backpacker” type of teacher from…

Undercover TV Reports on English Teachers in China

Chinese Central Television CCTV, went undercover to report on how English schools in the country often employ under-qualified teachers without the official paperwork.
This video report from CCTV shows what happened and promises further official crackdowns on illegal teachers.
Many teachers don’t have the correct local teaching license or employment certificate. This often happens because of the huge demand for teachers in China and the slowness of the official channels in issuing…

New Regulations for Thailand

Using Thai security concerns as an excuse, the Teachers’ Council of Thailand (TCT) has announced (on 5th August 2014) that they will be setting up a database of foreign teachers in Thailand. Meanwhile The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has voiced concerns about the granting of licenses to foreign teachers.
The TCT database is expected to include teacher details including the school where they are working, their visas, qualifications…

Irish ELT Schools in Turmoil

The Irish ELT business is in turmoil following the closure of a number of English language schools after allegations of visa fraud.
Hundreds of students were affected by the fraud and the Irish government is stepping in to try and regulate the market.
Ruairi Quinn, the Irish Minister for Education, has said that from next year a new accreditation body will be used to make sure English schools in Ireland were genuine…

Hearing Phantom Free – app review

“Do you wanna be a hero with magic power?”
The blurb tells you that this is the first Android game which uses your voice to control the action. Actually, to be precise, it says this is the first game which uses your voice to “control, navigate the action. Hope it’s funny!”
It’s billed as being an aid to pronunciation helping you learn and practice. Having played the game for a while in…

More ESOL Testing Scams in the UK

Back in February, the British Government suspended all TOEIC testing in the UK after it was revealed the exam was being scammed.
Well it’s back again. An investigation by the British Daily Mail newspaper has revealed how people who do not speak English can buy a ‘pass’ on an English language test for  which opens the door for them to get UK citizenship.
The scam takes place in a testing center where…

English Grammar – app review

Quite simply, English Grammar by Emantra Technologies is not worth downloading and installing on your tablet or smartphone. In fact, it appears to be little more than a sparse, poorly written grammar guide put into an app full of incredibly annoying and intrusive pop-up adverts.
We installed it on a Nexus 10 tablet, gathered around and gradually became more and more incredulous as we used it.
Language Problems
Any grammar of English written…

Learn English 6000 Words – app review

The backbone of learning a language is learning vocabulary and this android app aims to simplify that. As it says on the tin, it helps learners get to grips with 6,000 English words so theoretically if you spend hours upon hours upon hours trawling through the whole app you will hopefully increase your vocabulary.
However there’s a good chance you’ll also become bored out of your mind and quite possibly forget…

Morocco Universities move to English

Morocco is set to change its university system, making English the main foreign language taught there.
Currently universities in the country concentrate on French, but the Moroccan Minister for Higher Education announced late last week that in future universities will give preference to English to bring Morocco in line with most other countries and secure a place for the country in the global business community.
In future, Moroccan students will need to…

Summer Jobs for TEFL/TESOL Teachers

How do you fancy teaching English in the sunshine? A few weeks over in Italy or Mexico or somewhere else nice and hot, teaching in the morning then changing into your swimwear to grade homework while you lie on the beach?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the idyll of a summer job teaching English is unlikely, if not impossible. And this article explains why.
Usual Term Times…

Gambia Shuns English

Yahya Jammeh, the president of Gambia, has said the country will move away from English.
“We no longer subscribe to the belief that for you to be a government you should speak English language. We should speak our language,” he said during the swearing-in ceremony of Gambia’s new Chief Justice which aired on state-run Gambia Television Services last week.
This is part of a general policy of moving away from the West…

Advanced Learning to be Banned in Korea?

The Korean parliament is set to decide on a Bill to ban all private education outside the state system in Korea.

The private education market is worth around 18 billion dollars, but it is at odds with the Korean President’s policy of promoting the state education system.

The Bill, if passed, would ban so-called “advanced learning” (or private tuition) of the state curricula which would include English…

TEFL Job Sites

There are a several good job sites for TEFL teachers. There are also a lot of terrible sites which charge money to join and offer nothing in return.

The sites we list on this page have been carefully reviewed by our expert panel and offer worthwhile jobs for TEFL teachers.

If you are looking for work, remember it’s worth going back to these sites on a daily basis…

Bad Reporting of the Day: All Commas will Die!

A professor of comparative English at Columbia university said that commas should be abolished. He said we should get rid of them and no one would care. He says we should kill them. Destroy them. Take each one and murder it in cold blood.

And the reaction? Pages of internet newsprint devoted to the story and angry responses from members of the public leading to personal attacks on the…

TOEIC Suspended in the UK after Scam

The UK government has suspended all TOEIC testing in the UK after a TV investigation showed how the system was riddled with fraud with fake sitters taking the test on behalf of English language students.

The investigation by Panorama (a respected BBC investigative program) uncovered how immigrants to the UK were able to buy a pass in the TOEIC test which they could then use to get a visa to stay in…

Apostrophes Return to Cambridge

Earlier in the year we reported on how Cambridge city council in the UK had decided not to use apostrophes in street signs and how examiners for Cambridge Assessment (the ones who do all the TEFL exams) had supported this idea.

It was, of course, ridiculous of them to do so.

You see, the idea that an examining board could condone bad English in some situations but mark…

English Language Tourism Booming in Malta – hopefully!

English Language Tourism is a booming industry in Malta. Kermenu Vella, Minister for Tourism, said that 1 in 18 visitors to Malta were there to study English.

Estimates also put spending by students at €145 million in 2013 – a rise of €10 million from the previous year. The minister was speaking at the AGM of FELTOM – Malta’s primary organization of English language schools. This year FELTOM marks…

English Teacher Suspended for Explicit Lyrics in the Classroom

An English teacher in Florida has been suspended after giving their 8th grade class (13-15 year olds) explicit lyrics to analyze.

The students were having problems understanding concepts such as puns, similes, and metaphors so rather than continue using more traditional material to explain them, the teacher brought in the lyrics to Lil Wayne’s song, 6 Foot 7 Foot which contain a number of taboo words.

Parents complained and…

Five Million New Teachers needed Around the World

A United Nations report published this week says that at least 250 million school aged children cannot read and that over 5 million new teachers are needed to teach them.

This follows a goal in 2000 of giving every child a primary school education by 2015. A goal which has been utterly missed with children still working, begging and lacking decent basic school opportunities.

Roughly half of those…

Learn English through the Quran

A new book just published aims to teach English to students using the Quran, the holy book of Islam.

Written by Zahra Agha Mohammad and published in Iran, the book is aimed at students of Religious Studies who need to learn English.

Entitled, Teaching English Grammar Through the Holy Verses of the Glorious Quran, through 14 sections it teaches grammar through studying the Quran with exercises and grammatical…

Teaching English in the Balkans

TEFL/TESOL in the Balkans
The Balkans is a generic term for an area in south east Europe with a rapidly growing demand for English teachers.
The reason is historical. Many of the states here were occupied for many centuries and it’s only in the past 20 years or so that they have become truly independent.
Some states, such as Greece‏‎, traditionally looked to the west (and English) whilst others, such as Bulgaria‏‎, used to look…

ICAL People

This page is all about the people who work at ICAL. To get in touch with anyone here, please see our contact page.
ICAL Staff
Jenny Scott – Jenny has worked for ICAL for the past few years and deals mainly with our online presence. She handles our social media and also writes and collates our TEFL News section.
Pete West – Pete is an ICAL veteran! She has worked with ICAL since the…

English Teacher Humiliates Students

An English teacher is under investigation after allegedly humiliating two year-4 students, forcing them to wear bells and mocking them as cows.

The incident took place in Sungkai in Malaysia. The two year-4 children failed to bring in their English homework so their teacher firstly made them wear bells around their necks; then called them cows; then pulled out handfuls of grass and tried to make them eat it, threatening…

Missing Apostrophes Don’t Worry Cambridge Examiners

Like other cities in the UK, Cambridge City Council are not going to bother with apostrophes in street names anymore.
In the future, then, you might well see “Brookes Drive” and “Paxmans Close” instead of the grammatically correct, “Brooke’s Drive” and “Paxman’s Close”.
“Removing apostrophes from street names in Cambridge is unlikely to have an effect on English learning standards worldwide,” said Roger Johnson, an executive of Cambridge Assessment, who provide English…

India pushing English Books

“India may dream in Hindi, sleep in Hindi, but it aspires to read in English.”
So says Aditi Maheshwari, Director Vani Publications. And this leads to the Indian Publishing industry (currently worth about $1.6 billion) looking to publish more titles in English.
At this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival, talk was about English and the publishing industry in India. And with a predicted growth of 30% a year, it’s an industry worth keeping…

English Lessons lead to the Olympics

Who knows where English classes can lead?
For Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson it has led to the Olympics. Her English teacher at school was passionate about curling and so he organized a one off English class which took place on the ice rink. The students were so enthusiastic that it became a regular weekly lesson for the class.
This has led to Sigfridsson becoming the captain of her country’s national team at the 2014 Olympics…

US Education Department Fails Language Learners

“US students who speak a language other than English at home and are still learning English have received scant support from the federal Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.”
So says a report published by the University of Colorado a few days ago. The report is highly critical of the education these students are getting and predicts major problems in the future as emerging bilingual students are the fastest growing student group in…

US Education Department Fails Language Learners

“US students who speak a language other than English at home and are still learning English have received scant support from the federal Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.”

So says a report published by the University of Colorado a few days ago. The report is highly critical of the education these students are getting and predicts major problems in the future as emerging bilingual students are the fastest…

The Lifespan of Words in English

Did you know that even words have a life span? This ranges from 1,000 years to 20,000 years.
A word like “throw” is expected to have a lifespan of about 1,000 years, while words like “I” and “who” are likely to reach the 20,000 year mark.
Until recently the life span of a word was known to be around 9,000 years.
In May 2013 researchers from the University of Reading in the United…

Vietnam Desperate to find Decent English Teachers

A number of schools in Ho Chi Min City (HCM, the largest city in Vietnam) are struggling to find English teachers.

Originally the HCM City municipal Department of Education and Training tried to recruit 100 English teachers from the Philippines to teach at Primary and Secondary level. However they have only managed to find 13 so far with another 26 slated to arrive soon.

But finding…

Student for a Day

What an excellent idea this is!
I came across this blog article the other day on how several teachers in Vermont, USA, spent the day as students in their school. As it says on the tin, they simply went into school as students instead of teachers and spent the day sitting in class listening, queueing for lunch, hanging around lockers, smoking in the toilets (well, maybe not that last one) and…

Basketball Legend Promotes English Teaching in China

Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming has joined up with a teaching agency in China to help provide English teaching and hopefully give the students opportunities they badly need.

“Lots of places in China’s west are indeed short of educational resources … The lack of teachers is a particularly serious problem, which cannot be solved within one or two years,” said Yao. Part of the deal will be to offer…

Lexical Distance

Lexical Difference shows how languages are related in terms of vocabulary.
As a simple example, the English word bread is very similar to the German‏‎ word, Brot and both of them derive from the same root. However the Italian‏‎ for bread is pane which is very different. (In fact, about 80% of the most commonly used English words come from Germanic roots.)
The graphic (top right) shows the lexical difference between the main European languages.

Jakarta to Keep English Lessons

Elementary schools in Jakarta, Indonesia will be offering English as an extracurricular activity only while elementary schools elsewhere in Indonesia will not have English on the curriculum at all.
The announcement, made late last year (December 2013) means that English lessons at Elementary school level will either not be offered at all or limited to just one hour a week as an extracurricular activity in Jakarta schools. Regular English lessons will…

Your Nationality when Teaching Abroad

This article answers a question we’re asked quite a lot: do you have to give up your nationality or citizenship when you go and work in another country?

The simple answer which applies 99.9% of the time is: No.

The rest of this article explores this topic in more detail.

As an example, suppose you are a citizen of the United States and you hold…

Intonation in Practice – intonation activity

Intonation in Practice is a simple exercise which you can do with almost any class to help them understand what intonation‏‎ is and how it works in English. It’s easily adaptable to all learner levels‏ and abilities.

Explain that in English you have to give stress (or emphasis) to certain words to deliver certain meanings. Go through a brain storming session to elicit some of the feelings we can convey through the appropriate intonation: disappointment, excitement, anger…

Norwegian vs English

This article looks at different aspects of Norwegian compared to English for TEFL teachers with Norwegian students.
It’s often said that Norwegian is closely related to English and if you know one language it is easy to pick up the other. 
However, there are differences and if you are an English teacher in Norway then the kinds of errors you might come across from your students may well look like these.
Like English, Norwegian is…

Teaching English in America

When it comes to teaching English in America (or the Americas as it’s sometimes known), there are two main groups of countries. This page offers an overview of working in America with links to more specific information on each country where you can read about how best to find work, qualifications you need, pay and working conditions along with a little general information on the lifestyle in those countries…

Teaching Proverbs in TEFL

Proverbs are simple sayings which are used to show common sense and popular wisdom. They are regarded generally as informal rather than formal language. Thus they’re mostly used in common everyday spoken language.

There are hundreds and hundreds of proverbs in modern English‏‎ (and of course in other languages) but a few common examples include:
An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.
Honesty is the best policy.
Two wrongs…

Jailed in China: an American English Teacher

An American English teacher at a university has been jailed in China for stealing over $14,000 from a colleague.

Foster, an American teaching English in Guangzhou in China, broke into his colleague’s room where he stole over $14,000 in cash and travellers checks in April this year.

The following morning, Foster was arrested. The money was returned to the victim who reportedly said, “I have been in China…

US Teacher Jailed in China

An American English teacher at a university has been jailed in China for stealing over $14,000 from a colleague.

Foster, an American teaching English in Guangzhou in China, broke into his colleague’s room where he stole over $14,000 in cash and travellers checks in April this year. The following morning he was arrested. The money was returned to the victim who reportedly said, “I have been in…

Teach and Travel as an English Teacher Abroad

Do you want to travel the world? Experience what other cultures have to offer? Visit the greatest sights on Earth?

Well English teachers working abroad get to do that.

As a teacher you can work right across the world and experience some incredible places and cultures. Quite simply this article explains how many teachers live their lives, teaching and traveling around the world.

And how…

Why MOOCs Fail

A recent article in the New York Times has highlighted a number of disturbing statistics that shake the current craze for those free online educational courses known as MOOCs.

Basically put, an appalling number of students are dropping out. MOOCs are being abandoned in droves. But why is this happening and how can it be reversed?

about 50% of MOOC students don’t look at any material…

Teaching English in Yugoslavia

TEFL/TESOL in Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia was formed in 1918 and existed through most of the 20th century. For much of this time it was ruled by the communist General Tito who tended to distance his country from the west.

Following his death internal tensions rose and the country divided and broke up into various states. In general those states began to look to the west and learning English.


Teaching English in Korea

Korea is an East Asian territory that is divided into two distinct and very different countries: North Korea & South Korea. Both sit on the Korean Peninsula.

There are many, many thousands of English teachers working in South Korea. Although they are mainly American, you can find many different nationalities here. In general you’ll need a degree and a good TEFL Certificate to teach in the south…

English Teacher turns to Crime

An English teacher in Hong Kong turned to crime to recover some $10,000 HK ($1,200 US).

Jesse Leigh James (24) from South Africa, a kindergarten teacher, claimed he was owed money by Australian James Dawson after they had organized a party together. Initially Dawson claimed he had no money to pay so James ignored the debt. Until, that is, he met up with Russian computer programmer Sasha Palatnikov (24)…

Teaching English in Kyrgyzstan

TEFL/TESOL in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It was under Soviet control for almost 80 years until it became independent in 1991.
During Soviet control the language of choice was Russian (along with native Kyrgyz) and today it is still an official language.
However after independence English became more important and there is a drive to teach and learn English with teachers in high demand.
Finding TEFL Work
At the moment, English is…

Expat English Teachers

There are many reasons why people move abroad, but it often happens that someone abroad is looking for work and stumbles over the idea of teaching English. This article is a quick guide for expats thinking about teaching English as a part-time or full-time job while they are abroad.

But first, a quick word on who we are talking about here; that is, the kind of people…

Teaching English in the Caribbean

Many of the countries in the Caribbean have English as an official language and there is little or no need for TEFL teachers, especially as ELL tourism hasn’t really taken off here.

