76. Playing with Fire! Sandwiched between TEFL and a Blacksmith

“How can TEFL and ironwork possibly have anything in common?” A sandwich. That’s what my career has been like: two slices of TEFL (one much thicker than the other) with a hefty slice of blacksmithing in between. Yes, blacksmithing: for fifteen years, my husband and I ran a blacksmith’s forge, designing and producing traditionally-forged functional and decorative ironwork. Few more disparate jobs it is hard to imagine, I know, and space does not permit me Read more…

76. Logic game and riddles

Here is a logic game and some riddles for your students to work out.

Barrel of laughs

Two baristas in London were looking at a barrel, which was partly filled with beer. One barista said to the other: “Look, it’s more than half full.” To which the other barista replied: “You’re wrong, it’s actually less than half full.” How could they find out, without using any measuring devices or any equipment of any kind, if it was more or less than exactly half?

The riddler

Insert these words in blue into the blank spaces.

age, feathers, holes, months, race, round, success, take

1 If you were in a _____ and passed the person in second place, what place would you be in? Second place!

2 What goes up, but never comes down? Your _____ !

3 What gets bigger and bigger the more you _____ away from it? A hole!

4 How many _____ have 28 days? All of them!

5 Which weighs more, a ton of _____ or a ton of bricks? Neither, they both weigh a ton!

6 What is full of _____ but can still hold water? A sponge!

7 What has two hands, a _____ face, always runs, but stays in place? A clock!

8 Where does _____ come before work? In the dictionary!


key All they need to do is tilt the barrel at 45 degrees. If the edge of the surface of the beer touches the lip of the barrel at the same time as it touches the bottom of the barrel, then it must be half full / empty.   1 race 2 age 3 take 4 months 5 feathers 6 holes 7 round 8 success

Source: Adapted from Word Games, Riddles and Logic Tests – Tax Your Brain and Boost your English, Springer 

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75. Clocking out

“During my lessons I tend to look at the clock frequently, as I want to stick to the timing of my lesson plan. Will students just interpret this as me just wanting to get the lesson over and done with?” There is nothing more discouraging for students than seeing their teacher with a desperate expression glancing at the clock on the wall to see what time it is. This gives two messages to your students: Read more…

74. Finnish for Fun

“If you could learn any language for no practical reason other than just finding it stimulating and fun, which would you choose?” Aristocrats in Europe typically used to speak a number of very varied languages as part of their education. Tolstoy was fluent in English, French and German. Apparently, he could also read Greek and Latin, along with Bulgarian, Italian, Turkish and Ukrainian. Three hundred years earlier, Lady Jane Grey, who was de facto Queen Read more…

73. Keeping up: Being a Taiwanese teacher of English

“What are the challenges of being a non-native teacher of English in Taiwan?” I started my career as a high school EFL teacher in Taiwan in my mid 20s. As with other careers, this job has its ups and downs. In the past 20 years, seeing my students’ progress and their confidence that comes with the progress always gives me the most joy. On the other hand, the ever-changing nature of languages, students’ diverse levels Read more…

72. EFL books in Iraq

“What are the difficulties of learning English in Iraq?”

“What are EFL books like in Iraq?”

As EFL teachers, we probably know a lot about teaching situations in various parts of the world – obviously in the USA and Europe, but probably also in Japan, Korea, China, and Latin America and South America. Much less is known about the Middle East, particularly countries like Armenia, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Adrian Wallwork spoke to Sura Dhiaa Ibraheem, an Iraqi researcher and professor with a Masters in English Language and Linguistics. She works at Al- Farahidi University, which is a private university in Baghdad. Sura and her colleagues are organising a conference entitled “New Trends in English Language Teaching” to be held in April 2024. She would very much appreciate teachers outside Iraq becoming involved in the conference. Note: The illustrations (apologies for the poor quality) all come from a book called English in Iraq. The book is totally England-centered – students in Iraq find it very difficult to relate to.

Sura: The first thing you need to know is that all the textbooks were developed by UK publishers on the basis of the Iraqi government’s requirements.

Do the teachers and students find the books effective?

No. To give the publishers some credit, they were designed to be communicative. But our teacher survey suggested that studying grammar, reading aloud, and doing vocabulary exercises were the primary activities. In most cases teachers and learners do not actually not speak English often, and when they do this will often be limited to repeating what the teacher says.

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71. Unlocking Global Connections

“What do you enjoy about teaching 1-1 online?” I work out of Cape Town in South Africa, but previously worked face-to-face in the Middle East. What I enjoy in my new life as an online teacher is the opportunity of meeting a wide variety of students, with different backgrounds and learning requirements. Sure, I had different nationalities in the face-to-face groups I taught for many years, but I found it was generally more difficult to Read more…

70. Teaching English in Spain: Many options, varied training needs

“What should I know about teaching in Spain?” When asked about the qualifications needed to become a qualified teacher in Spain, I answer like a Galician. You see, I have been living in this area of Northern Spain for so long that I have acquired some of the characteristics of my neighbours. One of these is that a Galician will respond to a question with … another question. My response to enquiries about training to Read more…

69. Director Straits

“What is an EFL school director and why does anybody want to be one?” The pros As somebody who makes decisions quickly, I enjoy being able to decide something and implement it without having to discuss and negotiate at length. In my case, my husband is co-owner, so our discussions about the school can happen as and when they are necessary and do not have to be scheduled in. We can debate ideas over dinner Read more…

68. From TEFL to DJ

How I went from the classroom to the dance room We asked a former non-native English teacher – with the Cambridge Proficiency and Celta – to tell her story of how she moved from TEFL to DJing. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ … It’s never seemed like that for me. Often unprepared and completely out of my comfort zone, I have had to learn, change and adapt, and in many instances the necessary training and Read more…