To be honest, the tool was suggested to me by one of the teachers (Marga Valdés) attending a talk I gave last year. It was a talk about creating activities for the classroom using free online tools, and when I finished the presentation, this teacher came up to me and said she was surprised I hadn’t mentioned Genial.ly. I confessed to her I didn’t know the tool and promised I would give it a go.
It was almost the end of the course and although I gave it a quick try, my mind was in holiday mode, and I didn’t put my heart into it. Now, after trying the tool, I run the risk of becoming addicted to it!.
Genial.ly works like Thinglink but, in my opinion, it’s a lot better. Genial.ly is a web tool to create engaging interactive visual content. You can make interactive pictures, infographics, presentations, posters and questionnaires or guides. And, for me, the best thing about this tool is that you can choose from a wide variety of free templates to create very professional interactive content or you can upload your own pictures and start from scratch. It also gives you the ability to integrate videos, audio, and any embeddable code among other things.
THREE ACTIVITIES I HAVE CREATED USING GENIAL.LY
Using how long+present perfect in combination with simple past
Aim: To orally practise asking and answering questions using Present Perfect and Simple Past.
Competition: revising irregular Verbs.
Click on “instructions” to see how to play
Indirect questions + questions about money.
A speaking activity revising the grammar for indirect questions and questions about money.
Ten entertaining ways to practise personality adjectives with activities for all ages and levels. In this post, you’ll find listening,writing, speaking activities and games to help students master this vocabulary.
Ask students to work in pairs and write down as many personality adjectives as they can in two minutes.
On the board write three columns: positive, negative and neutral adjectives and ask students to provide adjectives for the three columns. Have students choose one adjective from each column to describe their personality and in pairs talk about how these adjectives they have chosen are representative of their personality. Ask students to elaborate on their answers and provide examples to support their choice of adjectives.
Prepare cards with a personality trait written on it (talkative, cheerful, arrogant, stubborn, immature, possessive…etc). Give students a card telling them this is their personality. Pair up students and ask them to start a conversation and act the way the card says until their partner guesses what adjective they were given. Ask students for example to talk about buying a present for the teacher or deciding on what do at the weekend.
Reading your signature.
What does your signature say about you? According to handwriting analysts, signatures reveal a lot about your personality.
Ask students to write the sentence Write soon on a piece of paper and then sign under the sentence.
Ask them to work in pairs and look at their partner’s signature and explain what it means. See interpretation here
Ask them to discuss whether they agree with their partner’s interpretation and why or why not.
What’s your job?
Research has shown that different personality traits tend to have distinct preferences in their choice of careers. On the board write the jobs below. Ask students in pairs to choose five and discuss what personality types the jobs would attract and why. Then discuss their choices with another pair:
Actor fashion model psychologist entrepreneur judge
Prepare cards with personality adjectives. Divide the class into 2 teams. For each team’s turn, set a time (1 minute).
On the board write the sentence: I want to go to the cinema tomorrow.
Team 1 begins and choose a player to sit at the front of the class. The player draws a card and acts out the phrase according to the adjective on the card. When the team guesses correctly, he can draw another card. He continues until the time is up. The timer is set again for the other team, and turns continue until all the slips are gone. Count the slips and give those points to their teams.
On the walls of the class stick the following quotes. Students in threes stand up and discuss what the quote means and whether they agree or disagree with them.
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Bruce Lee.
It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not. André Gide.
If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am
Beauty attracts the eye but personality captures the heart.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
It’d never too late for what you might have been. George Elliot.
Guess who. A speaking or writing activity.
Speaking. Before the class, prepare a set of pictures of famous people with very clear personality traits. For this activity the students are sitting in pairs, one student (A) facing the board and the other (B) with his back to the board. Display the photo of a celebrity and ask student A to describe this person in general terms focusing on his personality.
Writing. Before the class, prepare a collage with pictures of famous people with very clear personality traits. Ask students to write a description of one of them focusing on their personality without saying their names. Descriptions are read aloud and students will need to determine the identity of the person being described.
The four big questions.
Tell students you’re going to analyse their personality by asking them four key questions to which they should answer using three adjectives for each question. Adjectives cannot be repeated.
