About

I’ve been a teacher trainer, teacher trainer trainer, senior teacher, assistant director of studies, head of self-access centre, social programme organiser, full-time ELT writer, full-time ELT editor and DoS in Turkey, Thailand, UK, Spain, Greece, Italy, Japan and Korea. I’ve now settled down in Japan and decided I just prefer being a plain old English teacher, so this blog was set up in 2007 to help motivate and entertain myself through that new steady life. If I can also help other people, that’s nice too.

As well as blog entries about everything TEFL, there are worksheets on all kinds of topics and for various textbooks, plus links to my hundreds of articles on all things ELT elsewhere – see the drop-down menus at the top for all of these.

I also write a reasonably popular blog about Japan and three almost totally ignored ones on the same topic:

Japanexplained: http://japanexplained.wordpress.com/

Tips for Brits in Tokyo: http://tipsbritstokyo.wordpress.com/

Kanto with kids: http://kantowithkids.wordpress.com/

QuoteJapan: http://quotejapan.wordpress.com/

If you’ve no idea where to start on this blog, may I suggest the least pointless of my first 1000 posts?

47 Responses to About

  1. blue says:

    Hi Alex,
    I hope you dont mind me contacting you. I found an article about starting up your own TEFL course on usingenglish.com and was trying to find out how to contact you when I found your blog! I am working with a charity and we want to set up trips out to Africa to the schools we have been building out there. What I would like to do is to offer a TEFL qualification to the volunteers that come out to help teach in the schools, I have worked hard to get to where we are. I have looked into accreditation and have been writing my own TEFL course. I read your article and you mention organisations that offer a TEFL certificate and recruit trainees centrally on the internet. We are a very small charity and therefore the advertising and recruiting is the part we are most worried about. I was thinking maybe it would be best for us to tie with another larger organisation to begin with. Could you possibly let me know what organisations you are talking about. As I seem to be having difficulty finding them. Any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    Blue

  2. alexcase says:

    It doesn’t sound like that would actually match your needs very well:
    – Such organisations will have a TEFL course that you’d need to stick to
    – They would take a big chunk of money for each person taking the course, including ones you recruited
    – Everyone else they recruited would be in a rather different situation, so your demands wouldn’t really fit in with their websites
    – If you are recruiting volunteers already, why do you need further help from a TEFL organisation?
    – Why would they be worried about accreditation for a course specific for a volunteer placement?

  3. blue says:

    Hi Alex, thank you for replying. We have not completed writing the TEFL course or started recruiting – we are very much in the planning stages so it wouldn’t be to late for us to change tactics at the moment. We are having a meeting soon and I just wanted to pose it to them as an option – or at least look into before pressing on. What can you suggest? Thank you.

  4. alexcase says:

    I suppose these would be among your best options to start with:
    https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/leading-tefl-course/

    but none of them make it public how other people get involved, as far as I’m aware, so you’d have to approach them individually.

    Here’s the standards for a Cambridge CELTA:
    https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/becoming-celta-centre/

  5. Matthew says:

    Hi Alex,

    Just wanted to say thanks for your website. I’ve used some of your intermediate materials (tweaked a little for Saudi students) and they’ve worked really well. Thanks a lot for being so selfless and putting your stuff online for free.

    Regards

    Matthew (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

  6. I’ve heard of you and read your stuff for years – since I started ESL teaching.

    Just found out this is your blog. Anyway, good to see all your resources here. Looks like a crazy amount of good stuff is located here.

    I teach IELTS in Singapore so I’ll be going through some of your stuff related to IELTS.

    Thanks for the resources!

  7. alexcase says:

    Wow, that makes me feel both flattered and very very old!

  8. Hey Alex,

    Not sure how I can contact you so I’m going to write my question here. I’m just wondering if you know any “experts” in teaching ESL to Chinese people (from China). Either authors or bloggers or whatever. I’m especially interested in good books and syllabi that are fit for Chinese ESL learners. Especially if there’s any author that is fluent in both Mandarin and English and teaches to Chinese students.

    I’m embarking on a project to teach many Chinese students here in Singapore and thus would be very interested to connect to any experts out there. Do let me know if you know anyone or any resource you can refer me to. Thanks.

