Category Archives: Grammar

Life Begins at 70: a Future Perfect and Future Continuous Lesson

To me, old age is always ten years older than I am”  John Burroughs

In this engaging lesson students will consolidate the use of future perfect and future perfect continuous through some engaging activities.


WARM UP


Show them a picture of how you see yourself when you are 70 and explain why you see yourself like that. (below you’ll see the picture I showed my students). After some laughs and a bit of explaining, ask students:

How do you see yourselves when you are 70? Do you look forward to getting old?

Ask them to talk in pairs for two or three minutes and get feedback.


THE POEM- WARMING by Jenny Joseph


This is a nice opportunity to introduce poetry in class.

Explain that the poem they are about to listen/read, written by Jenny Joseph,  goes hand in hand with the picture of yourself shown above. After listening to the poem, ask students whether they think the author is looking forward to getting old and why.

It seems the poetess is rebellious, but she is only comfortable to ‘break the rules’ when she has the excuse of old age and senility. Ask students what they think about her attitude.


GALLERY WALK

  • On the walls of the class display pictures of elderly people reflecting different attitudes towards life when they are old.
  • Ask students to stand up, have a look at all of them and decide which one will best represent their attitude to life. They now return to their desks.
  • Ask them to write two sentences using the future perfect and two sentences using the future continuous, based on the picture they have chosen.
  • Get students in threes now and ask them to explain their choice to their partners and use the 4 sentences they have written.
  • For example and based on my picture
  • I will have tried parachuting when I am 70
  • I will have probably written a recipe book.
  • I will probably be living in Bhutan
  • I will be living life to the fullest

I have used these pictures  to display on the walls, and this presentation when giving feedback see  here.


SPEAKING


Students now work in small groups and answer the following questions about the future. Remind them that they need to elaborate on their answers giving reasons and using different expressions to give opinion. All the questions contain either a future perfect or a future continous form; encourage students to use these tenses in their answers.

You might find this handout useful

Looking Forward to the Future

Teaching Both, Neither and Either with List.ly

Several times I have been on the verge of almost writing a post exclusively to share with you this beautiful presentation tool without any reference whatsoever to English teaching.

But I didn’t. I don’t know why, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Normally posts about tools and apps you can use in the classroom go unnoticed, unless you’re clearly into incorporating technology into your classes.

So, next week I’ll be teaching the grammar for both, neither and either and I thought it would be nice to use this tool to present and teach these pronouns as, among other things, List.ly helps you build beautiful presentations, add text and links.

Now, if you’re not interested in incorporating List.ly into your classes, you can skip all about List.ly below and go straight for the grammar. 🙂 although I hope you don’t.


About List.ly


What is List.ly?

Basically it’s a tool for creating and curating lists. With List.ly you can

  • Curate content
  • Create original post content
  • Get feedback from your students

Other features

  • You can add items with or without links, photos, text, video, audio…etc
  • Also, it’s a highly collaborative tool. Students can participate:

-by voting individual lists items up or down

-by adding to the lists

-by writing comments

  • It’s free ( you can create 3 free lists) and you can easily share it and embed it on your blog.
  • You can choose from 6 formats: list, gallery, magazine, slideshow, minimal and badge.
  • You can make it private. You can obtain the link and share it privately.
  • You can moderate the list to approve any comments or contributions to the list.
  • You can decide the order in your list: curated order (great for collaborative storytelling), crowdrank (great for voting), alphabetical or newest.
  • Below you can see some of the things you can add to your list

 Tutorial: here

   How can I use it in the classroom?

Given that you can allow students to collaborate, there are endless possibilities. To mention just a few:

  • Create a list of tips. For example: for scoring high in the oral exam and have students vote the most helpful.
  • Choose a topic, for ex. stereotypes and let students add their own ideas to the list.
  • Create a list linking to specific content they need to see or study: videos, grammar exercises, topic-related lessons, …etc.
  • As you can also upload audio, give them a topic for discussion and ask them to add to the discussion by uploading a recording with their own view on the issue.
  • Create beautiful presentations with links to extra content.
  • Writing contest: share their writing and ask students to vote on the best.
  • Start a list with the songs they would like to work with, ask them to add their favourites and then vote on the best.
  • Collaborative Speaking activity: brainstorming of ideas.