However, there are still options with some of the islands Spanish speaking and thus with openings for TEFL teachers.

In general, although there are some volunteer positions which may take you with less qualifications, you will…

Teaching English in Latin America

TEFL/TESOL in Latin America
Latin America is the part of America where Romance languages are spoken. This is mainly Spanish and Portuguese (and can include French).
It is a very popular destination among American teachers, however you also find other nationalities heading there. There are many teaching opportunities, especially for newly qualified teachers.
Loosely speaking it is made up of several regions: Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. (And some countries there speak English, but are often…

Teaching English in Central America

Central America is a very popular destination for American teachers (but you will certainly find other nationalities there).

Conditions tend to be fairly basic and sometimes you will find schools lack the most essential facilities, especially in poorer districts.

The usual qualifications to teach in Central America are a degree and a good TEFL certificate. In some countries you may also be able to find work without a degree‏‎ although a TEFL…

Varieties of English Spelling

There are several major varieties of English‏‎: American, British, Australian and so on.

This article looks at differences in spelling between these. It is a general guide which covers the majority of cases, however remember that there are exceptions which will need to be taught to your TEFL class on an as-needs basis.

On that note, in general it does not matter which variety of English spelling…

Teaching English in South America

South America is a very popular destination for new TEFL teachers. Generally speaking it’s popular mostly with American teachers but you will certainly find other nationalities there.

Although some jobs are advertised online, many schools in South America do not have an internet presence so they tend to rely on more local contacts. Often you stand the best chance of finding work if you are actually in country.


Teaching English in Israel

When you start your expatriate life in Israel, you will join around 7.7 million people currently living there. The majority of the population has settled in the coastal plain, along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Considering the country’s urbanization rate of over 90%, it shouldn’t surprise you that the most populous areas are the three cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Yafo, and Haifa.

Israel is a predominantly…

Pearson invests $720 million in Brazil in English Education

The British Pearson group is buying Grupo Multi, the largest provider of private language education in Brazil, in a major move into education in South America.Peason will pay $720 million in cash to buy the company which currently has over 800,000 students and last year posted a profit of almost $70 million. This in a country with around 25% living below the poverty line.Some see this as a move to…

Fears for ESL Collapse in NSW Australia

Fears are growing in that ESL programs are likely to close leading to a loss of jobs for ESL teachers but also increased difficulties for immigrant and refugee students who will not have the opportunity to learn English.
Proposed budget changes in NSW, Australia are likely to leave schools without funding for ESL. Academics and representatives are up in arms but the government seems unlikely to budge on this issue.
Since 1969…

ICAL & Bitcoin

In keeping with the innovative stance we have towards technology (we offered the first fully online <?php $session =& JFactory::getSession(); echo $session->get(‘tefl’); ?> course back in 1998) ICAL are now accepting Bitcoin payment for our all of our online courses.
We are the very first online <?php echo $session->get(‘tefl’); ?> teacher training provider to offer this service.
Simply email gen@icaltefl.com and tell us which course you’d like and we will send you the special code…

The Second Most Important Language to Learn

English is the most important language anyone can learn today. That’s not really in question as it dominates the world. But what is the second most useful language anyone can know?
The British Council published a list today of which languages are the most important after English and here it is.


The list was compiled based on economic, political and cultural factors and the UK has a worrying lack of people able…

More English Teachers Needed in Japan!

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan may seem a long way off, but in Japan the Tokyo authorities are already beginning to plan for the influx of foreign tourists and athletes.

And the first step is increasing the number of English teachers in the country.

Right now in Tokyo state schools there are just 5 native English speaking assistants. This is set to increase to 100 next year…

Malaysia Under Fire for Squandering Money on English Teachers

The Malaysian Education Ministry is under fire after results from state school tests showed an overall decline in English standards despite recent massive spending on training from the British Council, the Brighton Education Group and the SMR HR Group.”There is absolutely no justification for this type of expenditure,” says MP Zairil Khir Johari who is questioning what happened to the $84m investment.Between 2011 and 2013 the Education Ministry gave some…

School Driver Tapes Students’ Mouths Shut

A bus driver in Maine, USA, has been suspended after complaints she made noisy students put duct tape over their mouths to keep them quiet.

The driver worked for the First Student bus service and ferried children from Surrey Elementary School in Surrey, Maine. Apparently she either taped up loud students herself of passed the tape around and had the students tape their own mouths shut…

British English teacher dies in Thailand

British English teacher Roy Tucker, aged 49, died of a heart attack last Friday in Bang Saray, Thailand. He was an English teacher in several Satthip District public schools.

Mr Tucker was with his girlfriend at the time and suffered from heart problems for which he was taking medication. After feeling pains in his chest Mr Tucker took some of his prescription pills however they were not effective. Doctors…

Headway Scholarships Go Global

Headway is one of the most popular ELT coursebooks around today with sales topping 70 million. The authors have recently announced an extension to their scholarship program helping 2 teachers a year in their professional development in the UK.
Since 2004 the authors (John & Liz Soars) have funded scholarships for 2 TEFL teachers each year to spend a couple of weeks studying in Oxford. Originally recipients had to live and…

UK Spends £6m to Teach English Unconventionally

The UK government has awarded £6m ($9.5m or €7m) to various projects teaching English to non-native speakers in the country.
The projects are aimed at some 24,000 speakers in so-called ‘priority areas’ in London, the Midlands and the North of the country where many immigrant groups do not speak English.
One hundred and twenty four projects were put forward for funding where they were tasked with putting English into everyday life for…

The Word Which Unites the World!

{youtube}qndzu04oWpY{/youtube}Q: Which word unites the world?A: Huh?
In English we say, Hello, and in Italian they say, Ciao, and in Greek they say, Gia, and on and on. Even the universal act of greeting has a thousand different forms in a thousand different languages.
But Dutch researchers have claimed to have found a single word which exists in all languages. And that word is Huh.
Exactly. Or I could say, “But how could…

How to Cite Online Sources

We often get asked if users can quote parts of our resource library in their own work. This page explains how you can do this and more generally, how any online source can be cited in your work.
Quoting ICAL TEFL Resources
The resources on this site are free to use. You can quote them in any reasonable way in your work (although copyright, of course, remains with ICAL). You can…

Foreign Students reach Record Numbers in US

A report released today shows how the number of foreign students studying in the US has reached and all time high, up by about 40% from 10 years ago and up 7% from last year. This accounts for about 4% of the total student population and contributes almost $25 billion to the economy.
The number of foreign students coming to the US declined following 9/11 but has since built back up

Personal Websites for TEFL Teachers

More and more these days we’re asked about websites for teachers. Are they a good idea? Do they work? Why are they necessary?
This article looks at why teachers might need a website, what you can do with your website and then how to create it.
And no special computer programming knowledge required!
Do you Need a TEFL Website?
This is the first question to ask. Most teachers don’t have websites and many don’t…

Christian Teachers for Thailand

The Church of Christ Thailand have signed a memorandum of understanding to recruit English teachers from the Nagaland Mission Movement based in northern India.
According to CCT the need for English teachers is paramount. To overcome the shortage they will hire teachers based on 3 main criteria:

belief in Jesus Christ
good knowledge of English
bachelor degree in any discipline

New teachers will go through 6 months of orientation followed by 18 months of teaching.

Can we trust the English First Rankings?

English First (EF) have just released their EPI or English Proficiency Index. Essentially it is an analysis of English language ability in countries around the world. But how truthful is it? After just a quick look there are some real concerns that what they’ve done is incredibly unreliable.

They’ve produced this report for the past few years and many newspapers take the findings and repeat them verbatim as news…

Shanghai Favorite for Expats in China

Shanghai (Hu for short, also known as Shen) has again topped the list of preferred cities in China for expats.

The survey was published by the Beijing magazine International Talent Monthly and the China Association for International Exchange of Personnel. Some 72,000 expats participated in the annual survey and again, Shanghai came out on top.

The top 10 cities for expats in China are:


Stave off Dementia with a Second Language

A recent study has found that people who speak more than just one language and who develop dementia, tend to do so up to 5 years later in life than those who speak just one language.
The study looked at some 650 sufferers of dementia and analyzed when they first developed it and how many languages they spoke. In general, those who spoke more than 1 language developed dementia later in…

English Teachers PD in Afghanistan

The Afghan government has signed a major deal with the British Council in Afghanistan to begin training over 16,000 teachers in the country. This is designed to help facilitate the country’s move towards offering an English language university curriculum.
“We are very pleased that the British Council is able to support the future generations of Afghanistan and we are happy and committed to support these educational programmes,” Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai…

English Block for Milan

The prestigious Milan Polytechnic has been delivered a blow in its attempt to teach all postgraduate courses in English. A local court has ruled that making English obligatory is not constitutional and courses must be delivered in Italian.

Both students and the Polytechnic administration are frustrated with this blow. They see English as a way of advancing the status of the courses and the opportunities of students…

Teacher Flips Out – Swears at Student

I think we’ve all been there (at least in our heads, even if we didn’t say what we were thinking).

A teacher in California was giving a class on race and ethnicity. A student kept heckling and interrupting. The teacher had enough and suddenly flipped out, swearing at the student and finally telling her to “get the fuck out” at which point the student (who was recording…

Interchange (book)

Interchange is a four-level, multi-skills English series for adult and young-adult learners. It was written by Jack C Richards and is published by Cambridge University Press‏‎ (CUP) and is currently in its 4th edition.
The series comprises a large number of components. There are 4 levels confusingly called:

Level 1
Level 2
Level 3

So if you are starting out, make sure you get the Intro before you move on to Level 1. A number…

Controlling Your Classroom Through Enthusiasm, not Fear

In this guest blog, Tom Fitton explains how to approach teaching so that the students – and you – get the most out of the experience.

The basic rules of human motivation tell us that everything we do is in the pursuit of something enjoyable or the avoidance of something unpleasant and children attending ESL classes are certainly no exception to this rule.

While it is certainly possible…

TEFL Certificates to Teach English

A TEFL Certificate is the basic qualification you need to teach English as a foreign language or teach English as a second language.

This means, if you want to teach English abroad, you’ll need a TEFL certificate. In addition, many jobs also require a degree (however, if you don’t have a degree you can still sometimes find work – see the links below for more on this)…

329 Ways to avoid getting Ripped Off in China

There have been a lot of problems with teachers getting ripped off in China by unscrupulous agents and illegal agents.

In fact, one reliable estimate from the CFTU (more on them later) is that only around 20% of agents in China are authorized and legal – the other 2,000 or so agents are illegal and unauthorized!

And these illegal agents are making a LOT of money…

Teaching English in the Middle East

TEFL/TESOL in the Middle East
The Middle East is traditionally where the best paying jobs have been found for English teachers.
However, in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring of 2012 there have been increasing demands for the “Arabification” of teaching in Arab countries and learning English is seen partly as a political act with Arabic‏‎ being more desired. Whether this will have much long term effect remains to be seen.
In general…

Teaching English in Europe

Europe, for TEFL‏‎ teachers, can be divided into several distinct areas. These sometimes overlap. For a list of individual countries and the TEFL situation in each of them, see below.
English-Speaking Countries
In other words, the United Kingdom and Ireland‏‎. There is a demand for English teachers here, mainly dealing with short-term groups of foreign students who come for a short course to learn English. Usually jobs are filled by…

Teaching English in Asia

Asia has some of the major world destinations when it comes to TEFL teaching.

China is the new big player in this field and thousands of English teachers work there from all the English speaking countries (as well as a notable number of non-native speakers as well from other countries). With a longer history of welcoming English teachers, the other big players in this region are South Korea, Japan…

Teaching English in Africa

TEFL/TESOL in Africa
To read about teaching English in specific countries in Africa, see below.
Generally speaking Africa can be divided into several distinct areas when it comes to English teaching.
There are a great number of schools across North Africa from Morocco‏‎ in the west across to Egypt‏‎ in the east. (And then on to the Middle East after that.) Although there are a few universities in this belt most jobs are in…

Qualify to Teach English in India

Do you want to teach English in India?

With ICAL TEFL you can become qualified to teach English. The ICAL TEFL Certificate is your key to getting a teaching job, earning money and making a difference!

This course is ideal if you want to teach English in India. It is the basic qualification for teachers of English as a Second language.

With this course you will learn the…

Qualify to Teach English in China

Do you want to teach English in China?
With ICAL TEFL you can take our TEFL Certificate Course and learn how to teach English and get the most from yourself AND your students!
This course is ideal if you want to teach English in China. It is the basic qualification for teachers of English as a Second language.
With this course you will learn the latest methods and ideas for teaching English. At…

Turkish Teacher of English Denied Entry to Britain

An English teacher married to a Scottish native has been denied entry into Britain because allegedly she has no proof that she has “a basic grasp of the English language”.

Turkish native Jilda Clark and husband of 22 years, Scottish academic Dr Philip Clark, had been planning to emigrate to Scotland with their two children in order to be closer to Dr Clark’s elderly parents but this plan now…

UK Relaxes Rules For ESL Immigration

Following a U-turn in UK immigration laws it will now be considerably easier for foreign students and workers to come to the UK.

The previously strict rules surrounding immigration were highlighted recently with the case of Jilda Clark, a Turkish national whose application to move to the UK with her family was rejected due to alleged insufficient evidence of English language skills despite having worked as an English teacher…

Guest Blogs – write for us

The ICAL TEFL Blog and the ICAL TEFL Resources are hugely popular destinations for English language professionals. Although we add our own articles regularly (perhaps 2 or 3 new each day) we also welcome submissions from individuals and organizations outside ICAL TEFL.

If you are interested in writing an article for our Blog or Resources, typical requirements are:
Content: related, obviously, to teaching English as a Foreign…

Western Style Kindergartens in China

According to the CRI English website there is a rapidly increasing demand in China for a “Western” style kindergartens.

Adele Bai, General Manager of Kids and Teens Education First, stresses the growing value of English language teachers in the country, especially at kindergarten age (between 3 and 6 years of age), when children are most receptive to learning an additional language.

However, the equal importance of the quality…

Fugitive TEFL Teacher Arrested In Brazil

An Irish solicitor living in hiding in Brazil was earning a modest living teaching the English language.

Michael Lynn who fled Ireland in 2007 after an 80 million euro property fraud had gone from a high-flying and high-earning lifestyle to a considerably more modest one as he accepted just 650 euros a month teaching English at Brazilian high school part time.

Apparently Mr Lynn integrated so well into…

ELTons Awards 2014

Applications are now being accepted for the ELTons 2014 awards and are inviting entries for categories such as Excellence in Course Innovation and Local Innovation.

Sponsored by Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly Cambridge ESOL) and Macmillan Education the awards encourage new faces in English language teaching expertise to come forward and earn the chance to win a prize of and to see their work in publication. 2013 winners included…

Failure in Liberian University Entrance Exams

This year’s entrance exams to the Liberian university system have passed not a single candidate.

Yes of some 25,000 students taking the exam precisely 100% of them failed.

According to university officials the applicants lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English. The President decided that having no university students was a bit awkward so she persuaded the universities to take in the…

Changing Structure of English Curriculum

There is growing evidence that the “linear” English languages courses are declining in usage in favor of more clustered materials and returning to the same basic sources when learning.

Fueled both by a demand for more efficient and faster delivery and more improvements being made constantly in the field  there is a gradual shift being made from the traditional course structure which flows almost like a line, leading from…

Surge in Demand for TEFL in Turkey

According to the Huffington Post UK, Turkey has seen a recent dramatic surge in potential English teachers wishing to work in the country.

Almost certainly helped by the sharp rise in tourism, there has been an increasing demand for the English language, thereby making it easier than ever before for native English speakers to find employment in Turkey. Despite enduring many troubles in the past, from which it is…

Anouncements of nominees for Star Awards

Study Travel Magazine has announced the nominees for the Star Awards. The awards recognizing English language schools are not being held by STM this year but include plenty of nominees such as ISI Ireland, UIC London, Cape Studies South Africa, Languages Internation New Zealand and The Language Academy USA.

Nominees for Star Chain Schools include Embassy English and ILSC Educational Group and sponsors of the awards include International House…

American Teacher deported from Bahrain

Erin Kilbride, an English teacher from the US and working in Bahrain, has been deported from the country after writing a series of articles critical of the Bahrain leadership suggesting they supported the recent overthrow of the Egyptian president whilst cracking down on democracy in their own country.