  9. alexcase says:

    Hi there

    No contacts in China at all, I’m afraid. I’ve got your email address now from your comment, so I’ll contact you if anyone comes along.

  10. AndyB says:

    Two comments on “Pronunciation Problems For Spanish-Speaking Learners”:

    You wrote: “a ‘z’ sound does not exist in Spanish”. But this sound is found whenever s is followed by a voiced consonant: mismo, jazmín, rasgo.

    The ‘zh’ sound in pleasure occurs frequently in Argentine Spanish, which learners might be familiar with from movies or television. It might be useful to contrast the Argentine proununciation of ‘yo’ (zho) with the non-Argentine (yo or jo, depending on region).

  11. Alex – WOW, over 1000 posts that’s dedication! I only just stumbled across this blog from a twitter post I found you on, but can’t wait to get reading!!

  12. Kris Esplin says:

    Hi Alex, thanks very much for all of the online resources you are putting out. I am wondering if you have any limitations for copyright? We would like to include some of your worksheets that we provide to trainers for their small group and private lessons. This would mean making copies and including them in the supplement package we provide along with a core textbook. Would this be okay to do – we would not be reselling your work, only including selected worksheets with credits give to your blog.

    Kind regards

    Kris

  13. alexcase says:

    Hi Kris

    For the stuff actually on this blog, my only two restrictions are people not charging for copies of my stuff and not passing off my work as their own, so what you are suggesting sounds fine. “Downloaded from https://tefltastic.wordpress.com” at the bottom of each page would be good if you could.

    It’s a bit more complicated for my stuff on Usingenglish.com but it might be possible for that too, please leave a message here for that and I’ll email you back.

    Thanks for checking, and if you have any feedback would love to get it.

    All the best

    Alex

  14. Kris says:

    Hi Alex, this is a great site. I just stumbled upon it. We have just released a series of video self-study exercises that we use for our IELTS students in Turkey. We would be happy to share it with your community, for use by teachers in their private classes. You can check out the library here: [EDITED]

  15. alexcase says:

    Hi Kris

    Your comment strolled across the line into spam so I edited out all the links, but please feel free to leave more relevant comments on actual blog posts with the usual link to your site from your name.

    Thanks

    Alex

  16. Kelly Raita says:

    Hello Alex,

    it was a lovely stroke of serendipity to discover your blog this morning. Thanks for sharing!!! I can hardly wait to try out the medical games and worksheets.

    Best wishes
    Kelly

  17. alexcase says:

    Hi Kelly

    Thanks for the nice comment. That’s what I hope for when I post the stuff! Please let us know how the lessons go.

  18. Carlo says:

    Does anyone have any experience as a franchise owner of a TEFL-course website? I am interested in an offer made by World TEFL Association to own a franchise. It costs $20,000. But they claim you will make $50,000 in the first year and you can run it from your home working only a few hours per day. They also offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t make $50,000 in the first year. Sounds a little too good to be true.
    PS I have read past comments from 2012 on World TEFL Association and see that at least one person received a good training from there in Thailand.

  19. alexcase says:

    Fascinating. How did you first get in touch with them and hear about this?

  20. Fred says:

    i’d be careful. Sounds too good to be true!!!

  21. Martinsmith says:

    Via Lingua is such a scam. On their website, they say that 80% of graduates are employed after receiving the TEFL degree in 1-30 days and that they offer lifetime support to graduates. This is so false. They put misleading stuff online to get you to sign up for a course. Don’t do it.

  22. alexcase says:

    Although it’s by no means the worst, ViaLingua does indeed indulge in TEFL course bollocks, or at least it did back when I worked for them – haven’t looked at their site recently. However, it is not an actual scam (that would be taking your money and not training you at all, which does happen from time to time in our industry) and both of the things you pointed out are probably true. For one thing, any native English speaking graduate could get a job in 30 days with no TEFL cert at all. Also, the fact that you have left three comments in two different names with two different genders with three different email addresses on three differerent posts, all of which are completely unrelated to your comments, makes it seem like you are not really here to give a fair review of the course.

