We are talking about Cloze Tests today. Not the printed fit-all-size cloze texts that you can get and photocopy from any textbook or exam preparation book, but the online tailor-made no-prep cloze tests you can get at the wonderfully simple site created by L. George. See it here
Why is it Cristina’s way, you might be wondering? Well, because it combines two of my favourite ingredients in an activity:
- A touch of technology
- A game-like activity
The online tool I have used to create the cloze has two features you can choose from: text only (that you can easily copy/paste into a document) and interactive (that you can save as an HTML page). The tool is free and you don’t even need to register.
In this exercise, I have used the simpler text-only version.
Cloze Test Exercise with a Twist
Choose a text that contains a variety of terms you want your students to revise or work with.
- Go to l.georges. Copy/paste the text in the box
- Choose Text Only and No Clues
- On the right yellow box with the options, choose “every… words” ( I have chosen to gap my text every 9 words)
- Using the OHP, display the gapped text on the board or alternatively, print it and give it to your students. Two students can share a copy.
- Ask students to work in pairs. Give or show the Close Test and ask them to predict the lexical category or part of speech that could fit each gap: is it a noun, an adjective, a preposition or maybe an article? Allow a couple of minutes for this task. You might want to show an example.
For example, I wrote a letter___ my mother (students will most likely agree, they ‘ll need a preposition to fill in this gap)
- Ask Student A to face the board. Ask Student B to face away from the board and concentrate on the text.
- Write one of the missing words on the board, and ask student A to define the word, or give a synonym or antonym for student B to guess and write down. For example, if the word on the board is “wrote”, Student A might say “it’s a verb in the past and you use a pen or a pencil to do it”.
- Tell students you’ll write a new word every 30 seconds. If Student B guesses the word quickly, he might try to use the rest of the time (up until the 30 seconds) to try to place the word in the right gap but tell them you’ll not wait.
- Continue in the same way until you have written all the missing words. The words should be written in random order.
- Once they have all the words, Students A and B will work together to complete the gapped test.
- Place a bell on your table and ask the first pair to finish to come up to your table. Silently check that the exercise is correct and if it is, ask them to ring the bell. From that moment, the rest of the class will have one minute to finish the exercise.
- Choose another text and repeat procedure. This time Student B will face the board and Student A will concentrate on the text.
Note: If you are a student, this is a great tool for self-study. Choose a text from around the web, gap the text every 10 words and then select the interactive feature, which will check your exercise. Enjoy learning English!
You see, Halloween and me, we are not on friendly terms. I don’t really get good vibes off this holiday. Gory and scary … just scares me. But, that’s ok. I don’t have to like every single holiday. However, I have students and teaching a language is not only about words, it’s also about the culture and traditions of the country you are trying to teach. Halloween is important in Anglo-Saxon countries so this year I have made a point of trying to give it some real attention. I’ll even attend a small Halloween party, where I’ll be wearing a knife-through-head prop and some Halloween skeleton tights. Organising the party? Let’s start small! This year, the party will be hosted by my enthusiastic colleague Marta Dominguez, who has also provided me with some of the activities you’ll see below.
Activity 1. Video Activity. The Ten Steps (2004)
This activity aims at
- learning vocabulary: adjectives to describe houses
- improving their listening skills
This is a great short film (less than 9 minutes and worth every second) that sets the right atmosphere. Draw the curtains and turn off the lights.
I would like to just for one day forget I’m an English teacher and just play the film, but I can’t. So, we are going to work a bit on vocabulary before the film starts and we are going to focus on some questions to answer in pairs after watching the film.
Before playing the video, show them the picture below or alternatively pause the video. Do the vocabulary exercise with them ( handout)
The Ten Steps
Activity 2. Writing and Story-Telling
This activity aims at
- developing creative writing
- using their stories to develop oral fluency
Remember the lights should be off and the curtains drawn. Lighting a candle might be a good idea for two reasons: it helps create a mysterious atmosphere and prevents students from reading from their essays.
The New York Times has a site where, every day, they publish a picture prompt to inspire students writing. Days prior to the great Halloween Day, I have shown my students this picture and asked them to write a scary story about this house. They should bring their stories on the day of the party.
