Category Archives: Teacher Training

Feedback and the Digital World | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

This is the link to my latest (August 2016) TeachingEnglish blog post:

Tools to give feedback

feedback copy
taken from P. 79 of ‘An A-Z of ELT’

Check the Magazine to read more interesting posts by TeachingEnglish bloggers and associates:



#DigELT2015 ‘Deep Learning Skills in a Teacher Training Programme’

I attended the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG event ‘Digital ELT Ireland 2015’ in Dublin on the 31st October and 1st November this year. A two-day series of talks, presentations and workshops organised by the IATEFL LT SIG.

Digital ELT Ireland was born in 2012 and became an international ELT Tech event very quickly! This year’s conference was an interesting combination of thought-provoking plenaries by Russell Stannard and Huw Jarvis, international speakers, Halloween and the beautiful Irish autumn!

This post is an explanation on and a summary of my talk on ‘Digital Deep Learning Skills in Teacher Training Programmes’ with the links to my talk Prezi and the conference photos:


Last year I worked with four groups of Malaysian teachers on a project with the British Council. The project’s main priorities were to improve Malaysian primary and secondary school teachers’ language proficiency and to give them enough tools (methodology-wise) to use in the classroom. I was responsible for the face-to-face part of the training in my cluster (140 km off Kuala Lumpur with lovely people). They also had an e-moderator, training and supporting them on Moodle with one of TeachingEnglish English for Teaching courses.

Now that the project has finished, it’s high time I reflected on a couple of tools I have managed to successfully trial and implement in my training sessions.

As a trainer who cares about the environment, I decided not to print off tens of worksheets everyday to save a couple of trees on this planet. The first thing which comes to mind, in such instances, is to e-mail worksheets to everyone in the room! So this was what I did for a couple of days:

  • Ask everyone’s e-mail address.
  • Create mailing lists in my gmail contacts for each group.
  • Attach PDFs. (to avoid other formats and their problems)
  • Send them to the intended people.
  • Wait for them to log-in, open my e-mail, download the file and work on it.
  • Wait for them to save their answers in another document and send it back to me.

These steps might look quite straight-forward but catastrophes can happen and things can even get out of control! Here is a list of things which happened:

  • The learners didn’t remember their passwords so couldn’t reach their mailbox on school computers.
  • They were using school computers so couldn’t save the file on them (admin settings didn’t allow them to do so).
  • Reading a PDF file and copying answers to a Word document can be really difficult.
  • Some learners didn’t know how to do all these things and the activities took much longer than planned.
  • Many people had chosen fancy names for their mailboxes and I had to work out who the incoming files belong to.
  • Pairwork and groupwork activities were hard to arrange as they couldn’t take their notes somewhere else!
  • Activity files were lost in their mailboxes and they couldn’t keep a a list of files they had worked on.

And a lot more! To the list, add the fact that training was delivered in an area where it was hard to find a stable internet connection and I myself had a wifi dongle, my mobile phone 3G internet access and my iPad’s LTE connection and still had to worry!

A quick search on the internet about digital classrooms, deep learning skills and competencies and higher-order thinking skills give you a lot of food for thought if you are into going digital and paper-free.

Fullan and Langworthy (2013) identified eight Deep Learning skills: Global Citizenship, Collaboration, Character, Communication, Creativity and Imagination, Real-World Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Use of ICT for Learning. Focusing on ICT for Learning can cover some of the other skills as well and a more systematic use of technology can replace the e-mailing process and can give you more features to make your training fun and productive.

The following options are the most popular platforms ELT people seem to be using around the globe:

Edmodo is the most popular option and provides you with a lot of tools and training and I have used it for many different purposes but this time, I needed something simpler and lighter which was suitable for my specific purpose in that specific part of the world!

I spent almost 2 months working on these platforms and I came to this conclusion that Chalkup is both simple and productive and gives me the tools I am in serious need of! Its integration with Google Apps and Google Drive, their rubric feature, the mobile and iPad app, the annotation feature and the chat box were all what I needed to go entirely digital! (My favourite feature is the way it integrates your task rubric to writing tasks so that the learners can check their marked assignments against the rubric. Watch this video to learn how it performs this.)


During the first couple of weeks, I was getting demotivated as not everyone seemed interested in what I had added to their life! But things changed gradually and after 6 months, not only did they respond to my posts but shared and posted useful things on the platform and I managed to be completely green during the second half of the project.

Chalkup might still not be the online platform which provides you with all available features in this ever-changing world of online collaborative service providers but it is definitely one of the best and it was obviously the best choice for my case. Moreover, the team’s commitment to develop the platform makes me certain that they are going to gain more popularity in near future.

The following links will take you to my talk in which I have tried to show what we went through and what level of online participation I experienced with Chalkup and a collection of other online platforms.

Digital ELT Ireland 2015 (IATEFL LT SIG event- Dublin)

P.S. Well done Sabak Bernam teachers for making this happen!

