Christmas Freebies

It’s kind of almost nearly Christmas, so I’ve decided it’s ok to start celebrating!  Last week’s reward was more wintery, this week we’re gently easing in to Christmas! The zipped file with this week’s freebies can be found at the bottom of the page!

This week’s freebies are both for Manycam. If you don’t have Manycam already, you can download it for free here:

And if you want a bit of help getting started you can watch Kat’s awesome tutorial series here:

Christmas Border

Christmas Gift Reward

This one looks a little complicated at first, but the kids seem to pick it up super  quickly! To begin with you have six unopened presents. Students choose a present, you open it together and talk about the toy. Finally move the toy to see if there is a star or two behind! I have one box with two stars, three boxes with one star and two boxes without stars!

If you’d like to see how this reward works I made a video you can watch here:

Same as last week, I’ve zipped everything up into a folder. This week I’ve included the Manycam files and the original PNGs in case you’d like to resize anything. Hope you have a great week!


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Winter Freebies

Happy December!

I know it’s only the beginning of the month but I’m starting to feel quite festive so I’ve made a few seasonal resources. I hope you find some of them useful for your classroom too :).

For most of these you need Manycam, if you don’t have it yet, you can download it for free by clicking here! 

Winter DaDa Name Poster

I got a request for a seasonal name poster, so here it is! I hope you like it :). Click here for the PDF version.

Winter Manycam Border

I know this is nowhere near as cute as the borders Kat makes! But it’s a little something to tide us over until she comes out with her Xmas borders! When they’re published I’ll leave a link to them here too. Download the Manycam border and rewards in a zipped file at the end of this post.

Build a Snowman Manycam Reward

This has been a hit with my students so far! The reward includes a range of eyes, noses, mouths, hats and scarves for the students to choose from! I take a photo at the end and send it them through the homework feature.

Snow Fails Reward

I’ve found some snowy GIFs to share with students after each star. I let them choose the animal and show them the corresponding GIF!

I haven’t figured out how to attach individual Manycam files yet so I’ve zipped everything up into one handy folder for you!

CLICK HERE to download all the Winter Freebies

If there’s anything else you’d like making for Winter/Xmas, let me know and I’ll see what I can do :)!

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Manycam Reward – Dinosaurs

I love doing extra rewards with my younger learners! I don’t use them every lesson but they can be a great way to break things up and play to the student’s interests!

I’ve found that most of my students LOVE dinosaurs, the scarier the better! I tried this reward with cute little cartoon dinosaurs but that just wasn’t cutting it, even my five year old girls much prefer this realistic version  and love roaring as load as they can.

I usually reward a dinosaur per star and let the student choose which dinosaur they’d like. We spend some time talking about where it should go, what it looks like, what it can do and what it eats. At the end we usually make a story with the dinosaurs which pretty much always involves the T-rex chomping on everything in sight and letting out a big burp!

Do you guys use rewards in class? Do your students have a favourite?

Click here to download the zipped folder with Manycam and PNG files: Dinosaur reward


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5 Activities for Higher Level Students

Here are five fun activities to try with students who are maybe too old/advanced for flashcard games! If you’d like to check out some flashcard activities for lower levels check out my blog post here: Top 5 Flashcard Games

Role Play

Pretty much every time I ask ‘What did you do today?’ I get the same answers ‘school, extra classes, homework’. I know I was getting bored of it, so I’m pretty sure my students were too! Now before I ask ‘what did you do today?’, I sometimes ask ‘Who are you today?’ and we continue the next few minutes of conversation as if they were that person. Queenie might have been to school and had lots of homework but Harry Potter drank butterbeer, played with Hagrid’s fantastic beasts and learned how to fly! So far some of my favourite characters they’ve chosen are Stephen Hawking, an emperor’s wife,  an astronaut and a storm chaser!

Adverb Acting

This one had my shyest 11 year old girl rolling on the floor laughing this week! It’s a super simple way to practise adverbs. I have 10 cards with verbs written on them e.g. dance, sing, eat, swim, run etc and 10 cards with adverbs like loudly, quietly, quickly, slowly, carefully, angrily and so on! You don’t need cards though, you could just write two lists on the screen! We take it in turns to choose two at random and act them out for the other to guess. I think dancing angrily was my favourite!

Word Train

This one is super simple and prep free! You give the student a starting word  such as train. The student has to think of a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word. For example:

TraiN – NighT – ToE – EggS – SnakE- EmU… You get the idea.

