Netflix – your own EFL teacher at home

Self-quarantine. Week 4.
With the weather getting nicer with every passing day, it’s more and more difficult to stay in. I generally love staying home, but even for me there’s a limit to delicious tea, good books and cosy blankets. I feel like I need something extra to keep me at home, and fortunately there’s Netflix!

I think almost every language teacher recommends watching films and documentaries in the target language, as it helps develop listening comprehension skills. Naturally, Netflix is really helpful with giving us access to the material of various genres, languages and accents.
I’m sure everyone has their favourite type of TV series or films, so I’m not even trying to recommend any. No, this post is about something else.

Last month I had a webinar about funny ways you may work on your English at home, and one of those ways is obviously watching Netflix with LNN. And I was really surprised when I realised nobody has yet heard about it – so I’ve decided to write about it on my blog.

LNN: Language Learning with Netflix

LLN is a Chrome extension that gives you new learning opportunities with Netflix. It makes studying languages with films/series more effective. The subtitles can now be adjusted to your needs. The machine translation is the literal one which will help you understand the structure of the sentence in the language you are studying, and the human translation focuses more on expressions and idioms.


The LNN offers a catalogue to help you find Netflix titles with high-quality subtitles in the language you study. More than this, LNN has some study tips that will help you use the extension best depending on your linguistic level, so everyone can use it.

Another good thing about LNN is that it’s not only about English – you may now learn Spanish while watching La casa de papel or even Polish, if you’re brave enough! There are many languages available, so feel free to use it – because the best thing about LNN is that it’s free!

I want to recommend this solution to everyone, both teachers and students, as it may help you watch Netflix with a proper excuse – after all you’re going to learn a language, not only waste your time watching TV series!
I hope you’ll have fun and it’ll make your self-quarantined times easier. Remember, every day brings us closer to the happier days!


7 Free Online Courses in April (and not one about teaching online!)

Self-isolation, week 3.
Do you also have the feeling that you’d like the good, old times back? And only a month ago I was travelling, having fun and definitely not thinking about expressions like covid, self-isolation, quarantine, social distancing. What I need at the moment is an illusion that nothing has changed – and I know that my favourite online courses will help. Just learning something new will help me feel better.
If you also want to escape into the world of education, feel free to join me. I know you must be pretty tired, so I carefully left out all the courses on teaching online.

Project Management: Beyond the Basics by The Open University

Start: 6/04/2020
Duration: 4 weeks
Recommended for: people who want to explore project management
You will learn:

  • how to go beyond the basics of project management in your own professional practice
  • how to improve your awareness of the professional skills required to be a project manager
  • how to identify the appropriate methods and techniques for specific project management scenarios
  • how to manage project teams with success

Getting Started with Agile and Design Thinking by Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Start: 13/04/2020
Duration: 4 weeks
Recommended for: people interested in developing digital products, who are using agile methods and have some experience working in the digital space
You will learn:

  • key concepts and practices from the agile product development methodology
  • how to create a strong shared perspective and drive to value using personas and problem scenarios
  • how to introduce agile product development and design thinking so you can build better digital products

Managing Behaviour for Learning by National STEM Learning Centre

Start: 20/04/2020
Duration: 4 weeks
Recommended for: teachers (primarily STEM) interested in their CPD
You will learn:

  • how your own behaviour influences the behaviour of your students
  • how to apply recognition intelligently to motivate students
  • how to apply rules and routines to achieve consistency

Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding

Start: 30/03/2020
Duration: 2 weeks
Recommended for: people who have digital skills but would like to build confidence in using digital technology in the workplace
You will learn:

  • how to identify your personal communications style
  • how to engage in challenging conversations with positive outcomes
  • how to reflect on your personal style and technique
  • how to apply your communication style in the workplace

Teaching for Success: Lessons and Teaching by the British Council

Start: now
Duration: 4 weeks
Recommended for: teachers of English as a foreign language at all levels
You will learn:

  • how to compare teaching approaches and experience with others from around the world
  • how to identify the benefits of resources and the role of technology
  • how to reflect on professional development needs and practices
  • how to explore classroom management and factors that influence learning

