Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The Extraordinary and the Ordinary in the Language

I’m doing a Course on Understanding English dictionaries from Macmillan and Coventry University at (Link: now. And as I was reading sections on the history of Oxford English Dictonary (OED) compilation, I came across this peculair fact of the choices the readers made while searching for the words to send to the OED editors:

One risk related to this practice is that readers tend to gather such citations with a bias towards uncommon usages.

This reminded me of how often the learners of English pay attetion to some extraodinary, bizzare, or unexpected words and meanings to the detriment of commonly used words and meanings which are much more crucial for the successful learning of a language, especially at the early stages of learning.

However, this bias doesn’t seem surpring to me at all, considering the fact that it’s in the nature of our attention to notice and focus on something that stands out of our daily routine.

This makes me think that teachers and learners alike while having fun with surprising or extravagant aspects of the language, should in fact train themselves to notice the ordinary, the usual, and the inconspicous, thus making at times truly astonishing discoveries.


Teacher is a DJ

Does any job include so many roles as a teacher’s job?

Have a look at this ingenious image of 20 possible teacher roles made by Stacy Bonino for


How many roles have you played in your teaching career?

Can you think of any other roles?


As for me, when I look back at my almost ten years of teaching practice I can say that I’ve played a considerable number of roles from the above list. I never chose in advance which role to play in the next lesson. Very often it wasn’t even my conscious choice in the lesson: I just responded to a given situation in the best (in my opinion) possible and appropriate way.

Naturally, some roles I like more than others.

Apparently, I play some roles better than others.

And, honestly speaking, I sometimes don’t feel like playing any of these roles at all.

As for other roles, I can say for sure that there are much more teacher roles than those listed in the above image. At least there is one I really enjoy performing. And as you have already guessed by the title of this blogpost, this is the role of a DJ.

Yes, Teacher is a DJ, too 🙂


If you know Jason R. Levine (@FluencyMC), I’m sure you will agree with me that Jason is the most brilliant example of a teacher being a DJ. He is inimitable in his ability to mix rap rhythms with English language items making English learning so fun and energetic!

If you don’t know Jason yet, it’s time to get aquainted with his superb music vidoes for English language learners. Here is one of my favourites:

Got hooked? 🙂 Check out tons of other Jason’s videos here:


As you may know well, music can be an incredibly effective way in teaching a language. I’m sure, you have already tried this or that way to incorporate music into your lessons. However, here is a simple guidence for you on how to music and songs in ESL lesson:

And here you will find a huge list (50 points!!!) on various ways music and songs can be exploited in the classroom. Surprisingly, music can be used for discipline matters!


My favourite way to use music in my lessons, which actually inspired me to write this blogpost, is to use music or songs as the background while students are doing some tasks.

In fact, it wasn’t my idea. I borrowed it from my teacher of English at Oxford House College in London. At first, I was surprised when she put on some music after giving us a task to work on in pairs. It was so unusual as I had never seen any teacher in my school or university use music this way. But I promptly realized how great this idea is!

First of all, music takes tension away! It helps students to relax but at the same time to focus on the activity. (Don’t you listen to music while doing something else? For example, just right now, while I’m typing this post I’m listening to the music of which I’ll speak a bit later 🙂 )

Secondly, music creates some noise which makes students feel less shy to speak. Otherwise, students sometimes feel embarrassed when they hear their voices echoing in the quite room.

Finally, music or songs can create a specific mood which best suits the task or part of the lesson. In fact, this is when our skills as DJs come into play! 🙂 And this is what I particularly like! 🙂

I really love looking through the music playlist on my iPhone and choosing the right music to play. Everything matters: the type of the task, the part of the lesson (the beginning, the middle, or the end), what mood I would like to put my students in, whether or not a music piece has some lyrics, and finally, the music itself (it’s rhythm, tempo, tune etc).

I think that music you put on in class as the background should be light and easy and should have little lyrics. But at the same time it must be sonorous and catchy. Such music will not dominate the classroom or pull students’ attention to itself but will create a lively and pleasant atmosphere in the class.

So I believe it’s highly useful to make a music playlist on your mobile device which would consist of music of different types and genres. Using only one and the same piece of music is a bit boring. So a varied playlist is a guarantee that your lessons will become more surprising and tuneful, and you, in turn, will become a better DJ! 🙂

Below are some of the example music pieces I use as the background:

  1. Isao Tomita “The Sea Named Solaris” –
  2. Ewan Dobson “Time 2” –
  3. Frank Duval ‘Solitude” –
  4. Pink Floyd “Terminal Frost” –
  5. Pink Floyd “Learning to Fly” –
  6. Enya “May it be” –
  7. Enya “Orinoco Flow” –
  8. Kate Bush “Bertie” –
  9. Yann Tiersen “La Valse d’Amelie” –
  10. Lindsey Stirling “Crystallize” –
  11. The Glitch Mob “Drive It Like You Stole It” –
  12. DJ Smash “Moscow Never Sleeps” –
  13. Eric Prydz “Call on me” (surely, I never show the video 🙂 ) –
  14. Uniting Nations “Out of Touch” (also, the video is never shown 🙂 ) –
  15. Urban Cookie Collective “The Key The Secret” –
  16. Michael Zager Band “Let’s All Chant” –
  17. HBO Boxing Original Theme Song –
  18. Dropkick Murphys “I’m shipping to Boston” (yes, even this, even though it’s loud and has too much lyrics 😉 ) –
  19. The Prodigy “No Good. Start the Dance” (yes, sometimes even this 🙂 ) –
  20. And the crowing track on my playlist is surely my favourite – Yelle “Comme Un Enfant” (CENOB1TE Remix) –

Well, of course, this list is no way exhaustive! Moreover, it’s being renewed all the time: some tracks come, some go. But you are kindly invited to treat yourselves to the tracks on my playlist! 🙂 I hope you will like some 🙂

And to round off this blogpost, here is the short musical movie I was listening to while writing this blogpost. It’s called God is a DJ, but so are teachers 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

1 Comment

Posted by on March 6, 2015 in General, Miscellaneous


Tag Christmas gifts and bloggers!

