5 things I should’ve been told when I was a rookie teacher

Fashion Junkies

Being a DoS is rather fun, especially if you like organising stuff, promoting changes (provided you have willing co-teachers, of course) and introducing new ideas. I’m fortunate to have colleagues who are always ready to listen to my wildest ideas and discuss them – and for this I thank you, guys! As with any job, DoSsing has its brighter and darker moments (they’re usually connected with observing lessons, something which I find the most emotional aspect of my job), but the thing I’ve always wanted to focus on is teacher training.

Now, I want to be a proper teacher trainer someday – attending conferences and travelling around the world being a Yoda to new padawans (I’m only 153 cm tall, so the role suits me). Seriously, that’s my plan for the future. Meanwhile, though, I learn and allow my fellow teachers to teach me how to train them. It’s slightly complex, I know, but you get the gist. Anyhow, being a DoS means also recruiting new teachers, and then training them to meet up the standards of our school – and this inspires me to share 5 things someone should’ve told me when I started teaching years ago.

Someone should have – but I had no DoS, and even though teaching runs in my blood, there are some things I had to discover by myself:

1 Get organised

Contrary to what some people might say I’m not anankastic, but I do appreciate when everything is in order. I’m not planning to encourage you to join me in my orderly madness, but I’ve found out that organising classes may be extremely helpful. I wrote about lesson planning and how important it is for me, but I want to emphasise one thing: improvisation in teaching is unavoidable, however our students need to know where they are (with regards to the course and their general development) and what they may expect next. Creating syllabus for my course and preparing smaller chunks beforehand gives me possibility of improvisation within frameworks in which my students feel comfortable. If I bring in a game or a project, if we start to discuss a new topic, they may be sure it will come useful later on. Also: organisation is vital when it comes to explaining grammar. Many lessons have I observed where this particular area was rather neglected.

2 Atmosphere is key

That is true not only regarding private language schools – most people (kids and adults alike) don’t like studying, but they like having fun. You won’t be able to put irregular verbs in their heads with a shovel – but you may create atmosphere in which they’ll find the task less tedious. Everyone who’s ever worked with children knows they don’t learn because they like it – they learn because they like their teacher and want to please her. Surprise, surprise: that’s the general truth. When people feel comfortable in the classroom, they associate learning with positive thinking and they actually feel like learning.

3 Teach, don’t preach

Now, here we may spot the difference between schools and private language educational sites – in the latter you don’t have to moralise your students. It may be quite difficult, especially when you’re teaching teenagers, but try to cut off pieces of advice that are really unasked for, like “if you don’t do your homework regularly you will have problems in the future” or “how can you expect good results if you’re always late?”. I mean, everyone knows that, it’s been repeated by everyone and hasn’t changed anything – so why annoy people with those comments? I’m not even talking about criticising someone’s opinions, because I firmly believe we may only refer to the way someone expresses themselves (“I don’t think you should use such a strong word”) but not the idea itself (“So you think women should stay at home and take care of family instead of working? Well, I don’t really agree with this, but it’s your opinion, right”).

4 Keep your distance

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally” – Miguel Ruiz

Sometimes students laugh behind your back. Made a slip of the tongue? Yup, they’ve noticed it. Freudian slip and blushing? Even worse, I know, but hey – the only thing you may do is, simply, getting over it. My very first lesson (teaching practice as a uni student) included me teaching  a question: what time it is? for a good 3 minutes before I realised something was wrong… oh, right, syntax! It was 15 years ago and I still remember this feeling… But now I’ve got enough chill to smile over it. Made a slip of the tongue? – I do a proper facepalm and shake head over my own carelessness. When it comes to Freudian slips I usually ignore them. The rule is simple: if you laugh at yourself first, you save yourself the embarrassment when your students laugh at you.

5 Don’t sweat it

I remember how emotional I was over my teaching, my students, their tests, their issues, other teachers, my principal, my students’ parents, their opinions, their views, personal dramas and oh, so professional “You should have done this instead of what you did” – and worse, how I wanted to please them all… My advice is: chill. Talk it over with someone (like your DoS, that’s what they’re for!) and they’ll probably tell you this: even if you’re a super-organised, extremely friendly and absolutely communicative person with impeccable language and interpersonal skills, there will always be some negative opinions about you. So take it easy, do your job and aim to do better – but for your own sake, and not because you want your student’s papa appreciate you.

Now, that’s all from me – but if you are a teacher, maybe you have some good ideas I might share with my own rookie teachers?

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Bored on your summer break? Let’s make a board game!

