Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The NORTH CYPRUS UNIVERSITY FREERICE challenge is on again for 2012.  Last year, Middle East Technical University and Eastern Mediterranean University battled it out, with EMU coming out on top.  You can follow the progress of the challenge in the chart below.

In case you are new to FREERICE, here is a video that explains how playing this online game can help fight the war on hunger.

Bookmark this post, which will include an interactive chart of the competition which we'll update daily.

How to start?

Just go to and create an account if you don't have one.
You need to JOIN the  The group page should look like this:

  • After you login for the first time, go to GROUPS and search for EMU. Join the EMU FREERICE CHALLENGE 2012
  • When viewing the GROUP DASHBOARD click PLAY (button is on the right) to send any rice that you start earning to that group. 
  • MAKE SURE you PLAY for our EMU group each time you log in, so that the grains of rice are allocated to our group.
  • Please encourage your peers to play.  If only 200 EMU students and staff spend 15 minutes playing FREERICE before the 31st, they will each earn 5,000 grains of rice, or 1,000,000 grains in total.  That would put enough to put the pressure on METU to keep up.

  • Thanks to Steve Neufeld for the post - edited by Nevin

    Meghan Beler Engages Learners in Literature

    Meghan Beler held a workshop on Engaging Learners in Literature, on Tuesday, November 27th. Her workshop focused on short, practical exercises teachers can use in class when teaching reading.

    Thanks to Deniz Plaza and Oxford University Press for sponsoring Meghan's visit.

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Teresa Doguelli - Yes, we can!

    Teresa Doguelli motivated and inspired at the Eastern Mediterranean University on Monday, November 13th with her 2 seminars.

    In the morning, her workshop to teachers of English, in the Law Faculty focused on how to exploit the course book English for Law Enforcement.

    In the afternoon, we were treated to Empowerment and Lifelong Learning-Yes, we can! Teresa gave us many ideas and encouraged us to sharpen the saw  through physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual habits.

    Many thanks to Teresa, Macmillan and Deniz Plaza for this visit!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Souls are Hungry for Songs

    Thanks to Sezgi for sharing her latest article  Souls are Hungry for Songs – Feed Them! Make Feel Good Songs for Your Students published in the Humanising Language Teaching Magazine. In this article, at  Sezgi shares some practical ideas for using songs in class. 

    Thanks Sezgi! 

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Language Leader Training - Starring Grant Kempton

    Grant Kempton, one of the authors of the Pearson course book Language Leader, visited the English Preparatory School for four days of training. During the first two days Grant provided engaging and motivating training on 21st century skills and the course book Language Leader. 

    On the remaining 2 days, Grant worked with the school's syllabus & testing members.
    Thank you to Grant for the invaluable training sessions and to all the participants.

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    A Birthday Celebration, a Poem and a Published Article!

    Let's rewind to December 2009, to a small local restaurant called 'Minder' in Nothern Cyprus. Some EMU English Prep School teachers gathered for a colleague -  Sezgi Yalin's birthday celebrations. Sezgi had a surprise for us all - a poem she'd written about all of the guests at her birthday meal! The poem started....

    Huseyin – Humble and high above!
    Bilge – Big boss!
    Hilmiye – How can someone be so sweet?

    Now fast forward to the present and Sezgi's poem and the people mentioned are now immortalised in A Pot Porpourri of Activities in the June edition of the Humanising Language Teaching Newsletter. Congratulations Sezgi and thank you for making a moment in time always live on in our hearts.

    To read the poem and classroom activities visit

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    2nd SFL EPS Workshop Fest

    On the 29th June, Friday we held our 2nd SFL EPS Workshop Fest. The Director of the School of Foreign Languages at Yaşar University, Engin Ayvaz started off the day with his plenary on Deconstructing the Accreditation Process; the  Yaşar University CEA Case.  Engin gave background information on CEA and then shared the Yaşar University experience. 

    Many thanks to all our presenters who followed - you did an amazing job! Our EMU presenters were Ayşe Onut, Ayse Ozverir, Munise Kesanli, Müsteyde Irıkoğlu Züğürt,  Nadiran Tanyeli, Nurcan Garip, Nilgun Hancioglu Eldridge and Tahir Eşlik. 

