Friday, August 31, 2007

The seafront

The seafront, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Weekend in the city

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Bruised steel

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Waiting for change

Last night's protest

Last night about a thousand people, dressed in black, came to mourn the tragic events that have overtaken Greece over the last week. Without fancy speeches and the like they quietly protested the awful mishandling of the whole affair. The mood outside the White Tower in Thessaloniki was one of sadness and muted anger and the atmosphere reminded me more of a funeral than boisterous, carnival feel that accompanies most public gatherings.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Protests in Greece

People gathered throughout Greece to show their unhappiness with the government's handling of the forest fire crisis.

Protest rally

no title, originally uploaded by spirofoto.

If you are in Thessaloniki this evening and wish to express your anger at the way the forest fire crisis has been handled then come to the White Tower at 7pm. I'll see you there. If you are in Athens then head for Syntagma Square.

Στην Αθήνα το ραντεβού είναι στην πλατεία Συντάγματος. Στη Θεσσαλονίκη η συγκέντρωση θα πραγματοποιηθεί στο Λευκό Πύργο.

Ας είμαστε όλοι εκεί!

Γκούτσιου Αριστέα
Υπεύθυνη Επικοινωνίας

Φερών 5, 10434 Πλ. Βικτωρίας
Τηλ. & Φαξ: 210-8838914


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A life less seen.

A life less seen., originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

The future for many of those who survived the fires in Greece. Bleak doesn't even begin to describe their fate.

Thessaloniki Street Art

The United Colours of Teacher Dude

Monday, August 27, 2007

Enough is enough - ΦΤΑΝΕΙ ΠΙΑ

TODOS SOMOS GRIEGOS, originally uploaded by lisistrata94.

This is an appeal for citizen to gather in order to protest at 7pm, Wednesday August 29th, the terrible events that have overtaken Greece in the last few days.

In Athens - Syntagma Square

In other parts of Greece - Any central square or public meeting place.

Sweet Harmony - The Beloved

is it right or wrong
try to find a place
we can all belong?
be as one
try to get on by
if we unify?
we should really try...

all this time
spinning round and round
made the same mistakes
that we've always found
surely now
we could move along
make a better world?
no it can't be wrong

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

let's come together
right now
oh yeah

time is running out
let there be no doubt
we should sort things out
if we care
like we say we do
not just empty words
for a week or two

make the world
your priority
try to live your life
play a part
in a greater scheme
try to live the dream
on a wider scene

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

Karma police

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Tragedy slips into farce

I know many people, especially those whose with heightened environmental sensitivities who have turned off their TVs. They cannot bear to see the terrible images of destruction that are flooding the screens here in Greece. Their grief is such that they cannot take any more. For four days we have seen half the country burn while the authorities seem to be helpless to bring the situation under control.

Sadly, the predictions I made yesterday are becoming reality even more quickly than even I could have imagined. The fact that the national elections are almost upon seems to have degraded the level of political debate even further. People are dying, homes are being lost and huge swathes of Greece are still burning while Nikitis Kaklamanis, mayor of Athens, screams about an "asymmetrical threat" (ασυμμετρικη απειλη), a freshly coined term for terrorism.

In doing so he reminds me of the incredibly cynical spin attempt by the Spanish prime minister, Aznar, who rushed to put the blame for the Madrid train bombings on ETA in order to gain votes on the eve of the national elections. A trick that he paid for dearly at the polls when the truth came out. Hell, even I didn't buy into his explanation and I'm no expert on terrorism.

While the fires have certainly been started in part by arsonist, pyromaniacs and the like, the fact that the authorities have failed miserably to deal with them, be they the result of malicious action, indifference or plain stupidity is testament to the fact that the present government, as the previous ones before it, have not taken the problem of forest fires seriously.

To say that this disaster is the result of some organised terrorist action is a amoral attempt by the New Democracy government to deflect criticism about its role in this catastrophe. I really hope it bites them in the ass in the elections.

