Sumo: A Student-Approved Game to Kill 5 Minutes.

Have five minutes before break time that you need to kill? Enter Sumo, the most fun your kids will have all class. And the next class. And the next.

Levels: Elementary

Ages: Children

Materials: Flashcards

Seat your students in a large circle to function as the ring. Divide the class into two teams. One student (wrestler) from each team enters the ring and stands face to face with the other. Not too close together. A meter is or more is ideal.

Both wrestlers put their hands behind their back in a way that they can hold a flashcard (put there by you), keeping it hidden from their opponent. Put one minute on the clock. The point is for students to maneuver so that they can see their opponent’s flashcard and call it out before the opponent sees theirs.

Students aren’t allowed to use their hands for anything but holding the flashcard, nor are they allowed to talk unless it’s to call out the flashcard. The other students are only allowed to cheer on their teammate (they’ll often try to cheat by telling their teammate what’s on the opponent’s flashcard).

Sumo isn’t the most communicative game in the EFL/ESL teacher’s arsenal, so use it sparingly and never at length. But when it comes to killing 5 minutes, except no substitute.

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ESL students usually need to learn to write in the second language. This is especially true for those who have academic goals. Learning to write is difficult even in one’s mother tongue let alone in a second language. In this post, we will look at several practical ways to help students to learn to write […]

via Supporting ESL Student’s Writing — educational research techniques

The Classroom

Congratulations. Somebody actually hired you. You’re well on your way to becoming an actual human being rather than just some basement-dwelling, parasitic slob living off your parents. I didn’t think you had it in you.

Perhaps you’re already in country. Have you seen your school yet? Toured the facilities? Been in a classroom? The equipment and facilities in the TEFL world are so varied that a (boring) book could be written about all the configurations. Suffice it to say that while you can change your lesson and activities, it’s much harder to change the equipment you’re given. You can only work with what you’re given and what works in one classroom may not work in another.

Blackboard or Whiteboard?

Why anyone would use a blackboard when there’s such a thing as a whiteboard boggles my mind. There’s literally nothing you can do on a blackboard which you can’t do on a white except perhaps break your writing utensil and leave cocaine-like piles of dust scattered around the area. Whiteboards aren’t only cleaner, they’re also decent media for your projector, so if you’re working off interactive software, you can use a market to write answers, highlight, underline, circle…basically everything you’ll want to do in the program.

How big is the room? How many desks?

The games and activities you plan are constrained by class and classroom size. Do you want a mingle activity? A board race? What if there’s physically no room? Can you move desks outside the classroom? Do you have enough space to move desks for pair and group work? You’ll need to see your facilities before planning a lesson.


Google images says the above image is a Thai classroom but I suspect it might be Burmese due to the shit (thanaka — a sandlewood paste) on their faces. Regardless, the above classroom isn’t atypical for the region. If you find yourself with such a setup, first slap yourself in the face for signing up for that, then quit your job and head to a real school. I jest, but in all seriousness, many teachers make such classrooms work. Just know that all the fun and games you’ll want to play are limited by the physical space.

modern classroom

That’s more like it. In the classroom above you’re limited only by your imagination. Need small groups, pair work, or maybe you need the floor wide open? No problem, just move the desks into whatever configuration suits the purpose. The flexibility afforded by the facilities here gives you far more latitude and creativity in terms of lesson planning. The room probably even has air-con so you needn’t worry about sweating through your shirt and bogging out the class with your rancid onion body odor.

The point (which I’m belaboring so even you can grasp it) is that form (facilities) dictates content (activities). So do yourself a favor and make sure you know what you’re (literally) walking into.

Your miserable little life.

So you’ve just finished college with a useless degree, no clear future, and a shitload of burdensome debt that will hang around your neck like an albatross for the next decade of your pitiful existence. Welcome to the world, dear Millenial. You should’ve studied something useful, like a trade or medicine. But no, instead you majored in philosophy or art history or something equally bullshit. What the fuck were you thinking? Well, fear not, young man or woman or whatever gender you weirdos identify as. All is not lost. In fact, consider this the next chapter of your life. A new beginning.  A fresh start. The world is your oyster and all that clichéd tripe . But no, really, it is. All you have to do is open it. ‘Opening Oysters’ — strong band name potential.

The first thing you need to do is pay off debt. You probably have a credit card or ten because companies prey on stupid college students like you who don’t know any better, who don’t know that that shit will haunt you for the rest of your life if you fuck it up. And you’re reading this because you fucked it up. Well done. So, student loans, credit cards…at least be grateful no bank would have been stupid enough loan you anything else. Were they?

Here’s what you’re going to do. Unless you’re totally broke , you shouldn’t need to defer your student loan payments. If you are one hundred percent, flat-on-your-ass broke, go out there and sell it. Your ass, I mean. Yes, sell it. You deserve it for being so fucking stupid. At least it’ll get your debts paid off. But maybe you’re too ugly to do even that. Maybe no one would touch your ass with a thirty nine and a half foot pole. I know I wouldn’t. Well guess what, dear Millenial. All is not lost. In fact, you can do something far more productive and rewarding and enlightening and thrilling and profitable than getting your ass pounded in the backseat of a Toyota Corolla for a measly fifty dollars. (If you can get a hundred, though…)

What you’re really going to do is…

Wait for it…

Drum roll…

Keep scrolling …

Teach English abroad. Boom. There it is. You’re going to hightail it out of that shithole you call home and make your way to another shithole. But don’t worry, the new shithole will be far more interesting with better food and nicer people that don’t care if you’re black or white or gay or straight or fat or thin. Can you speak English? There you go. That’s what they care about. That’s your ticket to not just financial stability, but broadened horizons and a cultural awareness that, let’s face it, you weren’t going to get by staying in that shithole you call home.

But I know you, dear Millenial. Can’t do anything by yourself. You’re probably still living with your parents, convincing yourself you’re not a loser for doing so, that it’s the Boomers who’ve fucked up the whole world for you and now you’re just living in it. Well, that might be, so guess what I’ll do? I’ll show you the way. I’ll hold your precious little hand as you find your way overseas to educate various shades of brown people who speak in strange tongues. It’s easier than it sounds and more rewarding than anything you’ve done in your miserable little life.  What I’m going to do, what this whole blog will be devoted to, is making sure you don’t suck at teaching English.

You’re welcome.

Now let’s look at what you’ll need.