Good Practice in Autism Education by the University of Bath

Start: 30/03/2020
Duration: 4 weeks
Recommended for: people who work with autistic children in schools, such as teachers and teaching assistants
You will learn:

  • how to identify the educational requirements of children on the autism spectrum with and without intellectual (learning) difficulties
  • how to explain the concept of inclusion to promote inclusive culture, policies and practices within mainstream schools
  • what constitutes good practice for autism within educational settings

Introduction to Cybersecurity for Teachers by The Raspberry Pi Foundation

Start: 06/04/2020
Duration: 3 weeks
Recommended for: teachers delivering cybersecurity lessons in the classroom
You will learn:

  • how to explain the meanings of terms describing common cyberattacks, such as phishing, pharming, shoulder surfing and blagging
  • about the protections offered to users by the Misuse of Computer Act
  • how “anti-virus” software works

I hope you’ll like the courses I found for you – they are all quite short and easy to take up, so I’m sure they’ll give your brain the time to relax and focus on something new, rather than, well, quite grim reality.
Stay safe, and stay home!

7 Free Online Courses in March

March is one of those dull and terribly long months with St. Patrick’s Day being its only highlight. And well, since it’s so long, you could at least do something useful and cover an online course or two!
I have collected seven nice online courses, yet from this month on I am no longer recommending courses at coursera, as in my opinion they are no longer plainly free. Still, if you’re into CPD, you’ll find there great courses – and meanwhile you may choose from the ones below:

Teaching English: How to Plan a Great Lesson by the British Council

Start: 02/03/2020
Duration: 4 weeks
For whom: English language teachers
As a DoS I must admit I love a well-planned lesson – and so do our students. This course is great for fresh teachers who still feel they’re somewhat lost – it will help you understand your students and build a rapport with them, learn how to manage the lesson and keep your students engaged. It will definitely help you make the whole education process far less stressful.

Inclusive Classroom Specialization by Microsoft

Start: self-paced
Duration: 9 hours
For whom: teachers and educators
This course will prepare you to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom by providing personalised learning experience. You will learn about digital literacy in the 21st century courses, discover new accessibility tools and assistive technologies. The great thing is that you may access the videos whenever you feel like learning and you don’t have to register!

Demystifying Mindfulness by Leiden University

Start: 2/03/2020
Duration: 6 weeks
For whom: mindfulness beginners and professionals, academics and non-academics
One of the key-words we’re all familiar with. But what is mindfulness? And how exactly does it work? This course will help you compare different psychological and therapeutic approaches to mindfulness, interpret your own experiences of mindfulness practices and maybe find some useful techniques that will be helpful in your professional life.

Understanding IELTS: Speaking by the British Council

Start: 16/03/2020
Duration: 3 weeks
For whom: anyone preparing for IELTS
Yet another course by the British Council – this time something you may share with your students, especially those who want to take IELTS and study abroad. I’ve been preparing for IELTS for quite a long time, and I must admit speaking part is something most students find surprisingly challenging. This course will help them get familiar with this part of the test.

Blended Learning Essentials: Getting Started by the University of Leeds

Start: 30/03/2020
Duration: 5 weeks
For whom: everyone working in further education, skills training, vocational education, workplace learning and lifelong learning or adult education
This course is the firs part of the whole Blended Learning Essentials program that consists of four separate courses. This one aims to help understand the benefits of blended learning and see how to use technology effectively to support learners. You will cover both theory and practice of BL and will discover the beauty of this kind of education.

Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture by the University of Liverpool

Start: 23/03/2020
Duration: 6 weeks
For whom: anyone who wishes to understand more about psychology, about mental health or who wishes to maintain their own mental health and well-being
Teaching is a stressful job. This course provides an introduction to how psychologists understand emotions, behaviours and thinking patterns – and if you want to learn more, you can read an article Rethinking mental health and well-being by one of the course educators, Peter Kinderman. Maybe it will help you name your (or your students’) emotions and act accordingly.