The idea is to put students in groups of four and tell (not read) their stories. Each group will decide on the best and the whole class will listen to the best stories from each group and then vote on the best one.
It’s also a good idea if you share a story of your own and yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ll still need to correct their stories.
Activity 3. A bit of fun with Kahoot.
This activity aims at:
- teaching about traditions
- developing digital abilities
- having fun 🙂
I would just not feel fine if, after all the spooky storytelling, my students went home and couldn’t sleep that night, so a Kahoot is in order.
Again, I have not created it. My colleague Marta has just chosen one from the enormous bank of Halloween quizzes Kahoot has and we have adapted it to our needs.
Happy Halloween! Let’s enjoy the holiday break!
I’m currently in the middle of —what I like to call—beginning-of-the-course chaos. I am busy doing nothing, wasting time on probably unnecessary things and when the day ends, I find I have done nothing from the to-do list I carefully planned in the morning. Total chaos.
Today, I have a guest post from a colleague from EOI Oviedo, Ángeles Jimenez, who from time to time, saves my a** by agreeing to send me some of her creative activities. This is one of them. I hope you like it as much as I did.
This lesson plan is based on a two-minute short film launched by the B.B.C on Christmas 2017. It’s suitable for intermediate and higher levels.
The lesson starts with a lead-in speaking activity to help students differentiate -ed from -ing adjectives. It’s then followed by a brainstorming activity where students get a lot of talking time.
-ed / -ing adjectives can be a challenging task to teach as students mix them up easily. Sometimes such confusion can lead to amusing mistakes such as “I’m boring” or “I’m tiring” when they truly mean “I’m bored” and “I’m tired”.
To clear up the confusion, I start with a warm-up activity. I write, on the whiteboard, 3 or 4 -ing adjectives and tell students they will need to come up with a wide range of things, activities and/or people that can fit in each category. “Boring”, “Exciting”, “Frightening” and “Disgusting” are some of the -ing adjectives that work well.
For example, if I write the adjective ” Boring” students might say: studying for exams, politics, queuing at the supermarket…etc.
This is an engaging warm-up as students can personalise the grammar point you’re trying to teach.
I begin with myself writing the word “moths” in the “frightening” column. They may not be familiar with the noun but students love it when the teacher includes anecdotes and personal examples. They get involved in the activity in no time!
Once the whiteboard is full of the students’ own ideas, I then follow with a “How do you feel” question to elicit the -ed adjective.
Example: “How do I feel about moths? I feel frightened”
and I write the word “frightened” on the board with capital letters underlying the -ed part to emphasize that’s how I feel. To make sure they’ve understood the difference, I go through the adjectives on the board asking the same question: “How do you feel about studying for exams?” To round up, a simple graphic is very helpful:
Something ING ⇒ makes you feel ED
I project the frame above from the silent advert because it’s open to interpretation, it offers a lot of speaking practice and I find it’s a great way to revise the use of narrative tenses, especially for intermediate levels. I ask my students to come up with a short story that can explain what is happening/happened, what the girl is/was doing, how she is feeling and what they think is going to happen at the end.
At a more advanced level, they can even make deductions. Elicit some examples such as “It’s late. She must be worried because her parents haven’t arrived home yet”
Also, make sure they use as many adjectives related to feelings as they can.
- Play the video.
- Speaking: Ask students to compare it with the stories they created. Ask some follow-up questions: Did they like it? Did they find it touching? Can they relate?
- Vocabulary and speaking. Pdf here. Give the students the handout that accompanies the video activity. It includes an exercise to learn new vocabulary, another exercise to revise -ed / -ing adjectives and last, but not least, a more ludic and relaxing one to test how good their memory is. You can see the first two exercises below:
Vocabulary exercise. Summarising the story. Choose the most appropriate word from the drop-down menu
Oral exercise. Using adjectives -ed adjectives to talk about feelings. Ask the following questions and encourage students to use -ed adjectives
- Watch the T.V add and talk about how the girl felt…
- when she came out of school. Ex: excited
- when she gave her dad the talent show leaflet.
- when her dad answered the call.
- when she rehearsed at home, in the street…
- How did her dad feel when he saw her jumping on the escalators?
- Why did she slam the door?
- How did she feel when she …
- drew the curtains?
