Professional Development in ELT through Daily Reflective Prompts

Learning is a never ending process. As teachers and educators, reflective practice about what we do in the classrooms, and why we do the things we do, is something that needs to be addressed more frequently and effectively.

This can be done in so many different ways. Specifically we do them in teacher training sessions after an observed lesson, but I am not aware this continues once we are out of the classroom as learners, going into a classroom as teachers.

You might think CPD occurs through a more informal medium like a friendly chat with a colleague, and you would be right, it does happen in rather informal settings. However, I am now starting to think this process which we often disregard and leave out the one easy chore we feel we can always get around to doing, should really come first and get our undivided and intentional attention.

Even with the busiest of schedules, I’ve decided to commit to a 30-Day challenge to be more intentional on reflective practices for English teachers and I’m starting TODAY, the 1st of May 2023, and taking you on this journey with me!

I’m sending out a reflection prompt to those who have opted in for the challenge through e-mail – the most direct way I’ve found to reach people – and to practice what I preach, I am also taking part in the challenge and wonder what some of my own take-aways might be.

Having said that, I have some nuggets hidden here and there to challenge and dispell common myths in English language teaching and learning, so some prompts will not be as effective for me as they might be for you discovering these prompts day after day.

If you’re already a subscriber you can update your profile preferences here so that you too may receive your daily prompt straight inside your inbox! Make sure I’m not in your spam folder please.

I also think that all this can be used as extra/bonus material for educational related content creators who are experiencing burnout and might want to fuel their ideas and creativity by recording their answers and sharing them with the world as part of the content creation strategy. Kill two birds with one stone, as they say… or the more compassionate replacemente I just discovered writing this cross two hurdles with one leap.

I will choose one of the 7 prompts and write or record my own reflections every Friday, so stay tuned for that also. Let’s not be afraid to share and support reflective practices and those who generously create them for us.


Why using Phrasal Verbs makes you a less effective communicator

When we look at English teacher ads on social media there’s often a comparison between “Normal/Basic” English vs. “Native/Advanced” level, and what we see under the latter are idiomatic expression, colloquialism and phrasal verbs.

Just so we are clear, a phrasal verb is a type of verb that is made up of multiple words, typically a base verb and one or more particles (such as prepositions or adverbs).

These particles change the meaning of the base verb, giving the phrasal verb a unique meaning. For example: “She put off the meeting until next week”, the meaning of “put off” in this context is to delay or postpone the meeting.

Since phrasal verbs are typically learnt through exposure and practice, common ones are included as study material for foreign students with the explanation that Native Speakers use these expressions and so they must too. But how true is this?

It is estimated that approximately 365 million of the world’s population can be considered under the very vague definition of the term “native speaker”, however, there are around 1.5 billion speakers of English as a second language worldwide.

The importance of studying phrasal verbs would be to accomodate a minority by speaking “as they speak”, or learning expressions which they themselves might not know how to explain or paraphrase.

One might wonder why it is not the native speaker who needs to be more accomodating in the communication process given the innate proficiency level of English they hold, per definition (I will save that for another post).

Let’s say you have several thousand phrasal verbs under your belt and you find yourself in a multicultural, multinational room. Would you be saying things like:

  1. “To back out” – This phrasal verb means to withdraw from a commitment or agreement.
  2. “To bring up” – This phrasal verb can have multiple meanings, such as to raise a child or to mention a topic in conversation.
  3. “To call off” – This phrasal verb means to cancel or postpone something.
  4. “To stand up” – This phrasal verb has multiple meanings, one of which is to cancel an event or appointment – I was stood up

The answer is both yes and no because it really depends on your awareness level you have of those around you and what is the purpose of the communicative act.

  • Is it to boast about how well you can use these expressions?
  • Is it that you don’t know alternatives for the words you’re using?
  • Are you trying to fit in?
  • Are you trying to confuse or exclude someone from the conversation?

As a teacher I find myself using fewer and fewer phrasal verbs and I teach only the essential ones to learners. If I use them myself I try to provide as much context possible, I leave clues behind and paraphrase what I meant with another go.

I am often disappointed with misunderstandings that occur because of the use of phrasal verbs among international colleagues, and when I can, stealthily, I offer more context for them by saying more on the topic to clarify meaning (not directly offering a translation or teaching!)

Surely you must speak in a way that caters to the receiver of your message, and to do that you must grade your language, just as you would with a student who is struggling. It is a matter of respect towards others, native speaker or not.

Let’s not fill our conversations with inside jokes if all the participants are not made privy. We should know better.

Thursday, 20th April 2023, 6pm CET

Topic: How are our students affected by native Speakerism?