Returning to Education as a Mature Student the University of York

Start: 23/03/2020
Duration: 2 weeks
For whom: mature students who have been out of the education system for a significant period of time – and educators dealing with those students
You may be surprised by this choice, but I think this course may be a nice eye-opener for all of us who start working with adult students on elementary/pre-intermediate level. Quite often we don’t understand their anxiety and their own barriers to returning to education – and this course will definitely help us understand our mature students better and give them the sense of security they need.

I hope you’ve found something suitable for yourself or your students – enjoy those dreary March days!

StoryBits Kids

Some time ago I wrote about StoryBits, a simple yet creative tool to implement storytelling into your class. I found it a pretty nice “last resort” tool as you can use it when your class gets awkwardly silent – just pick a card and think about something you can use it for.

This autumn brought a much-welcome variation of the original game, StoryBits Kids. Just like in their “older” version, eight relatable characters wait for your students to give them names, create background stories and take them on the adventure. 54 scene-cards you may use to prompt a story – any story, as the scene-cards are just the inspiration, the story is all yours.

And just like with its “older” version, you will find a manual with some creative examples of how to use the cards for teaching storytelling, describing, comparing and labelling. You will also find some sample (and simple) activities that will rock your classroom.

If not enough, go to where you will find even more tips and ideas.

Naturally, I had to come up with more activities… again, because the cards simply make you more creative.

It was the weirdest day of my life!

Look at the pictures on StoryBits. They look quite ordinary, right? But hey, most supernatural stories start like a regular day. “It was just a typical day, I was playing with a cat and my brother was trying to learn how to ride a bike… when suddenly aliens attacked / I got a call from the FBI / I saw a ghost”. The idea is to describe the first picture as a beginning of a regular day just changing dramatically when something unusual happens.

How I met my best friend

Kids like to pretend they’re someone else (not only kids, but somehow it’s more acceptable for them), so ask them to imagine they’re 90 years old and having a chat with their great-grandchild who asked them about their best friend. They need to pick any card and try and make a simple story based on it. It should include three parts:

  1. The day we met
  2. When we grew up
  3. Now

Naturally, make your students tell their stories in an old and squeaky voice, they’ll love it. If you can, you may ask the student to sit on a chair in the middle of the class, wrapped up in a blanket, and other kids would sit around pretending to be grandchildren and asking additional questions – they will have a lot of fun.

I spy with my little eye…

The things that start with a letter M. Mugs? Meeting? Monsters? My Little Pony? Ask your students to write down as many things starting with a given letter as they can see in a card. Make sure to tell them adjectives and descriptions count, they will make their little grey cells work pretty hard to review all the words they remember.

Itty-bitty spider

This activity is great for pairwork, or groupwork. Simply, take any card and one person has to say “and suddenly a giant spider appears…” – and determine the place (somebody’s forehead, the middle of the table etc.). The rest of the group is supposed to either describe or – even better – act out the reactions of the characters on the picture.

These are some of the first ideas that sprung to my mind – however, I’m sure StoryBits Kids will prove to be a much more versatile tool. Just like with its “older” version, when you get your copy (and you may buy them here), be sure to make your students pay attention to all the details, they’ll have more fun.

I think StoryBits Kids is a great present idea for kids… Or teachers (if you still haven’t chosen a gift as a secret Santa, you may find this a nice and useful tool for every teacher). To prove the point, now you can order your StoryBits (not only Kids!) with a 10% discount using the code “evilmonika”. The discount ends 30/01/2020, so hurry up – visit and get your favourite set.


I received this product for free, courtesy of IceBreaker.

Time management (not only) for teachers (book review)

Time management (not only) for teachers

It took me half a year to finish one book – seriously, and it’s not because I’m a slow reader, quite contrary. It’s a book addressing one of my greatest problems (apart from procrastination and struggling with taking over the world) which is time management, something a work-from-home person may have issues with – I sure did.

Now I procrastinate more efficiently.

Brilliant Time Management. What the most productive people know, do and say is a book by Mike Clayton, one of the most popular project management trainers in the UK. To be honest, I bought this thin, unassuming book in yet another attempt to organise my life even better. I have been given feedback on my organisation skills as mad, yet since I started working from home I’ve found new areas requiring more effort and better organisation.