THE NEW YOU (3)

You might have noticed I like games. Role playing games are the best, sure, but board games are also fun, especially that they are usually easier to adapt to teaching environment (although I have been thinking about introducing RPGs to my language school…). I am lucky to work with teachers who share my view on games and possibilities they create in the classroom and quite often we just discuss new games and how to use them in class.

Dixit is a well known game and I think everyone has already played Story Cubes. I still find Once Upon a Time a great teaching aid bringing in fun, and Mystery of the Abbey is the game everyone loves (I guess due to the possibility of cheating, huh). It may be financially difficult to buy all the board games we’d like to have, so I create them with my students – be that a simple pattern or a complex adventure (Deadly Islands – love this idea).

We’re getting more and more games in our school, but still there are some beyond our reach – too complex to explain in class, not communicative enough, or simply – impossible to buy (out of stock, waiting for second print, huh). And since we all know that desperate times call for desperate measures, we basically change the official ideas into DIY games.

One of the games we recreated was When I Dream – a beautiful game by Chris Darsaklis, impossible for us to buy, but easy to adapt to teaching needs. What we need is: a lot of “dream-cards” with random words (always nouns – paper, knife, book etc.), a sleeping mask and some “role cards”, namely “fairies” and “imps” (and, optionally, “tricksters”). We made the cards using own imagination, business card paper, pen and a laminator – and that’s it, we’re ready to play!

We start with assigning the roles – one player is a Dreamer, so he wears the sleeping mask. The other players are secretly given their roles (good fairies or naughty imps – there should be more fairies than imps). Then the “spirits” draw a dream-card with a word and try to describe it to the Dreamer using one word each – fairies will try to help the Dreamer by giving most obvious connotations, however imps will try to mislead the Dreamer by using other words to keep him off-track. The whole round lasts 60 or 120 seconds (up to you and group’s level) and the Dreamer may guess the word at any time – the word is then placed to the fairies side (if the guess was correct) or to the imps side (if the fairies didn’t win). I usually write the words the Dreamer says on the board, as they will come useful later on.

After some rounds like this (4-6 words), the Dreamer is allowed to take off the sleeping mask and story-tell his dream using the words he guessed (the words on the board really are helpful then) – but he doesn’t know yet which words he guessed correctly and which not.

Then the Dreamer and the fairies get a point for every card in the fairies pile, when the imps get one point for every card in their pile. The Dreamer also scores one point for every word he used during his storytelling (he might actually use the words he should’ve guessed before, so he’ll score point for them as well).

Optionally you may include a trickster who changes sides as the games goes by, sometimes being a fairy, sometimes an imp – the tricksters gets points according to how well balanced the two teams were at the end of the round, gaining extra points if they managed to equally balance the two piles.

This game is extremely easy to understand and absolutely fun to play regardless the language proficiency level. It helps students to revise vocabulary, and by forcing them to react quickly (they don’t have much time to come up with nice connotations) it makes them actually start thinking in a foreign language which is one of the most difficult aspects of learning a language.

What I find nice about this game is its ability to adapt to various languages, so that you may create versions for all the classes you need. It may be used as a nice warm-up or a funny cool-down, with all age groups and in any type of classes.

I hope you’ll try to give it a go – let me know if you had fun Dreaming 🙂

7 free online courses in July

7 Free Online Courses

Summer break is perfect for online courses – you don’t have to do lesson preparation, your mind is free to wander: now’s the time to study! I do realise not everyone is a die-hard fan of online courses like yours truly, so my shortlisted courses are rather summer-like, short and pleasant. Whether you’re a Director of Studies or a teacher, I’m sure you’ll find something for yourself. The course I recommend most is definitely Coaching Teachers (and it’s suitable for DoSes and Teachers alike, trust me), it gave me really good feedback on my own awkward behaviour during after-observation appraisal – very useful!

1 What is leadership by Deakin University

This course will explain what leadership is and how the concept changed over the years.  It will investigate the role model of a leader and how to use personal power. It may be really useful for those teachers who are DoSes at the same time or simply struggle with maintaining discipline in the classroom.

It starts on the 10th of July and lasts 2 weeks – so it’s pretty short.

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

The course focuses on children’s language acquisition, effective communication and measuring not only progress, but also challenge we create for the youngest learners. It may be really useful not only for EFL teachers, but also parents who very often want to make their children take up an opportunity in educational possibilities.

It started on the 3rd of July and lasts 6 weeks, but with estimated 2 hours of work per week seems rather a light course.