- couldn’t remember the dance?
- when her dad came out of the audience to help?
- the dance finished?
Silent movies have a great potential for language teaching. They’re a fantastic tool to get students to produce language at any level since it’s the task the teacher sets the one that provides the level. They usually find it easier to memorise vocabulary and grammar when it’s associated with a captivating image or story and when it comes to holding their attention, a short clip does the trick.
Thank you Ángeles, a beautiful activity.
Unit 1 of my textbook is dedicated to questions. All sorts of questions: indirect, with prepositions at the end, negative interrogative questions, echo questions, question tags… etc. Yeah, I know. Lots of teaching here. On the bright side, teaching questions offers such a variety of activities you can do with your students that sometimes it is hard to find the time to do all the amazing stuff published all around the web.
This year, for my first lessons dealing with questions, I have decided to choose one of the hundreds of interviews to celebrities available online. It is still the beginning of the course and I wanted something quick and not too difficult to understand. And, I found this interview with Selena Gomez who, to be honest with you, I didn’t know much about just perfect as it is all about questions and, more specifically, get-to-know-you questions.
Anyway, I wanted a short simple listening exercise and I wanted to post it on the blog so that my students could do it again at home. To do the whole activity, I needed to solve a few technical issues regarding YouTube which I’ll detail below, in case you find them helpful.
YOUTUBE VIDEOS: SOME TRICKS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
- Sharing a youtube video with a specific start time
You probably know how to share a video starting at a specific point. You don’t? Well, that’ s pretty easy to do.
- Sharing a youtube video with a specific start and end time
That’s a bit more complicated. Keywords “ a bit”. The first thing you need to know is the specific time you want your video to start and to finish. For example, if you need your video to run from 1:20 to 2:15, you need to convert it into seconds.
1:20 -1 minute= 60 seconds+ 20= 80 seconds (start time)
2:15- 2 minutes= 120 seconds+15 = 135 seconds (finish time)
Now, grab the embed code for the video. In my case, it was
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/_GFkHA5EZdE?start=1″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Change the start time and instead of 1, write 80 and then add &end=135
The resulting embed code is
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/_GFkHA5EZdE?start=80&end=135 ” frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
- Getting the transcript. Call me lazy but if technology can save me some time….
You can easily get the transcript from a youtube video clicking on the three dots next to the save button.
VIDEO-BASED LISTENING ACTIVITY: 18/73 QUESTIONS WITH SELENA GOMEZ
(Follow -up activity: I am looking for one or two EOI teachers, teaching the B2.2 level, to work with me on a simple single get-to-know-you project using the free online tool Flipgrid. If anybody is interested, please send me an email)
- Level: B2
- Skills: listening and speaking
As I have mentioned above, I wanted a short listening activity which could serve as a springboard for a speaking get-to-know-you activity among my students.
- Play the video once and ask students to just listen. At the end of the video (the video is set to stop at 2:08) students will probably complain that it goes too fast. My advice? Smile and say “You can do it! “, because they actually can.
- Give them the handout with the questions and play the video twice more.
- Before you play it a third time, ask students to share their answers in pairs and, needless to say, in English.
- Play the video once more, pausing after each answer. Ask students to provide the answer and repeat procedure for question 2.
Here are the questions. To get the answers, just display the transcript as indicated above.
SPEAKING ACTIVITY: 15 minutes
- Play the video again, this time and depending on the number of students, play a couple more minutes or if necessary the whole video.
- Tell students, they will need to listen very attentively to the questions asked to Selena and choose one they would like to ask their classmates.
- Ask them to write it down and check with you that it’s Ok. When they are ready, ask them to stand up in a mingling activity and interview as many classmates as possible.
I have always liked playing cards. Like about 20 years ago, I used to meet with some friends at the weekend to play cards. We usually met at a cosy old cafe where most of the elderly in my village met to play cards and domino with their buddies. They were old, we were in our twenties. They wanted peace and quiet. We wanted fun and noise and laughs.
It didn’t last. Somehow, we realized we were not welcomed and eventually stopped going. But, I still like playing cards and whenever I can talk some of my friends into playing, I immensely enjoy it. Let’s play cards, then!