Has this book helped in my endeavours to come closer to the perfection of time management and organisation? Well, I will say more at the end of my note.

Book organisation

You won’t be surprised if I tell you that the organisation of the book is brilliant – and I love well-organised publications! There are three main areas covered that will help you:

  • know how to prioritise tasks
  • understand how time gets wasted and how to avoid this
  • feel ready to tackle procrastination and make more time for self

Each part consists of theory (kept short and simple, my favourite style) and exercises – be prepared to spend some time to observe your own time management skills. Naturally, there are some stories to back up the theoretical stuff which is great as we know storytelling makes everything easier to remember. Plus, there’s a great summary after each chapter to remind you all the good stuff you’ve just learnt (and surely practised).

What’s in the book

If you take time to observe your own time management patterns, you will learn a lot about yourself. Like the multitasking thing – something I thought I had covered, and the book helped me realise I actually didn’t, as I’m more an elephant than an octopus (I’m not blabbering, it does make sense once you read the book, I promise).

Anyhow, after you spend time observing your time patterns, you will analyse the way you actually manage your time (something that was really interesting in my case). You will have the opportunity to experiment with various ways of managing greater chunks of time – and then you will move to something that usually causes problems (at least for me): prioritising.

Being a teacher means a lot of paperwork, tests, meetings etc. It’s not easy to find time and complete all the tasks, but you will learn some nice ways to manage everything, and, as a result, get far less stressed. You will also have the opportunity to use the approach that works great with both big and small projects – It’s called the OATS Principle, which stands for Outcome, Activities, Timing, Schedule.


I mentioned the exercises in the book. Frankly, it’s because of them that I read the book for half a year – I simply did all the exercises, one by one, and moved on with the further reading when I decided I was ready. I guess it was the best approach – you can’t focus only on theory because the book may leave “oh yeah, great idea” impression… and nothing more. Take your time, focus on each activity and soon you’ll see changes in your time management.

Has it helped in my work and general life organisation? Two months after I’d started working on my time management, I got praised for my task management and general task completion. The person that noticed my improvement is someone I look up to when it comes to work organisation, so you may take it for granted: this book has helped me a lot.

If you seriously plan to read the book carefully, taking breaks in order to complete various tasks, you will find this book really interesting, and maybe even potentially life-changing. Highly recommended, not only for teachers – but for all of us who want to work more efficiently and save more time for, well, designing schemes to take over the world or simply petting cats.


Image result for mike clayton brilliant time management

Clayton, Mike: Brilliant Time Management. What the most productive people know, do and say

Publisher: Pearson Business; 1 edition (25 Nov. 2010)

ISBN-13: 978-0273744092

7 Free Online Courses in November


I love November – it’s my favourite month of the year! Whenever I can, I take a week off just to chill a bit and enjoy the bliss of a minibreak. The best thing about November break is that you can relax knowing that in 6 weeks you’ll have yet another winter break! So let me warn you – there will be no blognote next week.

Some might say I’ve taken a week off just because there’s Witcher 3 on Switch and I’m planning to spend the whole week playing… and yes, they are correct!

Between helping Geralt find Yennefer, Ciri or his sanity, I have grand plans to complete one of those promising online courses I found. As usual, I share them with you – maybe you’ll find the course I should take this month?

Teaching EFL/ESL Reading: A Task Based Approach by University of London International Programmes and UCL Institute of Education

Start: 4/11/2019

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: teachers interested in using Task Based Teaching approach in reading

Teaching reading in EFL class may be somewhat boring and tiring, so if you want to try Task Based Approach, you may find this course particularly interesting. TBT uses communicative tasks as the key for language learning activities, and by the end of this course you will be able to integrate such tasks into your own teaching.

How to Write a Resume (Project-Centered Course) by State University of New York

Start: 4/11/2019

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: people writing their first resume

This is a great course to run in your actual classroom with your teenage students, as there is nothing better than using English to master some real-life skill, in this case – writing a resume, so definitely something everyone does at least once. In this course, your students will review resume best practices and explore current trends. This course will help prepare an eye-catching resume that lets the professional strengths shine.

