Monday, 26 June 2017

Becoming British (Again)


After nearly nine years of living in New Zealand, my family returned back to England on June 13th 2017. Inspired by Jill Hadfield's experience with her daughter and their move to New Zealand in her article, Becoming Kiwi, I have decided to document the reverse with my children, Tom aged 10 and Evie 6.

Evie at Auckland Airport, New Zealand



                                                      Stratford-upon -Avon

       Starting Point:   


With both parents being British, Tom and Evie have a mixed accent (more British to the Kiwi ear) with some clear Kiwisms in the pronunication of vowel sounds and intonation.

Regarding vocabulary, they are familiar with using the Kiwi terms for the following everyday items on the flashcards. I also used pictures of items that highlight the vowel shift. I recorded Evie first and then her cousin, Harry who is also 6. I am using this as a baseline to see the shift in Evie's language change.

Evie's terms and pronunciation of the following Flashcards.

Evie saying the flashcards   

Harry saying the flashcards   

Evie's diary entry in New Zealand



             Evie describing what the girls are wearing Togs (NZ) Swimming Costume (UK)

1. Jandals (NZ) Flip flops (UK)

2. Gumboots(NZ) Wellies (UK)

3. Ice Block (NZ) Ice Lolly (UK)

4. Lollies/Candy (NZ) Sweets (UK)

5. Undies (NZ) Pants/Knickers (UK)

6. Trousers

7. Dirt

8. Bird

What was so interesting was that both children used the term candy. This is an American English term.

Tom and Evie's last day at school in New Zealand.

June: First Impressions

Arriving at Heathrow

Recording One (June)

Evie: Evie talking about the differences between New Zealand and England

Evie: The trees are different because they (UK) have big trees with big leaves on, we (NZ)have small medium ones with medium leaves on.

Evie: They don't have sushi there (UK)

Evie: There's old people, it's cause England's old.  They (New Zealand) have no old things, they have new things.

Tom: Tom's Differences

Tom: There are different cars. There are number plates which are yellow.

Tom: The accent's weird

Tom: The taxis are different.

Evie and Harry talking about Evie's pictures of Auckland and New Zealand:

New Zealand pictures 


Other comments:

Tom: Why are there so many old people?

Tom: The money in England is crispy not floppy like New Zealand.

Tom (listening to girls at the playground) What does shove mean?

Evie: Mummy was born in England, Daddy was born in England and Tommy was born in England. I am a proper Kiwi bird because I was born in New Zealand. ( We moved to NZ when Tom was 23 months, in New Zealand he often made the distinction between his birth place and his sister's called himself a Brick (Brit)

Grandma: Go and get a pepper Evie!  (Evie is confused at first as she is used to calling them capsicums in NZ)


How long will both children use the Kiwi terms in the UK?

In what ways will they continue to identify and share their New Zealand culture?

In what ways will they identify with their Britishness?

Evie in New Zealand.

                                                    Tom posting his postcard to New Zealand.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014


Listening to a recording of Virginia Woolf and her RP accent made me think about the debate all around accents when teaching and learning English.

Here is the recording:

I love what she is saying but listening to her pronunciation.....

Was that what a learner would aspire to?  Hilarious now or is it?

We all have different accents where I work, most of us are native speaking teachers with British, New Zealand, American, Canadian, Irish, American accents. Do our students learning English in New Zealand notice our accents? Do they care about the accent of their teacher? Do we?

By the way...what is a British accent?

I really like this post from Chia Suan Chong:

Whose accent is better?

I often try to reinforce the idea especially in Business English that most of the time colleagues working internationally will be communicating in English but English won't be their mother tongues so don't get stressed about accent, it's communication that counts!

However, a New Zealand colleague told me that when she went to teach in Korea she was told to teach with an American accent and change her name as there was another teacher with the same name which would be too confusing for the students. So, she became Alice with an American accent!


I have a two children (3 and 7) in New Zealand and both my partner and I are British. This has been interesting because we often notice the NZ pronunciation and vocabulary which naturally they have acquired living we care about it? No...but interestingly my parents on holiday from the UK used to comment or maybe correct them, they no longer do this but as accent is bound up in identity this is becoming a more complex issue as they grow older and question it themselves.

