Health and Illness: A Lesson Plan for Upper-Intermediate Students

This lesson is aimed at students with a language level of B2  (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to health and illnesses through a variety of engaging activities which will help them improve listening and speaking.

This lesson plan works well on its own, but I have used it to complement Unit 2 of the course book New English File Upper-intermediate.

 

The Hot Seat. Revising and consolidating vocabulary.

A fun way to revise and consolidate vocabulary is playing the hot seat with the wheel of fortune.

PROCEDURE

    1. Divide the class into two teams and ask them to choose a person to play for them and take the “hot seats”. These two students will be facing their teams and with their backs to the whiteboard
    2. Decide which team starts the game by tossing a coin. Let’s say Team A starts the game. Tell them each team will have one minute to describe and guess as many words as possible.
    3. Spin the wheel. Team A will have to define the word for its player. Once the player has guessed the word, the teacher will spin the wheel again for the same team. For every word they guess, they will get 1 point. If the player for Team A doesn’t know the word, then Team B gets the chance to define the word for its player. If he guesses, the team gets 2 points for this word.
    4. Repeat procedure for Team B.

Role-Play: at the doctor's

At this stage, students will have already learned the vocabulary for minor and more serious illnesses and conditions so now, it’s time to practise it.

Step 1.  Working on pronunciation

On the board, write some of the words students have found most difficult to pronounce and revise their pronunciation. In my case, they might include:

Stomach ache   cough   temperature   consciousness   sprained   antibiotics   antihistamine  wound     blood pressure   medicine    paracetamol

Step 2.  Visiting the doctor

      • Ask students about the last time they were ill. What symptoms did they have? Did they go to the doctor? What was the treatment? Did you follow his advice? Could you go to work/school?
      • Tell students that they are going to role-play a conversation at the doctor’s where half the class will be patients and the other half will be doctors.
      • Students playing the role of patients will get a card with their ailment and they will need to talk to the doctor, describe their ailment and get some advice or treatment.
      • Students playing the role of doctors will have to ask questions and then prescribe some medicine, if necessary, and give some advice (rest, diet…etc).

Step 3.

Build the basic guidelines of the conversation on the board with the students’ help

Doctor: “Good morning/afternoon. What seems to be the problem?”

Patient: “I haven’t been feeling well for a few days/ I don’t feel well”. Explain your symptoms

Doctor: Asks more questions like ” Are you taking anything for… ?“Do you have a headache”? When did it start?” Have you taken your temperature?” …etc

Step 4.

Ask half the class (the doctors) to remain seated at their desks and ask the other half (the patients) to stand up and move to a corner of the room. Give each of the patients a card with their illness and ask them to choose a doctor and role-play the conversation.

When a student playing the role of patient finishes, he should go back to the corner and wait there for another student (patient) to swap the cards. Students will role-play as patients twice.Once this step is over, change roles: patients will now be doctors and doctors will role-play as patients.  Give them new cards or reuse the previous ones.

Cards here

Listening comprehension: Complementary and alternative medicine

Write “alternative medicine” on the board and ask students if they know what it is and if they have ever tried it.

Tell students they are going to watch a video where Dr Mc Cann discusses traditional medicine and alternative medicine. Ask them to listen once and then, in pairs, share any ideas they got from the video.

Ask students to listen a second time (even a third, if necessary) and answer the following:

True or False? Justify your answers

      1. Integrative medicine is a combination of traditional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine.
      2. At medical school, professors show you some alternative and complementary medical practice.
      3. Dr McCAnn thinks a doctor needs to treat patients with either conventional or alternative medicine
      4. According to alternative medicine, the human being can heal himself
      5. Patients of integrative medicine are willing to take an active role in their healing process.
      6. Some patients of integrative medicine are not ill at all.
      7. Dr McCAnn believes integrative medicine is here to stay.