I usually set a time limit to see how many words we can get in 2 minutes. Then the challenge really begins! We take it in turns to make sentences using as many words from our game as possible. One point for each word used.

“The snake steals the emu’s eggs on the train at night”.  5 points!

20 Questions

This one is a classic. Choose a category – animals, places, jobs, famous people, things, whatever you like really! One person chooses a word but keeps it secret! The other asks yes/no questions to guess the word.I always ask the questions first to model some good ones and write down the question stems to help them remember when it’s their turn. It’s a great time to practise short answers too.

One Word Stories

This is one of my favourites! Sometimes before we start we choose a couple of characters and a setting, other times we just go straight in. It’s pretty simple, we tell a story, however we can each only say one word at a time. This is great to practise sentence structure and extending sentences. My favourite story so far is about a bodybuilding rabbit who went to a supermarket to buy a carrot and got eaten by a tiger. If one word is too tricky for your student you could take it in turns to do sentences!

BONUS: Sharing Recipes

This is a bit of an odd one but it worked so well I’m going to try it with my other students too! We were learning the word ‘simple’ the other day and I asked Becky to share a simple food she can make. She runs into the kitchen, proudly shows me a bowl of egg and tomatoes she’s made and proceeds to give me a detailed ingredient list and recipe. I had the ingredients in the house and said I’d make it for dinner that evening. She was SO happy today when I showed her and told me about more recipes she’d thought of me. Next up: egg soup!

This is a great way to practise imperatives, cooking verbs and giving instructions. Plus I don’t have to think about what to have for dinner :p.

What are your favourite activities to do with higher level students? Do you have any other ideas? Do you do any of these activities? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Culture Shock – Cultural differences when teaching online

Culture Shock (noun): the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

Going into online teaching, it never even crossed my mind that I’d experience any kind of culture shock. For one, I’d already spent a year in South Korea so I thought I had a good idea of East Asian culture and secondly, we don’t even have to leave our homes. How can we experience any kind of culture shock when we don’t have to leave the country? While it’s definitely not as extreme as moving to a completely unfamiliar country there are still some cultural differences I wish I’d known about!

Potty Club

The coveted club of the online teaching world. The first time your student takes you on a journey to their bathroom, pulls down their trousers and proceeds to do their business, all while continuing their conversation with you, can be quite shocking! They aren’t trying to be rude or offend you though, it just isn’t a big deal over there. It doesn’t seem to be as popular anymore but some children still wear ‘split pants’. These are pants with a hole in the bum so kids can just squat and drop wherever they may be! (Google ‘China split plants’ if you don’t believe me!)

Naked Dads (and other family members)

The first time a granddad in nothing but his underpants strolled across the screen I was quite take aback, but it turns out it’s a pretty common occurrence! It is not unusual for homes in China to have no air conditioning or heating so when temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius (105 F) in summer and drop below freezing in winter, it shouldn’t really be surprising people want to strip off when they get home. Conversely, in winter you’ll probably see students wrapped up in their winter coats during lessons!


This was probably the hardest difference for me to deal with. To most of us in the West, the way some Chinese parents chose to discipline their children can be hard to handle. I’ll never forget the first time my sweet little seven year old got swiped around the back of the head for laughing too hard. I try to show parents and students that it’s ok to make mistakes and have fun in class. I find once parents realise this they step back a little bit, both in terms of discipline and feeding answers to their kids.

Lost in Translation

Communication can be tricky at times! There’s the obvious language barrier but also differences in the way things are said. Directness can often be mistaken for rudeness. A common example is, when contacting IT for help they’ll often respond with ‘What do you want?’ or ‘What is your problem?’ which could come across as pretty rude, but really they are just asking what you would like help with. I’ve found the key to successful communication with IT and CS is:

  • be polite – don’t be rude to them. Even if something has happened you don’t agree with, it’s very rarely that specific CS or IT persons fault, so please don’t take your problem out on them!
  • keep it simple – short, simple sentences are the way to go. The longer the sentence, the more likely it will translate poorly.
  • don’t jump to conclusions – if something seems rude or unhelpful at first, take a second to think about whether they might mean something else.
  • deal with one issue at a time – don’t send CS a long list of problems, go through one at a time, again keeping message short and sweet to avoid confusion.
  • if you’re really getting nowhere leave the conversation and try again with another staff member later.

