Your 10 Favourite Blog Posts of 2016

As we are wrapping up the year, it’s always nice to look back and see which blog posts you liked the most in 2016. We revisit some of your favourite articles, interviews and lesson plans to inspire you to read and use them again in the new year. We can’t wait to share more great resources in the new year, and we are really looking forward to meeting new people in our interview series. Many thanks for being with us in 2016, and see you in 2017!

1 Six Activities for English Language Day

English Language Day at the United Nations is celebrated on 23 April, the date traditionally observed as the birthday of William Shakespeare (1564). This day is also the day of of Shakespeare’s death (1616), and Saint George’s Day, which is the National Day of England.

Take a break from your usual routine, take a different perspective on the language, and dedicate a fun lesson to learn about the English language. If you think your students are up to some role-play and drama, dedicate a lesson to Shakespeare and drama. For ideas, visit the Green Room, our drama resource collection. We offer six activities to help you get your students to do some research.

2 Hooked on Books: Alan Pulverness on bringing literature into the language class

In this series of interviews we talk to teachers, ELT writers, visual artists and researchers about the importance of using literature in the language classroom. Together they have over a hundred years of experience in teaching and writing so they can definitely give us plenty of advice and insight into the best practices. We talk about the importance and transformation of literary texts in education, we ask for genre and title recommendations as well as personal stories.

In January we talked to Alan Pulverness, Assistant Academic Director at NILE and Course Leader for the NILE TEFL Delta Modules. He is the author of Reading Matters, The Helbling Guide to Using Graded Readers.

3 International Women’s Day Projects and Books Lists

How much do your students know about International Women’s Day? How do they celebrate it? Do they think women should be celebrated? What do they think about gender equality?

Celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) is probably best done by discussing important issues and learning about inspirational women who fought for women’s rights and inspirational people today who are still fighting for gender equality. Explore these topics with your classes and then choose a classic novel by a female author to celebrate women in March.

4 Transformation Stories and Activities for Your Teen Classes

With the growing number of performances related to Shakespeare this year, it is easy to come across A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Watching this play in my local theatre recently I inevitably started thinking about transformations in literature. I soon realized that many of my favourite literary works are actually transformation stories. Can you name some of your favourite transformation stories? What do the human beings, animals and plants turn into? Why does this transformation happen? Are there any other works which use the same myths? You can read our recommended list of books and language activities which will help your students think, talk, write about transformations in English.

5 Three Transformation Stories and Three Activities for Young Learners

Younger children too are equally fascinated by change and mutation so we recommend three stories with transformations which your young learners will enjoy reading.

6 The Wind in the Willows – enjoy “messing about in boats” this March!

If you have read this children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame, we do not need to convince you to read it with your students. If you have not yet experienced this charming story, you will only need to take a look at its characters to fall in love with them immediately. Kenneth Grahame was born on March 1st in 1859, so let’s celebrate his birthday by reading this classic tale together. Let’s explore this story and take a look at its origins, characters and variety of adaptations, including Andrea Alemanno‘s enchanting illustrations for the Helbling Reader adaptation of the story.

7 Ten Fun Bookish Things to Do on April 23rd, World Book Day

What do you feel when you are surrounded by books? Excitement? Curiosity? A sense of adventure? On April 23rd take a trip to your favourite book place: a bookshop, a library, or your bookshelf in your own home. On this day we can celebrate both paper and digital books. Although for many of us the physical, paper book is still the ‘real thing’, digital books are gaining more and more appreciation and popularity. At the same time, we are still enchanted by the aesthetic and physical aspects of the paper book: the design, the shape, the paper quality, the smell of the pages. Let’s share our love of books then!

8 Find inspiration in writing in a foreign language

How do you feel when you write in English? How does writing in a foreign language change your sense of identity and perspective on the world around you? Many well-known authors have decided over the years to write in a language other than their mother tongue. One of the most recent examples is Jhumpa Lahiri (The Interpreter of MaladiesThe Namesake), an award-winning American author of Indian origin, who has recently published her first novel in Italian. Lahiri’s decision to write in Italian was based on personal choice and the desire for experimentation. Other authors have had numerous other reasons, often political and historical, but one thing is sure: they all created a distinctive style and found inspiration in this strange and challenging  linguistic place.

9 Hooked on Books: Piergiorgio Trevisan on bringing literature into the language classroom

In April we talked to Piergiorgio Trevisan, who has a PhD in linguistics and literature from the University of Udine (Italy). He has taught and written in the area of text analysis, including literary and multimodal texts. In 2014 he obtained a Marie Curie Grant from the European Commission in order to study reading difficulties and their correlation to visual attention. He has recently returned from the University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work where he worked as a visiting researcher.

10 Hooked on Books: Chris Lima on bringing literature into the language class

In May we talked to Chris Lima. Chris is one of the most active figures in ELT and Literature programs, being a lecturer, researcher and teacher educator as well as the  IATEFL Literature, Media and Cultural Studies SIG Coordinator, the ELT Online Reading Group Project Coordinator and Member of the Advisory Board at Extensive Reading Foundation.

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