Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Save ya drama for ya mama” ;)

Today was the first time I had a drama lesson. This doesn’t mean that I had a lesson on drama but that my student and I did a sort of theatrical performance of a book.

My student’s name is Yasya. She’s a nine-year-old beginner who’s studied English for about six months.

Recently, we read a book “Colin’s colours” by Carol Read and Ana Soberon.

It’s a funny colourful book that teaches colours and, more importantly, useful phrases to express your sympathy such as “Oh no!”, “Oh dear!” and “Poor …”.

Firstly, I used this book to teach the names of “garden gang” members (caterpillar, bee, snail, butterfly and ladybird) and the names of some natural phenomena (rain, sun and rainbow). We did some vocabulary activities such as a wordsearch, crosswords and matching games. Then we had an extensive reading practice.

Usually, I stop at this point and go on to another book. But this time I felt that what we had done was somewhat insufficient. Quite out of the blue came the idea to make a play out of the book, which I thought would be a crowning final touch to reading the book.

So, this is how I found myself making a stage scenery for our puppet theatre. Here you can see different stages of the process.


Then, I made the puppets on sticks. The tricky thing about the play was that the characters’ emotions change throughout the performance: they are happy, then they are sad, then happy again. That’s why my puppets are two-sided: if you turn them you’ll change the puppets’ facial expression. Here are the smiling and sad sides of our characters.

At the lesson today, Yasya and I elaborated the original book by extending dialogues with greeting phrases and making the dialogues more personalised, i.e. we made each character repeat the same set of phrases while in the book the phrases are pronounced only twice by pairs of characters. This alteration helped my student (who acted out three roles while I did only two) to repeat the functional phrases over and over again until she knew them by heart. This technique proves to be very beneficial! 🙂

The final stage of our rehearsal was the performance itself. We invited Yasya’s mum and sister to attend our show. We arranged the chairs and distributed the tickets. We veiled the stage scenery with a curtain (which was just a piece of papar towel). And then, with the rise of the curtain and me whistling a tune, the performance started.

I was pleased that Yasya managed not only to remember her lines but to act them out very creatively. Both the spectators and the actors enjoyed the performance very much. By the end of the show the actors received almost the standing ovation! 🙂

Needless to say that this was a very positive and motivating experience for both parts – my student and her family and for me as a teacher. I realized what a powerful tool drama can be. It doesn’t only help learn the language but also provides a really strong motivational boost. There’s no any doubt that I’ll be using drama in my classroom in future.

Drama. Strongly recommended! 🙂


Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Kids


Surpr@ise Day in Kosice – How it all started for me

A great day in history, or a personal account of events.

I don’t clearly remember the very first time I learnt about the event. But somehow it was quite a quick and natural decision – “I’m going there.”  And there it all started.

Miraculously, my registration for the event coincided with the awakening of a pleasant feeling of spring inside of me. This was a wonderful feeling, almost a thrill, of something grand and new coming up my way. This feeling, the upcoming spring and the anticipation of the conference reinforced each other, becoming stronger and stronger every day.

There came the day of my departure.  Though it was almost the mid of March, it was a surprisingly lovely winter day. The rays of the rising sun glittered in the snow.  Millions and millions of sparkles danced in the frosty air, sweet and intoxicating. The vast blue sky and the infinite snow-bound earth looked calm and sublime. It was the day that makes you feel energized and invigorated! What a good start of the journey!

And what a surprise it was when I stepped out of my plane in Budapest to find myself in the mid of spring. The warm air and brightly shining sun! The snow-free ground! Everything ready to blossom!

Luckily, my plane arrived earlier and I had a chance to make short yet wonderful trip around the majestic historical part of Budapest. I felt so happy and delighted that I couldn’t stop smiling. I just couldn’t believe my luck!

And then later I met all these wonderful people – Peter Koukol, Luke Meddings, Vladimira Michalkova, Chuck Sandy, Barbara Bujtas, Lenka Kroupova and Marian Steiner – all smiling, open and friendly! In fact, I’m lost for words to give them all the praise they rightfully deserve!

