One Student’s Voice

Theodora Papapanagiotouby Theodora Papapanagiotou

A few months ago, when and I saw that there was going to be a “Student Voices Issue” for the iTDi blog, I knew just whom I wanted to help me contribute to the issue.

theodora260415-1I have known Helen since kindergarten. Now she is almost 15. We have grown together, year by year, influencing each other. Helen is a huge Harry Potter fan and she has read every Potter book there is, some in Greek and some in English. The impressive thing was that although her level back when she started them in English was not so high, she insisted on reading the book with a dictionary next to her. It took her a lot of time to finish, but she showed real determination to succeed and even gave me motivation to go on as a teacher. She is a very bright young lady, hard working, strict with herself, but also very sensitive. I imagine her in the future as a doctor or perhaps a very knowledgeable scientist like her favourite character from Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper, who is both a genius, and a funny person in his own way. I find myself wondering sometimes if she is actually the teacher and I am the student. I hope you enjoy what she has to say.

An Ideal Teacher

theodora260415-2Throughout my years as a student I have come across many types of teachers but only a few have fulfilled my expectations. Some were very meticulous while others did perfunctory work. There was also a special category that possessed ”magic powers” like a spell that made everyone sleepy and a special potion, which made a subject indescribably strenuous. So all these thoughts made me wonder, what makes an adequate teacher?

 To start with, the fundamental role of teachers is to zealously hammer interest for the subject and not vigorously prepare students for exams and certain types of exercises. And even if they are obliged to do so, they should avoid the obsolete and conventional teaching methods to curb intellectual stagnation and blandness. The use of digital means in class can trigger the interest of pupils citing from burnout in a vast spectrum. Because of students intimate relation with computers, they memorize information more easily even when you bombard them with an abundance of details.

As for the student-teacher relation and the teacher’s behaviour in class, things here become a bit more complicated. Teachers should be adept, noble and in general role models for their class. Being demanding, frigid and strict isn’t going to help create an assertive and respectable teaching figure. Instead, teachers should shape more profound relations with every student and should not be afraid to deviate from the regular subject. It is also intrinsic to be armed with gruelling endurance and patience because judging the weaknesses of pupils isn’t a characteristic of a seasoned and considerate teacher.

Overall, I believe that the teachers’ goal shouldn’t only be transmitting knowledge but motivating students to search for it on their own. I realize it sounds a bit cliché but only in this way will teaching be a gratifying process for both teachers and students. My advice for all the teachers out there is: be witty and creative, don’t be afraid of exposure and your class will undoubtedly love you!

 Helen Gkoura


Now that you have read her article, I hope you realise why I feel she is so special. Her incredible use of expressions and vocabulary in general amazes me every single time I read her work.

Deep inside she is a “normal” teenage girl with all the worries and curiosity of her age. As I mentioned before, she is really strict with herself and even if she knows that she is one of the best students at her school, she always strives to exceed herself. This makes me admire her even more for her wits, her courage to express herself, and her willingness to share her opinions.

Being able to teach and learn from a student like Helen, is like being part of the future in the here and now. Reading Helen’s message to teachers I see that students don’t only care about their own learning. Our students care about us, their teachers, as well. Listening to what our students say creates a chance to keep walking into that future with them together.


Movement, Rhyme and Rhythm in ELT – Theodora

The Body Learns
Theodora Papapanagiotou

Theodora Papapanagiotou

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”  Confucius

When you read a title like this, you might wonder: can the body actually learn a foreign language?   You know that when we learn something, we use our brains, but what about our body? Is it possible?

You can’t possibly imagine how many different kinds of people there are around us! Some enjoy learning by exposing themselves to music, some prefer to categorize the things they learn, some are just a natural talent in acquiring language, and others, like me, are totally kinaesthetic.

What does kinesthetic mean? This is actually a Greek compound word, which derives from “κίνηση” (movement) and “αίσθηση” (sensation, feeling).  As kinesthetic learners, we have to actually feel the word and we can’t restrain ourselves on a chair or behind a desk during the whole lesson. We lose interest, we get bored, and eventually we stop paying attention. Using movement in our classrooms cannot only benefit kinesthetic learners, but the other types of learners as well.

First of all, it is fun to do different things than to do grammar and vocabulary exercises all the time.  Students remember the fun they had and in this way they do get to remember what they have learnt better.

When we are happy, our brain releases the so-called happy chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin. As a result, when we learn with pleasure, our body seeks to create these chemicals. This is definitely a win-win situation for both the teacher and the students.

What can you do to bring movement in your classroom? You can do a lot of simple as well as complicated things, depending on the students, the space and the time available.


You can use TPR (Total Physical response).

Play pantomime to consolidate vocabulary:  You have a bag with word-cards. It can be anything, animals, professions, adjectives, a combination of adjectives and nouns, verbs.

Have them create a story, using movement, describing things in

detail using their hands and going around the room!

Use running dictation. Instead of the boring dictation of words or a text, stick a sheet of paper on the classroom door, or even outside and have a competition  – which team is going to finish first the text correctly.

Hide objects and give hints to the students, so they can find them or make a treasure map.

Use a ball to make the students speak. The student who has the ball has to talk for a specific time, let’s say 30 sec or a minute about a subject. Or you can use it as an ice –breaker / introduction in the beginning of the school year.


Use Can Use Music

Use songs to practice vocabulary or act out stories based on the song.

Use songs to teach adjectives. I use the song Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and have my students mine the meaning of the adjectives.

Have students choose a song and have them create a whole performance based on it – playing a little sketch, dancing, drawing, or even combining all these together. This would be a great show for an end-of-the-year event!


You can use Yoga

Give simple Yoga instructions to students while demonstrating the exercise so that students can learn movement verbs and body parts.

Use Yoga breathing techniques to calm your students down at the beginning of your lesson, especially if you work with young children.

What can you do to bring movement in your classroom?  Whatever you do, do it, and have fun yourself first. The fun you have will be contagious.


Join Theodora and more than 30 other iTDi presenters for the iTDi Summer School MOOC live from July 20th to August 17th 2014.


Connect with authors, iTDi Associates, Mentors, and Faculty by joining iTDi Community. Sign Up For A Free iTDi Account to create your profile and get immediate access to our social forums and trial lessons from our English For Teachers and Teacher Development courses.

Like what we do? Become an iTDi Patron.
Your support makes a difference.