The Strangest and Most Tragic Ghost Towns From Around the World

The Strangest and Most Tragic Ghost Towns From Around the World

Here is a link with a ton of amazing pictures of abandoned cities around the world. This is wonderful visual material for a whole load of writing or speaking activities

– trying to imagine what these places were like before they were abandoned

-practising ‘used to’ past forms

-creative writing in general


Where children sleep

Where children sleep

Cultural context is everything. It’s important that our children understand they are part of the world and appreciate that their reality is not everyone else’s reality. These pictures provide wonderful resources for all sorts of things let alone thought-provoking discussion.

The Flipped Classroom Boosts Grades 5%. Why That’s As Big As We Can Expect.

the flipped classroom model

The Flipped Classroom Boosts Grades 5%. Why That’s As Big As We Can Expect.

Classrooms across the nation are adopting a new technology trend known as the “flipped” classroom, where students watch lecture videos as homework and teachers use class-time for discussion. First popularized by YouTtube sensation, Sal Khan, 3 years ago, the flipped model gained traction far faster than researchers had time to study it.

Go to the link to read the full article.


I find this great news as I have been using flipped classroom methods for a while and feel it is the only way for a teacher to move forward in a fast-changing age of technology which is leaving ‘the old style’ redundant.

5 song extracts to help students link sounds better

5 song extracts to help students link sounds better

This post contains a 5-minute video with song excerpts highlighting some of the ways in which vowels, semi-vowels and consonant sounds are linked in English.

Elsewhere on this blog I have argued that pronunciation does matter and deserves far more attention than it’s been getting from mainstream ELT. I have tried to go beyond the old “what matters is intelligibility” paradigm and argued that we can’t ignore, for example, how annoyance potential might impact communication. I have also made a distinction between teaching pronunciation for production (i.e., enabling students to sound better) and teaching pronunciation for comprehension (i.e., highlighting features of linking, weak forms, sound discrimination etc.) and argued that perhaps we should place increased emphasis on the latter.

As I was feeling particularly musical last week (!), I decided to put together a short, self-contained video with five song excerpts, as well as on-screen questions, to help you raise students’ (B1 and above) awareness of sound linking in English. Before you click play, bear with me for a few more seconds:

1. I originally intended to devise a comprehension-based activity (identifying sounds, filling in the blanks etc), but the songs are so well-known that most students would probably recognize the words and maybe even feel like humming / singing along anyway. This means that I wound up creating something a little more output-oriented than the original plan.
2. As I wrote the activity, I kept going back to Michael Swan’s six criteria for good rules (truth, demarcation, clarity, simplicity, conceptual parsimony and relevance) and I must confess that, in hindsight, I fear I ended up sacrificing truth and demarcation for the sake of simplicity and conceptual parsimony. But they’re probably good enough for the average student, I think.
3. The pink rectangles on the video are meant to show students how the highlighted sounds blend. I’ve focused on the last letter of each word, rather than on the syllable itself. For example: all eyes o n us. Otherwise, “all eyes”, for example, would be boxed together, which students would probably find confusing.

McGrath, Jane. “10 of the Biggest Lies in History” 16 March 2009. 18 August 2013.

Yet another interesting piece I fell upon in my daily mindless internet wanderings.

A springboard for – reported speech– perhaps.

One idea: give students a summarizing sentence for each article like ‘previously they believed that…..’ ‘In an interview, Bill Clinton stated that…..’

Students could also turn each ‘lie’ into a poster or advertisement. They could also discuss ‘lies’ in their own country.

There’s a lot of material for classroom work/discussion.

passive voice practise


I was just stumbling around when I came across these rare historic photographs.

here’s the URL

As a practical person I asked myself: what could I do with these as an English teacher? The first thing that came to mind was using them to practice the passive voice, asking students to perhaps create their own captions using the passive form.

The first McDonalds ever.

Fidel Castro with Che Guevera

Sadam Hussein with a noose around his neck

Elvis Presley being drafted into the army.

Early photograph of Osama bin Laden with his family.

The Titanic


Oldest photograph ever taken in France.

First computer ever made.

There is obviously much more that could be done with these pictures – they are terrific creative writing prompts. They could also be part of a ‘match the caption’ game. Students could write their own newspaper reports to accompany these pictures. There are more on the site; I just copied a few.

Any feedback is most welcome!