I’m currently really tied up with checking exams, so I’m going to make the introduction to this blog post really brief. I’m sure you have enough on your plate, too. June is usually a hectic month for almost everybody, isn’t it?
So, how do you keep up with the latest news? Or maybe, are you one of those who, sick and tired of reading bad news, have decided to completely isolate yourself from the world? I wouldn’t blame you!
If you are one of those, I kindly suggest you make an exception for the sake of learning and improving your English. You won’t regret it! Reading is one of the best ways of acquiring vocabulary and learning grammar without studying.If you read and listen to one article every day, or two if you feel overzealous, your reading and listening skills will improve very quickly. Trust me on this!
This is my selection of the best audio/video news and current affairs websites to learn English.
I have looked at the following features in all the websites:
If the news is written in levels
If the same news is written/read at different levels
If it is audio news or video news
If the transcript is provided
If the site provides a ready-to-use lesson plan for the news
Any other relevant additional content
The image below is interactive. Click on the icon and read what each website has to offer.
How else can I use these sites in the classroom?
• Choose one news website from above and ask students, as homework, to read a piece of news they find interesting. Ask them to read the news several times until they feel confident they can retell it. In the next class, ask students to work in threes and share their news.
• The news. Same procedure as above but this time, at home, students will need to rewrite the piece of news in their own words. In class, and again working in threes, students will be asked to assume the role of newsreaders and present the news to the rest of the class.
The interactive image has been created with Genial.ly,a free online tool for creating visual interactive content.
Today I want to share with you an amazing screen recording tool Screencast-o-matic, which has a lot of potential to teach and learn English.
Hey! Wait! I know, you are not tech-savvy. You don’t need to be. Trust me. When you finish reading this post, I’m sure you will be willing to give it a go . The reasons?
It’s super easy to use! Do you know how to press a button? Then, you know how to use this tool.
You don’t even need to register.
It has a lot of potential to teach/learn English.
What is Screen-o-matic?
Screencast-o-matic is a free (you don’t even need to register) easy-to-use screen recording. You can use your webcam or both. Screen-o-matic will capture everything on your screen and then, if you wish, share it.
How can I use it in the classroom?
As a teacher
1. For correcting your students’ written assignments. We all have been in this situation: a student is ill or away on a business trip, but he still needs to have some feedback on his written assignment. With this tool, it’s very easy to offer visual constructive feedback by giving audio and visual cues.
Have your students send you their essays by email. Record yourself correcting and explaining their mistakes. Then, send them the video. Thanks to Russell Stannard for this awesome idea. Here’s an example uploaded to screen-o-matic. Sorry, I don’t sound very energetic. It was very late and I was dead tired!
2. For assessing students’ speaking skill, especially when describing pictures or talking about slides. Ask them to choose one or several pictures and ask them to record themselves. Here’s an example of one of my students uploaded to youtube. Thank you Elsa! 🙂
3. For a variety of speaking activities:
To explain a recipe
To talk about your favourite group, hobby, family…etc
To describe, for example, traditional games, unusual customs…etc.
For first-day presentations
For book/film reviews
The only limit is your imagination.
4. For recorded contests:
It’s St Valentine’s day, ask them to invent a romantic story
It’s Halloween, time for a horror story!
Give them a set of pictures and ask them to create a story
Give them some words and expressions and ask them to create a story
For recorded minisagas (maximum of 50 words)
5. For asessing students’ reading fluency and pronunciation. Ask students to read a given text online and ask them to send their recording.
6. For flipping your classroom. Not every student learns in the same way so it would be a good idea to record some of the most difficult grammar points for weak students to revise at home.
7. Doing exams at home. You can even make things easier for students who, for personal reasons, cannot sit exams in the classroom. Send them the test and ask them to record themselves answering the questions either in written or oral form. It might be a good idea to give them a time limit to send back the video with the answers. You can ask them to use the webcam, too (for obvious reasons).
8. To make tutorial videos to explain a task they need to do online or how an online tool works, for example this one. The yellow pointer makes it easy for students to follow your explanations. Example here
9. Help your substitute teacher. You can even make a video to help your substitute teacher if you’re going to miss class.
As a student
10. Using your webcam, for collaborative projects.
11. As an alternative to a Power Point presentation individually or in groups.
12. To do any oral assignment with one or several slides.
13. To state your opinion on any given topic.
14. To record yourself when practising for oral tests.
Why do I like it?
