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Archive for the ‘Listening’ Category


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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Just found this link online, which follows on nicely from my last post about the evolution of English and the relationship between American and British English. There are 10 one minute animated clips showing how English has evolved. Might be quite nice to use in the classroom?

http://www.visualnews.com/2011/07/07/the-history-of-english-in-10-minutes/

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I have been thinking about creative writing and how to inspire students, rather than hearing groans when you tell them to pick up their pens.

We need students to see that writing isn’t a chore or a punishment, but can be a vital language exercise and help them with grammar, syntax and can help them widen their vocabulary.

Of course, as in most situations, the attitude of the student depends on how the teacher presents the subject. Simply telling the students to write about their holiday isn’t going to fill them with inspiration. So we need to give them some more interesting ways to explore this side of their language learning.

1. Music

Play the students a piece of classical music (I quite like the idea of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” as these seem to tell a story). Allow the students to write short notes on how they feel and potential stories etc… They could then write the story of the piece. Later, put the students into groups of 4 and get them to perform the story of the piece as a short play. This could turn into a project, complete with costumes, props and could even be filmed (and edited with the music as the soundtrack if you are technically minded!)!

If classical music isn’t your cup of tea, play the students the song which is the soundtrack to a film. The students should then write a synopsis of the film they imagine from the music and this could also be performed. Try to choose a song which isn’t too current or popular, as you don’t want them all writing the synopsis of the real film! That’s not being creative… that’s plagiarism!

You could them play them some of the film is came from to see how similar or different their interpretations are.

(Maybe use the music from some British films which may not have been very successful over seas… Hollywood blockbusters are likely to be recognised – how about The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, Trainspotting etc)

Pictures

A big poster of a film, with the title removed could allow the students to write about what they imagine the story to be. Or a more classical painting could give rise to romantic stories or days out

Poems

Give the students a poem. Find one that isn’t too cryptic, or one that has complicated word order or grammar so as not to confuse!  Pre-teach any vocab then have the students read it to themselves. Then read the poem aloud, paying attention to punctuation as this will help with understanding. Then put the students into small groups and let them discuss what they think the poem is about. Then have a group discussion to share ideas. The students should then mimic the poem, to apply it to themselves or to their interpretation.

I first came across this idea on another EFL teacher’s blog that I follow, and she has posted her take on this idea and a poem to get you started: http://evasimkesyan.edublogs.org/about/

Other ways to write poems would be to do a Haiku (3 line Japanese poem of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 again) – this will be challenging as the students need to choose the right words to get the correct number of syllables. A Tanka is the same idea as a Haiku but has more syllables (5-7-5-7-7).

Acrostic poems can provide a starting point for the students (where the first line of each word spells a new word). Students could choose  their own word, our you could give them all the way word and compare the differences.

Themes

One problem students have when doing creative writing is not knowing where to start. You could remedy this by giving them themes or titles for their story. Try to make them interesting (ie. NOT “my holiday” or “my town/school/country/family”).

These are just some basic ideas, please leave comments below to share how you have inspired your students when it comes to creative writing, and let me know if you used any of these ideas and if how it went! Good luck and have fun!

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I take absolutely no credit for coming up with these ideas, but I used them in a lesson this week and it went really well…

I did a music themed lesson with teenagers (Pre-Intermediate/Intermediate, 11-13 years old) and did a variety of activities involving music.

1) Running Dictation

I split the class into teams and gave them each the same verse and chorus of a song (Michael Jackson – Thriller) and they had to remember the words and dictate them to their partner. I floated about checking spelling and cheating. The first group to finish was the winner. I then handed out the lyrics of the song and we watched the music video on YouTube. (I didn’t realise how scary the video actually is, so check the maturity and ages of your students before you watch it with them…..!)

2. Vocab Grab

This is one of my favourite games, and again I take no credit for it as I learnt this game from another teacher.

Make lots of little flash cards (the amount depends on what song you do). On each card, write one word from the song, along with some words that aren’t in the song. I make about 30 cards for one song.

Then stick all the cards to the board and have the students line up in two teams. Play the song. When the students hear a word from the song that is on a flashcard, they must grab it and run to the back of the line, so the next student can have their turn.

When the song has finished, hand out the lyrics to the song and the students must see if they took the correct words. For each correct word, they got one point, for every incorrect word, it’s minus one point.

I use Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now for this activity, as it’s a lively song and has some great words to stick on flashcards.

3. Song Bingo

I created a worksheet for this, but it is possible to just write the words on the board.

I give the students a worksheet with a 3×3 bingo grid on, and a list of about 30 words. They must pick 9 words and insert them into the table. All the words are from a song I have already chosen to play them.

Then play the song, the students must listen to the song and cross off any words that they hear in the song that they have in their bingo grid. When a student gets a row of 3, s/he shouts “Bingo” (or “House”… or anything you want for that matter!), and when a student gets all 9 words, s/he shouts “Bingo” and is the winner!

With thanks to Sue Holt who showed me the above ideas and from whom I shamelessly stole them.

My next music themed lesson starts with a reading activity of a biography of a famous singer (I have chosen Katy Perry). We then discuss what you have to put into a biography of a singer/band and list these on the board.

Then put the students into small groups of 3 or 4. They are now going to form a band and must produce a promotional poster for their band with all the information included in a biography (Dates of Birth, family, career history, scandals, singles and albums etc….). Give them about 30-40 minutes to produce a poster which will go on the wall.

Once they have done this, tell them that they are going to hold a press conference and they are going to be the journalists and the pop stars. They must prepare 10 questions to ask the other bands. They must write down the answers to the questions, as they are then going to write a biography for another band.

Hold the press conference (great speaking activity which lasts a good 20-30 minutes depending on the amount of groups) and collect errors to go over at the end of the class. The biography can either be done in class or as homework.



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I used a YouTube video of Baz Lurhmann’s “Everbody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) in my lesson last week when we were giving each other advice. The video worked well as the students weren’t very motivated that day (Friday!) and using a video with the lyrics meant that they were reading and listening.

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First things first: I do not know who Jenny is.

But apparently, this is her game.

I tried it for the first time today and couldn’t believe the great results. The students were bouncing around, being very compeitive and really seemed to enjoy it.

I took a story from the news. It wasn’t a major story (although that would work well). You don’t have to use a news story, although I think it helps when the students realise that it’s authentic English.

I took the first 53 words of the story and made a hand-out with 53 empty boxes. Each box must be numbered.

Divide the class into teams of 3-4. Then tell them to listen very carefully. They must not write anything down.

Read the story twice (even at a good level, you should read it twice), clearly, but with normal intonation.

Once they have listened to it twice, each team has to tell you one word from the text (it doesn’t have to be in the correct order). If they are correct, say the word, and the number of the box (good idea to have a master copy of the boxes with a word in each and cross out each word as they say it).

Points: Points don’t mean prizes. If a student gives you a wrong word, or repeats a word, their team gets a point. The team with the most points, loses.

Hint: If they getstuck, give them 5 minutes to work as a team to figure out more words. Remind them to think about pronouns, prepositions, articles.

I made my class give me the correct tense of the verb… if it was wrong, they got a point. The words “a” and “the” were repeated, butthey had to tell me each time they thought there was one. If they told me too many times…points!

I hope my instructions were clear. Let me know how it goes!

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