Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Dear all, 

I just wanted to say thank you for reading my blog this year. It has been a pleasure to write for you. I hope we'll see each other next year as well and I wish you all the best.

Eva :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas

One of my favorite things at school during Christmas time was listening to Christmas songs, filling out the blanks on the paper and singing the songs afterwards. So, in the memory of that, here are two versions of a well-known Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and worksheets with lyrics for you to use while doing Christmas listening activities.

This is the original version of the carol. You can download the lyrics from here.

This is the parody of the original carol and you can either use it together with the original, or on its own, but with the reference to the original one. I find this one hilarious and I would use it with advanced learners.  Click here to download the lyrics.

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs/carols? :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Learning Difficulties: Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

A few weeks ago, some of my colleagues at the university had a presentation about learning difficulties, which was really useful and informative. That is the reason I decided to write a post about the two most common learning difficulties - dyslexia and dysgraphia. There are a lot of great resources where you can read about these conditions, so I'll just give you some guidelines which will hopefully help you recognize these difficulties if a student of yours has them. 

This is what a simple text looks like to a person who has dyslexia.

 Dyslexia is is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols. Some of the symptoms (according to are:
  • Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
  • Labelled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, "not trying hard enough," or "behavior problem."
  • Isn't "behind enough" or "bad enough" to be helped in the school setting.
  • High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
  • Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
  • Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
  • Seems to "Zone out" or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
  • Difficulty sustaining attention; seems "hyper" or "daydreamer."
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids. 
This is what a handwriting of a person with dysgraphia can look like.
 Dyslexia can, but doesn't have to be connected to dysgraphia, which is a deficiency in the ability to write, regardless of the ability to read, not due to intellectual impairment. Most common symptoms of dysgraphia (taken from here) are:
  • A mixture of upper case/lower case letters
  • Irregular letter sizes and shapes
  • Unfinished letters
  • Struggle to use writing as a communications tool
  • Odd writing grip
  • Many spelling mistakes (Sometimes)
  • Decreased or increased speed of writing and copying
  • Talks to self while writing
  • General illegibility
  • Reluctance or refusal to complete writing tasks
  • Crying and stress (which can be created by the frustration with the task of writing and/or spelling. This can also be brought on in dysgraphic students by common environmental sources such as high levels of environmental noise and/or over-illumination).
  • Experiencing physical pain in the hand and/or arm when writing
  • Poor use of lines and spaces
There are many different types of dyslexia and dysgraphia. If any of your students shows more than a half of the symptoms I have listed here - they might have one or another and it is up to the experts to determine how serious their difficulties are. However, the first step towards help is in your hands. Both of these conditions can bring a lot of frustration and unnecessary stress to the students and their families, but if you act on time - a lot of it can be prevented.
To read more about dyslexia and dysgraphia and how to deal with them in class, you can visit the following sites:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Videos and Speaking Activities

Videos can be a great tool for practicing pronunciation and delivering a speech about a certain topic. How? Easy. All you have to do is let a video play, but mute. Your students can then pretend to be TV presenters, or guides or characters in the video and deliver what the characters are saying. Best videos for this are commercials and news or scoops about certain sightseeing attractions and similar. 

Firstly, of course, let them see the video (with or without tune) to make them familiar with the topic. If they hear what the person in the video is saying, they can try to catch as much as possible and then reproduce it in their own way. If not, they get to be more creative. Either way, let them take notes and then give them some time to think of the most appropriate way of presenting what they have written. They shouldn't read from their notes, but maybe just refer to them when necessary. At the end of the activity, let them see the complete video to see if they were close with what they were saying.

Here are some videos that can be used for this activity.