You don’t have to register or give your email address unless you want to upload it to their server.
You can record up to 15 minutes
You can create different folders for your different classes. If you create an account and share the email address and password with your students they can upload their own assignments and have everything neatly organised in folders.
You can choose to record only your computer screen, you can use your webcam or both
You can resize your recording window.
You can choose the microphone you want to use and adjust the volume. For laptops you can use the built-in microphone.
Click the “Start Recording” button and the recording button will be launched.
Click the red button Rec and everything inside the frame will be recorded.
You can pause or restart or click Done when you finish.
Now, a new window will open offering you the possibilities of downloading your video, or uploading it to youtube or to Screen-o-matic.com (to use this last option you will need to register). Uploading to Screen-o-matic.com is free and it has some advantages:
It gives you a unique url or an embed code to use on your website or blog
You can create different channels and upload your recordings in an organised way. This is particularly interesting if you want to create a channel for your students to upload their recordings.
There is an online version, which works pretty well with Windows but not so well with Mac, and a downloadable version which works with both PC and Mac.There is a free and a pro version, but I should say that the free version works just fine.
I won’t spend much time introducing this post, mainly because today is one of these days when the muse has decided to leave me.
Perhaps you’re wondering what else you can do to pass your listening test with flying colours apart from doing every single listening comprehension exercise in your student’s book and all the ones in the workbook. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but here are a few things you might want to try.
1.Read a few tips and put them into practice. Students often complain that despite grasping the main information content of the recorded material, they sometimes seem to be unable to provide the right answer and this leads to frustration.
Getting a high mark in a listening comprehension exercise requires practice, lots, and also knowing a few tips. The most common types of listening exercises are Blank Filling and Multiple Choice and there are a few handy hints on how best to deal with them that you might want to read. The tips below aim at teaching students to listen effectively to enable them to select the information they require from what they hear.
2.The obvious. Find a good listening site with plenty of listening exercises to choose from.
One of the sites I have been recommending my students lately to practise Listening is Ingles en Aviles, a fantastic blog aimed at B2 (upper-intermediate) and C1 (advanced students) where you’ll find lots of listening comprehension exercises to choose from.
Vaughan Radio is a live radio station broadcasting from Madrid, Spain that provides listeners the chance to improve English language skills. So while you’re at home, maybe cleaning or ironing and bored to death, you might want to give it a try. From time to time you’ll hear some Spanish words to help Spanish listeners, but most of the time the show is in English and really worth listening to.
Here’s the link to listen on the computer. Alternatively, you can download the app on your smart phone. Type Radio Vaughan in the search box to download the app. My favourite programme? “The show with no name”.
4. Watching series.
Here, I would recommend ororo.tv. What can ororo.tvdo to help you improve your English? What will you find on this website? An amazing number of TV shows and films in their original versions and with subtitles in English. Right now, I am hooked on the Big Bang Theory, an American sitcom about four young scientists, but surely you’ll find attractive alternatives here to suit every taste and mood.
A very interesting tool to help you with your pronunciation and your listening is Youglish. In the search box, type the word or expression you want to hear in context. Youglish provides you with videos, from You Tube, where the word/expression is spoken by real people and in context.
In case you’re wondering, this is not a sponsored post. It’s just a few recommendations from a humble teacher trying to help students by sharing some useful links.
Today, I want to share with you a very nice user-friendly site to listen to the radio. With a simple click you can listen to the best live radio stations from the UK. In fact, you can listen to any online radio station in the world, but the focus here is on English, isn’t it?
Internet Radio UK lists all top online radio stations from the United Kingdom. On the right of the screen, you will see a menu with links to different radio stations in the UK.
There are about 10 ideas for posts on my to-write list, but this is definitely a post I have meaning to write for a long time and that for some reason or another I never got around to writing it.
This post is not about English; it has nothing to do with vocabulary or grammar. It is just a post featuring two tools that might come in handy.
♥ KeepVid might prevent you from having a nervous breakdown when after spending Sunday afternoon preparing activities with content from You Tube or any other video site for the coming week, you find that Internet is not working. Sounds familiar? Of course, as well-seasoned teachers we can always resort to plan B or plan C, but isn’t it terribly frustrating?