  23. Massimo Lopreno says:

    Hello Alex, I’m an architect and i apreciate your work and your notes about how to teach english for architects. and i wonder if you have a book with all the posted notes you have in your webside. and i case if you can give me the information for bying it! thank you so much.Looking forward to hearing for you soo. Massimo Lopreno

  24. alexcase says:

    Fraid not, just the individual worksheets on this blog. Producing a book is a good idea though, will comment again here if I ever get round to it.

  25. Kelly Royle says:

    I would really love to do what you are doing in Japan.
    I am a ESOL teacher with a CELTA but I’m in the middle of a PGCE so I can teach in a college in future.
    I wish I had the guts to leave this country and follow my dreams, but I worry about my family.
    So for now I will teach ESOL in the U.K, but I may try and teach in Japan for a couple of months a year in future.

  26. alexcase says:

    Very difficult to support a family in Japan, especially without a local spouse and when you first arrive in the country. It’s just about possible in South Korea and easy enough in some Middle East countries, but with a PGCE you’d be much better off teaching your own subject in an international school (again not really likely in Japan but good in the Middle East etc)

  27. Paul Burke says:

    Hi Alex,
    Great blog, I’ve found it very informative since I stumbled across it a couple of years ago.
    I’m currently writing some BULATS training material for corporate use, and I have one very specific question about the BULATS writing test. In the Part 1 email/short note section, the stated word target is 50 – 60, though I understand you can go over that a little if necessary. One thing that I’m finding hard to understand, and doubly hard to find any information about online, is how to fit everything required into such a tight word limit. For example, you posted an example answer on englishclub.com (Sep 2011) as follows:


    Dear Sir or Madam

    I picked up a pamphlet on your new robot cleaner at a recent trade fair and would like to know more about this product.

    First of all, can you tell me about the cost? I would like to know how much I need to pay up front, and when I will be able to recoup my investment compared to a member of staff doing the job.

    My other main question was about after sales service. Most importantly, can you supply a temporary replacement while our robot is being fixed?

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Yours

    Alex Case, Head of Office Affairs

    (61 words)

    http://edition.englishclub.com/tefl-articles/bulats-writing-part-one/

    Now, I’m no maths genius, but I count 108 words in that example. Even removing the salutation and sign off leaves you with 89 words, well over the stated target. How did you arrive at a total of 61?

    Can you help to clear this up? I’m trying to write some samples myself and I can’t find any guidance on this from the BULATS powers-that-be.

    Thanks, looking forward to hearing from you.

    Paul

    PS This forum doesn’t seem the best place for this kind of question. I tried messaging you on the usingenglish forum but it didn’t work for some reason. Is there some other way to get these kinds of questions to you?

  28. alexcase says:

    Hi Paul

    Happy to deal with any such TEFLy questions here. Fraid I haven’t taught BULATS since about the time I wrote that article, so can’t remember what the rules are about word numbers. In the other Cambridge exams, they don’t read carefully after the word limit but there is no actual lost marks for going over it.

  29. Ian says:

    Hi Alex,
    I’d really appreciate it if you would remove the last two comments on this page:
    https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/free-tefl-course-speaks/#comment-37078

  30. alexcase says:

    I don’t see any need to remove them, but have added a link to the post about your course if people want to know more.

  31. Daryl says:

    Hi Alex, how can I get in touch with you via email? Could you drop me an email? thanks!

  32. alexcase says:

    A possible answer to the question last year about World TEFL Association franchises:
    http://www.eslcafe.com/discussion/dz1/index.cgi?read=1408960403

  33. Jerry says:

    Hi, Alex.

    I read your post on ideas on how to teach third conditional and I loved the one about using ‘choose your own adventure’ kind of books. You mentioned that some Headway teacher’s books have stories like that. I was wondering, could you tell me which Headway books you were referring to? I looked at some of the books I’ve got, and there wasn’t anything. I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

    Jerry.

  34. alexcase says:

    Hi Jerry

    It’s been a while since I taught with them and have hardly touched the newest editions, but I definitely remember them in the first two editions of Int and Upper Int. They should be quite easy to find flicking through the teachers’ books, as they are the only activities that take up 6 or so pages each…

    There are also these EFL storybooks which take a similar approach: http://www.atama-ii.com/

    Hope that helps. Please let us know how your quest goes.

