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What is your teaching pet peeve?

We all have our teaching pet peeves, admittedly or not. Mine is using songs in my lessons – I feel as if I’m padding out.

As I was listening to a fun podcast of TEFL Commute, I decided to ask my Twitter and Facebook friends what were the classroom activities they hated doing and why. Lots of people wanted to share what they hated the most, which was perfect for my crowdsourcing question.

Here are some answers ( in no particular order):


  • Comprehension questions  

Why:  “They are so artificial and end up leaving teachers and learners with a false sense of security .” ( Marc Jones) 

 “I hate it. They are always silly and obvious.” ( Juliana Mota)

  • The game “Find someone who”

Why: “I hate them as students often find them childish and I really would hate doing them.” ( Phil Walde)

“I hate ‘find someone who’ activities, too, and their variants (cocktail parties aren’t real parties unless there are actual cocktails in them)” ( Letícia Sales)

Other teachers who chose this pet peeve were Will Eduardo, Thiaggo Veiga and Monica Puntel.

  • Role-plays

Why:  “I despise any role playing activity. It never seems natural or meaningful, no matter how beautifully crafted the task is or the amount of personalization one put into it. Just… Don’t. I hated it as a student and hate it even more as a teacher.” ( Letícia Sales)

“I don’t like role-plays. I feel silly, students feel silly (maybe because I feel silly in the first place).” ( Cintia Rodrigues)

Other teachers who don’t like role-plays either are Elizabeth Castro, Daphne Walder, Kamila Linková and Ricardo Barros. 

  • Form sentences using the new words-like activities

Why:  “I find this kind of activity a wee pointless: more often than not it is not used at the best possible moment (it is used as controlled practice which it isn’t), there is no purpose other than checking understanding, it tests other skills like creativity which are likely to increase the affective filter of the student, etc. So… no.” ( Henrique Moura)

  • Overuse of Powerpoint

Why: “Overuse of PowerPoint by other teachers. They become dependent on it.” (Adam Beale) 

  • Matching words and pictures

Why: “Too long to correct.”(Anabel Fernandéz)

  • Reading aloud

Why: “ I don’t like reading aloud in reading lessons for a number of reasons:  a) reading aloud is not a real-life skill as it is often done in class  b) reading aloud is a feature of ineffective readers  c) reading aloud provides LOTS opportunities for students to make mistakes which end up not being corrected d) many people cannot focus on the message of the text when it is being read aloud. NOW, I am ok with reading aloud if the focus is on pronunciation, for instance – an ESP course for flight attendants, in which they have to read the announcements aloud. A great opportunity to focus on intonation, thought groups, stress, etc.” ( Henrique Moura)

  • Correcting homework

Why:” It’s so awkward mostly because not all the students do it and I feel like it opens space for distraction, disengagement and it’s a little bit patronizing.”( Gustavo Lázaro)

“Correcting homework when I know the students who haven’t done it, would insist on trying to give an answer to something they have no idea about.” ( Cristina Cabal)

Luiz Otávio Barros doesn’t like it either.

  • “I don’t do stuff I don’t like, or I don’t believe it.”

Why: Well, this is crystal clear. Brilliantly said by Sarah Priestley, Vedrana Vojković, and  Stephen Greene. 

  • Running dictations

Why: “ I also hate those running dictations as they just seem to be for the sake of fun and also that dictogloss think that is also just about memory. Some TEFL things just seem to be about forced fun and have little educational use people over 20 may refuse.” ( Phil Walde)

Juliana Mota also mentioned she doesn’t like it.

  • Anything and everything from English Grammar in Use

Why:  “I don’t like how the activities are de-contextualized, I don’t think that the progression of tasks is always logical, from less challenging to more challenging tasks, and I think some of the practice exercises are too short.”(Henrique Moura)

  • Half-term exams

Why: “They take up so much time, produce very little in terms of language acquisition and students just obsess about them. And then you have to mark the bloody things and explain why someone got 73% instead of 75%. A complete waste of everybody’s time and energy.”  (Stephen Greene) 

  • Simons Says

Why: “It drives me to despair.”(Amanda Jay)

  • Pairing up kids and teens

Why: “Pairing up kids and teens can be complicated. They are often reluctant to getting together and breaking their groups.” ( André Hedlund)

  • Cutting sets

Why: “I hate it.” ( Natália Guerreiro).

  • Reading activities using a quiz

Why:” I find it difficult to get students to check answers in pairs because oftentimes they just show each other their answers and do not go about explaining their answers – and in order to get students to do that, the teacher needs to invest some time in preparing for the task, which may get in the way of reading as the main aim – and the activity ends up dying down too quickly.” ( Henrique Moura)

I would like to thank everyone who joined this discussion. Thanks a million! 

How about you? What’s your teaching pet peeve?



Interview with Marcela Cintra

I met Marcela in September while attending her very own talk on Professional Development and I left the talk quite impressed by her generosity and a genuine passion for teaching. I remember thinking to myself  “I have to interview her for my blog!


