Category Archives: Vocabulary Games

I’m Shamelessly Addicted to this Game

Yes. It’s true. I love this game. It’s just the right kind challenge for someone studying English.

The game is called Fluent and this is how it works:

  • There are 20 different trivia categories all dealing with grammar and vocabulary.
  • You’ll have to answer each question before you run out of time.
  • You have 3 lives.
  • You’ll need to answer 5 questions correctly to go to the next level.
  • As you level up, you are given less time to answer.
  • You can play it pairs (or 2 teams) and the winner is  the top scorer after 8 questions.

Ready for some fun, a bit of challenge and lots of learning. Here we go, then!

Click on the picture.

fluent

Blog de Cristina is on Facebook, too. Join us!

Stars in their Eyes

When I was a kid in my hometown, a little village in the north of Spain, there used to be a cinema. Not any more and not for a long time. In fact, it seems to me there are very few towns or even cities which still have a cinema and I’m not talking about the outdoor cinemas, which are so popular in summer, I am talking about the real thing. Cinemas with endless rows of seats smelling oldish and where the usher always told you off before you even got to your seat and started cracking up. I remember we didn’t get to see the latest films until they were 4 or 5 years old and then, they were not new any more as our friends from the capital city kindly reminded us rolling their eyes in disbelief when they came on holiday, but all the same it brings back very good memories. I must be getting old!

So today I’m sharing with you an engaging lesson with lots of activities around the theme of films and the cinema. Hope you enjoy it!

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

Activity 1. Warming-up. Learning and using vocabulary.

Step 1.Wordcloud.
Display the word cloud and ask students to guess the topic. Click on the words you want to highlight and ask students to guess meanings and try to use them in a sentence. Alternatively, you can choose the latest box-office hit and ask students to give you a sentence about this film containing the targeted word.

 

Step 2. Mind mapping.  Handout with vocabulary here

Ask students to work in pairs. Write on the board a mind map as the one below (give them only the words inside the circles) to help them revise vocabulary related to this thematic area. Allow them some minutes to complete their mind maps and get feedback from the whole class, completing the mind map on the board with their suggestions.

  • Exercise on types of films here
  • A crossword with film words here

Activity 2. A game.

The class is divided into two groups. In turns, one member from each group sits on the Hot Chair facing  away from the whiteboard. The members of their group have  one minute to describe the film being displayed  without mentioning the title ( that goes without saying, but just in case, I’m saying it). The aim is to guess as many films as possible in one minute. Then, it’s the other team’s turn.

They will need to talk about:

Kind of film/ Nationality of the film/ director/ plot/

Some hints:

♥The film ‘_______’ is a(n) _______ film which takes place in _______.
♥The film is set in __(ancient Greece)__.
♥The story is based on __(a popular novel)__.
♥The film is directed by _______.
♥The main character(s) in the film is/are _______.
♥_______ is a character who _______.
♥__(Johnny Depp)__ stars as __(Captain Sparks)__.
♥In the film, __(Jack Black)__ plays __(a rock guitarist). The story is about _______
♥The best scene of the film is_____

Activity 3. A listening : interview with Hitchcock talking about his film Psycho.

Ask students: What kind of films do you like? Do you have a favourite director?

Write on the board Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho and ask students if they know who he is and if they know any of his films. Students most probably will have heard about Hitchcock and seen some of his films, but in case they haven’t, tell them Hitchcock is considered “the master of suspense” and “Psycho”(1960) s is arguably Hitchcock’s best-known film.

Play the video and ask students to answer the questions. (Find the answers at the end of this post).

  1.  What’s Hitchcock’s opinion of films such as Frankenstein?
  2.  What’s his idea of a horror film?
  3. When he made Psycho, did he have a mind a horror film or an amusing film?
  4. Was the film “Psycho” a very violent film? If not, why did it make people scream? Explain in your own words.

Activity 4. Speaking.

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

Activity 5. Writing a film review.

Handout with the task and useful vocabulary and expressions to use in your review.

Blog de Cristina is also on facebook. Follow us!

Answers to the listening

  1. What’s Hitchcock’s opinion of films such as Frankenstein?He thinks they are very easy to make and that they are props.
  2.  What’s his idea of a horror film?
    He believes in putting the horror in the mind of the audience and not necessarily on the screen.
  3.  When he made Psycho, did he have a mind a horror film or an amusing film?
    An amusing film
  4. Was the film “Psycho” a very violent film? If not, why did it make people scream? Explain in your own words.

There is only one violent scene in the film, which is at the beginning when the girl is     violently murdered in the shower. As the film developed, there is less and less violence. The horror and the tension are transferred to the mind of the viewers, which are the end of the film are screaming.