Answers: At the end of this post

Going the extra mile: Introducing more advanced vocabulary
      • To feel under the weather = to feel slightly ill
      • To be as fit as a fiddle= to be healthy
      • To phone in sick= to call work and say you’re ill
      • To suffer from a disease
      • To be a hypochondriac or a cyberchondriac /ˌhaɪ.pəˈkɒn.dri.ək/
      • To give someone a diagnosis /ˌdaɪ.əɡˈnəʊ.sɪs/ Ex: The doctor cannot give a diagnosis without doing some tests
      • To treat an illness such as asthma, depression, high blood pressure
      • To relieve a headache, dental pain, arthritis /ɑːˈθraɪ.tɪs/
      • To practise self-medication with non-prescription medicines /ˈmed.ɪ.sən//ˈmed.sən/
      • To have an operation, to undergo an operation
      • To donate organs, to be a donor
      • To go down with a cold / the flu
      • To need surgery /ˈsɜː.dʒəi/
      • Symptoms
      • A life-threatening illness
      • A tumour /ˈtʃuː.mər/ (UK) /ˈtuː.mɚ/ (US). Ex: Brain tumours develop in fewer than one in 50,000 people
      • The side effects of drugs
      • Vaccination
      • Integrative medicine: a combination of traditional and alternative medicine
      • Home-made remedies
      • Alternative medicine /ɒlˈtɜː.nə.tɪv/
      1. Homeopathy /ˌhəʊ.miˈɒp.ə.θi/: a way of treating illnesses using very small amounts of natural substances,
      2. Osteopathy /ˌɒs.tiˈɒp.ə.θi/:  the treatment of injuries to bones and muscles using pressure and movement
      3. Yoga
      4. Reflexology: a treatment in which your feet are rubbed and pressed in a special way in order to improve blood flow and help you relax,
      5. Acupuncture /ˈæk.jə.pʌŋk.tʃər/: to insert very fine needles into the body at points along the meridians
Controversial Statements about health.Discussion Posters

Using vocabulary is key in this lesson. In fact, all the lesson is aimed at motivating students to use vocabulary they are already familiar with and to give them a chance to use newly-learnt terms.

So, this lesson could not finish without devising another strategy to help them use the target vocabulary; this time with the help of visual images in the form of posters and with controversial statements that will, hopefully, spark discussion.

Procedure: Gallery Walk

On the wall of the class, display the posters. Ask students in threes to choose a poster and discuss the statement written on it. Encourage the use of target vocabulary.

You can download the posters here.


Listening Comprehension Answers:

1.T  2.F  3.F  4.T  5.T  6.T  7.T


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Oh! English Pronunciation! Let’s pronounce word ending in -ture!

On this blog post, we are going to address a very common pronunciation mistake among my students, and maybe among yours too.



Let’s start

Write on the board the word CULTURE and ask your students to try to pronounce it. It could be tried in pairs or just shouted. You’ll be surprised at the variety of different pronunciations your students will come up with.


Time to explain a bit of phonetics.

Your students might not be familiar with the international phonetic alphabet, but don’t let this discourage you.

Let’s break the sound up:

Write the symbol /tʃ/ on the board and model pronunciation. It should be quite easy as this sound exists in many languages. If it helps, ask them to find words in their language that have the same sound.

Got it? Now, write the vowel /ə/. You’ll probably want to explain this is the famous schwa, resist the temptation, or maybe not but, really, there is no need to add to their burden.

To get the sound right, just ask your students to relax and punch (slightly, you don’t want them to pass out) their stomachs. Ask: What sound did you get?  Exactly, this is the schwa.

Now that we have the two sounds, put them together and there you have it. Tada!!! /tʃə/


Competition Game

Let’s go back now to our word CULTURE. Again, write it down on the board and, again, ask students to pronounce it. Better? Much better, I’m sure!

Competition: Ask students to work in pairs and tell them they have one minute to write down words ending in –ture. Needless to say, the winner is the pair with more correct –ture ending words.

Write their words on the board. If you feel there are some important ones left, write them on the board. Drill pronunciation.This is my selection of words:


Writing. More fun coming

Once all the words ending in -ture are on the board, ask students to work in pairs and write a sentence containing at least three words ending in- ture.  Give students slips of paper ( I normally fold a regular sheet of paper in two, horizontally) and ask them to write (nice and legible) their small tongue twister there. Ask them to pass it to the pair sitting next to them. In pairs, they practise reading the sentence. Repeat procedure as many times as you deem appropriate.