Saving Face

In the most basic terms ‘saving face’ means to avoid being disgraced or humiliated. This goes some way to explain why you often hear parents whispering answers to their children, or helping them in tests they’re trying to save face. Saving face means it can often be difficult for people to admit their mistakes. Admitting to a mistake would involve ‘losing face’. It’s important to consider this when speaking to parents, students and DaDa employees. Correct student (and parent) mistakes carefully, speak politely to employees and avoid making direct accusations. The whole concept of ‘face’ is quite a tricky one for me and it’s definitely worthy of a post of its own, so if you want to know more I recommend checking out this article on Trip Savvy  

 Academic Pressure

These kids are worked HARD! My student told me a ‘joke’ the other day:

“Children in England get 2 pieces of homework a night, they go home and cry “I have so much homework today”. Children in Japan get 5 pieces of homework a night, they go home and complain “I have so much homework today”. Children in China get 10 pieces of homework a night, they go home and shout with joy “I have so little homework today”. “

The sad thing is this is so true! I ask my students about their day every lesson, and they always say how much homework and extra classes they have. Even their weekends are full with 3-4 extra curricular lessons a day. I ask ‘did you get to relax or read or watch TV today?’ and the answer is almost always no! So bear this in mind when your student comes to class sleepy or in a bad mood, or if they didn’t do the homework you set them. These kids are under so much pressure, and before you judge the parents, it’s worth giving this article a read. There is so much competition in the academic world and most parents just want to give their children a fighting chance to succeed!

The World is a Classroom

Your students will take you to all kinds of weird and wonderful places with them! If your student pops up in an unusual location, don’t panic, just do what you can. I’ve taught students in restaurants, at an amusement park, on a bus, in an underwear store, in a car, in a treehouse in Thailand, in shopping centres and my personal favourite, on the back of a motorcycle! Obviously you can’t teach the courseware in some of these scenarios, instead, use their surroundings and get them to talk about where they are, what they can see, who they’re with and what they’re doing! Sometimes these lessons can turn out the most fun!

Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear more about the cultural differences you’ve experienced while teaching online, or abroad! Leave a comment below 😀

Think you can handle these differences and want to start teaching? I’m happy to help you through the process! If you use my link (it’s free) I can mentor you through the application process and in those first few weeks of teaching so you don’t have to go through the culture shock alone!


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Warmers and Fillers – Alphabet Activity

Here’s a quick activity I do with my low level students. I usually do this as a warmer or to introduce a new letter/sound in the courseware.

I tend to focus on letter sounds rather than letter names in our lessons as these are more useful when it comes to reading and pronunciation! However the alphabet song can be a good introduction as even the lowest level students are often familiar with it.

In this video I share an easy alphabet activity and how they sing the alphabet song in China!

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How to Pass your DaDa Demo!

The demo plays a crucial part in the application process. Not only does it determine whether you get the job, it also plays a part in the pay that you’ll be offered. So it’s worth taking a little time to prepare!

Key Info

  • The demo used to be 30 minutes long with a real student. Now it’s 10 minutes long with a recruiter acting as a young student.
  • You will have access to the demo material around 24 hours before your class.
  • With DaDa you don’t need to finish all the slides, go at the students pace.

What are DaDa looking for?

  • Use of TPR –  You can find out some of the top TPR poses here:
  • Use of props – Invest in a cheap puppet, steal some of your kids toys or grab some things from around the house!
  • People who look the part – If possible, make your background educational and appealing. Wear light blue if you have it and add the DaDa logo to your background for brownie points! You can find the logo and a name poster for free here: Click for DaDa Logo and Name Poster
  • Technical requirements – make sure you have strong, stable internet and that you can be seen and heard clearly. If you’re not sure, try out a Skype call with a friend (or me if you used my referral link).
  • Friendly teachers – don’t forget to smile, give lots of praise and award those stars!
  • Expand the lesson – ask extra questions, get the student involved, add songs and games that go with the lesson.

If you’d like more tips watch my video about the demo lesson.

If you’re not feeling too confident navigating your way around the classroom, this guided tour of the classroom should help!:

If you think you’re ready to take the plunge and apply for DaDa I’d love it if you used my link! It’s free for you and in return I can help you throughout the process! If you have any questions head over to my contact page and send me a message!


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My favourite apps and how to use them with Manycam

There are so many great apps for kids out there and they can be a really fun addition to the classroom. Unfortunately when you hold your phone up to the screen you don’t always get the clearest picture. I finally figured out how to link my iPhone to my computer and share through Manycam. I can’t wait to try this in the classroom!

If you’d like to see how to share apps through Manycam check out this video:

Now for my favourite apps!

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