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Archive for the ‘Speaking’ Category


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: https://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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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 find this is a good way to revise grammar and get the students to teat each other.

Photocopy a basic snakes and ladders board game (Cutting edge teachers book at starter/elementary and pre-int) has a copy in the back of it, or use a real board if you like.

one of the square should have a question mark on them (or all of them if you like!). When a person lands on a question mark, they must take a card which has a question on it.

you can either use a real board, or find one in the Cutting Edge resources packs

It’s a good idea to get the students to make the question cards which revise all of that week’s/month’s/course’s vocabulary and grammar. Jumbled sentences, gap fills, collocation and conjugations also make good questions. The students grade the questions as they are focusing on the topics covered in their class and it also provide a fun way to revise on a Friday rather than a normal gap-fill exercise!

I’ve done this with a variety of levels and ages and it has always worked well – the students feel challenged as they spend the first part of the lesson writing questions but spend the second half in a more fun frame of mind “playing a game” and learning.

Let me know how it goes!

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I’m sure this has been used and used and re-used some more in your classes, but I used this in a class last week and even though I had used it before, I was surprised at the results, so thought I would put it on here to remind you that it is a great activity to use.

For those who may not be familiar with the concept of Speed Dating, a quick summary: Strangers go to the event and spend about 5 minutes at a table talking to a partner, a bell then sounds and they move round to the next person. They fill out an opinion form and hand them in to the organisers. If there are any matches, the organisers send their details to one another and romance blossoms from there!

You can use this activity at any level. It works with elementary students who are learning to introduce themselves and ask people questions. I have used it with intermediate students to improve fluency and last week I used it with advanced students who had to include more complex vocabulary and had to portray certain characteristics. They were very lathargic on a hot Friday afternoon but became full of energy and motivation once they started speed dating!

I find that getting students to make a new personality brings them out of themselves and gets rid of any shyness that there may have been before. You could give them a magazine and they have to find a photo of a person to be which can be quite fun.

Make sure you have equal number of boys and girls (you may need to have some transgender students for a while!)

They then need to invent a new name, age, personality profile (for higher students to act out), job, family imformation, hobbies and interests. Give them about 5-10 minutes for this as this is not the focus, and they may get carried away lookign for photos.

Set the tables up so one “date” takes place at each table. Give the students a maximum of 5 minutes (I find 3 minutes helps keep the pace up and means they don’t have any awkward silences) to talk to each other, then move one set around so they speak to as many people as possible. When they have spoken to everyone, bring them back together as a class and see who they made a note of who they liked… See if any romances have blossomed!

I have had 80 year old alcholics, 20 year old New York City singers and dancers, ego-centric socialites and lots and lots of giggles!

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I saw this article online about the Indonesian tribal language Dusner being on the verge on extinction. There are only 3 people left in the world who speak the language who are all in their 60s and 70s. They were all recently injured in a natural disaster but thankfully survivied. Linguists at Oxford Uni are now trying to protect the language.

Have a look at one version of the story here: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/TechandScience/Story/STIStory_661278.html

This might make a good topic for a lesson. You could use the text as an authentic reading exercise. Extention tasks could range from an interview with the survivors, a diary of one of the speakers, or a debate on languages. Eg, Will English ever be the world’s only language? Is there a link between language and culture? English is the most important language in the world. It is important to learn several languages etc….

Just thought this text would make for a nice lead in to a discussion. Please let me know what you think and how it went if you use this in your lessons.

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