Officially it was stated that she was being deported for “working illegally as an unaccredited journalist while employed as a teacher.”…


I think we have all found that giving clear instructions to our students, especially lower proficiency students, can be a real challenge. We quickly learn that giving only oral instructions can be futile in getting our students to understand what it is we want them to do. The temptation is to explain the activity again, only to find that our students are even more confused, resulting in failure…

German Shitstorms are not Vulgar…

An interesting sideline to the eternal debate about taboo words‏‎.

The BBC reports that the English term, shitstorm, considered by many to be vulgar and not a word to be used in public as such, has entered the German‏‎ vocabulary. However, it has entered as a perfectly acceptable term and, for example, was used by Angela Merkel at a recent public meeting and no one batted an eyelid.


Bad English saved the Japanese Economy!

The Japanese finance minister, Taro Aso, made an interesting leap of logic last Friday. He essentially said that the reason why Japan is not suffering as much as other nations in the current global economic crisis is because Japanese bankers aren’t very good at English.

His reasoning goes like this:

The American banks sold dodgy financial products (such as the sub-prime mortgages) to banks around the world…

Croatia in the EU – what it means for English teachers

Croatia has joined the European Union.

For English teachers this means that it will be harder for non-European teachers to find work there. The labor laws mean that teachers with a passport from a European country will find working in Croatia much easier than teachers from outside Europe.

In the near future there is also likely to be a clampdown on non-European teachers already in Croatia.
Useful Links…

American TEFL teacher killed in Egypt

An American TEFL teacher was killed on Friday during anti government violence in Egypt.

Andrew Pochter, 21, was killed near the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria which had earlier been set alight during violent clashes in the city. An Egyptian man was fatally shot during the same clashes with another man also killed.

Some reports say Pochter was shot whilst others say he was stabbed whilst…

Ignorant. Offensive. Cheap. Yahoo & the Daily Telegraph.

In the past week or so I’ve seen a couple of videos posted online which feature famous people speaking English.

One was in the British Daily Telegraph newspaper and was of Russian president Vladimir Putin talking about the World Expo. The Daily Telegraph sneer and giggle and make snide comments about the way he speaks English.

And again this morning I saw a Yahoo sports article…

ICAL TEFL Testimonials

A random collection of students’ feedback. Thanks to each and every ICAL student for sharing their course experience with other TEFLers.
What ICAL Students Say
From XN1C3B Paul, working on mod3.
What I’m learning in my ICAL studies has already helped me very much with my teaching in China, especially the information about developing a lesson plan.

From XN24CF Jacob, submitting his final assignment.
I feel like…

Experience Teaching Abroad – worth it or not?

An article in Education Week (see link below) says that when a group of teachers spent time abroad they were much more employable when they returned to the US than a comparable group who did not spend time abroad.

The actual figures quoted were 20% of graduate teachers who had not experienced life abroad got jobs whilst 100% of graduate teachers who had spent time abroad had…

Am I Old Enough to be a TEFL Teacher?

If you know English well enough, you can theoretically teach English at any age. You can get involved in TEFL‏‎ (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) whenever you want.

On the ICAL TEFL Certificate Course, for example, we have had students from 16 to well into their 80s! But after the course, once the teacher is trained, how easy is it for a…

British Passport Renewal – Greece, Italy, Spain, etc

If you need to renew your British passport and live in Greece, Italy, Spain or some other European countries you will need to change the way you renew it.

The UK government have just announced that whilst in the past you sent your passport to France for renewal to cut costs you must now send it to the UK for renewal.

To find out exactly how…

How many words do you know?

How many words do you know?

There’s a fascinating web project which hopes to find out not only how many words you know, but how many words everyone else knows as well.

Since it began it’s measured over 2 million people and the results have just been published. They make fascinating reading, especially as it’s divided into native speakers of English as well as English language learners…

English and Creole; not English or Creole

I read an interesting article on teaching English in Trinidad and Tobago today. Essentially Creole is spoken in TT and by some it’s regarded as a “sub-standard” English. In schools children learn to speak standard English which means erasing the mistakes they’ve learned at home speaking Creole.

There’s a move now  however  to teach standard English in the same way students would learn to speak any other foreign language…

Cantonese (Chinese) vs English

There is not one single Chinese language as such but several varieties which are more or less mutually understandable. In all, these are spoken by over 1 billion people (making it more popular than English).

Of the different varieties of Chinese, Mandarin is the most widely spoken version with over 800 million speakers. The other major variety is Cantonese which, along with English, is the official language of Hong Kong…

The Death of French is Greatly Exaggerated

Until recently English was all but banned in universities in France and only English language courses and visiting dignitaries were allowed to use it.

But now the French government is about to lift restrictions and allow English to spread into teaching. In reality many universities already use English to teach various subjects (notably science) but this was previously done behind closed doors and everyone pretended it didn’t…

Making a Local Copy of a Website

Imagine this. You are standing in front of your CALL‏‎ class and tell them to visit a certain online resource on which you’ve based an entire lesson.
The students start work and then one by one tell you that the website you’ve told them to visit no longer exists. It’s offline and can’t be accessed.
This leaves you standing there, wondering what you are going to do for the rest of the lesson!


Over the years ICAL TEFL has given away many thousands of dollars in charitable donations to causes we feel are worthwhile and beneficial to the community.

These have ranged from schools in Africa to books in Mongolia to help for inner-city students in the USA.

Each year we set aside a percentage of our turnover to give away to deserving causes related to education where we feel it…

Self Grading Students

Guest blogger Timothy Wright explains what happened when he got the class to grade themselves.
Want to improve your student grades? Simple, have your students grade themselves. It may shock them and it may shock you, but it works!
It’s not as crazy as it first seems and it’s something which makes a difference. In a good way. And I know because I just tried it.
Let’s take my class last year. I…

ESLdrama – Using Video Drama in the Classroom

ESLdrama is a brand new web series produced especially for learners of English.It’s stylish, clever and well produced. I watched the first episode earlier and found it completely engaging. Then I spoke to Sean James Sutton, the director of the series, to find out more…

Jenny – Sean, why produce a series like this? Surely there are plenty of video resources for ESL learners already?

Sean – The…

ESLdrama Web Series

ESLdrama is a web series (a drama for ESL students) designed specifically for learners of English.

It is essentially a soap opera built around the lives of half a dozen or characters. Each episode features several short scenes and the language used is basic. It has been designed to be both entertaining and also useful for all levels of classes from beginners‏‎ to advanced.

The video is the…

Telling Parents about Rubbish Students?

A teacher in China has been forced to apologize after sending a mass text out to the parents calling their children “garbage”.

Ok  so maybe the teacher was at the end of his tether, but is this ever justified? Would you ever tell a parent that their child was rubbish?!

For more, see here…

The Economist sues English School in Korea

The British Economist magazine has filed a lawsuit against DYB Choisun Language Institute – a major South Korean language school – over the school’s unauthorized use of its articles. Apparently the school pulled together over 50 articles from the Economist, bound and published them, and then sold them the school’s top level students.

A member of the school staff told a local newspaper that the accusations were…

Lexical Chunks

A Lexical Chunk is a unit of language which is made up of two or more words.

Here are a few examples of lexical chunks:
Good morning.
Nice to see you!
What’s the time?
Other lexical chunks can include phrasal verbs‏‎, idioms, collocation‏‎s and so on.

Lexical chunks are the common coinage of English. They’re the bread and butter, the everyday and the mundane. They’re the…

Release Letter (China)

When you work in a school in China your details are registered with the authorities. If you leave this school and want to move to another you must obtain a Release Letter from the school. With this, your new employer will be able to register you. Without it, you will not be able to be registered at the new school and – in the eyes of the authorities –…

Changes to EPIK Requirements

There have been rumors floating around about the recent changes made for any teacher joining the EPIK scheme to teach in South Korea‏‎.

This blog post explains exactly what those changes are and exactly what you need to join EPIK.
What is EPIK?
EPIK is a program run the by the South Korean government to supply English teachers to South Korea.

It’s not the only way to go…

How Many Tenses Are There in English?

How many Tenses are there in English? It sounds like a simple question, but, unfortunately, it isn’t.

This is because different people – including both students and TEFL teachers – have different definitions of what a tense actually is and there is no single, accepted one.

However, in English there are 3 general definitions of what a tense is all about:
Tenses & Time
Some people…

Teaching English in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island country off the south coast of India.

It has a population of about 20 million from several different ethnic backgrounds. For some 26 years there was a state of unrest between various factions resulting in many deaths amongst government and insurgent forces as well as innocent civilians. However, in 2009 the government defeated the insurgents and re-established control over the…

Pay > Paid vs Payed

What is the past form of pay?

This often causes problems for students. The verb‏‎ pay means to give money to someone and it is usually an irregular verb.
I pay $15 each month for my internet connection.
Last month I paid $15 for my internet connection.
I have paid $15 every month for the past year.
However, some people will assume that pay is a regular…

Over 6.7 million taking online course in the USA

More than 6.7 million students in the US are taking at least 1 online course; this is up over half a million from last year

32% of higher ed students take an online course
77% of academic leaders rate online education as equal to or higher than face-to-face education
over the past 10 years growth has remained constant and is predicted to rise
MOOCs are…

Class Blogs for Reading & Writing & Fun!

As TEFL teachers, we all know that getting the class to engage is vitally important and also that engagement comes through enjoyment.

This means that anything which lets your class practice English in a fun, non-didactic way is going to be a hit. And we have just been playing with class blogs which are a brilliant way to do this!

This article is how you can…

Teaching Abroad with Diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition where a person has high blood sugar (glucose) levels.

There are 3 types of diabetes (see below) and the incidence of diabetes is increasing significantly in developed countries. It has been described in terms of “epidemic” proportions in the US and since most TEFL teachers are from the US, this means the number of TEFL teachers likely to suffer from diabetes is…

Choosing a Good Dictionary

For both teachers and students a dictionary is one of the most important books (or apps) you can own. This article offers tips for choosing the best possible dictionary for help in the classroom and with preparing lessons.

If you’re buying a dictionary then the best approach is to go into the shop and spend some time comparing the different dictionaries on offer till you find one…

Teaching English and Living in Thailand

The Essential Guide to Teaching English and Living in Thailand. Guest blogger and author Michael Plews gives us just a taste of what it is like to teach and live in Thailand.
Sun-kissed beaches, amazing cuisine, a rich cultural heritage and some of the friendliest people on the planet; Thailand‏‎ is truly an amazing place to live. With a continuing need for English teachers, you’ll find that the ‘Land of Smiles’…

Celebrities vs Education

I go on the news sites each morning to catch up on what’s happening in the world. And yesterday I tried a new site: Reuters. They have a bit of a reputation of being there with the scoops, pretty fair minded when it comes to reporting and they’re well regarded in the industry.

However, like all news services, they couldn’t give a damn about education.

Take a look…

Reasoning stronger in a Foreign Language

According to an article in the Scientific American (link below) people are more logical and reason better in a foreign language than their native tongue.

Basically they looked at questions where reasoning was required (financial decisions  gambling and so on) and found that if they were asked in the subject’s native tongue they were analyzed more emotionally than if they were asked in a learned language.

The main…

Some Statistics: students & teachers

According to the BBC (see link below) there are 1.55 billion learners of English around the world and it’s estimated that there are 10.2 million English teachers.

How many students does that make per teacher?

Assuming an American billion (not an English one) it’s 152 students per teacher. Which seems quite a lot to me.

So 10.2 million teachers is just a few less than the number…

More than 1m UK pupils speak English as a second language

According to the Telegraph (link below) more than 1 million school students in the UK speak English as a second language. This means about 1 in 6 students on average with about 1 in 8 at high school. In some parts of London about 75% of pupils don’t speak English as a first language.

This is putting a huge strain on the system where teachers specializing in ESL aren’t…

Where Can I Teach English Around the World?

This simple flowchart graphic shows where you can work as a TEFL teacher. It’s general in approach and there are many exceptions. (For more on this, see the useful links under the graphic.)

Useful Links
Where to Teach‏‎ English as a Foreign Language – general destinations for English teachers

Teaching English without a Degree‏‎ – if you don’t have a degree, here are some likely destinations…

TEFL and Travel – Is it Possible to Combine the Two?

We’d like to welcome guest blogger Evelyn Robinson; in this first blog for ICAL she writes about traveling the world as a TEFL teacher and the opportunities available out there!

Every TEFL teacher gets frustrated when their friends and family see their job abroad as a holiday, or a relaxing jaunt. After all, when you’re dealing with lesson plans, marking and the politics…

Listening for Pleasure

Listening‏‎ is one of the four major language skills‏‎. This article is about listening for pleasure.
Often as teachers we’ll give our class a very specific listening task which will often run like this: listen to this short dialog between a shopkeeper and a shopper; I’m going to ask you at the end to tell me how many sausages the woman bought and what the total cost was of all her…

Its vs It’s in English

Its and it’s are often confused, not only by learners but also native English speakers (the picture on the right comes from one of Disney’s theme parks). This article explains the difference between them.
Very simply, its (without the apostrophe‏‎) is a possessive pronoun meaning, “belonging to”:
The tablet surprised me with its quality.
Its fur was soft and lightly colored.
Both these show something belonging to: in the first example quality belonging to…

ICAL TEFL Community

The ICAL TEFL Community gives a voice to TEFL teachers and other guests wherever you are.
Let’s start with…
If you’d like to start a discussion or ask a question about TEFL then visit the ICAL TEFL Forums. Here you’ll find discussions about absolutely anything to do with English and teaching English. It’s free and easy to join in here.
You can also find here the TEFL News section. This…

Space Rocket explained in 1,000 Words

It’s estimated that the most common 1, 000 words in the English language are used in 89% of communication. Well, to prove it’s possible to say almost anything using those words the folks at xkcd have taken a blueprint for the space rocket Apollo 5 (or Up Goer as they call it since apollo nor space nor rocket are on the list) and reduced it to use vocab from just…

Old Fashioned Teachers & Music

Most teachers are old in comparison to their students. And because most teachers choose materials for their class, this often means that the materials they use are old. And by old, I mean stuck in the past and out of date.

When a TEFL teacher decides to use music in the classroom it inevitably means dredging up music from the past – the Beatles in particular seem…

Affect vs Effect

Learners of English (and native English speakers too) often confuse these two words: Affect vs Effect. They also confuse forms of these words: Affectively vs Effectively; Affective vs Effective and so on.

Part of the problem is that they are pronounced almost the same: /əˈfekt/ and /ɪˈfekt/. Some English accent‏‎s in fact will produce them exactly in the same way. Since they are often confused, this article…

Google blocked in China

According to reports today (see link below) some Google services (including gmail) are being blocked in China. If you are a teacher there and are having problems remember you may be able to use a proxy server to get around these restrictions. If you check out our article on watching TV from back home it explains how to bypass local filters and access websites from all over the…

Wall Street Institute

The Wall Street Institute is a massive global group of schools. It was founded in Italy‏‎ in 1972 by Luigi Tiziano Peccenini and now operates over 400 schools in 27 countries around the world. WSI are currently owned by Pearson.

They report teaching of 1.5 million students throughout their history and in 2010 posted gross sales of 375 million USD. They have a strong presence in teaching Business English‏‎…

Inductive vs Deductive Methods in TEFL

In the TEFL‏‎ classroom, inductive and deductive teaching methods are two different approaches used in teaching grammar.

Inductive teaching (sometimes known as inquiry or discovery teaching) involves giving the students examples of language and working with them to come up with grammatical rules. It is a more student centered approach to learning.

Alternatively, deductive teaching begins by giving students the rules and working with them to produce…

Coco Juku

Coco Juku is an English conversation school (eikaiwa) in Japan.

The company was founded in 2012 by Nichii Gakkan, which also owns Gaba Corporation. In April 2012 is opened 6 locations and by October there were 62 locations. They plan to open further locations over the following months.

In line with their opening they have invested heavily in marketing and advertising both for students and teachers.
Interview, Pay…

Instant Gratification & TEFL

Prof. Goodnight is the pen name of a senior ESL trainer working at a major North American university. Here he discusses the rise of technology in the classroom and how bad it is.

The NY Times reported earlier this week on two recent studies which suggest that students nowadays have far shorter attention spans than in the past.
One reason, they suggest, is the overwhelming use of technology, notably the internet.
I agree…

Macmillan Abandons Printed Dictionaries

Problems already!

