Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Count Drawcula Episode 4

1:11 AM
Initial training as a teacher is all about the importance of managing the classroom. This is because most of the time, the classroom will be in utter and complete chaos and you will be frantically scrambling to remember grammar bits, remember to pair students, remember to limit your talking, remember to breath…But Count Drawcula has it all figured out.

The Sound Eater

Monday, April 9, 2018

Count Drawcula Episode 3

7:36 AM
Pairing students

As all teachers that see this know, pair work and hence pairing is considered something of a golden standard in the ELT world. As soon as you start training as a teacher you are told every which way just how important it is to have your students talk to each other. It is also important that you approach pairing like Usain Bolt does with the 100m dash. 2 nanoseconds my friends. That is...unless you are Count Drawcula. He has his own way...

The Sound Eater

Friday, April 6, 2018

Count Drawcula Episode 2

1:37 AM
The CELTA Experience

The Celta is a initial teaching qualification that has become a sort of standard if you are interested in starting teaching. ELT teaching that is. I learned about it while interning at the British Council when a lovely teacher working there that was an absolute inspiration for me suggested I would be a great candidate for a Celta course. While living in Bucharest, I wouldn't have been able to do it as at that time there were no such courses on offer. The search for Celta was what brought me to Italy and eventually made me stay. My experience with the Celta was both forming and somewhat surreal as I think it takes so much out of you. I think I got cabin fever by Day 3 and stubborn as I am put all of my energy into finishing it and getting the most I could from that experience. Most people I've spoken to, who are teachers now, most of them have had a similar experience.
Count Drawcula has decided to go through with his Celta training and if his millennial, out of this world self is having troubles getting through it, well, then there is hope for all of us.

The Sound Eater

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Introducing Count Drawcula

6:25 AM
Meet Count Drawcula!
And his minion Eegor!

I've been working on some ideas to use comics for teaching for a few months now and I decided I'd start drawing no matter how imprecise, unprofessional, newbie looking my comics will be. This has proved to be a great creative outlet for me and will hopefully become bigger and bigger!

Join us on instagram @thesoundeater
and follow the hashtag #drawculateachingadventures

The Sound Eater

Monday, January 15, 2018

How to Ace an Emergency Room Abroad

3:38 AM

Having found myself in the hospital this past Christmas holiday, while on vacation, with a impaired ability to focus, I realised just how scary it can be to be sick and literally unable to describe it.
I know all of my students travel either for leisure or business so I thought I'd put together a list of phrases you might need to ace an emergency room visit! So if you're a teacher you might want to take these to class and if you're a student you might want to print them off and stick them in with your socks!

I am a proficient user of language and yet I found myself strangely unable to communicate with my doctor, another proficient user of language with a different accent. I was mumbling and I could see that he was having a difficult time understanding me as well. This situation gave me an idea about a blogpost. Because albeit I didn't always understand what he said and he didn't understand me, we were able to communicate through our shared knowledge of hospital situations and phrases. We both knew what more or less to expect from each other.
But when you are a learner of language in a similar situation you do not have that advantage to help you through a tricky conversation. So here is a helpful list of phrases you might hear or want to say in an Emergency Room situation.

Doctor Phrases
Here are some things the doctor might say to you and what they mean:

Tell me what happened.
or Can you tell me what happened?
The doctor will ask you to report what caused the sickness to begin with. If you are incoherent (like I was) make sure you tell the people accompanying you to the hospital. Tell the first responders (the people on the ambulance). Tell a friend in a text, etc. Try to be as accurate as possible and put the actions in order staring around 24h before. You might say something like: "Well, yesterday morning/afternoon/evening I...., then ..... . This morning/afternoon/evening I felt...."

We'll need to run some tests 
They need to primarily test your blood, although sometimes they might ask for a urine sample. They might want to perform scans such as an ultrasound (used for seeing internal organs; often used for pregnant women to see the baby), X-rays (used for seeing the bones) or even a MRI (scan that passes through bone and takes pictures of soft tissue, such as tendons, blood vessels, and the brain) or CAT scan (the super detailed scans that show everything in your body using many x-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images of specific areas of a scanned object)

Do you have any allergies? or Do you have a history of allergies?
If you are allergic to something you might find in the hospital, always make it your business to tell the doctor, nurse, friend, taxi driver as soon as possible. You can respond to this question by saying “I’m allergic to…”

Does it hurt when I press here? or Do you feel any pressure when I press here?
If you have pain in your body, the doctor might press (apply pressure) on different places and ask you if you feel any pain at that particular point.

I'd like to keep you here (overnight) for observation.
This sounds scary, I know. But sometimes all the doctor might need is a couple of hours just to make sure you are OK. They might use a machine to monitor your vital signs – observe the rhythm of your heartbeat and breathing.

Your WBC count is looking low
The WBC count is the white blood cells count which has normal parameters when you're OK and are elevated when you have an infection.

Your lab results are not looking good
Some of the parameters for your blood test are not normal and hence the doctor might prescribe further tests.

Your results came back and they're fine.
Yay! Be happy. You get to go home with just a scare and a hefty bill.

I'm going to prescribe some antibiotics
You have an infection. The doctor will give you a prescription (official note with permission) that will allow you to buy antibiotics.

Patient Phrases
Here are some things that you might need to say:

I have a high fever
High for Celsius degrees is anything between 37,1° and 40° while for Fahrenheit it's 98.6° to 107°.

I have a rash
A rash is a red, irritated area on the surface of your skin. If it’s itchy, it means you feel an annoying sensation that makes you want to scratch it with your nails.

I have a terrible headache
I have a stomachache
To describe the pain you’re feeling, you can say “My (insert body part) hurts.” or "I have a terrible (insert body part)+ache"

I have been vomiting
Don't want to sound overly teacher here, but please avoid "I vomit" or "I vomited" as this doesn't give an accurate account of your state. using the perfect continuous makes much more sense. Yes. I have just insisted on correct tense while in the emergency room.

I feel nauseous
Nausea (pronounced /nɔːʒə/) is a major symptom that needs to be promptly reported to your doctor.

I feel a sharp pain when (insert reason) 
A sharp pain is a strong, sudden pain. The opposite is a dull pain – a feeling that is weaker and more continuous.

I can't feel my (insert body part)
Loosing feeling in a body part (being unable to physically feel it) is a serious condition that could mean nerve damage and needs to be promptly reported to your doctor and addressed.
Obviously you might need a combination of these when talking to your doctor. You might also be unable to report this to your doctor if you are feeling too sick. Make sure the people around you are constantly informed about your condition. This means that if you won't be able to talk for yourself, somebody will have the necessary info.
And don't forget to buy health insurance before going on vacation. It will save you a lot of money and grief.

The Sound Eater

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Stories - a Connoisseur Selection for the occasional Christmas storyteller

8:14 AM
Every time I find myself randomly suggesting to people that they read more Christmas stories/storybooks to their kids or if they've ever read <insert one of the 1001 Christmas stories/storybooks I know>, I get blank stares. Now that might be because I am a Christmas Freak with a Family Feud winner sized Christmas knowledge. Or simply because with Christmas being as short as it is (yes I know nowadays the whole world dives into Christmas frenzy as soon as Halloween is over, but that's mainly for shopping), most Christmas stories and storybooks don't get told or bought because we have classics that usually take front stage.

Cue The Sound Eater. I'm here to the rescue! I've put together a careful selection of slightly more obscure Christmas books that will spice up your teaching this festive season.
Here is a full list of Christmas storybooks to explore with your kids and adults. Just in time for the last week of school!

1. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Raymond Briggs created the perfect Christmas story without even writing a word. It's winter, there's lost of snow and snowman  comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. It is narrated entirely through pictures and allows the storyteller to adapt the text, involve the listener and create some Christmas magic.