The united colours of Teacher Dude

I declare a state of independence.

Forest , sun and ocean.

Fun with Flickr Toys

Thanks to Flickr Toys for providing the software and Gabba Gabba Hey for the idea.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Playing office

"Heh, no photos we're negotiating a leveraged buy out here, Dad."

Just kidding. Actually, she was planning a hostile bid on an ailing multinational with extensive exposure in the emerging markets. At least that's what she told me.

I tell you, kids today have no respect. You turn your back for a second and they are asset stripping any corporation they can get their hands on.


Nasia, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Today is babysitting day.

Blood tax

GREECE FIRES, originally uploaded by UNIQUE2007.

As forest fires continue to rage across much of Greece, the death toll has reached 52, an unprecedented number for a country so used to dealing with this kind of natural disaster. While there have always been deaths associated with fires they were usually limited to members of the fire brigade or the occasional inhabitant of an isolated village.

Alas, this tragic loss of life is another example of the "blood tax" (φορος αιματος) that the state requires in order to do an adequate job of enforcing the laws already on the books. Coaches full of kids have to slam into trucks before the police decide to do regular checks on drivers. Planes have to fall out of the sky before the airports upgrade their equipment. In fact, unless people die and then only in large numbers and in a spectacular manner do the authorities decide that it might be time to do the job they are entrusted with.

What will see in the next is the ugly spectacle of the politicians gleefully making capital out of the tragedy and the conspiracy theorist coming up with ever more convoluted schemes "proving" that this was all a carefully calculated plan by ..... (choose the political party/country/religious/ethnic group you despise most).

For more updates in English click here, in Greek here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

At home

The latest heatwave refuses to abate. Even at 1am the temperature is still around 30c, making sleep next to impossible unless you have air conditioning, which I don't ("Global warming? Balderdash! Can't feel a thing."). On a more tragic note the latest round of forest fires in Southern Greece have claimed 37 lives so far. What most people don't appreciate about such fires is how quickly they can move. One minute you think you are at a safe distance and within a frighteningly short time the front has raced towards you.

I remember volunteering to help fight the the 1997 fire which eventually destroyed most of the Seix Sou forest that surrounded Thessaloniki and almost getting cut off by it as the wind suddenly changed direction. Literally, you have seconds to make decisions that could mean life or death. A truly scary memory.


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Friday, August 24, 2007

EFL/ESL teaching and web 2.0 - an introductory course

emile, originally uploaded by smallcaps.

As the new school year is nearly upon us I would like to repost something I did last year. Basically, it is an introductory course in the form of a Wiki for teachers wishing to use web 2.0 tools in the classroom. Although designed primarily for EFL/ESL it has ideas that could quite happily be used teaching any language. Click here to see the course in full.

An Introduction

The aim of this site is to provide EFL or ESL students with enough technical knowledge to use the internet independently to study. It covers a range of skills from basic file management to producing podcasts. It is aimed at those with limited or minimal computer skills and so often deals with very basic issues which may put off more advanced users. However, in classes with mixed levels of competence in computing the more knowledgeable can quite happily be used by the teacher as a learning resource.

In terms of linguistic competence, I would argue that the course is pitched at upper intermediate students and above. (Common European Framework B2 to C2 levels). However, with enough linguistic support, it could be used with students at lower levels.

The course could also be used to introduce L2 teachers to the use of technology in their lessons.

The lessons are designed to be as "hands-on" as possible. In every lesson the learner has to produce something tangible at the end of the time, be it a blog entry, short podcast, a Wiki etc. In addition group and pair work is absolutely vital if the skills taught are to be mastered. At every turn I have made every effort to make the exercises collaborative, taking as much responsibility for learning out of the hands of the teacher and putting it into those of the learners.Click here to see the whole course.

If you need any help you can email me.