So Macmillan have announced that they will no longer print dictionaries and from next year they will be available only online.

Somewhat inevitable, I suppose, but here’s a screenshot of part of their front page today where they announce this news: and you’ll see it’s completely messed up due to technical problems. Call me cynical but they should get their website in order before…

Well Travelled TEFL Teachers are Sexier

Well travelled TEFL teachers are sexier- it’s true!

Well sort of.

In a recent survey by an Australian online dating survey it was found that those who traveled were sexier than those who stayed at home. Perhaps it was the idea of someone with independence and adventure in them which made them more appealing but as TEFL teachers we often spend years away from home living…

Teaching English in Prison

There’s an interesting story in the Chicago Tribune newspaper about a teacher teaching English in a local prison in order to help the inmates when they are released.

The classroom becomes here not just a way to learn English but for the inmates a safe place where they can prepare themselves for a much better life.

“Educational or vocational programming is the best way a jail…

Teaching with Chopsticks

Guest blogger Jonathan Last presents an extract from his autobiographical book, Teaching with Chopsticks, an honest, funny, and insightful account of a year spent teaching English in South Korea.

Lunchtime. I’m trying to hide my growing weariness at rice every day, and fantasising about getting scouted by Seoul FC and seeing out the rest of my time in Korea as the first English superstar in the K-League, when the staffroom chatter…

How to Speak to English Language Students

New teachers often have problems trying to decide how to speak to students so they understand them best.

Should they keep their grammar‏‎ really simple? Should they avoid unusual words‏‎? Should they slow down? Should they speak to students as though they were speaking to young children even if they are adults?

First to remember is that the way in which you speak to your students…

Preparing to Go Abroad & Teach English

So, you’ve got your qualifications, had your interview and now you’ve been offered a job teaching abroad.

And you suddenly realize that in just a very short time you’ll be climbing aboard an airplane and heading off into the unknown and suddenly you’re thinking, What should I pack? How much money do I have to take with me? Do I need any inoculations?

In other words…

English Teaching in Korea – not as straightforward as you may think!

One of our ICAL students blogs about her duties as English Teacher in a public school in Korea. Writing under the pseudonym of Elsa Kellenbence, she gives a straightforward and honest account of her on-going struggle to keep discipline in the classroom, get students to stay awake (literally) in class, win her Korean co-teacher’s support, etc.
But you won’t find only problems here. Elsa is very determined to make a difference…

Tips for Reading with Young Learners

Reading with very young learners often demands a different approach to teaching reading‏‎ skills with older learners. For one thing young learners may not yet be able to read well in their own language‏‎ so dealing with a different language (and possibly a different alphabet‏‎) may bring up extra difficulties.
Another issue is concentration. Young learners have much shorter attention spans than older learners so keep things simple and keep them short.

Group Work: Are You Doing It Effectively?

We’d like to welcome Larry Jarocki, MA Applied Linguistics, as a guest author of the ICAL Blog. Larry has been an ICAL tutor for over a decade. Here he talks about his recent findings on effective group work in the ESL classroom, following an eight days seminar on Cooperative Learning.
As a practicing ESL and English teacher for nearly two decades, I’d seen and conducted many lessons involving group…

TEFL Teachers & Local Laws

Living in a foreign country it’s sometimes easy to assume you are above the law. You feel slightly outside local society and it’s not hard to pretend that the local laws simply don’t really apply to you. After all, you are from the USA‏‎ or the UK (or wherever) and you abide by your laws.

This was exemplified a few years ago when some female American soldiers…

Adverb Position in English Grammar

Generally speaking – and there are exceptions – adverbs‏‎ can come in 1 of 3 positions in a sentence‏‎:

1) At the beginning:
Hurriedly I got dressed.
Never go there again!
Always look on the bright side of life.
2) Between the subject and the verb:
I hurriedly got dressed.
They never visit us.
We usually eat dinner very late.
3) At the very end.
I got dressed hurriedly…

Aptis Assessment Test

Aptis is an examination and assessment test developed by the British Council‏‎. It is targeted towards businesses and organizations (and is not available to individual users) in order to test a students ability in the four language skills‏‎. However clients can adapt the test to show bias towards one or more of those skills.

The test is mapped to the CEFR and it can be taken online, as a paper…

Teaching English in Libya

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Libya due to the ongoing fighting, threat of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners from ISIL-affiliated extremists, and deteriorating security situation throughout the country. British nationals in Libya are strongly urged to leave immediately by…

TEFL Coursebook Evaluation Form

The following is an example Coursebook Evaluation Form.
If you are thinking of using a TEFL coursebook with your class and want to see if it might be suitable, complete this kind of form to find out.
Obviously this is a general example, but with a little tweaking you can make it suitable for your school.
Basic Information

[the name of the book]
[name of author]

[who published it]
[what learner level is this for?]

Length of Course:
[how long…

Compound Words in English

A compound word is a word made up from two or more other words joined together. They are often created to describe a new concept or idea and are thus neologisms‏‎.

As a simple example, take the words foot and ball. These were brought together to describe the game: football. Likewise the following are just a few of the many, many compound words in English:
eyesight, airport, overtake, earthworm…

LGBT TEFL Teachers – where do you fit in?

In our article on LGBT teachers (link below) we quote Scott Thornbury who suggests that TEFL attracts a higher percentage of gay teachers. In his article Window Dressing vs Cross Dressing in EFL Sub-Culture he actually talks about the relatively high proportion of gays & lesbians in TEFL.

We haven’t seen any research on this subject and wonder if it is actually true. So we have put in this…

The Sopranos comes to ELT

One of my favorite shows was The Sopranos, a tale of modern American mob life. In one episode Tony Soprano’s right hand man, Christopher Moltisanti, has to sit an exam which it would be impossible for him to pass. The solution? Get a bright college kid, forge some identity documents and have this kid sit the exam in Christopher’s name.
The result? A somewhat dumb Jersey mobster has a stockbroker license.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning is a teaching strategy in which small teams‏‎, each with students of different abilities, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject.

Although cooperative learning takes place within teams of students it is not to be confused with mere group work. The main difference between the two is in the cooperative nature of the learning. In fact, cooperative learning has been found…

Russian vs English

Russian is spoken by over 150 million people, mainly in Russia itself and the countries of the former USSR.

It is part of the Slavonic branch of the Indo-European language family and as such is very different indeed from English. This article looks at those differences and how they affect Russian mother tongue speakers when they come to learn English.
A certain amount of Russian vocabulary…

Don’t Pay Your Agent!

Another story today of someone who lost a healthy lot of money by paying an agent to find them work… and the agent did nothing.

In today’s Guardian news paper is the sobering story of a teacher who paid to an agency called ESL Job Finder to find them a TEFL job.

And the agency basically won’t refund their money and has done nothing to help.

This is…

Teaching the /θ/ and /ð/ sounds

A number of students have difficulties producing the /θ/ and /ð/ sounds found in words like:
think – /θɪŋk/
thought – /θɔːt/
threw – /θruː/
this – /ðɪs/
that – /ðæt/
those – /ðəʊz/
Note that the main difference between these sounds is that one is voiced and the other is voiceless. Other than this they are produced in the same way with the mouth and tongue in the same position.
Making the /θ/ & /ð/ Sounds
First you…

Voiced and Voiceless in English Pronunciation

Voiced and Voiceless (sometimes Unvoiced) describe the two different ways we can make sounds in our mouths.

The basic difference is this:

voiced sounds occur when the vocal chords vibrate
voiceless sounds occur when the vocal chords are still

An Example of Voiced & Unvoiced
The best way to explain this is with an example. Take these two words:
van – fan
To make both…

Teaching English in Iraq

The recent turbulent history of Iraq is well known. However, for the past few years the country has been trying to rebuild and part of that process has involved education including English language teaching.
The American Embassy in Baghdad, for example, runs a scheme to train Iraqi teachers to teach English.
Although some areas of the country are still very unsafe (for both locals and visitors) the northern autonomous Kurdistan region…

Elision in TEFL

Elision happens when you miss out one or more sounds as you’re speaking.
Sometimes it’s known as slurring or muting but the important point to remember despite what some people say, it is not a sign of “bad pronunciation” or poor education, but simply the natural way in which words are formed and put together. Everyone elides words regardless of their education, background, accent, or upbringing!
Why Elision?
Elision occurs because English is…

Present vs Present Perfect

There is sometimes confusion over which to use of these verb forms: the Present Simple or Present Continuous vs Present Perfect.
The cat is here.vs The cat has been here.
Simon is writing.vsSimon has been writing.
Generally speaking we would use the present simple or present continuous to talk about something which is happening as we speak. In the examples above I can see the cat on the chair and maybe I can…


Simply put, Psycholinguistics is the study of how psychological factors and neurological factors influence the way we learn, understand, and use language.
It tries to answer questions like:

How do our brains process language?
How do we recognize speech and how do we produce it?
How do we perceive letters, words, sentences and so on?
How do we store and recall language in our brains?

Then it can be taken to a more practical or applied…

Lesson Targets in TEFL

A Lesson Target is the focus of an individual lesson. It is, if you like, the single main point that you are trying to teach in that particular lesson. Often it can be summed up in a single sentence thus: At the end of the lesson the students will know how to… …order a pizza. …ask the time. …apologize for being late. These targets are all language functions‏‎. Sometimes more…

Why the English can’t speak Foreign

I read a very interesting article the other day on one man’s theory why British people (and let’s expand this to pretty well most native English speakers) don’t speak foreign languages well, if at all.

I read a very interesting article the other day* on one man’s theory why British people (and let’s expand this to pretty well most native English speakers) don’t speak foreign languages well…


The world of teaching English is full of acronyms‏‎. One question which pops up all the time is: what is the difference between TEFL and TESOL and TESL and CELTA and… and also: should I get a TEFL certificate or a TESOL certificate?

This article explains what these terms means and looks at differences between them when it comes to qualifications and finding work.

Reflections On Learning CALL

The following is a paper written by Rebecca Rose Orton on her CALL training and experience. Rebecca volunteers at the English Language Institute (ELI) at Gallaudet University, in Washington, DC. The following is a paper written by Rebecca Rose Orton on her CALL training and experience. Rebecca works at the English Language Institute (ELI) at Gallaudet University, in Washington, DC. Memoirs of My CALL Training and ExperienceBy Rebecca Rose Orton Introduction…

Korea, People, Racism

Korea is a unique country that has a lot of offer. But one thing the country does lack is diversity. As a result, you feel isolated, belittled and often times, hated as a foreigner. Especially a black foreigner…
We’d like to welcome Tate Nanje as a guest author of the ICAL Blog.Originally from Cameroon, Tate grew up in the USA and first worked in Korea as teacher in…

Drilling in TEFL

Drilling is a simple technique used in EFL and ESL classrooms to practice English. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. And drilling is certainly practice. Essentially it is Repetition; the teacher says something and the students repeat it all together. Then the teacher says something else and the students all repeat that. Although it’s been used for hundreds of years in all kinds of classrooms, drilling really took off…

Learn to Teach English in Spain

Teach English in Spainwith the ICAL TEFL Certificate Course
In the past couple of years the economy in Spain has begun to pick up after suffering badly. The demand for English teachers is increasing and more people are taking an ICAL TEFL Course and becoming qualified to teach English in Spain.
To teach English in Spain you need:

to have a degree (a BA/BSc in almost any subject is fine)
to have TEFL certification…

Learn to Teach English in Italy

To teach in Italy you need:

to have a degree (a BA/BSc in almost any subject is fine)
to have a TEFL certificate
to be a native English speaker

The ICAL online TEFL Certificate Course will give you a thorough grounding in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

Our online TEFL course covers all major aspects of TEFL and TESOL…

Qualify to Teach English in Greece

{seog:disable}Teach English in Greecewith the ICAL TEFL Certificate Course To teach in Greece you need: to have a degree (a BA/BSc in almost any subject is fine) to have a TEFL Certificate like the ICAL TEFL Certificate The ICAL TEFL Certificate Course will give you a thorough grounding in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Our online TEFL course costs just €200 (or $265 or £155) and covers all…

South Korea – TALK

TaLK or Teach and Learn in Korea is an opportunity for undergraduates who are seeking a personal, professional and educational experience in South Korea. It allows students to spend time in rural locations teaching English. Approximately 500 people take part in the program annually.

To be part of the program you need to have at least 2 years of college education and be from one of the…

Contact Hours for English Teachers

A contact hour is an hour actually spent in the classroom teaching and working with students. (It is also sometimes ironically referred to as an hour at the chalkface.) Many schools will employ TEFL teachers for, say, between 20 – 30 contact hours per week (this is moderately high; some will be less). Thirty hours is already quite a lot and more than this will mean you are spending too…

Learn English

We get many people asking to learn English with ICAL. Please note that we mainly run courses for teachers wanting to teach English. We also run the ICAL Grammar Foundation Course for those wishing to learn English grammar. However, if you would like to learn general English, then please click here. Of course, remember also that our TEFL Resources can be used by anyone whether you are a teacher or a…

Got a TEFL or Language Question?


What’s a past participle?
What on earth is the third conditional?
How can I find work in Thailand?
Do I need a degree to be a teacher?

Do you have a question about teaching English or even English itself?

Then ask us and we’ll let you know the answer. We’ve been in this business for years (we’re the…


Emoticons are a modern form of English punctuation.

Essentially they are a pictorial representation of a human face which are used to give nuance to a text.

For example, I could write:
See you on Thursday.
In itself, this seems fairly innocuous. However, if next Thursday we plan to attend the leaving party of an old friend I might add a “sad” face thus:
See you…

Dashes or Hyphens

Although they look similar, dashes and hyphens are used very differently. In traditional typography, a hyphen is half the length of a dash although in handwriting and often on computer keyboards they are the same size. Hyphens are used in two ways: to split a word or to join words. When they are used there’s no space between them and the word or word part. Dashes are used to emphasize a…

Brackets and Parentheses

Brackets and Parentheses are punctuation marks in English which everyone knows, but many people get wrong. Even native speakers.

But before getting on to how to use them, we’ll begin by explaining exactly what the difference between them are.
Types of Bracket
There are 2 types of brackets common in English.

First come Brackets which are straight which is why they’re sometimes called Square Brackets…

Colons in English Punctuation

A Colon is a punctuation mark in English. It consists of two round dots, one above the other (although occasionally these are small squares). The colon immediately follows the word before and there is a space between the colon and what follows. Note that the colon is a very different punctuation mark to the semicolon‏‎ and although they have similar names (because they look similar), they are not really related…

Business Cards for English Teachers

If you are thinking of visiting a school in person to find work or maybe looking out for a few private lessons to supplement your income, it’s well worth getting a few business cards printed up for yourself.

These days it costs very little (or even nothing) to have cards printed online and they’re delivered almost anywhere in the world.

The card can look something like the facsimile…

Euphemisms in English

Using a euphemism is a way of hiding something bad, offensive or tasteless behind a good word or phrase.

So, for example, instead of saying that someone died, we say they passed away. Instead of saying that a girl is pregnant we might say the girl is in trouble.
Why Use Euphemisms?
Euphemisms are used essentially to put a good spin on something. Instead of presenting the…

Homework and TEFL Teaching

Homework is simply work your students do at home rather than in the classroom.

Many teachers give it to their students as a matter of course.

Almost all schools will expect you to give it, often with a time caveat: “Give them at least 30 minutes of homework after each lesson!”