Guest: Kayla McKesey, also known as Teacher Kay Kayla McKesey (she/her), is a Toronto-based educator who began her English teaching career in Sao Paulo, Brazil where she founded Diaspora English Learning – a platform seeks to share the diverse cultures and ethnicities found across the English-speaking world while helping students transform into confident and powerful speakers.


Let’s not make English about British culture

Recently someone suggested that I teach countable and uncountable nouns to children in the primary using British Pounds, in Italy. The lesson would have included a little “market” where children would role play and ask “how much is it?” and then reply “£1.50 please”. You get the idea.

The conversation started something like this: “do you have any pounds at home?”

I liked the idea of bringing more context into the lesson, but I genuinely wondered how children would benefit from the introduction of the a currency that was new to them, the British pound sterling, instead of using one they were more familiar with, the euro.

“Why would you use pounds and not euro?”, I asked my colleague. “Well, they ARE studying English, so it’s good that they learn more about British culture along with it”.

I shook my head thinking, THIS is the face of native speakerism and how educators are unaware of their own detrimental attitude towards non-native English speaking teachers. THIS is a pure example of how NNEST are not given any grace, because their origins and feelings have no place in the English classrooms. For how fitting is it for ME to teach a culture of a country whose spare change I don’t possess to bring to school and speak of… the only foreign land learners can one day visit to practise their English(?)*sarcasm

“Should I bring Armenian Dram, then?” I asked, smiling, “or am I to be excluded from such lesson since this is not MY culture we are talking about?”

Why should I feel belittled for not being a part of GB, or as an English teacher, merely for not wanting to make the lesson about British culture, when I honestly don’t see the point of making it about British culture in the first place.

You see, I wouldn’t worry about teaching currency to kids at that age, and get their little heads wondering about conversions instead of giving them opportunities to use the language. They are just about adding and subtracting whole numbers, learning decimals and place value. Why would anyone want to confuse them even more, with the sole justification of this being part of cultural studies, when all one should say is “your English books show the £ sign but feel free to think of these as the € sign, since it’s what you normally use every day and you don’t live in GB”. Nobody in the class has signed up for learning currencies or Britsh culture, yet all need to speak the language and practice their English skills.

I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t said exactly what I wrote here to my colleague. She didn’t object, instead she reflected.

Let’s not make English about British culture. Let’s pull ourselves out of such boxes. Let’s be more inclusive of our non native staff and never suggest things that can simply be avoided or made more friendly to students and teachers who are not from Great Britain.

I believe all cultures are equally important, but how can learners benefit from that if we are only feeding them with one, supreme culture, as if it were the only one available to master the English language?

I will not stand by and feel inadequate. Nobody owns the language I teach so I will not succumb to the ever-growing tendency of making English about British culture, waving union jacks and speaking of the royals and their corgis and double-decker buses and red phone booths, and tea-time at 5 o’clock, because that is NOT what English is to me, and I bet it’s not what it is for my students.


Hi there!

You might know me from the Instagram page called the_non_native_speaker, where I share my thoughts on the topic of Native Speakerism.

My name is Meri, and I hold a Master’s degree in Language and Cultural Studies from the University of Modena and Reggio, Italy. I also hold a Cambridge CELTA and a Global DELTA Cambridge Diploma from CLIC International House in Seville, Spain.

I am deeply passionate about advocating for equal opportunities in English Language Teaching (ELT), specifically for non-native English speaking teachers.

I used to work as a language teacher and consultant for various renowned companies such as Parmalat, Adecco, 3M, FERCAM, N1 Logistics, and Barilla through private English schools in Emilia Romagna, while currently I work full-time at an International School as an L2 English teacher.

Originally from Yerevan, Armenia, I have lived in several places such as Moscow, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, San Diego, Lecce (South Italy), and Parma (Northern Italy).

I enjoy attending and speaking at ELT conferences and workshops, reading books, and performing live. I have presented at ELT Ireland, EAQUALS and IATEFL in 2022 on the topic of Native Speakerism.

My mission is to dismantle prejudice and bias in education, specifically when it comes to NNESTs being denied work opportunities across the globe. Let’s join forces!

Thursday, 20th April 2023, 6pm CET

Topic: How are our students affected by native Speakerism?

Guest: Kayla McKesey, also known as Teacher Kay Kayla McKesey (she/her), is a Toronto-based educator who began her English teaching career in Sao Paulo, Brazil where she founded Diaspora English Learning – a platform seeks to share the diverse cultures and ethnicities found across the English-speaking world while helping students transform into confident and powerful speakers.

Teacher Talk Uncategorized



There is nothing instant, fun or simple about studying a language for someone who needs to thrive on learning a new system of communication and whose job depends on it. We do not all have the same needs and wants. So before being enthusiastic and eager to teach, be more empathetic and understanding of who is sitting in front of you and their own engagement level. Never assume it is easy for them, no matter how enthusiastic YOU are about their journey.