Example:

The texture of the creature in the picture in the literature classroom was just amazing.


Spoiling the fun

This is English. One of the most unpredictable languages as regards pronunciation.

You might want to point out that in some cases, the ending -ture is not always pronounced /tʃə/, as in the word “mature”. Fortunately, this happens in only very few cases.

 

Lesson Plan: I don’t believe in paranormal but….

Fall has finally hit!This is Halloween’s week and it seems the weather has finally chilled out and stopped being silly. The truth is that I don’t see myself telling scary stories in class while the sun outside is shining bright. It just wouldn’t do! Telling scary stories requires a dark, grey, gloomy day; one cannot be telling scary stories and thinking about going to the beach.

Level: B2

Aim:

  • to introduce and revise vocabulary used to talk about paranormal or unnatural phenomena
  • to give students’ some listening and speaking practice.
  • to develop students’ writing skills

STEP 1. INTRODUCTION

Write Paranormal on the whiteboard. Ask students if they know what it means (if necessary, explain that a paranormal activity is not scientifically explainable), and ask them if they believe in paranormal phenomena.

STEP 2. LISTENING COMPREHENSION. A PARANORMAL STORY.

Ask students if they know what a Ouija board is and ask them whether they, or anybody they know, have ever played with a Ouija board. I have a real experience to share with them but in case you don’t, there are plenty of terrifying stories online you might want to share with your students (just to build the right kind of atmosphere).

  1. Play the first 0:53 seconds of the video and ask students to predict what will happen next. Listen to their predictions and then, play the rest of the story.
  2.  Play the video a second time and ask the following questions:

True or False? Justify your answer

  1. The narrator and his brother had just bought a Ouija board
  2. The narrator’s brother was willing to play with the board
  3. The first time, the narrator’s brother moved the planchette.

Answer the following questions in your own words:

  1. Why did they decide to play a second time?
  2. What is the ideal environment for a Ouija board?
  3. Why did the narrator leave the room?
  4. Why did he run back to the room and what did he see?

 

STEP 3. SPEAKING

Before asking students to discuss the questions you might want to pre-teach or revise some vocabulary.

  • To set the mood: gloomy, desolate, haunted, abandoned, scary, spooky, frightening, creepy and supernatural
  • To say how you feel:  horrified, terrified, petrified, panic-stricken, trembling, paralysed, shuddering
  • To talk about “people”: a ghost  ( a ghostly figure), an apparition, a shadow, an entity, an (evil) spirit, a hallucination, a medium, a UFO.

Ask students to work in groups and answer the following questions.

  • Do you believe in ghosts? If not, how do you explain people’s claims to have seen them?
  • Have you experienced the feeling of déjà vu? How do you explain this strange feeling?
  • Telepathy is communication directly from one mind to another. Is it possible to communicate this way?
  • Sometimes, the police use psychics to help them. What do you think about this?
  • Do you believe in hypnosis? What happens when a person is hypnotized?
  • Can people predict the future? Have you ever had a feeling about the future that turned out to be true?
  • Have you ever visited a fortune teller?
  • What do you think about UFO sightings?
  • Are you a superstitious person? What things are you superstitious about?

Most of the questions are from this site. 

STEP 4. WRITING CONTEST. I DON’T BELIEVE IN PARANORMAL, BUT….

I love telling stories, don’t you?  Well, the heading in this Step 4 needs no explanation. A contest.  A contest which will give me the opportunity to revise narrative tenses and connectors to help students sequence their ideas.

I’m going to use this excellent post from Thought.Co

A good contest, deserves a nice poster. Here it is.

Lacking inspiration? 6 awesome resource websites to find stuff for your classes

I like to consider myself a creative person and I’m always designing and devising activities to step away from the course book with the aim of sparking students ‘interest. Unfortunately, I’m not always in that mood. No problem :)Luckily, there are plenty of websites offering free resources that can really save the day.

These are my favourite go-to sites when I am feeling kind of lazy or uninspired, but still want to shine in class.