1. Choose a colour, the first colour that comes to mind.
Once you have that colour, list three adjectives that describe it.
2. Choose an animal, the first animal that comes to mind.
Once you have selected an animal, list three adjectives that describe it.
3. Choose a body of water like a river, ocean, sea, or lake. Once you have chosen a body of water, list three adjectives that describe it.
4. Let’s say you are in a white room with no windows no doors, list three emotions that you are feeling.
When you are done answering those questions, highlight the following to get your results: your colour represents what you think of yourself, the animal represents what you think of other people, the body of water represents your love life, and the white room represents what you will feel like when you are about to die.
Do you think birth order has any influence on our personality?
Ask students to work in groups of 4. Tell them they are going to see a video where personality is related to birth order. Assign each person in the group the task of writing down information they can gather from the video about either first borns, middle children, last borns or only children.
Whole class discussion. Starting with “first-borns”, write on the board all the information the students learnt from the video. Start a class discussion where first borns in the class will say whether they agree or disagree with the content in the video. Repeat procedure for middle children, last borns and only children.
Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe. also known as noughts and crosses or Xs and Os is a game for two players, X and O, who take turns marking the spaces in a 3×3 (3×4 in this game) grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.
In this game, to place their mark they’ll need to talk for about two minutes about the question in the box.
I’m really happy to introduce a guest writer to you. Maria Jose Díaz isa friend and fellow teacher from EOI Avilés and, in this blog post, she will be sharing with us an excellent communicative activity for C1 students based on pictures. María Jose also runs a blog Ingles en Aviles,which is really worth a visit.
Once again I have to cover the topic of travelling with my C1 students. You might think there shouldn’t be a problem dealing with this theme because everybody likes travelling plus it’s a common topic in the elementary and intermediate levels, which means students are familiarised with it. However, what might be seen as an advantage is a disadvantage for me: students seem bored with talking about different kinds of accommodation, means of transport and flopout versus niche holidays.
After racking my brains for a while I came up with this idea to help students talk about travelling from a different point of view.
Aim: activating new vocabulary through class discussion and providing students with new ideas to talk about travelling.
Materials: pictures of prehistoric people, explorers, missionaries, pilgrims, refugees and holidaymakers.
1. Start the lesson by asking students why people travel. From my experience, they will come up with the following: to broaden their minds, to work, for business, to relax, to know other cultures or to brush up a foreign language.
2. Ask for more reasons and show a picture with prehistoric people. Ask why people travelled in those times and try to get words like look for edible plants, follow animals to hunt (game), survival, look for better climes, nomads, caves…
3. Show a picture with explorers to help them think about people who travelled searching for better trade or commercial routes; they can give examples like Columbus or Marco Polo. You can also show them the silk route.
4. Show pictures with pilgrims or missionaries or the Mayflower. The idea is to make them think about why people move for religious reasons, either to evangelise new civilisations or to go on pilgrimage to places that are important to their faith and beliefs such as Santiago de Compostela, Meca or Jerusalem. Also, some people are forced to leave their countries to avoid persecution because of their religious beliefs or because they do not follow the religion of the country where they live.
5. The idea of persecution links the pictures in number 4 with the picture below. Refugees or asylum seekers also flee their countries to avoid persecution or to escape conflicts or wars, they seek refuge or asylum somewhere else, they look for a better life, in the same way immigrants and emigrants did in the past (and in the present!).
6. Finally, show the pictures below and make students think about their relationship with holidays. Hopefully they will talk about volunteering, ethical tourism and niche holidays.
Is there anything that students love more than walking around the classroom while talking to their classmates? I doubt it!
One of the most effective techniques to keep students engaged is probably varying the dynamics in the classroom. It’s true that some tasks require that students work alone, but working in pairs or in small groups is always a good alternative and if you add movement to the activity, then you can almost guarantee success. What is more, varying the dynamics during the course of your lessons helps to reduce the weariness that sets in when students are asked to sit two-hour lessons, which are the ones I teach.
The activity I am going to share with you today is a very simple one where students will need to work in small groups and move around the classroom discussing some controversial statements. It is highly adaptable to any topic. In this example, I am revising food- related vocabulary with intermediate students. This discussion technique allows students to be actively engaged as they walk around the class.