This is the Tag-a-Blog Challenge going around the blogosphere! A fun chain of posts which include 11 random facts about yourself, answers to 11 questions posed by another blogger who tagged you and your 11 questions to other 11 bloggers you tag in your post.

Looks like a chain letter?! Yes, why not? It’s merry Christmas time – let’s have fun!

What are the rules? They are simple:

1. Introduce the person who tagged you.

2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions posed by the blogger who tagged you.

4. List other 11 bloggers.

5. Put your 11 questions to the bloggers you nominated.

Let me start by introducing the person who tagged me:

Sophia Mavridi


Sophia is a senior EFL teacher and a Teacher Trainer.  She is a regular presenter at international EFL Conferences and is currently working on her Masters degree in EdTech & TESOL with the University of Manchester doing research on technology integration in educational contexts. Sophia is a dedicated teacher, a wonderful speaker, and a charming person.

11 random facts about myself:

1. Those who are connected with me via Facebook, know very well that astronomy is my life-long fascination. Yes, I’m deeply interested in everything concerning cosmos and space exploration. I’ve got a telescope and I adore making some amateur night sky observations.

2. My current favourite author is Arthur Clarke and I’m crazy about his book “The City and the Stars”. I’ve discovered this book only this year and have already re-read it five times! This is obviously a reading record for me!

3. My favourite drinks are tea, coffee and Coca-Cola. I know it’s not good for my health, but who said all our hobbies and habits should be healthy ones?

4. I like soft toys and whenever I see another cute fluffy thing in a shop, I can’t resist the temptation to adopt it.

5. As for computer games, there is only one I’m playing now on a regular basis, and this is the Minion Rush.

6. I like drawing. I think I’m good at it though I’ve never had any formal training. However, I haven’t drawn anything for a rather long time, which is definitely very sad.

7. I keep on struggling with learning French, but regardless of all my failures I don’t lose determination and optimism.

8. I’m re-starting my tango classes – I’ve already bought a nice dress for this purpose!

9. I’m very bad at money – once I have it, I spend it all.

10. When I was 16, I had my hair cut close to the skin. So I was bald for some time.

11. I’ve never had any pets, but I grow oaks on my window-sill.

12. (yes, number 12 – coz I like this number!) I like travelling by planes because I’m thrilled by the very moments of taking off and the touchdown.


Answers to Sophia’s questions:

1. What was the conference you enjoyed the most in 2013?

There were two – the ELTforum in Bratislava (June) and Western TESOL Greece in Preveza (October)

2. Facebook or Twitter? Why?

Facebook has become an indispensible part of my life! It’s the place where I can connect with my friends from around the world whenever I switch on my computer. And also, Facebook is the source of interesting astronomical and scientific stuff.

3. Do you know any nickname(s) your students have given you?

As far as I know, I’ve never had any nicknames. Only once some of my students called me “Sashen’ka” which is a tender short name for Alexandra.

4. Do you prefer reading on screen or on paper?

No doubt, I prefer paper books, but I feel I’ve come to terms with electronic books thanks to my iPad.

5. What’s the best blogpost you have ever written?  

I’ve got two favourite posts: one on students’ feedback and the other on a puppet theatre and drama.

6. Are you a morning or a night person?

I haven’t decided yet. But my life experience tells me I’m a late morning person.

7. Name 3-5 digital tools/apps that you use with your classes on a regular basis.

Old-fashioned as it may seem, but I haven’t used any on a regular basis. But I’m not inveterate “teach-as-our-grandfathers-taught” sort of a teacher and I’m open for opportunities and new trends. So, when I find an app that will perfectly suit my teaching, I think I’ll be using it quite regularly.

8. What was the most unusual food you have ever eaten? What was it like?

So far, it’s been a fried octopus. I tried it for the first (and so far the only) time in Preveza, Greece. It was unforgettably delicious!

9. Have you ever lived in another country other than the one you live now? Where was it?

The longest time I’ve spend living abroad was only three summer month in 2007. I lived in London, UK.

10. Imagine you won a scholarship to attend an ideal conference anywhere in the world. Where would that be?

In absolutely any place which I can have a direct flight to.

11. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Loud noises and music, except for discos and concerts where loud music is a must.


And now the 11 bloggers I’m sending my questions to (Actually, there are only 8):

Aphro Gkiouris:
Barbara Bujtas:
Vladimira Chalyova:
Barry Jameson:
Chiew Pang:
Joel Josephson:
Mark Andrews:
Tamas Lorincz:

My 11 questions to other bloggers:

1. What is a thing or activity that you have never done in your life before but which you would like to try out?

2. If you have attended an ELT conference or a webinar this year, which talk or workshop was the most memorable? Why?

3. What are the three things or skills you have learnt this year?

4. What would you be doing if money wasn’t an issue?

5. What is your latest fad?

6. What can make you freeze in admiration?

7. What are your favourite songs of 2013?

8. What are you thankful for?

9. What books have you read in 2013 which you would recommend?

10. What will you remember the year of 2013 for?

11. If you could choose, where would you live? Why?

A big thank you to Sophia Mavridi for tagging me! It’s been a really fun Christmas flash-blog-mob! 🙂

1 Comment

Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Miscellaneous