3 Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics by Universiteit Leiden, Meertens Instituut (KNAW)

The course is useful if you want to get a fairly quick introduction into linguistics. This may also be a nice idea for those who have finished their universities, but want to revise their knowledge. Yes, there will be Chomsky in the curriculum. The interesting things is that the level of English in this course is very low, so this is something your students may enjoy.

It started on the 3rd of July and lasts 6 weeks. The amount of time you’ll need may vary, depending on your knowledge of the subject.

4 Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher by Relay Graduate School of Education

I’m a firm believer that organization is the key to success – mind, I love improvisation, but within some organised frames. Now, this course is designed for classroom teachers who juggle time-sensitive tasks and exhausting teaching schedules. With an eye toward long-term sustainability, The Together Teacher examines the purpose of planning ahead, provides tools for tracking time commitments, deadlines and tasks, and helps teachers develop a personal organization system that interacts with their day-by-day practices. Sounds purrfect!

The course starts on the 10th of July and lasts 6 weeks (there are a lot of things you need to organise apparently).

5 Teaching Adult Learners by Central Institute of Technology

The course focuses on how to engage adult learners through collaborative learning, instructional skills and design, as well as looking at the role technology is playing in terms of promoting engaged learning environments. It is recommended for those teachers who change their scope of teaching from young learners to adults.

It began on the 3rd of July and lasts 4 weeks.

6 Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes That Stick by Match Teacher Residency

This is the course I took before even starting my journey as a DoS – and I recommend it to everyone. The course focuses on learning and practising strategies for coaching teachers to make meaningful, long-lasting improvements in their instruction. You will learn what the Four Horsemen of Observed Lesson look like and will never be surprised during post-observation assessment.

It starts on the 10th of July and lasts 5 weeks.

7 Learning Mindsets & Skills by Match Teacher Residency

My pick of the month! Following the success of the previous course (Coaching Teachers) I’ve decided to study with MTR once more. The course is designed to explore underlying concepts behind Learning Mindsets & Skills as well as the the practical applications of those concepts in various educational environments. Sounds lovely!

It started on the 3rd of July and lasts 3 weeks – nice and short.

I hope you’ll find something that will suit your needs and interests. If you pick Learning Mindset, let me know, that would be lovely meeting online!

If you know any other interesting courses – share them with me, and together we shall rule the MOOC world!

 

 

Summer school madness – 8 tips from a survivor

Summer school madness

I remember my first summer school (Taunton 2013, six weeks) and paraphrasing Lana del Rey’s Summertime sadness into summerschool madness – we should’ve made a staff choir, come to think of it. Being a DoS, however, means working full time, so I can’t go and join my friends working with various summer schools, but a friend of mine is joining a summer school in England for the very first time and asked me to write some tips for summer school virgins. Here we go, then – if I managed to survive, so will you!

1 Don’t panic! and choose a proper school

The most important thing is to pick a good school, where not only students but also teachers are well taken care of. You will need materials, resource books and a good DoS (or ADoS) to help you through. Apart from reading opinions on the Internet check whether the school has British Council Accreditation – you want to make sure your future workplace is a good school. British Council does inspections to make sure those schools have proper standards, so picking an accredited centre would be my priority.

2 Pack your things sensibly

Surprise – you’re not going to the end of the world, even if you travel from the continent! You’ll probably be able to buy most of the things you need on the spot, but if you have your favourite cosmetics – take them with you as the brand may be unavailable in the UK. Remember to take an adapter if you need it. I’d recommend taking an e-reader, no need to take books (though I’d invest in 700 Classroom Activities, my favourite teaching tool ever). You will be sent a vademecum from your school, so pay attention to dress code, but also remember you’ll probably go on school trips, so make sure you’ve got some suitable clothes. And shoes.

3 The Internet

Well, this might be a tricky point – you will probably be located in a normal school and the Internet protection in the UK is much higher than in most EU countries, so you may get a nasty surprise when your news page turns out to be blocked (possible nudity). I’ve encountered a school blocking google, so yeah, things may be fun. If you want to avoid it, simply buy a UK phone number with a good data package. My friend recommends getting a Giff Gaff, as you can order your SIM card to your country and actually have it before you go to the UK. However, what surprised me was how many hotspots in a city can be out of reach, compared to Poland.

Oh, and the only browser on school computers was IE, so… remember, remarks about poor technological development of the country may be considered rude.