And almost all students will expect it with most not liking the idea at…

Abbreviations in English Writing

An abbreviation (from the Latin, brevis, meaning short.) is a shortened form of a word or phrase used almost exclusively in print. For example:
LOL = laugh out loud
mins = minutes
abbrv = abbreviation
As you can see, abbreviations are often either the full word shortened or the first letter of each word in the phrase (aka acronyms). They can contain letters and numbers, upper and lowercase.
BBI5 =…

Grammar Nazi

A Grammar Nazi is a pedantic soul who takes pleasure in finding grammatical errors and pointing them out to people. Whether asked or not. Collectively they can be known as the Grammar Police. Grammar Nazis will know it is spelled grammar and not grammer. They will know the difference between they’re vs their vs there and they will certainly know how to use apostrophe‏‎s correctly. Cultural Note Considering the atrocities…

Transitive & Intransitive Verbs in English

Here are two sentences, the first with a Transitive Verb, the second with an Intransitive Verb:
She held her breath.
She laughed.
This illustrates at a glance the basic difference between the two types of verbs‏‎.
Transitive Verbs
Quite simply transitive verbs must take an object‏‎. We can say:
She held the puppy.
She held his hand.
She held the door open.
But we cannot say:
* She…

Peter Mark Roget

Peter Mark Roget FRS (18 January 1779 – 12 September 1869) was a British doctor, writer, and inventor but also most famous nowadays as a lexicographer and author of Roget’s Thesaurus. Background to Roget’s Thesaurus Although he had no lexicographic training or experience, in 1805, aged 26, he began to catalog words and organize them according to their meaning rather than their spelling as in traditional dictionaries‏‎. To do this he kept…

Roget’s Thesaurus (book)

Roget’s Thesaurus is an English language thesaurus created by Peter Mark Roget in the 19th century. It was first published in 1852 and contained some 15,000 words. Subsequent editions have enlarged on this. Although there are other thesauri, the term Roget is often almost synonymous with thesaurus (in much the same way as the brand name Hoover is synonymous with vacuum cleaners). Since first being published it has never been out of…

Teaching English Abroad as a Single Parent

This article looks at the practicalities of being a single parent and working as a TEFL teacher abroad with your child living there with you as either a single mother or single father.

At first glance it may seem very difficult but there are solutions to many of the problems and it has certainly been done before so it’s by no means impossible to do!

Assuming you have…

Adverbs of Time in English Grammar

Adverbs of Time are those adverbs which tell us when something happened. For example: now, then, later, yesterday, today, tonight, tomorrow, etc.

The position of a typical adverb of time within a sentence varies according to the relevance the speaker wants to give to the time element.


start of sentence
Yesterday her closest work colleague handed in his resignations…


Berlitz is the brand name of a well-known chain of English language schools.

From its humble beginnings in Rhode Island in 1878, the company has become a global corporation with both company-owned and franchised locations in more than 70 countries, and revenues of hundreds of millions of US dollars.
What It’s All About
All Berlitz language schools use the “The Berlitz Method”. This teaching method is a natural approach…


Monolingualism is knowing and using just one language. This language will be the speaker’s mother tongue‏‎.

Contrast this with bilingualism. where someone knows and uses 2 languages as mother tongues and also multilingualism‏‎ where someone has more than 2 languages as their mother tongues.

A person who speaks just one language is a monoglot. Although no reliable statistics are available, anecdotal evidence suggests that native born…

Past Tense in English Grammar

The Past Tense is used – as you can probably guess – to talk about the past.

There are several different verb forms we can use to talk about the past. This article briefly explains them and links to fuller articles on each.
Past Simple
The Past Simple is used most often to tell a simple story or relate and incident. In regular verbs it’s made by…

Japanese vs English

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 125 million speakers, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language.

According to recent research by the FSI Japanese is the hardest language for English speakers to learn and, presumably, Japanese speakers find learning English the hardest also. This article then is about the kind of problems and issues Japanese speakers have when they learn English.
Word Order in…

Tony Buzan

Born in London in 1942, Tony Buzan is the originator of mind mapping and one of the pioneers of the “Brain science”. He topped his education with a double Honours in Psychology, English, Mathematics and the General Sciences from the University of British Columbia in 1964. He is the author of the million−copy bestsellers‚ Use Both Sides of Your Brain‚ Use Your Head and The Mind Map Book. He lectures…

Use Both Sides of Your Brain (book)

Although the first edition of this book was written in 1974, it is still considered as an ideal presentation of the “modern approach” to mind mapping. Use Both Sides of Your Brain: New Mind-Mapping Techniques uses the latest research on the workings of the human brain, Buzan provides step-by-step exercises for discovering the powers of the right side of the brain and learning to use the left side more effectively…

CEFR – Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The Council of Europe divided learners into 6 main bands (A1, A2; B1, B2; C1, C2) as part of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages:

A Basic User
A1 Breakthrough
A2 Waystage
B Independent User
B1 Threshold
B2 Vantage
C Proficient User
C1 Effective Operational Proficiency
C2 Mastery

Note: the CEFR applies to people learning…

Teaching English in Uganda

TEFL/TESOL in Uganda With 52 ethnic groups in Uganda, each with its own dialect, English‏‎ has been for years the official language of instruction in all school years. In major multicultural urban centers, like Kampala, the capital of Uganda, English is the medium of instruction in schools, with students being taught one local language as a subject as well. However a government policy introduced in 2007 has brought about a further…

Semantic Fields in TEFL

A semantic field (sometimes known as a lexical field) is a group of words related by meaning. In teaching a semantic field could be:

verbs of perception‏‎

In practical terms the definition is quite loose and general.

Sometimes a word will belong to just one semantic field but more usually it will belong to several. For example the…

Used + Infinitive

The phrase used + infinitive is often confusing for learners of English. This article explains what it is and how we use it. Here are typical uses of the phrase: I used to live in Toronto. I have an idea he used to go out with Nicole Kidman. You can see that the phrase used + infinitive describes a situation in the past which is no longer true; these are habits…

Teaching in Greece

This is a first-hand account of what it’s like to teach English in Greece‏‎ written by an English teacher who went out there many years ago… and never got around to leaving!
What’s it like?
Damn fine! Teaching English in Greece is one of the better choices one can make in life. In one fell swoop you’re taken from some overcrowded, smelly city and dumped in a serene calm paradise…

Teaching the /r/ and /l/ sounds

Quite a number of Asian students have problems distinguishing between the /r/ sound and the /l/ sound. Essentially this is because the difference in these sounds does not exist in their mother tongues‏‎ and so they are unable to “hear” the difference. Thus some students will say led – /led/ red – /led/ i.e. they sound the same. This simple tip will help to show your students how to make…

Lip Reading

Lip Reading is a fun activity which can be used with all ages and class levels. On the one hand it teaches the “speaker” to carefully pronounce words and on the other it helps the “listener” in predicting what is going to be said. Both these skills are useful when it comes to listening and speaking in English, of course, in everyday situations. Introducing the Activity First off, you’ll want…

TEFL Job Adverts

ICAL posts here occasional jobs sent to us by schools around the world. We do not charge for this service. If you are looking for a TEFL/TESOL teacher (or you are a teacher looking for work), then please use this TEFL Job Posting Forum. You must include all relevant contact details and we will edit the post to make sure it complies with our posting rules. And don’t even think…

Truth or Lie – question making activity

Truth or Lie is an activity which is used to practice the Present Perfect Simple and also giving students practicing making questions.
Prepare a number of flashcards on which you have written a present perfect simple question, have you ever…

Have you ever met someone famous?
Have you ever stayed awake all night?
Have you ever played poker?

The questions should…

The Goodies’ Bag

This is a “show and tell” activity for the TEFL teacher who wants to encourage young learners to produce language in a natural way and create a more spontaneous response than the traditional “repeat after me” approach. How it works Take a large cloth bag (a black bin liner will also do – the important thing is that it is not transparent). Place different items related to the topic of…

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

TESOL is an acronym  standing for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Generally speaking it is the same as TESL‏‎ or TEFL‏‎ and it is used as an umbrella term primarily in the USA‏‎.

TESOL refers to the teaching of the English language to students whose mother tongue‏‎ (MT) is not English‏‎. Typically these students live in an English speaking country (such as Canada or the USA‏‎) and need…

Teaching English in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a small country on the island of Hispaniola which it shares with Haiti. It is the second largest Caribbean country (after Cuba‏‎) with a population of around 10 million people with Spanish being the native language. Qualifications & Pay The usual requirements are a degree with a TEFL Certificate such as the ICAL TEFL Certificate. The better jobs also usually ask for experience as well whilst other…

Teaching English in Haiti

TEFL/TESOL in Haiti Haiti is mostly known for a history of political instability and more recently the 2010 earthquake, but there is still a thriving industry of English teaching and there are certainly jobs to be found there for the right kind of TEFL‏‎ teacher. The country itself is something of a peculiarity in the American continent as it is one of only two countries where French is spoken as an official…

Homestay TEFL Tutors

Homestay is when students spend time studying at a school abroad but rather than live on campus or in a hostel, stay with a local host family where – it is hoped – they will learn more English. Homestays are most popular in English speaking countries: the UK, US, Australia and so on and many schools offer options to their students to stay with local families while they’re attending lessons…

TESL Canada

TESL Canada is a national federation of teachers based in Canada‏‎. They are a well respected organization who have, amongst other things, developed a set of minimum standards for training teachers working in Canada. Programs which meet these standards are recognized by TESL Canada. Jobs in accredited language schools in Canada normally require as a minimum a TEFL Certificate which has been recognized by TESL Canada. TESL Canada post a…

Trinity CertTESOL

The CertTESOL or (to give it its full name) the Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is a TEFL certificate.

It is roughly equivalent to the CELTA and is probably best suited for teachers with a couple of years experience under their belt.

The course was designed by Trinity College London and is offered by a number of schools around the world which offer…

Music in the TEFL/TESOL Classroom

Songs and Music are great tools to use in the TEFL‏‎ classroom. Everyone likes listening to music and the right song can not only be fun for the students (and the teacher) but also be used in an effective way to teach.

Popular song lyrics are often very simple and mostly in the first person. They use rhyme which can help in remembering and the language is often…

Lexical Verbs in English Grammar

Lexical Verbs are basically the main verb‏‎ in a sentence. They carry some kind of real-world meaning and are sometimes actually known as the main verb:
You laughed.
I ran.
They are basically an open-class of verbs; in other words, we can add new verbs to this class‏‎. In recent years new additions to this class include:
She twerked in public.
I googled my answer.
So lexical verbs carry a…

Direct & Indirect Questions in English

We can ask a direct question: What time is it? Or, if we want to be more formal or polite, we can ask an indirect question: Do you know what time it is? We make an indirect question by using a phrase and then a statement. Note that even though this is a question, we do not invert the subject and verb or use an auxiliary verb: {indirect phrase} +…

Politecnico di Milano – in English

I was reading today that the Politecnico di Milano in Italy‏‎ is changing to an English-speaking university only. Quite a remarkable move considering the level of English penetration within Italy. This is a country, after all, which is in the bottom third of English knowledge within Europe.

The university is one of the largest in Italy with about 36,500 students and from 2014 most of its degree courses (and…

Taking Pets with you when Teaching Abroad

Taking Pets Abroad is generally not a good idea when you as a TEFL teacher go away to teach and this article explores when it’s best to leave them behind and then those rare occasions when it’s actually a good idea. Above all, remember that the well-being of your dog, cat or other pet must be your main concern! So, the first thing to do before taking any animal abroad…

TESOLANZ – New Zealand

TESOLANZ – Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Aotearoa New Zealand – is the New Zealand‏‎ association of ESL‏‎ teachers in all areas of education. They are a major representative of the sector lobbying for the language needs of migrants and refugees.  External Links TESOLNZ – official website…

The Present Tense in English Grammar

The Present Tense is one of the three main verb tenses‏‎ used in grammar‏‎. It is used to talk about the current situation, i.e. now.

Here we introduce to the four main forms of the present tense and look at when we use them. The links at the bottom of the page go to more detailed looks at the individual forms.
When do we Use the Present Tense?…

Humor / Humour in the TEFL Classroom

Using Humor (or Humour) in the classroom is always good and a good joke can really make a difference.

It’s an excellent way of breaking the ice with your students, getting the class relaxed and generally fostering a friendly atmosphere to work in.

However, don’t over do it – you’re a teacher not a stand-up comedian – and be careful with the jokes you use. Some…

Gestures in Teaching English

Imagine you’re in a TEFL class and a student is speaking and they say something which is wrong.

The obvious mistake a new teacher makes is to stop them there and then, interrupt them, and correct them. But this is bad teaching on a number of levels not least because by interrupting the student the teacher is breaking the flow. It’s the verbal equivalent of tripping someone…


A thesaurus (plural thesauri or thesauruses) is a book of words collected together according to meaning and similarity. In other words, words grouped according to semantic field. Compare this to a dictionary which lists words alphabetically and then gives their meanings. A typical dictionary might show the word, it’s word class‏‎ and then an explanation: teacher noun someone whose job is to teach, especially in a school. On the other…

ICAL TEFL Course 120hr – Syllabus

This page has the full syllabus for the ICAL TEFL Course 120hr.
Course Syllabus
Module 1
In this first module, we introduce the subject of English Language Teaching. The module begins right at the beginning by talking about what it means to be an English teacher. It then brings in some basic ideas, words and concepts you will need to know to do the job.

We realize that many…


TOEIC or Test of English for International Communication is an English exam designed to test a user’s ability in the workplace.

The test consists of a 2 hour multiple choice test of 200 questions on listening‏‎ and reading‏‎ comprehension. There is also a TOEIC writing‏‎ and speaking‏‎ test as well.

It was developed in Japan and first produced in 1979 following a deal between the US based ETS…

ALTE – Association of Language Testers in Europe

ALTE is the Association of Language Testers in Europe.

It has developed a set of descriptors for language exams which say what a language learner at a particular level is able to achieve (i.e. understand or produce, etc).

ALTE was founded by the Universities of Cambridge and Salamanca for the Cambridge exams; however other exam boards have related their exams to the same system. It now includes over…

Pronunciation in English

Pronunciation is the way in which words and phrases‏‎ are spoken. Words & phrases can be said in different ways by different groups of people or individuals and under different circumstances. Several factors influence the way we pronounce words, from the way we have been brought up to the shape of our mouth. Education plays a big part. People who leave school early or who do not attend school at…

Context in TEFL

Context is the positioning of a word‎ or phrase. This can be used by the teacher to help students gain an understanding of its meaning.

For example, look at this sentence.
I saw a bright red fligret in the sky.
This contains the unknown (and non-existent) word, fligret. However, we can look at the context in which it occurs to try and work out the meaning.


Modals – Possibility

If you want to talk about how possible something is you can use Modal Verbs of Possibility. Let’s say, for example, that you are 100% certain that you are going to win: I will win a million dollars if I put everything on red! Chances are though you will lose. Being more cautious you could say: I may win a million dollars if I put everything on red… So you…

Student Loans & English Teachers Abroad

Many new teachers are often recently qualified and have the burden of student loans to pay back. Normally the pay for an entry-level job teaching English is enough for you to live on reasonably well and save a little. But is it enough to pay back your loan? Loans received normally attract very little or no interest rate but do increase with the inflation rate. Many teachers who work overseas can…

Data Is or Data Are?

The Wall Street Journal published a blog post in which it decided to class data as a singular noun‏‎ which, according to the rules of subject-verb agreement‏‎ goes with a singular verb‏‎, much like information. For the WSJ this is good English: the data is collected However, many traditionalists contend that data is in fact the Latin plural of the singular, datum, and therefore we should be saying: the data are…

Language Items in TEFL

TEFL teachers often talk about Language Items. But what exactly do they mean? Simply put, they are small self-contained pieces of language which you can teach or practice in a lesson. (That’s the most usual definition in TEFL.) Once you have the language item, you can prepare one or more activities to present and practice it with your class. Language Items, then, are the building blocks of a lesson. Arriving…

Teaching Idioms in TEFL

An Idiom is a phrase which has a very different meaning from what it appears to be. It has a figurative meaning which is very different from the literal meaning. For example, in The Godfather famously Luca Brassi sleeps with the fishes This doesn’t literally mean that Brassi sleeps with the fishes, it’s a mob related euphemism meaning that he is dead. It’s very important for learners of English to…

Multilingual Classes & TEFL

Generally speaking, we can divide language classrooms into two types: monolingual and multilingual.

In a monolingual TEFL class all the students speak the same mother tongue‏‎ and are learning English‏‎.

In a multilingual TEFL class, however, the students speak a variety of different languages and the only thing they may have in common is that they all are learning English!

This article then is all about teaching in…

Monolingual Classes & TEFL

As a TEFL teacher, you will be faced with one of two types of classroom: Monolingual or Multilingual.

In a monolingual classroom, all the students speak the same first language and they are all learning English. This type of classroom is typical in countries like South Korea, Spain and Brazil‏‎ where English speaking teachers teach the classes in the students’ own country.

The second type of…

Multiple-Choice Questions in TEFL

Multiple-Choice Questions are a tried and tested method of checking how much your students know.

This article looks at the practical side of things for TEFL teachers: writing a good question and preparing your students for multiple-choice questions in exams.

Before going on, a couple of items: the first part of a multiple-choice question is called the stem; then come (usually) 4 responses; within these there are usually…

Finnish vs English

Finnish is spoken by the majority of people in Finland (92%) and ethnic Finns outside of Finland. It’s one of the two official languages of Finland (along with Swedish). It is related to Estonian and a few other minority languages in the region. Finnish uses the Latin alphabet with å, ä, and ö in addition to the 26 letters of the English alphabet‏‎. Finnish, unlike English, is also a phonetic language…

Direct & Indirect Objects in English Grammar

Sometimes we can have a sentence‏‎ with 2 objects‏‎. We call these the direct objects and indirect objects.

In sentences with 2 objects, the subject gives the direct object to the indirect object:
{subject} + {verb} + {indirect object} + {direct object}
I + bought + my sister + a present.
The man in the hat + took + the mechanic + the broken car.
We can…

Paragraphs in English Writing

A paragraph is a collection of one or more sentences‏‎. It is used to group ideas in a piece of writing or text. A paragraph, then, is part of the structure of a text: 1 or more words > 1 or more sentences > 1 or more paragraphs = text There’s no standard definition for what makes a paragraph, but people generally accept a paragraph to be one or more…

Commas in English Punctuation

Commas are used as part of the punctuation‏‎ system of English. This article describes how and when we use them. Talking generally we use commas in two main ways. First, to separate lists of words or similar items in a sentence‏: He was a big, bad, bald, belligerent, dog. Second, to separate clauses‏‎ in a sentence; it’s used to show a slight pause and, if you like, to give time…

Grammar Tests for British Children

The British government wants to introduce more formal grammar tests to schools in the UK. However this is being countered by the main teachers’ unions who say it is an attack on teachers. The British government wants to introduce more formal grammar tests to schools in the UK. However this is being countered by the main teachers’ unions who say it is an attack on teachers. Since the 1970s British…

Teaching English in Uruguay

TEFL/TESOL in Uruguay Located on the southern border of Brazil‏‎ along the Atlantic coast and bordered by Argentina‏‎ to the west, Uruguay is an attractive prospect when it comes to teaching English in South America. Economically, the country is in a great period of growth after a slow start to the new century, which was mainly brought on by the troubles in its larger neighbor, Argentina. The country has a…

Teaching English in Venezuela

Venezuela (or officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) is a beautiful country in the very north of South America, looking onto the Caribbean. It is a very urbanized country with most people living in the capital city of Caracas. It has large reserves of oil which benefited the country financially but it also has a history of mis-management, political instability and social problems and unrest.

The political…

Spanish vs English

¿Hablas español? About 470 million people do! In fact Spanish is the second most popular first language in the world (after Mandarin; English is third) and also the third most popular language on the internet (after English then Mandarin). As a first language it is mainly spoken in Spain, Latin America and the USA but it is also a popular second language with 78 million people speaking it; it is…

Corpus Linguistics

Simply put, Corpus Linguistics is the study of language using computer programs which analyze millions of lines of texts held in a corpus (pl, corpora). To begin with masses of samples of language are collected: from newspapers, books, transcripts of the spoken word, etc. These can then be marked up, that is, tagged to show the various parts of speech they consist of. Life + is + a + long…

Applied Linguistics

Applied Linguistics is all about using the results of language study in real life teaching.

Linguistics‏‎ is the formal study of language. When the results of these studies are applied to TEFL at the chalkface, then this is applied linguistics. It is a relatively recent science and began to come to prominence in the 1950s in Europe and the United States.

Generally speaking, applied linguists ask a number…


Semantics is the study of meaning. This can include the meaning of individual words‏‎ and also the way in which their meaning may have changed over time. Meaning in languages is mainly studied by linguists. In fact, semantics is one of the main branches of contemporary linguistics. But there are also strong connections to philosophy. In the last century much work in semantics was done by philosophers, and some important…


In linguistics‏‎, a filler is a sound or word in speaking‏‎ used by someone to show that they haven’t finished speaking yet but are either forming their thoughts into speech or mentally searching for the right word‏.

Common fillers in English are:

um – /um/
er – /ə/

However, we can also use words (and sometimes phrases‏‎) which don’t add any meaning to what we say…

Fluency and TEFL

Fluency (or what some people might call Volubility and Loquaciousness) is the ability to speak smoothly and at length about a subject without effort. And if there are pauses, these are to gather thoughts or allow a point to sink in rather than to search for the right word. A fluent speaker can be understood by a native speaker easily even though what they say may contain grammatical or other…

Paraphrasing in TEFL

Look at the picture of Winston Churchill on this page. It’s not the man himself but rather a waxwork of him. It’s a less rounded, less detailed, copy of the real thing. In essence, this is what Paraphrasing is all about. Simply put it is taking what someone has written or said and reforming it in your own style. The finished result is usually much simpler and shorter than the…


The usual qualifications‏‎ for newcomers to TEFL‏‎ are a degree and a TEFL certificate such as the ICAL TEFL Course. These are usually enough to secure a decent job in teaching English as a foreign language. However, after a few years experience, some teachers will want to go for further study. The two main options here are a Diploma or a Masters Degree. By far the most well known and…

Converse Terms

Converse Terms are pairs of words which refer to the same thing but from opposite sides.

Take for example the picture on the right. There is one action taking place here: a balloon is being passed between two people. However, we can describe this action in different ways depending on whose perspective we look at it from:
The boy gives the balloon to the girl.
The girl takes the…

Reporting Verbs in English Grammar

When we repeat what someone has said before, we usually use say or tell: Jeff said he was never going to eat meat again after that meal! Susan told us the most amusing story about the pigeons in her garden. And with direct speech we almost always use say: “No,” said Jeff, “I can’t face another hamburger.” “In the end my clothes were all ruined,” said Susan. So say and…

Quotation Marks / Inverted Commas

Quotation Marks or Inverted Commas (known more informally as Speech Marks) are used in writing to show what someone actually says. They separate actual speech from comment, in other words. John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” As MItch Hedberg said, “My fake plants died because I did not pretend to…

Interrogative Adjectives in English Grammar

Simply put, Interrogative Adjectives are adjectives which modify a noun (like all adjectives do) and also ask a question.

These are the interrogative adjectives:
Any sentence which begins with an interrogative adjective is a question:
Which coat is yours?
What time is it?
Whose car is blocking the drive?
Like all adjectives, interrogative adjectives modify a noun:
{adjective} + {noun phrase} + {…}
whose + dog…

Teaching English to Teenagers

There are 3 approximate (and overlapping) groups when it comes to TEFL: adults, teenagers, and young learners.

This article is all about teaching English to Teenagers, possibly the most likely scenario for new teachers and arguably the most difficult… but also quite possibly the most rewarding!
Who Are Teenagers?
Teenagers are students in your class from about 13 to 18 years old. Obvious really!

But it’s…

Taxation for English Teachers Abroad

Tax for TEFL/TESOL Teachers

Unless you have a lot of money, tax is unavoidable. This article discusses the tax situation for teachers working abroad.

Please note that information here, whilst true to the best of our knowledge, is not legal advice and when dealing with taxes you should seek the help of a qualified tax lawyer or accountant who will make you pay for the privilege of…

Teaching English in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in central Asia bordering with Afghanistan‏‎, Kazakhstan‏‎, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Uzbekistan has worked towards strengthening its economic relations with many western powers, and consequently has invested heavily in English language training. Recently there has been a major shift from Russian to English with all teachers and students having English lessons. It used to be…

Teaching EFL Exam Classes

Exams are big business and a great number of students work towards one of the major English exams; many more work towards local exams.This means that preparing students for exams is also big business and many teachers either take this on with classes approaching and exam or specialize entirely in the subject.

This article looks at the ideas behind Exam Preparation classes and how they differ from…

Eliciting in the TEFL Classroom

Eliciting is when a teacher gets the students to provide information rather than telling them directly.

For example, in an EFL beginners‏‎’ class a teacher could hold up a ball and say, “Ball. This is a ball. Ball.” Alternatively, the teacher could hold up the ball and ask different students, “What is this?” and using gestures and expressions go around the class until one student finally says…

Study Skills

Study Skills are those skills useful for students at university, college, and suchlike to increase their ability to study and pass exams.  They range from organizing and retaining information to understanding assessments; from effective reading to concentration techniques; from examination taking techniques to time management. With EFL/ESL students who want to go and study abroad this needs to be taken a step further as they will need to know enough…

Salutations & Valedictions

A salutation is a greeting used in a letter or other text (email, SMS, etc). Salutations can be formal or informal. The most common form of salutation in a letter is Dear followed by the recipient’s given name or titles‏‎.

For each style of salutation there is an accompanying style of complimentary close, known as valediction.
These are common pairings of salutations and valedictions.


Placement Tests

A Placement Test is simply a test of English which a student will take to determine their learner level. They are often used during a needs analysis‏‎ and when a new student joins a school. The result of the test will give the school a good indication of which class is most suitable for the student. Some institutions such as universities in the USA‏‎ and United Kingdom will use tests such…

TEFL Lessons

Quite simply, a TEFL Lesson is a set period of time where you – as a TEFL teacher – work with your class in learning English.
It is part of the hierarchy of learning English where the yearly syllabus is divided into short periods:
English > Syllabus > Lesson > Activity

TEFL Lesson Length
The length of a typical TEFL Lesson is usually either 60 minutes or…

Role Playing in the TEFL Classroom

Role Plays or Simulations are an extremely valuable method for learning and practicing the English in your TEFL/TESOL classroom.

Essentially the students are placed in a certain fictitious situation where they must use English. It allows creativity on the part of the student and offers a freer practice than written tests. The role play situation is easily chosen but should be related to the current language level…

Oxford English Dictionary (book)

The Oxford English Dictionary (or OED) is one of the major English language dictionaries. It is published by Oxford University Press (OUP). Apart from defining words, it also traces their history and is used not only by people wanting to learn word meaning but also by scholars and academics wanting to understand more about the English language and how it has developed over the years. The OED claims that it…

Typographical Conventions

This page describes the typographical conventions we use in the Grammar Guide and generally on the ICAL TEFL site. Examples Examples are shown thus: This is a grammar example. Following common convention, ungrammatical sentences are marked with an asterisk: * This is grammatical not. Note that In some grammars‏‎ (although not ours) you can also see this shown as strikethrough: This is grammatical not. In cases where there is doubt…

Spelling Singular & Plural Nouns in English

This article details the spelling rules for turning singular nouns in plural nouns. Note, for a look at the general principles of singular and plural nouns, see Singular and Plural Nouns‏‎. Most nouns in English are regular. To make them plural we simply add -s to the end: singular plural 1 book 2 books 1 car 4 cars 1 house 8 houses In some cases, however, we need to do more…

Regular and Irregular in English Grammar

Words in English are either Regular and Irregular.

Regular means that when they change their form (for example, when they become plural) they follow the usual pattern. Irregular means, as you might expect, that they do not follow the usual pattern of most words.

Fortunately most words in English are regular, but a significant number of everyday words are not. In the TEFL classroom students just need to…

Sound Stress in English

Stress is used to talk about the emphasis given to certain sounds, words or phrases‏‎ when we speak. In English there are basically 2 times we talk about stress: on words in an utterance; and on syllable‏‎s in a word. Stress on Syllables Take the word, august, as an example. It is made up of 2 syllables: au + gust If we stress the first syllable then the word is pronounced august…

Audio-Lingual Method in TEFL

The Audio-Lingual Method is a method of teaching foreign languages popular in the mid 20th Century.

It is similar to the Direct Method (and is in fact descended from it) in that the teacher presents the students with plenty of language practice and examples in English and the students’ MT is not used at all. This, of course, is the way that native speakers learn a language…

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian inscribed stone from about 200 BCE.

It was inscribed with a decree issued on behalf of King Ptolemy V. What is important to linguists is that the same decree appears in 3 different languages.

The top is in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics; the middle is in Demotic (a form of early Egyptian) and the lower text is in Ancient Greek‏‎.


Cambridge Young Learners English Tests

Cambridge Young Learners English Tests is touted as a series of fun, motivating English language tests, aimed at children in primary and lower-secondary education (age 7 – 12).

They are run by UCLES.

The examination has three different levels: Starters Exam (typically for age 7, or Year 1 to 2 elementary students), Movers Exam (typically for ages 8 to 11, or Year 3 to 4 elementary students) and…


BULATS stands for Business Language Testing Service which is a commercial service run by Cambridge Assessment‏‎.

It is essential a method of testing the English ability (as well as French, German & Spanish) of business people. After the test users are given a score which relates to the CEF. The tests are held at a number of locations around the world.



KET – Key English Test

The Key English Test or KET is an international examination looking at beginners learning English. It is offered by Cambridge Assessment‏‎. There are 3 parts to the exam: Reading & Writing Listening Speaking The total time for the exam is 1hr 50mins and there are 3 passing grades: pass, merit, distinction…

PET – Preliminary English Test

PET stands for Preliminary English Test. PET is an exam for people who can use everyday written and spoken English at an intermediate level. It covers all four language skills, providing practical language practice in a variety of everyday work, study and leisure situations. This examination if offered by Cambridge ESOL, a department of the University of Cambridge (UK). Level of Proficiency PET is at Level B1 of the Common…

Clare McDowell

Clare McDowell is an Australian ELT author specializing in IELTS‏‎ preparation books. McDowell graduated with a BA in French & Spanish language and literature from the University of South Wales in Australia in 1979. This was followed by an MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Sydney. She also has a DELTA‏‎ which she took in 1981. Following graduation McDowell moved into teaching and then language testing, test design and then…

Vanessa Jakeman

Vanessa Jakeman is an ELT author most well known for her IELTS books published by CUP.

Vanessa worked as an EFL teacher for many years including 10 years in Hong Kong where she taught and worked for the HK Examinations Authority as well as UCLES. During this time she worked on IELTS exams…

Old English vs Modern English

Old English was the language spoken in what is now England from around the 5th – 11th centuries and is the origin of modern English.

Back then it was called Englisc and the people who spoke were the Anglo-Saxons; Old English is also known as Anglo-Saxon.

Old English is essentially the first recorded version of English and it is the forebear of the language we speak…

Runes vs English

Runes are the letters in the runic alphabets. Runic alphabets were alphabets used by various Germanic tribes not only to write their own languages but also in divination and magic. They were used throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Iceland before Christianity spreading from Rome took over and made these tribes abandon their runic alphabets to adopt the Latin alphabet.

The earliest runic inscriptions date back…


William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. His surviving works consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets and several poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. The language of Shakespeare is (mostly unknowingly) still…

Grammatical Case in English

Grammatical Case is used to talk about how nouns and, especially, pronouns‏‎ change their form when they have a different role in a sentence‏‎. For example, look at these: John loves Leslie.Leslie loves John. The subject of the first sentence is John. The object of the second sentence is the same person, John. The name is exactly the same and does not change whether it’s a subject or object. On…

Latin vs English

Latin was the language spoken by the Ancient Romans around 2,000 years ago. It developed in the Italian peninsula specifically in Latium, the region of central western Italy, in which the city of Rome was founded and grew to be the capital city of the Roman Empire. The original people living there were the Latins and the word, Latin in fact means the “language of the Latins.” Latin quickly reached…

Frisian vs English

Frisian refers to a closely related group of Germanic languages: West Frisian spoken in the Netherlands Saterland Frisian spoken in Lower Saxony, Germany‏‎ North Frisian spoken in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany East Frisian Low Saxon, the dialect of East Frisia in Lower Saxony, Germany Although the language was at risk of being eroded by German‏‎ there have been moves to spread its use and now about 350,000 people speak it, mainly in the…

Dutch vs English

Dutch is one of the closest relatives to English and the two languages share many facets. But this article is about the main differences between the two languages so that if you ever happen to teach students with a Dutch mother tongue, you’ll understand why they make certain errors and what aspects you need to pay close attention to.

To begin with, a little about the language…

Descriptive vs Prescriptive Grammars

Grammar‏‎ books can generally be divided into two different types: Descriptive or Prescriptive. This article looks at the difference between them.