Digital ELT Ireland Links:

See on Tackk


#IATEFL2015 | Saeede Haghi | Trinity College London Language Examinations Scholarship Winner

IATEFL is over but it has left a lot of food for thought and I don’t think we can stop talking about it at least until the next year Birmingham event!
In line with my IATEFL blogging this year, I decided to do a series of online interviews with those IATEFL presenters whose talks were not live-streamed but had important and interesting things to say to and share with the ELT community.
I was lucky to do my first interview with ‘Saeede Haghi’ who was the winner of the Trinity College London Language Examinations Scholarship this year. It hasn’t been a long time since I first got to know her on the British Council Aptis Examiners Network last year and I had no idea I would interview her in less than a year. Saeede, who is originally Iranian and was the first-rank holder of the Iranian national MA entrance exam among around 15000 candidates in 2009, is now doing her Ph.D. at the University of Warwick in the UK. She specialises in language testing and assessment.
Read her ideas below and check this space again for more interviews to come.

s200_saeede.haghiIATEFL- Saeede Haghi


The role of visual stimuli in listening tests for academic purposes

Main Point:

which one

In her research study, she tried to address the effect of three types of delivery modes (i.e. audio-only, audio-context visual and audio-content-visual) on test takers’ performance in a listening test for academic purposes and their note-taking practices, as well as their perceptions towards the inclusion of these visuals.


  • The inclusion of visual stimuli did affect test performance with CONTEXT visuals significantly debilitating test takers performance while CONTENT visuals neither facilitating nor debilitating their performance.
  • The audio-context visual group perception towards CONTEXT visuals showed that half didn’t use them due to multi-tasking and distraction caused by these visuals.
  • The audio-only content visuals group’s perception towards CONTENT visuals was positive in general finding these visuals facilitative especially in terms of note taking.
  • Significant differences in note-taking practices were observed with CONTEXT visuals showing no effect while CONTENT visuals appeared to significantly facilitate the efficacy and organisation of the notes.
  • Most participants in the audio-content visual group perceived the use of CONTENT visuals facilitative for note-taking practices WHILE, only about ¼ of the participants in the audio-context visual group perceived context visuals as helpful for note-taking.
  • In general, positive attitudes towards the inclusion of visuals in EAP listening tests were observed, however, they mainly belonged to the audio-only and the audio-content visual groups.

Useful Links:

More about Saeede at the IATEFL:

  • On a personal note, what do you think you gained from your IATEFL 2015 presentation?

“I received very constrictive and encouraging feedback on my research. I also had the opportunity to become familiar with other aspects of ELT which I had never encountered in my career such as teaching English in circumstances that I have never experienced.”

  • What was your most unforgettable IATEFL moment in Manchester?

“When I received positive feedback on my presentation from experts in my research area!”

Need more? Contact Saeede:

Cambridge English Teacher Development Tracker

It is hard to be in the ELT industry and not be familiar with Cambridge English! Once called Cambridge ESOL, Cambridge English are famous for their CELTA, Delta and many other internationally recognised and globally respected ELT qualifications for teachers at different stages of their professional life. Cambridge English Teacher website has been offering membership schemes, courses, webinars, articles and many more to those interested in professional development for some years and they have recently introduced the Cambridge English Teaching Framework.

What is it?

It is a development framework which divides teaching competency into 5 categories, across 4 stages of development.

The Categories are:

  1. Learning and the learner
  2. Teaching, learning and assessment
  3. Language ability
  4. Language knowledge and awareness
  5. Professional development and values

And the four development stages are:

  1. Foundation
  2. Developing
  3. Proficient
  4. Expert


What does it do?

It helps teachers think about where they are now and where they would like to go next.

Who is it for?

It has been designed, on a global perspective, for almost anyone who is in the academic side of the industry; from teachers to teacher trainers, directors of studies and academic managers.

How does it work?

There are five challenges you can sign up and work on. It is completely free and each challenge only needs 1 or 2 hours per week for you to work on. Once you sign up for one of the following challenges, the system sends you an e-mail and your professional development starts:

  • create a professional development plan that works for you
  • find new ways to motivate your learners
  • find new ways to identify and correct your learners’ mistakes
  • be more confident using digital resources
  • grow your confidence using English in class

E-mails might contain articles to read, videos to watch, new ideas to try in your classroom and tasks to complete and reflect on.

After you complete each challenge, you will be given a Record of Achievement that you can add to your portfolio. Cambridge ESOL previously had teacher portfolios but they stopped them a couple of years ago and now with the new system, it is easy to set up your professional portfolio again, link it to your Cambridge English Teachers membership, track other teachers or even ask someone to review your development. It seems that Cambridge English have decided to develop something which can perform as the teachers’ digital portfolio at work as well.

Where can I start?

Check the Development Tracker website and set up your account in the easiest way, as it only needs an e-mail address, your name, your school’s name and your location!