Level: intermediate to advanced
Time: one hour
Language point: Expressing opinion. Agreeing and disagreeing
Organisation: Small groups of 3 or 4 students
Materials: Posters containing controversial statements (see mine here). Handout with target language. PDF here
Aims: To teach how to express opinion and how to support or contradict other people’s opinions through the discussion of some controversial food-related statements.
Before the class
Write some controversial statements you want your students to discuss about the current topic of study. Write each one on a slip of paper or print some photos and add the text to the picture- I have usedpicfont.Stick them on the walls of the class. For more advanced classes you can choose random polemical statements. I would suggest that you avoid statements that might lead to embarrassment or offence.
Teach how to give opinion
Give students the handout with the target language and ask a student to read it out, clarifying meanings and focusing on pronunciation and intonation.Ask them to choose 3 or 4 expressions from each column; the ones they feel most comfortable using.
Ask students to work in small groups of three or four students depending on the size of the class and direct students’ attention to the walls of the class, where the statements will be displayed.
Ask students to stand up. Each group should start at a different statement where they will discuss their opinions and agree or disagree accordingly. Remind them to use the expressions they have underlined, either to give opinion or to agree/disagree with someone’s opinion.
While the students are talking, walk around the class offering help and guidanc
After six to eight minutes, ask the groups to rotate to the next statement. Repeat until all the groups have talked about all the statements
Ask students to sit down and choose a statement to discuss as a whole class.
This is a very simple communicative activity that works wonders because it is highly engaging, students love it and it is very productive. It takes 2 minutes to create and it is adaptable to any topic of discussion and suitable for all levels.
Aim: activating new vocabulary through discussion questions.
Easy peasy! Just go to wheeldecide.comand fill in one wheel with the target vocabulary and another one with the questions you want your students to discuss.
Students in pairs
Spin the wheel containing the questions and then, the wheel containing the word/ expression you want your students to use when answering the question.
Student A has 2 minutes to talk about the question and use the target vocabulary. If he does, he scores a point.
Spin the wheels again. It’s student B’s turn.
NOTE: When creating the wheel, go to the advanced section to choose colour and whether you want the option to be removed after it is landed on or not.
If you are a student and you’re preparing for exams or studying on your own, you probably have your own studying strategies, but I invite you to try this new one. I’m sure you’ll find it engaging and productive.
I ‘d like to thank Cristina Serafim for bringing wheeldecide to my attention.
Today I’m really happy to introduce a guest writer to you. Angeles Jimenez isa friend and fellow teacher from EOI Oviedo and, in this blog post, she will be sharing with us an excellent communicative game to consolidate the use of present perfect simple and past simple. Ready for a lot of fun!
Do you want your students to keep their noses in the course book? Don’t read on then.
Going into a new class on the first day can be a little bit stressful both for teachers and students. Teachers get ready to greet their students, anxious to get started, and learners are nervous wondering what is to come. That’s why it’s important to have a first day of class that will set the tone for what the course will be like. And it will be FUNtastic!!!
Games for getting to know one another can be an excellent way to establish a stress-free environment in the classroom. Let your students know that they’re welcome in order to put their insecurities aside, try to make them feel comfortable participating. They’ll have fun learning English in no time!
The “You’re lying “game lives up to its name.
It’s a fun game which works very well at the start of the term as a ‘getting to know you’ kind of game. Teenagers love it because they don’t feel like they’re learning, and advanced students love it because it’s a break from the monotony of learning with serious assignments.
It’s also a great way to consolidate the use of the present perfect tense to talk about experiences and the use of simple past to ask follow-up questions.
Language point: Present perfect tense and simple past
Organisation: Pair work
Level: This speaking activity is designed for advanced levels.
Materials: One copy of “You’re lying: student A” for half of the students in the class and one copy of “You’re lying: student B” for the other half of the class.Pdf here
Aims: To present the present perfect tense (have + past participle) with the function of talking about past actions. Students should be able to recognise that the present perfect and the simple past are both used to talk about a past action but the present perfect is used when the time is not stated and the simple past when the time is known.It works well as an ice-breaker for C1 students since it requires some previous knowledge of verb structures and some command of vocabulary.
For B2 students some warming up may be necessary.