2. How to Catch and Elf by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

With delightful rhymes and a self-explanatory title, How to Catch an Elf is a rhyming pleasure to use. It's full of jokes and has great illustrations. Great to use with kids and adults alike, this book will allow you bring some particular holiday cheer to class.

3. Dream Snow by Eric Carle

We all know Eric Carle is the undefeated champion of any Kids Books/Simple yet Incredible Kids Materials Competition.
It's December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter's nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow! In his dream he imagines a snowstorm covering him and his animals—named One, Two, Three, Four and Five—in a snowy blanket. But when the farmer wakes up, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something! Putting on his red suit, he goes outside and places gifts under the tree for his animals, bringing holiday cheer to all.
I mean, can it get more Eric Carle than this?
Yes, because the book has flaps that have hidden pictures. EEK!

4. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh (illustrations J.otto Seibold)

Olive will make your heart melt because she doesn't just realise she is a Reindeer (yes, out of the blue), but she also travels to the North Pole via the polar express and manages to convince Santa and the other reindeer (who are a bit surprised in the beginning) that a dog should definitely join their team. In the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need. Adorable Olive and her hilarious adventures are sure to make anyone's Christmas merry, kids and adults alike.

5. The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy (illustrations Emily Sutton)

Probably the best illustrated Christmas story I've ever seen, this storybook is definitely going to impress your older kids and adults. The story is simple,  an ugly little fir tree is taken to the city, no one wants to buy him; they prefer the big tall trees. But a homeless boy asks the shopkeeper if he can take the tree, and down by the river in a cardboard box, decorated with a few candles, the tree finds itself at the centre of a magical Christmas Eve it will never forget. A Christmas tale with a classic feel but a modern theme at its heart. You need go to amazon and order it asap. And try not to cry the first time you read it.

6. Paddington and the Christmas surprise by Michael Bond (illustrations R. W. Alley)

Do you know Paddington? If you don't and you teach, you need to google him asap and get schooled on the great bear that is Paddington (he hails from Peru mind you) and his marvellous adventures.
This story is funny and festive, with the Browns taking Paddington to the Christmas grotto at the local department store, where their journey through the Winter Wonderland is full of unexpected surprises. But the best surprise is a present from Santa. After all, who else would find the perfect present for a bear like Paddington?
Great for little kids and for avid storyteller who want to start a tradition. Paddington is a series of books that you can use for the whole year.

7. Winnie-the-Pooh: Pooh's Christmas Adventure (illustrations Andrew Grey)


It's not a Storybook selection without my favourite little English bear. It’s a very snowy day in the Hundred Acre Wood, and Pooh Bear realises that some of the other animals might be snowed in to their houses. With the help of Piglet, he determines to help all of the other animals clear the snow away – and then it’s time for a Little Something! After all that, there’s just enough time for Christopher Robin to show them all how to make a snowman.

8. Tales from Christmas Wood by Suzy Senior (illustrations James Newman Gray)  

I discovered this book in a quiet bilingual library on a quiet scenic street in midtown Bucharest a few years back and I've secretly loved it ever since.
Christmas wood is full of animals: Badger, Fidgety Fox, Owl (not Wise Old Owl, just Owl), the Rabbit family, Tiny Mouse, and Robin. It's nearly Christmas and all the animals are getting ready to celebrate - Badger is looking for new friends, Tiny is making (or is that eating) gingerbread, and Rosie Rabbit just can't get ANY peace and quiet!
Tales from Christmas Wood is a lovely collection of five short stories, recounting the adventures of Badger, Owl, Fidgety Fox, Tiny Mouse, Robin and the Rabbit Family.
This is a lovely collection to read to children before Christmas as the stories deal with values such as friendship, honesty, kindness, self-control, self-worth, co-operation, taking responsibility and togetherness, as well as talking about the original Christmas story with a traditional Nativity scene. My children love these tales and particularly love looking at the beautiful illustrations, pointing out what they can see in each scene. I think this one will become a firm family favourite, perfect for sharing together on cold, winter nights!