I took my son to an event where there was a rugby game, my son who has lived in New Zealand since he was 1 was told "with that accent he should be holding a different shaped ball "referring to a round soccer ball which of course signifies the main competitive sport in England. At first I couldn't understand the joke but then once it clicked I felt a mixture of emotions. I don't want my son to be picked out for sounding different, he doesn't like soccer, he is more of a Kiwi than a Brit culturally living here, isn't he?

I know the man was having a joke but the fact that he had picked out my son's accent as different was a shock to me.

In the UK, regional differences in our accents are commonplace and tied up with historical and class systems. Here are some great examples of regional differences in the UK:

A Tour of the British Isles

Coming back to the question, do our students care about their teacher's accent? I sent out a poll to my students through our class Facebook page and here were the results, only 4 students answered but...


I celebrate accents....they make English sound richer and more colourful. I love listening to the different accents my students have in English and I miss the regional differences travelling 20 miles from one town to another town in the UK. How boring life would be if we sounded the same...

Sunday, 25 May 2014

FairTrade Business English Project

I haven't written anything for ages on my blog, this has been due to a very busy period of project work with my Business English class and getting involved with the social media side at my school. The project was based around a chapter in Business Result Upper Intermediate on Ethical Business and coincided with Oxfam's FairTrade Morning Tea fundraiser.Oxfam Morning Tea

I used the model of project based learning as a guide during the project to begin with:

The driving questions were:
What was FairTrade?
How can we get students interested in this topic?
How can we raise money for the Morning Tea?

I began by showing the students a bar of chocolate with the Fairtrade logo on it and eliciting if they knew what it meant (none of them did). We then watched some videos on YouTube about Fairtrade and discussed the first question after they had made notes and I had written up some simple comprehension questions. Here is the video link: Fairtrade Bananas

I asked the students to think about how they could explain what Fairtrade was to a friend:

Takashi and Leonardo telling their friends about Fairtrade.

It was really interesting to note that the students started to use persuasive tactics at this point without me prompting them which we then discussed after the role-play. We discussed how charities engage their audiences and how they raise awareness. I sent the students away to research  more about Fairtrade and if it existed in their countries. The next lesson the students shared what they had researched and I wrote up key phrases on the board. I put the students into groups and told them we were going to visit a Trade Aid shop and interview the manager. The students brainstormed the questions they wanted to ask and after correcting them we visited the shop:
 Carolina speaking to Linda the shop manager
Business English students in the Trade Aid shop
The students took pictures and recorded the interviews and then transcribed them at home. We used the information gathered from the interviews and the images to think about ways to start an awareness raising campaign at school about Fairtrade.The students decided that they wanted to make a video which could be played in each classroom and shared across social media platforms. The students selected the images and wrote the commentary and helped create the following video:
The students then had to focus on the marketing campaign for the morning tea. They created promotional material and engaged in direct marketing writing and delivering  a mini presentation to each class.
Leonardo and Damon giving their presentation
 Student designed slide for reception area

In order to encourage participation at the morning tea, the students decided to hold a raffle for a Fairtrade basket and printed and advertised the tickets. This was held over several days where the students had to explain again face to face to the students about Fairtrade as well as using their sales techniques. After each stage we evaluated the process in terms of strengths and weaknesses. This was an excellent opportunity to authentically use their English.

Once the students had finished the task of selling the raffle tickets for the Fairtrade Basket below:

they decided on the timescale and deadlines for the organisation of the Morning Tea. This involved negotiating roles and tasks, handling the budget ,designing the morning tea room, physical shopping and many other tasks. Again the functional language was highlighted and language given when needed.

The Morning Tea

The students organised the tables and set themselves up. I quietly observed as they took charge of the  the entire event.
The interaction with other students and teachers was very interesting and I could clearly see a huge surge of confidence and pride in what they were doing. We raised $330!
 Project Group

The students  had time over the weekend to reflect on the project. I asked them to record the journey of what they had done and learnt, the successes and failures and what they would have changed.I gave them class time to compile their notes into one presentation and practice what to say.  Theclass had merged with another the following week, they presented their project and reflections to this peer audience which brought closure to the project.
 Final presentations

Since the project ended, three members of the group have got part time jobs in New Zealand with one of them being offered a volunteer role in the Trade Aid shop we visited. I was so pleased that he had gone back to the shop and his interest prompted the manager to offer him a job.


