Category Archives: freeware

Two Handy Tools that Save the Day

There are about 10 ideas for posts on my to-write list, but this is definitely a post I have meaning to write for a long time and that for some reason or another I never got around to writing it.

This post is not about English; it has nothing to do with vocabulary or grammar. It is just a post featuring two tools that might come in handy.

♥ KeepVid  might prevent you from having a nervous breakdown when after spending Sunday afternoon preparing activities with content from You Tube or any other video site for the coming week, you find that Internet is not working. Sounds familiar? Of course, as well-seasoned teachers we can always resort to plan B  or plan C, but isn’t it terribly frustrating?

Keep Vid is a handy tool for downloading video. As they advertise on their site:

Keep Video Downloader is a free web application that allows you to download videos from sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch.Tv, Vimeo, Dailymotion and many more. All you need is the URL of the page that has the video you want to download. Enter it in the textbox and simply click ‘Download’. KeepVid will then fetch download links in all possible formats that the particular site provides.

Remember that if you want to download videos from Facebook, you will need the url. You can get it by right-clicking on the video to get its hidden url.

Downsub.As for the second useful tool, how handy could it be to have a tool that downloads subtitles from YouTube? Very!

Well, this is what does for you. The only thing you need to do is enter the url and choose the language.

Hope this blog post has been helpful! Keep posted!

Creating visual content for my classes with two awesome free online tools

Let’s go visual!

If you have been following my blog for a while you probably know how much I like exploring new tools to spice up my lessons. We all know students prefer looking at a screen than at a book so, for this lesson I have decided to explore two new free online tools, which have a lot of potential for language teaching.


Perhaps  you have never considered creating your own content because you think you aren’t tech-savvy and you don’t really know how to go about  these  modern things, but I can assure you that creating these two videos has been as easy as falling off a log.

In class, we are studying how to express preference with the structure would rather and (would)pefer  and this is just the perfect excuse to “play” with these two little tools.

1. For a revision of the grammar for Would Rather and Prefer, I have used This is how this tool works:

  • Login for free.
  • Click “create a new video”.
  • Choose your scenes one by one and enter the text. You can choose between animation scenes, footage scenes and image scenes where you can upload your own pictures. Click + to add a new scene.
  • Choose the colours for your presentation and then the music track or upload your own.
  • Click Preview and the video will be sent to your email address once it’s created.
  • At this point, you can download it, share it on facebook and twitter, or post to youtube.

(presentation created with biteable)

2. For a speaking activity using Would Rather, I have used This is how this amazing free online tool works:

  • Log in for free.
  • You can create a new presentation form scratch or upload a power point presentation.
  • Choose a template.
  • Share it or embed it on your blog.

(presentation created with emaze)

Powered by emaze

Give them a go! You won’t regret it!

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6 Excellent First-Day Icebreakers

Dear readers

Here I am again!! I Didn’t  this summer fly by ? It totally  flew by!!!

Oh my god! The beginning of another school year is fast approaching and I am feeling  the butterflies starting to gather in my stomach, even after 25 years teaching English. Yes, even after all this time, I still feel like a newbie about to teach her first class. I have yet to decide whether this is a good or a bad thing.  In these 25 years there are not many things I have not tried but I always like to start telling my students something about myself. I used to include information about my age, but I no longer do ( for obvious reasons)  and in fact, I always say I am 25, with a wink, if a student dares overlook the fact that I have intentionally omitted that bit of information. Anyway. I feel like in my twenties 🙂 when facing a new group of students.

Why use icebreakers?

Teaching aduIts has a lot of advantages and some minor disadvantages. In my experience, one of these disadvantages is that they tend to be naturally shy when asked to speak a foreign language  so it’s essential to break the ice from the very first moment students enter my class. The sooner I get to know them and they get to know each other,  the faster they will start learning. One way to accomplish this is by using icebreakers.

