Vicky Loras's Blog

A Blog About Education

Olympic athletes saluting Canada’s Indigenous youth! By @iloveatt1

I am very happy and proud to host a blog post by I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth! Ten Canadian Olympic athletes have shared their love with Canada’s Indigenous Youth. Good luck to each and every one of our athletes – GO CANADA!

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I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth is pleased to announce that ten Olympic athletes have saluted Canada’s Indigenous youth as they get ready to shine in Rio!

Adam Van Koeverden

Bolade Ajomale
Emily Batty
Gabriela Stafford
Genevieve Lalonde
Inaki Gomez
Jacqueline Simoneau
Julien Bahain
Marissa Kurtimah
Vincent Riendeau
I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth is a national celebrity campaign that supports youth reeling from high suicide rates in communities across Canada. The campaign serves to educate Canadians and gives the youth a platform for positive change where their voice can be heard. @iloveatt1
We take this opportunity to wish all of our athletes the very best — you make us all extremely proud!!
Josée Lusignan, President
Iain Speirs, Vice-President
I Love First Peoples

I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth

(Copyright : 2016 I Love First Peoples)

I am from Ontario, Canada. The place where I was born is called Mississauga and it is on the shores of Lake Ontario.  There is another place in northern Ontario that I have never been to, but hope to visit some day: it is a nation in the Kenora District called Attawapiskat First Nation – it is one of 49 nations comprising the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It came to national news a few months ago, because of the very high rate of suicides that had occurred and unfortunately keep happening, even at very young ages. I started following the news about Attawapiskat any way I could, and saw that the people there have severe lack in housing, medicare, everyday needs.

They did not stop, they have not given up. They have a wonderful Grand Chief, Alvin Fiddler, and their chief is Chief Bruce Shisheesh. Chief Shisheesh met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two days ago to discuss the actions to be taken for the community. 

There is a website called I love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth, which shows their various activities and the things they do not only to help their own community, but other communities reeling from suicide and hardship across the whole country! Iain G. Speirs and Josee Lusignan are in charge of the Twitter account and much more for I Love Attawapiskat – they are the founders of this organisation and Josee is also the founder of I Love First Peoples; they work tirelessly, night and day! I am in awe of all that they do. On their website you can see different ways to help.

With this post, I hope to help raise awareness about Attawapiskat as much as possible. As an educator, aunt, godmother, Canadian and human, I hope to raise awareness for these amazing people, these brilliant children and their lives.

Attawapiskat, I have not met you yet, but I know you are amazing and I send all my love and warmest wishes.

Will you say I LOVE ATTAWAPISKAT with lots of other people who support the cause? Watch this video with Chief Shisheesh:


And here are some of the amazing young people of Attawapiskat, singing and walking for peace! 

Note: Thank you so much to Josee and Iain for helping me learn so much and adding lots of details to this post. 



The day k d lang came to our class…with Godot (Pt 2)

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Last December, I published Part 1 of a lesson plan based on k d lang‘s song Constant Craving, in  combination with the amazing theatrical play by Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.

Many are the times when with students we study literature or work on songs in English. Little did we know, that with working on the lyrics from Constant Craving we would be led to look at parts of a theatrical play – and some of the students would read the whole thing!

In my language classes, due to time restrictions or goals such as examinations or getting to a specific level by a specific time, unfortunately we do not have the luxury of looking at the whole play, which in my opinion is amazing and I cannot do it justice, I feel.

However, the parts that we do work on are interesting for the students and lead them to converse and also write in English – that is one of the things we want them to do.

So here we go!


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Things we usually do with the students before we start working on the text: 

  • I ask if they have read it in their own language.
  • I ask if they have ever heard of the and what it is about.
  • What do they think it is about?
  • Who do they think will be waiting and who do they think Godot is? – With this question, they can  create such lovely imaginary stories, either spoken (they can even prepare them for a few minutes beforehand, or even use as an improvisation technique for more spontaneous speaking) or written, either as homework for the next lesson, or a short paragraph in class, if time and circumstances allow.


