Wednesday 5 May 2021

Neurodiversity - A Thing We Can No Longer Deny

There were nine million bicycles in Beijing back in 2005, or at least that is what Katie Melua told us in her first single for her second album. Was it really a fact? I really have no idea, but I do know that even if it were, that number would be a lot higher today. We live in a fascinating and diverse world with an ever growing population which currently stands at 7.8 billion. If the population increases, everything else increases with it, and increase it has since the days of  '9 Million Bikes'. 

    Whilst some statistics are fascinating, others are a shocking realisation   

But our world does not stop with bikes. It is also a world of statistics and numbers, and whilst some are common knowledge, others could be fascinating or even a downright shocking realisation. I'm sure that you do not need me to tell you, for instance, that the most typical person today is right handed. But, did you know that the world's population, if standing shoulder to shoulder, could fit within the 500 square miles of Los Angeles, or that:

  • Our population amounts to 7% of the amount of people that have ever lived 
  • Half of the world's population is only just over 30 years old
  • The average salary on a global scale is less than $18,000 a year
  • The typical person has a cell phone but not a bank account

                                The world is not always equal or fair                                  

Yes, society has made huge advances towards equality but it is not always equal or fair. This is particularly evident in the world of education. Here's why.

  • Between 30% & 40% of the population are considered to be neurodiverse but fewer than 50% know it
  • 35% of people with learning difficulties become school dropouts
  • 4% of students in undergraduate courses are neurodiverse, but only 2% manage to complete the whole program
  • 55% of prison inmates have a learning difficulty
There is a lot of awareness regarding special educational needs, but awareness alone is not enough to give children a meaningful learning and life experience. Schools and teachers need to adapt their teaching according to their students' needs rather than expect their students to adapt to the needs of the school and the teacher. But how do we do that? 

                                    5 Tips that could get you started                                     

There is no easy answer and I cannot see the drastic changes that need to take place happening any time soon. In the meantime, here are 5 tips that could get you started .

  • Work with where the learners are as opposed to where they should be - When we work in this way, we create a safer environment for the learners, they achieve more and will be motivated to go further.
  • Strengthen their strengths whilst developing their weaknesses - Working with their strengths rather then just focusing on their weaknesses will get them to believe in themselves more and develops a higher self-esteem. 
  • Use multisensory techniques - Not everyone learns in the same way. When learners interact with the content being taught in different ways, they use the 3 primary senses that correspond with the visual, auditory and motor memory, allowing them to develop each of the sensory systems. 
  • Involve the learners - When we involve learners in the learning process, they become more engaged with what they are doing. It also increases their attention and focus which, in turn, will lead to a more meaningful learning experience.
  • Focus on skills rather than content - remember that not all children develop at the same time. Our academic skills need to be at the same level of the content for us to process and absorb it, so it would be futile to try to teach certain things if our brain is not ready for it. It will simply not engage us. What do I mean by this? If a child is having a problem with staying focused for long periods of time, don't do things that require this. but rather start with say something that requires the learner to stay focused for 5 minutes - or whatever their attention span is - and increase it gradually over a period of time. 

Visit our website and avail yourself of various free resources that can be used both in and out of the classroom. 

Friday 4 September 2020

The Powers That Help Us Grow

The classroom can be fun

If, as a kid, anyone had told me that I would be running my own classes one day, I would have laughed them off. The day when I would finally say good bye to the walls that, at the time, I felt were holding me down couldn't come soon enough. But do you blame a child who was constantly being reminded to 'Stop fidgeting' and 'Pay attention'? I was even told that I would probably never amount to much at the rate I was going. The words still ring in my ears at times. Yet, here I am teaching away.

By now you must be wondering what changed my mind. Would you believe me if I told you it was my daughter who was three years old at the time? You see, my work was keeping me for long hours away from her and she stopped recognising me as her mummy. I thought long and hard, and came up with teaching as the answer to my problem.  I was very sure that I would be miserable for the rest of my life. I was also very wrong.

   I became a teacher for all the wrong reasons     

Yes, I became a teacher for all the wrong reasons - it suited family life I thought. Little did I know how many nights I would spend preparing for the next day, or the constant training and retraining that was involved. The saying that you know where a teacher lives because their lights are still on at one o'clock in the morning is so true. Yet here I am 20 years later, still counting my lucky stars that I walked down this road.