Below are some of the icebreakers/first-day activities I normally use to introduce myself .Some of them might sound familiar to you although I have slightly modified the name to better describe my own contribution but I should add that  I take no credit for inventing these games. I hope you find something you can use. I would suggest you demonstrate how to play the games  by  first offering personal information about yourself. It doesn’t have to be too personal, just a bit, enough to satisfy students’ curiosity.

This is an interactive image using ThingLink

1. HANGMAN WITH A TWIST (no preparation required)
I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t like playing  hangman. This time we will play  a variation of the traditional  hangman game as all the words will  contain some information about myself ( blue, twenty.-four, music, keeping fit…etc). Remember that you cannot use proper nouns such as names, places, and brands.


  • Think about some information you want to share with your students and play the hangman  game.
  • Choose beforehand the information you want to use and play hangman for every piece  of information you want to share. Once they have guessed the correct word, explain  why this word is important to you.

Students in pairs play hangman with using their own personal information.

How to play Hangman here

2.CONCENTRIC CIRCLES ( requires little preparation)

    Students arrange  themselves so that they are facing each other in two circles. The inner circle faces out, the outer circle faces in, so that each participant has a partner that they’re facing (Note: If the group has an uneven number of people, the teacher should participate in the circles)
  • Tell the students that they will be having a series of short conversations with  different partners. They  will need to  introduce themselves and  share the time given  so that everybody has a chance to speak.
  • Give students a  getting-to-know-you question and  ask pairs  to discuss their answers to the question (Note: after  three minutes, call time)
  • Rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership.

This engaging one-to-one game gives students the chance to get to know their classmates very quickly

Some ideas

1. Why do you want to learn English?

2. What’s your favourite TV programme?

3. What you like doing in your free time?

4.Do you prefer to live in the city or in the countryside?

5. Where do you hope to be 10 years from now?

3.PERSONAL INFORMATION  BINGO (requires preparation)

Everybody knows how to play Bingo. This time we are going to play bingo with personal information.


  • Decide on 20 or 25 general traits that you think might apply to your students and use  a free online bingo generator here or  here to create your own bingo cards. Some ideas: who has a pet, who speaks two languages, who hates maths, who went abroad last year, who has a friend called Mary, who likes tea, who is  his/her twenties, who hates going shopping,who has slept on a beach, who doesn’t like meat…etc)
  • Now cut all the squares in the bingo card and put them in a bag.
  • Draw one card at a time asking ” who….?”.
  • The winner is the person who first fills  4 boxes (if you have  20 traits) or 5 boxes (25 traits) either across or down and yells BINGO.

Ask students now in pairs  to talk about some of the squares they have crossed  off.

4.PERSONAL STAR (no preparation required)

The one I like best is Personal Star, for many reasons but mainly because it requires no preparation  and students always  enjoy a bit of gossip  about their new teacher.


  • Draw a  six-pointed star  and on each point write  6  answers to questions about yourself. (My answers are black, London, December 9, tennis, Terry and meat.)
  • Tell students that the star contains information about you.
  • Ask them to try to guess the information behind the words by asking questions.If they don’t get the idea give an example. Tell them “My favourite colour is black. What question do you need to ask to find out this information?” Elicit from them, “What’s your favourite colour?” and cross out the word ‘black’ from the star.
  • Then, put the students in pairs. Ask them to draw their own personal star and write 6 pieces of information about themselves on each point. In pairs they can ask each other questions to find out about their partner. When they have all finished, ask them as a group to tell the others what they have found out about their partner

5.WHO AM I? (no preparation required)

I love this game to introduce myself to my students. It is played in teams and there is a winner. If you have been reading me for some time you know I am very competitive; that must be the reason why I am definitely going to use this one this year. The game was written by Paul Adams  and here is the link.

  • Write on  the board information about yourself and next to each piece of information write a number.
  • Divide the class into  two or three teams, depending on the number of students per class.
  • Tell students that teams  have to choose a number and ask the question they think matches the answer on the board.
  • Teams  take it in turns to choose a number and ask the question they think matches the answer.
  • They  get 1 point for asking the correct question and 1 point for using the correct grammar.