When we start working on the text: 

Here comes one of my favourite excerpts from the play, with two of the main characters, Vladimir and Estragon:

ESTRAGON: Charming spot. (He turns, advances to front, halts facing auditorium.) Inspiring prospects. (He turns to Vladimir.) Let’s go.

VLADIMIR: We can’t.

ESTRAGON: Why not?

VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Godot.

ESTRAGON: (despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You’re sure it was here?


ESTRAGON: That we were to wait.

VLADIMIR: He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Do you see any others?

ESTRAGON: What is it?

VLADIMIR: I don’t know. A willow.

ESTRAGON: Where are the leaves?

VLADIMIR: It must be dead.

ESTRAGON: No more weeping.

VLADIMIR: Or perhaps it’s not the season.

ESTRAGON: Looks to me more like a bush.

VLADIMIR: A shrub.


VLADIMIR: A—. What are you insinuating? That we’ve come to the wrong place?

ESTRAGON: He should be here.

VLADIMIR: He didn’t say for sure he’d come.

ESTRAGON: And if he doesn’t come?


  • A great idea I love is have two students read it out loud to the rest of the class – or if it is a one-to-one class, like many of mine are, I can read with the student. The students can set the tone, bring the feelings out and make a nice little play for the rest!
  • Why do they suddenly start arguing about the tree, or whether it is a shrub or a bush?
  • Who is the greater realist / optimist of the two? why?
  • What happens when you are waiting for someone and they are not coming? How do you react, what do you do and what are your feelings?
  • Try to continue the dialogue. In your story, does Godot come or not? Who is he? Why has he been late?
  • Borrow photos of the play from the internet. What are the characters saying or doing, in your opinion?

There are so many things to do with such a play! This is only a tiny part of what we can do with it. I truly do not do it justice at all.

Here are some more resources about working with this great play: 


And yet another rendition of the amazing k d lang song that gave me the idea to teach this play! Enjoy : ) 



Podcasts, Prince and UnPlugged – An Interview with James Taylor

I am delighted to present you with the first interview for 2016, with one of my favourite educators ever, James Taylor!

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Today’s guest is an invaluable ELT colleague and friend: an English teacher, blogger, co-founder and former President of BELTA Belgium, TEFL Commute podcast co-producer, iTDi mentor, ELTChat moderator, conference and webinar speaker. He is very active on social media and we all learn such a great deal from him on a daily basis.

James joined me from Brasília, where he now lives.

Enjoy this amazing interview and listen to James talk about everything from ELT, life experiences and travelling around the  world as a teacher, podcasts, books, music and more!

A huge thank you, James!

(And thank you, James for coming up with the brilliant post title!)

Dr François Grosjean interviews Eva Hoffman: Lost in Translation

grosjean_francois-200x300I am very honoured to have Dr François Grosjean on my blog today, interviewing Eva Hoffman, author of Lost in Translation, originally for Psychology Today. A huge thank you to Dr Grosjean for sharing his interview!

About Dr Grosjean:

Professor Grosjean  received his degrees up to the Doctorat d’État from the University of Paris, France. He started his academic career at the University of Paris 8 and then left for the United States in 1974 where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics at Northeastern University, Boston. While at Northeastern he was also a Research Affiliate at the Speech Communication Laboratory at MIT. In 1987, he was appointed professor at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he founded the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory. He has lectured occasionally at the Universities of Basel, Zurich and Oxford. In 1998, he cofounded Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press).
His domains of interest are the perception, comprehension and production of speech, bilingualism and biculturalism, sign language and the bilingualism of the deaf, the evaluation of speech comprehension in aphasic patients, as well as the modeling of language processing.