TED 4 ESL. Great for listening comprehension

This website offers activities based mostly on TED Talks videos. It provides free downloadable students’ and teachers’ worksheets and you can choose the video by topic or level (B1, B2 and C1)



Print and discuss.  Stimulating conversation questions

This site doesn’t probably offer an astonishing variety of discussion topics, but I find the questions in each set quite stimulating. Scroll down the page to find their selection of topics for your conversation classes.



EFL Magazine- Resources. Anything you need is probably here.

EFL magazine has collected a host of great resources from different sites around the world.

The site has an excellent collection of resources for teachers. There are sections for grammar, pronunciation, functions, business, tests, speaking topics, vocabulary and lesson plans.



Teaching English- British Council. Excellent for lesson plans and methodology

This is an excellent site. The section for lesson plans specifically offers well-designed lesson plans to suit adults and teens. It also provides downloadable worksheets for both teachers and students.

Highly recommendable is also their Facebook page where tips, ideas, practical advice and lesson plans are offered.



 Road to Grammar. Awesome for quizzes.

Road to Grammar is the place to go if you want to find a simple interactive grammar or vocabulary quiz. Don’t miss the Games Section with my favourite online game Fluent. It’s addictive!

You might also want to have a look at Road to Grammar Junior



Busy Teachers. Also called “teacher’s paradise”.

Awesome compilation of resources for every level. On this site, you’ll find worksheets for grammar, vocabulary, speaking, reading, writing and pronunciation among other things.

My favourite section is the Listening Section, where you can filter the activities by level (from complete beginner to advancedd)


Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. Click to follow!


What are favourite sites? Can you add to the list?

Lesson Plan: Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world- Nelson Mandela

I’m so excited. Truly. I am. It’s been months since the last time I taught a class full of students. I know it’s going to be hard but I’m really willing to get back in the swing of things. I’m also preparing material for my workshops, and I have a bunch of work to catch up on, but I’m anyway feeling really motivated. So, it seems I am off to a good start.

This is a lesson for upper- intermediate students (B2) about education. In this post, you will find

  • Some vocabulary you might need to revise/learn when discussing this subject.
  • A small challenge with some confusing terms related to education
  • A video about  6 problems of our education system
  • Speaking practice: questions to discuss
  • A written assignment

The warm-up. Setting the context

I don’t think there is a better way to introduce a topic than by showing students a picture that will probably spark interest and hook students into the lesson. That’s the aim of the picture below.

Show the picture and listen to student’ reactions. Probably, the first one would be “Me, neither”, but let’s dig in for more profound reactions.

Tell students to get into pairs and think of three reasons why this boy wouldn’t want to go to school. Allow them 2 or 3 minutes and the write their suggestions on the board and discuss them.

Ask students: Can you relate to the boy in this picture? What can you remember about your kindergarten? In your opinion, what’s the ideal age to start school?

The vocabulary

Ask students to work in pairs. Write on the board the word “education” and ask students to brainstorm vocabulary related to the topic. Encourage them to mind map to help them revise vocabulary related to this thematic area. Allow them some minutes and get feedback from the whole class.  I gave handout 1   to my intermediate students last year, so this year (B2), I will probably need to revise and add the terms in handout 2 explaining difficult vocabulary.

The challenge.Did you know?

In this part of the lesson, students are presented with some confusing terms.

Ask them to work in pairs and discuss the questions posed in the flip cards. Award 1 point to the student who has guessed the right answer.
Flash Card Deck created by Cristina Cabal with GoConqr
 

Speaking. The questions.

Ask students, in pairs or small groups, to answer the following questions about education, where they will revise some of the vocabulary learned in the previous step. Encourage the use of new vocabulary.

You can get the PDF with the questions here, but isn’t it more appealing to use the Spark below.

Education

Listening. The video: 6 problems with our school system.

Methodology: collaborative retelling

It is a longish video. It lasts almost 6 minutes so I’d suggest breaking it up and asking students to work on different parts of the video.  In the video, 6 problems with our education system are mentioned.

This activity will be set as homework.