Keep Vidis a handy tool for downloading video. As they advertise on their site:
Keep Video Downloader is a free web application that allows you to download videos from sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch.Tv, Vimeo, Dailymotion and many more. All you need is the URL of the page that has the video you want to download. Enter it in the textbox and simply click ‘Download’. KeepVid will then fetch download links in all possible formats that the particular site provides.
Remember that if you want to download videos from Facebook, you will need the url. You can get it by right-clicking on the video to get its hidden url.
♥ Downsub.As for the second useful tool, how handy could it be to have a tool that downloads subtitles from YouTube? Very!
Well, this is what http://downsub.com/ does for you. The only thing you need to do is enter the url and choose the language.
Hope this blog post has been helpful! Keep posted!
In this post, I want to share with you two superb sites that can help you improve pronunciation by reading along.
By asking students to repeatedly read a selected text or story while simultaneously listening to a text or a story, you can help them
improve reading fluency
improve automatic word recognition
1. The first siteListen A Minute.comis one I have been using for years. Here you can find alphabetically-listed topic- based activities from Airports and Harry Potter to Zoos.You don’t even need to register. It’s completely free!! Choose a topic and read along. One minute a day… that’s all they are asking and in return… you’ll be passing your listening/speaking tests with flying colours.
2. The second site I want to share with you is a youtube channel called Learn English Through Story,where short stories at various levels are read at a slow pace to further improve reading and listening skills in English. There are 7 levels. Choose the one that fits your level best. Visit youtube and write Learn English through Story on the search box.
Pick a topic or a story
Set a timer for one minute, and read the article/ story aloud until the timer goes off.
Read aloud the same passage three times or until you feel confident.
Remember that the aim is to read along, not just to listen.
Yes, we are all in exam mode. Classes are finished and it’s time for a final effort.
In this post I want to … Hold on!!… Noo, it’s more like I need to share these two sites with you. You see, I say” I need” because I really want all of you to pass your exams. There is nothing less frustrating for a teacher than having to fail a student who has been attending classes all throughout the year.
And this is the reason why I am posting at 11.00 pm, after having just arrived from work. ( you can bring me flowers once you’ve passed with flying colours)
♥LISTENING.The first link is for practising Listeningand it was kindly shared with me by one of my students. Thanks a lot Maite!
Englishaula.com offers different exercises to practise all four skills, though I especially recommend it to do Listening Comprehension. On the right you’ll need to choose your level.
Happy Monday to you all! And no, I am not being ironic here, I sort of “hate” Mondays like everybody else in this planet but today I am going to share a link with you that is going to help brighten your day, especially if you like English as much as I do, or if you happen not to like it so much, yes, let’s say it, I know there are some few people out there who don’t give a damn about learning this language but still…. they need to. So.. for both, here we have Linkengpark, a great site to help you improve your listening skills.
I learned about Linkengparkfrom the sweetest person on earth, Maria Artime who, when seeing its potential, didn’t hesitate to share it with me. I thank you María. It is really helpful! Linkengparkis a very nice site to practise Listening. It offers lots of different Podcasts (6 minute English, English at work, BBC how to, ESL stories…), Audiobooks (Pride and Prejudice, Roald Dahl ….)and Videos (English Vid, CNN Students News, Reuters…) with transcript so you can also practise pronunciation. You can choose your level, from Elementary to Advanced .
A great site which I’ll be visiting very often. I hope you do, too.
I want to start this week with a positive thought. It is something I’ve read recently and that has been going around for some days inside my head.
Happiness is not getting what you want . It’s wanting what you have.
I should say that I am normally a glass-full type of person but sometimes, only sometimes, I need to remind myself.
Well, today I want to share with you this amazing site which has a lot of potential. Educaplayis a platform to create embeddable multimedia teaching activities . You can create interactive engaging activities like crosswords, matching exercises, dialogues, presentations, tests, dictations , interactive maps, word search puzzles and many more… but what I really like about this website is the possibility of creating a video quiz as the one I have posted below .
The structure of the activity, is defined by sequences that are composed of a video, or part of it, and a question that will be the end of the sequence.
To define the sequences, we go through three phases:
Video election: We can use the search engine, or if we know, insert its URL directly.
Sequence election to be held on the question.
Definition of the question: Each question can be configured to ask for the answer in any of the following methods;
♥In a written form, by selecting one answer from various options or by selecting several answers from various options.
Another important feature is that it is entirely web based so you don’t need to download anything and … it is free, you only need to register.
And now, have a look at this videoquiz answering the question WHAT IS A VEGETARIAN?