by Nina

Dear blog followers,

you will now find the blog AND my brand new website at EnglishBrno.cz.
You can switch between Czech and English languages.

Don´t forget to "Subscribe via email" under the blog post to be updated about new articles.

Looking forward to seeing you there,


This afternoon I am teaching a lesson in my new course "Anglicky bez učebnic" (English Without Books) and the topic is: Recommendations in a city. It is my own lesson which I´ve just put together and it´s based on English Out There´s* Lesson 1 (in the Intermediate e-book), which is about London. This is a follow-up lesson located in my city of Brno.

I am using a short film about Brno (the second largest city in the Czech Republic) made by a young American man David Price living in Brno in 2006. The film has two parts – hence the two Youtube videos.

This lesson plan will work best for teachers in Brno but I think anyone can use it. What do you think?

Warm-up + gist question: What do you expect David to show us in his film about Brno? Are you expecting a „professional“ film or a „home-made“ type of film? (check and get feedback after watching both parts)

Before watching for the first time, students should have these questions in hand. Go through them and then play the first part:

1)      Which part of Brno does David live in?
2)      Which two words does he use for „tramvaj“?
3)      Does he like everything on the Freedom Square?
4)      Which two adjectives does he use to describe the furniture in his Brno flat?
5)      What is „a coat rack“ and what is „a drying rack“?
6)      Which famous Brno building is translated as „The Symphony Hall“?
7)      When at the Špilberk Castle, David says: (it is)… a very ________ -looking castle, it dates ______ to the 14th century. It _______ Brno very well, saved the city in ________ battles. As you can see we´ve been _________ blessed with _______ colours.
8)      What do you think the word „moat“ means? He speaks about it when overlooking the main entrance to the castle.
9)      What´s his favourite view when at the top of the Špilberk Castle? He says that it has two ________ and it is one of the ______ of Brno.
10)  Which sights do you expect to see in Part 2? And how about the beautiful nature surrounding Brno?

Check answers with students. You can play the parts where they fill in the words again, for listening practice.

Part 2 is optional. A nice expression to teach from part 2 could be "the hub (of the city)" but I´d mainly let them just watch and relax after the previous activities.

(There are three universities in Brno and one of them is quite famous around Europe, unfortunately David managed to misspell it and mispronounce it. Find out here which one I mean if you aren´t from Brno. Anything else David didn´t get right about Brno?)

Check the warm-up questions at this point. Get feedback about the film and ask students whether they would like to make a film like this in Brno or in a different town. What would they show in the video? How long would it be? Would they just show sights or also some cultural events, people on the street, their friends? (Idea: You can make your own film with your students and upload it to Youtube for others to see! It´s great practice of English, mixed with modern technology, something especially young students love!)

Alternatively, if the students are from Brno, you could discuss all the construction changes which have taken place in the centre since 2006. An interesting discussion could follow on the topic of changes in urban areas. To learn more about Brno, go to Brno Now, a great website in English.

Let me know if you tried the lesson and whether it worked for you. On which level did you use it? Any suggestions for improvement are MOST WELCOME!

Can´t wait to teach this lesson today!

* I have been using English Out There materials for a while now and have seen students make fantastic progress with this programme.


Who´s behind the blog?

Posted by Nina Hanakova |


I have recently answered several interesting questions in my first online interview. However it´s in Czech so here is a little more about me, a few snapshots from my life, in English. I am hoping this will bring me closer to you. 

Thanks for reading my blog, being a FB fan and a friend. I really appreciate everyone´s activity and reactions to my work.

In a language school, 2006
I have always worked as a self-employed teacher, both with adults and children, for privately-owned language schools (focusing on adults) and a state school (children 10-15). While teaching privately, one-to-one courses alongside the schools, I slowly started setting up my own small groups.

In spring 2010 I decided to take a break from my f2f teaching. My daughter was born and after 5 years of full-time freelance EFL teaching I was sensing a kind of burn-out coming my way. This time of contemplation opened a whole new world to me, a world where coursebooks don´t make sense and where I finally feel like I found my "Element".

With my daughter, Oct 2011
For the past 4,5 years I have been working solely in my private classroom in the centre of Brno where I can fit up to 6 students. I believe 5-7 people in a group is the perfect number for any type of learning. Recently I have decided to work with women only.

I´d never dared to dream of such fantastic students and such enjoyable work. Do not be mistaken, neither is easy to find. I spend a lot of time on making sure we are the right match for each other and whether they are fit for my non-traditional learning environment. But it pays off. Building an enthusiastic, coursebook-free community of female learners feels good!

And how do I do what I do? Juggling family life and career is surely no piece of cake, after all I have a two-year-old. On some days I succeed better than on others, as every working mom I struggle with time management. But the best part is that none of this feels like work.