Tools used
Tagul, Hot Potatoes, Picture Trail, Thematic

Activating Passive Vocabulary

One of the things that worries me most when teaching vocabulary is that students tend to store the newly acquired knowledge as passive vocabulary. Agreed that most of us have more passive  than active vocabulary, agreed  that we use a larger variety of words when we write than when we speak, but still I think that as teachers we need to go the extra mile and help our students see the importance of incorporating new vocabulary into their communicative tasks.

Designing activities to convert passive vocabulary into active vocabulary is one of the things that occupies most of my planning.

This is a very simple activity I have designed to” force” my students to use new vocabulary and connectors to express contrast.

Level : Intermediate and above

Aim:

  • To use newly acquired vocabulary
  • To improve students’ writing abilities by using connectors of contrast
  • To encourage collaborative writing

Step 1.  Selecting vocabulary.  Ask students to work in pairs. Explain that they’ll need to write on a clean sheet of paper ten words or expressions recently studied. (You can also be more specific here and tell them the unit or the pages of the book you want them to get the vocabulary from).

Step 2.  Explaining the task .Ask students now to pass their list of 1o words to the pair sitting behind them or next to them.

Tell students they are going to write a story in pairs. In this story they’ll need to use at least 7 of the words on their list and three out of the five connectors of contrast you are going to write on the board (see below an interactive flyer explaining Clauses of Contrast)

Give them the beginning of a story, for example “When Fiona entered the room, she couldn’t believe her eyes” or use a story starter generator here.

Step 3. Writing and editing. Encourage students to dedicate some time to planning their story. Set a time limit of 30 minutes, but I suggest not limiting the number of words in their stories to encourage fluency and boost their imagination.

Once they have written their draft (20 minutes), ask students to carefully edit their stories. Display the following checklist on the board  (click here to download it) or alternatively print it and give one to every student.

Give each pair a different coloured paper or if you have more stories than colours, use different pen colours or assign a number to every story.

Ask students to write their story and underline the targeted vocabulary and the connectors of contrast used.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Clauses of Contrast Flyer

Photo credit: Deb Stgo via Visual hunt / CC BY

Teaching Collocations: a Low-Prep Activity

I am almost embarrassed to share this super easy lesson plan with you, but right now I am in the middle of a love affair with collocations and all my classes, no matter the level, are working  with collocations.

Please, don’t freak out! I am not going to give you an obnoxious list of collocations and ask you to learn them by heart. That’s not the way I do things!, but you’ll surely agree with me  that there is no point in learning the adjective “interested” if you don’t know that it’s followed by the preposition “in”. Yes, Ok, you can say “I’m interested”, but that’s it!! And we are aiming for a bit more, aren’t we?

(at the end of this post, you’ll find  some interesting links to learn more about collocations)

So, take a deep breath and follow me!

Step 1. What is a collocation? Though students don’t really need to be familiar with the term, it might be a good idea to introduce the concept.

In English we can say I absolutely agree but we cannot say I absolutely go; we can say I am interested in, but not I am keen in. We can say a heavy drinker, but not a strong drinker or a  chain drinker. These conventional combinations of words, chosen naturally by the English speakers to express an idea, are called “collocations”.

Below you’ll see some of the collocations I am going to use, but this activity will work with any collocation:

Depend on/ interested in/ arrive in/ arrive at/ fed up with/ spend on/good or bad at/ close to/fond of/keen on/ look forward to…etc.

Step 2. Slips of paper. Oral activity.

  • Select the collocations to be studied, as many as students you have in the class. In my case, I have decided to give them dependent prepositions with common adjectives and verbs because I have noticed they always make mistakes here.
  • Write the adjective or verb on the slip of paper and on the back of it, the preposition(s) it collocates with. Stand up in the middle of the class for everybody to see you. Show students the slip of paper containing the adjective or verb and ask them to guess the missing preposition, and then give you a sentence containing the collocation.
  • A small competition. Divide the class into two groups and repeat procedure. This time, groups will need to guess the preposition and give a sentence -different from the one they gave in the previous stage- to win the point.

Step 3. Slips of paper. Writing activity.

  • Give every student a slip of paper from the previous activity and ask them to individually think of a question to ask their partners containing this collocation.

Offer help if necessary.

Step 4. Speaking activity using the speed-dating technique.

Students sit facing each other. Some students will remain seated during the whole event (in real speed dating, women remain seated). They have 4 minutes to talk asking and answering the question they have written containing the collocation. 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).

A highly engaging activity your students are likely to enjoy!

Useful links to learn more about collocations

Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. Follow us!

Thanks for reading!

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 Guess the Word Game to Practise Relative Sentences and Paraphrasing

What do you normally do when you are talking to a person in English and you don’t know the word? I guess you don’t tell the person ” OK, right, hold on! I am going to look it up on my mobile phone”. You might be tempted to do it, but know that the person you are talking to might lose interest in what you are saying.
So, the thing to do would be Paraphrasing.