Here is the interview:

Back in 1989, Eva Hoffman published her first book, Lost in Translation, a memoir about immigration, language loss, second language acquisition, and discovering a new land and a different culture. Her autobiography was to have a worldwide success – the Nobel prize winner Czeslaw Milosz called it “graceful and profound” – and it helped launch a new genre, the language memoir. To celebrate this blog’s fifth anniversary, it was only fitting that we should ask Eva Hoffman if she would answer a few questions. She very kindly accepted to do so and we wish to thank her wholeheartedly.

More than a quarter of a century has gone by since you published Lost in Translation. How do you consider it now after all these years and the success it has had?

Occasionally, I’ve had to go back to it and reread parts of it – and I find that I have a double reaction: One is to wonder who wrote it; and the other is to think, “This is pretty good.” The success of the book was initially entirely amazing to me. When I was writing it, I didn’t know if it would be published, or whether anyone would understand, or care about, the experience I was trying to describe – the internal journey involved in emigration, and the process of translating yourself into another language and culture. But since then, of course, emigration and other cross-national movements have become one of the central phenomena of our time; and it seems that I identified something about that experience which many others understand — perhaps in part, because I was writing about it innocently, so to speak; that is, by trying to capture my own perceptions as directly as possible, without thinking about previous literary models, or worrying about the book’s reception. What can I say, I was lucky.

You can read the rest of the interview here.



The Loras Network at the Expat-Expo in Zug – 4th year!


For a fourth consecutive year, The Loras Network is proud exhibitor and supporter of the EXPAT EXPO ZUG.

Looking forward to seeing you there on Sunday, 3 April 2016!



Are You Playing or Learning? – Both!


VickyReadingontheFloorI am in my nineteenth year of teaching and I have taught in Greece and Switzerland so far, the latter being my home for the best part of the past seven years. I teach students of all ages and levels. When people ask me why I like teaching Young Learners, I tell them that I love it because it is

  • creative
  • I learn so much from my little ones
  • fun!

First of all, let us look at who these lovely little people we call Young Learners are. We have Very Young Learners (VYLs), who are 3 – 6 years old and then we have Young Learners (YLs), who are 7 – 12.

When I teach them, as do many teachers I know and have seen when visiting their classes, I love to incorporate the element of fun. Children learn in a much more pleasant environment and much more effectively, I believe. To be honest, all students and even adults like the element of fun in their classes!

Sometimes however, I have been asked the following question: “Are you playing, are you just having fun, or are you learning?” I have been asked this both by parents of students or caregivers, and also by a few teachers – rarely the latter category, but it has happened!

I understand their concerns, and especially in contexts where children need to follow a specific methodology in order later on in life to sit for a language exam. However, I still think that even in those contexts, fun can be part of the lesson – if not the whole time, even ten minutes at the end can help!

Fun ideas are loads to be found, either from colleagues, other teachers we connect to on social media, or social media themselves as resources, like Pinterest for instance.

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Some fun ideas I use in my classes are:

  • Story Cubes! They are dice with pictures on them and I discovered a specific kind from a Canadian teacher, Aviva Dunsiger, whom I am connected to on Twitter. They are called Rory’s Story Cubes and there different categories. Kids shake them, throw them on a surface and depending on the pictures that come up on the dice, they have to put them in the order they want and then they can tell the story they have just created. They come up with some really fun and funny stories, and above all they practise their speaking skills (they can even write down their story as a small task in class) and learn and consolidate a lot of vocabulary! If you do now want to buy cubes, you can even make your own. There are so many templates online and you can draw or stick pictures on them – even better, along with the kids! They will love it and again, learn so much.
  • You’re the teacher today! Sometimes I let the kids know beforehand that in the next lesson they can be the teacher for a while. They can teach us something as long as they do it in English! I go and sit along with the other kids, either in the chair of the teacher-student or on the floor with the kids. Some teach us dances, some bring in things like their favourite Lego creations…and they just love teaching us! They love the responsibility that comes with it and they always take it very seriously.
  • Books! Some teachers and parents say that their kids do not love books…well, I think that children need to be exposed to them first of all. There are books all over my school. Not only on bookcases, but also on plastic boxes and baskets on the floor, on the window ledges. You can just see them picking them up on their own, finding the topics they like and sometimes they want to read them out loud in class! What could be better? We can also organise trips to bookstores or libraries with them. Read-alouds once a week or as often as we deem necessary. Kids just loving listening to grown-ups read to them, especially if we change our voice for every character!

