Hugs and Shrugs: Motivation in the Language Classroom

By Neil Millington I have been hesitant to write this blog as I am not sure what kind of reaction I’d get, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it go. It’s about an instance in a class that I taught recently that was totally unplanned and that completely took […]

Making a Difference – Part II

My last blog post was about showing learners how they can make a difference in class using a short narrative. Over the coming weeks I’m writing about teachers I know who are going the extra mile and making a difference in their classes or courses. I am going to start this off with this post […]

Making a Difference – Part I

This week I thought I would share a motivational strategy that I have been using to help show learners that they can make a difference in class. I’m going to follow this up with a blog about a teacher who is going the extra mile and really making a difference to his students, so please […]

Creating a win-win situation: Sharing on social media

by Neil Millington “What’s in it for you?” This question, posed to me by a fellow teacher I had only just met at a conference, was simple enough. I had just finished explaining to him how much work it was to create our website,, an online bank of free reading materials. I was caught […]

Maps in the Classroom

Using Maps in the English Classroom

I’ve been interested in maps ever since I was a kid and got my little hands on my first atlas. The colorful shapes on each page showed far-away places with strange names I couldn’t pronounce. Living in a small town in Manitoba, Canada, these were places I knew I would probably never visit. It just wasn’t […]

Games in the Classroom

Back when I was an Assistant Language Teacher at a Japanese high school, teachers would constantly ask me to develop a game for the students.  It didn’t really matter what it was but I was clearly in charge of making this game, preparing all the materials, and then briefing my fellow Japanese teacher of English […]

Godzilla or Spock? The First Day of Class

It was with great interest that I read Michael Griffin’s excellent blog post called “Scaring Students on the First Day” with its picture of the famous Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (the most ironic name ever – you can’t beat Kubrick) from Full Metal Jacket screaming at the film’s protagonist, Private Joker.  In his post, Mike wonders about the best way to […]


Reading for Pleasure in the Target Language

Guest Post by Shannon Mason When I finished my six-month stint as a university exchange student in Japan, going back more than fifteen years now, I was given a Japanese novel by my practicum supervisor. He said that one day I’ll be able to read it and tell him my thoughts. I set a goal […]

Reading Comprehension and Prior Knowledge

One of the things I always think about when I introduce a new reading to a class is a reader’s background or “schematic” knowledge about a particular topic.  Although two articles might look similar in terms of vocabulary difficulty, sentence length, and sentence-level grammar structure, the fact is that learners will find an article in […]

Prediction and Main Idea Reading Skills

Answering prediction and main idea questions on English tests isn’t easy but with some help from this article, it can be made easier.  Here are some tips on getting better at these essential reading skills. Quite often, my students can nail the detail questions on a standard English reading comprehension quiz or test but they have trouble seeing the bigger […]