  1. Introduction.  In class, play the first 34 seconds of the video and tell students to give you a summary. They will probably say that the video shows how our system of education has become obsolete and is not preparing children for the real world. Ask them whether they agree with this idea.

2. Homework.

  • Explain that everybody will need to listen to the introduction again (first 34 sec) which summarizes the content of the video.
  • Tell students the video talks about 6 problems our current education system is facing nowadays.
  • Form groups of six students and tell them that, in the next lesson, they will be working in groups of six and each of them will share what they have learned about their assigned problem and their opinion on whether this is a real problem in their country providing examples, if possible.Alternatively, you can form groups of 3 students and assign each student two problems.
  • Assign tasks to the different students in the  group
  • Student 1: Industrial Age values 0:35-1:26
  • Student 2: Lack of autonomy 1:26-2:18
  • Student 3: Inauthentic learning  2:18-3:12
  • Student 4: No room for passion 3:12-4:15
  • Student 5: Differences in how we learn 4:15-4:40
  • Student 6: Lecturing 4:40-5:56

Writing. An opinion essay.

Write an opinion essay on the following:

Our current system of education is now outdated and ineffective.

Here’s a nice post I wrote last year which might help you.

Five Steps to Writing an Excellent Opinion Essay

Thanks for reading!

Ready-Made Lesson: Personal Identity

I must have been in my teens, but I vividly remember my mother telling my father that someone called James Dean had called. The funny part was not only that the famous now-long- deceased actor had phoned my dad, but the way everybody pronounced his name, /jamez dean/, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, while me and my naughty siblings couldn’t help cracking up, repeating /james dean, james dean/while in stitches. (The Spanish pronunciation of the “j” is similar to the Scottish word “loch” or the German word “Bach”)

In case you are wondering, my parents (now almost 80)  had never ever heard a word in English so everybody said /james dean/ just like that and never gave it a second thought. We, me and my three siblings, just liked fooling around. I know better now!! 🙂

About the lesson:

In this lesson, aimed at B2 students and above, students discuss their names and their personalities through some engaging activities.

In part 2, you have the possibility of asking students to use their own devices and complete the task in class or alternatively set the task for homework.

 


Part 1. Talking about your name

A video-based listening activity

Tell students they are going to watch a short extract from the Graham Norton show, where the actresses Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman discuss their birth names. Play from 0:00 until 2:50.

Introduce: 

  • To be named ( after someone)
  • To name someone
  • A pet name
  • A middle name
  • A nickname

Procedure:

Play the video once and ask students some comprehension questions. Play the video a second time if necessary.

  1. Meryl Streep was named Mary at birth. How did she end up being called Meryl?
  2. Is she happy about her surname? How does she wish it to be different?
  3. Why is Nicole Kidman called Hokulani? Who is she named after?

Discussion questions:

  • Are you happy with your name? Why (not)?
  • Does your name have a meaning? If so, what does it mean?
  • Do you have a middle name? What is it?
  • Do you have a nickname? If so, what is it and how did you get it?
  • If you could change your name would you? What would it be? Why?
  • U2’s lead singer, Bono, called his daughter Memphis Eve and Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter is called Apple. Do you know any “normal people” with unique baby names? What about you, do you prefer giving your child a more traditional name or a unique name?
  • In some countries, when women marry they take their husband’s last name? What do you think of this?

Part 2. Talking about your personality

In this second part, we are going to revise and learn some more complex personality adjectives.  To introduce personality adjectives we are going to use a website which analyses your personality based on the numerical value of your name. Whether students believe in it or not should be irrelevant, we are only interested in language acquisition here.

The warm-up

As this lesson is aimed at upper-intermediate students and above, students will have some prior knowledge of the most common personality adjectives, at least enough to get them started.

Choose any activity from 10 Games and Activities to Practise Personality Adjectives, a very successful – if I might say so-blog post I wrote last year

Homework.  The Website.

Ask students whether they think a name can shape their personality and refer them to this website where they’ll have to write their name in the space provided and read about their personality.

You can always ask them to read their horoscope, but this is “old news”, so I thought this might better spark students’ interest.

