TATL #21: Special Edition: Interview with Shuhei

Main Content:  Emily and Roger talk with Shuhei H. He is an English teacher in Japan who teaches at a night high school. He shares some challenges, but also a very important classroom activity type that he has found to be very effective for these very special students.

WIMB: (What's in my bag?)

Shuhei: Shuhei shared a very unique journal book. It is a 3-year parallel journal that is keyed by date. This means that when he writes a journal entry for a particular day, he can look back on his journal entry for the exact day a year ago. He says it is a great way to look at how his viewpoint has changed (or stayed the same) over the past three years.

TATL #20: Analog Your Schedule

Main Content:  Emily and Roger talk about having full schedules and how they use different ways to organize what they need to do every day. They also discuss what is successful or not successful.

WIMB: (What's in my bag?)

Emily: A ripped calendar - For really busy quarters, I use free calendars sent by various charity organizations.
Physician's Formula Liquid Eyeliner (purchase)

Roger: Here's a snapshot of Roger's calendar drawn in a Zequenz notebook. He used Frixion erasable pens, Kurecolor markers (Warm Gray 2) to create it. Also, here's the article by Belle Beth Cooper on analog scheduling and calendaring that Roger talked about.

TATL #19: From ESL Teacher to Teacher Trainer

Main Content:  Emily and Roger interview a guest TATLer, Helen, who talks about her transition from being an ESL teacher to a Teacher trainer. Helen shares a little about the differences, how has it affected her ESL teaching, frustrations, and gives some great advice.

WIMB: (What's in my bag?)

Helen: Tide ToGo Pen (http://tide.com/en-us/shop/type/stain-removers/tide-to-go) and Viva la Juicy (https://www.amazon.com/Juicy-Couture-Viva-Parfum-Spray/dp/B002XQ1YTK)

TATL #18: Using Student Examples

Main Content: 
Emily and Roger talk about using student examples and how such a strategy boosts students’ confidence and engagement in the lesson. They offer ideas of how to incorporate them meaningfully into class.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Roger mentioned the SKITCH app for iOS and Android. As of the posting of this podcast (#18), Skitch is no longer available for download. Roger has an alternative that is really much much better: Paper by 53

Here's a way to use it. Unfortunately, it is iOS only. (https://mademistakes.com/mastering-paper/)

WAYLT: (What are you listening to?)

Emily: Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros ()

WIMB: (What's in my bag?)

Roger: The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown (http://amzn.com/1591847036)

TATL #17: Storytelling

Main Content:
Emily and Roger talk with Rachel Fernandez about how to incorporate storytelling into lessons to focus more content than language and create a common content experience for students.

WAYLT: (What are you listening to?)

Emily: Disney Piano Collection by Hirohashi Makiko (https://youtu.be/D7gx-NdYEu4)

WIMB: (What's in my bag?)

Roger: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe (

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

~ Randall Munroe (author) More about this product
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TATL #16: Feedback Part 2

Main Content: Emily and Roger continue to discuss about providing feedback. They highlight tips and benefits with conferencing 1-on-1 with students and peer feedback.

WAYLT: (What are you listening to?)

Emily: Prince Royce "Darte Un Beso" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr03_tItXno)

Roger: Coldplay "Fix You" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skUJ-B6oVDQ)

TATL #14: Homework Part 2


Emily and Roger continue to discuss about homework. They highlight extreme situations for teachers to be careful of and how to be more practical with assigning and correcting homework. 

When do teachers give homework?

After teaching a new point. Students can practice it at home.

Before teachers go over a new point, the teacher wants students to review something at home first before coming to class so that they are prepared to learn the new point.

Extreme situations that you should be cautious of:

An energetic teacher who spends too much time grading the homework (providing comments, stickers, etc.)

A teacher who has taught for a while and mainly assigns homework just as busy work but doesn’t spend time providing feedback because it is too much work or students don’t look at it.

Practicality Tips:

Teacher needs to teach students how to read and use the feedback.

Incentivize the process of receiving feedback by giving points. If students are lazy with homework, don’t be scared to score lower.

Use a rubric to save time in grading and show your expectations.

For personalized homework like writing or speaking journals, make sure that students understand who the audience is. Audience refers to people who will read their homework. Students shouldn’t just write for a teacher to read. The teacher should explain what other kinds of potential people would be reading this so that students are aware of the type of register to use)

It’s meaningful to give feedback, but set a number on how many comments to give.

For extreme teachers:

    1) If you work too hard, take a step back. Find a hobby. Rest. Don’t make work your life.

    2) If you don’t put that much effort in, try to put more effort.


Emily: Fresh’s Sugar Lip Balm (http://www.sephora.com/sugar-lip-treatment-spf-15-P57002)

Roger: Bandaid (http://c3.q-assets.com/images/products/p/jj/jj-1288_1z.jpg)

TATL #13: Homework Part 1

Main Content

Emily and Roger discuss about the purpose of homework and the difference between knowledge-focused homework versus skills-focused homework. They give examples of what zombie teachers do and how to avoid that lifestyle.

Goal: Avoid being a zombie teacher! (Teachers who don’t really give that much thought into teaching because they have done it for so long)

Q: Why do we assign homework?

A: There is a concept that when you work hard and get good feedback, you’ll do better next time. If this process is repeated over and over again, you’ll master understanding that knowledge or skill. 

"Homework is so ingrained in classroom culture both in the teacher’s mind and the students’ mind."

2 types of homework: knowledge or skills?

Knowledge homework: learning definition of concepts, how concepts are related to each other, parts of grammar, meaning of vocabulary words, paragraphs. etc. It is basically expository. There is a focus on what students know, not what they can do.

Skills homework: any homework where students practice something: interview someone, create a dialogue using the grammar they have learned, make sentences using specific vocabulary words, etc. There is a focus on what students can actually produce.

Questions to consider: Is it possible to do a skill without the knowledge? Should we care about the order of what kind of homework to give first: knowledge? skills? Should we give homework that focuses on both?

"What are zombie teachers doing?"

Easy in grammar because teachers can just look for worksheets and have students do it. It’s not bad to do worksheets since students are practicing their knowledge, but it shouldn’t be the only kind of work students are expected to do.

Teachers should consider checking homework but be practical about going over answers.


Emily: Mentholatum Inhaler (

) and Wasabi Beans (http://www.quest-for-japan.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/wasabichaya_smallpacks.jpg)

Roger: Thermal mug (http://wwwhydroflask.com/)

TATL #12: Speaking Warm-ups Part 2

Main Content

Emily and Roger continue to talk about speaking warm-ups with an added focus on higher level learners. Ideas include planning a series of questions related to the textbook topic, editing sentences, and using post-its to collect student-generated questions.


Emily: Blue Tape 

Roger: Jansport Burrito Shaped Canvas Bag (outside) (inside)

TATL #11: Speaking Warm-ups Part 1

Main Content

Emily and Roger discuss about speaking warm-ups: the purpose, the problem, and possible solutions. Such warm-ups are effective in helping students get into the English mindset and be excited for class. The problem is that students are disinterested or the questions lack a meaningful context. As a result, students may know how to answer them but they have no idea when to practically use them outside of the classroom. Emily and Roger each provide a simple idea that can be easily applied into your classroom.


Emily: Isojin Gargle

Roger: Uniqlo Down Sweater