MOOC: How to make a MOOC? by Novosibirsk State University

Start: 11/11/2019

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: people interested in making their own MOOC

This course made by Novosibirsk State University and Lektorium, one of the largest MOOC publisher in Russia, covers the process of creating modern online courses. The authors will share their experience, secrets and life hacks. You’ll learn basic trends in online education and find out which stages are included in developing an online course, and what is important on each stage of course development. Best hands-on experience if you want to make your own course!

Understanding IELTS: Speaking by the British Council

Start: 18/11/2019

Duration: 3 weeks

For whom: students and teachers preparing for IELTS

This course focuses on the speaking part of IELTS. You’ll concentrate on the three parts of the test and learn about the four criteria that are used to assess spoken English. The tips and techniques will help you succeed in the exam. You may be also interested in other Understanding IELTS courses by the British Council as they give a complete guide to everything you need to know as you prepare for the IELTS test.

Assessment for Learning by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Start: 25/11/2019

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: teachers who are interested in various forms of assessment

To assess or not to assess? With so many theories, we’re trying to keep up with the teaching trends, add a little bit of something that worked for us when we were kids… and as a result creating a bit of chaos in our classroom. Well, this course won’t give you an answer whether to assess or not, but it will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches to assessment, leaving the final judgement to you – which kind of assessment will prove the best in your teaching approach.

Improving Your Study Techniques by the University of Groningen

Start: 25/11/2019

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: students and teachers interested in developing their study skills

This course is just brilliant for the whole-classroom experience, a nice project everyone can enjoy. We all know that good study skills are vital for all of us and yet we all struggle to study effectively. Here you will learn to apply the ‘three-step model’ of studying: previewing, summarising and revising. You will make a realistic study plan and learn how to tackle procrastination, deal with stress and keep motivated while studying.

American Education Reform: History, Policy, Practice by University of Pennsylvania

Start: 25/11/2019

Duration: 8 weeks

For whom: people interested in education in the USA

An in-depth study about the history, policy, and practice of the American education reform. This course will take you on a journey starting in the Colonial Period and Early Republic, through the National Period, the Progressive Era right up to post-1983 model of education. You will learn a lot about the US system of education.

And that, as they say, is that. I think the courses I found look so nice that my adventures with Geralt the witcher may be quite endangered. I guess I might pick a course or two… but first, let me complete just one more quest.

Enjoy and see you in two weeks!

More stories: StoryBits

More stories_ Storybits

It looks like November is more of a storytelling month than I thought – last week I shared the storytelling coursebook (remember about the contest, you can win a copy of the book!), and today I’ll show you the magic of pictures: Storybits.

The universal way of communication – images, are here employed to help develop stories and boost language skills.

Eight characters that are really relatable only wait for your students to give them names, create background stories and take them on the adventure. 54 scene-cards you may use to prompt the story because the authors themselves remind you that hey, scene-cards are just the inspiration, the story is all yours.

And frankly, this immediately made me warm up to the project!

What I really like about StoryBits is that you will find some examples of how to use them for teaching vocabulary, writing, speaking and grammar. You will also find some ideas for running collaborative and competitive storytelling (which is brilliant as some groups respond better to teamwork and others prefer a touch of competitiveness). You need more? No need to ask – you will also find some sample (and simple) activities that will rock your classroom.

If not enough, go to where you will find even more tips and ideas.

Naturally, I had to come up with slightly more wicked activities…

What could possibly go wrong?

Pick any scene-card and simply describe what’s on the picture. The question is simple – what could possibly go wrong? You could add a bit of competitiveness by dividing your students into teams and making them come up with as many misfortunes as they can only think of. The winning team is the one that creates the highest number of hardships… But don’t forget to acknowledge those who are the most creative!