At home, students go to the website and find out about their personality based on their names. They look up any new words they don’t know, especially personality adjectives, as they will need to share this analysis with their classmates and say whether they agree or disagree with it, giving reasons.

Gathering Feedback

This activity can be done in a traditional way i.e board and chalk. Students call out an adjective and you write the personality adjective on the board.

Again, with the aim of creating a more engaging activity, I’m going to use a free online tool called “Answergarden” to get instantaneous feedback. The tool is very easy to use. Here’s a tutorial in case you need it, but it really has a very friendly intuitive interface making it very easy to use, even for those teachers who are not too tech-savvy. The app takes students answers and creates a word cloud that can be exported or embedded.  Students will need to use their own devices but, if necessary, every three students can share one.

Once you have created the word cloud in Asnwergarden, use the overhead proyector to display it and ask volunteer students to explain the meaning of the adjectives and say whether they think it is positive, negative or neutral.

Below, an example of a word cloud created with Answergarden.

Speaking

Put students in pairs and ask them to share their name report from the website and say whether they agree or disagree with such analysis.

Ask them to discuss the following questions.

  • What kind of people do you usually get along with?
  • What kinds of personality traits do you hate?
  • Is your personality more similar to your mother’s or father’s?
  • Do you think we are born with our personalities, or do we develop them because of what happens to us?
  • Do you tend to fall in love with good looks or with a great personality?
  • Does one person’s character affect the personalities of the surrounding people? Are you influenced by anybody you know?
  • Does birth order affect personality? What qualities do a first-born child, a last-born and an only child have?

The Quiz: As Free as a Bird. 

Let’s go the extra mile! In this quiz, you’ll find more colourful ways to talk about someone’s personality. In order to learn them, I suggest taking the quiz two or three times, the last time checking if just by looking at the picture students can remember the simile.

After doing the quiz, you can always ask some follow-up questions like:

Do you know anybody who is as stubborn as a mule?

Enjoy!

4 No-Prep/Low-Prep Games to Practise Big Numbers

I can’t believe I am starting a new course. Did summer fly? It surely did and here we are again, about to begin a new course and greet a new batch of students. Batteries? Fully charged?

It’s been donkey’s years since I last wrote a post and although this is the first after a longish break and one that should be devoted to first-day icebreakers, I have seen and read so many good ones lately that I felt I wanted to write about something completely different.

One of the problems my students almost always have is saying numbers, especially big numbers so, wouldn’t it be great to start the course working with numbers while having some fun? It never hurts to start the course in a light mood. God knows they will have plenty to study in the coming months.

Some boring, yet necessary things you might want to tell your students before you start playing.

BEFORE THE GAMES, REVISE

Before you start, it would be a good idea to revise how to say large numbers in English.  You can use this video for “inspiration”. Although the teacher in the video certainly goes out of her way to teach big numbers, I find that it”s not in my nature to go to such lengths so something that I always do and that my students enjoy is the following:  I start by writing a small number on the board and ask my students to say it. Then, I add a new number to its left, like this:

  • 5,
  • 35,
  • 635,
  •  4,635
  • 74,635
  • ..etc ( make it real big)

Every single time they have to say “and” (BrE), I make a gentle cutting gesture with my hand. Then I put them in pairs and they try with a new number.

THE GAMES

WHAT’S THE POPULATION OF…?

Ask students: Can you guess the population of the smallest capital city in the world?  As students make their guesses,  correct any mistakes they might still be making.

 Ngerulmud, the capital city of Palau an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, only has 391 people.

In this challenging game, students will have to guess the population of a given capital city or country.

  • Ask students to work in twos or threes.
  • Give each team a slip of paper. Tell them they will need to write their answer there, big enough to see from a distance.
  • Write on the board or display a picture of a well-known country or capital city and ask students to guess its population.
  • Allow one minute and then ask them to show their answer to the class and read the figure.
  • The team that is closest to the real figure gets one point.

 

THE PRICE IS RIGHT.

Have you ever watched The Prize is right” and wished you could play? Here’s your chance. If there is anybody out there who has never heard about this world-famous contest, here’s a clip from the contest to give you an idea of what it is about.

