It’s the end of 2017, and my Reader is getting filled with various end-of-year reflective posts. I am no different from all other bloggers who feel it’s an excellent opportunity to look back and think a bit deeper of what has happened so far.

I met 2017 in my hometown being a newly hired employee of a chain eikaiwa.
I’m meeting 2018 in my husband’s family house in Japan being a relatively newly hired university EAP instructor.

It’s been a long journey full of amazing moments. I’d like to have a quick look at those which seem the most important to me (ranked in order of importance):

  1. Getting a university job (February): This is definitely the best thing that has happened this year. It’s my dream job, and I can’t express how happy and grateful I am. It made all other things that happened afterwards possible. It also boosted my professional development by giving me an opportunity for various experiments and improvisation within my classroom (for example, I’ve been investigating the influence of self-reflective feedback on students’ performance and trying to implement tiny bits of learner autonomy). It filled me with inspiration and strengthened my passion for teaching. I’m full of ideas about things I want to try next semester, and I can’t wait to do it!!
  2. Writing a post for the TEFL Equity Advocates (August): I first heard of Marek when Matthew Schaeffer and I were looking at a job ad poster hanging in the corridor in front of our office. It was an examiner job for some Japan-based English exam (I don’t remember which one). To apply for it, one had to be either a JET or a NEST aged above 30 y.o. I said it was ridiculous, and Matthew said that I could file a complaint with the TEFL Equity Advocates. I googled it as soon as I had free time and was lost for this world for the next several hours until I read every single entry that seemed interesting 😀 Several months later, I contacted Marek via e-mail and asked if he would be interested in featuring my story in the Teacher Success Story blog. He gave me the green light, and here it is, my first (but not the last I hope!) contribution to this amazing project. The response to this post was incredibly heartwarming.
  3. Blogging (from July): I’ve been blogging about my daily life and job on a Russian website called diary.ru for 7 years, but blogging about your job thoughtfully is quite different I must say. When I just started this blog I wasn’t sure if anyone would even find my posts interesting or if I will have anything to write about. And then it appeared that I have a lot to say and that there actually are some people who are interested in what I’m saying. It was quite a relief 🙂 And last Thursday, my blog was featured in the Top-50 TEFL Blogs post on Feedspot. My head is full of ideas, there’s still so much left to write about, and I didn’t even notice how blogging on ELT became a significant part of my professional life. I’m lovin’ it.
  4. Giving demo lessons for the CELTA course in St Petersburg (August): Going back to where I did my CELTA was so nostalgic and revived so many sweet memories. It gave me a chance to compare my CELTA-time self with the current self and see how much has changed since then and how far I’ve moved. If you’re interested in seeing what kind of lessons I taught, you can find the lesson plans here (vocabulary) and here (reading+speaking).
  5. Attending the JALT conference (November)Another inspiring experience I’ve had this year. I met some fantastic ELT professionals there and attended several highly interesting workshops. You can read more about it in this post. BTW, I filed a proposal for a poster presentation for the PanSIG conference in May, so fingers crossed!!
  6. Participating in the review contest organised by EFL Magazine (December ~): First of all, thanks to this competition I had a chance to chat to Erzsébet Békés, one of the most inspiring nNESTs in the ELT field. Secondly, if I win, I’ll have a chance for my review to be published in the EFL Magazine (not an opportunity to miss, right?). I’m still in the process of writing it (it’s a review of this remarkable book called Teaching in Low Resource Classrooms), and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated, guys!

This is it. This what my 2017 has been like. It’s just one day left now, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 is going to give me!

I wish a happy New Year to everyone, and may your dreams come true!


Magic in the Classroom

This post is inspired by Zhenya’s post on livening up the classroom’s standard routines.


  1. Post-it notes: The way I use them is not different from the ways described by other teachers. For example, when I want my students to write a possible topic for a discussion, I use these sticky notes. Then we stick them to the desk, and students are able to draw a circle on them voting for the topic they like the most. I also use them as a seta arrangement tool: by writing numbers (1 and 2) and letters (A and B) it’s possible to multiply the number of different seat arrangement combinations.
  2. Dices: I love board games, and I wish I could let my students play it more often… The last lesson of our course is a good opportunity to have some fun, so there’s always a board game at the end, and these colourful wooden dices are irreplaceable!
  3. The Bomb: It’s my ultimate favourite muhaha. I LOVE how students react when they realise it ACTUALLY makes the ticking sound. I remember one student dropped it when it ‘exploded’ in her hands. However, despite this incident, they all laughed and seemed to enjoy (especially boys). For those who don’t recognise where this beauty comes from, check Pass the Bomb board game 🙂 The bomb is an amazing tool to liven up any review activity (e.g., vocabulary, FL, grammar, etc.).
  4. Masking tape: Every lesson, my students fill in self-reflective check-sheets and set a goal for the second discussion. After the second discussion, they check if they achieved their goals or not and then stick the check-sheets into their textbooks. To make this process a bit more exciting (and to reward my students for the work they’ve done) I give them some cute masking tapes like these two. Sometimes I bring thematic stickers like Christmas stickers, etc.
  5. Some strange tiny objects: What are they??! Technically, these are the rubbers but in my classroom, they become chips that my students use when they play board games. I usually let students choose which ‘chip’ they want to use, and these three are the ultimate favourites (the fish-looking one is actually taiyaki, Japanese pastry snack). The others are mochi, onigiri, bamboo, tomato, melon, and aubergine.
  6. Timer: I use it so that I don’t have to depend on watch / clock. First of all, I HATE having anything on my wrists. Second, I don’t like the necessity of constantly checking my phone to end an activity on time. The timer is the easiest solution to these problems 🙂 Just don’t forget to change the battery when the time comes! And the beeping sound it makes when the time is up helps you to catch your students’ attention quickly.
  7. O-hajiki: All Japanese kids used to play this game where they have to hit one glass stone with the other, and whoever gets closest to the ‘main’ stone gets more points (or something like that). Whenever I take the bags with these stones out, students get excited and say ‘nostalgic!’. I use them as chips to cover some phrases in the check-sheets so that students (and I) could keep track on their FL use. The only drawback is that some students (usually boys) try to use o-hajiki the way they used it when they were children so make sure to keep an eye on those students who get too nostalgic and excited.


This is it! I hope to see your lists as well 😉

My Happy ELT Story

Wow, almost a month has passed since the last time I posted here. I remember I wanted this blog to be a weekly one… oh well 😀

Anyway, today’s entry is a special one: it’s done as a part of the monthly Reflective Practice meeting organised by Ann Loseva. It’s usually something like a discussion table but this time we decided to write it down and exchange our stories. Time flies fast, and now we’re just a wee bit less than 2 weeks away from the New Year so why not to reflect on something good that has happened this year? So here it is, my happy ELT story of 2017.

Continue reading “My Happy ELT Story”