Any other ideas?

 


 Using BOTH, NEITHER AND EITHER


  1. Traditional? Pdf with exercises here. 
  2.   A bit less traditional? Down here!

I have embedded the presentation using two formats:

  • slideshow format
  •  List format

A Guessing Game to Practise Questions

Are you in the mood for a game?

Lots of learners find it difficult to ask questions in English and these little particles called “auxiliaries” are the ones to blame; hard to believe that such tiny things cause so much trouble, but the fact that students need to remember when and how to use them or not to use them- makes it difficult even for some advanced learner to feel confident when asking questions in English.

Based on the classic game show “What’s my line?”, this game aims at improving students’ ability to ask yes/no questions in English, something most learners find difficult.

“What’s my line?” is a guessing game in which four panellists attempt to determine the occupation or the identity of a guest by asking only yes-no questions.

Rules based on the game and adapted to the classroom.

  1. Divide the class in groups of five people. Four students are going to be the panellists and ask the questions (either to guess the identity of the famous person or the occupation), and the  fifth student is going to answer their questions playing his given role. If you decide to play the variant of guessing a famous person’s identity, I would suggest having a list of famous people and letting the student choose who he wants to be.
  2. A student  (panellist) chosen by the teacher would begin the game. If his question elicits a “yes” answer, he continues questioning. When a question is answered “no”, questioning passes to the next student.
  3. Students have the option of passing to the next and they can also request a conference, in which they have a short time to openly discuss ideas about occupations or lines of questioning.
  4. To increase the probability of affirmative answers, students can phrase questions in the negative starting with “Can I rule out…?”
  5. When after some intense questioning a student thinks he knows the identity or profession of the mysterious guest, he can say so and become the mysterious guest for the next round.

Before the game begins, play the video of the  game where Salvador Dali is the              mysterious guest.

Akinator, the Web Genie. Just as I was about to publish this post, I remembered that some time ago I used to ask my elementary students to play an online game that never failed to surprise me and that my students used to love. I recommeded it because it gave them practice to understand questions in English. I checked and it is still working. The name is Akinator and he’s a genie. It goes like this: you think of a prominent person, celebrity or fictional character. Akinator will ask you up to twenty quetions and he’ll guess the person you have in mind. Check it out!

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Revising Simple Past,Used to and Would with some Engaging Activities

This lesson has been designed as a next-day revision activity for B2 (Intermediate +) students.

Aim: to consolidate the use of Past Simple, Used to and Would for past habits and routines.

Level: B2 (Intermediate+)

In this lesson you will find.

  • Grammar and exercises
  • Speaking: Picture discussion in pairs
  • Speaking: an advert from a popular drink comparing past and present
  • Writing: a fun writing game
  • Speaking: bits of your childhood

STEP 1. Grammar.

The use of these three verb forms to express past habits and routines can be a bit confusing for students, so in this class I am aiming at some revision to clarify concepts. Assuming students have already studied formation rules, the focus is now on use.

PDF with exercises here.

STEP 2.Picture description. Speaking.

Display the picture of a family in the past and ask students, in pairs, to discuss the differences they can see and the differences they can guess exist between the family shown in the picture and their own family.  Encourage students to use the targeted grammar.

Get feedback

STEP3. The video. Speaking.

  • Tell students they are going to watch a video. Explain there will be no comprehension questions as there is no dialogue.
  • Ask students to give you a brief description of what they have seen.
  • Explain that the advert is called “Grandpa” and it tries to show that the lifestyle enjoyed by our grandparents — moving more, eating well, taking it easy — can be beneficial.
  • Students will see the video twice more and  their task is to write down any differences they can see between the man today and his grandfather.
  • Once students have completed this task, ask them to work in pairs commenting on the differences they have seen in the video encouraging them,once again,to use the targeted grammar point: the use of simple past, would and used to to talk about past habits and routines.
  • Encourage discussion of the following points
  1. healthy eating
  2. stress
  3. working conditions
  4. means of transport
  5. relationships
  6. habits

STEP 4. Writing game: I have retired

Target language: Used To, Would and Simple Past Tense to describe past habits, states and routines

Preparation: none

Procedure:

Set the context: tell students they have to imagine they are 70 and retired. They are happier in retirement than when they were working but there are some things that they still miss.