I didn’t do my homework…

I do understand my students tend to forget about their homework, I used to forget about it as well. One of my favourite activities about homework demonstrates we can get pretty creative when it comes to finding excuses. Now, you can use Storybits to make the excuses even more creative. Just pick a random card and try to make a story imagining the situation prevents the main characters from completing their homework before the next day lesson. So here they are, facing the teacher and trying to explain why they didn’t do their homework.

Storytelling chain – Brazilian soap opera

I like cooperative games hence my idea of a storytelling chain. Remember we have 8 characters? Let’s try to play as a big group (up to 15 people) and use all the cards to make a long story following each character’s complex life – pretty much like a Brazilian soap opera. The important thing is to keep up with the plot! This game would be similar to Once Upon A Time, but the winner is the person who cal recall the whole story. This activity may be followed up by a nice composition referring to the story.

Paulo Coelho style

You know Paulo Coelho, right?  He has his followers and haters, but his style is unmistakable. You can’t be the second Coelho (and that’s good, I think one is more than enough), but you may still have some fun paraphrasing him. How? Well, by extrapolating everything to a perfect life metaphor. Because everything is like life – short/long/wired/oblong/stinky, you name it. Just go with the flow… only don’t forget to choose the card first! You may even play some kind of Dixit variation where you go with a Coelhian metaphor and other players may find the cards that reflect the deep meaning of your message.

These are some of the first ideas that sprung to my mind – however, I’m sure StoryBits will prove to be a much more versatile tool. When you get yours (and you may buy them here), be sure to pay attention to all the details, you’ll have more fun.


I received this product for free, courtesy of IceBreaker.

7 Free Online Courses in October

7 Free OnlineCoursesin October

This year’s IATEFL Poland conference was just awesome – I had so much fun and I can’t wait for the next event which is, as you know, eduOctoberfest, a month full of webinars (2 sessions per day!). Alas, you need to pay for this event and it is in Polish, yet fear not for here I come with a bunch of free online courses you may enjoy in October!

1 Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential by McMaster University

Starts: 29/09/2019

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: people who know that one never stops learning

This course will help you learn more about your hidden capabilities and assets as well as how to learn more effectively. You will see how to tackle procrastination and use some mental tricks to help you focus, relax, and reframe (reframing is key). More than this, you’ll be exploring how and why to keep yourself in the “mindshift” mode. I believe this course is great not only for teachers (as teaching is lifelong learning), but also for their students: maybe it’s not a bad idea to incorporate this course into your classes?

2 English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development by the British Council

Starts: 21/10/2019

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: parents, teachers or practitioners interested in teaching languages

The thing about the adult is that they tend to extrapolate their educational experience on children – and children learn in a totally different way! This course will show you how and why children learn best through play and what parents and practitioners can do to enable children to get the most out of a learning experience. I guess this course will be great for not only parents, but also those teachers who have just started teaching kids and are not quite sure what to do with them.

3 Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University

Starts: 7/10/2019

Duration: depending on module

For whom: aspiring writers

This is more than just a course, it’s the whole specialization in writing fiction. You may pick the course you like: the craft of plot, the craft of character, the craft of setting and description, the craft of style – and pursue it for as long as you want. If you think of writing in English – and writing beautifully, this course will definitely be of help.

4 Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms by Relay Graduate School of Education

Starts: 21/10/2019

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: teachers who want to integrate character-based objectives into own teaching

This course explores key ideas of positive psychology and shows how teachers can apply those lessons to maximize student engagement in their classrooms. You will learn how to observe your own strengths of character – to see those of your students, how to introduce character-building activities in your class and how to integrate those lessons into our daily lives.

5 Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment by the National STEM Learning Centre

Starts: 7/10/2019

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: teachers who want to apply formative assessment for learning approaches

If you haven’t used FA yet, you should definitely start as it’s something that may create your classroom a far better place, which is more friendly for both students and teachers! You’ll plan to identify your learners’ thinking, clarify learning goals, and learn how to use success criteria, and develop your classroom questioning to adjust your teaching approach and respond to student learning. Experienced mentors support this course until 22 November 2019.