See for yourself! Last Wednesday the students cooked dinner for me...
 Cooking lesson with Matt (Kurz zážitkové angličtiny), Oct 2011
The last week of September my American colleagues Ginger, Glenn and Aron and I were invited to spend a fabulous weekend with a few of my students, about 30km outside of Brno. We had perfect Indian summer weather and I can´t imagine a more fun and relaxing place to go to.

Czech-English weekend in the countryside, Sept 2011
I enjoy being outside with my students because 1) they always welcome the change and 2) with fresh air speaking English somehow comes more naturally to all of us. Here we are in our backyard.

Working with short-stories (Summer English for Women), Aug 2011
The best part of it all is that my students actually get a chance to speak to native speakers in a very natural environment. We go to pubs, cook, go on trips, walk around Brno, sing or watch movies together. My native speaker friends and colleagues love to work with such enthusiastic students because they see what a difference they really make in their lives when they help them with their English.

Final party of Kurz zážitkové angličtiny, May 2011
I have a new hobby - making videos. I think a short video is worth a thousand words and it´s so easy to make these days so why not show others what happens in your lessons? This is a video from one of my ongoing courses - Kurz zážitkové angličtiny. I recorded it on my Android phone in the very first lesson when the students met each other for the first time, mingled, talked and had a good time. My friend Aaron joined the first part of our lesson and here you can see him speaking with Zdena.

As this term´s "Kurz zážitkové angličtiny" progresses, I´ll be surely making more of those. We´ve already had a pub lesson, a cooking lesson and next week we are going shopping! The new ladies are incredibly active and are working like crazy on their language goals.

My family

Here is to my family who puts up with my freelance work and to my courageous, hard-working students!



Where to practise English in Brno?

Posted by Nina Hanakova |


More and more foreigners come to study, work or just live in Brno so whenever you walk up the high street or go for a beer in one of the pubs/clubs downtown there’s no doubt you’ll encounter a foreigner. 

I´m sure you can always run into one at Charlie´s or the Livingstone´s, the two popular hang out pubs/bars/discos where you can expect nice drinks, dance groove, great pub atmosphere and get chatted up...

However if you want something with a community feel to it, I strongly recommend to become a member of Brno’s Couchsurfing group. I have myself met some amazing people through this unique project and I am proud to be part of it. If you´ve never heard of this worldwide hospitality club, watch this short video: 

Also worth checking out are Matt Zitnansky’s regular English meetings which he organizes through Facebook. Matt is an avid traveller and loves putting internationals and English-speaking Czechs together at these regular meetings where you can just chat, network or make new friends.

Should you be into a more alternative culture, I recommend to have a beer in Clubwash, a pub/laundromat run by a Dutch expat or the only true Irish bar in town – The Immigrant.

One of my future activities is to organize "EnglishBrno" meetings in the centre of Brno. If you´d like to receive  details about the first meeting, just email me at nina.englishbrno@gmail.com and I´ll contact you when I´m ready to kick it off with my very own meet-ups (definitely before the end of October!)

And where do YOU go when you feel like speaking English? Whether in Brno or on the other side of the planet, please, share with us how you socialize in English.

Here´s to happy speaking!



How do I teach online?

Posted by Nina Hanakova |


Many people have started asking me about teaching online. From September on I have several openings for highly motivated individuals on intermediate + levels who cannot take offline lessons with me because they don’t live in Brno, CZ. 

Should you be one of them, please, send me an email at nina.englishbrno@gmail.com and we’ll set up a free Skype lesson to see if we are the right match.

Students prepay time with me via Paypal and I offer them two different ways of being in touch with me professionally, via Skype (paid), email and FB (free):

1st option: regular 45 or 75min lessons once or twice a week which include managing the student´s studies from A-Z, including free email and FB communication 24/7 (you can be added to my friends list and we can work from there on different ways of free help); there are different packages based on the number of lessons, starting at 25USD/45min.

2nd option: one time consultation package to start you off on your way to self-studying the modern way - without coursebooks - where I offer my professional guidance; it includes thorough language assessment and suggestions of methods/materials/time management to use, we´d meet twice via Skype for 60-90min each time

You can combine these options. 

Every interested student is offered a free 20-min Skype chat/call which can be arranged upon request and where I´ll be happy to answer any of your questions. 

Looking forward to helping you!



Summer English For Women

Posted by Nina Hanakova |

After managing my first “English Without Books” course from January - May, which was quite challenging and intensive for both the students and me, I decided to organize something more easy-going in the summer.

Consider this a report on what we did and how the summer course went and feel free to comment on or ask about any of the lessons or management of the course.
The course was aimed at my typical target level/student - an intermediate/upper-intermediate level female student, who is talkative, cheerful and motivated to practise speaking. I found 6 ladies who were interested in what I had to offer throughout the two main summer months of Czech summer - July and August. It quickly turned out to be the nicest group I have ever taught.

