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Ipad report

I'm really happy with my ipad. I use it nearly every day. Most of all I appreciate its "instant on" and its portability around the house. If we get wi fi-ed up in the staff room at school, I shall use it there too.

Apart from checking email and web browsing I have made good use of a number of apps. I like the Metoffice app for instant access to weather reports, including current radar and satellite views. The Living Earth app gives instant weather and cloud cover from cities around the world. The Ebay app is easy to browse. I've occasionally used the app, but our slow broadband connection makes live TV unpredictable. I've made good use of the imdb cinema app and daily use of the Guardian app. The latter is designed for the i-phone and bears little resemblance to the newspaper format, but it is comprehensive and easy enough to navigate. I'm awaiting an ipad specific version of the Guardian, for which I would happily pay. The Daily Telegraph app is designed specifically for the ipad, but is slower to load and less exhaustive than the Guardian offering. It's actually a "best of" the Daily Telegraph. I'm not really a Torygraph reader, but I don't mind seeing a different view of the news.

Star Walk is a brilliant app which allows you to browse the night sky. You hold the ipad up towards the sky and its in-built GPS shows you the stars and constellations in that direction. Good fun.

I've also begun using the calendar and contacts applications and enjoy browsing ther app store on a fairly regular basis.

I'm not a huge games person, but I have had fun with Osmos, Angry Birds and RealGolf  2011.

In the summer I did use the ibooks app for some reading, but this has not become a habit. Online books could do with being cheaper.

Other uses for me have included the Youtube app and the excellent Google Earth app.

All in all, I'm delighted with the ipad. The battery lasts about 10 hours and takes a few hours to charge overnight. The keyboard is a doddle to use too. I have not used it as a work tool and cannot envisage doing so, though I am sure plenty of people on the move would do so with Apple's software. Nor have I used its itunes capability, mainly because my album library would take up too much space on this 16 gig version. No camera either, so Skypers would be frustrated. It is occasionally frustrating that the machine does not allow you to view Flash videos, but some sites are already offering alternatives for ipad users.


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What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’( The point i…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…