Very simply, a descriptive grammar looks at what people actually say in real life and then lays out a series of statements describing what is said. With modern technology helping a lot, huge collections of language examples have been made and analyzed using programs known as concordancers‏‎. These have…

Computational Linguistics

At its simplest, Computational Linguistics (or CL) is all about trying to create a computer which uses language in the same way as a human does. The Holy Grail would be a human having a conversation with a computer but thinking they were talking to a another human.

But this is just the tip of a giant linguistic dark continent which has never been fully mapped and since it…

French vs English

The English‏‎ language was heavily influenced by French in the past and there is a great deal of overlap between the two languages, both in terms of vocabulary and grammar.

However there are a number of major issues that French native speakers have when they learn English and this article is all about the common problems you’ll have when teaching English to French speakers and how to overcome…

Azerbaijani vs English

Azerbaijani or Azeri Turkish has over 30 million speakers based in both Azerbaijan‏‎ and the surrounding countries.

It’s closely related to Turkish and is, to a certain extent, mutually understandable.

Although there are a couple of major varieties (Northern Azerbaijani and Southern Azerbaijani) and many local dialects, they do not differ substantially and speakers don’t usually have a problem understanding each other.

Northern Azerbaijani is spoken by…

How to Keep in Touch When Teaching Abroad

TEFL teachers head abroad all the time to spend a year or more teaching in a new country.

During that time it’s important to stay connected by phone and email and on the internet, not only to keep in touch with family and friends back home, but also to access the myriad of TEFL resources online which you can use in your lessons.

This article is all about…

International Schools

International Schools are generally schools based in one country but which use a curriculum and teaching methods from another country.

For example, in most countries of the world you will find schools which teach all subjects in English, with British teachers, with a British style uniform, based on British school structure, and which run exams overseen by British exam authorities. These schools – often just one or…

Teaching English in Laos

TEFL/TESOL in Laos Laos (capital Vientiane) is the poorest and least developed country in South East Asia so it definitely is not a place for teachers who wish to earn well and put money aside. However, if what appeals to you is Laos’ culture with its Buddhist thinking, attitudes and behavior, or Laos itself, a landlocked, mountainous country, widely covered by largely unspoilt tropical forest, then getting a job as a…

Teaching English in Myanmar (Burma)

Do you want to teach English in Myanmar?

This article looks at what you need to work as a TEFL teacher there. You’ll find out about the qualifications you need, how to find work, the pay and the teaching conditions, and also a little bit about the lifestyle and culture you can expect to find while you are working there.
A little bit about Myanmar
Myanmar (formerly called…

Mandarin (Chinese)

There is not one single Chinese language as such but several varieties of Chinese which are more or less mutually understandable; the language is spoken by over 1 billion people (making is more popular than English). Of the different varieties Mandarin is the most widely spoken version with over 800 million speakers. This includes “Standard Chinese” which is the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. (The other major variety is Cantonese.) MT…

The Ideal TEFL Classroom

The Ideal TEFL Classroom is the best possible place where you can give your lessons.

And remember that since it’s probably the most important room in your professional life so it’s worthwhile getting it right!

In the world of TEFL‏‎ it’s not easy to predict exactly what your next classroom will be like. You could be teaching in an ultra-modern school in the Middle East with air…

Survival English

Survival English is a term we used to talk about the essential English someone needs to know in order to survive – live or work – in an English speaking environment. Typical students of Survival English might be: going to the US on holiday taking an English course in Australia where they will live for 3 months with a host family going to a conference in the UK attending a…

Teaching English in your Gap Year

A lot of students take a year off after finishing high school, or during their university studies, and spend the time working or traveling abroad in what is known as a Gap Year.

The idea of warm seas, exotic locations and eye-opening new cultures is difficult to resist and it’s no wonder that many students think that working abroad teaching is a good idea.

However, there…

Units of Measurement in English

Units of Measurement are used to talk about quantity. Common units include:

length: meter, mile, kilometer…
weight: pound, stone, kilogram…
liquid: liter, gallon…

Singular & Plural
Units of measurement usually have a singular and plural form:
I’ve lived here 1 year.
That wall is 3 meters tall.
This tank will hold just 2 liters.
However, if we use the unit of measurement…

Possessive Apostrophes‏‎

Possessive Apostrophes are added to the end of a noun to show possession‏‎. This car belongs to John. It is John’s car. That dog belongs to that girl. It is that girl’s dog. Note, a Possessive Apostrophe is sometimes known as a Saxon Genitive. Plural Nouns If there is a plural noun‏‎ which ends in an -s, then we add just an apostrophe after it (no extra -s). In this…

Who vs Whom in English Grammar

Who vs Whom often comes up and sometimes causes confusion. This article explains the difference between these two.

Who and whom are both pronouns‏‎ and while they mean the same thing (a person or group of people) they are grammatically different.
Subjects vs Objects
The subject of a sentence‏‎ is the “main actor” in the sentence and normally it comes at the beginning of the sentence:
Louisa sang a…

Authoring for Computer Assisted Language Learning

Authoring is the term used to describe the ability to change the content in a CALL computer program.

For example, some off-the-shelf CALL programs come supplied with a bank of questions in English. However, these may not quite be suitable for a class in terms of level and content.

An authorable program, however, will allow the teacher to write their own questions and set different levels, etc. These questions…

Crossword Compiler‏‎s in English Language Teaching

A Crossword Compiler is a program which allows you to produce crosswords for the class – or have your students produce them for each other. There are a number on the market which include features such as: alternative layouts easy printing and/or publishing automatic grid filling In using crossword compilers the important thing to remember is to make them suitable for the level of the class you are teaching. First…

Sermon on the Mount (TEFAL)‏‎

Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathering them around Him, he taught them saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heavenBlessed are the meekBlessed are they that mournBlessed are the mercifulBlessed are they that thirst for justiceBlessed are you when persecutedBlessed are you when you sufferBe glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven.” Then Simon Peter said, “Are…

Dropbox for TEFL Teachers

Dropbox is a simple – and free – method of keeping your files up to date between your computer, laptop and smartphone.

It’s incredibly useful for English teachers (amongst others) in many ways, not least because it means you can work on materials at home and have them instantly available in the classroom or any other location for that matter.

It also syncs your work so…

Future Perfect Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

While it is not one of the most commonly used verb forms‏‎, the future perfect continuous does occur quite often in conversations between advanced English speakers, and in classes and exams it shows knowledge of the language that is above average for most students. Usage The verb form is used to describe events that will start at one point in time and continue until a second point in time in…

TextSTAT‏‎ (CALL Software)

TextSTAT is a simple text analysis program. The first step is to make a corpus. This can be done by adding files from a PC in HTML, TXT and WORD format, etc. In addition, there is also the ability to add in web pages using a spider to collect them from a particular site. The program can then do word frequency searches and concordances. It is fast and simple to…

Stative & Dynamic Verbs‏‎ in English

We can group verbs in different ways. One method is to divide them into Stative Verbs and Dynamic Verbs. Briefly, verbs which refer to a static or unchanging state or condition are called stative and verbs which talk about a moving or changeable condition are known as dynamic (or sometimes Action Verbs). A couple of examples help explain this difference: I’m eating just a single piece of toast for…

Chatroom Lesson‏‎ for your TEFL Class

The following is a basic chatroom lesson you can use with your CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) class. Ideally this is best with a class who all know each other fairly well. Preparation First off, prepare a list with all the names of the students in the class. Then, before the students arrive, set up a private chatroom (see Instant Messaging & Chatrooms for English Teaching‏‎ on how to do…

AntConc‏‎ (CALL Software)

AntConc is a freeware concordancer and is very useful for searching through large swathes of texts to look for patterns of usage and so on.

As an example, the screenshot on the right shows a concordance search for the word, word. The program has searched through a number of corpora (collections of texts) and displays where the word word has occurred in context (known as KWIC or KeyWord in…

Strange English (TEFAL)‏‎

Strange English is a collection of statements about English which deserve more thinking about. If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented? If people from Poland are called “Poles,” why aren’t people from Holland called “Holes?” Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery? If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled? Why is the man who invests all…

Example Lesson Plan

This is an Example TEFL Lesson Plan which illustrates some of the ideas presented in the article on TEFL Lesson Planning‏‎.

It will give you a good idea of how to approach the subject and lay out your plan. Obviously what we show here will need to be tweaked and changed for a particular class, but it’s a good start and will give you a good idea…

QVC‏‎ – the Shopping Channel Activity

QVC is a tv shopping channel which is famous for showing short segments where presenters talk about a product for several minutes, describing it in detail and explaining everything one could possibly want to know about it. The concept can be transferred to the English Language Teaching classroom. Here students either individually or in small groups can do the same to practice fluency and presentation skills; ideally this should be…

Spelling Chequer Poem (TEFAL)

English spelling is easy. We all no that as this poem demonstrates.
Eye have a spelling chequer, it came with my pea sea,
It plainly marks, for my revue, mist aches I cannot sea.
Each time when eye have struck the quays I weight four it to say
If wot eye rote is wrong or rite. It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid…

Backpacker Teachers in TEFL

Backpacker Teachers is a derogatory term for unqualified, casual teachers who take on a job teaching English‏‎ because they happen to speak English and need the money while they are, generally, backpacking around a country.
Some 30 years ago there was a tremendous, new demand for English teachers to work in various countries around the world. There were simply more posts to fill than qualified teachers to…

Stripes – Basic English (TEFAL)‏‎

Can we teach like this? Of course not because we’re mere mortals. But Harold Ramis in the 1981 film classic, Stripes, can. Stripes – Basic English The film opens with Russell Ziskey (played by Harold Ramis) teaching a brand new class to speak English when he himself has never taught before. (In actual fact, Ramis, an English Lit graduate, was a substitute teacher in Chicago during the late 1960s.) “I…

Oxford Comma‏‎s in English Punctuation

The Oxford Comma (sometimes known as the Serial Comma or the Harvard Comma) causes a lot of debate and controversy in grammatical circles. On the one hand is British English where a list of items in a sentence are separated by commas unless there is a coordinating conjunction (usually and or but) following. For example: John, Henry, Tom, Dick and Harry all came to the party. In this case we have…

MemoryLifter‏‎ (CALL Software)

MemoryLifter is a freeware program which displays flashcards. Although it’s not specifically for English, there are English modules and you can create your own set of materials for your students allowing them to study and learn the items appropriate for their level and needs. The program can use not only standard text flashcards but also images and sounds to enhance, speed up and improve learning. Free flashcard sets for English…

Just a Minute – speaking activity

Just a Minute is a very popular British radio quiz game which is ideal for the TEFL classroom and great for practicing speaking skills.

It’s very simple to prepare and great fun to play. Best for small groups but it can be played with larger groups if you prepare it well. It works best, perhaps, with Intermediate and above level students.
The principle of the game…

Mind Your Language (TEFAL)‏‎

Mind Your Language was a British sitcom about an EFL teacher to a stereotypical collection of students.

It was made in 1977 and ran for two years averaging huge audiences (over 18 million per episode) but because of the offensive stereotyping, it was cancelled.

Let’s see, we had…

a sexy French girl
a macho Italian man
an “efficient” and hard German au pair…

Talking Pictures‏‎

Talking Pictures is an activity for your TEFL class which involves the students from the outset and is guaranteed to interest them as they provide the impetus for the class. This is important. Often students can feel left out of the class; in this activity they are the ones who supply the essentials for the activity and the ones who make sure it works. Preparation Since these days virtually everyone…

Since… Ago…

Since and Ago are often confused and used wrongly by learners of English in the TEFL class. But there are some simple rules which show how they should be used.
The usage is quite simple: since is followed by a specific time.
since + specific time
I’ve been waiting here since 3 o’clock.
I’ve had this toothache since yesterday morning.
I’ve lived here since 1991.


Television from Back Home for TEFL Teachers Abroad

Sometimes living in a foreign country can be lonely but one way to keep in touch with home and get a little light relief is to watch On Demand Television (or Catch Up Television) on your computer. It’s the perfect way to keep up with current affairs back home as well as your favorite television shows while you’re living and teaching on the other side of the world…

Banned Commercial (TEFAL)‏‎

{youtube}cUEkOVdUjHc{/youtube}The following commercial was apparently banned for the taboo language it used.  Don’t listen if you’re easily shocked. The commercial was made for the Soesman Language Institute and entitled, A Day Trip. It features a middle aged couple and their children going away in a car and listening to the radio. They sing along to a song, unaware of its meaning. It was designed to encourage people to learn English rather than…

Detective Reading

Detective Reading is a simple reading exercise to give your students practice in intensive reading. The students will check for details and clues in the text to answer several questions. Preparation Find a text which is of suitable length and level for your class. It can be as long or short as you need, but the class should be able to understand much of it and (if necessary) use dictionaries…

Sweet Incentives in TEFL Teaching

Many teachers like to use Sweets or Candy as Incentives for their students, especially with younger classes. TEFL teachers heading abroad will often fill their bag with candy from back home not only to motivate their class but also offer a little bit of cultural input as well.

But is giving candy a good idea? Is this praising and rewarding your students or is it just bribing…


IATEFL is the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. It is a respected organization set up in the UK in 1967. It brings together over 4,000 teachers & administrators, writers, publishers and other professionals involved in teaching English as a foreign language. It holds regular conferences and also includes over 3,500 more local groups in 100 countries. These are both general groups as well as SIGs…

Teaching English in Bosnia‏‎ and Herzegovina

Bosnia (or to give it its full name, Bosnia and Herzegovina) is a relatively new country in the Balkans in South-East Europe which, by all recent accounts, is looking for TEFL teachers as the demand for English grows.

Although situated in Europe, Bosnia is not part of the EU yet so it is relatively easy for Americans and other non-European passport holders to get a visa to work here…

Instant Messaging & Chatrooms for English Teaching‏‎

Instant Messaging (also IM or Chat) and Chatrooms are a way of sending messages online and having a real-time text conversation. Instant Messaging is usually one-to-one while Chatrooms are usually with large groups of people. For the TEFL teacher, the goal of IM/Chat is to have your students interact with other students from different locations and cultures. It is, if you like, an update on the penpal system. It offers…

Should Of

The following are errors in English:
* I should of known better.
* They could of beaten us.
* He must of left by now.
* an asterisk in front of a sentence denotes an ungrammatical sentence.

In good, grammatical English we say instead:
I should have known better.
They could have beaten us.
He must have left by now.
All these examples use the correct past forms of…

Production‏‎ in TEFL

Production, in TEFL terms, is simply producing language; in other words, speaking or writing. It is taking the raw material (language) and forming it into coherent utterances and sentences for others to hear or read. Language learning often follows this pattern: INPUT > COMPREHENSION > PRODUCTION In general terms, the process works like this: The teacher introduces a new language item, for example the Past Simple. The teacher explains it…

Dogme in TEFL

Dogme language teaching is a methodology (and also sometimes thought of as a movement) for teaching English which encourages teaching through conversation and without textbooks in a naturalistic fashion.

It aims to take language teaching back to its roots and was initiated by Scott G. Thornbury‏‎ in an article for IATEFL some 10 years ago (see here). The idea was that teaching had become too reliant on textbooks and…

Vowels and Consonants in English

Vowels and Consonants are the sounds which go to make up the English language.

If air passes straight through the mouth without being stopped or constricted anywhere, this forms a vowel sound.

If the air is stopped at any point or the mouth is constricted somehow, then this creates a consonant sound.

For example, take the word too. It begins with the…

Do You Speak English (TEFAL)‏‎

Do You Speak English? is a sketch from the BBC television comedy series, Big Train.

It plays upon Quintin Crisp’s aphorism, “I don’t hold with abroad and think that foreigners speak English when our backs are turned.”…

Qualifications for EFL/ESOL Students‏‎

Qualifications for Students indicate how well a person knows English.

NB For qualifications in order to teach, see Essential Qualifications to Teach English.

There is no single, standardized qualification system showing how well a person can use English, however over the years a number of qualifications have risen in popularity and have become de facto standards in this area. Whilst by no means universal, these are…


ACTDEC stands for the Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses. It is a limited company which accredits TEFL certificate courses.