Rules of the game:  Participants try to guess the retail price of a chosen object.  Whoever is closest to the actual retail price without going over wins the object. If all the participants overbid, the lowest bid is announced and they’ll need to guess again.

Before the game: You’ll need to find pictures of different objects and bring them to class. A good source for pictures, description of the product and prices is Amazon, ( in case you are wondering, no, this is not a sponsored post 🙂 .If you like using new technology in the classroom, you can always make your own flip cards. (see mine here)

Note: Revise how to say prices in English and the name for the currency you are going to use in the game.

How to play in class:

  • Divide the class into teams of three.
  • Give each team as many slips of paper as objects you are going to display.
  • Display an object, give a short description of it and ask students to guess its correct prize without going over it. Allow 45 seconds.
  • Ask students to show the slip containing their guess and ask them to read the number aloud for the rest of the class.
  • Award one point to the team who is closest to the actual retail price.
  • Repeat procedure.

If you feel students are having difficulty guessing prices, an easier variation would be giving teams the first figure.

GUESS THE NUMBER

This is a very simple but effective game that requires no preparation.

  • Students in pairs.
  • Student A thinks a random number. Student B needs to guess it in as few attempts as possible.
  • Each time student A makes a guess, Student B should offer one of the following answers.

-My number is (much/ a bit) bigger
-My number is (much/ a bit) smaller
-Exactly! You did it!

A MAD RAFFLE

Before the class, select a few inexpensive things you want to give away such as some chewing gum, a pencil, a sweet, a sheet of white paper, a free homework pass…etc.

  • Tell students you’re feeling very generous today and with a lot of suspense and drama show the first item to be given away.
  • Briefly describe the item as if it were priceless: for example, tell them it is the first chewing gum that helps people pronounce English as a native… or some other silly reason.
  • Tell students that to get the prize they will need to guess its exact price.
  • Decide on a price but don’t tell your students. Remember that the chewing gum is unique so you want to give it a prohibitive price. Let’s say the retail price for the chewing gum is ₤ 765,888
  • Count the number of students and if there are 20 in class, tell them that the exact price is somewhere between ₤…. and ₤…. ( a window of 20 possibilities, ie, as many possible prices as students in the class) Write this range on the board.
  • Now, students need to shout out their guesses. Give the prize to the student who correctly guesses the price.

And you? Do you use any other games to practise saying big numbers?

Gone on Holiday! Back in October! + Most Popular Posts This School Year

The course is finished. That’s it! Another year has gone by. Times flies. I’m almost scared. One minute you’re greeting your new students and the next you are saying your goodbyes. OMG, life seems to be speeding up and before I know it, I’ll be greeting another batch of students.

Anyway, it’s June and, as usual I won’t be around until I resume classes, which will be at the end of September.

In between? More written and oral exams, some holidays, some brush up courses , the Camino de Santiago (St James’s way) and a long-awaited overseas trip. I’m also very excited to share with you that this summer I will be working creating content for Cambridge University Press, which I hope will share with you once I begin posting again. So, a busy summer for me!!

I hope to “see” you all next September. I’ll be calling the roll!!

 

Quiz: Persistent Spelling Mistakes and some Orthodox and Unorthodox Techniques to Get Rid of them

The course is almost finished.

Admittedly, I’m in sore need of a respite from the pressure of end-of-the-course classes, but it’s also true that I have a lot of ideas to try and share sitting on the drafts shelf of my mind. Little by little they will see the light.

My students struggle with English spelling. Who doesn’t? Little by little I can see they’re making progress, but unfortunately there are some spelling mistakes that I keep finding in my student’s exams. A quick search on the Internet reveals that the occurrence of these spelling mistakes has little to do with your mother tongue though, admittedly, the quiz is based on my students’ spelling mistakes who are, for the most part, Spanish.

What about you? Do you also make these mistakes? Let’s find out!


