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The ICAL TEFL Blog

The ICAL TEFL Blog is an informal collection of articles written by ICAL TEFL staff on all aspects of TEFL and language in the widest possible sense.

We also welcome posts by guest bloggers; if you would like the opportunity to post here, please contact us with your proposal.

The views expressed here are the individual views of ICAL staff or guest bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the views of ICAL TEFL as a training provider.

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… Continue reading

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. Instead I… Continue reading

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 that each… Continue reading

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 are surprising for the schools, but… Continue reading

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 for people in Osaka.
This needed to be… Continue reading

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 in mainland China and taken by… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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” to all… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 especially in January we get a lot of new trainees joining us so here are 3 simple tips to help you make the most of it.
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!
So don’t just use them to help… Continue reading

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:
1,000,000,000
This is known as a short-scale billion.
However, many British people regard a billion as one-million-million:
1,000,000,000,000
Which is known as a long-scale billion.
This is despite the fact that “officially” in the UK since 1974 because of the American influence, a billion is:
1,000,000,000
This means that in the UK and… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 him to give up… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
In this article then you’ll find a… Continue reading

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…
The… Continue reading

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?
Basics
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 +… Continue reading

IATQuO

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.
History
IATQUO was set up by Dr Alan Moller in 2004, after he retired from Trinity and the British Council. He… Continue reading

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 maybe even the respect and admiration of their peers, after the teaching… Continue reading

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
IATEFL – as you may… Continue reading

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, according to Muller a teacher isn’t there to… Continue reading

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
Simple:
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… Continue reading

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 offensive or… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 things are much easier and much… Continue reading

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 in Italian now”, before pronouncing the… Continue reading

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 Middle East. She has also been… Continue reading

“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… Continue reading

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 they are wrong. It’s alive… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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. You see that looking at the site on a modern desktop computer everyone was pretty happy: it was clear and easy to read and the information was there for the reading.
But on a mobile phone things were different… Continue reading

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 of a sentence should… Continue reading

ICAL TEFL Courses FAQ

The ICAL TEFL Course FAQ – the courses and people behind them!
Here we have answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about our courses. Feel free to browse through them and of course if you can’t find the answer to your question here then by all means write us an email and we will get back to you as soon as we can – usually within… Continue reading

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 trainees who were preparing… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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, Yes!
All US citizens and permanent residents… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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
Most TEFL teaching contracts‏‎ are for… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

TEFL/TESOL 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.
For more information on finding work, submitting… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 the UK.
One… Continue reading

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 students… Continue reading

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 its 25th anniversary.
In recent… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 explanations based around the… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

Grammer

Please… whatever else you do… spell GRAMMAR with an A at the end and not an E.

GRAMM A R – yes
GRAMM E R – no

According to Google, a search for ‘grammer’ brings up over 4 million hits.

However, things seem to be getting better. Looking at Google n-grams we can see that people seem to be spelling grammar correctly better now than at any time during the past 100 years. Possibly as… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 enough teachers isn’t the only problem… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
Lexical… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 a passport from the United States. When you… Continue reading

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, surprise, happiness… Continue reading

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.
Vocabulary
Like English, Norwegian is… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 you can join them…
A Typical Plan
What often happens… Continue reading

Are MOOCs Dead?

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
about 96%… Continue reading

Teaching English in Korea

TEFL/TESOL 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 such as the ICAL TEFL Certificate to teach… Continue reading

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)… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 this article is aimed… Continue reading

Teaching English in the Caribbean

TEFL/TESOL 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 usually need a degree and a good TEFL… Continue reading

Teaching English in Central America

TEFL/TESOL 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 certificate is still… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 you or your class use as… Continue reading

Teaching English in Israel

TEFL/TESOL 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 Jewish nation… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.

Spanish
Arabic
French
Mandarin
German
Portuguese
Italian
Russian
Turkish
Japanese
French

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

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 and then 200 in… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
The story came to light when… Continue reading

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 generally advise… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
Huh?
Exactly. Or I could say, “But how could… Continue reading

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 also download… Continue reading

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
The… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
Editor’s… Continue reading

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 stories without… Continue reading

Shanghai Favorite for Expats in China

Shanghai has again topped the list of preferred cities in China for expats.
The survey was published last week 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:

Shanghai
Beijing
Tianjin
Guangzhou
Shenzhen
Xiamen
Nanjing
Suzhou
Hangzhou
Qingdao

Useful Links
Teaching English in China
Expat English Teachers
Original Article from the English News China
Image © Sprengben… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 and point to the… Continue reading

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 the whole thing) could… Continue reading

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.
Components
The series comprises a large number of components. There are 4 levels confusingly called:

Intro
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… Continue reading

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 to motivate a group… Continue reading

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 out of… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

Teaching English in Europe

TEFL/TESOL 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 experienced and… Continue reading

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 and Vietnam‏‎. But do… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 latest methods and ideas for teaching… Continue reading

Guest Blogs – write for us

The ICAL TEFL Blog and the ICAL TEFL Resources are 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 or Second language in the widest… Continue reading

Scaffolding

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 of the… Continue reading

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.

How… Continue reading

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 which talks about Real Madrid players… Continue reading

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 younger teacher… Continue reading

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.
Here are a few statistics they’ve… Continue reading

$3,800 USD to rescue a cat in China

First off let me say I’m a cat lover. And a dog lover. But this English teacher goes one step further.