Students, in pairs or in threes, choose the job they used to have.

Students will need to produce four sentences using the targeted language, giving clues for the other groups to guess their job.

  • sentences can be positive or negative
  • the first sentence will contain the clue most difficult to guess
  • the last sentence will contain the easiest clue
  • The first sentence will be awarded 4 points and the last one 1 point

Each group will name a spokesperson who will read out the clues. It’s important, at this stage, to ask students to speak up and clearly. Some rules:

  • The spokesperson will read the first sentence and the other groups will raise a hand if they think they know the answer.
  • Only one guess is allowed for each clue
  • If the answer is correct, they will be awarded the four points, if it is not, the second clue will be read for three points.

Example

  • 4 points. I would work with a lot of people
  • 3 points. I worked after “work”, mainly at home.
  • 2 points. I used my voice a lot
  • 1 point. I used to work with children

How many clues did you need to hear??  Yes, the answer is TEACHER

STEP 5. Bits of your childhood. Speaking in small groups.

Ask students to think about their life at the age of 10.

Give students a list of things they might want to talk about.

Ask students to think about what they will say and the language they will need. Allow some minutes for preparation.

  • Where did you use to live?
  • Did your life use to be very different to how it is now?
  • Where did you use to go to school? Do you remember any of your teachers? Did you have any favourite teachers?
  • Did you use to get good marks? Did you have a favourite subject?
  • What did you use to do after school?
  • Where did you use to play? Do you remember who your friends were? Did you have a best friend?
  • Can you remember your favourite game?
  • At lunchtime, did you use to like the food? Did you use to eat with your parents?
  • What was your greatest wish? Can you remember?

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Two Wonderful Sites to Practise Listening and other skills

So, you’ve done all the listening exercises in your textbook, workbook  and on my website 😉  but still, you feel you  really need to go the extra mile ?

Here you are two wonderful websites where you can find tons of Listening exercises to practise before the exam.

1. ESOL COURSES. Choose your level and then choose the skill you want to practise ; they are all great!

2. ESl Lounge Students: on this site you can also practise all skills . Scroll down the page and on the right sidebar, choose the skill you want to practise and your level.

 

Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. Follow me! 🙂

Used TO: Introducing Used to ,a Nice Short Writing Game and a Beautiful Song.

After almost eight years posting ( I had another blog before this one) I have to say that I am absolutely convinced that if it were not for my blog ,I wouldn’t be able to find and remember half the activities that I do in my class. Don’t misunderstand me !!! I’m not implying by any means that I’m sort of disorganised or forgetful; a teacher should never fall into this category ,but the truth is that this blog has helped me tons to  have all my stuff organised . That must have been the reason that prompted me to start writing… but to be honest, I cannot remember ! :).

Two activities that I did yesterday with my students and that I don’t want to forget are

1. A small warm-up to introduce Used To

2. A  fun nice short writing game that requires no preparation

1. Introducing Used To. The picture below shows what I wrote on the whiteboard. I made sure I gave examples of past actions -in the diagram the font is in black- and past states -in blue. (Remember : We use ‘used to’ for something that happened regularly in the past but no longer happens or for something  that was true but  no longer is).

At this stage , a good performance makes all the difference.

Students pay more attention when you dramatise or introduce the idea in a nice way. Let’s see two examples. Which do you think wil make the student pay more attention?

1. OK, Today, I am going to explain Used to, It is used to…. and here are some examples…. Do you understand?Any questions?

2. Ok, folks !! That’s me 10 years ago!! Look at my  hair now!! What colour is it? Do you think it suits me?? Thanks so much !! You’re so sweet! Now I have fair hair but 10 years ago, I used to have dark hair.  What about you? Has anybody changed their hairstyle?? Yes, teacher , I had dark hair too and now I have  red hair!! Ok ! María , so in English you can say ! I used to have dark hair but now  my hair is red.

The second option works much better, trust me on this one!

2. WRITING GAME: I HAVE RETIRED

Target language : Used To to describe past habits or states , contrasted with the  present

Preparation: none

Level :B1/B2

Time: about 15 minutes

Procedure:

Setting  the context. Tell students they have to imagine they are 70 and they are retired . They  are happier in retirement  than when they were working but there are some things that they still miss.