    Ayse Onut - Building friendships in the global world

    Ayse Ozverir - Prezi-ntation
    Munise Kesanli - Cheers: to a beautiful world
    Our guest presenters were Dindy Drury, Safiye Ispirto, Demet Gur, Bertunç Bayramoğlu, Orkide Şan Yılmam, Özge Öğmen and Özlem Zabitgil.

    Orkide, Ozge & Bertunc - Connecting Classrooms Project- Photography Competition
    (British Council)
    Dindy Drury - Speaking? If only they would! If only they could!

    Grant Kempton, from Izmir Economy University,  was our final plenary speaker of the day. This entertaining plenary - In Search of Excellence - according to the Tao of Phooey -  brought back childhood memories of Hong Kong Phooey. In the classroom do we want to be 'ordinary' like Sarge, Rosemary or Penry? Or do we want to stand out and be a 'Hong Kong Phooey' type character with the WOW factor? Thanks to Pearson and Saydam Berberoglu for sponsoring this plenary. 

    The day ended with a cocktail, raffle and certificate ceremony for the British Council Online Learning Technologies Course Participants. Congrats to our 14 successful participants and a very proud moment, for both Ayse Ozverir and myself, the course moderators. Well done everyone!!!

    Sonay Ezel receives her course certificate from Mark Baufield, British Council Director, Cyprus 

    Guran and Ahmet with the raffle
    Thank you to Ahmet Doygunel for his help with the raffle, Eren Kufi for the photos, Zehra Nalbantoglu for the media and Erkan Arkin our Master of Ceremonies!! We couldn't have done this without you!!

    ....and of course the day would have been impossible without Guran, Nurcan, Nadiran, Ayse and Hatice. A fantriffic team and an excellent example of what colloboration can achieve!! Thank you everyone :)                                                                                                                                       

    Chinese treat at EMU

    Teachers at SFL EPS were treated to a taste of Chinese culture today with a mini lesson in Chinese, Chinese music, and demonstrations in Tai Chi and Kung Fu. 

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    Day 3 - My reflections from the 11th International METU Conference - Embracing Challenges

    On the last day of the conference, Deniz Kurtoglu Eken started off the day with her plenary on Towards a Single Sea of Energy: Fostering Teacher Motivation in the Workplace. Deniz started her plenary by talking about kokolgy -  the Japanese study of mind, spirit and feelings. We were asked to imagine a blank white coffee mug of our own shape and imagine a blue pattern we would paint on the mug. The possible patterns were then associated with different personality traits. 

    Deniz moved on to discuss her research, carried out  with 100 teachers. Teachers were asked which people positively affect their motivation in the work place. The most common response was students, followed by friends in the work place and then colleagues

    When asked to describe their professional development with a metaphor. Metaphors used included climbing mountains, journey, boat, owl, cliff, orchestra, roots, and a volcano. 

    Teachers were next asked for their perceptions of the overall effectiveness of certain factors in their current work place. Language teaching methodology topped the list, with technology supported teaching and learning a close second. For factors which received low ratings, teachers were asked to give suggestions on what could be done. Some suggestions for fostering teacher motivation included:

    • Higher salaries
    • More preparation time
    • Appreciation - thank you notes
    • More interaction between admin and teachers
    • Increasing ownership
    What can we do to increase motivation around us? Some suggestions from Deniz: 
    • Don't see apologising as a weakness
    • When you say thank you really mean it
    • Don't expect everything to be crystal clear, embrace the challenge to find out
    • Don't dwell on petty little details - look at the bigger picture
    • Be fair, be just
    • Be careful of the Matthew effect - people who have more advantages get more in time, those with less opportunities get even less opportunities in time. 
    • Personal development is important or professional development will not take place.

    And finally Deniz suggested that it's important to have some social time for teachers within working hours. Activities carried out Sabanci University include tarot reading, massages, henna, facial masks .... with wine and cookies. :)

    Coffee time :)

    Suzan Oniz kept the audience entertained during her workshop on free online corpora for collocation teaching. She categorised collocations as:

    Strong collocations - one word is decisive and makes the difference e.g. vent you anger, harbour a grudge, call off a wedding / match (but you can't call off a class). 

    Weak collocations - go with everything and generally work across language e.g. long journey, good idea

    Medium - strong collocations are problematic e.g. break off, over hear

    Why are collocations important for foreign language learners? Suzan explained that collocations:
    • Enrich word treasury
    • Increase fluency & quick production of language
    • Reduce grammar mistakes
    Some suggestions for teaching collocations include:
    • Grouping words
    • Corpus analysis - find collocations, work out patterns, create exercises by manipulating the data
    • Fly swatter activity 
    • Pairing / matching activities
    • Using the Compleat Lexical tutor

    Thank you for the practical ideas Suzan!