We met once a week for 2 - 2,5 hours and communicated only in English. Three out of the total of 8 sessions were joined by my friends/colleagues Glenn Weidner and Dave McShane. On the rainy days we met in my private classroom (situated in the centre of Brno in my own home) or in a tea room, on the hot days we met outside, in our garden, in a park or in a cocktail bar (outside).

The course syllabus focused on practising speaking, learning new vocabulary and clearing a few grammar points. In order to make it fun, we worked with the two most effective “passive” ways to learn a language - watching films and reading literature, particularly short stories.

When I teach group lessons I am particularly interested in the group dynamics. It is very important to choose the right students to fit each other whenever you are putting a group of students together. That is if you want them to get the maximum out of their learning process. If the students enjoy the process, if they have fun while learning, if they are excited about talking to each other, they learn much faster.

Lesson 1 - Childhood Memories - getting to know each other (with a native speaker)

Lesson 2 - Talking About Movies - introduction to movies

Lesson 3 - 500 Days of Summer - lesson based on this movie

Lesson 4 - Something´s Gotta Give - lesson based on this movie

Lesson 5 - Tea room session - conversation lesson (with a native speaker

Lesson 6 - Reading Circles - introduction to discussing short-stories

Lesson 7 - The Doll´s House - a reading circle lesson

Lesson 8 - Cocktail time - revision lesson/party (with a native speaker

Since this was meant to be an easy-going course I didn´t give the students much to do during their off-class time. However they could always meet and discuss whatever was on their mind in a private FB group, which I find to be the easiest virtual sharing environment as everyone´s on FB anyways. Throughout the whole course I also emailed the students extra tasks so that they could compete with each other to win a 25% discount for any of my other group courses this year, which gave the motivated ones extra work to do.

Here is a short video from the first lesson.

Should you find this inspiring, please, do let me know, I´ll be happy to share more info. And for you ladies - Lenka, Jarmi, Milana, Zuzka, Léňa, Martina - I will really miss you! Thanks for being so much fun, thanks for working so hard and for always being open to new activities. I loved spending time with you.

Here´s to the new school year!


EnglishBrno 1st Newsletter

Posted by Nina Hanakova |

Starting this month I am going to be sending out my own newsletter. Here is a copy of the first issue. Should you be interested in receiving my newsletter, please, email me at nina.englishbrno@gmail.com. 

Hello and welcome to my first newsletter!

You are receiving this newsletter because you are either a friend, a student or a colleague who I think might benefit from my English learning tips. Here you will find news about the latest trends in language education and my English teaching world - both online and offline.

I will send you the newsletter at the beginning of each month. If you do not wish to receive the newsletter, please, reply "No, thank you" to this message.  


As most of you know, I am an English teacher who likes to do things a bit differently. I am a big fan of learning through video, I make videos myself and I encourage my students to watch and learn from videos. So most of my tips and links will include a video. I believe it´s the shortest and most effective way to learn something new.


Kurz zážitkové angličtiny > http://bit.ly/nahravky
I completely re-arranged my way of teaching, threw the coursebooks away and it works wonders. Listen to the progress my students have made in my new local course "Kurz zážitkové angličtiny". The new course starts on 14 September, in Brno. Students of intermediate+ level are being accepted now.

English With Film > http://bit.ly/EnglishWithFilm
I am planning a series of weekend courses in the coming semester where we´ll work with films and sitcoms. This is a course for students who feel more or less confident speaking in English, intermediate+ levels. Click on the link to see how I work with film. The course starts on 1 October, in Brno, students are being accepted now.

How I started to speak English >http://bit.ly/JakToZacalo  

I recently revisited Bristol, UK where my English learning process started, back in 1990 (I was 11 years old). I made a video from our family holiday and also recorded a very interesting interview with our friend, prof. Robert Porter, who speaks fantastic Czech and lectures on Czech and Russian literature.


Present Perfect > http://bit.ly/PredpritomnyCas
Last year I started recording myself on camera, explaining English grammar in a simple way. All my videos are under 3 minutes. Enjoy the latest one I made on Present Perfect.

Which accent to use > http://bit.ly/WhichAccent  
This is a video done by a crazy British man called Mr Duncan. I consider Mr Duncan´s Youtube channel a perfect add-on to your studies, his videos are fun, very informative and all subtitled.

What is Web 2.0? > http://bit.ly/WebDvaNula 
Watch this 11-min video lesson to learn about the basic idea and vocabulary behind the Web 2.0 concept.


EnglishCentral.com > http://bit.ly/EnglishCentral
This is an absolutely unique website which all my students instantly fell in love with. Watch short videos, all subtitled, and record yourself speaking them, practise vocabulary and improve pronunciation. 
Next month - where to practise English in Brno for free, how to improve your speaking skills and a competition! I will also have some new openings for online lessons with me.

Feel free to contact me anytime, via email or one of my social media websites (see below).

My Youtube channel
My blog
Facebook fanpage