As of July 2012 they accredit 7 schools with a further 3 schools holding applicant status.
On its website, ACTDEC says it is a “non-profit making independent body” however it is registered with Companies House in the UK as a Limited Company No. 06713832. The registered office…


There are a couple of main areas of concern regarding LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people and issues in TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language).

being LGBT in different countries
being an LGBT teacher
LGBT materials

This article looks into each of these areas.
LGBT Teachers & Countries
Of course there are LGBT teachers. However, it is not so much about being an LGBT…

Teaching English in India

TEFL/TESOL in India India is the largest democratic republic in the world with a population of just over 1.2 billion people. The official language of India is Hindi with the second official language being English. However, there are a many regional languages (numbering millions of speakers) and especially in smaller cities and towns neither Hindi nor English can be heard. Although there is a good demand for English teachers jobs tend…

Recreational Drugs & TEFL Teachers

By drugs we are referring to so-called recreational drugs such as cannabis and alcohol etc.

This article looks at traveling with drugs and using them while you are living in a foreign country as a teacher of English.

Note that this article does not discuss the moral issues of using drugs but looks at the practicalities of the situation. The information presented here is true to…

Masters Degrees for Teachers of English

The usual qualifications‏‎ for newcomers to TEFL‏‎ are a BA degree and a TEFL certificate such as the ICAL TEFL Certificate.

However, after a few years experience, some teachers will want to go for further study.

The two main options here are a TEFL Diploma or a Masters Degree (or MA).

The MA is considered a higher qualification than a Diploma and is often a requirement for…

Vietnamese vs English

If you are teaching English in Vietnam, or teaching English to Vietnamese speakers, you may well face a few problems when your students use English.

Let’s take a simple example. Your Vietnamese students may well say things like this:
* Yesterday he go school.
* Tomorrow I go doctor.
* an asterisk at the beginning means it’s grammatically wrong
If you know nothing about Vietnamese you may…

Native Speakers

A native speaker of English is a person who has grown up speaking English‏‎ as their first language or mother tongue‏‎. In terms of English teachers this usually means from one of the major English speaking countries: the USA‏‎, the United Kingdom, Ireland‏‎, Australia, Canada‏‎, New Zealand‏‎ or South Africa‏‎.

A non-native speaker is someone who has learned English at school and knows English in addition to their mother tongue…

Speak as if…‏‎

Speak as if… is a great speaking activity which gets the students talking and repeating without realizing it. It is a great as a five minute filler activity or to use anytime you want to practice a certain few phrases with the class. It works with almost any class and is great fun with younger, more outgoing classes who are ready to enjoy themselves. Of course, if the class is…


Lingro is a useful online tool allowing language students (and teachers) to read a webpage with immediate access to dictionary definitions of unknown words. For example, this is a screen shot of a TWW page after a number of words have been clicked on using Lingro. In this case it shows words from English to Italian. In this case above, you can click on anyword on the page and see…

Have You Ever? – present perfect simple activity

Have You Ever? is a simple game to practice the Present Perfect Simple verb form using the “have you ever” question construction.

It’s very easy to set up and run and is ideal for reinforcing when we use and how we construct the verb form.

To begin, write up on the board
Have you ever…
and then put up a couple of endings (which should be…

Rosetta Stone (CALL Software)

Rosetta Stone is the name of proprietary piece of software for language learning. The name comes from the Rosetta Stone, a large carved stone from Ancient Egypt‏‎ with a single text in 3 languages which was used as an aid to translation.

The principle of the Rosetta Stone software is the Audio-Lingual Method, that is using set phrases over and over again until they are drilled into the brain…

What to Take With You when Teaching Abroad

What to Take With You is a checklist of what you should pack when you are heading off to a new job, possibly a new country.

It isn’t exhaustive, of course, and many of the items below you’ll want to leave out, but it’s a good start.
Medicines, Drugs & Hygiene Products
Take a good supply of your personal medicine and prescription drugs, the pill, etc…

Lesson Snapshot for TEFL Teachers

Lesson Snapshot is a method by which you as a teacher can try to look objectively at the way you teach and check out your style and methods from the point of view of your students.

Basically you video a typical lesson to provide a snapshot of your lesson which lets you see how it works from the students’ point of view.

It is an invaluable…

Audacity – sound recording software

Audacity is a piece of freeware software which you can use to record audio. This can later be incorporated into a Podcast or used as a simple audio file for playing in class or mixing with other media.

This article explains how to get the software, install it on your computer and then make a first recording.
First visit the Audacity Download Page and select the right…

Teaching English in South Sudan

South Sudan became independent in 2011 from Sudan. The area had English‏‎ as a state language for many years as a result of British political & military influence in the region. However in 1956 with a policy of “Arabization” this was replaced by Arabic‏‎. Following the country’s independence in 2011 English was reinstated as the official language. Although English language teaching in the country is regarded highly and teachers are in…

Take a Letter‏‎ – business dictation

Take a Letter is a simple dictation practice which allows your business English students to practice the form and style of business letters. Business letters are often formulaic, using set words and phrases and layouts. This exercise gives your students practice with these and familiarizes them with the usual content and form of these letters. As a bonus, the students get practice in speaking and listening as well. Preparation You…

Insurance‏‎ & Health Cover for Teachers Abroad

Insurance/Health Cover is a very important issue, but also a personal one. Some TEFL‏‎ teachers will not travel without, other teachers don’t even think about the idea.

This article looks at different sorts of insurances you might want to consider before heading overseas and teaching. What we present here are common scenarios but you should of course check to make sure of the details about what your school…

Split Personalities‏‎

Split Personalities is a fun TEFL‏‎ activity which helps students practice their speaking‏‎ skills, specifically in describing how people look, their clothes and so on (although it can also be adapted and used for other descriptions). It is ideal for lower level classes but again can be adapted for higher levels, too. Preparation First you need to find a pile of pictures from magazines. Ideally these are clear shots showing a…

Deficit Paradigm‏‎ in TEFL

The Deficit Paradigm has been used to explain why students misbehave in class and underachieve. Essentially it means that the reason students perform badly is because they have problems with their families, their backgrounds, their community and/or their culture. They lack certain stabilizing elements and the theory goes that to raise their achievement levels they need to have those missing elements put back. This is often contrasted with deficiencies in…

English Fail (TEFAL)‏‎

Of course English is important, we all know that. But in this epic fail it’s a matter of life or death! Check out the video and you’ll see why! Use It! And then, why not use it with your TEFL class? Set up the scene. Show the first 10 seconds, pause the video and ask: Who are these men? What are their jobs? What is happening? {youtube}GT86iWiH2mI{/youtube}NB you want to…

What Teachers Say (TEFAL)‏‎

Teachers mess up as well. Many of us have spent time teaching in a foreign country and grappling with the problems of the local language. Here are a few problems which arise:   A class were playing a word game where they had to explain a word to the rest of the class. The teacher gave an Italian student the word tramp. As the student did not know what the…

Infinitives in English Grammar

The Infinitive is the base form of the verb‏‎:
be, have, walk…
Often the infinitive is introduced by the particle, to:
to be, to have, to walk…
Note that when the infinitive is on its own it’s sometimes known as the Bare Infinitive; when it’s with to then it’s sometimes known as the Full Infinitive.
Full Infinitive Usage/Infinitive Clauses

We use the full infinitive (the infinitive with…

Teaching Anecdotes (TEFAL)‏‎

TEFL Teaching isn’t all fun and games. There’re cockups, too. In Greece and the subject of the lesson was cults and we were discussing it with the class. I happened to mention a notorious cult in England at the time, the Moonies. Dead silence and a shocked look on the faces of the students. I pushed on. “The Moonies live in country houses. Do you have Moonies here in Greece?”…

Among vs Amongst‏‎

There is no difference in meaning between among and amongst – these two words can be used interchangeably. However, amongst is less common in everyday use than among and is considered slightly more educated. In spoken American English‏‎ among tends to be used almost exclusively; however in writing amongst can still be found. The n-gram below shows the relative use of these two words over the past 50 years or so. As…

Quotations (TEFAL)‏‎

Here are some poignant quotes about TEFAL teaching. I took a TEFAL course to get a handle on this pan-dimensional subject. I got a job teaching TEFAL in China but just couldn’t stick it out. TEFAL is often panned as a job Occasionally there’s a sticky situation in class but my TEFAL training has taught me to keep a lid on it…

Shane English School‏‎

Shane English School (SES) is a chain of schools operating in Asia. The school originally started in Japan and came about after an English teacher, Shane Lipscombe found he had too many private students and thus set up a school to deal with them all.

Since then it has joined with the Saxoncourt and operates primarily in Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and China. The group is also known…

Fake TEFL Certificates‏‎

Fake TEFL or TESOL Certificates are a fact of life.

This article explores why they exist, where they come from, ways in which they are being used and methods by which legitimate companies are combating their use.

(PS click here if you need to get a genuine TEFL Certificate.)
In the past – some twenty or thirty years ago – many teaching jobs were available…

Lyric Lineup – listening activity

Lyric Lineup is a fun game for young learners. It’s useful to practice listening‏‎ in TEFL.
First choose a song suitable for the class. This means it needs to be the correct level‏‎ in terms of vocabulary and grammar and also suitable subject matter. For younger learners you can use simple nursery rhymes even.

Print out the lyrics in a large font and then cut…

TEFL Jokes (TEFAL)‏‎

Although there are jokes we can use in the class to drive home a language point and make the lesson more engaging, these are jokes about teachers and students in general and especially about the English language and the way we use it. Some of them are terrible and will get a good groan. Others are a little better. The good ones are sometimes attributed (where we know). You can…

Tag Mix‏‎

Tag Mix is a straightforward way to practice question tags with your class. It is all about having students identify the two parts of the sentence (the statement and the tag) and then mixing and matching them. As an activity it works best with intermediate and above students; the level can go up as you can make it more inventive for more advanced students. Preparation Quite simply collect a…

Tattoos‏‎ and English Teachers Abroad

The attitude towards teachers with tattoos varies according to country and school. Even in the west where tattoos are fairly common, school owners will often look down on teachers sporting obvious tattoos. In many countries tattoos were often used in the past as signaling membership of a criminal gang (e.g. the Yakuza in Japan or the Mafia in Italy‏‎) and whilst we are more familiar with images of popstars or sports…

Quick Spell‏‎

Quick Spell is an ideal activity if you find your class has problems spelling a particular word. If you notice that the same spelling mistake crops up again and again it’s time to play this game! The idea behind the activity is making the spelling of this word so natural that students don’t even have to think about it. First write the word up on the board and check with…

English Teachers – the series‏‎ (TEFAL)

English Teachers – the series, is a fictional webseries about the lives of English teachers in a language school in Japan. The first episode aired in September 2010. It is directed and produced by Anthony Gilmore who teaches English part-time at the Nagoya University of Foreign Studies in Japan and has also worked at language schools in Japan and South Korea. Note: although the first season is still online, the…

PoS Swap‏‎ – parts of speech activity

PoS Swap is an activity to practice different parts of speech. For TEFL teachers it’s well worth using as it requires little or no preparation and can be used any time there’s a slight uncertainty amongst the students over a particular PoS. Running the Activity Write up on the board a sentence structure which includes the PoS you want to practice. For example, suppose you wanted to practice adjectives and…

Brain Teasers‏‎ in the TEFL Classroom

Brain Teasers are ideal classroom activities and can be used in loads of different ways. They’re easy to adapt and you can tweak them to be just right for your TEFL class. Basically a brain teaser is a puzzle where your students have to think to find the solution. There’s often an element of thinking laterally (or in an unconventional way) so it isn’t always the case that the best…

Irregular Threes‏‎

Irregular Threes is a quick game to practice and remember Irregular Verbs- it’s ideal for a younger class: it’s noisy, chaotic, energetic and great fun, too! (There are some quieter versions of this game at the bottom of the page, however!) Running the Game Firstly go over a few irregular verbs and make sure the students understand the way in which they work and the three parts to each verb…

Teaching English in Sudan‏‎

Sudan is in north-east Africa with the Nile river dividing it east to west. It is an ancient country with a population of about 45 million. Note that In 2011 the southern part of the country gained independence as South Sudan which is now a separate country. In recent history English‏‎ was the official language until independence in 1956 (when it was replaced by Arabic‏‎). More recently it was made an official…

The 7 Commandments of Effective TEFL Teaching

TEFL Commandments are simply basic teaching rules which TEFL teachers follow in the classroom. Some call them maxims, others call them aphorisms, others still call them sayings.

But whatever you call them, they are useful to read over and think about every so often and can help both new and experienced teachers!

1. Repeat, repeat and then repeat again.

In giving new material to students, the…

Vowels to Bosnia (TEFAL)‏‎

During the war in the Balkans (1992-1995), much was made of the spelling and pronunciation of placenames in Serbia and so on. This satirical news item was popular at the time. {AF}Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Clinton announced US plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with…

Find the Comparative‏‎

Find the Comparative is a good activity for your class to practice making comparative sentences. It’s best used as an activity for pairs or small groups. Preparation Begin by making a series of cards. On each one write a pair of words which are related somehow; they should be two words which can be used in a comparative sentence. For example: elephant – mouse boy – girl Ferrari – bicycle…

Materials & Materials Writing

Materials is a general term to describe the TEFL coursebooks‏‎ and exercises used in teaching English. The author of such is known as a Materials Writer.

Materials can include:

exercise books
grammar books
various exercises & activities
listening tapes

The TEFL‏‎ industry today is massive and worth billions of dollars around the world and much of this is…


Yes/No is a simple game that helps get your class asking and answering questions and doing plenty of speaking and listening‏‎. The beauty of it is that it can be extended! Gameplay Write up on the board YES and NO in bold letters. Now tell your students that these words are illegal for the next few minutes and cannot be used. There are different ways to play the game, but…

Conditional Mashups‏‎ – conditional activity

Conditional Mashups is a simple activity to have your class practicing conditionals.

It also encourages your students to use their imaginations which is never a bad thing!
For this you’ll need loads of slips of paper. Each slip should have a dividing line right down the middle. Later a conditional sentence will divide them:

Later you will get your class to come up with unusual, weird…


Wipeout is a simple end-of-class activity which is good for practicing pronunciation and speaking. It is a good activity for low level classes and can be used from beginners up. It’s better with smaller classes but with a little variation can be used for large classes as well. Start by writing up a sentence on the board. This should be of the right level and content for the class. They should be…

Non Sequiturs in English

Non Sequitur is a Latin phrase we use in English which means it does not follow.

It is mainly used to describe a statement which has nothing to do with what was said before.

For example, this is logical and sensible.

Socrates was a man.
All men are mortal.
Therefore Socrates was mortal.

However, the last line here is a non sequitur…

Good News, Bad News‏‎

Good News, Bad News is a simple game you can play with almost any level of class. It’s useful to practice both listening and speaking. Students need to listen carefully to what was said before and prepare their own ideas as well. With your class, go through the concept of “good news, bad news” with an example: The good news is that I won a million dollars.The bad news is…

Acronyms (TEFAL)‏‎

The following are a list of TEFAL acronyms.

Further acronyms will be added when we can think of them.

CELTA – Can Easily Lose Teaching Ability
CELTA – Creepy English Losers Teaching Abroad
DELTA – Dumb Educators Lack Teaching Ability
DELTA – Dumb English Language Teachers Abroad
DoS – Doddery Old Soak
DoS – Dull old Sod
ELT – Embarrassingly Lax…

Spelling Mix – spelling activity

Spelling Mix is a simple TEFL activity for students to practice the spelling of words in a semantic field.

It’s suitable for any age and level as long as the words the students are looking for are of the right level.
Select a group of words of a suitable level and in the same semantic field. For this example we can use the semantic field WEATHER but…

Facebook for TEFL Teachers

The chances are that you have a Facebook account and there is more than a fair chance that some of your students do too.

But this raises a number of questions and if you get the answer wrong, it can sometimes have dire consequences.

Do I become “friends” with my students?
Can I post photos of me on holiday?
How can I tell…

Visas for TEFL Teachers Abroad

Quite simply a visa is a document stating that a person is authorized to enter the country or territory for which it was issued.

If you intend to go abroad to teach depending on where you go and your nationality you may or may not need a visa to enter the country and stay there.

For example, British citizens can enter Italy‏‎, part of the European Union‏‎…

Fortune Telling‏‎ – verb forms activity

Fortune Telling is a fun way for your class to practice using future‏‎ verb forms: will, be going to and suchlike. It is probably best with intermediate or above although you can adjust the level as appropriate. It is also a useful speaking‏‎ activity. The basic idea is that the students will tell each others fortune. This can be done in a number of ways but it is important to…