  35. Bryan says:

    Alex,

    Do you have any suggestions in deciding between Business Result or Market Leader? Any insight would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Bryan

  36. alexcase says:

    Hmmm, tricky one. Business Result tends to be slightly easier and better for functional language. Market Leader has longer and more authentic reading and listening so can provide better skills development (as long as you rewrite the actual tasks, which are rubbish – especially the listening ones). Some Market Leader topics can be irrelevant for some students (e.g. Marketing for finance students) and the units go on for a bit, but some Business Result units have vague topics that don’t actually tie the things in them together very well and so I find it difficult to do more than one page in a class and generally have to supplement BR more.

  37. Bryan says:

    So it’s a bit of a toss-up, eh? Thank you for your help!

  38. alexcase says:

    Personally, I’d generally go for Business Result, unless the students particularly need reading and listening, are high for their level, or have long classes (say two-hour blocks).

  39. Jerry says:

    Hi, Alex.

    Thank you for your prompt reply, and I’m sorry for not doing the same. I looked at the Atama-ii books that you suggested and bought one (only 3 dollars). I have to say, my students (two adults and two young adults) really liked it. I used my laptop to display the book on a TV, and we were all reading the story together. For each decision, we held a vote and went for the most popular.
    I could see that they were all really into it, and when it was time for the writing part of the activity, they were kind of bummed out.🙂

    Anyway, thank you so much for this idea. It was really creative and it turned out to be a hit.
    Jerry.

  40. Dear Alex,

    I wanted to thank you so very much for your amazing site and resources. I am just starting to teach English for Academic Purposes a month after graduating from Teacher’s College-needless to say I am really new at this! I am finding these resources really useful in planning my lessons and to help me with what the students need to know. I am so glad to have such comprehensive activities when I am just starting out and just wanted to let you know that I am really grateful that you chose to share your career’s work for others to benefit from.

    All the best,

    Lily

  41. Jenny Léger says:

    Hello Alex – enjoying discovering your work as I head into the world of more business-oriented teaching. Just one question – what listening resources do you use ? I am interested particularly in telephone English, so what model conversations do you use ? Where do you source ? Do you produce your own ? Many thanks, jenny

  42. alexcase says:

    To be honest, I probably don’t do enough listening. Almost all my classes have textbooks (usually Market Leader or Business Result) or similar books for a single language point like Telephoning in English, but I often just set the listening for homework if it doesn’t have any useful speaking around it. A student in one of my classes without a book recently said that it would be useful to have mp3 versions of my worksheets for revision purposes. He’s almost certainly right, and having another format would help students learn more, but I simply don’t have time…

  43. hp says:

    Thank you for the great resources and being so selfless!🙂

  44. Mirella Johansson says:

    This website is simply incredible! Thank you so much! You have a wonderful gift of creativity!

  45. Jalandita says:

    Hello Alex, I have been reading your blog post and other information you have on UE. I am a teacher with 14 years of experience. I was wondering if you could give me some guidance on how to become a TEFL provider. I want to open my own TEFL School. My best friend has a training school in the USA and she is willing to let me rent space from her. Can you give me some information on how to become a TEFL and CELTA provider?

  46. Emily Taylor says:

    Hello Alex,

    I’m wondering if you can help – I’m starting work as a teacher trainer but I’m unsure about the rate of pay. It’s for a TEFL course in Spain (not CELTA) and I’ll be working full time, Monday-Friday regular office hours. I’ll be responsible for delivering input sessions, helping with lesson prep, observing teaching practice and giving feedback. What would be a decent, take-home monthly salary for Spain?

    I got this job from being in the right place at the right time and I’ve scoured the internet looking for some sort of guidelines about how much a new teacher trainer should get paid but found nothing.

    I have an MA in Applied Linguistics, the DELTA and 8 years of experience. How much should I earn now and how much in a few year’s time? I’m in Spain so I know it’s relative to the country.

    Many thanks in advance.

  47. alexcase says:

    It was about 15 years ago and I was less experienced and qualified than you, but I’m afraid my own experience of being an ADoS and teacher trainer in Spain (similarly on a non-Trinity, non-CELTA course) was “barely enough to live on”

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