I haven't tried it yet, but I think it sounds like a task that could get students involved. What do you think?
Now here's a web based solution to your problem. On this website you can type the IPA phonetic symbols on an online keyboard - there is no need to install pronunciation fonts any more: http://ipa.typeit.org/
I think it's a really useful tool. This will help me to show the pronuncation to my students more often than I would otherwise do.
In the picture you see a conversation I started with Alice. This conversation could go on for pretty long, since Alice can answer most of your questions in a meaningful way, in perfect English.
Great for a free speaking practice, but you could also use it to practice a certain grammatical structure. Do you have any concrete iideas about how to use Alice in class?
As for the school's role, I appreciate the fact that the school leadership lets student take initiative. I think it makes students more independent. Do students in your school also have such an active role in organizing their own social life?
Now I know who my 9th graders are that I'm gonna be spending 16 classes per week with. You see, this is a bilingual school with a focus on tourism and English is stated to be the most important subject. So that explains the many classes. They are total beginners, so for a change, my contribution and the learning outcome will be clearly measurable.
16 classes is a lot, with perhaps 5 classes a day in a row. So I'll need to make my classes extra fun and involving (and communicative) to keep them interested for such a long time. I'm gonna be scouting the web in the weekend for beginners' games to broaden my games repertoire. If you know any good games or activities for beginners, pls share it with me.
And first, let me share with you one game that I definitely want to try (I already bought the fly swatters).
THE FLY SWATTER GAME (shared by Carol Haring, USA in 2003)
"For those not familiar with the fly swatter game, one student from each team comes to the front of the room facing the class, with their back to the board. Each has a fly swatter. When I say a word, they have to turn around, look over the words on the board and touch the word I've said with the fly swatter. The first one to touch the word gets a point for their team."
You be the judge. You hear the case. You decide the sentence. Then see how your sentence compares with the actual sentence passed.
Comes with a transcript that makes it easy to create extra tasks and work with the language in your ESL class.
There is a fresh newsclip every day so you can always show the most recent news. The transcripts are really useful to create exercises for HW.
I recently had an idea for teaching the names of animals. We always teach these names along with the pictures of the animals. But instead of showing pictures, after revising the animal names, we could play the sound they make, plus some hints (e.g. lives in the jungle, has four legs, has spots) in case of more exotic species. Then students can guess which animal they heard.
Here's a site where you can download animal sounds from:
Ideas as to how to use it:
1. Students write out the actual dialog between the caller and the police dispatcher ("direct speech"). Or vice versa: You write out the actual dialog and the students try to reproduce the text of the story.
2. Follow-up: students make up their own story about calling the police, of course using indirect speech.
3. Your ideas?
Thx, Dear Kisdobos, for the links here. They come very handy, indeed, especially the CNN student news, since I teach mostly advanced students. I also have a funny little online gadget to share.
You might have played games and activities with a time limit, e.g. the "1 minute speaking" game, where students have to speak for 1 minute without stopping. You probably used your cell phone or a stop watch to measure time.
If you have a laptop or projector in your classroom, you could also use an online clock, which is, on the one hand, more visible to students, and on the other, increases the "TV show" like feel to the game.
There are 12 minutes before the solutions show up, and you can make it into a competition by splitting up the class into teams, with the teams taking turns guessing.
I think it is also useful when you want to teach the difference between "content words" and "grammar words," and show what the basic building blocks of the language are (of course, most of the 100 words are grammar words).
As a follow up, you can put the 100 words into word groups, e.g. adjective, adverb, noun, preposition, verb, sentence linker.
Do the quiz here: http://www.sporcle.com/games/common_english_words.php
A ton of pictures with hidden objects that students have to find. The names of the objects are written below the pictures.
Monoface is a website that mashes up faces to create a unique(ly silly) new face on the click of the "shuffle face button." "Click the mouth, nose, head and each eye to create a different monoface. And keep clicking. There are 759375 possible faces."
Lesson idea: Student 1 describes the face, Student 2 assembles the face based on the description.
If you're a teacher, you should see this.
Technology-assisted ESL class
I heard about this great tool not long ago, and I find it is perfect to accompany a class on picture stories.
I'd jumble the four pictures of the speech-free comic strip and let students guess about the right order, and when they got it, I make them tell the story.
Then, as a follow up, I plan a class in the computer room, with each pair of students sitting in front of a PC. We go to http://stripgenerator.com/strip/create/ and without having to bother with signing in, I make them create their own stories with their own choice of characters, items and speech in the comic strip.
Such creative tasks seem to make students super involved. Lastly, they have to narrate their own stories for the class in the following class.
"Let's put your character in a sticky situation.
Every good story is just a test of conflict. What your character will do in a particular situation IS their character. What they do is what they're made of. This means your character is going to have to suffer. A lot. "But I love my character!" You say, "How can I possibly come up with ways to make them suffer?" That's what this page is for. Within the box is one wonderful terrible thing you can do to screw up your character's day, thereby raising the stakes and making everything get a little more interesting."
We have ceiling-mounted projectors in almost every classroom in Xantus High School. (That is not at all typical in Hungary, I can tell you that).
It's quite a thrill. Today I projected my Powepoint picture story of a silly little yellow guy and his girlfriend onto the whiteboard and made students correct the present time sentences in the story. During the exercise, I wrote and drew on the whiteboard next to the projected text, then erased my writing for the next slide. This way I could mesh the projected pictures with my text and drawings and the visual effect was quite compelling. This time it was enough to engage my otherwise unmotivated and jaded tenth graders.
I'm gonna try this idea tomorrow. I'm gonna project different parts of a huuge picture onto the whiteboard. It's not possible to fit all of it onto one 3m x 2m wide screen.
I'll divide students into two groups, then have them recall as many details as they can (in present progressive tense). Winner is the team who could make the most correct sentences about the details of the picture.
Available in multiple languages, including German, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, etc.
I played this with my class last week, when we were practising the present simple vs progressive tenses. I gave everyone 500 euros of imaginary money, and they had to place bets on the right answers to quiz questions. If they bet 100 euros on the correctness of answer A, and that indeed was the correct answer, they added 100 euros, the amount of the bet, to their capital. If they were wrong, they subtracted 100 euros from their capital. For the next question, they calculated how much their capital now was, and placed a new bet. If they lost everything, they started with 1 euro in the next round.
This "grammar casino" is an old idea, but it still perfectly capable of buzzing up even a tired class. Was a lot of fun for the kids.
Here's a game I read on the internet. It's a western style shooting duel, but one with only words - a word duel.
I bought two western hats and next time when I want to practice our words, I'll divide the class into two teams, lining up the team members behind each other. One member of each team will come forward, put on the hat and pretend to take part in a shooting duel.
I'll say a word, and the fastest student to shout out the translation of that word followed by "Bang, bang!" is the winner, and the opponent dies (goes to the back of the line). The winner gets a point, stays standing and next opponent comes forward. Whoever can win 3 duels in a row gets 3 extra points.
Sounds like a lot of fun, I'll try it out soon. If you know other variations of the game, why not post it here?
Read more games at [url href=http://iteslj.org/games/]http://iteslj.org/games/[/url]
To set the mood I played some music from Once Upon A Time In The West, and projected some western video on the big screen. The music was playing in the background the whole time and the students really got into playing the game, and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.
But more importantly, thanks to the game, I realized that we have some hidden talents who have been diligently learning the class words since the beginning of year. And now they became the "secret weapons" of their respective teams who could make or break the fate of their teams. I prize this game so much for rewarding the studious ones (for saving the team), which is such a rare occurance in classes, I think.
[url href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_tWEayqHKk&feature=related]Ten Little Indians[/url]
[url href=www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRXsC1J4jJM&feature=related]If You Are Happy[/url]
[url href=www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZNja5ARkVk&feature=related]Three Bears[/url]
[url href=www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhODBFQ2-bQ&feature=related]Five Little Monkeys[/url]
See more silly videos in the related videos bar on the right.
This kid is crazy good in speaking various English accents. It could be a superb demonstration in class of how many different languages English really is.
Disclaimer: Be warned that there's plenty of adult language in this video, so do not show this video in class if it would be inappropriate in your school.
For the first time I tried out the Time Bomb Game today. The idea is very simple: I bought a party game called Tik Tak Bumm in Hungarian. (I'm sure it's an internationally distributed game). The game comes with a time bomb that needs two batteries. You click the button on the bottom, and you don't know when it will go off, might be 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, etc., up to 2 minutes.
We sat around closely with my 18 ninth graders, and I gave each one of them three printed life points. Then we started the time bomb, and I asked the first person (who was holding the bomb) a word from the previous classes. If (s)he knew the answer, (s)he could pass on the time bomb. If not, then (s)he lost a life point. The bomb keeps being passed around until it explodes along with a realistic sound. The one who has the exploding bomb also loses a life point.
The game goes on until only two people remain. I gave the winner of the duel a small five (the best mark in Hungary). The students liked the game so much that they demanded two more rounds. I can highly recommend this game to practice vocabulary (and perhaps other materials) in an enjoyable way.
[url href=http://www.oup.com/elt/local/hu/rendezvenyeink/?cc=hu&selLanguage=hu#xmas]Oxford Christmas Conference[/url]
December 4, 2010
Price: 2000 HUF
Contact: [email protected]
Last week we played the "Adverb Guessing Game" with my ninth graders. It turned out to be a pretty lively activity with a lot of laughter.
First we brainstormed about 15 adverbs and put it on the whiteboard (e.g. easy ones: quickly, warmly, in a friendly manner, sadly, angrily, and more difficult ones: offhandedly, enthusiastically, in a paranoid way, e.g.).
One student had to go out, then the rest of the class chose an adverb. The guesser had to come back and ask five questions (this time in the past, because that's what we recently covered). Each student answering had to answer in the selected manner. After five questions the guesser had to guess the adverb.
They also made me go out once, and it was a lot of fun. The only difficult part was having a volunteer to go out, so I made one student come forward, close their eyes, hold out their arms and start spinning around with eyes closed. When they stopped, the person they were pointing at was the one who had to go out. This spinning part made even the more shy students enthusiastic, and they wanted to be "spinners."
We played this at school to warm up for the class. First we collected categories like 'countries,' 'garments,' 'teachers in our schools,' 'christmas songs,' etc. Then we stood in a circle with one student in the middle. The student says a category and points at someone who has to duck down (or squat down). The students on his/her left and right look at each other and 'shoot' by saying an example of the given category. The quickest stays in the circle, while the slowest steps into the middle and switches places with the student there.
It was a lof of fun and I find that it put students into a good mood, and more willing to work with me. It worked for both ninth and tenth graders.
I recently read about using one-word stories in ESL class here: [url href=http://eslsite.com/rd/Drama-Role_Plays/quick_drama_ideas.html]drama ideas[/url]. One-word dialogs are minimalist scenes that fold out some meaningful story, in such a condensed way as Haiku or a Limerick does. I built on this a little bit and I want to try how my version would work. Here's how I picture a class with mini stories.
Show students an example of a dialog. Discuss the possibilities of omitting subjects and auxiliaries in English sentences.
Students then create their own dialogues of six lines, first using only one-word in each line. Contractions (e.g. I'm) and two-word compound nouns (e.g. fire brigade) count as one word. After a couple minutes, have a few students read out their pieces. Second round, students write two-word dialogs. Once the time is up, some of them will share with the class, then you can have a discussion about how the writing process was different with two words allowed. Third round, we get to three-word dialogs. Finally, discuss what is and what isn't possible to say if one can use only one, two or three words to create a scene. Also, is it possible to express the 'impossible' sentences in some other way? Are there any tricks of how to be 'super concise?'
If students are not able to cope with the task, there's a possibility to ease the rules, and allow to add articles and prepositions on top of the one, two or three words allowed.
Here's three example dialogs I wrote:
Student A: Sad?
Student B: Sad.
Student A: Why?
Student B: Job.
Student A: Fired?
Student B: Yesterday.
Student A: So bored!
Student B: Watch TV.
Student A: Nothing on.
Student B: Go out.
Student A: Too tired.
Student B: Outta ideas.
Student A: You two skyped.
Student B: Come on, honey.
Student A: Saw the log file.
Student B: Ok, caught me.
Student A: Promised not to.
Student B: I miss her.
Let me tell you about how great my most recent class with my 9th graders (pre-intermediate level) was. Having started a new chapter on "Cultures", I decided to do this classic intercultural communication game in 2x45 minutes, A bridge for the Derds:
"A classic game to teach about cultural customs and intercultural communication. The scenario: a canyon cuts a Derdian village from the nearby market. So the Derds need a bridge to shorten the 2-day trip to a 5-hour one. They also want to learn the skill of constructing bridges. A group of European engineers will teach them and build the first bridge together. However, the Derds have very strange social customs that the engineers have to figure out along the way, e.g. they can only communicate when touching eachother or it's not polite to say no, instead they say 'Yes' while nodding strongly."
This was the first time I've done it, and I think it led to some really genuine, highly motivated language use. I don't believe that it could work so well the first time, just like in the textbook. In the end we built a cool 1,5 meter long cardboard bridge.
I made them capture the whole thing on video with their cell phones, so I'll be able to show it to other teachers.
My biggest concern before the class was how I was gonna engage 18 people at the same time. I'm gonna share my experiences with you about how to conduct the game.
In the first class I got half the students to be Derds an the other half to be engineers. Then I handed out the handouts to prep for their roles. First I discussed the task with the engineers. I asked for a project leader, then I got 4 people to be envoys to make the first contact with the Derdians. I got them to come up with questions to ask related to the project. They came up with ones like, What do you need the bridge for? How many of you will take part in the construction? What tools do you have? What is the deadline? How much money do you have to spend? In the meantime, the others were discussing what kind of bridge to build using the available cardboard and tools.
Then I went over to the Derds. I made sure that they would not explain their social customs to the engineers either during the class or in the break. Again, I asked for a project leader. Next I recruited four students to be the welcoming committee. While the engineers were preparing, I occupied the Derds by working on vocabulary that would come handy during the construction, e.g. names of the tools.
After about 30 minutes of prepping, I sent the envoys to meet the Derdian welcoming committee, while the others were watching the show. This 'meeting', or Q&A time was the first time the engineers started to figure out that the Derds were 'weird' (although they first thought they were 'dumb'). The reason why I wanted only 8 people to do this was because more would have been a crowd which could have hindered communication. Also I wanted to have some students have another ('outside') perspective than the envoys. The Derds were not allowed to talk without touching the engineers, nor did they answer questions before the engineers touched them. They had to nod vehemently when they meant 'no' (make sure the engineers will ask questions where the answer will likely be 'no', it's fun to see the envoys figure out this rule). Also, make sure that the engineers greet the Derds first thing in the meeting. (it's funny again to see that handshakes really piss of the Derds, they greet each other with a kiss on the shoulder).
The second class was spent with actually building the bridge. One challenge was how to engage 18 students during this this next phase. One of my ideas was to assign one Derd to every engineer and have them work in pairs, where each engineer would teach and supervise one Derdian. I probably did not stress this well enough, that I want to make each engineer responsible for the learning of one Derd, because they kept reverting back to groupwork, with some people just loitering and not finding a way to make themselves useful.
Luckily, however, our cell phone video person started to make video interviews with the loitering students, who couldn't figure out how they could take part in the building. So it seems that having several video people completely solves the problem, since they can keep those students busy by asking about what the Derds think about the engineers, and vica versa, about the bridge, why they needed the bridge, etc.
So, making cell phone videos is not just fun and making the class memorable, but also very useful.
So we managed to build a cool 1,5 meter wide cardboard bridge. We even tested the bridge with a bunch of "cars" (pencilcases) and "trucks" (soda bottles) to see if it could bear the weight of traffic (it could). In the end we celebrated together by a long round of applause. This was a real happy moment, with everyone still holding hands (like in much of the game when the builders wanted to 'hear' each other).
2x45 minutes was just enough, with time for even a quick discussion of what they thought of each other in the beginning.
All in all, it 'Bridge for the Derds' proved to be a highly motivating task that most everyone got immersed into. I saw a lot of genuine language use witnessing a true desire in students to get their messages across. The game requires a team effort and has a tangible outcome that the team can be happy for. Besides, I believe it brings people together since there's a lot of handholding and a motive to work together and, as far as I could see, the game leads to an acceptance of different 'cultures' and people in this make-believe environment. Last but not least, it was the most fun we've had in a while.
So I strongly recommend you to try out this game from pre-intermediate level upwards.
I just subscribed to the twitter of TEFLWorldwiki, a collaboratively edited wiki for teachers of English. There's a bunch of cool game ideas on their Wikipedia styled encyclopedic site.
"TEFL resources for TEFL Professionals; currently with 692 articles on TEFL."
Just found this:
"Teaching Videos has thousands of educational videos which you can use to support teaching and learning in your classroom!"
"Nationality definition shirt: Celebrate the uniqueness of your heritage in a humorous way with our Definition specialty shirts."
You'll find T-shirts with national stereotypes for a bunch of nations. I think they would be great raw material to lead in or discuss national stereotypes. I've done classes like this with different raw material, and even the less enthusiastic learners loved this topic. Especially when I made them draw a typical countrymen of various countries, that generated a lot of laughter in class.
These stereotypes are often funny. I think it's okay to laught at them, but of course, don't forget to make fun of your country, either. :)
If you like the idea of occasionally using movie clips for English teaching, then check out http://moviesegmentstoassessgrammargoals.blogspot.com/
The site "contains a series of movie segments and activities to assess or practice grammar points through fun, challenging exercises. Here you will find the movie segments, the lesson plans, printable worksheets with answer key for each activity, and the tips to develop your own grammar activities with the DVDs you have at home. New activities are posted regularly. Teaching grammar with movie segments is inspiring and highly motivating."
You might have seen ppt's which imitate the famous show's design, and on each slide students have to choose the correct answer from 4 options. Now this site perfected the idea, and now you can play a fully interactive game of Millionnaire.
Explania, formerly "Animated Explanations", is a platform of animated videos that try to explain a complex idea in simple terms. They could be used well with higher level students. First, you could get the students read up on the subject and look up words at home, and try to explain certain concepts in their own words. Then you can watch the videos, which are also great for sparking discussions as follow-up.
If you need simple, understandable audio material about popular topics, here's Qwiki.com for you.
The site pulls content from Wikipedia and combines it with animated photos, while the most exploitable feature for ESL teachers is that it uses a machine reader to read the text out loud. The audio quality is actually pretty good, and the fact that you hear a robot is not bothering, because the intonation is quite natural. Besides, the whole time you can display the text spoken in the subtitle provided.
Follow-up: If you click on the 'Content' tab, you will get the entire text of the article, which you can use to create additional exercises for your ESL class, e.g. vocab exercises, reading comprehension tasks or tests.
If you have access to an internet room, there's more and more opportunities to use the net in a meaningful way. This fashion tool of Looklet - http://looklet.com/create - allows you to dress up models in order to imagine how various garments would fit together. Then you can go on and buy the items you've selected.
However, beyond its core purpose this online application could be exploited in ESL (and second language) classes, too. You could have pairs work on creating their own fashion collection, then save the image of their model, and submit their work to an agreed location (e.g. your mailbox). Perhaps in the same class, you could quickly put every image in a slideshow, and display it on a projector (if you have one) to the whole class. To crown the task you could hold a vote to select the best work.
Along the way pairs would be discussing in English which items of clothing they wish to choose, and they have to come to an agreement in the end. Naturally, they could also easily pick up names for categories of clothing.
Chances are you know the Wimpy Kid's Diary. It's been printed in millions of copies in a variety of languages around the world. I think it's some great reading for kids and adults. I am a slow reader myself, but with the text being very entertaining and interspersed with cartoons, I have made it through 140 pages in, like, an hour.
I researched it on the web and found this site:
Immediately I thought the characters you can create on this site could be utilized for ESL classes. I started creating a "Guess who" boardgame, and I think I can invent some pairing up or warmer game with the around 50 characters I created this morning.
What it is
Lessonwriter is a free website for teachers that creates lesson plans and instructional materials for teaching English language skills from any reading passage
How it works
Copy & paste any text you choose into LessonWriter.
LessonWriter analyzes text for vocabulary, grammar and usage, pronunciation, and word roots and stems.
Follow step-by-step procedures for adding questions, support material and graphic organizers.
LessonWriter produces teaching materials from your material.
For example, Lessonwriter would highlight the difficult phrases in the text, and couple each with a sample sentence, which is exactly what I do when turning articles into learning material, but it's much faster than manually highlighting the words and looking up an example sentence in an online dictionary. If the machine would leave out anything you believe is important, you can always add your own ideas.
Try this with your students. Load the website below if you have a projector (if not, just do it without the website), and let your students test themselves to see of they can they do Nothing for 2 minutes. No speaking, no fidgeting, no reading, no passing notes, no fumbling in their bags, no doodling on the desk, just absolutely nothing.
You can follow up this experiment with talking about what it means to focus, why it's difficult, but important, what distractions we have in our lives, multitasking or any other topic that you think follows logically this little test and most aptly grabs its lessons.
How would you guys use this in ESL class? If you have any ideas, please reply to this post.
The BBC's well-known site for language learners offers a multitude of materials for learning language functions. Here you can find language and audio dialogs for requests and offers. Topics are:
Asking permission, informal invitations, , polite invitations, declining invitations, making an appointment, change someone's behaviour, asking someone out, asking a favour, haggling, borrowing something, asking for the time
Check out Sean Banville's site: http://www.listenaminute.com/
Here you can find a variety of 60-second listenings in mp3 format along with downloadable quizzes and listening gap-fills. I think the 60-second format is very learner friendly, especially for lower level students. Clicking on "Accidents" on the alphabetized list, here's an example text:
"I wonder how many accidents I’ve had in my life. I’ve had a few serious ones where I’ve ended up in hospital. Traffic accidents are the worst. They’re always painful. I haven’t had too many work-related accidents. I suppose that’s because I do office work and that’s not so dangerous. Most of my accidents are those around the house. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hit my thumb with a hammer. I’m also really good at standing up and hitting my head on something. I’m not as bad as my friend though. He’s a real accident looking for somewhere to happen. Almost every time we meet, he has some story to tell about his latest accident. He’s quite unbelievable. I think I’d be very worried if I were his mother."
You can search the site according to your needs ( advanced,...) I hope this will be helpful to some ;-)
You could extend your one-to-on class by guessing about the differences of two countries in terms of, e.g. babies born, salaries, life expentancy, then check it on the website. For each comparative fact you can pull down some more info that could give further languages and discussion topics to work with.
In case you haven't seen this commercial that went viral in 2006. Could be a nice way to lead up language courses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh5xu35bAxA
Here's what I found about the background of the commercial:
"The commercial titled MAYDAY, MAYDAY was done by Bates United advertising agency for Berlitz Language School (for Berlitz) in Norway. It was released in the January 2006. Business sector is Corporate Image."
Sharing with you something I saw on EFLClassroom 2.0, David Deubelbeiss's site. The story of Mr Morton - rapped. http://community.eflclassroom.com/video/mr-morton-is-the-subject-of-my
Filled with a bunch of simple verbs and sentences to teach to beginner students.
One task David recommends: "Get students to watch and note 7 verbs. After, retell the story using those verbs."
The rap video is based on the story of George and Rosemary, watch here among others:
If you've ever thought it would be nice to add subtitles to YouTube videos, perhaps assigning this task to your students, well this is just what you need: CaptionTube. Click here: http://captiontube.appspot.com/
You can log in with a Google account after allowing the site to do log you in. Editing is real simple: start the video, stop it where you want to add a caption, and the type the text. Subbing your video: You can download the whole subtitle as a subtitle file, and can add it to your video on YouTube. Subbing others' videos: If it's not your video you're subbing, then you can send your subtitle file to the owner and ask them to add it.
It could be a perfect task in a cell phone video project. As a follow-up, let students subtitle the video they shot with their cell phone about their house, family, pets, etc. Once they have done so, you can get them to look for mistakes in their language. Then finally, correct the subtitle in the video.
A truly 21st century tool for ESL classes: TitanPad. A lot of your students probably has a smartphone with them in class. Invite them to a TitanPad document that you project on the screen or show on a smartboard (no registration needed), and they'll be able to add some text to the document.
One example application: your students can send in new words from a reading you are covering. Your class will see a word list on the screen which is being added new items as the class progresses. You can collect the new words much faster in this way, and perhaps they'll have some extra motivation to work with the vocabulary for the joy of using technology and editing the "community document." I find that technology can sometimes make a well-known boring task, e.g. interview your partner, into a whole new one: make a video interview with your partner. I think this community editing can have the same effect, where students might be unwilling to raise their hands to say a new word, but they will gladly send a new word via their smartphone.
Another possible application: The class together creates a collaborative story, where anyone can add a new sentence to the story via their smartphones, and they can view the story as it develops on the smartboard. Collaborative stories offline (on paper or in speech) are linear, you add something after the previous sentence, but cannot change what came before. With TitanPad, your students could do another version of the classic collaborative story, a non-linear one. This time they can go back and change anything in the middle of the story, then they will change whatever is necessary in the rest of the story to make it fully consistent and logical, then add something new. I never tried this one, but it seems to be a more complex cognitive task, and perhaps it could engage more students at the same time.
Can you think of other useful applications with TitanPad? If you have another idea, please hit "reply" and post it here.
I just found this site. It collects and offers audio books from the public domain in downloadable mp3 format. Entirely free. Chapters are recorded separately and zipped together, so you need to be able to unpack these files with Winzip, for example, to listen to them.
"My English Images is a resource of illustrations and worksheets for teachers of English created by educational designer F Michael Kloran."
It is not a common occurence that an educator and a designer would be the same person. With F Michael Koran, however, it is indeed the case. Check out his worksheets illustrated with his very own, super-nice drawings. Everything is free to download in pdf/jpeg formats.
(If you can afford, you could make a small donation for him to allow him to spend his time creating worksheets instead of working for money.)
You can download great ppt templates from here:
Click "download ppt" below the previews. Then you can edit the ppt, by copypasting any of the slides in the downloaded sample ppt. You can find ones that look like a newspaper, for example, so you could create your own newspaper. It's better than a newspaper clip generator I think, because it allows for a freer editability, and more words.
The ones I especially like is the Chalkboard PowerPoint Template:
The Search Engine PowerPoint Template:
The Countdown PowerPoint Template
Here's one thing I found for alphabets:
I want to get across the idea of spelling with helping words. I tell them that if they'd work in a call center where they have to make bookings, one instance of making a reservation for clients with a mispelled name might cost them 100 pounds. So I try to make them understand that spelling in a real life (e.g. telephone) situation could totally backfire without helping words like A for Apple.
This game can help students draw the link between letter and helping word.
Bitrsipts is a site where you can make your own comic strips and cartoon characters. There's several nice comic strip makers on the net, but this one I especially enjoyed after trying it out. The reason: the characters are extremely well adjustable. You can adjust your character's:
1. Facial emotions
2. Eye size, eye shape, direction of looking
3. Head (tilt, turn)
4. Body (rotate), limbs (raise, lower, etc.)
5. Hands (gestures)
6. Movement (sit, run, walk, etc.)
I can see how this tool could provide endlessly fun and educational in ESL class in a working ICT lab.
There's also a separate (subscription) service for schools:
Is there anyone here who ever used a comic strip maker in ESL class? Can you please tell us how you did it, and what the learning results were? It would be nice to see if these kinds of tools work as well in practice as in theory.
take a look here:
this is an example, but there are different exercises in my blog that I hope you'll find useful.
Hugs from Portugal.
Today I had to quickly put together a class on "fashion." I was looking for games, discussion questions, vocabulary worksheets. As so often, I ended up at http://www.eslflow.com.
ESLFlow is a collection of links for a large variety of topics, and most importantly it is a good selection of links. So I highly recommend it.
By the way, I was able to adapt a list of interview questions for pair discussion, and a follow-up public debate. Here's the worksheet: http://en.islcollective.com/worksheets/worksheet_page?id=10205. I posed the issue of school uniforms, and I made students stand on opposing sides of the room. Then the two groups had to say arguments for their side, and refute those of the other group.
This physical organization of the students seemed to engage them more than letting them sit in their seats. I tend to think that standing inside a group of people makes you stand up for the group, which is why I didn't have to call upon certain students, most were eager to voice their opinions.
Do you sometimes use physical space or physically moving students in your classes? If yes, can you tell us specific tasks?
I sometimes really do engage students in physical exercises. Usually when revising vocabulary or phrases. I, for example, have them stand up in their desks and then I say a word in Czech aloud and the one knowing the answer puts his/her hand up and if the answer is correct, he/she may sit down. The last one standing is then the "dunce" of the lesson and he/she then have to wipe the board or help me with my stuff to my office.
Another thing I do, usually with younger learners (7-12 years of age) I have them stand one right next to each other (on an imaginatively drawn line) and once again I say a word and the ones who know the answer may step forward, the moment they reach my desk is the end of the exercise for them and the last one to reach me receives some "bonus".
These may be useful.
I am sure I have a lot more resources, I just cannot remember them now, cause I have not been using some of them for quite a long time.
A fun guessing game from Sporcle. Can you name these badly drawn celebrities and characters?
If you have a projector in class, you can split the class into two groups, and give them 1 minute each, in turns, to guess the celebrities portrayed. You as the teacher can type their answers. If they are correct, the name will automatically pop up under the corresponding portrait. I tried it once with another Sporcle quiz and it was a lot of fun for students, although exhausting for me, since I had to type like crazy for eight minutes, the time limit of the game.
1 You Can Tell I'm British
2 The United Kingdom
3 Starting a Conversation
4 British Beer
5 Ye Olde Britaine
7 The British Bathroom
8 How to Complain
9 Tourist Attractions
10 Speak Slowly, Please
11 Practise Your Prepositions
12 How to be Polite
13 Dress Sense
15 Brits Abroad
16 Big Bong
17 What to Say Before You Eat
18 Having a Great Time
19 Mind The Gap!
20 How to Pronounce the th
21 Asking the Way
22 Fish and Chips
23 Greater Britons
24 Brain of Britain
25 Seaside holidays
27 Fair Play
28 Real mail
29 Responsible drinking
30 On the Phone
In ESL we typically work with condensed materials, e.g. extracts from novels, shortened articles, extracts from movies, since we have to fit into 45 minute classes. It is not always easy, however, to pick the right extract from the original.
Thinking of video extracts I had an idea today: Can I find videos that intend to tell a story in 1 minute? If I can, I don't need to do the "editing" (finding the right extract for class) myself.
It seems the one-minute video is quite a popular genre or format on the web. Here's the first site I checked out: http://www.filminute.com
All the short films in this video contest are made by amateurs. Every submitted film must be 60 seconds - no more, no less. I want to share the winner of 2009:
THE BLACK HOLE | Phil Sansom and Olly Wiliams (UK).
Great watching! I can't provide you a link from filminute.com, but I found it on BBC:
HOW COULD YOU USE IT IN CLASS?
1. Guessing: Stop the video a couple times, and ask your students what is going to happen next.
E.g. The guy goes to the vault. Stop the video. Ask: "What is he gonna do now?" Resume playing the video. He does something with the vault. [I'm not gonna spoil the ending for you.] Ask: "What is gonna happen to him, do you think?"
2. Write a few sentences about the actions in the video clip. After watching it (rather than before, since I would not want to rob them of the final punchline) get them to order the sentences chronologically. Or: hand out one sentence slip to each student, then on the second watching make them stop you (you should stop the video at this point) and shout out their sentence matching the particular scene.
3. Your ideas?
One more. Movies condensed into short text are called synopses (plural of 'synopsis'). Here's this site http://rinkworks.com/movieaminute/ I read a bunch of plot synopses and they are very funny. You can read them out and let students guess which movies they are. Then you can take this activity to pair level, and give students different synopses letting them quiz each other.
I copypasted one of my favorites below. Guess which movie it is.
.............................. [TITLE OF MOVIE]
Ultra-Condensed by Jim Kirkby
An asteroid is coming. We are in trouble.
You must blow it up from the inside. Probably.
Let's teach drillers to be astronauts, on account of drilling is too hard for astronauts to learn.
Instead of for a ninjillion dollars, we will only do it if we don't have to pay taxes anymore, because audiences can relate to that.
I can relate to that. Therefore, I love it.
If you have access to technology in your classroom, you can extend your teaching beyond books. I find that even though the tasks are essentially the same, if you show an interactive exercise from the internet, students react differently. Have you experienced this?
For example, here's one game from http://manythings.org that I will use on Monday. It's a classic "scrambled sentence" game. My way of using it in class: I will make students write down the unscrambled sentence on a piece of paper, then I will call on one student and elicit the correct answer.
Alternatively, you can play a "Grammar Casino" with the sentences. You grant them $100 of imaginary money to bet on the right sentence. They can bet as much as they want. If they lose, they subtract (take away) the amount of the bet from their funds, and if they win, they add their bet to their funds. E.g. First round. Bet: $50. In case they win, they will have $100+$50=$150. In case they lose, they will have $100-$50=$50.
Here's another one, a memory game:
You can split the class into two, and let team take turns in telling you which cards to flip and check. If they can find a pair, they get a point. You can also practice ordinal numbers 1-5 by making students describe which card they want to see, e.g. "We want the second row from the top, third card from the left."
You can be the scorekeeper.
My next project is I'd like to explore how to create scenes based on pictures.
Here's the first picture I used for role playing. I also created a picture description worksheet around it:
I did something very simple. After describing the picture, I made my ninth graders imagine what might have been said before the climactic statement by the husband: "Here's a new cure for my cat allergies. Divorce."
This picture was ideal for role playing because the drama was quite obvious: The wife ignores her husband's complaints about her cats, until one day, eventually, the husband erupts like a volcano.
It took one 45-minute class for my total beginners to build a scene. I tried to tell them to let their imagination loose, but it will take them a while to get used to the idea of playing and making up stories. Then I told them they will act them out next class, and for HW they had to learn their dialogs by heart. Next class they acted out their minute long plays. It was fun, and I hope those who failed to do their HW will memorize their scenes next time.
Now I'm thinking I should have told them not just to imagine what had happened before the "divorce" threat, but how the conflict was resolved, because it seems everybody either accepted the couple is going to get divorced, or killed one character. :) So next time, I'm going to tell them that they can choose any ending they want, e.g. making peace, moving in separate rooms, e.g.
I'm looking for new "dramatic" pictures and I'll keep you posted about how my role playing experiment goes.
Here's where I like to surf for inspiration:
Another thought-provoking 1-minute movie from Filminute entitled "Castaway".
How to use it in class:
1. Watch the movie pausing before every interesting bit. Make students guess about what they expect to happen next.
2. Discuss the ending of the story.
3. Follow-up I.: You can have a discussion about what it might be like to be stranded on a desert island. What would you eat. How you would entertain yourself, What is the most difficult part of the experience, etc.
4. Follow-up II.: Play a survival game: what would you take to a desert island (ask students to choose 5 out of 15 objects)
5. Follow-up III.: Use my picture-based storytelling activity: Desert Island Story (http://en.islcollective.com/worksheets/worksheet_page?id=1566)
(The movie begins by showing a castaway man sitting on a beach on a apparently deserted island. Stop video. Ask students 1) where the scene may be taking place, 2) what nationality the man could be, 3) how long has he been stranded on the island?)
(Suddenly, the man notices something in the water.)
(Stop video) Teacher: What do you think it is?
(Resume video) A bottle of wine.
(Stop video) Teacher: What do you think he is going to do with the bottle?
(Resume video) He drinks the wine ...
I don't want to spoil the ending for you, so all I can say is it surprising. Ask students about how they interpret the ending.
Have you ever tried to briefly teach your students about the origins of English? I have; put up my miserable drawing of the British Isles, and drew ships of Germanic tribes sailing across the channel, etc. It was OK, but next time I will use these videos I just found, since they are visual and funny. 11 one-minute videos in playlist:
Does anything sound strange to you about the three sentences below?
I’m expecting my 17st birthday.
I don’t look forward to ever winning the lottery, but I still enjoy trying.
I expect our first baby is a boy.
Well, your gut feeling is right. These were written by students. Let's change the sentences a bit so they can make sense:
I’m looking forward to my 17st birthday.
I don’t expect to ever win the lottery, but I still enjoy trying.
I hope our first baby is a boy.
Here's a quote to illustrate 'hope,' 'expect' and 'look forward to'.
“Canada is playing England tonight. I hope Canada can manage a victory. England is usually a stronger team, though, so I expect they will win the game. Whoever wins, I’m really looking forward to watching the game!”
If you would like to teach your students how to use these three verbs correctly, you can use Voxy's very pedagogically written blog entry by Hannah Yoon: http://voxy.com/blog/index.php/2012/09/hoping-expecting-looking-forward/
After you've discussed the meanings and the usage, you could personalize the verbs by asking students to finish these fragments about themselves:
1. Today I expect to ...
2. This weekend I'm looking forward to ...
3. In this school year I hope to ...
An addition for the sake of Hungarians:
I would add a fourth word to the discussion: 'wait.' I don't know about other languages, but I noticed that my fellow Hungarians mix up 'wait' and 'look forward to', which is the same word in Hungarian: 'vár'. I teach them that you may have to 'wait', say for an hour, in front of the doctor's office to get in, but you 'look forward to' seeing your sweetheart after the visit to the doctor.
Everyday phrases with pictures, example sentences and sounds
I've recently found Phrasemix.com, which is a site meant for language learners, but useful for teachers, as well. The site focuses on everyday phrases. Many phrases are illustrated, and all of them include usage tips and example sentences (free), plus a short soundtrack for premium members.
You can search lessons by typing your search phrases or browsing the complete list of all 1,395 free PhraseMix lessons: http://www.phrasemix.com/index
Just a few examples in ABC order:
“Absolutely. I'd love to.”
“Actually, can I get plastic instead?”
“Actually, if you could give us a few more minutes...?”
“Actually, now's not a good time.”
“After everything I've done for you, you turn around and stab me in the back like this?”
“A fugitive has been apprehended after attempting to escape from a Durham county jail.”
“Ah well... I gave it my best shot.”
“Aiden, it's your turn to take the trash out.”
As you can see, some of the phrases are OK for lower level students, too, while you'll find plenty of phrases that are best suited for advanced level.
There are probably many ways to use this resources. I have the following tips for it:
I. ROLE PLAYING
1. Discuss 3 phrases in class.
2. Elicit situations in which they could be uttered.
3. Have students improvise dialogs or scenes in pairs and/or in front of the class in a way that the line is spoken in a meaningful way. As for the public part, it helps with groups unskilled in improv if the students in the audience can shout in their suggestions as for how to continue the scene (of course, in English in an ideal world). E.g. students can supply promps whenever they have an idea, but if the actors get stuck in their scene, the teacher can also stop them, and elicit for audience suggestions. Then, the two actors continue the scene incorporating the best suggestion.
II. MATCHING PHRASES WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Print about 10-20 phrase with the accompanying illustrations
2. Cut up the illustrations off each phrase
3. Hand out 1 illustration and 1 (other) phrase for each student.
4. Have the students mingle in the classroom and find the phrase that matches their picture.
5. Follow-up: You can create a gapfill or translation handout using the example sentences from the website.
6. Follow-up 2: have students write short dialogs using the phrases.
III. TEAM COMPETITION
1. Pre teach your chosen phrases in the first class
2. Write short dialogs with your chosen phrases, in a way that the phrase is the last utterance in the dialog.
3. The next day put students in teams and read out your dialogs one by one and have the teams work out what the fitting reaction would be. The first team to guess right gets a point.
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States, in other English-speaking countries and for English-taught graduate and business programs world-wide. There are a lot of online exercises to practice the vocabulary needed on this level. The resources linked below could be used for self-study by advanced and proficient students - preparing for the GRE or any other advanced level test.
1. GRE FLASHCARDS
Flashcards with definitions
Kill the scrolling words by typing in their corresponding term and pressing enter. You may kill them in any order, but make sure they don't scroll past the screen. If you miss one, the solution will pop on the screen (see screenshot below), and you have to type in the word to continue with the game.
3. MATCHING QUIZ
"Matching quiz for 117 dozen questions"
For B1 students and upwards I would like to recommend this series entitled "Minute Physics", which answers some simple yet intriguing questions in a few minutes with simple hand-drawn animations. Here's a good one to begin with:
"Why is the sky dark at night?" (If the stars are bright?)
Some of the easier topics are:
"Usain Bolt vs gravity", http://youtu.be/9YUtFpLpGfk
"What is fire?" http://youtu.be/1pfqIcSydgE
"What is gravity?" http://youtu.be/p_o4aY7xkXg
LOOK UP WORDS WITH ONE CLICK
Install this free browser add-on in 5 seconds, then visit any website, and click any word to view its definition. A great, free vocab building tool.
How to install and use:
Installation is really simple, just drag a button from the main page of http://www.professorword.com/ onto your Bookmarks Toolbar in your browser. To turn it on, click on it in the Bookmarks Toolbar. Also, you can watch the youtube video below to see it work.
This funny pic could be a starter to practising the "I wish" structure. Ask students what went wrong. After having a good laugh, you can ask students if they have heard jokes about wishes gone awry involving gold fish, a genie from the lamp, etc. (If they don't know any, you can tell one from the internet, e.g. http://www.friendskorner.com/forum/f17/jokes-three-wishes-114793/)
Apropos, the "I wish" structure. A question to my fellow teachers: do you also teach the other possible verb pattern, "I wish I was"? The question is interesting because decades ago this version was considered "incorrect" by many grammarians. Today, however, the latter version is just as widespread in the vernacular, as evidenced by countless pop hits, e.g. this popular song by Skee Lo, "I wish (a little bit taller)":
"I wish I was little bit taller,
I wish I was a baller
I wish I had a girl who looked good
I would call her
I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat
and a '64 Impala"
Actually, if you do a "Google fight," you will get 374,000,000 results for "I wish I was" and 63,700,000 results for "I wish I were". This is not hard science, of course, but supposing that Google lists the language of both native and non-native speakers, and that results for both terms contain the same proportion of non-native speaker errors, "I wish I was" seems to be winning. Language, it seems, can't stop changing.
The video content on http://www.proteachersvideo.com represents the complete Teachers TV archive comprising 3500 videos for professional development. Teachers TV was funded by the UK government from 2004 to 2011. They cover the full range of curriculum subjects as well as school improvement topics.
You can search videos related to English language teaching, e.g. drama in class:
If you found a good video that you think is useful for ESL teachers, please post it in a reply post.
I just started teaching relative clauses to pre-intermediate students. I began with this cartoon of a relationship drama starring who I call the "potato vampires".
I'm trying to explore the difference between defining and non-defining relative clauses and make it meaningful through memorable scenes and minimal pairs. By minimal pair I mean two identical sentences where the only difference is whether there is a comma (non-defining) or not (defining). Below are 2 videos containing such pairs and other examples.
It might have happened to you that you planned a class around a YouTube video, and the internet went off. Lesson spoilt, and if you were lucky, you could improvise something off the top of your head. There's one surefire way of accessing your YouTube video in class: if you download it. Yes, but how?
There's some useful Firefox add-ons to download (and convert) streaming videos. An add-on is an extension of the features of the Firefox browser. The one I installed was "Download Helper", which can download videos from YouTube-like sites, not just YouTube. It has worked great for me so far. You can getit directly from here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/video-downloadhelper/?src=search
Once installed, just go to your YouTube video page, and click on the new icon that appears below the video to download it to your computer (see screenshot below).
You can also find other YouTube downloaders or other add-ons in the Firefox add-on library.
Step 1. Click on "Add-on" in the Firefox menu.
Step 2. Then run a search for "YouTube downloader".
Step 3. Click "Install" on the add-on you choose.
You can uninstall your add-ons if you click the "Extensions" tab on the left in the Firefox Add-ons manager (See Step 1. above).
Thank you, Peter! Here is another link for video tools :
from here :
( I wish I had the time - & wit! ...- to search them all! ;-)) )
Have a great Sunday,
A worthy project for those considering volunteering to teach English. Azafady is an award-winning British registered charity partnered with an independent Malagasy NGO. Founded in 1994, they work in the town of Fort Dauphin and in rural communities across the Anosy region.
"Motivated individuals can contribute to Azafady's ongoing English teaching project in Fort Dauphin through the short-term scheme (2-12 weeks) or as a long-term volunteer (minimum 6 months) by assisting with English lessons for high school Baccalaureate students, training workshops and classroom support for middle school teachers, and intensive English language courses for local Azafady staff."
Azafady also has community building projects in Madagascar for 2-3 weeks, particularly school building in remote rural villages.
These community projects are great. I've done building and reconstruction work with "Common Ground" after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and this was the best adventure and learning experience I've had so far. (Here's my photos from that time: http://www.flickr.com/photos/a-kisdobos/sets/72057594092300808/)
Let's see if you can control your foot.
1. While you're sitting lift your right leg, and circle with your foot clockwise.
2. At the same time, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand.
Does your foot come to its own life and start circling the opposite way? I bet it does. Can you make it do what you want?
What's common to the words "deceased", "illuminated" and "encourage"? Seemingly nothing, unless you're playing the Kangaroo word game, and notice that we can use the letters in each word to make up a synonym of the word. For example, you can find "dead" in "deceased", "lit" in "illuminated" and "urge" in "encourage".
Hence the name: like the mother kangaroo carries a baby kangaroo in her pouch, so does a kangaroo word contain another synonymous word ("a baby word"). Here's a bunch:
Amicable, appropriate (adjective), salvage (verb), recline, before, instructor, separate (verb), catacomb, precipitation, deliberate (verb), observe, transgression, destruction, masculine
If you'd like to know the answers, visit http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/kangaroo-words
To play it as a warmer, you can give each student a word, along with the meaning of the word and the solution, then let them mingle in the first 5 minutes and quiz each other. As a follow-up, depending on how much time you have, you can write up all the words on the board and see how many the class can recall.
Or you can put the students in two teams and write the words one by one on the board. The team which can say the baby word first gets the point.
We're practising the past tenses and I'm a bit tired of gapfill exercises. Luckily, surfing my saved materials I discovered an old favorite idea that I completely forgot about. They're called Mad Libs.
The idea is that the student first has to provide some random verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. (excellent for making their understanding of word classes more solid). Then their choices are inserted into a story, letter, birthday invite, etc. Often these random insertions will make sense and hilarity will ensue.
The one I linked here is for present tenses. Does anyone know a good mad lib for the past continuous and past simple, e.g. a story? Thanks, Peter
While looking for Mad Libs on funbrain.com, I bumped into the online edition of the first Wimpy Kid book by author Jeff Kinney. One of my favorite book series, I can highly recommend it for school work. It's humorous, easy to understand even for lower level students, and lastly, it's about a teenager and his world, to which students can relate to easily.
Since it's available for reading online, you can also assign it as HW reading - provided that in your region internet access is readily available to all students.
In professional terms, "resource for practicing physical description". In student terms, having some fun with creating your very own sick, stupid, hip, fat, thin, mean, etc. character. (Psst, they are learning, but they don't have to know, right?)
Are you guys up for a challenge? Can you create a worksheet+lesson plan to be used with this online resource? How would you use it in an ICT class? What kind of words and phrases would you teach, and how? What would be a follow-up task after creating the characters? If you've made a worksheet, just upload it, provide the lesson plan in the description of your ws, and post the link to it as a reply to this post. I'll pin the most liked and most downloaded ones on the main page to celebrate the winners.
Here is a site : http://www.kizclub.com/
very useful if you teach young Special Needs or , maybe, Primary children. There are nice Topics and crafts ( very popular among my kids...:-))) You can find songs & rhymes, & much more. It's not new, but I thought it could be helpful to some of you. I realy like the concept of ' Learning by doing' ; I think their crafts are really useful - & adaptable. I'm teaching my young Special Needs ( 11 years old ) about "Home", & I 've found great crafts there. ;-)))
Have a great end of week,
Joe Weider, the father of bodybuilding, has passed away. His story is told in several chapters in the video below. Weider kickstarted Arnold Schwarzenegger's career and remained his mentor until his death. Here's a heartfelt tribute written to him by his protegee: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/tribute-to-a-titan-arnold-schwarzenegger-salutes-joe-weider.html
I find his a truly inspiring life, which could serve as the springboard to discussing the future ambitions of your students and finding heroes that they can look up to and be inspired by.
(Teaching English to Speakers of other languages)
A 110-page book full of practical tips and ideas from Tesol China:
(aka TPR, or Total Physical Response)
Most commonly used with young learners, kinesthetic teaching methods are fun when used in older classes, too.
Every now and then I like to use movements for fun with 9-12th graders. For instance, I like to practice verb+ing/to infinitive combinations (e.g. intend to V, don't mind Ving, etc.) using movement and sounds. I ask my students to repeat the full verb pattern when I say a verb (e.g. intend --> intend to do). At the same time, I ask them to perform a physical action and utter the sound we agreed to use for the specific verb pattern, e.g. snap fingers when saying "to infinitive" verbs. For verbs followed by the ing pattern, they have to bang on the table.
This technique is assumed to work for some students ("kinesthetic learners") better than others, but I believe, in the least, it adds an element of fun for everyone, especially when doing an otherwise uninspiring drill.
To describe the language learner's language ability, iSLCollective.com had adopted the international standard known as the "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)". Find more info on the Council of Europe website: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/Cadre1_en.asp
Watch this short video to learn more about the CEFR.
If you have lessons in an ICT (computer) classroom, you can have the students play a classic ESL game online. There are many pictures to play with:
That's really great & useful!
BTW, do you happen to know any good sites where you can calculate the distance between towns in the UK ?? I goggled - of course - but found nothing really efficient...:-(
I'm looking for a site that tells you the distance - and how long it will take - between cities in the UK...
Thanks for your help...
Linguists have long noticed that some words tend to occur in combination with another word, but not with the synonym of that word, e.g. "strong tea" sounds correct, but "powerful tea" would be considered an incorrect combination by native speakers of English. Similarly, "heavy traffic" sounds grammatical, whereas "big traffic" does not.
Such word combinations are called "collocations" in linguistics, and they are among the most difficult aspects of a language to teach, especially since learners tend to "mirror translate" from their mother tongue only to end up with some linguistically colorful, yet non-existing phrases.
If you're a non-native teacher like me, you may find yourself in a situation when you feel a word combo does not sound right, but don't know how native speakers would say it. Then you start to google your word, and try to find which other words it "collocates" (=occurs together) with, although that may be a lost battle. More likely, a giant corpus of English texts could have helped you in the past, e.g. the Corpus of Contemporary American English (http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/), which contains 450 million words. There it is possible to check what stands before and after your word, but often you get the same collocations over and over again, and have to scour tens or hundreds of sentences to find the one you need.
It seems your hunt for collocations will be much simpler from now on. British Council recommends us the Phraseup dictionary: http://www.phraseup.com/en
I've started testing it and it seems to work. It gave a bunch of splendid results for my entries. See screenshot below. Yay for Phraseup!
Demand-High teaching is an on-going enquiry into active, interventionist, challenging teaching. DH proposes that a teacher can be a 'teacher' again. This session suggests some concrete practical techniques (for you to consider critically) to get away from ritualised coursebook use, to help engineer a deep engagement with grammar, vocabulary, texts and exercises, and to make learning moves more visible.
SCAREDY CAT - A PICTURE STORY
Scaredy Cat is a project by Heather Franzen. She writes:
"Scaredy Cat is my first picture book, part of a series of short stories that I call Stories Without Words. Readers are given the freedom to create their own narratives and interpretations."
It sure lends itself to a bunch of activities, including creative writing and roleplaying (see ideas here), but it inspired me to think of ideas to use it as a storytelling activity. Scaredy Cat is the longest picture story I've ever found on the internet, which is great because you can add a twist to your typical story telling activity by putting your students in groups and giving everyone a part of the story. Here's how I would do it:
- First, each group could guess from their short sequence what the whole story could be about.
- Then, each group can send one or more "envoys" to other groups to gather more information about the rest of the story in order to work out the whole story. The envoys go back to their respective groups and tell them what they saw.
- Finally, each group writes down their version, the teacher reads them and in the next class, announces whose story was the most complete.
Alternatively, you can give every student a short sequence (two, three or four pictures - there's 47 pictures in total). Then let the students mingle in the classroom and look at each other's pictures. Once they are starting to get the gist of the story, they can start lining up next to each other so that the first student in the line has the opening pictures, and the last one has the last pictures of the story. Once lined up, starting with the first student everyone tells their part of the story based on their pictures, so the story will be retold in a whole class effort.
Find the pictures on Heather's website.
CAN YOU TELL FREQUENT WORDS APART FROM RARE ONES?
"90% of the time, native English speakers use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. In our dictionaries, these words appear in red and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent. But can you guess how many stars each red word is worth? Test your intuition on word frequency with this red words game."
VOCAB LEARNING MADE EASY
In Hungarian we have this saying, "Jó pap holtig tanul" - which literally translates as "A good priest learns until the death" - meaning that if you're enthusiastic about your profession, you'll never stop improving yourself in it. I don't know if there's an English equivalent for this maxim, but what I do know is that it holds true for teachers, and definitely holds true for me. And I don't mean just concerning tricks of the trade, methodology, but also concerning the unceasing, persistent perfecting of my command of English. I'm a Hungarian, a non-native speaker, who's learnt English for 24 years, yet in spite of my 24 years learning English, I stumble across new words on a daily basis.
I've always been keen on looking up words when reading or watching films. When I went to school there was no internet, only paper-based dictionaries. And looking up a word was always a pain, but I did it anyhow. Then I recall in 1998, being a freshman at university in Budapest, I had my first encounter with the internet when a university librarian introduced me to Netscape to help me do a small research. Since then, the world has changed so much that my students probably can't imagine life without the internet. We now also have online dictionaries, which make looking up new words as easy as pie. Or ...
I often find myself experiencing the same fatigue using the dictionary as in the old days. But what is it? It just takes a few seconds to switch to a new browser tab and type in the word. I should be grateful. Perhaps I've become spoiled. Or perhaps, while multitasking online I just have a hard time coping with an n-th task, i.e. learning new words. That's why I looked for an even simpler method of looking up words, and eventually I found the solution: browser add-ons.
Let me introduce my new favorite to you: Vocabla, which is basically an extra 'app' (aka extension) for your browser. Once you've installed it (takes 3 seconds) Vocabla lets you double-click words on any website, and see their meanings pop-up instantly in a small window next to the word (see screenshot below).
But Vocabla does more than just give you the meaning, and this is what helps it outdo its rivals: it also offers you to save the word into an online wordlist (see below). Then you can revisit and revise your words when you have time. Nothing gets lost.
Besides, when revisiting your words on the Vocabla website, you can play vocabulary games to learn them. If you prefer, you can set a regular reminder for yourself that pops up within your browser and tells you "it's time to play and learn" your words. Now, isn't that great?
Here is how you install the Vocabla add-on in your browser. This is a direct download link. If you install it, you will see the blue Vocabla icon in the top right corner of your browser, but really you don't have to turn anything on, you can just start double-clicking words right away.
FUN VIDEO CHALLENGE
You can challenge your more advanced kids to comprehend this short video with two native speakers talking in some American dialect. Let's see if they can work out at least the topic. Whoever can, will get a 5 or an A.
Of course, avoid them seeing the title of the video, How English sounds to non-English speakers :)
Film credits: 'Skwerl'. A short film in fake English. A film by Brian & Karl: http://www.brianandkarl.com
LISTEN TO HALLOWEEN AUDIO STORIES ON STORYNORY
Check out my latest scoop from the net: wonderful, free audio stories for kids on Storynory, retold by Natasha Lee Lewis. You can both stream the audio or download them, without even having to register on the site. On occasion of the upcoming festivities, let me point you to their brilliant collection of Halloween stories. I especially enjoyed the Halloween song.
You can also find the words to the song on the page, so you can easily create a vocab exercise or a gapfilling exercise based on it. If you do, please share it on iSLCollective to save others some work (of course, after getting the permission from Natasha at bertie [at] storynory [dot] com). You can also assign the song for students to translate for homework. There is a handy translation tool alongside the song that allows them to double-click any word and translate it to their native language instantly, be it French, Afrikaans or Danish.
CONVERSATION STARTER: FACEBOOK DISLIKE AND ALTERNATIVE FB BUTTONS
If you wanna strike up a conversation in the first couple minutes of the class, news about Facebook is a conversation starter that works most of the time. Here's some news that just broke recently: have you heard about the new Dislike button that's coming (to show empathy to sad stories)?
"The proposed dislike button wasn’t actually so you could let your petty-flag fly. It’s for those awkward times when you read a sad news story or status and you want to provide support but “liking” it wouldn’t be appropriate."
--Do your students think it's a good idea?
--Are they gonna use it?
--How's it gonna feel to receive a lot of "dislikes" to something you shared on Facebook?
--If it was up to them, would they introduce any other buttons?
After discussing these questions in 5 minutes, show them these funny button ideas by the site Purebreak. Have their feedback on them.
There are some buttons that you may deem inappropriate for class (depending on your taste or teaching setting). In that case, just edit out these buttons in a picture editor, like Paint in Windows, or just enlarge the image, then print it and cut out the ones that you wish to use in class.
Write up some comprehension questions and discussion prompts for them, and voilá, you can spend 45 minutes in a meaningful and fun way with authentic language being heard. List curated by Ana Maria Menezes.
FELT HAPPY OR SAD FOR A FRIEND?
A great prompt to start a class about "friendship". You can introduce the lesson by cutting up the words of this quote, and having students reassemble the sentence. Then go ahead and ask when's the last time they've felt happy and sad for a friend. After a pair discussion, get students to tell the class about the their partner's story.
NO HW? Give me a good excuse!
How many students didn't have HW today? And how did you react? Did you scold them, or give a bad mark, or ask questions? A teacher recommends you do this: create an opportunity for learning from underperformance:
ESL LESSON IDEA:
Amish joke to spark a discussion about intercultural differences
The Shiny-Walled Box Thingie
An Amish boy and his father were visiting a nearby mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny silver walls that moved apart and back together again by themselves.
The lad asked, "What is this, father?"
The father, having never seen an elevator, responded, "I have no idea what it is."
While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheelchair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched as small circles lit up above the walls.
The walls opened up again and a beautiful twenty-four-year-old woman stepped out.
The father looked at his son anxiously and said, "Go get your mother."
How to use it in class?
1. First, just tell the joke. Don't yet tell anything about the Amish people who live in the US. Make it into a guessing game instead. Get them to explain what the father must have been thinking in the end.
2. Then ask them why he thought that this machine could turn his wife young again. Give them hints to help them guess why the Amish have no idea about technology (that their religion forbids the use of new technology, so they live like people in the 19th century).
3. As a follow-up, you can watch parts of the series: Breaking Amish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_Amish
Short ESL grammar videos by the British Council
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID ONLINE
Did you know that the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book has been made readable online by the author? I've loved this series ever since I've stumbled upon it among a street vendor's second-hand book collection in Budapest. A great read, full of laughs, and not only for kids.
ESL lesson idea:
Picture prompts to talk about smartphones
What's peculiar about these photos? The people in the photos are all absorbed in their own world. More precisely, their palms. Can your students guess what has been edited out from these photos? Of course, the cell phones. Cell phones are so transformative of our day to day living that the way we use and abuse them surely merits a conversation. Use these thought-provoking photos as a discussion starter.
To spark a debate about whether smartphones make us antisocial, you can contrast these photos with one from the past when people used to be into their newspapers:
Here's 10 discussion questions about mobile phone use:
- Pick 10 places/situations where/when you use your cell phone. Compare lists with other students.
- Are you happy with the mobile telephone you have now? Why (not)?
- What's your favorite thing to do on your cell phone?
- What would your life be like without your mobile telephone?
- What are the situations when we MUSTN'T (not allowed to) use cell phones (when we have to switch them off)?
- What are the situations when although it's allowed, but we shouldn't be using cell phones?
- Do young people use mobile telephones too much?
- If you were a parent, from what age would you give a mobile phone to your children?
- What do you think mobile phones will be like in fifty years?
- Would you like to replace your cell phone to a smartwatch that is also a cell phone?
REAL 2015 vs 2015 in Back to the Future
ESL lesson idea for teaching comparisons, the passive voice or "future in the past"
Famously the movie "Back to the Future" was set in 2015 with a number of futuristic developments envisioned, like the hoverboard and flying cars. It is interesting to contrast this imaginary 2015 with the real one. Watch this video with your students and let them create comparison sentences based on it, e.g.
Beginner-Lower intermediate level:
In the film there were hoverboards. But in 2015 we don't have hoverboards. We still have regular skateboards only.
In imaginary 2015, we can see hoverboards. In real 2015, ...
Phrases for intermediate level:
While the filmmaker envisioned hoverboards for 2015, this hasn't yet become a reality.
The movie depicts a 2015 with hoverboards. in 2015, however, hoverboards are still not a reality.
In the movie ... However, technology in 2015 is not advanced enough to create hoverboards.
With intermediate and advanced levels, you can practice various passive voice structures and future in the past:
After discussing how the technology of real 2015 is inferior to that of the movie's imaginary time, you can have students think of what actual inventions of our time they find amazing and mindblowing. What inventions do they expect to become a reality in the near future?The film features hoverboards. However, hoverboards HAVEN'T BEEN INVENTED yet/NEED YET TO BE INVENTED.
In the film it WAS PREDICTED that in 2015 we WOULD HAVE hoverboards. However, ...
By 2015 hoverboards WERE ASSUMED/PREDICTED TO HAVE BECOME widespread.
Defining vs non-defining relative clauses through comics
Make grammar matter!
I always use this to introduce the difference between defining and non-defining relative clauses. I just call this little guy the "Potato Vampire". Students love him.
I think the best way to teach grammar is to make it "matter". In this comic you can't understand why the girlfriend breaks up unless you pay attention to the relative clause. Make your students figure out what the potato vampire really meant to say (you can ask them to make up a story about how he had upset his girlfriend) and what he actually said.
Here's the whole lesson: http://boggletondrive.com/2011/09/13/relative-clauses/
I've just finished reading Romeo and Juliet with my 15-years-old students and before taking the text I'verecommended seeing some videos to approach the story more confidently and encourage them to read a classical drama. Here you are one of the videos from Sparknotes they liked most: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRrvQ1vZxcg
Nice day :)
ESL LESSON PLAN ABOUT TOURISM
Seattle's Gum Wall (based on a 1-minute video)
An interesting, unusual topic if you're teaching about tourism and sightseeing.
For the first time in its 20-year existence, Seattle's iconic gum wall has been stripped clean. But it might not the end of the sticky tourist attraction.
How can you teach with this video?
1. Vocabulary quiz (see vocab list below) giving definitions, students watch the video and try to spot the words matching the defs
2. Checking comprehension
After watching the video, students discuss in pairs (answers were in the video, except for one):
How long did it take for this much gum to accumulate on the wall? (20 years)
How many hours did it take to clean the wall? (130 hours)
How much did it cost? (We don't know, students should guess)
How much gum was removed? (2350 pounds or about 1 ton)
3. Role play
a) A city council meeting where they decide on how to react now that the gum is coming back
A: city council members who originally voted on and ordered cleaning the wall
B: tourism experts who want the gum wall back
C: locals from the gum wall street who want another cleaning and effective protection by the city
Divide the students into three groups. Each group discusses how to effectively defend their stance
A: How to defend their voting on cleaning the wall? Should they accept the fact that the gum is coming back or keep fighting against it? Should they argue for cleaning the wall every couple of months and/or protecting it? How much money would either of these actions cost?
B: Why does the wall deserve to stay? What touristic (financial), artistic and cultural considerations support it?
C: Do locals have the right to live in a clean street? Or does the best interest of the city override these rights? Would we tolerate sticking gums on walls anywhere else?
4. Follow-up discussion
-Is this art? Is it disgusting? Is it disgusting art?
-Would we tolerate sticking gums on walls anywhere else?
-If you were the city, would you have kept it or cleaned it?
-People are sticking gums on the wall again. Is this a lost battle fought by the city?
-What should the city do now?
5. Watch more videos on the subject, there are plenty (students watch any of the videos at home, and share in class what new things they learnt).
This one has subtitles:
gum - bubble gum, chewing gum
iconic - legendary
stripped clean - cleaned, cleansed
accumulate - gather, pile up, increase gradually as time passes
theatergoer - someone who goes to theater
city landmark - tourist attraction, sight of interest
germy - full of germs
Ireland's Blarney Stone:
The Blarney Stone is a block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (=the ability to speak easily and confidently in a way that makes people want to listen to)
controversy - debate
controversial - divisive, causing debate
debate sg - to discuss the pros and cans of an issue
futile - in vain, pointless, useless
destined for - have a certain kind of destiny or purpose
I am not sure if this is the right forum. However, I am looking for a teacher for ECT in Swan Hill, VIC Australia. If you know an appropriate place to post this position please let me know, or if anyone here is interested please view job details at http://www.qualifiedcarers.com.au/jobdetail/433/18
I appreciate any help and advise. Hope everyone is having a lovely day!
British Vs American English: 100+ Differences Illustrated