4 The Madness

Had anyone told me this before I joined LAL I’d probably smile, but here it is: summer school is madness. You live in a bubble of contained space and extremely intensive time with pretty much the same people, there has to be tension, you can’t escape it. The good things will be beyond perfection, the bad things will create drama (honestly, you will see adult people cry) – you need to realise that there will be simple events intensified to the level you’ve forgotten since you left your boarding school. There will be adult people behaving like teenagers (and teenagers behaving like teenagers, so at least that will be normal) and there’s nothing wrong with it. Being a summer school teacher is not a summer chill, you will have more responsibilities than just teaching… and, something you’ll probably never get used to, the rest of the staff will not understand how serious business teaching is. This may be one of those things that create tension, but, as I say, it is absolutely understandable in summerschool madness.

5 Other teachers

This is probably the best aspect of a summer school – your colleagues. You will meet so many people from various environments, you’ll have so much time to discuss teaching methods, compare your ideas and learn new things. And due to the Madness, you’ll make a special bond with these people (sometimes known as We Survived attitude) that will last longer than the summer. I have made real friendships and I am really grateful to my LAL mates for suffering my recalcitrant self. Kudos!

6 Teaching

Right, there will be students, probably from various countries and this is both wonderful and somewhat scary. You will have a lot of cross cultural issues to learn, remember, explain etc. You probably will develop some weird kind of preference (I really liked working with Russians and Germans, especially a certain magical group in 2014), and there will be students you won’t ever forget (again, the Madness, you will see those kids everyday and they will be far-away-from-home teenagers, sometimes they will look up to the only authority they know – a teacher, just be sure to listen to them, they are bound to have their dramas and there will be no parents to help). When it comes to teaching – it is summer school, after all, so leave that copy of grammar drills and go for full fun and communication!

7 Food

It was the summer school experience that taught me British food can be actually delicious. Only during British summer could I eat crisps with vinegar and actually enjoy it, but as I usually picked Taunton in Somerset (adorable place and lovely local people!), I discovered proper cheddar (something I couldn’t get in Ireland, sorry Dublin) and Blue Stilton which is one of my guilty pleasures. But there was clotted cream and Thatchers Gold… and they have cider festival in Somerset which means I always came back home heavier than I left.

8 Experience

You will either love it or hate it, it is an experience so intensive it will leave you drained and in need of another holidays. You will meet a lot of people, some of them will make you a better person and some of them will make you see red. If you are single, you might as well finish summer school in a relationship. But it is one of the most educational periods of time, not only from a professional point of view, but also personally. Is there any piece of advice? Sure:

Keep your eyes open and let your horizons broaden. Don’t be petty. Laugh whenever you can. Make friends. Learn. Curse hot and cold taps only when nobody hears you.

 

This post was heavily inspired, so I need to give credit where credit’s due.
Gosia – thank you for making me write this post.
LAL – the summer school with which I worked for three unforgettable summers. May there be more in the future.
My fellow LAL teachers: Kasia, David, Dave, Shonie, Filip, Ania, Gizella, Michal, Sandrine, Summyyah, Kait (my long-lost twin), Mark, Rozenn, Agata, Merve, Gocha, Viorica, Ndrew – that would be lovely seeing you again
Sebastian, Ivan, Georgii, Christopher – friendship is magic. Always.

Can fake identity be useful for teachers?

fake identity

I’ve always believed being a teacher is like being a performer (in my case usually a clown but hey, still better than Kenneth Branagh trying to impersonate Hercule Poirot), a psychologist (at least when it comes to being quiet and listening) or a Game Master (trying to organise a year-long campaign for a bunch of ungrateful players). I guess the similarity to Role Playing Games is the closest to my perception of the role of a teacher, and I’m certainly going to write something about it (probably during holidays when I have more time to let my mind roam free), but today I’m going to show you something you might not have thought of using, and which proves that a teacher role for today is almost a secret agent!

There have been rumours of a female Bond, you know…

No, I’m not going to encourage you to secretly dispose of the students who forget their homework (it’s not a coincidence they won’t give teachers licence to kill, I’m afraid), I am merely going to show you Fake Name Generator and prove it to be an excellent teaching aid.

1 Present Simple exercise (A1+)

It’s not always easy for people to talk about themselves and that’s one of the most common exercises to practise Present Simple. It may be easier to prepare fake portfolios using the Generator and let them describe particular character and their personal details and then get creative and think of their daily routine, likes and dislikes etc.

