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Posts Tagged ‘listening’


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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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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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’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 made a class newspaper with my teenage students today and it was absolutely fab!

I gave them some sections of the paper, but you could do anything you wanted.

I had: Teacher interviews, Group leader interviews, City profile, things to do, excursion and activities, class profile.

You could make it more serious depending on the age and ability of the class.

I assigned two people to be the editors, they had to assign the pages to the other students and one person needed to be a photographer. I gave them a disposable camera and had it developed at lunchtime.

I’m going to bind the original copy to show to other classes as an exmaple, but I photocopied each student a copy to take home with them so they have a permanent reminder of their time here.

Maybe this would be a good creative project for your class to work on?

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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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There is a popular TV programme called “Come Dine With Me”, where 5 strangers throw a dinner party for each other and they score the host’s efforts in secret. The winner wins £1000.

I spent the week building up vocab and knowledge of the topic of food. We did readings, phrasal verbs, food phrases (eg. she’s as nice as pie, they’re nuts, it’s not really my cup of tea, piece of cake etc.), and the students had to write recipes for their favourite food and research food from a country I gave them.

On the Friday, we played Come Dine With Me, and it went really well.

We did a very short reading on the programme, just so they understood what we were doing. Then we watched an episode of “Come Dine With Me”, and they had to answer a few questions (what food do they make, what was the final score? etc)

This is the episode we watched, set in East London:

 They then had about half an hour to creat their own dinner party menu. they had to include all the ingredients, and how to prepare the food.

I split them into two groups and they had to then present their dinner party to their group. Everyone had a piece of paper and secretly marked the person and put it into an envelope. Once everyone had presented their menu, they added up their score to see who won.

I gave the winner a blown up photocopy of a cheque as their prize. 🙂

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