I love everything - well almost everything - about this profession, for many reasons.

➤ It's a profession in which you receive as much as you give - and I'm not talking about gifts here.

 It's a community that supports without seeking support - be it to a child, a parent or anybody else.

 Teachers give willingly without expecting anything in return - be it time, energy or expertise.       

 Everyday is a learning experience - it's what helps us grow.

    Teachers come in different shapes and sizes     

But teachers come in different shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, some  never see the return on the investment they put into their learners. You see, kids grow up and move on to different schools and colleges. We lose track of what has become of them. Having said that, you can be rest assured that every kid is forever engraved in a teacher's heart and mind. Why? The many learners we have been lucky to have had in our classes unknowingly became our own teachers. Each has helped us become the people we are today.

Then there are those who are not seen as ever having played an educator's role. But who are these people? If we thought about it, we'd realise that they are all around us. 

  • Our family members who were our first teachers - education begins at home. 
  • The mentors with whom we have crossed paths - many seek only to inspire those under their wings to fly higher.
  • Our colleagues whose constant support we could not have done without - they kept us going when we needed it most.

Yes, teachers come in many different shapes and sizes for each and every person that crosses our path helps shape who we become. By the same token, our actions and our words can also shape who others become, so make them count.

Sunday 29 March 2020

The Power Of You

The saying life is what you make it might be a cliche, but it has never rung truer than it does today. We are all going through a very difficult time brought about by a virus which we do not know much about except that it is called Covid-19, that it makes part of the Corona family and that it has the ability to spread like wildfire leaving many victims in its wake. It comes as no surprise then that governments worldwide are implementing some hard measures to try and combat this new reality.

Needless to say, many are those feeling anxious and stressed because of the insecurities we are facing. This makes it all too easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves when what we need to do is to:
  • Shoulder our responsibilities 
  • Ensure our bills are still payed on time
  • Hold on to our job or at least ensure we have a job once we get back to some sort of normality
  • Keep sane
          We have the power to make it happen          

Here are four tips to  help you keep it together.

Be Responsible: Following rules and regulations has never been a forte with us humans, but at this point in time it is our biggest responsibility. Although different countries are following different procedures, we all know what the authorities in our regions are asking of us. Let's make life a little easier for everyone involved and actually do what we are being told to do. It is not that difficult once you set a plan in motion. For instance, do we really need to go to the shops so often? Of course not - if we plan it properly that is.

Keep Informed: Listening to all the information coming our way is enough to make us lose it. Let's all ensure we do not drive ourselves crazy by:

  1. Limiting the time we spend in front of our telly or on social media
  2. Only reading or listening to info that comes from trusted sources
  3. Seeking answers to our questions through the right channels
In this way, we can be rest assured that we are not being misinformed or overwhelmed by what is happening around us. If nothing else, it will also give us more time to deal with some of the other things that will see us through this difficult time which brings me to the next point.

Use Time Wisely: So if we are all spending so much more time indoors and if we should not be watching so much telly or scrolling through the barrage of posts on social media, what should we be doing with our time? A hundred and one other things. Below are but a few ideas.

Now is the time to explore new ideas and venture into different avenues. Remember that we will probably never again have so much time on our hands. Take advantage of the fact that there are so many talented people out there offering free on-line lessons to keep us busy while at the same time offering us the opportunity to empower ourselves better. Once we get going we will find that there probably aren't enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do. Besides, we can now think with a clearer mind and can cope with our health, financial or employment issues much better. 

Keep Things In Perspective: Look at the bigger picture and try to predict what the situation will be like for you in three months time. Look at it from an outsider's point of view. Think of how you would advise a family member or a good friend if they found themselves in that situation and then act on it. So, for example, if it is paying bills you are struggling with, have a good look at all the things you have to pay for on a monthly basis and decide which you can do without and which are absolutely necessary. Stick to the absolutely necessary.

On the other hand, if the problem is your job, think of what you can do right now to put yourself in a better position when the time comes. Is there anything you can train yourself better for? Any career options you can retrain for?

Only you know your reality, but one thing is for sure, you have the power to make it happen. The following are some links to get you started. Enjoy!

