Words to avoid in a writing task (B2-C1)- alternatives

If you’re writing an essay, report, article, formal letter/ email…and you find yourself using words such as ‘people’, ‘things’, ‘something’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, please look at this infographic for alternatives:

Click on the picture for a larger version

Click here for a pdf version of the infographic.

Or better still, if you are not pressed for time, go to a thesaurus, like the Oxford Thesaurus, and you will be able to find a more accurate synonym, depending on the context and the exact notion you want convey (the exact meaning of the word you’re looking for).

Further tips to improve your writing:

World Teachers’ Day (5th October)- some ideas

World Teachers’ Day (October 5th) has been held since 1994. It is a day celebrating teachers and commemorating teacher organisations around the world.  You can also celebrate it with your own students. Here are some ideas and resources:

Goofy (Walt Disney)- Teachers are People: 

In this short film, Goofy becomes a teacher, who has to face a rather trying classroom. One student in particular drives him up the wall.

(H/T to I.L. for sharing the video with me)

  • Click here to watch the video with subtitles.
  • Presentation with some of the actions shown in the short film.

Matilda, by Roald Dahl: Miss Honey vs Miss Trunchbull:

The text below describes Matilda’s teachers, Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. Students can compare and contrast them by using the graphic organiser below:

You can listen to the text being read by Kate Winslet here:

Kidvice- What kids want you to know about their teachers: 

Some American kids were asked by ABC’s Today show these questions:

  • Tell us about your favourite teacher
  • What do you think makes a good teacher?
  • If you could give your favourite teacher a gift, what would it be?
  • What do you think teachers do for fun?
  • If you could say one thing to your favourite teacher, what would it be?

You can find their answers on the video below (H/T to T.F. for sharing the video with me):

Click on the picture to watch the video

You can ask those very questions to your students, to see what they think, and ask them to write their answers on a mindmap (see below).


The Perfect teacher: 

You can ask your students to reflect on and discuss what makes a “perfect” teacher, by answering the questions about the Kidvice video, and writing their answers on a Mind Map like the ones below.

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Then, they can write a short text describing their perfect teacher, following a suggested model.

Finally, why not read some of these stories about the World’s Worst Teachers by David Walliams?

(Post updated on October 5th 2019)

Using and creating news in the classroom-spotting fake news

News can be very useful in the classroom, as they provide real language input, a connection to the real world, and, in the case of videos, they tend to be short enough to be listened to more than once. However, you can also create your own news, or even fake news (to discuss how easy it is to create and spread fake news on social media). Here are some of the resources that may be used:

News creators:

  • Read Write Think- Printing Press– online tool to create a newspaper: The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers. Teachers and students can choose from several templates to publish class newspapers, informational brochures, and flyers announcing class events.
  • http://www.classtools.net/breakingnews/: write a headline, description, and pick a background picture- there you have your fake breaking news!


  • Newspaper generator (can be downloaded as pdf)- allows longer headline and text, as well as a picture to illustrate your story. The date can’t be changed, though.

screenshot 2019-01-25 at 10.35.13

ClassTools-Headline (1)

BBC iReporter:  the BBC and Aardman (the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep) have launched this interactive game for teenagers. It illustrates the skills related to creating a piece of journalism, and discusses the importance of checking sources, which sources to trust or not and the benefits and pitfalls of using social media to gather information…

Spelling City- how to practise for the Spelling Bee competition

If you want to practise your spelling skills for the Spelling Bee competition, you can use spellingcity.com. Your teachers will give you a username and password to access the website. With it, you can study the words on the list, test yourself on those words, and play games to help you remember them. While you do all those things, you will be listening to the words being pronounced, spelled, you will see examples where those words are used…

Watch this tutorial to know how to browse the website to improve your spelling:

Good luck!

Cómo editar videos con Chroma Key / Green Screen

Una de las opciones para grabar videos en el aula con el efecto croma es Green Screen by Do Ink (para iPad). En este video podéis ver cómo funciona. Con ella, se puede grabar primero el video con los “actores”, y luego editar para añadir el fondo deseado:

Como veis, se puede poner de fondo una o varias imágenes fijas, así como videos.

El efecto green screen también se puede conseguir con Touchcast Studio, que es una aplicación gratuita, pero en ese caso tenéis que elegir el fondo que vais a usar antes de la grabación, y después grabar. En este enlace tenéis materiales de un taller que preparé sobre esta aplicación, con capturas de pantalla. La última actualización de Touchcast permite crear el efecto “green screen” sin tener necesariamente una “green screen”: con cualqiuier superficie lisa y buena iluminación serviría (esta función no está disponible para los dispositivos menos recientes, que sí pueden seguir grabando con fondo verde).

En cualquier caso, el truco maestro: si queréis crear el efecto de la “capa de invisibilidad” a lo Harry Potter, cubrid al actor con otra tela del mismo tono de verde. Desaparecerá como por arte de magia.

Guía detallada de cómo grabar videos con efecto croma en el aula, ideas de aplicaciones para distintos sistemas operativos: https://natalialzam.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/guia-rapida-para-grabar-videos-con-croma-en-clase/

(Actualización: 23 Enero 2018)

Literature, literacy and IT- my paper for CIEB 2017

You can download the presentation by clicking on the screenshot below:

Real materials and mobile devices in the English / CLIL classroom #ThinkZGZ

This is my presentation for today’s workshop at #ThinkZGZ: