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Posts Tagged ‘TEFL’


Would you know what to do if the photocopier broke? And I mean REALLY broke… You’ve unjammed it, kicked it, sworn at it, turn it on and off but it just. won’t. work. What’s your next step? Panic? Scream? Cry?

Fear thee not. Here are some ideas that could help ease those panic-stricken moments when you have to deliver a material free lesson, or when you need a warmer/cooler/filler. No photocopies, not high-tech gadgetry, just a teacher, some students, and a few scraps of paper.

1.

Dictate 8 or so infinitives (regular and irregular) and get the students to write down the past participle of the verbs.

Elicit the answers, and put them in the middle of the board. Then elicit a complement for the verb and write that to the right of the participle.

For example: You say “ride”, and the students write down “ridden” (which you put in the middle of the board). Then get the students to suggest things you can ride (bike, camel, horse, unicycle). Choose the most interesting one and write it next to the verb.

When you’ve finished with all the participles, on the left hand side, write “Have you ever”.

So you should have something that looks like this:

Have you ever             ridden               a camel?

                                          met                      a celebrity?

                                          flown                  in a helicopter?

                                         eaten                    sushi?

                                          swum                  with dolphins?

There you have a “Find someone who” activity which required no photocopying or preparation. It can be adapted for any level and grammar point. Future Perfect (Find someone who will have bought a house/ got married/ had children/ travelled to Australia by 2020).

2.

This next activity works better with higher levels and focusses on speaking and fluency. It can last up to an hour if you collect some errors and do some feedback.

Give each student 3 bits of scrap paper. One each paper, they should write one sentence that describes an important event in their life (that they are happy to talk to the class about). When they have 3 events, they should write the year it happened in the top right corner, and the approximate month in the left, so it should look a bit like this:

Put the students into group of 3 or 4. They put all their papers together, then line them up in a ladder on the table in chronological order. It might be an idea to cellotape the ladder to the table at this point.

Give each group one dice and one counter. They roll the dice and move the counter up the ladder for the correct number. The owner of the paper then has to talk about this event for 2 minutes (less for lower levels) and the other students must be ready to ask one questions each when the time is up.

Fold the paper over when it’s done so it isn’t repeated then continue until they have all been spoken about.

Part 2 to follow! Enjoy and let me know how it goes!

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A teacher told me about this activity and I thought it would work really well in showing students that it’s not what you say, but how you say it, that the key lies in your intonation! I think she found these ideas on another website.

Give the students simple words and phrases. Start with “Hello“.

Ask the students to think:

How would you say “Hello”

  • to a friend
  • to a friend you haven’t seen in 4 years
  • to a neighbour you don’t like
  • to a baby
  • to someone you discovered doing something they shouldn’t be doing
  • when you answer the phone

Then get them to practice it in pairs. Then get class feedback to demonstrate how the intonation and pronunciation changes.

Some more examples:

Goodbye

  • to a family member as you’re about to get on a plane
  • to someone who has been annoying you
  • to someone you’ve just had a fight with
  • to a salesman on the phone
  • to your boyfriend/girlfriend on the phone
  • to a child starting his first day at school

How are you

  • to someone you haven’t seen in 10 years
  • to someone who’s family member had died
  • to someone who didn’t sleep in their own bed last night

“I never go to pubs”

  • you are a person who disapproves of drinking alcohol and you are speaking to someone who often goes to pubs
  • when it is followed by “…but I sometimes go to discos”

What have you done?

  • to someone who has tried to fix your TV but has made the situation worse
  • when you hear a loud noise coming from a different room in the house
  • when someone has done something very bad which will have serious consequences

Do you have any more suggestions for phrases or situations?

Like this post? Why not have a look at this other post: http://missfearnley.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/adjectives-of-manner

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I came across this blog today. This man speaks a variety of languages as he went to the country, let go of his fear of making mistakes, and just spoke the language. He dispels the common fears (and excuses we make) that hold us back from learning a language and shows that it is possible.

http://www.fluentin3months.com/

The video on TedTalksx is a great resource (subtitles avalible). This would be fab to use in class to inspire your students and also as a starter for a discussion. I’m sure it would inspire them to go out and make the most of the opportunities they have. As I have now become a student myself (I’m trying to learn Italian in the short 3 months that I’m teaching here), it has certainly inspired me!

Link to the video: http://speakfromday1.com/tedx/

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Just to compensate for being so rubbish at posting…. 2 in one day!

I was reminded of this idea when I posted about the magazine activity. It’s a nice little warmer/filler or even use towards the end as a competition to finish on a high.

Buy enough copies of the same magazine/newspaper so each pair of students has a copy in your class. Then create a short quiz about stories in the paper, and the students have to use scan read the article to find the answers.

For example:

If there is a story unemployment, a questions could be “how many people are unemployed?”

If there is a picture of Brad Pitt, you could ask “what is the name of Brad Pitt’s new film?”

Obviously the answer has to be in the story, it’s not a general knowledge quiz!

The students then have to flick through the paper and find where the story is (you could include page numbers if you were feeling generous) using headlines and pictures to guide them, then they have to look for specific information.

I tried a similar exercise with an IELTS class, as they were having trouble with the reading section of their exam as they would laboriously read every single word to find an answer and then ran out of time!

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I have been terrible at posting regularly! I will endeavour to improve this!

I have just started on a new adventure in my EFL path, I have come to Naples in Italy for a few months. I will be teaching mainly children, which is completely new to me, so any help, advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.

I was watching a lesson today with some very young children (6? 7?) and watched an interesting activity which was great for kids, but I imagine could work for any age level at elementary and possible pre-int.

The teacher had taught adjectives to describe people (old/young, beautiful/ugly, weak/strong, boy/girl etc….). She then handed out some magazines (ie. OK!, Hello – those kind of celebrity and real life ones) and it was a race to “find a boy” “find someone beautiful” in pairs.

It was such a lovely way to reinforce the vocab and totally change the dynamic of the lesson.

It could also be adapted to clothes vocabulary (jeans, dress, tight/loose, spotty, patterned), more appearances (blonde, tall etc.).

With thanks to Judith Kay who let me observe her lesson and steal ideas

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Someone sent me this poem.. Thought it was good fun. 

 

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let’s face it – English  is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing,
Grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,
What do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
 
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship…
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
And in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And in closing……….
If Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop

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I started out this afternoons with big ideas about a Halloween lesson, with pumpkins and scary stories etc… but there is just too much stuff out there and didn’t know where to start with finding something I could use in the classroom!

I wanted to combine a useful skills lesson with something a bit more fun and engaging, so decided to do a reading, and also watch a video clip of some sort.

I settled on watching The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror X” as my previous Simpsons lessons was really well received (I’m doing this with a different class though so watch this space… it may be a huge failure!). I watched the episode and wrote some questions for the first two horror stories.

I also found a good multiple choice reading from Sean Banville’s Holiday Lessons website: http://www.eslholidaylessons.com/ The multiple choice focuses on some common issues my students have, so it will be useful grammatically as well as culturally.

I’m going to combine this with some vocabulary picture matching at the beginning of the lesson, and then get them to write the ending to a scary story for homework. If we have time, and if I can keep the classroom clean enough, we might do some apple bobbing!

If you have any links to good video clips or useful ideas or materials, please post them!

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Some of my students left on Friday and they asked if, seeing as it was their last day, they could watch an episode of The Simpsons. So that left me with having to find a real lesson within the programme, as we couldn’t just watch episode after episode for 90 minutes, could we?

Fortunately, The Simpsons has been in the news recently, due to an argument between the cast and the network over pay. This is pretty topical as it’s happening everywhere, so you would be able to tie it in with an ecomonics theme.

I then found a website that suggested an episode and lesson around The Simpsons based on the theme of stereotypes – I don’t want to blatantly steal ideas, so here is the link: http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Meilleur-Simpsons.html

This blog suggests using the episode “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” as a basis for talking about stereotypes. It mainly focuses on Japan, but you could also talk about American stereotypes. There are some good worksheets on the site too, so take a look at it.

Other themes you could use with The Simpsons; the elderly (Abe Simpson), friendship, families, childhood, marriage, relationships, responsibility… there are loads more I’m sure. You could also use it when studying narrative tenses, and get the students to write the plot of the story.

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With thanks to Peter Watkins from Portsmouth University who lead this RALSA session and allowed me to post his ideas on here.

Following a recent professional development session lead by Portsmouth University’s Peter Watkins, I came across some great ideas to help with reading lessons. The key idea I took away from it was dont’ test reading, TEACH reading. This idea stuck with me and I used it in my next reading and the students were given a more native approach to reading a text.

Here are some ideas that we discussed in the sesson:

How to deal with vocaulary

Is pre-teaching vocabulary the only solution? Is it always the right solution? Depending on the level, some teachers prefer learners to teach themselves the vocab via context and identifying word type and general meaning. Others provide a glossary as this speeds up the reading and learning process. Studies have shown that the slower you read, the less you understand and bottom up learning isn’t very effective.

In come cultures, if you don’t know the meaning of every single word, they believe that you don’t understand the text. In European English teaching situations, this isn’t the case, but we are still faced with students with heads in dictionaries trying to learn the meaning of every word.

One idea we talked about was allowing the students to ask you the meaning of the words they don’t know. However the whole class can only ask you 8 words (or choose and appropriate number). This encourages negotiation, forces them to choose only the key words and allows peer teaching as they tell each other the words so they don’t waste a question.

At the end of the lesson,s get the students to write down 6 words they want to remember. In two days time, get them to tell their partner the words. See if they can still remember. Then get them to tell each other about how they remember them – the stronger students can teach the weaker students a lot.

Make it personal:    

Are a group of Greek teenagers really interested in thatched cottages in Devon? Probably not.

One solution to this would be to get the students to find their own article online that they find interesting. They could then either present their article to the class, or hand them in to you and *ta-da* you have 13 reading lessons with the materials already provided for you – all you have to do is create the lesson around them.

Get the students to read the text and mark their reactions to it. A tick means they agree, a cross means they disagree, a question mark is something they don’t understand and an exclamation mark is something they found surprising. Anything funny can be a smiley face or a “lol”. The students then compare their reactions and develop and expand their opinions and understanding.

 

We did talk about a lot of other activities, most of them commonly used (jigsaw readings, restoring damaged texts etc…) but I found these the most interesting as they gave the students a real, authentic way of reacting to the texts. Who here reads a text then searches for specific dates, numbers, people, opinions etc once they have finished. I found that the above activities really taught them to read and react, not test them.

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I’ve just found this website which might be nice to use for an off book, authentic material lesson.

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

Every year, this organisation gives a prize for the worst sentence and they publish the winners.

Could be interesting – let me know if you use it and how it is received.

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