Exercising:    Adults          Kids                                                                                                              

Yoga:              Adults         Kids                                                                                                               

Art:                 Adults         Kids                                                                                                              

Languages:     Everyone                                                                                                                          

Books:             Adults         Kids                                                                                                              

Audio Books:  Everyone                                                                                                                         

Music:              Everyone                                                                                                                         

Sunday 3 February 2019

The Power of Words

Why Teach Vocabulary?

By the time a native speaker is 5 years old, they will have amassed a word bank of about 5000 words 

and they will be building on that word bank daily. But:

1)  Do learners have the same word bank for any of  the other languages that they are trying to learn

2) Is it important that they have such a wide range of  vocabulary at their disposal?

Well, it is difficult to have the same range of vocabulary as they are not exposed to the second language
as much, but we, as teachers, should try to find a way of giving them as wide a vocabulary range as
possible. Some might question why we would attempt to teach new English words when perhaps our 
students aren’t always fluent and accurate with the vocabulary they already know. Well, the answer is
simple – Vocabulary is their Communication Tool Box.

                                              Vocabulary is our Communication Tool Box                                                  .

The word bank in our head is a tool we have instant access to. This word bank helps us communicate
better. If we wanted to fix something we would need the right tools for the task at hand in order to get
the job done properly and in an efficient manner. Having a wide range of vocabulary works in the same

3 Good Reasons for Teaching Vocabulary

Having a good vocabulary base means that:

                                                   Nothing will ever be as daunting again.                                                 

     1. Learners become better communicators - knowing more words allows a learner to choose
          their words more precisely and so can express themselves better.

     2. They are better empowered academically - the more words at their disposal, the better skilled  
         they become at reading. This, in turn, will increase their motivation to read in the target language. 
         the more they read, the more they learn, and the more they learn, the more they will achieve.
         Therefore, in the long run, improving their vocabulary will increase their chance of success.

     3. Life in general will become more enjoyable - Whether it's browsing the Internet, reading for 
         pleasure, listening to music, watching TV or travelling that they enjoy, nothing will ever seem as
         daunting again.

Now that we have looked at the importance and the benefits of improving vocabulary, here are a
number of strategies for teaching it. 

10 Effective Tips for Teaching Vocabulary

    1. 1.Set realistic goals.

    2.     Learning vocabulary is a process and involves much more than simply memorising the definition 
          of a word, so don’t overload your learners. In other words, keep your vocabulary lists to a 

    1. 2.Choose wisely.

      Students will come across many new words. Some words are used more frequently than others;
      some words are academic while others are technical. Focus on the words which are most relevant
      to their needs.

    1. 3.Encourage them to read.

    2. Reading exposes students to new words and more importantly it exposes them to words in context.
      Even ten minutes of reading a day can make a world of difference. Introduce your language 
      learners to sites such as, where they can find short 10 minute authentic
      reading material ranging from newspapers, magazines and English books.
    3. 4.Create autonomy.

    4.     Explain to your students that memorising long lists of words is not the most effective method to 
          learn new words. Encourage them to think the words through and to try to understand them in 
          context. Motivate them to take the time to look up any new words in a dictionary to ensure they
          have grasped the right meaning. There are plenty of useful resources and online dictionaries; 
          The free dictionary is one I would recommend.

    1. 5.Avoid teaching words in isolation. 

    2.     A single word could have a number of meanings when used alone. However, in conjunction with 
          other words, the meaning changes. Consider the word give. Its primary definition is to pass or 
          hand something to someone as in the example I gave the book to John, but does it have the same 
          meaning in the sentence Her job gives her a lot of satisfaction or in the sentence Don’t give in so 
        6.Teach in chunks.

        We hardly ever communicate using single words. For this reason, it’s important that learners notice
         the pattern that words are used in as well as any words that they collocate with. Consider the 
         phrase heavy rain and strong wind. In both phrases we mean that there is a lot of rain and a lot of
         wind, but we can never say strong rain or heavy wind. The site or the 
         Sentence Rephraser available from Ginger are two great tools that can help them explore language chunking
         and collocations. Ensure your students record, review and use any phrases they generate.

    1. 7.Take advantage of the free online tools.

    2.     Sites such as and offer a wide variety of engaging word games. Encourage 
          your students to take a few minutes out of their hectic schedule and to find time to relax with a 
          game of Just Words or Word Battle. Make sure they choose a resource which best suits their 
          learning style and English Language level.

