The Scavenger Hunt Dictation: a Hyper-Active Activity for Teaching English to Young Learners

If you’ve ever wanted to see your kids crawl under a desk while learning English, then have I got the activity for you! Probably one of my favorite things to do with young learners during the first few days of class, this variation on the running dictation is adapted to be just a bit more active, and I can guarantee you that it’ll get even the most reluctant students itching to get out of their seats.

The Scavenger Hunt Dictation

Young Learners (11-16) || Any Level || Groupwork || Listening/Writing (Spelling)/Language Awareness

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Village Life

Note To Readers: The Next few blog posts are from my Slovakia backlog. I am posting them quite a few months after the fact. 

Stary Tekov is a proper village. There is no possible way it can be confused with a town–not with a population of less than fifteen hundred people, where the only restaurant serves nothing but ham and potatoes on Sunday evenings (or fried cheese upon special request), and the only grocery is a Co-op the size of my rented room, which closes by five in the afternoon.

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Further Adventures in Vegetarianism

Note To Readers: The Next few blog posts are from my Slovakia backlog. I am posting them quite a few months after the fact. 

It’s the last week before my Easter Break, and having arrived just this afternoon in a village known as Stary Tekov, yet again, I find myself lucky to have gotten dinner. Let me put it this way: Stary Tekov is small enough that its population demands only a single shady bar. The Co-op is closed on Sunday, and the nearest restaurant lies in Levice, some fifteen minutes away by bus and almost an hour’s journey by foot.

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LEVEL UP! The Birthday Post

In other news, it was my birthday last month, which means that I have managed to survive yet another orbit around our mid-class yellow star. It means that I have advanced a year further in my life, and this, more than anything, demands a moment of reflection:

I am now 29.


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We have a bit of a backlog…

So, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve been back in Malta for the past six months now, though I haven’t been able to post all of my Slovakia backlog yet, for various reasons having to do with the mountain of work that I’ve been dealing with since being back. Between teaching full time, sitting on the board of an emerging NGO, writing, editing, and querying three novels, and redoing my graphic design portfolio, I just haven’t had time to work on the blog as much as I’d hoped. Still, over the next few weeks, I will be finishing up my Slovakia posts, and hopefully after that, I’ll be moving forward with a few other ideas I’ve had about continuing this Venture of mine.
Stay tuned!

Lightening Up and Going Mats-less: Techniques for Teaching English out of your Backpack

One of the most challenging things about teaching for SIDAS Language School is that the nature of the Active English Weeks Program makes any classroom activity that relies on extensive worksheets, readings, or individual materials in general a bit of a problem. Of course, in my experience, any lesson plan that relies excessively on worksheets is a bit of a problem anyway, but teaching engaging and focused lessons with minimal materials is definitely one way to challenge everything you think you know about teaching English.

So, after two years in the ESL classroom, and my few months teaching on the road for SIDAS Language School, I’d just like to share some fundamental approaches for teaching English (or any language really) without relying on extensive pre-designed and individually-printed materials.

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Seriously, Boss?

It’s safe to say that I have just survived the most ridiculous two days in my ESL career so far.

So, a couple things you need to know about SIDAS Language School: our boss is pretty straightforward about what he expects from us, and he’s pretty up front about the challenges of the job. Before even being able to apply for SIDAS, I was sent a long, detailed email emphasizing exactly how… unluxurious traveling while working for SIDAS can be. Of course, I was never looking for an all-expenses-paid vacation, and when it comes to travel, I’m pretty flexible. Pretty much my only requirements for a decent place to stay are 1) a lack of bedbugs, and 2) hot running water. As far as I’m concerned, hot water can make up for just about anything.

That said, as flexible as I am, there’s only so much I can do effectively when I’m operating on a lack of information.

Cue my mission to Brno.

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Town Guide | Tábor, CR


While in Czech, the word tabor generally means “camp,” visiting this charming town won’t require anything close to roughing it. Situated about an hour and a half south of Prague by train, Tábor, a historically Hussite town established in the 15th century, boasts some great sights and enough pleasant attractions to fulfill a day passing through–no tents required.

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There’s No Going Home

This week was spent in Vel’ky Meder, a spa town about an hour south of Bratislava. Aside from the obvious perks (yes, we did score free tickets to the spa, which featured a diving pool, outdoor thermal baths that make winter swimming worth it, and, sure enough, a waterslide), our accomodation–a private teacher’s apartment on the actual school grounds–was far more comfortable than usual, and our students, a mixture of Hungarian and Slovak speakers, turned out to be extraordinarily enthusiastic.


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