Special thanks to Vicky Davis (Cool Cat Teacher) for making the Wiki space look as good as it does.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

The elections are approaching. Greece will go to the polls next month


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007



, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Using mobile - cell phones in the EFL/ESL classroom.

phones, originally uploaded by Phil Sharp (Hog).

Unlike the internet which is still a novelty for many in Greece, the mobile - cell phone is king. It is rare to find anyone who doesn't own at least one. Therefore, people are familiar with the technology and most importantly for me as a teacher, it is the one thing I can guarantee that my students will bring to class with them.

The latest generation of phones have mp3 players, a half-decent camera and video recording capabilities. Put all these together and what you have is a language lab that fits neatly in the palm of your hand.

So, some ways to use your mobile to help learn English.

1 Use the mp3 player to listen to podcasts.

2 Use the player to listen to audio books while following the printed version.

3 Record yourself doing the second section of the FCE/CAE/CPE interviews. Then transcribe what you actually said.

4 Listen to small section (1 min) of a film you like on DVD (easier if you put on the English subtitles) and act it out. record your performance and then repeat until you are happy with what you hear.

5 Use the video camera on the phone to record a short segment which can be posted via Youtube to your blog.

6 Make your own music video. This can be done with either video footage or still photos. You can either use Windows Movie Maker or Photostory 3.

5 Use the camera to video sections from your course book e.g. the dialogues.

6 Get a friend to record/video you doing a FCE/ECCE/CAE/CPE interview.

7 Students video a recipe.

8 Students video a tour of their home/school/neighbourhood.

9 Students use audio recordings to create a podcast. Ideas include movie reviews, my favourite cafe, a typical day etc.

10 Record your own news story. Take a news story off the internet and change the details so that it is about you. For example, change the names, place etc so that you were the hero who saved the cat from the burning building. Then record the story.

In this way students can use digital technology even if they don't have access to a PC.


Soon I'll be starting back and so I have to get back into teaching mode. One of the things I've decided to do at the beginning of the new school year with my new classes is do a lesson on how to use mobile phones in the classroom. Over the last few years I have been doing something similar with the uses of technology in order to learn English outside the classroom (see here) with DVDs, Wikis, blogs, podcasts etc.

However, this has had mixed results in the classroom as we don't have PCs and often students don't have internet at home. As a result they see such activities as an optional extra which can easily be discarded. I can't say I blame as the ideas are new, often difficult to understand, at least in the beginning and add to their already overloaded timetable.

Ideally, I would be able to teach and supervise such learning in lesson time, but that is not possible. The educational system I work in seems to loathe and reject any form of technology or innovation. Instead of new approaches we simply introduce yet more exam practice materials. i.e. yet more books filled with mock tests thinly disguised as course books.

I think a good analogy would be that of a runner preparing for say, 100m sprint. The person does nothing other than sprint 100m for a year. There is no stamina training, no weights, no special diet.In fact their only training is running the same distance over and over again.

Many parents teachers and students are convinced that unless you do activities which are in the final exams then you're wasting your time. So, for example, the only way to prepare for a cloze test is to do hundreds of other cloze test. It doesn't matter that the test is different each time or that you're ignoring the underlying skills and knowledge required to do the exercise succesfully.No, if the test has this form what you have to do is blindly repeat it endlessly.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Over the weekend

More pictures from the party.

Happy birthday, Julie!!!

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I was out of the city for a couple of days. I had to chance to see lots of old friends and spent a great time relaxing in the countryside. Julie was celebrating a birthday (no, I won't say which one) so her and Yiannis's place was full of visitors and kids, not to mention cats, dogs, chickens and a goat.

Back to the city now which very quiet as anyone who can has upped an gone to the seaside for the weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nervous subject

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Martial Rays

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Taken at the abandoned Kodra army base in Kalamaria

Navarinou Nights


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

This used to be a army base now its a training ground for rodents and budding graffiti artists.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Ohio - Neil Young

I came across this song hidden amongst so many others so my ipod and since I first played it I can't get it out of my head.


Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.