The next day, the day of the conference, turned out to be a sort of revelation to me. First, Luke Meddings’s presentation “Through other people’s eyes” opened my eyes.  Chuck Sandy’s last seminar that day warmed me and opened my mind and heart. And all the people who shared their knowledge and fascination with their profession that day let me look at what I’m doing from a new surprising perspective. They gave me a broader view of our profession showing me the way how to be an even more creative and motivating teacher.

Now looking back at that giant leap I made from winter into spring to meet those great people, I think that the notion of spring could be the best metaphor for what actually happened to me.

By the Surpr@ise Day, I’d lost the momentum in what I was doing. I was working too hard and, probably, too mechanical. I knew I was doing a good job but I’d stopped putting my soul into it. The whole job was just like never-ending household chores – necessary and right but boring, dull and repetitive. As the result, I’d had fewer moments when I felt pleased and happy with my lessons. Now, thanks to all the people I met in Kosice, I rediscovered creativity, freedom and perspective in my profession. I got the taste for my profession back.

The Supr@ise Day gave me a chance to re-examine my life too. When listening to Luke and Chuck, I felt so strongly how much I was missing on my life! All work and chores, no life, no joy, no free time – I’d been getting tired and jaded.  Now I felt motivated, inspired to change life and make more room for personal development, hobbies and joy.

There was another miraculous thing about that day in my life. I had a feeling of warmth and comfort in those people’s company. I can’t say that I’d felt lonely before I came to Kosice but, beyond any doubt, I’d been somewhat isolated. Now, being surrounded by the Supr@ise Day people, I wasn’t isolated any more but connected and valued.

Yes, it was spring, the Spring which is not just a time of year, but the time of life. It was the time of renovation and renaissance, the time of coming back to Life.  That’s why my badge, that said “Spring’s coming”, was about both the long-awaited season and the beginning of a new stage in my life.

Post Scriptum

I smile at the thought that there is a funny simile between me and Mr Mole from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, who was carried away by Spring’s all-conquering power out of his modest and quiet dwelling into the unknown enormous world to explore, discover, invent, meet, rejoice and open the brand new world of adventure!

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said “Bother! And “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

This is fine!” he said to himself. “This is better than whitewashing!” The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.” (Penguin, 1994)

How true this situation has been for me! Now I’m there, nearer to the sun and air, feeling elated with the joy of living and the delight of spring! 🙂


Post Post Scriptum

Thank you to all of you! You’re special! 🙂


Posted by on April 22, 2012 in General



I would like to start my blog by expressing my deepest gratitude and sending million thanks to the people who have changed my mode of thinking and set me developing both personally and professionally in a new fascinating direction. This direction has led me to a lot of wonderful discoveries and big achievements one of which is this blog.

First of all, I thank Anna Loseva, my MSU colleague, for unveiling the grand world of the Internet teaching community and introducing me to the prominent members of her PLN.

I thank Vladimira Michalkova for inviting me to the Surpr@ise Day in Kosice, Slovakia, and giving me a golden opportunity to meet such outstanding people like Chuck Sandy, Luke Meddings, Marian Steiner, Barbara Bujtas and Lenka Kroupova, the people that have become an integral and irreplaceable part of my personal and professional network.

I thank Chuck Sandy for inspiring me and helping me to break out of my circle of failure by sending me powerful vibes of positive energy and by making me believe that I matter.

I thank Luke Meddings for waking me up and tearing me out of my day-to-day monotonous routine in work and life and reminding me of my long-forgotten love for painting and art.

I thank Marian Steiner for his friendly and kind support I feel I can always rely on.

I thank Barbara Bujtas for sharing her world views and reflections on life and inviting me to take part in joint projects.

I thank all my friends in my buddy group on Facebook for always being there and always being ready to help, support and inspire me.

I thank Romano Rodriguez for his loving and genuine support, understanding, patience and appreciation, for always being a helping hand and a strong shoulder to cry on, and for changing my life in a miraculous way.


Posted by on April 21, 2012 in General