You could begin the lessons by speaking about your own experiences in a general way. Be careful not to give any details about these experiences. In other words, keep to the present perfect. For example:
I’ve been to many countries in my life. I’ve been to Italy and I’ve visited France, Germany, and Switzerland. I’ve also driven a lot in the United States.
Ask students to ask you questions about the specifics of some of your adventures. On the board you can draw a time line and point when they took place. Students will hopefully be able to catch on fast and keep to the past simple.
How to play
Students are invited to lie to their opponents, something which they usually tend to enjoy! The more detail the students can give in their answers, whether invented or not, the more convincing they will be.
Put students in pairs and give them A and B handouts.
Students ask each other “Have you ever..?” questions. Remind them they must answer all the questions with “Yes”.
Student A asks student B a question using the Present Perfect. Student B must answer “Yes, I have”.
Student A can then ask them 3 “Wh” questions in the Simple Past and try to spot from B’s answers (sometimes body language ) if their opponent is lying or telling the truth.
If student A guesses, then he / she gets the point. If he’s been fooled, then student B gets the point.
The winner is the student with the most points. They could also start with a maximum number of 10 points. Student A subtracts one point if he / she fails to guess whether B is lying or telling the truth. Student B substracts one point if Student A guesses.
For more advanced learners, this is a great opportunity to bring in modal verbs (“That must be true, it can’t be / have been true because…”)
Why does this game work?
Because students tend to remember more when they are relaxed and enjoying the activity. It’s also an easy way to encourage quiet students to get involved too!
It makes it a lot more fun if they think of facts that may trick or surprise others so tell them to be creative.
As a follow-up they can also write five sentences about themselves and then get into pairs or groups and repeat the interrogation. Have fun!!
The wheel of fortune? I know. I know. If I want you to continue reading, I’d better explain what it is. Have you ever seen the game show Wheel of Fortune? Yes, that one where you spin a wheel and get money if you successfully guess the missing letters in a word or phrase.
Good news. It can also be used to teach/learn English.
Unfortunately I am not working with primary or secondary students. I know they would love this tool. It’s a lot of fun to work with -spinning a wheel normally is, isn’t it?-, but it also has a lot of potential to teach/learn English. I teach adults and it normally takes them more time to get used to the way I teach. Sometimes, a far cry from traditional. Well, yes, I take my work very seriously but, from time to time, I like to spice up my lessons with little games and online tools to energize my lessons. This tool I’m using today is from classtools.net.
In this post, you’ll learn
How to feed the wheel
Ideas to use the wheel of fortune to teach/learn English
Click on Edit and write whatever you want to see displayed on the wheel.
Click on Save this list as currently shown
Choose a password to edit the wheel in the future
Make sure you make a note of the unique address of your wheel. I suggest you email yourself the link.
After a name or category is selected you can remove it from the wheel.
2. Ideas to use the wheel of fortune to teach/learn English
Revising vocabulary. Very useful to revise vocabulary either as a whole class, in pairs or in competitions. Students will need to either explain the meaning of a word or use it in context. Nobody will ever accuse you of favouring a team and there are countless options when working with vocabulary. While you’re reading this article, I am sure your brain is already suggesting lots of possibilities, like irregular verbs, phrasal verbs, phonemic transcription…etc
Another possibility to explore would be feeding the wheel with different topics and asking students to write or say as many words related to the topic as possible in one minute. Some easy topics could be: jobs, shops, nationalities, animals, food…etc.
Three minutes. Feed the wheel with different topics you want students to talk about and ask students to work in pairs and spin the wheel. They’ll have to talk about the topic for about three minutes. Great to revise for oral exams!
Hot seat. Again feed the wheel with different topics you want students to talk about and divide the class into teams and ask a student from Team A to sit in the “hot seat”. Spin the wheel. Members of the other team need to ask him questions about the selected topic; he’ll need to talk for about three minutes answering the other team’s questions but his answers cannot contain the words YES or NO.
Comparing. Do you want students to compare? Feed the wheel accordingly: compare living in the countryside/city, travelling by bus/plane, working as a teacher/shop assistant…etc
Storytelling. Give students an inspiring story starter and feed the wheel with prompts they need to incorporate in their story. Spin the wheel and give students a minute to use the prompts in their stories. Spin the wheel as many times as you deem appropriate. Display on the walls of the class the stories for everybody to read.