- Aim: to revise vocabulary in a speaking exercise
- Level: B1 upwards
- Topic: any
THE GAME OF CARDS
The game is SO simple. The only prep is to make sure you have enough pieces of paper cut up in advance. By the way, a good opportunity to reuse photocopy paper that has been used only on one side.
Take a regular A4 sheet of paper. You want to obtain 8 pieces of paper. Fold it in half and cut it along the crease. Fold the two pieces again and repeat procedure. Do it a third time and there you have your 8 pieces of paper resembling the size of an average size of a card in a deck of cards.
- Ask students to sit in groups of three in a circle around a table.
- Write the topic you want to revise on the board. For example, Education.
- Give each student in the group 8 blank cards and tell them they will need to write on each card a word or expression related to the topic on the board. Explain that it does not matter if the words are repeated in the same deck of cards, in fact, if they get the same words twice, it will only help consolidate meaning and use. Challenge students to write newly-acquired vocabulary. Allow them to have a look at their notes.
- Ask a student in the group to take all the cards, shuffle them and deal 3 cards one at a time, face down, starting with the student to the dealer’s left.
- Place the rest of the cards face down on a pile in the centre of the table.
- Write on the board or call out a question for discussion. For example, Are exams necessary or are they a waste of time?
- Tell students they will all need to talk about the question in their groups trying to use the words on their cards. As they use them, they place them face up on the table and pick up another one from the pile. They always need to have three to choose from.
- Allow 5-6 minutes per question. Once the time is up, ask students to count how many words they have used.
- Repeat all the steps and write another question for discussion on the board.
- Every two or three questions, you can ask groups to swap cards and repeat steps 1-5. By swapping cards students get a new batch of cards with hopefully some new words to use.
Autumn is probably my favourite season. Autumn is the season of birthdays in my family. Also, it’s not too hot or too cold. This year, this is especially important for me as I have been assigned a small class facing south and I know, come May, I’ll be sweating up a storm. So, for the time being, let’s enjoy beautiful autumn.
This year I am teaching 2-hour lessons so, more than ever, I feel the necessity to design activities that might change the pace of the lessons and keep my students from dozing off in my classes. The activity below is aimed at that. Still, I need to be completely honest here. I have not started teaching proper lessons so this activity has not been tested yet. I’ll let you know how it goes and if I hear any snores or see people yawning, then I would know it has been a complete failure.
- to revise and consolidate adjectives related to feelings
- to use these adjectives in a speaking activity.
Tool: Genial.ly. For this activity, we will use the grid below with gifs representing different feelings. This is an interactive image created with an awesome tool called Genial.ly, which I am proud to say is a Spanish start-up used all around the world. Genial.ly lets you create engaging interactive visual content and for this activity, I have used the “Hide” effect so if you mouse over the gif, you’ll be able to see the adjective. Also, the questions for discussion will be displayed when you click on the numbers.
(click on the arrows to enlarge the image)
For each of the squares in the grid, do part 1 and then part 2.
FIRST PART: WORKING ON VOCABULARY
- Ask students to work in pairs. Student A will be playing “against” Student B.
- Ask student As to choose a number from the Feelings Grid below. You can ask all the As to agree on a number, but in some classes, it might prove a difficult task to reach quick consensus, so you might want to just choose a random student A to decide on a number.
- Once they have chosen a number, both student A and B will write the adjective they think is hidden behind the gif representing the feeling. Allow 30 seconds for this step. Let student A and B compare their answers and then mouse over the gif to display the hidden adjective.
- If they have guessed the adjective, they score 2 points. If the adjective they have written is a synonym, they score 1 point. Ask students to keep score of the points they get.
- On the board, you might want to write the target adjective and the synonyms they come up with. Drill pronunciation of the adjective and all its synonyms.
For example, if they choose Gif 9 and the adjective is “worried” you might want to accept “anxious, troubled or concerned” as synonyms. You can use a synonym dictionary, like this one https://www.thesaurus.com/. There is no shame in this. 😉
SECOND PART: WORKING ON SPEAKING
- Click on the number, in this case, number 9 and a question will be displayed. Ask students in pairs to discuss the question. Set about 4 minutes per question. Walk around. Monitor and help. Avoid overcorrecting.
Now, B’s choose a new number from the Feelings Grid.