    The conference ended with a raffle and cocktail :) 
    Thank you to the organisers and all the participants for making it a truly memorable occasion :)

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Day 2 (part 2) - My reflections from the 11th International METU Conference - Embracing Challenges

    Claudia Harsch discussed Writing Assessment and the Common European Framework of Reference (CEF) in her plenary. Points outlined included:

    • Different approaches to assessing writing
    • Task characteristics 
    • Rating - holistic vs analytic
    • Practical implications for rater training and scaler implementation

    Claudia looked at test specifications and stressed that level specific criteria is needed for different levels eg. if the writing task at beginners level is writing a postcard then rating should reflect the characteristics of the task. 

    A sample writing task at B1 level adapted from an authentic text. 

    Holistic vs Analytic rating - the pros and cons. 

    Nicky Hockly's workshop on Digital Literacies focused on the digital literacy of  mobile literacy. Nicky gave some practical ideas on how a mobile literacy lesson could be taught. For example give students messages to decipher and ask which are appropriate or inappropriate.  
    • Wot u doing 2nite
    • Pls send me info abt ur eng courses 4 nxt year
    • I want 2 apply 4 job in ydays nwspaper
    • Had gr8 time w John on hols
    But should teachers be teaching this in class? Some  of the audience said 'yes', some 'no'. I agree with Nicky it can be controversial but it's good for recognition purposes.

    Day 2 ended with the lively Teacher Trainer Panel on  Challenges in Teacher Training with Yeşim Güven, Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken, Hande Işıl Mengü, Beril Ayman Yücel and chaired by Tony Gurr. 

    Tony started off the discussion by asking What are our biggest challenges? To which he got the response  'resistance'. The panel commented that resistance is natural. You should take it as it is and not impose on  colleagues. So what should we do? We need to look at the surrounding context. What is the story behind resistance? Try and understand this. 'Burn out' may be one reason. Look at the ways of tackling that resistance and try find solutions. 

    Tony's next question - Is a teacher's language proficiency a problem? 

    Responses from the panel included - awareness level of the teacher is important. Language problems need to be addressed i.e. institutional support, a course. There is less investment in schools now so we can't expect language proficiency to be what it was. We should tell people to correct our language whatever the problem. We should also highlight other people's mistakes because if we don't, who will? This is necessary for development.  

    What do teachers do to promote teacher training?
    1. Do professional presentations
    2. Carrying out research e.g. classroom research
    3. Developmental classroom observations
    4. Developing a teacher training program

    Day 2 ended with the Gala Dinner :)

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Day 2 (part 1) - My reflections from the 11th International METU Conference - Embracing Challenges

    During the conference, I stayed in the Aysel Sabuncu Guest House with many of the overseas presenters. This guest house is a little isolated and situated on the outskirts of the campus forest. For the duration of the conference, we had our own little guest house 'family'. Here we are, bright and early on the conference shuttle on day 2 of the conference. Fond memories and a 'big' hello to you all  :)

    On day 2, June 1st, the first plenary speaker was Simon Borg who talked about Teachers' Beliefs about Learner Autonomy (LA). Simon discussed how students beliefs on education play an important role and how conceptions based on previous educational background affect their university education. 

    Based on his Learner Autonomy research carried out in Oman some points Simon discussed were:

    How do teachers promote LA?
    • Talking to students about it
    • Encouraging learners to be autonomous
    • Getting learners to reflect
    • Using autonomous activities in class
    • Setting autonomy activities out of class

    What obstacles do teachers face?
    • Institutional factors- syllabus, assessment
    • Learner factors- lack of incentive, focus on passing tests, low proficiency in English, limited outside contact with English, limited experience of autonomous learning, dependence on the teacher 
    • Teacher factors  - underestimate students capacity for LA
    • LA is valued as a concept
    • LA is strongly associated with choice
    • Most Teacher's feel they promote LA
    • There are multiple interpretations of LA
    Simon's Report for the British Council on Learner autonomy: English language teachers' beliefs and practices can be found at

    Tony Gurr's plenary on Embracing the Challenge of 21st Century Teaching  was colourful and entertaining. Tony started his plenary by talking about today's younger generation born after 1990 or  Generation C....