    1. 8.Use and reuse.

    2.     You will need to expose learners to the same word a few times before they can start using it 
           effectively. Try to use the new vocabulary in different situations. The more they use a word, the
           longer they will retain it. Help them find ways of recording their newly acquired vocabulary and 
           encourage them to review often. is a brilliant tool that allows students to both 
           browse and create their own word list. Stress the importance of incorporating any new language
           in their day to day lives as much as possible.

    1. 9.Actively process words.

    2.     Create word charts and hang them around the classroom. Encourage your students to record words
          that are new to them on these charts. If they are hanging in your classroom, your students will 
          automatically scan the charts from time to time. This will subconsciously help them process the 
          words. Change the charts on a weekly basis and use games such as Call my Bluff to review words 
          at the end of the week. It will not only make learning vocabulary fun, but will also end the week 
          on a positive note.

  1.   10.Make it memorable.

  2.       When we look back on our lives, it’s often the things we enjoyed doing most that come to mind
          first. Motivate your students by making vocabulary learning and new word acquisition fun and 
          enjoyable. Try using sites such as Free Rice to give that extra bit of motivation.

Sunday 21 January 2018

To Blog Or Not To Blog

There are 7.7 billion people living somewhere out there. Nothing new, right?. But do you know how many of them are bloggers? 31 million - that's a lot of bloggers. So, is there room for one more? The answer is simple -  always, but you do need to find out what blogs and blogging is all about first.

So what is a blog?

In simple terms, it's a kind of interactive journal, but you will find the full answer to this one in the video below.

Why Blog?

I could give you a list a mile long, but I won't. Your time is precious, so I can't expect you to spend your whole day reading this post.  Instead, I'll stick to the most important ones. If nothing else, blogs allow you to:
  • Express yourself
  • Share your passion
  • Share your knowledge
  • Make a difference
  • Refine your writing skills
  • Build your professional network
  • Become an authority in your industry
  • Connect with other people who share the same interests
  • Have fun

What do people write about?

Everything and nothing. Basically some simply share their thoughts, ideas, experiences or even things they feel passionate about such as for example food or sports. Others share their expertise. In a nutshell, the world is your oyster when it comes to topics.

How do I go about it?

The first thing you need to do is to decide on a blogging platform that caters for your needs. This is basically an application that allows you to publish your content hassle free. There are many simple and straight forward platforms you can use such as blogger - which is this blog's host. You can find the top ones being offered at the moment here. Choose a platform that is not so complicated to navigate, hence why I use blogger, to start off with. Yes, aesthetically it might not be that great but it's simplicity will allow you to focus on the content rather than stress over how you are going to manage to navigate round the different features. That being done, register an account, give your blog a name and you are good to go.

Naturally, you will need to think of the content you want to put up and the information you want to display. You can always find a good video tutorial for your chosen platform on You tube to help you find your way round organising your blog effectively. Here are a few tips to get you started.

How does it work?

It's as easy as ABC. It works just like a word document, only you can input much more then just text. You could, for example::
  • Include Images
  • Add video
  • Add a hyperlink
  • Add Labels so others can find your blogs easily
  • Copy & Paste - but don't forget to remove formatting
  • Invite others to contribute
  • Interact with your audience through the comments

I promise that once you start, you will not want to stop. Blogging will become a natural part of your life. So, what do you think, are you ready to give it a go? 

Sunday 6 August 2017

Use of Video

Videos have been around since forever. Yet some will say that they are out dated or that they are irrelevant in today's day and age, but, deep down, we all know that it's not so. I'm sure a lot of you can still remember a time when you had to rent a video to use in class or even book the video room weeks in advance in order to have a lesson using video.  So much has changed since those days, yet videos are still around even if the way we use them is different. This comes as no surprise though, does it?

  • Are appropriate for different types of learners be they visual, auditory or kinaesthetic
  • Are extremely engaging
  • Are very stimulating
  • Enable learners to collaborate together
  • Allow them to develop their critical thinking skills as well as their creativity
  • Are very helpful in remembering or understanding content

So how can we use video with our learners? Watch the clip below and see for yourself the multitude reasons for using them and how much fun it can be.