Tag Archives: talks

Promoting Speaking Skills

It’s time for Oxford University’s two-week English Language Teachers’ Summer Seminar in the beautiful setting of Exeter College.

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My course in the first week was on the topic of Promoting Speaking Skills. It was a pleasure to work with fantastic teachers from Colombia, Turkey, Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Czech Rep, Ireland, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Taiwan, Yemen, Japan, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Spain, Mexico and Bangladesh: we had a fascinatingly diverse array of classroom experience with which to work and I enjoyed leading the course very much.

As promised, I have put the slides from the week together in one file.

If you would like e-copies of the handouts for each day, email me at legyened@yahoo.co.uk

Summer Seminar, Exeter College, Oxford

The annual summer seminar at Exeter College, Oxford provides English teachers from more than twenty different countries with the chance to spend two weeks in Oxford. It’s such a pleasure to be one of the tutors: it’s an amazing opportunity for us all to broaden our horizons culturally, academically and socially. The fact that the sun has been shining makes it even more special.















With the Olympics now upon us, it’s also been a thrill to see – and then chat to – two Chilean Olympic athletes. Thanks to Google, I know that they are Edward and Yerko Araya, competing in the 20km and 50km walking events. Surreal to watch them tear up and down the Iffley Rd walking faster than some of the cars in Oxford morning traffic. Good luck to them both!


Tea and talk

One of the extra-curricular events we have at school is a regular ‘tea afternoon’ when interesting guests are invited to give a little or talk or presentation after school on a topic of general interest. The students (from 9.b and 11.f on this occasion) create a ‘tea house’ in one of the classrooms and people come to listen to the speaker and have a nice cup of tea. It’s great. Recent speakers have included the Hungarian TV reporter Al Ghaoui Hesna talking about her reporting from the Middle East, and two of our own teachers, Dóra Tarnai and Keith Lambert who were involved in Fulbright exchanges between our school in Hungary and one in Connecticut. I guess it’s getting harder to find interesting guests, because the most recent tea afternoon featured me talking about my trip to Brazil in the summer.


It was a great trip down memory lane for me, remembering the fun times I had in Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Recife earlier in the year. I talked about the cities, the climate, the delicious food and drink, the customs, the lifestyle, the language – and whatever else popped into my head. Showing some of the photographs taken by me (and also some taken by my colleague Nina Lauder) really brought back the memories.

Before the talk I made a little video message and sent it to some of the people I know in Brazil, asking them to teach us a few words in Brazilian Portuguese. Many thanks to Kelly Françoso, a teacher I met in Oxford in the summer, who sent me a video message containing a mini-language lesson – it was great to be able to show it during the talk. (I can really recommend the mailvu.com site for those thinking about sending video messages. I also used it last year, when I asked students to send me their video applications for a job as a polar bear lookout – long story.)





All in all, it was a fun afternoon. For the students it was a good chance to practise their English (I was too lazy to do it in Hungarian) and to hear a bit about this fantastic country and its people. As for me, it was a  reminder of the great times I had, and the wonderful people I was lucky enough to meet.


My youngest daughter was there to listen, too 🙂










IATEFL-Hungary conference

My session at the IATEFL- Hungary conference in Budapest on Saturday was on the  topic of ‘Using vocabulary inside and outside the classroom with Oxford Word Skills.’  Thanks to all those teachers who came along and got involved. (I’m not making all the slides available here, as the session contained a load of photographs of my students and scans of their work, and I don’t want to go public with all of them without their permission. )

One of the tasks I got my students to do involved working with newspaper headlines. Students had to look at a headline and imagine a story to go with it. They had to dream up descriptions of the people in the article and present a summary. I also asked them to find a way to match a bizarre and incongruous photograph that I gave them to one of four headlines, providing a caption to go with the photograph.

These were the four headlines that the students had to work with:

Which headline proved to be the most popular? No contest. There was a hands-down winner: ‘Man claims dog can talk’

I got an array of illustrated articles from my students with various imaginative takes on this (shaggy?) dog story. What was really interesting was that even when I gave them illustrations to work with which  had no obvious connection whatsoever to dogs (talking or otherwise) they still managed to make a connection.

There was clearly something about this topic of the talking dog that the students liked. I mean, look:


One of the enduring fascinations of teaching is its unpredictability. Students very often respond to input in marvellously unexpected ways. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is that rather than trying  to get my lessons ‘back on track’  when this happens I am usually better off just going with the flow. So next week I’ll be finding out a bit more about this talking dog – from my students. Watch this space 🙂






Puzzles and Wordplay in the Language Classroom

I’m teaching at the Summer Seminar for English Teachers at Exeter College, Oxford.

Exeter College, Oxford


Click on the link to download the slides from my talk on puzzles and wordplay in the language classroom

The main aim of this talk is to  celebrate some wonderful examples of wordplay in English, from puns and palindromes to lipograms and anagrams. If Inspector Morse’s beloved cryptic crosswords are not your cup of tea, then the crossed words of Professor Spooner just might raise a smile. One way or another, we will see how playing with language can be fun for learners of all ages and language levels, whilst thinking about ways of using wordplay to brighten up our lessons. I would also like to address the broader question of how puzzles can help our learners to think about language learning in a positive and creative way.