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IATEFL Wordle Reflection: Unravel the Story

Here are some words that came to my mind while reflecting about the teaching conference I attended in the UK. Can you guess why I included some of these words? I will tell a little story about each word that you guess.


How to guess: 

1) Choose a word. 

2) Leave a comment below. Use one of the following methods of guessing:

a) ask a question (direct)

b) use "I think" + past tense 

c) use "I bet" + past tense 

d) use "I wonder if" + past tense


*Note: You can use a direct ("you") or indirect ("Tara")  form to make your guess.


For example: 

a) Were you hungry when you arrived at the conference? 

b) I think Tara went to a zoo and saw a panda

c) I bet you learned a lot about Turkey. 

d) I wonder if Tara stood in a long queue for a session. 



Try this exercise with your students! You can use Wordle: Unravel the Story for reflections on field trips, weekends, holidays, childhood etc. Have them practise asking direct and indirect questions and statements when guessing. 

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Tags: IATEFL, guessing, reflection

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Comment by Tara Benwell on March 15, 2012 at 13:33

@Nadira Yes, I enjoyed a few nice breaks with  cappuccino at the conference. I learned not to order plain coffee in Brighton! :) 

@Grace The lollipops were for my kids. Brighton is famous for its rainbow swirly lollipops, and I brought some home for my kids for souvenirs.  

One of the best talks I went to was about how children learn language at such a young age, and how we need to limit the technology they have access to. The speaker also talked about how strollers (called push chairs in the UK) were rebuilt for folding convenience. The babies started facing out instead of facing their parents. This resulted in a huge loss in language learning. New strollers are now being made the other way again - with the infant facing the person who is pushing the stroller. 

Sorry it took me so long to see these comments! Better late than never.

Comment by Tara Benwell on May 10, 2011 at 15:35
I just found this great resource for English teachers: IATEFL Online Brighton Podcast. Listen and learn.
Comment by Oksana on May 6, 2011 at 23:40

Hi Tara,

The sunlight in the beach frames is just amazing. It made me even jealous a bit. I need sunny days so much! :)

By the way, now I know how to call in English my addiction. Definitely it's stationery addiction. Turns out this thing has no boundaries! =)

Comment by Expector Smith on May 6, 2011 at 16:17

Thanks for the reply, Tara!

Yeah, people often confuse words. What about 'loss, lose', 'boutique, antique, bouquet', 'novel, naval, navel', 'cannon, canon'? I love your trick about 'stationery and stationary'. Actually, I tried a similar way to remember the two words.

It's reasonable for you to be picky about your notebooks - you're a writer, an English teacher, and you've spent most of your time writing. Oh yeah, it's an adorable notebook.


Comment by Tara Benwell on May 6, 2011 at 15:42


I'm so glad you guessed the word "stationary". Did you know that stationary and stationery are commonly confused words? This is a word that I always mixup and have to double check. In my Wordle I spelled it the wrong way! Yay. I love when teachers make mistakes, because it shows learners that teachers are humans too. In fact, as I have confessed before, I am a terrible speller. (I also spelled "gnocchi" wrong in the Wordle.) I would be lost without spellcheck squiggles. But, I don't stress out about it anymore. I know that my brain is not wired in a way that remembers the spelling of words (or the direction of places) well. We all learn differently. That does not mean that I don't try to improve. I am always looking for spelling rules and tricks that will help me remember words that I have trouble with. Since making this error, I came across a trick for remembering the two spellings. Maybe I won't forget again! These kinds of tricks are useful for me: 

stationery: (paper products) has an "e" as in "envelope"

stationary: (stay in one place) has an "a" as in "always in one place"

Now, on to the word stationery (which you couldn't have guessed correctly)...

The one thing I collect is beautiful notebooks. Whenever I visit a new place, I always search for a new journal for myself. I am picky about my notebooks. They have to be lined! They must have ringed bindings (or the ability to lay flat when opened). They must have a blank page on both the front and back cover for scribbling quotes. I found a fabulous paper shop in Brighton. I wanted to bring it home with me. I picked up a notebook for myself and a diary with a key for my daughter. She has inherited my love for stationery.  Here is a picture of the souvenir I bought myself in the UK. Isn't it adorable? 


And yes, thanks for noticing the big news about my novel. The Proper Order of Things is now available on,, and You can't buy it in a bookstore. Sorry! :) 

Comment by Tara Benwell on May 6, 2011 at 15:23

@Oksana I'm glad you found the link to that video. My friend Vladka, the roving reporter, recorded those videos! Isn't it a beautiful beach?



Comment by Expector Smith on May 5, 2011 at 22:01

Thanks for sharing the PK videos, Tara. I enjoyed the 'Creativity'. Antonia's strong British accent was impressive.

Congratulations - your novel is now available on I'd like to buy it in a real bookstore, but if I fail to get it in a bookstore, I'll try to order it online.I can't wait to read it.

Let me take a guess about 'stationary'. I wonder if your meeting schedule was stationary?

Comment by Oksana on May 5, 2011 at 15:24

Hi Tara,

First of all, I wanted to thank you for posting the link where the video originally had been posted. I just had watched the video before reading this your reply and wanted to confess about knowing the answer and to ask about the link. You read my mind. =)

While watching the video, many times I wanted to shout "Yes!" despite my mediocre understanding ability and lack of my vocabulary.

By the way, it was nice to see you here (below) and also to feel this friendly atmosphere... :)


Thanks for the "Unravel..." :)


Comment by Tara Benwell on May 5, 2011 at 14:58
I was so excited to hear the news that the PK videos are now online. If you want to know what a PK is, check these out. You probably won't watch these all in one sitting, but they are all amazing! You will see that one ESL speaker did a PK. That was impressive. Personally, the one I want to watch again is the one on Creativity by Antonia. It is around the 63 minute mark. 
Comment by Tara Benwell on May 5, 2011 at 14:35

Great guesses Oksana and Expector! 

It could be that I forgot why I used the word "nickname". You're right. Our new MyEC friend Brad is now affectionately known as Panda, due to the dictionary app and the costume he wore. 

But also, most of the teachers that I hung out with had a nickname based on their twitter handle. A twitter handle is the user name you use on twitter. For example, I tweet for @TEFL. One of my friends is @nutrich. There is another friend named @CallieWallie. Her real name is Caroline. It was fun meeting a real Caroline after spending so many years writing about Caroline in my book

I wish I had enjoyed a frosted cake! Actually, the window in my hotel room was frosted, so I could not look out. I think it must have been a fake window!

Oksana, you are right about intelligibility. In his session, Pronunciation Matters, Robin Walker talked about focusing on intelligibility rather than accent reduction. (Unless the student's goal is to have a specific accent.) I learned that only a very small percentage (I think it was 2%) of people in the UK speak with an RP accent.  


Can anyone take a guess about the word stationary? 

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