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Student: “Teacher, are you sure?”

This is the question that sends shivers down our spines as teachers and makes us glance back at the board we had written on with sheer panic. 

Did we explain a piece of grammar or vocabulary incorrectly? 

I have heard this question over the years and it has always resulted in a playful chuckle in the classroom among the students and myself. Recently, I have come to the conclusion that this question always comes from a good place and is not meant to be taken in a malicious way or to challenge the teacher. The student has a perception of an item of grammar or vocab they have acquired elsewhere and a genuine curiosity, and it’s up to me to shed a bit more light on this item of language. I never say that they are wrong. I actively listen to what they have to say, then add my two cents. This type of exchange has not always gone down well with my colleagues, though.

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Posted in Reflection

From language teacher to language student – 10 things I learnt being a student on a language course

After coming off a 4-week online German course with the German Language School (GLS) in Berlin, it gave me a unique perspective on what life is like for a language learner. Here are ten things that I learnt and will remember going forward in my career as a teacher.

Speaking and listening practice is paramount

Completing tasks in the coursebook or online tasks from websites are really satisfying when you get it right. It’s a nice dopamine hit. But nothing compares to the level of satisfaction you get when you perform well during a speaking or listening task. The opportunities to practice and develop speaking and listening in the classroom is really important for learners, and sometimes they are criminally marginalised with grammar and vocabulary exercises taking up a lot of the time. A majority of the tasks prescribed in your coursebook can be completed outside of the classroom in your own time, but the practice of speaking cannot realistically be done without a partner or group of the same level, and the immediate feedback you get from your teacher. When these tasks are set up in a safe and scaffolded manner it allows learners to throw caution to the wind in the construction of their sentences and meaning; something that isn’t always available outside the classroom when talking with native speakers who can often be impatient and unforgiving.

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Posted in Reflection

From language teacher to language student – Week 4 at GLS Berlin


We were introduced to our fourth teacher this week and she is lovely. I’ve been truly blessed with having four great teachers during this course. They are all very professional, approachable, patient and competent; the things I really need from a teacher as a language learner. 

We also had a new student enter the ranks so it’s nice having someone to bounce ideas off. 

We did a lot of production today so I was absolutely knackered by the end of it. 

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From language teacher to language student – Week 2 at GLS Berlin

You can check out how I got on in my first week here.


For the first day of the week, we covered vocabulary for the topic of important buildings and institutions you would commonly find in a city. I feel the needle is slowly turning now in terms of how difficult the content is to comprehend, which is great as I am liking the challenge, even if it is early on a Monday morning (8 am, one hour difference between Berlin and Dublin). 

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Posted in Reflection

From language teacher to language student – WeeK 1 in GLS Berlin

I was placed into an advanced beginner class based on my following results from my placement test:

  • Speaking = A1
  • Listening = A1
  • Reading = A2
  • Writing = A2
  • Vocabulary = A2
  • Grammar = A2

I was quite happy being in this class as being in a pre-intermediate class, I believe, would have been difficult for me, and I couldn’t envisage myself getting much out of it. I wanted to hone my speaking and listening skills, so I was happy to do the basics from the ground up. 

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From language teacher to language learner (versuchen, Deutsch zu lernen)

I’ve always wanted to learn a language. 

And, it pains me to say to my students, with them often being gobsmacked, that I can only speak English. So, not wanting to be jealous of my students’ abilities any longer, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I had been studying on and off with Spanish for some time, but I wanted to delve into something fresh. Enter German, oder sollte ich sagen, Deutsch. 

I feel as if I have a good idea of what it takes to ‘acquire’ a language and that’s why I have decided to write this series of posts to see if my beliefs and research turn out that way. 

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that when it comes to me and learning languages, I am like a fish out of water. However, during the pandemic era and having all that free time during lockdown, I gave it a real go this time and I have managed to keep going. I guess the trick to diving into a new language and staying committed to it is to have a solid foundation of resources (when you get tired of one you have others to fall back on), routine, realistic and achievable goals, and strong motivations.

I made sure my resources aligned to some of my beliefs in language acquisition which are outlined below:

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