9. The Christmas Bear by Ian Whybrow (illustrations Axel Scheffler)

Here's forgetful Father Christmas on his way to deliver the presents, when poor Bear realises he's left behind. Christmas adventure full of smart rhymes and silliness a-plenty, illustrations by none other than Axel Scheffler (remember the  The Gruffalo?) and lots of flaps to lift on every page, so children can join in the fun!

10. A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates (illustrations Sebastia Sera)

What can I say, I'm a sucker for pirates. And nothing makes me happy than to combine two things I like such as Christmas and pirates and get it in a book. Your kids will enjoy this Christmas story with a with a sly buccaneer twist and it will keep them guessing about the gifts from day one, when low and behold, you get a parrot in a palm tree. Styled on the eponymous song, A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas can be sung or told as story, used from pron or as a starting point for the creation of your own Twelve Days of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Storytelling tips for the occasional Christmas storyteller

1:28 AM

There are few times in a year when breaking out the books and doing some storytelling with your students feels like the most appropriate thing to do. But Christmas is definitely one of them. I was one of those lucky kids who got to be told countless stories using countless voices and some pretty nifty face mimics by various family member starting with my mom.

I need to clarify that my native Romania might well be the place that storytelling got invented or was born. If you've ever met a Romanian, you'll know what I mean since he or she has told you at least one fantabulous story complete with mimics, body movement, several voices and at least 3 jokes. That's what I love about my genetic pool.

I'm a storyteller. It must have rubbed off my family. I enjoy telling and listening to stories and I've brought that into my classes more times than I remember. I do the voices, I do the face mimics, I run around the class, I go on chairs and I have cool sound effect, literally at my fingertips (thank you Keynote).

Here are some tips and tricks of the trade. The storytelling trade that is.

1. Start small. Plan for a short session where you will introduce the students to the story. This will give the opportunity to create a bit of anticipation, give students a chance to practice their predicting skills and introduce any illustrations.

2. Depending on where you're storytelling and who your audience is, have them sit around you. On the floor is better cause it puts you above them and hence it's easier to hold their attention. Of course, if you're doing it with adults (and I have), mind the knees. Us, adults, have crazy knees that tend to ache.

3. Make sure everyone can see you and the illustrations and can hear you clearly. Cue Keynote. Or PPT. Or any other presenting app, device or program. Just make sure everyone can see.

4. Read slowly and clearly. Not too slow to bore them but slow enough to allow the students to see the illustrations, see the connection between them and the text, get the emphasis in your tone. This will also allow your students (especially the tiny people) to think, ask questions, make comments.

5. If no one does, make comments about the illustrations and point to them to focus your students attention on them. Also encourage your students to dive in the storytelling through those comments.

6. Assigns students chunks from the story that they can repeat while you tell the story. If that's too difficult, give them an emotion. An "Aww!" or and "Ooh". It will make them part of the story. I remember I used to be in charge of providing the Oohs and Awws when I was a kid and I loved it!

7. Do I need to say this? Use gestures, mime and facial expressions to help convey the meaning of feelings and actions. Run, jump, duck, yell, stretch, fly and all other actions one might find necessary to show your students what's happening in the book. So yes, take your self-confessed dignity and throw it out the window if you will be doing storytelling. You can get it back later.

Pause for dramatic effect. Pause in order to allow what you have just said to sink in.

9. Do voices as much as possible. I know it's not easy and you feel silly but it will give your story a whole new feeling.

10. The same goes for sound effects. If sound effect are not your thing. Go to or (great background noises that are meant to improve productivity and help you relax) or finally go to (if you're feeling splurgy since everything needs to be paid for, but hey, you could recycle the story over and over and cut your costs and the quality of their audio is ah-mazing).

11. My last tip is quite simple. Choose a book you like. You need to feel involved and enjoy yourself or else it will show and nobody likes to feel like having fun should be a job.

Come back on Thursday for my top 5 Christmas books to use in the classroom!

The Sound Eater