Some orthodox and unorthodox techniques to get rid of these spelling mistakes


  1. Write them down. This is the dull, traditional but effective way of correcting spelling mistakes. Start with one mistake and write it down, at least 10 times. This was my mother’s favourite method. I guess it served two purposes: to help us learn the correct spelling and also to keep us quiet for a while. I can’t blame her. I have 4 siblings and there are 6 years between the youngest and the oldest.
  2. Do the quiz. Do it once and write down all the targeted words you can remember. Take the quiz again. Correct the ones you misspelled. Repeat procedure.
  3. Ask someone to help you. Write a list of the words you have trouble spelling. Write the translation in your own language next to each one. Ask someone in your family to call any of these words at random. Write them down and ask this person to correct them. Once you have mastered the spelling of the words, you might want to buy your helper a drink. He deserves it.
  4. Write a short story. Write the words you seem unable to spell correctly. Make sure you write them down properly. Read them several times. Write a short story containing them and give yourself a high five if you got most of them right. Warning: don’t ask anybody to read it. The story will probably not make any sense at all.
  5. Stick on the walls of your house flashcards with the correct spelling. I used to do it with phrasal verbs when I was at uni. It worked but my flatmates were not very happy.
  6. Use Quizlet or any other app to create flashcards. This app is great to work with spelling as it offers a variety of games to practise the correct spelling. I’ve made a short video tutorial. See it below.

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A little Experiment: Hitting the Intermediate Plateau? No, you’re not.

Do your students sometimes feel as if they are not making enough progress? Do they sometimes have the impression their language learning has slowed? Do they feel they are stuck in the intermediate plateau?

While this feeling is completely normal, it can sometimes be very frustrating for our students. You might try to explain to them that this is just part of the natural process of learning a language, but the truth is that in their eyes, they are just not progressing as fast as they think they should, no matter how hard they try. It’s true that this perception is not real, but it never hurts to show them how unreal it is.

Today I want to share with you a little experiment I did with my students. Very simple, but very effective too. I did with my intermediate students, but you can easily try it with students of any level.

What’s the aim of the experiment?

to make students aware of how much they have learned at the end of a topic-based lesson. The idea is to brainstorm vocabulary related to the topic twice: at the very beginning and at the very end of the lesson(s) to make them realize how much they learn in the course of a single lesson. Making students aware of how much they are learning can dramatically improve teaching effectiveness as it is a powerful way to boost their motivation.

How long does it take?

5 minutes at the very beginning of the lesson and five more at the end of it. If you dedicate two or more sessions, 5 minutes at the beginning of the first session and 5 minutes at the end  of the last one.

Do you need to use technology?

I am afraid you do. For this experiment, students need to use their mobile phones with internet connection or any other device with internet connection. The good news is that you just need one device every three or four students. I have also used  Answergarden, which is a very simple free tool used for getting real time feedback from a group. It’s really very easy to use, but if you think you need extra help, you can watch a video tutorial in Teachertrainingvideos.com or read a brief tutorial here.


THE EXPERIMENT


  • Go to Answergarden and create a New Answergarden (it literally takes less than one minute). In my case, I created an Answergarden with the title City Life vs Country Life as this was the topic we were about to study in class.
  • Ask students to work in pairs or in groups of three and use just one mobile phone.
  • Share the link with your students and ask them to type the url in their devices (as I have mentioned, my students used their mobile phones) You can use Google shortener to shorten the link.
  • Ask students to brainstorm vocabulary related to “living in the city and living in the countryside”, enter the  vocabulary in the box and carefully check the spelling before submitting their answers. Allow 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Display on the overhead projector the answergarden. As students submit answers, click the Refresh tab on the bottom menu to update the answer display.

(below you can see the first wordcloud)

  • Go through the vocabulary they have submitted and make sure you save this first word cloud.
  • Teach vocabulary as any other ordinary day
  • Repeat procedure at the end of the lesson or the sessions dedicated to this topic.

  • Display both clouds and ask students to compare them and reflect on how much they have learned on the course of a single lesson. Contrasting both word clouds will undoubtedly not only motivate your students, but also will reinforce the idea of progress that is sometimes lost especially at the intermediate level.

Another idea with the same aim would be to ask students, at the end of a unit, to write everything they have learned in this unir. They’ll be just amazed at how much progres they have made.

 

 

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