Using connectors. Feed the wheel with different connectors (and, but however, although,…etc). Ask students to work in pairs. On the board, write three sentences and ask students to choose one. Tell them this sentence will be the first in their stories. Spin the wheel and display the first connector they need to use. Spin the wheel as many times as you deem appropriate. Display on the walls of the class the stories for everybody to read.
Dependent prepositions: feed the wheel with verbs such as depend, rely, insist…etc and ask students to write a sentence using the verb together with its dependent preposition.
Order of adjectives. Are you teaching the order of adjectives before the noun? Feed the wheel with nouns and ask the students to write a sentence containing the noun modified by two or three adjectives.
Verbs followed by infinitive/gerund. Are you teaching/learning verbs followed by infinitive or gerund? Rotate the wheel and ask students to write a short sentence containing the verb randomly chosen.
I’m sure you have some more ideas to use this classroom tool, which is free and embeddable. Have fun while learning, have fun while teaching. 😉
I can’t believe summer is coming to an end and well, here we are again. Another school year is about to begin and once again, as every year for the past 25, butterflies are beginning to gather in my stomach. It’s a nice sensation and one I welcome ‘cause it means that even after 26 years dedicated to teaching English I still feel like a newbie aiming to impress my students.
Now, be honest! Wouldn’t it be nice to start the course with a fun activity? A getting-to-know-your-classmates activity after which, students leave the class with a smile on their face and chatting animatedly with their peers?
This is the aim of this fun human bingo ice breaker designed to get students talking to each other about themselves while having a nice laugh.
The game is easy to customize, so feel free to edit the cards to include or exclude prompts
Materials: bingo cards, pens or pencils and a small object to grab: for example, a rubber.
Prepare a Bingo card (5x5grid) for each student with the prompts (see mine below).
There are lots of bingo card generators online which will randomly generate as many cards as you wish once you provide the desired input. Osricis the one I used for this activity.
Cut up all the 25 different prompts and put them inside a bag or a box.
Explain that they are going to play a human bingo to get to know each other. To win the game they will need to mark off the prompts on their cards as they are drawn randomly by a caller. The winner will be the first person to mark off five squares in a vertical or horizontal row.
Give each student a Bingo card and a pen/pencil. Allow them one minute to read the 25 prompts on their bingo cards and decide on their strategy.
Explain that although this is a whole-class activity, students will be playing in pairs and they will need to sit together or put their desks together.
Ask each pair to place a rubber (or any other small object ) on the table. Explain that to win the game they will only need a bit of luck and quick hands.
How do you get to mark off your square?
Tell them that you’ll draw a prompt from the bag and read it out. Students listen and if it is true for them, they quickly pick the rubber on the table. Only the student who has the rubber will get the chance to mark off the square. To do so, they will need to talk about the prompt for one minute or do as the prompt says.
Who wins the game?
The first student to fill five squares across or down shouts BINGO! and the game is over.
The winning card is checked to make sure the student has not made a mistake
Rounding off the activity. Check that the winner has marked correctly all the squares by asking him to read the cards he has marked on the winning row. Ask him to talk about one of the things in the card and then choosing another prompt, challenge another student to talk about it for one minute.
I love trying new tools and today I’m trying Wideo, which is a tool which lets you create beautiful animated video content in a very easy way. Although I’ll write about some of its pros and cons below, the reason why I’ve chosen Wideo today is because I needed a tool that allowed me to insert interactive buttons in an easy way and Wideo is perfect for this.
So, here’s the video: Tips and Links to Prepare for the Oral Exam at Home
Play the video. It will stop where interactive buttons are provided (last two slides). Click to resume the video.
What I like about this tool:
it’s free, easy to use and very intuitive.
It provides free video hosting
Lots of professionally-designed templates to choose from
You can upload your own picture, music and background images
You can add interactive elements (clickable buttons and contact forms)
It provided a unique url and an embed code
You can switch from video mode to presentation mode for slide-by-slide presentation.
What I don’t like:
Time limit: on a free plan, the length of the videos is restricted to 3o seconds.
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.