Note: if you haven’t taught any of the adjectives, you can still use the activity. Change the rules of the game and instead of scoring two points if they guessed the adjective, you might want to give them the points if they come up with a synonym even though it’s not exactly the one hidden behind the gif.
To be on the safe side, and to avoid wasting time checking the dictionary, you might want to write a list of synonyms before you play the game.
Ahh almost October! How are we here already?
I can’t even wrap my head around the idea that this is going to be my 27th year teaching English. Time, please stand still! OMG, It makes me cringe to even think about it! Ugh. But, here we are.This is life.
I know, I know. Most of you have already started classes in late August or early September, but here in the EOI in Asturias, we dedicate the whole month of September to assessing written and oral exams. Nothing to envy here, trust me!
Anyway, a new school year, new students, a fresh start, a clean slate. I feel like in these 27 years I have tried all the different get-to-know-you activities that have been used all around the world, so this year I’m going to recycle and tweak some of my favourite activities, changing the context to fit the mood.
So, the plan for the first day is the one below. An interactive game to revise grammar and vocabulary from the previous year (lots of fun, but also lots of learning) and not one, but 2 highly engaging speaking activities that can be considered, if you wish, get-to-know-each-other activities but that can be easily adapted to any context.
Activity 1. A Kahoot to revise
We will start the course playing a Kahoot to revise some of the content studied in the previous course. Always fun and to be honest, I am going to be recycling the one I did last year. That’s one of the things I like about technology, it’s paperless, recyclable and “findable”( meaning, easy to find, yes, I know, I have just invented the word)
If you ask students to play in pairs or in threes, you’ll just need a device for each group. I like playing Kahoots in groups. It enhances learning as students will need to discuss the right answer and it’s more engaging and therefore much more fun.
This is the link in case you want to use my Kahoot. Here
Activity 2. Welcome post-it notes
(I know! It looks home-made, but this is because it is)
- On one wall of the class, I have displayed the word “Welcome” formed using Post-it notes, as in the picture.
- On the back of each post-it note, I have written a question that will help students and teachers get to know each other.
- I have asked students to stand up and pick a post-it note containing a question.
- I have asked students to remain standing, pair up with another student and ask each other the questions on their post-it notes.
- I have allowed them about 4 minutes to ask and answer their questions before asking them to find a new partner.
- I have also participated in this mingle activity. After all, I also want them to know me and it gives me a good chance to assess their English.
- Please, refrain from overcorrecting or even correcting. It’s their first day.
Can’t think of questions to ask? This site has you covered. bit.ly/2zqxcJP
Idea for the post inspired by Post-it.com
Activity 3. Yes, I have, I have never
This activity is just so much fun. What do we need? We need slips of paper, as many as students in the class. I normally fold a regular sheet of paper in half, lengthwise, and get two slips of paper.
- I ask students to write on one side I HAVE and, on the other side, I HAVE NEVER. Ask them to write the words big enough to see from a distance.
- Tell students you are going to ask them questions and they should display their slip of paper with their answer to the question.
For example. Imagine that I ask Have you ever failed an English exam?
In the picture below, you can see Julio, the German teacher, and me exemplifying the possible answers (sorry, as I said, classes have not started yet and I had to bribe a colleague).
- Choose one or two students to elaborate on their answer and then ask another question and repeat procedure.
- To add to the fun, and because it’s also important that students get to know you, you should also have a slip of paper and once or twice give some details about you.
Note: Make sure you ask randomly I have and I have never answers, otherwise some students might never display the I have option.
- Have you ever been on TV?
- Have you ever won a contest a received a prize?
- Have you ever been stuck in a lift?
- Have you ever got in trouble at school?
- have you ever helped someone who was in danger?
Great to be back!!! I’ve missed you!
Dear all, hi! I feel like I’ve been gone for forever but exams have kept me mad busy and I haven’t had time a single moment to post something worthy.
And again, it is this time of the year when I take a break from classes and the blog. To be honest, most of the times when it’s June I begin to experience telltale signs of burnout. Not this year. I am full of energy and my brain is busy with ideas to try in the next school year. However, it wouldn’t be fair and it’s not my style to blog about things I haven’t tried first, so let’s take our usual break.