6.A QUESTION, PLEASE(no preparation required)

Again, this little game requires no preparation and students love it because it gives them the perfect opportunity to meet their new classmates


  • Ask students to write two questions they would like to ask you.
  • Answer some of their questions elaborating on your answers.
  • Tell students questions cannot be repeated  so they need to be ready to write a new question if necessary.
  • Once this step has been completed and their curiosity satisfied,  ask students to stand up and mingle, introducing themselves to the rest of the class  by saying their names and then asking their questions and answering their partner’s .
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Feeding your Own Newspaper with the News you Want to Read

Isn’t that what everybody would like? Isn’t it a good reason to read every day? In this post I am sharing with you a wonderful tool that is basically a newsreader with wonderful customizable features. The idea is to encourage students to read every day  the things they like to read about.

The benefits  of reading when  learning a language are many and  nobody can deny that. When you read you:

– acquire new vocabulary in a natural way

-learn to infer meanings

-learn to punctuate

-write better

-speak better

– learn  the grammar in context

We, as teachers, tend to ask our students to read mainly graded books or the texts in their textbook. We certainly feel confident  our students won’t be struggling to understand or won’t get demotivated because they cannot easily grasp the meaning of the words.

On the other hand, I firmly believe we need to show our students how to develop strategies to encourage autonomous learning. It is essential if we want our students to keep improving when the course finishes.

Whenever a student asks me, “Are there any compulsory books to read this term?” I never fail to remember the 50 or 60 books I had to read if I wanted to have a chance at passing some certain subjects at university. I used to be keen on reading but having to compulsorily read, I would say “swallow”  those books chosen by somebody else turned me, for some years, into someone who would refrain from  getting close to a bookshop, let alone a library.

For this reason, I never choose the books my students have to read. We go to the school library together and  choose the ones they find most appealing from their level section.  I encourage them to read regularly, every  day if possible, and not to use the dictionary every single time they don’t know a word, as this would discourage them. Instead, I ask them to try to guess the meaning  and only use the dictionary if it blocks comprehension or it appears frequently in the book.

Reading books is Ok, but what about magazines, blogs, newspapers… In this post, I would like  to share with  you   a tool  to motivate students to read every day and the key to motivation is READING WHAT THEY LIKE.

The tool I use is called FEEDLY . It ‘s for me the best way to organise and read my favourite sites on the Internet. It’s mainly a newsreader and it’s highly addictive. Everything on the same place with a very nice layout.  Imagine Feedly as a newspaper with only the news you are interested in. You feed Feedly with online sites that interest you.In this sense I recommend my students to feed it with a variety of sites including news, fashion, cooking, IT, learning languages …etc and why not, gossip.

Feedly is customizable and the only thing you need to do is Click on Add content, paste the url of the blog or site you want to have in your newspaper. Can I suggest you try adding this blog and this other one  🙂 to get started?




If you want to know more about how  Feedly works, here is a very visual tutorial here .

Are there any sites or blogs you would recommend? Please, let me know


A Cue Prompter to Help Students Give their Speeches

This year is slightly different for me since I don’t have as much time as the previous years to update my blog. This year I have found myself with a job to go to , a rural house to run and with no domestic help. I wasn’t sure I ‘d be able to post, if I’d have time or if I’d feel up to it and heck, I am still wondering where I find the time to do everything. But the thing is that here I am, still pumped to post.Today I want to share with you a little tool you might find useful .
This little tool is a cueprompter. My students need to, in two weeks’ time, give a speech of two minutes maximum and I find this little tool can help them a lot monitor the time it takes them to give their speech as it has adjustable speed feautures.
How to use it
♥Copy/paste the text into the prompter text window
♥You can set screen size, font size and colour
♥Start the prompter and adjust the speed
♥ Use the Space Bar to stop/start the cueprompter

Tutorial here