Marcela is a manager at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo and BrazTesol 2nd Vice President ( as of 2017). She has taught English for 20 years ( she started teaching when she was 14 years old, in a voluntary programme), has been involved in teacher training and development programmes and presented in Braz-TESOL and IATEFL conferences. She’s also a DELTA, CELTA, and ICELT tutor. Besides that, she is currently taking an MA course in TESOL. In a nutshell, she’s cut out for teaching!

In this uplifting chat, we talked about the importance of CPD (especially when it comes to giving and receiving constructive feedback), some reasons why she likes writing down everything people tell her and other useful tips for teachers.

You can watch the first part here.

You can watch the second part here.

Here’s Marcela’s blog post about Feedback that is mentioned in the interview: Richmond Share

Thanks for reading!

Conversation lesson: Do you mind if I take your picture? A lesson based on Humans Of New York

If you’re on Facebook, you most likely know the inspirational Fanpage Humans of New York. It’s one of my favourite non-ELT fan pages on Facebook because it’s so…witty, unpredictable,inspiring and thought-provoking.
I meant to craft a lesson plan about it for a while, and I’ve finally put it all together.



Teaching English and Humans Of New York have more in common than meets the eye: teaching and HONY both connect people, tell a story, and inspire. Brandon Stanton, the creator and, as he puts it, the storyteller of this huge community  has 17 million fans on Facebook, 5 million fans on Instagram, and two New York Times best sellers under his belt. Wow!
And for those teachers who are not comfortable in using PARSNIPS in the classroom, a little warning: I love it. That’s why I chose a love story of a gay couple from Humans of New York so that students can engage in fruitful discussions about LGBT and diversity in the classroom.

Download Student’s PDF handout:  lessondoyoumindifitakeyourpicture1

Download the presentation as pdf : conversation-lesson-do-you-mind-if-i-take-your-picture-1-1

Link for Google Slides : here 

Lesson Plan Outline

Level: B1

Time: 1’20”


* Describe pictures beyond the use of adjectives
* Create meaningful stories through storytelling
* Discuss reasons to share or not to share intimate thoughts with strangers
* Listen to details

Step 1
Prime students with the three questions from slide two before showing them the two pictures. Give them enough time to observe and hypothetise ( Slide 1)

Step 2
Show them each picture separately and give them a few minutes to discuss the initial questions with their peers. They might jot down some ideas if needed be ( Slide 3 and 4)
Step 3
Share the three pictures related to the woman’s story ( the wedding dress, the hair stylist, and the dog) and, in pairs, they should come up with a story. Help them with vocabulary if needed be ( Slide 5)

Step 4
Then, share the three pictures related to the couple’s story ( the subway, the cookies, and the Black Label). Students should come up with a story using the three pictures in pairs ( Slide 6)

Step 5
Show the two pairs of sentences to the students. They are supposed to match the sentences to the pictures.
“I wasn’t even planning on going out that night” and “I just started dancing by myself” are related to the couple’s story.

“I quit my job” and “everything is one big question for me right now” are linked to the woman’s story ( Slides 7 and 8)

Step 6
Next, students are supposed to read each story.

Ask them: Did you use the pictures correctly to make sense of each story? Were your inferences accurate? Were your initial questions answered within the texts?
Some phrases and expressions you might need to go through:
Story 1 – The woman
I feel like I’m about / I can’t help but… / to mess up / nothing has come of it

Story 2 – The couple
cookie dough / to make out with someone / to run into someone

Step 7
Have students join small groups to open the debate with their peers. Allow them to agree, disagree, make jokes, etc.

Step 8
After the debate, they should click on the links to leave a comment or reply to a comment from the post. Help them with new vocabulary and monitor what they write. Ensure their opinions are respectful and supportive.

Photo 1 : Link here

Photo 2: Link here

Step 9
Listening to details: Tell your students they’re going to watch a three-minute video about Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York. Let your students read the topics that Brandon might tackle in the video ( Topics mentioned: Why he thinks people open up to him, his most popular photo and the questions he likes to ask people). Let students share their guesses.

Watch the video here.

Step 10
Questions about Brandon Stanton and Humans of New York. Let your students make questions in pairs or small groups. Share their answers with the whole group.

Thanks for reading.

Interview with Alan Martins – Teacher and Teacher Trainer in the UK


Hello, everyone.

This week’s special guest is Alan Martins, a Brazilian teacher who lives in Bournemouth, UK. I had a lovely chat with Alan and he shares helpful tips for both experienced and inexperienced teachers alike.

Alan is a DELTA holder with an MA in TESOL from Sheffield Hallam University. He’s been working as a teacher for over 15 years. We talked about several topics including being an NNEST in the UK ( yes, again!), CELTA, DELTA, MA and the like.

I hope you find the interview useful.

Watch the first part of the interview here.

Watch the second part of the interview here.

Thanks for reading.