2 Creating characters for role-plays (A2-C2)

It’s much more interesting to create a role-play when the characters are quite different from real students. Instead of making a debate with a bunch of bored teenagers we may give the very same topic to discuss, but ask our students to assume the roles given (and thanks to the Generator we may create the characters on the spot!) challenging them to not only readjust their arguments to their characters’ viewpoints, but also change their range of vocabulary and even accent (if they’re fluent enough).

3 Business English (A2-C2)

Similar to the previous ideas, it may be easier for students to engage into conversations with fake characters – in this case it would be a teacher who acts a generated person. I find it highly useful in HR-centred areas, as you can arrange many communicative situations with various characters debating possible business problems, yet distancing from them at the same time by using fictional characters.

4 Total immersion (B1-C2)

Now, if your class is into experiments, you might ask them to try and create characters with the Generator at home, and pretend to live the life of their fake identities for a week or a month. You need to come to classes dressed a little bit differently (just a small accessory would do to emphasise our identity), change your small talk (“how’s your boss?” “still looking for work?” “kids and wifey ok?” etc.), you may even write emails to one another. It’s a lot of fun, but also a lot of learning.

5 Teaching tool for checking apps online

As a teacher, the Generator may prove surprisingly useful when you want to check an app or a website and they ask you to log in or give your email. Now, the emails given by the Generator are real and working – so you may use fake identities to check new things out before you decide you want to sign up for them. It’s pretty much like being a secret agent, isn’t it?

Here are my favourite ideas on bringing fake identities to life – inside and outside of classroom. You may give them a go – or you may encourage students who are reluctant to sign up for Facebook and can’t join your group to check things out. Fake Name Generator isn’t really a teaching tool, but as I try to prove – everything can be a means of education if you’re willing to try. And if you do, maybe you’ll come up with your own ideas on how to use the Generator?

Enjoy!

 

Want to teach online? RPG comes to the rescue!

Want to teach online-

Last month I took part in Anna Poplawska’s workshop on teaching online. I was teaching online for a while and I’m absolutely sure I’ll get back to this form of teaching sooner or later (probably sooner) – however, I got inspired when we discussed various forms of teaching platforms. Today, I want to share with you an idea of a free platform where you could practise skills required from a professional online teacher.

First of all – why would I recommend a platform? Naturally, you can practise your communicative skills on Skype or Google Hangouts, but it’s far more to teaching online than mere speaking or (limited, but still) body language. You have to multitask quite a lot, switching between speaking, listening to particular student, reading chat window and preparing next slides etc. Working on an actual platform will definitely help you. But where to find a free platform where you could practise?

Surprisingly, my idea springs from my proper hobby – roleplaying games. I love playing pen-and-paper RPGs, but they require meeting up with people, which may be quite difficult to organise when you’re over 30 and your mates live all around the country. Meeting three times a year is awesome, but at the same time quite frustrating, so we went online. The platform we started on was Roll20 and it turned out to be a good way to play.

Now, those who play RPG will know, those who haven’t tried yet – believe me: teaching is pretty much like being a Game Master, only you’re dealing with people who seem to be more sensible.

Roll20, a free online platform, is actually a set of digital tools that expand traditional pen-and-paper game. You can easily ignore the dice rolling and use it as a teaching tool, and let me share some tips on how to start.

1 Create an account

You don’t need to choose a game setting, it’s optional and treat it as one of many parts you’ll probably ignore (as rolling the dice and game mechanics). Create your own campaign (English lesson 1, for instance) and that’s it! If you want to invite someone, just send them a link.

2 Video+voice chat

This kind of connection requires simply a WebRTC compatible browser (Chrome, Opera or Firefox will do). If your connection is too slow, you may turn off the video and keep talking. Generally, it’s really important to check your connection, especially upload, before teaching online – I usually use Adobe Meeting Connection Diagnostic, but it’s due to my work on AdobeConnect, so find your favourite test.

Tip: camera and mic will operate no sooner than someone joins the game, so don’t worry if you don’t see any options at first!

3 Tools

Drawing tools (panel on the left): you may use default screen as a board and write on it (so may your students).

Handouts (panel on the right): you may use it to share slides – images or scans from a book. Remember, once you share an image, you can write on it, so that’s pretty useful. Basically, once you share your handout it will look like a background map.

Background music: now, this is this aspect of roll20 that I find particularly annoying because you simply cannot upload a track. You can share a link, though – so you may upload a track on GoogleDrive and share a link to it so that everyone can listen to it individually, but that would be all. Really annoying.

Secret whisper: apart from a chat window, everyone can use an option “secret whisper”, which is a chat seen only by people to whom whisper is directed. You, however, will be able to see everything, so no cheating for your students!