She was teaching English in China and adopted a stray cat. Then she spent £2,500 (about $3,800 USD) to take it back to the UK when she left the country. I don’t know. I just think that she could have given a few thousand dollars to… Continue reading

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!
This… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 answer is quite simple… Continue reading

ESLdrama Web Series

{youtube}xgP8dhG0kMg{/youtube}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 trailer for Episode 1.
See… Continue reading

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 – will still… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 verb and write:
I pay $15 each month for… Continue reading

How Hard is it to Learn English?

How hard is it to learn English?
Well that’s not easy for me to say since I’ve been learning it since the day I was born (actually, recent research suggests I’ve been learning it since I was in the womb). But it got me thinking. I searched around a bit and couldn’t find much online about it until I came across the famous FSI list.
The FSI is the Foreign Service Institute… Continue reading

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 setup – for free – a… Continue reading

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 increasing.
This article looks at… Continue reading

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’… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 of schools abroad, it’s not like you’ve got… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
Its
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… Continue reading

ICAL TEFL Community

The ICAL TEFL Community gives a voice to TEFL teachers and other guests wherever you are.
Let’s start with…
ICAL TEFL Forum
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.
TEFL News
You can also find here the TEFL News section. This… Continue reading

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 to be an old… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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.
This… Continue reading

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 work. The… Continue reading

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 in Saudi drove cars… Continue reading

Teaching English in Libya

TEFL/TESOL in Libya
Libya – after years of isolation – recently overthrew dictator Gaddafi and opened the doors to English teaching and teachers.
From 1986 – 2006 Gaddafi sidelined the teaching of English‏‎ and it was even suspended for a short period, however, since his overthrow the country is beginning to open up and the demand for English is increasing.
At the moment there is little structure to the system, but vocational and Business English‏‎… Continue reading

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

Title:
[the name of the book]
Author:
[name of author]

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

Length of Course:
[how long… Continue reading

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.
Well… Continue reading

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 to help… Continue reading

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.
Vocabulary
A certain amount of Russian vocabulary comes from the same root as… Continue reading

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 a warning. We have said it… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 the /v/ sound and the /f/ sound we have our mouth and… Continue reading

Teaching English in Iraq

TEFL/TESOL 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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

Psycholinguistics

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

TEFL/TESOL via Footprints

The ICAL TEFL Certificate Course is what you need to become a certified teacher of English as a Second or Foreign Language. Accepted worldwide it will allow you to work across the globe.
Use this form below if you are taking our course via Footprints Recruitment. When you register at this special price we will contact Footprints and confirm your registration.
<?php include ‘arathra/teflcertfootprints_pay.php'; ?>
Note that when you click on the button… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 in a compound then we keep it singular… Continue reading

Pig – Goat‏‎ – word game

Pig – Goat is a traditional game which is easily adapted for your TEFL classroom. Sometimes it’s boringly called the “last letter word game” or “word chains” but whatever the name, it’s ideal as a filler activity at the end of the class. Playing the Game If the class don’t know the game then it’s best to play it all together with you leading. Later they can play it in small groups and… Continue reading

Susan Griffith‏‎

Susan Griffith is a Canadian freelance editor and writer who specializes in writing books and articles about travel, especially working and volunteering abroad.
After graduating in English from the University of Toronto, she went on to study at Oxford and then decided to stay on working in England.
She has plenty of personal experience of working abroad and in the last 25 years she has traveled extensively both for work and pleasure… Continue reading

Message Sent

Thank you for your message. We will normally respond within 24 hours – often a lot sooner!
In the meantime, you may want to explore other areas of our site. Use the menu items at the top of the page, the bottom of the page and, of course, the search engine!… Continue reading

Culture & Language for Foreign Footballers

In the UK the football (soccer) governing body, the FA, are thinking of introducing culture lessons along with English lessons to foreign footballers to help combat racism.
Over 60% of players in the Premier League are non-British and there have been a number of incidents where they have used racially abusive terms and later claimed they did not fully understand the implications of what they were saying. When Liverpool played Manchester… Continue reading

Suicide & the Hangman Game

There’s a report in a Japanese paper about how a TEFL teacher in Yachiyo has come in for criticism after continually playing Hangman‏‎ with students even after a student at the school committed suicide by hanging. (See below for a translation of the original article.)
Now I think pretty well every teacher on the planet has used hangman at one time or another, not least because it’s a popular game in… Continue reading

Travel makes you Creative!

How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity – that’s the title of a research paper published earlier this year.
It says, essentially, that if you have more experiences traveling and living abroad then you’ll be more creative in your everyday life.
However, I’d also suggest that the kind of people who are going to live and travel abroad are going to be more creative anyway.
It takes a lot of gumption to leave your… Continue reading

Macmillan Bribery in TEFL

It’s just come out that Macmillan Publishers has been banned by the World Bank over bribes it paid to the Sudanese government to secure lucrative education contracts in the Sudan‏‎.
This came as quite a surprise to me (and I guess a lot of other people, too) for a couple of reasons.

Firstly while we can expect bribes from oil companies, arms manufacturers, giant multi-nationals and so on, you don’t really expect… Continue reading

Teaching in [put country here] frustrations!

Trust me. If you want to find out what it’s like teaching in a particular country be prepared to wade through loads of advertising rubbish if you decide to use Google!
We had an inquiry from one of our students who was interested in teaching in Croatia‏‎ and asked us to look into finding him work there. In the TEFL Resource Library here we’ve got loads of information about teaching all… Continue reading

Back behind a Desk – learning a new language

Well I'm on business/holiday right now but in Portugal‏‎ - a country I've never visited before. I always think it's a fascinating experience to be in a place where you know nothing at all of the language. It immediately reminds you what it is like to be a complete beginner. And that's something every teacher needs once in a while I think!There's the slight fear of saying anything in case it's
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