6 Managing ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and Concussion in School by the University of Colorado

Starts: 30/09/2019

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: teachers working with SEN children

In this course, you will learn about the most common developmental and behavioural disorders affecting children such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, learning disorders, and concussions. You will learn about recognising and diagnosing various learning disorders and disabilities, so if you work with children (any, not only whose with diagnosed SEN), this may be the right course for you.

7 The Science of Beer by the Wageningen University

Starts: self-paced

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: people who want to know more about beer

Being a teacher, it’s important to be a responsible drinker and to know what effects beer has on your health. This course will definitely help you learn all about beer, including how it’s made, the raw materials used, it’s supply chain, how it’s marketed and the effect of beer consumption on your body. Fun fact: it’s a course made by students supervised by professors and experts in the field, so maybe this will inspire your students to create their own MOOC?

And you can celebrate the Oktoberfest… for science!

I hope you’ll find something useful from the list above, and this October will be educational for all of us.


7 Free Online Courses in September


Can you feel Back To School vibes? I sure can, and to be honest, I love it. The very first day of school is my favourite one to have a cup of tea (necessarily with cornflower, I love blue cornflower spots in my tea) on my balcony, relaxing… and looking at kids trotting back to school. Call me evil, but I do enjoy some schadenfreude! Nevertheless, I’ve always liked September (in a childlike way as I have my birthday then), getting new school stuff, the smell of new books – and, of course, new things to learn!

Today I have some brilliant courses that I hope you’ll find useful in some kind of Back to School style:

Understanding ADHD: Current Research and Practice by King’s College London

  • Start: 2/09/2019
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • For whom: people with ADHD and anyone working with children and adults with ADHD

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? What are the symptoms of ADHD? How is ADHD diagnosed? With more and more ADHD students, teachers should be more aware of potential issues stemming from this disorder. You will learn about the latest neuroscientific and psychiatric research, discuss the core challenges faced by those with ADHD and learn an empathic understanding of the experiences of people living with ADHD.

Start Writing Fiction by the Open University

  • Start: 09/09/2019
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • For whom: anyone with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing, recommended for 16+ students

Ever wanted to ditch teaching and become a writer, sipping coffee on a balcony with a view on a sea and not being bothered by others? On this online course, established writers – including Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey – will talk about how they started writing. You will learn how to create great characters, perfect plot… and undergo some critical remarks by your fellow classmates.

Corpus Linguistics: Method, Analysis, Interpretation by Lancaster University

  • Start: 16/09/2019
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • For whom: people interested in the study of language

I did my MA in linguistics and I swear I had oh so many opportunities to use it in the classroom as people want more than learn a language: they want to know how language works! With this course you may not only broaden your horizons, but encourage your students to embark on a great journey to understand the language. Corpus linguistics is the study of language presented by the “real world” text – something we come across everyday.

Understanding English Dictionaries by Coventry University, the Alan Turing Institute and Macmillan Education

  • Start: 16/09/2019
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • For whom: anyone studying or teaching English

Admit it – when was the last time you used dictionaries in your classroom? Like many other teachers, I stopped using them the minute I discovered Google on my mobile – truth be told I still entertain my students with some activities, but I think this course offers much more than just a bunch of activities. You will learn how dictionaries are created and who decides what words go in.


What Makes an Effective Presentation? by Coventry University

  • Start: 16/09/2019
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • For whom: anyone interested in developing their presentation skills 

Being a teacher requires presenting ideas in an interesting, eye-catching way. We’ve seen many workshops that were destroyed by the mediocre presentation, and this course will help you evaluate and improve your presentation skills. Moreover, at the end of the course you will also have the opportunity to deliver a mini presentation and receive feedback from your peers. I think this course may be a great idea to take in the class, with your students: this way they’ll learn English and some other skills at the same time.

Filmmaking and Animation in the Classroom by Into Film

  • Start: 23/09/2019
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • For whom: anyone who would like to enrich their lessons through the creation of films and animations

This course will help anyone working with young people aged 5-19 to engage them in learning through simple filmmaking and animation. You’ll discover how film and animation can be used as powerful tools for encouraging active learning and enabling students to establish strong connections with any area of the curriculum. I believe this may be a great course to start in the classroom and turn into a long project.

Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning by the Chartered College of Teaching

  • Start: 23/09/2019
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • For whom: teachers and education professionals in either the primary or secondary school setting

It’s not easy to start with technology – there are so many solutions to the problems one hasn’t even thought of! Fortunately, this course will not only show you the areas where technology supports effective teaching and learning, it also helps you select appropriate technologies and implementation approaches – you will be able to choose applications you really need in your classroom rather than try everything and panic.

That’s it – seven courses that may influence your back to school mood and hopefully make this school year the best ever.


English is not easy… but it’s wickedly funny! (book review for 18+)

English is not easy... but it's wickedly funny!

Last month I attended my favourite EFL teachers’ convention and at first everything was absolutely normal – training sessions, workshops, stalls – when suddenly something happened. Comments were made, pictures were taken and shared, cheeks got flushed – and it was all caused by a grammar book! Now, I’m not overly fond of grammar books, but, naturally the comments made me take a look at this one. And I loved it immediately, the way you love something mischievous, daring and enjoyable at the same time.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you “English is not easy” written by the amazing Luci Gutiérrez.

If you’re a sensitive soul who believes in proper teaching adults with colourful flashcards, maybe you should stop reading. Seriously. It’s a kind of a book adult students may love. Or hate. Or discuss the controversies (which conveniently turn out to be on every second page of the book).

But if you love Monty Python’s kind of nonsensical sense of humour and a little bit of sexualised approach to pretty much everything, if you enjoy somewhat scandalous sentences – and if you know your students well enough to be sure they share this kind of attitude, I don’t think you’ll find a better grammar book to bring not only educational value but also quite a lot of fun.

Dark humour, innuendos and addictions…

…mean it’s a perfect mnemonic tool! It’s virtually impossible to forget English phrases once you see such graphics, isn’t it?

Untitled design (1)

The sense of humour reminds me of one of my favourite books that I’ve used in the classroom, namely Shakespearean insults. Somehow the idea of learning not-so-polite expressions boosts students’ interest and keeps them more motivated (it also may make us question our reasons for learning, but that’s another story).

If you’re an experienced teacher, you surely know students are far more likely to memorise something if it has a taste of indecency – that’s how our brains are constructed, apparently. But if you think this books delivers only fun, you’re wrong. Behind the controversial facade, you can find a surprisingly sensible book on grammar.

Don’t judge the book by its cover!

There are 17 chapters in this book, and each chapter consist of several subchapters. They are focused mostly on grammar, but there are lessons on vocabulary, phrasal verbs, idioms and useful expressions as well. As it usually goes with grammar, it starts with subject pronouns and the verb “to be”, but the book covers also all tenses, relative clauses, passive voice, reported speech etc.

Untitled design

I believe you can use the book as a great visual aid – even when you explain all the grammatical nuances, some students may still struggle with memorising the correct structure and use of the item. Now, the graphics and sentences may be really useful as they are very clear (black and red), simple and eye-catching.

What I also like about the book is space – you can easily doodle on the pages, make your own visual connotations, silly drawings and sample sentences. I can see it used as an additional exercise for students who prefer kinesthetic approach to learning.


Personally, I find this book hilarious, and a source of great educational fun for both teachers and students. Naturally, it’s not for everyone, but that’s something one may say about any book. I know my students would be more than happy to catch up with the sense of humour and go with the flow, creating their own stories, making their own creative pictures and adding some form of adult-fun into their class.

And if you are a bored teacher who needs to remind oneself that English might not be easy but is, in fact, fun – this is a book for you. And what’s more, I think this book is something I might put on a wishlist of an EFL teacher.

If you’re ready to order, Preston Publishing, the publisher of this adorkably wicked book, has a neat discount for you. If you get a copy on and enter the code evil20, you’ll get 20% off (the code does not include sets or preorders and cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions).

Hope you’ll have at least as much fun as I have!


Gutiérrez, Luci “English is not easy”

Preston Publishing, 2019

ISBN: 978-83-64211-87-4