Step 1. Students in pairs or in threes choose the job they used to have.

Step 2. Students will need to produce  four sentences using Used To ,giving clues for the other groups to guess their job .

  • All the sentences must contain ” Used to” in the positive or the negative
  • the first sentence will contain the clue most difficult to guess
  • the last sentence will contain the easiest clue
  • The first sentence will be awarded 4 points and the last one 1 point

Step 3. Each group will name a spokesperson who will read out the clues. It’s important ,at this stage, to ask students to speak up and clearly . Some rules:

  • The spokesperson will read the first sentence and the other groups will raise a hand if they think they know the answer.
  • Only one guess is allowed for each clue
  • If the answer is correct, they will be awarded the four points , if it is not ,the second clue will be read for three points.

Example

  • 4 points . I used to work with a lot of people
  • 3 points. I used to work after “work”
  • 2 points. I used to use my voice a lot
  • 1 point . I used to work with children

How many clues did you need to hear??  Yes, the answer is TEACHER

3. LEARNING WITH SONGS. Is there a best way to learn?

This is a beautiful song by the Newcastle songwriter James Morrison and it is called Once When I was Little . I used some time ago to talk about Childhood Memories and to revise Used To.  I hope you like it. I love it!

Click here to see how I worked with the song

A Formal Email

I know it might be a tiny bit too late to be posting this but I’ve  just come across it and given that we are having the test on Monday/Tuesday I sort of hope the idea of visiting the blog crossed your mind and you are one of the lucky  who will be reading and doing the interactive exercises on the website where these snapshots have been taken from:      http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/.

Scroll down their  page and make sure you do the following exercises

  • ♥Check your writing: indirect questions
  • ♥Check your writing . gap fill: Useful Phrases

Lesson Plan: Speaking and Writing about Relationships and Using Indirect Questions

Today I want to share with you an activity that has worked really well. I did it with my Intermediate students but I bet it’ll be perfect for any level. It all started with a text my students had to read about a Speed Dating Event (click here if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Just the previous week we had been studying Indirect Questions so I thought it could be a good idea to mix speed dating and indirect questions. And I was right ! The smiles on their faces gave them away!
♥These are the steps we followed :
Step 1. We read about a speed dating event (New English File Upper-Intermediate. Unit 1)
Step 2. I gave students slips of paper containing either the beginning of a direct or an indirect question. (Cards here). I encouraged students to write an interesting question ; a question the person talking to them could elaborate on. If the slip of paper begins with I was wondering…. Students shouldn’t go for “ I was wondering what your name is” … but something along the lines of” I was wondering what you do in your free time” or” I was wondering why you are taking this course”.
Step 3. I explained the rules of a speed dating event. Some students remain seated during the whole event ( in real speed dating, women remain seated). When the bell rings , students sit across another student and they use their questions to start a conversation . They need to keep on talking for 3 minutes. Then a bell rings and “men” need to stand up and move to their right to start a new conversation and the whole process is repeated again. I didn’t have a bell so I used a Class Timer (here)

The picture shows some of my students during the speed dating event. A lot of fun, believe me!

♥After the speed dating event, my students were in the right mood to talk about relationships so we worked a bit on some vocabulary they might need to use when talking or writing about Dating, Friendship or Marriage. Photocopy here

♥It was the last lesson of the week and so the right time to set as homework for the weekend  a Writing about the Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-Traditional Dating.

♥Monday will begin with students sharing their ideas about non-traditional dating. I think it will be easier for them to start talking about something they have previously given some thought to. Once they are all warmed-up,…..who’ll dare stop them? I’ve got these two nice handouts to ensure they keep on talking.
Don’t you fear!. I’ll hand them some peppermint drops to prevent hoarseness as they leave the class. They’ll have well deserved them!

Useful Posts to Revise for Finals

I have been meaning to give MentorMob a try for some time and I never got around to doing it but when my students asked me where to revise for finals, MentorMob flashed in my mind and I saw the light. ;).

This little tool  allows you to organise your favourite posts or websites into a playlist  in a very easy way  and then you can always share it and embed it in a blog or website. In this way you can easily organise videos, pdfs, documents, websites, articles….. into playlists and then  assign them to your students in the computer room, as homework or  in a flipped classroom setting .

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!
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