4 Practise!

Try to prepare a short lesson with warm-ups (e.g. pictures to compare), listening (link to track + slide with exercise), reading and a follow-up discussion.

Invite your friends or students to participate in your online classes and have fun practising online teaching!

Good luck and let me know how you found roll20!

7 British TV shows you can enjoy with your students

shopping

We live in times when the only constant seems to be change. Just a few years ago piracy was ever so common, as it was the easiest, and sometimes the only way to watch British or American TV shows. Nowadays, with Netflix or Amazon we can pay to legally watch anything we want. Isn’t it just perfect?

With so many TV shows it has never been easier to immerse into a foreign culture, however I’d like to share some TV shows that may be not so famous among our younger students but which are very important in British pop culture. That is why you will not find Downtown Abbey on my list. You won’t find Sherlock either, purely for personal reasons – I loved the first season, but then was getting worse and worse to reach quite abominable level in the last season.

Couldn’t recommend such atrocity <shudder>

Here’s the list of 7 British TV shows I like, enjoy and share with my students not only for linguistic reasons, but also for cultural background:

1 Escape to the Country by BBC

The basic premise of the show is that a person or a family wishes to relocate from their current city home to a more peaceful and rural area. They are shown into three various houses, but also sample local delights, gain historical knowledge and visit local attractions to get a feel for the area they are planning to move to. For this reasons it is a perfect thing to show not only typical British houses (which vary from continental ones), but also cultural background. Another reason is my favourite presenter, Jules Hudson, whose smile and enthusiasm regularly make my day.

2 Blink – Doctor Who, S03E10

I’m not a whovian, but it’s impossible to deny the impact Doctor Who has on British popculture. The show has got famous overseas as well, but I don’t think many teenagers would remember season 3, even if it has the most brilliant episode ever.

Maybe because, there’s almost no Doctor himself.

Anyway, Blink is the film I love sharing with my students because it hints at the Doctor’s secrets but never reveals them, and I believe it’s the best  episode to explain Doctor Who’s phenomenon.

Also, this is probably the best thing Steven Moffat wrote, so let’s take a moment to appreciate it.

3 Fawlty Towers by BBC

While Monty Python with their films and sketches might be a bit too much to bite for people who have not grasped yet the complexity of British nonsensical humour, Fawlty Towers seems both less offensive and much easier to comprehend. And the only real reason students should get familiar with Mr Basil Fawlty and his misadventures is, simply, the fact, that not knowing John Cleese is not knowing anything about British sense of humour at all.

4 Blackadder by BBC1

Mr Bean is famous all right, but frankly, once you watch Black Adder you won’t be able to forget Rowan Atkinson playing Blackadder (or Black Adder, depending on season) leading us through British history together with his servant Baldrick and infamous Lord Percy the poisoner.

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It’s worth watching not only for pure fun, but also for vast historical background, as Blackadder travels through various historical affairs.

5 The Thick Of It by BBC

I watched In the Loop completely by chance, during some kind of independent film festival – and I loved every minute of it. Needless to say, when I learnt there is a whole TV series about Malcolm Tucker and his, well, objects of eternal insult – I had to watch it. I recommend it to quite mature and linguistically proficient students as the level of verbal abuse, as well as political nuances, is so high it may be lost on people not fluent in political affairs.

I believe this is the best role of Peter Capaldi.

6 Top Gear by BBC

It was a good show, too bad BBC and the TG trio parted their ways as nothing good comes out of this (sorry, Amazon, but The Grand Tour is nowhere near good old Top Gear). The thing I recommend most is choosing one of Top Gear Specials as the show culture clashes the British trio experiences on many occasions. My favourite special is definitely the US special soon after Katrina. I prepared a short comprehension test for my students to answer while watching and most of B2+ students have no problems with understanding.

7 Shetland by BBC One

Well, here you may wonder why Shetland? Why not Broadchurch, Grantchester or Inspector Morse (or Endeavour which is one of my favourite TV shows ever)? The answer is simple: this TV series shows us those areas of the UK that are usually neglected, forgotten – but nonetheless beautiful and really interesting. The atmosphere of a closed community where no one dares to openly blame another – and yet everyone suspects everybody, is just too real to ignore. I would definitely use this TV show for more mature audience who would be able to understand all the hidden messages in this surprisingly complex, and truly beautiful, TV series.

 

And that, as they say, is that – here’s my pick of seven great shows, but I’m absolutely sure you have your own ideas on which shows would be more relevant in your classroom. Why don’t you share your proposals?