After creating your account you can answer the questions in the assessment categories to determine where you are now:


Once you answer the questions, you can click on print to have a hard copy of your self-assessed profile according to the Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Then you can compare your profile with the teacher development map to see which Cambridge Teaching Qualification suits you best:


And finally, this is where you can sign up for the 5 challenges to receive e-mails to help you move forward:

5 Teaching Challenges

Are there similar frameworks from other ELT organisations?

British Council has had their own CPD framework for teacher for some years but they are renovating the whole system and the new one is not yet available on their website but Paul Braddock, British Council TeachingEnglish Web Manager, in an interview at the IATEFL 2015 mentioned that the new CPD framework will consist of 12 development blocks which can be completed by teachers in any order. It seems that the British Council has developed a non-linear professional development programme for English teachers to help them focus on what they primarily believe they need more help with.


Click on the link below to watch a video on the British Council CPD Framework:

journey of an English Language Teacher

Bottom line

No one can deny the importance of reflective practice in the teaching profession and all these websites and programmes are meant to help teachers find where they are, where they want to get to, and how they can personally sign-post the route and reach their goals. These teaching frameworks always remind of this famous quotation:

By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. (Confucius)

Further resources:

#IATEFL2015 | Iran | Interview with Danny Whitehead

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 13.33.13
Left: Nik Peachey Right: Danny Whitehead (Country Director Iran)

Note: This is not a presentation summary and the ‘Main Point’ section is my own introduction to Danny’s interview.


Iran and the Iranians at the IATEFL 2015 Manchester.

Main Point:

There is a very large and amazingly active ELT community in Iran but political issues over the last couple of years have made this ELT society quite isolated. British Council and many other international ELT organisations were forced to leave Iran for various reasons between 2008 and 2010.

Despite the fact that the Iranian ELT society and market were completely disconnected from the outside ELT world, phenomenal projects were conducted and Iranian ELT practitioners and experts were even more enthusiastic about showing how they are moving on with the international and modern ELT trends.

Having been a member of the Iranian ELT society for the last 16 years, I haven’t seen any differences in the quality of work delivered in Iran by ELT teachers and teacher educators from what is internationally perceived as quality and standard ELT service. To me, the Iranian ELT society is ready to share with teachers all around the world, what they have learnt from the challenges they experienced in years of isolation.

Taking a look at the IATEFL this year, the following Iranian people and presentations can be seen. However, only one is directly from an organisation related to Iran and about Iran:

  • Danny Whitehead (British Council Iran- Country Director)
    • Talk on “Innovations in ELT in Iran” (with Chris Kennedy from the University of Birmingham)
    • A new British Council publication: A unique collection of articles (ELT in Iran)
  • Mohammadreza Soofinajafi (British Council Malaysia)
    • Originally Iranian and the former Head of Education in Kish Language School with over 25 years experience in the Iranian and international ELT societies, he currently works as a teacher trainer with the British Council in Malaysia.
    • Talk on “British Council’s Pro-ELT programme: blended learning, Multiple Intelligences, a breakthrough
  • Saeede Haghi (University of Warwick)
    • Originally Iranian and once holding the first rank in the Iranian English Language Teaching MA programmes Entrance Examination, she is now the winner of the Trinity College London Language Examinations Scholarship to the IATELF Manchester from the University of Warwick.
    • Talk on “The role of visual stimuli in EAP listening tests

Now, in 2015, Danny Whitehead, in an interview, talks about the Iranian ELT innovations and the future of the British Council in Iran.

Summary (of the interview):

  • Danny is not (yet) based in Iran and works from the London Office.
  • The relationship between Iran and the UK has improved dramatically over the last 18 months.
  • They are working very closely with their partners in Iran and the UK to re-establish their presence in Iran (in the near future).
  • There is a great demand to learn/teach English in Iran and the ELT community is massive!
  • There is also a great talent in Iran and the teachers and teacher trainers we work with in Iran are wonderfully skilled.
  • A real innovation is happening in ELT in Iran and the new coursebooks from the Ministry of Education shows this.
  • Recent material developments in Iran show a link between the international nature of English and the traditions in the Iranian context.
  • Langauge is a key area where we can build a mutual understanding between Iran and the UK. Challenges around teaching Persian in the UK are a part of this programme as well.
  • The UK-Iran Season of Culture has been helping to build this understanding in the last 4 months.
  • The book ‘ELT in Iran’ is available to download. (Link below)
  • Danny Whitehead: “We really want to connect this amazing network of English language teachers we have in Iran with teachers around the world.”

Useful Links:

Need more? Check British Council Iran homepage.

Coursebooks and Us! | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

This is the link to my latest (March 2015) TeachingEnglish blog post:

Coursebooks and Us!

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

IELTS Teacher Training Course- Tehran

I had the chance to co-train on an IELTS teacher training course during my short stay in Tehran. A couple of my presentation slides for this course are available on Slideshare:

Post-CELTA professional development: what teacher education awaits you in the first five years?

Fabulous list of things to do and books to read from Adam Simpson’s Blog.

Post-CELTA professional development: what teacher education awaits you in the first five years?