Since I wasn’t able to post while I was marking exams, all these ideas have found their place in a draft folder in my hard drive. I’ve got like a ton of ideas that are going to come at you very quickly after the summer break. Keep tuned!
Please, do come back at the end of the summer. Your comments and feedback are essential to me.
Meanwhile, I will still be active on Twitter @blogdecristina where I’ll be reposting ideas and activities and retweeting interesting stuff. So, if you have a Twitter account, do follow me. I will also be leading some workshops here and there, so if you are a reader of this blog, don’t be shy and come and say hello. I will be happy to meet you.
See you very soon! I’ll miss you!
Below you’ll find some of my favourite posts this year.
Ohh this activity. I love it.
It combines a bit of everything and adds the touch of innovation students require in 21st-century classes.
- it helps students revise content in an engaging way
- it helps boost their speaking skills
- it improves their writing abilities
- it gives them confidence using new technologies
- it promotes teamwork.
Now, this is an end-of-the-course activity and before you continue reading you need to know a couple of things.
- My students have already used Flipgrid in class. (if you have never used Flipgrid, you are missing out! I highly recommend it to make even the shyest students talk)
- My students have already used a QR Code reader and have the app on their mobiles.
- Finally, you’ll have some prep work to do, but it is an end-of-the-course activity, so let’s do it! I promise it’s worth it. Then, we can rest and sunbathe a bit.
The activity is divided into two stages
STAGE ONE. Day 1.
Before the class:
- On Flipgrid, create a topic outlining the activity and asking students to record themselves asking a question about the vocabulary studied during the course. It can be anything that has been studied during the course. In my case, I have asked them to make their question about phrasal verbs or idioms. The only rule is that the answer to their question must be found in the course book. Remind them that this is a competition, so they do not want to ask easy questions. Ask them to record themselves asking their question using Flipgrid and tell them they have 15-seconds recording time.
Example: Can you find a phrasal verb with the meaning of “to cancel”?
- Once you have created a topic on Flipgrid for Team A, as in the example below, duplicate the topic and just change the Topic Title by writing Team B instead of Team A. You might also want to modify the image accompanying the Topic. (not necessary, of course)
- Divide the class into two teams; three if you have a lot of students. Ideally, a team would have 6-8 students and the same number of students in each team. If you don’t, just ask a student to record himself twice, asking two different questions so that both teams have the same number of questions.
- Share the Flip Code to their respective topics and ask them to record their questions for the other team. Each student in the team has to record a different question. So, if you have 6 students per team, you’ll have 6 questions. This can easily be done in class or set as homework.
- Explain the rules:
- They can ask a question about … (whatever you have specified).
- The answer to their question must be found in the course book.
- They have to speak slowly and clearly.
- They have 15-seconds recording time.
- When they finish, they will need to send you an email with the answer to their question.
Stage 2. Day 2
Before the class:
- Once all the students in the team have recorded their questions for the other team, print the QR Code for each of their questions and hang them up on one of the walls of the class. Give each QR code a number, ie, if there are 6 QR Codes containing 6 questions, give numbers from 1 to 6. On your response sheet, write down the answers matching the different QR codes. For example 1. take off 2. put up 3… Do the same for the other team, but hang up their QR Codes on the wall opposite.
- Ask students to sit with their teams.
- Explain how to play:
- Show both teams their respective walls. Assign Team A the wall where the QR Codes with Team B’s questions are displayed. Do the same for Team B.
- Only one mobile phone per team is necessary and only one can be used. Teams name a runner who scans the QR code and gets back to his team who try to find the answer in the course book to the question posed. The first QR Code to be scanned must be number 1.
- Once they have found the answer in the book, the runner must go to the teacher and show it to him. If it is incorrect, he must go back to his team and try again. If it’s correct, the runner goes back to his team and, using the target vocabulary, write a sentence. Again, the runner runs to the teacher and shows him the sentence. If there are no mistakes, he can scan the second QR Code. If there are mistakes, the teacher will underline the mistake(s) and then, the runner will return to his team, correct the sentence and show it again to the teacher. Only when everything is Ok, can the runner scan the second QR code.
- The winner is the team who first answers all the questions and uses the target vocabulary in sentences of their own.
Thanks for reading!