    • Connected
    • Communicating
    • Content centric 
    • Computerised
    • Community-oriented 
    • .... Always clicking
    He quoted Friedrich, Le Merle, Peterson & Koster (2012) 'In the course of the next 10 years, a new generation - Generation C - will emerge…As they grow up, this highly connected generation will live “online” most of their waking hours…' So where does this leave  the teachers? According to Tony, the good news is -  technology won't replace teachers...but teachers who use technology will replace teachers who do not.

    But beware... are we a) language teachers or b) technology teachers? We need to be careful and always keep 'language' in the forefront and not get too carried away with technology. The roles of today's teacher include - the learner, the model, the risk-taker, the collaborator and the 'adaptor'. 

    Many thanks to Tony for the entertainment. For more information visit Tony's blog at or follow @tonygurr

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Day 1 - My reflections from the 11th International METU Conference - Embracing Challenges

    The 11th International METU Conference - Embracing Challenges was held in Ankara, 31 May - 2 June.

    The conference kicked off on May 31st with Eli Henkel's plenary on Academic Writing - the Vocabulary Connection.

    How important is vocabulary?
    Eli quoted Wilkins to emphasise the importance - 'The fact is that while without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed' (Wilkins; 1972). She stressed that if use of vocabulary is good, grammar tends to be overlooked.

    How about our learners?

    Eli explained that early vocabulary learning is easy because it includes highly frequent words but, less frequent words are harder to learn and need to be taught i.e. academic vocabulary because it  does not occur in daily interaction and conversational exchanges. 

    How do we teach academic vocabulary?
    The secret Eli stressed time after time throughout her plenary is review review review! Encourage your learners to use flash cards - they are easy to carry and are practical to review vocabulary. In fact, research shows that flash cards reflect the single most efficient way to learn vocabulary.  Give learners a writing activity and encourage them to use the new vocabulary. Have vocabulary quizzes in class, this encourages learners to review vocabulary outside class. 

    Eli's final words of wisdom for vocabulary teaching - review review review!!

    Nicky Hockly, the second plenary speaker of the day, talked about Digital Literacies.  

    Do we really need to be digitally literate? The answer is 'yes'. Nicky had most of the audience fooled with the internet information she presented on the tree octopus. Conclusion - be careful with the information you find on the internet - show students how to analyse web sites. For example - look at hyperlinks (beware if there are many within one paragraph), style of the language (is the language accurate?), the url (does it look official or suspicious?) and images (are the images real?)

    Nicky referred to Mark Pegrum's four main areas in digital literacy:
    1) Focus on Language
    2) Focus on Information
    3) Focus on Connections
    4) Focus on (re) design

    and suggested how these can be integrated in the language classroom. 

    An example of (re)design would be to 'remix' something. Nicky illustrated this by showing a literal video of a Harry Potter trailer We then discussed how remix can be exploited in class.

    The tree octopus lesson plan can be found at

    In Talip Karanfil, Erhan Guzel and Steve Neufeld's workshop on  Lowering the Affective Filter with Text-To-Speech Animations in Class Dialogues they demonstrated how to use GoAnimate.GoAnimate is a free online tool for preparing self-made videos and works in collaboration with YouTube. Students prepare their own dialogues and then transfer this to GoAnimate. There are a variety of scenarios to choose from. In the workshop, we used wild animals and watched our self-created dialogues being brought to life on YouTube with wild animals.

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    2nd Workshop Fest - June 29th

    We'll be holding our 2nd annual Workshop Fest on June 29th. Why not share your experience with us and present something? Looking forward to receiving your abstracts soon....

    Learning Goes Digital @ SFL - British Council & EMU

    On Tuesday, May 18th we launched Learning goes digital @ SFL in collaboration with the British Council.

    Some of our achievements over the last few months include:

    * Nil Arkin completing her British Council training to become an e-moderator and Musteyde Irikoglu is half way through her training. 
    * 14 teachers successfully completed the British Council Online Learning Technologies course moderatored by Nevin & Ayse Ozverir.
    * Forming a team of researchers, who will now start collecting data to monitor the students' use of British Council online products. For more information visit

    Thanks to everyone for their hard work over the last few weeks. You were all amazing. Dilek & Sencan thanks for the opportunity, support and the endless fun & laughter!! Watch this space for more.....