These are only some ideas for Young Learners. The list is endless!

Let’s keep in touch! I would love to know what you do with your kids. Just remember to have fun with them and they are still learning no matter what.

All the best for 2016!


This time of year has come again – so soon! 2015 has been a great year for my family and myself and I hope for you too. Apart from us all being healthy and happy and our work doing very well, we have had an addition to the family – my younger sister Christine had a wonderful baby boy in September! Welcome James – along with Maggie and Nicholas too, my eldest sister Eugenia‘s children : )

My blog sent me the Year in Review as it always does – but I cannot get it to post like previous years, so here it is, along with a HUGE THANK YOU for reading, commenting, supporting and making me think and learn!

I wish all of you the very best for 2016 – health, happiness and anything else you wish for.

May it be an amazing year!

The day k d lang came to our class…with Godot (Pt 1)

This is a long story…that can be explained in this post only a little. Along with our students, it can lead us to many places!

Let’s start from the very beginning. k d lang (she writes her name in lower case, just like  e e cummings : ) is a Canadian singer, with a golden voice, and my absolute favourite female performer. Her song Constant Craving is one of my all-time favourites. I just love the instruments used (especially the accordion is haunting and beautiful), the lyrics are amazing and k d’s voice spectacular.

The other day, I was listening to the song (again) and paying much closer attention to the video, which I have seen more times than I remember…and it hit me. I looked at the characters…they reminded me of something. Are the men in the theater where k d is, playing in Waiting for Godot? I did that play in university, in my very first year in a class called Introduction to Drama. I loved that play so much, that it became the main topic of a paper I wrote then. I checked the story behind the video, and it really is k d in a theater, where this play is being performed!

Can I use her song AND the play in class? Sure – I can try!

Here is how I am thinking of using it – let me know if you have any different ideas! I am positive that my students will take me to other places that I had never imagined before, so this is just a rough idea.

I am thinking of using it with B2 / C1 / C2 level students, because some of the vocabulary and themes can be a bit challenging for lower levels. So then for my classes, it will be mainly teens and adult students.

I will show them the title first. Some initial rough questions:

  • What do you think it means?
  • What does to crave mean?
  • Why does she call it a constant kind of craving? Guess what the song is about! (The artist herself has never clearly, in as many interviews as I have seen, mentioned who or what the source of inspiration for this song is. There is no correct or wrong answer in songs, poetry or literature anyway, I believe. They can all be left open to interpretation. We want our students to produce written or spoken language in English.)

I will let them listen to the song and watch the video then. 

  • What is the singer doing? What do you think her feelings are and why?
  • Where is she? Why do you think so?
  • What are the people in the theater doing: The audience? The people on stage?

Then I will give them the lyrics. You can see them and the activities in a document called ConstantCraving_LessonPlan and feel free to do anything you like with it, change it, create it from the beginning, anything!

  • We can go through the lyrics one by one and discuss, thoughts that come to our minds, feelings, anything.
  • They can choose a word or phrase that strikes them and write a small poem or short story.
  • They can perform / present their poems or stories in front of the class (if they feel comfortable, or we can do it with them / for them) – perhaps even with the song playing softly in the background, to give a more dramatic tone : )

Here is my favourite live performance of the song, for your pleasure – happy listening!

Waiting for Godot will be the next post – Part 2! Stay tuned. 

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