The AMT Experience: B “log” entry 1 by Edite Abrantes

“Make hay while the sun shines”… the sun did shine in charming Greenwich as if to say “Welcome to IHWO AMT Conference” and a warm welcome it was indeed. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones amidst learning novel approaches to teacher development, assessment techniques, navigating the students towards excellence in the IELTS exam, reviewing blended learning approaches and much more, the first day proved to be a professionally enriching experience which deserves to be recorded for future reference.

The day’s work started with an animated and live recorded video message wishing IHWO’s COO, Lucy Horsefield, a speedy recovery from her bout of tonsillitis. Just what the doctor ordered…actually it was what Monica Green, IHWO’s CEO ordered, but who’s concerned with semantics when it’s the thought that counts?! In true IHWO team spirit, Monica stepped in to cover for Lucy and addressed the significance of preparing students for jobs that are yet to be invented and the impactful mission IH schools have in assisting language learners in achieving their goals. After all, with 76 schools spread over 33 countries, why would students go elsewhere to learn a foreign language? Moreover, the array of Teacher Training opportunities, the concern for the younger students’ wellbeing and safety, the focus on providing a meaningful Customer Experience and the involvement in charitable projects such as those proposed by the newly set up International House World Foundation ensure that being part of the IHWO team is more than just a job but a way of “Succeeding Together”!

The underlying theme in the morning sessions was that of being bold in our exam preparation methods so that we can harness the ability modern “screenage” students have for multitasking and using it to develop their competence in the use of a foreign language, while circumventing the pitfalls of merging to need to teach with that of assessing, testing and preparing students for internationally recognised exams such as those of Cambridge University or Trinity College.

In the afternoon, the attention was mainly on sharing teaching practices which promote Teacher Professional Development, be them through informal meetings which result in greater self-reflection regarding strengths and areas to build on, drop-in observations that raise teachers’ awareness to the fact that teaching is a continuous act of learning and improving and the manner in which role-playing can be an effective developmental tool.

Signed off at 23.51.

Sign in tomorrow for b”log” entry 2.


How to subtitle a YouTube film – by Shawn Severson

Want to have your students subtitle a film to practice dialogue and narration skills? Would you like them to work on a grammar point like the present continuous, explaining what someone is doing? Well, one way is to subtitle. If you create a YouTube channel, you can use your administrator account to subtitle and the process is simple.

1. Download a video from YouTube.

2. Upload the video to your channel.

3. Click on CC (closed captioning)

4. “Add new subtitles or CC”. The rest of the process will be to define at what points you want your captions to appear and disappear.


Looking for online practice tips? – by Sandra Luna

If you’re looking for online practice to suggest to your students, try one of the following links:

Lyrics Training
The website has been slightly remodeled, but it’s still great! Lots of songs with different levels of difficulty to help your students improve their listening skills!

Free Rice Game – /english-vocabulary/1374
Have you fed anyone today? This game helps students improve their vocabulary, and it donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme to help end hunger!

Poetry Board
Encourage students to play with words to form sentences and poems. They can then save and share their masterpieces with you and the rest of the class! Great to include in class blogs.


Getting to the core of specialty exams: A look at the GRE – by Shawn Severson

There are many specialty exams out there, each, as the designation implies, focusing on a specific area and skill. Additionally, those exams prepared in the US, such as TOEFL and TOEIC on one hand, for testing non-native English ability and the GMAT and GRE, on the other, which incorporate serious timing constraints and even psychometric methods, ultimately measuring how the candidate responds under pressure. In other words, for these last two exams, the focus is to pinpoint the skills each candidate possesses and to minimize the influence of rote learning on test scores. Many arguments for and against these types of exams are out there. However, as these exams are carefully created to ensure a level of language, thinking skills and math, why don’t we take a look at one such exam—the GRE? The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is an exam to assess verbal, math and writing skills for those applying to Master’s or PhD programs at universities in the US and in an increasing number of universities around the world. Both presume native English speaking ability, especially in the case of GRE. Like the Cambridge exams, the GRE takes about 4 hours to complete.

On the other hand, the GRE is computer-based, which means that students have the added difficulty of not being able to mark on the exam paper, although they may make notes on scratch paper if they wish. Just for a taste of the exam, here are some of the most challenging words that keep appearing, interestingly enough, share a common theme: profligate, spendthrift, pecuniary, miserly, avarice, prodigal, squandering, rapacious, mercenary, acquisitive, niggard, parsimonious, penurious, stingy, munificent.

To give you an idea of one the exam types, chose two words from the options below that logically complete this sentence.

Despite having earned over two hundred million dollars during his career, the boxer’s _______ spending and bad investments left him insolvent within a few years of retirement.

a. parsimonious b. penurious c. perfidious d. prodigal e. profligate f. pugnacious

There are also critical reasoning and reading texts, which are very tricky in addition to two essays, one of which requires you to analyze an issue and another a short argument, commenting on the argument structure and logic. Here are a couple Analysis of an Issue writing prompts: “As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.” “In any field of endeavor, it is impossible to make a significant contribution without first being strongly influenced by past achievements within that field.”

Curious? We have a wealth of materials available electronically, and you can find out more at


Website ideas 4 teachers & students – by Joana Styliano Costa

Looking for tools to help you make material such as exam tips more engaging for your students? Well, here are some ideas which aren’t too much work and will make a great deal of fun and learning for all.

Here you can select a character and his/her voice to say whatever you want them to say – all you have to do is type the text and select from a wide range of accents! I have used Vokis as a way of providing students with tips for writing tasks, and they have found them fun and more engaging than any handout. I opted for a static background, in order to ensure they focus on the actual content without their getting too distracted by the scenario. I then selected one of the characters and made sure that similar tasks would have the same spokesperson in order to ensure coherence and thus make it easier for students to identify the topics. The fact that it is computer-based – my students watched them in class and I then shared them by email – ensures the experience is more interactive and memorable. All you need is a free account to sign up, log in and start creating those Vokis! And they are actually quite simple and enjoyable to make!

This is a truly fun website where you can create short videos – you can choose pretty much everything from background, symbols and characters to include, text, etc; alternatively, you have ready-made templates which you can easily adapt. It is very useful for promotional videos, as you may have seen on our website, but it can also be used for presenting students’ work or even as a tool for their projects. It can also be an alternative to a more traditional slideshow when introducing a topic.

Yet another fun website for creating animation videos, as you may have guessed from the name. Lots of different characters, including celebrities, as well as familiar backgrounds can be used. It is similar to the previous one, so explore the ready-made videos and then start making your own to suit any educational purpose – be it students’ project work or exam-related ideas and tips. All of the above may be used by students themselves as well, provided they have been given a specific task.

Finally, two suggestions to make sure you are always up-to-date with the latest technological tools for education: – which you can follow on Google+ and Pinterest

– the teachers’ group on Facebook called Ferramentas Educativas 2.0 where different teachers from different areas exchange tools, resources and viewpoints.