If you are using only English to teach your foreign class, never ask if students understood what they just read or listened to. Some may say yes, some might shake theirs heads or nod. In fact, their answer would not give you ANY proof whatsoever as to what really was or was not understood. Every activity that is considered INPUT of the target language (TL) should always come with a brief comprehension task which will then inform you if what mattered was, in fact, understood by them. How deeply you think they actually understood something comes into play as well. This means preparing input beforehand to guide your students towards what YOU, the teacher, knows to be valuable to that particular class, and posing the right questions to investigate how well something was indeed understood. 


Most teacher trainers advise us not to use the NO word as often, as it is discouraging to some students as well as repetitive, negative, counterproductive, and so on.

Some suggestions you could adopt might be:

  • “Could you say that again?” – with dubious face expression (this allows time to self-correct);
  • “Have another go” – you could also give a second chance by ignoring the wrong answer and giving another hint or two, or three;
  • “Very close, actually it is better to say …”


First of all who is WE? The nation your are from? The town you now live in? The board panel you summon every weekend to decide on everything English related? I get it, it makes everything you say next sound more authoritative and official, it adds more credit to what is coming next. I personally feel that even non-native english speaking teachers do this too, because WE have the impostor syndrome rooted within ourselves, but we must absolutely refrain from this habit. Why? Because unless you are teaching a particular culture or specific RP, it is irrelevant what or how YOU (the plural you) say anything. English needs to be seen a a global language and the sooner that happens, the better for teachers and learners alike.  #whodiedandmadeyouking



The world is full of English teachers who have the tendency to speak to full grown adults as if they were primary students. Just because you are an English teacher do not assume your students are beneath you in any way. Do not go into “school teacher – pupil” mode with any of your adult students. 

I do not care if you are teaching “MY NAME IS”, do it normally or stick to teaching children. Normally meaning: no flashcards, no bag of tricks, no “Simon says”. Do not be a goofball with your adult students, they are past that age!

Photo Credit: @Annalightpro


We have all seen those discriminatory ads, where most schools either promote their services by using mother tongue speakers as their ‘unique’ strategy for getting new clients, or search for teachers who are solely English speakers, rather than actual trained teachers. 

Let’s agree though that no matter the negative emotions we might still get from seeing the NNEST (Non-native English Speaking Teachers) category pushed around and bullied, we can still build our careers and have a competitive edge over our ‘native rivals’. 



In Italy, job interviews are conducted in Italian, as most recruiters prefer to speak in their L1. I would highly suggest you pretend English is the only language you speak. At the risk of making THEM feel uncomfortable, you really want to show off your skills the minute you step into that office, or receive that call. 


People often use stereotypes to identify others, especially if you are a foreigner, and most likely you do it too. So instead of acting like a victim and saying ‘this is not fair’, talk more about yourself and let people in. The more you speak about your background, your passion for teaching and experience in the field of education, the more you are likely to get a callback and set any preconceptions and misconceptions aside. 

Personally, when I speak Italian, recruiters compliment me. Regardless of the fact that I have been living in Italy for the past 20 years. I then quickly remind them I am not a ‘native speaker’ of Italian either, but I consider myself bilingual in the two languages that are NOT my actual ‘mother tongue’. In fact, I still do not read or write in my actual mother tongue (Armenian)…LABEL THAT! 


The fact that you are a NON native teacher, means you speak MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE, which means that you are either bilingual or you have studied a language successfully and had the experience of being a language learner yourself (or even both those things). What is the advantage here? As a Non native teacher you are more likely to understand the daily struggles students face when learning English as their L2. In fact, you might even say that you have become an expert at learning languages and believe you can help your students succeed, just like you have.

4. BUILD YOURSELF UP: TWO is better than ONE. 

Less is NOT more when it comes to skills and competences. Rather than feeling like an impostor, because the ‘system’ often make you feel unwanted, remind yourself that language is a means of communication and you have the power to reach more people, build relations and trust with those around you, but most importantly with yourself. YES, I SAID IT! Give yourself credit and others will follow.


You might feel insecure and fed up with having to prove your worth, but not everyone’s out to get you. There are plenty of recruiters and job ads looking for professionals like YOU. When called for an interview, never speak from a distorted perspective, they might not want to ask the same daft questions you have become accustomed to answer. 

Believe it or not, there are like-minded people who know exactly what your qualifications mean and how hard they are to get and, most importantly, they are willing to bond, interact and get to know you. Whatever you do, do not automatically assume they are critical of you. Don’t start off on the wrong foot. 

Photo Credit @Annalightpro