Ten Questions About Irish Culture

If we look carefully, we can see the effects of history in the culture all around us. Can you think of any historical reasons for the following things that you might notice in Ireland today?

Read through the questions and then click the link below to see some suggested answers. 

1. If you look at a food menu in an Irish pub or restaurant, you’ll see lots of dishes with potatoes… Historically, why have potatoes been so important in the Irish diet?


Continue reading

Senior Touch Championships – Fears, Tears, Beers & Ten Years


Final. Sunday, October 10th. Coimbra, Portugal


7.30am Wake Up

All the signifiers of the day of big finals are here, all so familiar and still stressful. The stiff, aching muscles, the soreness in all my body from the previous two days tournament. The tight shoulders after a restless night’s sleep. I wish I’d slept more but I can’t change that now. The feeling of anxiety in my stomach. A quiet breakfast, nodding to people, nervous joking among some of the players. I keep my head down in my muesli, in my thoughts.

A lot goes back for me to the Senior Mixed Final in 2016. The start of the bad times. Continue reading

Endgames, Origin Stories & Superheroes Inside Us: World Cup 2019 Malaysia in Review

From Infinity Gauntlets…


With the abruptness of a Thanos finger snap, everything is reset and all the World Cup planning and hopes and thinking is done.

To Westeros…

Continue reading

The Look of the Irish


During the last ten thousand years, many different peoples have arrived on the island of Ireland. The genetic history and make-up of the Irish has connections to Scotland, Wales and also to the Basque region and Galicia in northern Spain. Many Irish people still share an early western Atlantic genetic history which has remained relatively untouched and less affected by migration and mixing of peoples than other parts of Europe.

We know very little, however, about the physical appearance of the first pre-historic people who arrived in Ireland.

What do you imagine these pre-historic Irish people looked like?

Continue reading

Irish Pubs & Drink Culture


Saying ‘cheers’ is an important part of sharing a drink with someone. How do you say it in your language?


Here are ten examples of how you say ‘cheers’ from around the world: 


1.Oogy wawa Zulu  2. Sláinte – Irish  3. Prost – German  4. SkålSweden  5. Cin cinItalian  6. I sveikataLithuanian  7. KanpaiJapanese  8. L’ChaimHebrew  9. Fe SahetekArabic 10. Na ZdrowiePolish

Continue reading

Reading in English

What should you read in English?

We should probably think about two things when choosing things to read in English – interest and usefulness. When we decide to read a book, a magazine or newspaper article, we do so because we think it will be of interest to us. When we choose to read an instruction manual or a train timetable, it’s not because we think it will be enjoyable but rather that it will be instructive or useful to us in some way.

Purpose is another element of our motivation for reading. When we read the news we do so for a purpose – keeping up to date on political and economic events.

The other main element in our motivation is expectation – we have a sense of what to expect before we read a certain magazine, a book by a familiar author or a brochure for a holiday resort. 


Continue reading

National Stereotypes – Are they real? Are they useful?

Close your eyes for a moment and think of an example of a national stereotype.  

Is the stereotype you thought of positive or negative? Do you think generalising about whole nations like this is useful or do you think stereotypes always tend to be negative?

The purpose of discussing stereotypes is not to reinforce existing ideas and perceptions but rather to question and challenge them. 

Continue reading

Teaching English Vocabulary

The ‘Teacher Dictionary’

Vocabulary is an essential part of language learning and teaching vocabulary in a productive way is something which must be at the front of our minds as teachers of English. Teaching new words to students at first seems quite a straightforward idea. You provide the appropriate word and its meaning and then move. However, the teacher is far more than merely a speaking dictionary.


There are many things to think about when teaching vocabulary.

  • How many words should you try and teach students in one class?
  • How do you decide which new words you should teach?
  • What criteria do you use to decide which words are most useful?

Continue reading

Ten More Questions About Irish Culture

If we look carefully, we can see the effects of history in the culture all around us. Can you think of any historical reasons for the following things that you might notice in Ireland today?

Read through the questions and then click the link below to see some suggested answers. 

1. Ireland is an island surrounded by seas full of some of the best fishing in the world… Why don’t the Irish eat a lot of fish?


Continue reading

Comparing Languages 2 – British, American & Irish English

What is the ‘best’ English to speak?

british-english-vs-american-english-1Some countries have formal institutions which lay down rules stating what version or dialect of a language is considered the most correct. There are many regional variations of English but in English there is no one organisation or body that decides what ‘standard English’ is in the way that, for example, the French Academy decides what ‘standard’ French is.

Have you learned more British or American English? Which do you prefer or think is most useful? Is it possible to say that one is better?

Comparing Languages – Are some languages better than others?


Which is better, putting adjectives before nouns as in English, eg. ‘white house’, or after as in Spanish, eg. ‘casa blanca’?

They would both seem to be equally valid. Every language has its own consistent grammatical systems, even if those systems differ between languages.

But are some languages better?

Five Halloween Traditions & How They Began in Ireland

The Festival of Samhain

Did you know that many of the scary modern traditions we have at Halloween come from an ancient Irish festival?


Samhain was an old Celtic pagan festival in Ireland and celebrated the moment of division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At this time of the year, the division between our world and the ‘Otherworld’ was at its thinnest and so this allowed spirits to pass through into our world. A family’s dead ancestors would be honoured and invited back home while people also tried to protect themselves from harmful spirits who might attack them.