Sunday, 6 April 2014


This year IATEFL was held in Harrogate and it has been the first year I have really engaged with it online.What was so fantastic was being able to watch the plenary sessions streamed live and interviews with leading ELT influencers.What has also been wonderful is following responses and comments through blogs and twitter lucky we are to be able to access all this wealth of experience and new ideas..

I really like this picture that I used when teacher training on a Young Learner course,although it says children..I think it can easily be replaced by language learners.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Project Based Learning Part Two

Stage Four:
The students gave a summary of their survey and report to the rest of the class and then focused on what recommendations they would make.We looked at an outline of a proposal together and the groups started to draft some ideas about what key areas they would propose and the benefits of these areas to the school and students.

While some students were working on the draft, other group members started to research student lounges in other school to report back to their group.

Stage Five:
The students started working together on creating their group in particular wanted to try Prezi.Each member contributed pictures and text they had recorded during the previous days and negotiated the best way to incorporate his in their presentation.

Stage Six:
The students had time to practice delivering their presentation to an audience of English language students,teachers and school management who expressed the intention of possibly implementing changes to the student lounge.This gave the project real validity and personal investment for the students.
Here is the link to one of the presentations:

Student Lounge Presentation

Stage Seven:
The students were given the opportunity to reflect on their presentation performance and give feedback to one another immediately after. I uploaded on presentations onto YouTube and shared on our class Facebook page.As the presentations were on Friday, I told the students to watch them and  identify areas of strength and weakness in their language and delivery. Together we would then evaluate the project and language skills the following week.

Project Based Learning Part One

I decided to spend a whole week doing a Business English project with my students.I decided to follow a project based approach.The first stage was the problem:

Stage One: The student lounge needs to be updated and redesigned but the school doesn't know what to do with the space.As a group you need to create a proposal based on your own research and suggestions about what you would do with the space.

Stage Two: The students brainstormed the strengths and weaknesses of the current student lounge firstly as individuals then in a group brainstorm..some of the students started to suggest changes and ideas during this stage.The group identified the most important areas they would focus on an decided to create some questions to ask fellow students in other classes.

Stage Three: The groups wrote survey questions together and then approached different classes to ask the questions.Once the results had been collected the students decided how to organise the data and the relevance of it compared to their own suggestions.We then looked at how to write a report based around a summary which was started in class and completed for homework.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Learning to Listen

So I have finished my online tutoring course with International House which was great and thanks to the tutors and other participants really made the experience worthwhile.I highly recommend it to anyone in teaching.It makes you reflect on the different types of tasks and especially the tutor/learner relationship.A brief summary of what I thought was important was:

  • Engaging learners by creating collaborative tasks online
  • Creating discussion forums and topics where learners can share opinions
  • Encouraging self reflection
  • Colourful and meaningful online feedback using conventions like font,colour and net lingo 
  • Realising that being an online tutor is no way an easy option!
A great thing this course has ignited in me is to have more confidence in teaching with technology and I am very lucky that I have groups of learners that are really engaged in that process as well.Something my tutor suggested was using a wiki as a means of online collaboration so I set one up with wikispaces and discussed with my Business class how we could use it.A work in progress!

Learning to Listen

Something I used today which was great was a TedTalks by Julian Treasure about listening.This is a skill that many of my students have problems with.

To begin with we discussed active listening and did an observational exercise from the British Council

The next step was talking about how we listen and barriers to listening in today's society.
I asked the class to note down 5 ways in which we are losing our ability to listen and why? This was essentially preparing them to listen to the talk.

After watching and listening to the first part of the talk, we discussed 5 ways we could overcome these barriers and what advice we would give to become a better listener.

We then watched the second part of the talk and then compared answers.The students then discussed how they could use what they had heard in the talk to change their listening strategies in the future.
Here is the link: