CPD-Intensive course 1

Discovering Vocabulary and the Company it Keeps

About the course

This one-week course is intended for English language teachers in secondary schools, universities, independent language schools and for private teachers. It teaches the use of a number of freely available online tools that are used in the study and teaching of vocabulary.

Given that many language students have computers, tablets and smartphones, they have the resources for intelligent vocabulary learning at their fingertips. However, most of these are relatively unknown and not all of them are user-friendly. For this reason, this course helps teachers to easily ascend the sometimes steep learning curve.

The issues of what counts as vocabulary and how it can be studied is central to this course. This embraces content and function words, collocation, multi-word units, chunks, written and spoken discourse markers. Other issues related to errors, modes of study and learner autonomy are also addressed in the process of working with these tools.

It should be noted that the resources that this course teaches do not facilitate communication, nor create games or quizzes. Rather, the focus is on linguistic tools that teachers and students can benefit from. To the best of our knowledge, no other courses with this focus exist.

By the end of the course, the participant should have assembled a portfolio of resources to try out on their students. Note also that this course includes language development.

Language requirement: B2 CEFR and beyond

Learner Outcomes: By the end of this course, participants will be able to

  • Use online language tools with a view to studying and teaching vocabulary and grammar and the interface between these two language systems

  • Assess the these tools’ practical applications to supplementing course books

  • Approach the fostering of learner autonomy in language focussed ways

  • Develop a portfolio of resources to pilot on students with a view to improving their comprehension of input and their generation of output.

About the trainer

This course will be taught by James Thomas, (M.A. Applied Linguistics).

From 1997 to 2016, James was a lecturer at Masaryk University, most recently the head of teacher training in the English department of the Faculty of Arts. He specialised in Language Acquisition, Linguistics for Language Teachers, a range of practical methodology courses and the design of courses and resources.

Since 2002, James has taught summer and winter short courses at the Norwich Institute of Language Education that mostly focussed on the use of ICT in ELT. During the same period, he has also been involved in over 25 intensive teacher training courses for the the British Council in China.

In the last 12 months, he has dedicated himself to the preparation of resources for teacher trainers, teachers, language students and English for academic purposes. These are gradually being published under his own imprint, Versatile.pub.

Organizational matters


The course will open when there are five enrollees. The dates on offer are listed in Doodle, where you can select all or any of the dates that suit you. See here. When you write your name into the Doodle, send an email to info@versatile.pub so that you can be notified when a group forms. Put DVCK in the email subject. Alternatively, if you have a group of five or more interested in this course, dates and venues can be negotiated accordingly including at your own venue.


The course typically runs Monday to Friday, with five teaching hours each day.


Course fee: 7,850 CZK per week.

Registration fee – 2,900 CZK

The course is offered (a) in Brno at CA Institute or (b) at your place anywhere in the world if you have five or more participants.

We are Erasmus+ registered. ID: PIC: 911682437


Brno is the capital of the south eastern half of the Czech Republic, The other bit is Bohemia. (see here). Brno has risen from the ashes of communism spectacularly, currently being referred to as the Silicon Valley of Central Europe. It has six universities and was recently voted the 4th most student-friendly city in the world (see here). It has many well-attended theatres, and festivals of music, drama, dance and film filling the annual calendar. Brno’s bars and restaurants have come a long way in the last ten years, garnering an enthusiastic write-up in the New York times (see here).

Brno is an international focal point of functionalist architecture (see here), is the home of the composer Janacek, whose operas are performed every day of the year somewhere in the world, is where Gregor Mendel cross-fertilised his peas founding the field of genetics, is the home of the mathematician Kurt Goedel, the Hollywood composer, Erich Korngold and the author, Milan Kundera.

Brno boasts two castles, Spilberk (see here) in the centre of the city and Veveri (see here) on the lake to the north east of the city.

Brno hosts a great many trade fairs in its functionalist Vystaviště (see here) bringing a great deal of business to the city.

Public transport is more reliable than your watch. There are trams, trolleybuses, busses and ferries. Most of the city is connected 24 hrs a day.


Lying between three European capitals, Prague, Bratislava and Vienna, travel to Brno is very straightforward.

If the following direct flights to Brno are not suitable, see below for information about getting to Brno from our neighboring capital cities.

Direct flights to Brno

  1. BMI: https://www.flybmi.com: Direct flights – Brno/Munich. Munich is a hub with connections all over the world.

  2. Wizzair: Direct flights London Luton – Brno, Eindhoven – Brno

  3. Ryanair: Direct flights London Stansted Brno

Bratislava, in addition to being the capital city of Slovakia’s international airport, it is a Ryanair hub: flights from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Serbia, Spain, UK.

Direct bus from Bratislava airport to the main station and regular trains to Brno. Direct trains take c. 90 mins and much cheaper than train from Vienna.

Vienna in addition to being the capital city of Austria, its international airport will soon become Easyjet’s post-Brexit hub.

Train from airport, change at the new main station – Weiner Hautbahnhof. Regular trains to Brno, c.90 mins.

Prague, being the capital city of the Czech Republic has an international airport with direct flights all over the world.

Airport bus (AE Express – 60 Kc) to main station – Hlavní nádraži. Direct trains to Brno all day (not all night) c. 2.5 hrs.


Brno is well-connected to Eastern, Central and Western Europe by trains. For train information and buying tickets online, see the Czech Railways site: https://www.cd.cz/eshop/default.aspx


Student Agency runs a vast network of luxury coaches all over Europe.



If you fancy staying in a former palace, try Barcelo in the centre of town and 10 minutes walk to CA Institute. There are many hotels and hostels which you can find at various accommodation websites. Airbnb is also active in Brno.

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