How do we paraphrase?? There are some expressions you can use
It’s A KIND OF house
It’s THE OPPOSITE OF lazy
It’s LIKE cleaning but… trying to explain what you want to say but using other words you know. That’s calle
It’s SIMILAR TO book but..
FOR EXAMPLE, you do this when
It’s A SYNONYM OF..
It’s A PERSON/SOMEBODY WHO…
It’s a THING/SOMETHING WHICH…
It’s SOMEWHERE/A PLACE WHERE

It can also help to say “ It’s a noun, or an adjective…. “ If it’s an expression, you can also say “ It’s an expression and there are three words in it”

Right, now we are ready to play the game. It’s called WHAT’S THE WORD?

How we play the game:

  • Divide the class into two teams
  • Ask a member of Team A to sit on chair with his back to the whiteboard.
  • Display the first word on the screen
  • The members of the team have two minutes to describe the word but they cannot use any parts of the words on the screen. For example if it is “teacher” they cannot use the word “teach”.The aim is for the student to guess as many words as possible in one minute. Every word in black scores one point , the ones in red score two points.
  • Then, it is the other team’s turn to choose someone to take the hot seat.
  • Needless to say, you keep the score on the board for everybody to see. Have fun!!!

 

Reading Comprehension: Pre-Teaching Vocabulary

All my lessons last 90 minutes and even though I like to think that students don’t normally get tired or bored, changing gears several times during the 90 minutes is quite important to maintain their level of attention. In this sense, fortunately, teaching a language is not the same as teaching some other subjects where the range of activities you can do is a bit more restricted.
When it comes to Reading Comprehension there are some activities I have tried over the years that seem to have worked pretty well. This week I am planning to use a different activity with my intermediate groups to pre -teach the vocabulary in the Reading Activity, which I would like to share with you. It will require that they leave their seats and walk around the class, talking to their classmates. I’m sure they will appreciate the opportunity to move their legs.
Steps.
Step 1. Decide the vocabulary you want to teach (that goes without saying, doesn’t it?)
Step 2. Prepare two sets of cards. One card contains the word and part of speech you want to teach and the other card contains the definition.
Step 3. Students stand up and find their partner ( I have large groups so it’s going to take a while).
Step 4. Students sit down with their partner and write a sentence containing their word.
Step 5. Students read their sentences and explain the meaning of the word /expression being studied.
Note: I have very large groups, like  thirty students  per class but I never know how many  will be attending on a particular day. For this kind of activities I need to make sure I have cards for all the students. So, if I run out of words to pre-teach, I’ll prepare some cards containing the phonetics for the targeted words.

Thanks for reading!

Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. Follow us!

Two Games to Revise Vocabulary

If you’ve been reading me for some time  you know how much I love games. Unfortunately, when I was a student at the high school I don’t seem to remember games being part of the teachers’ lesson plan. Now, from the other side of the fence, I wonder why with so many different  things you can do in a language class, we never did anything funny; well, occasionally, we did some fill in the blanks exercises with songs, but that’s it! I also wonder how, being our classes so boring, I ended up being  a teacher.

If you are at all like me, you will love playing these games!!!

♥AGAINST THE CLOCK
This game requires some preparation. On slips of paper, write down the vocabulary that needs to be revised (verbs, phrasal verbs, adjectives…etc) . Students, sitting in a circle, play in groups of four or five, so there should be one set of cards for each group. Set a random amount of time, which students won’t know (this is important so that they don’t cheat). Give the pack of cards to one of the students. Set the timer. Now, he has to describe the word to the students in his group using only verbal language and, it goes without saying, without saying the word or part of it. When a student guesses the word, then the cards are passed to the next student. The person holding the cards when the alarm in the timer goes off loses. Continue playing until there is a winner.

Click to see a good selection of Classroom Timers

♥A-Z Picture Vocabulary.


This is a good activity to brainstorm new vocabulary and also to give more advanced students the opportunity to show off a bit. Students play in pairs or in threes mixing stronger and weaker students.
A picture with lots of elements is displayed on the Overhead Projector and students need to find in the picture something beginning with each of the letters of the alphabet A-Z .Set a time limit of 7-8 minutes
 

 

 

Writing lesson: Stretching a Sentence and the Verb Shaker

Writing is probably one of the most difficult tasks students have to tackle but it is also true that we never dedicate enough time to improving this skill; there never seems to be enough time during lessons. Added to this is the fact that we are not used to writing in our own language, let alone in a foreign one. Therefore, what we normally get from our students are short sentences which usually fall short of our expectations.
In this session I have used two activities, slightly modified, from two different blogs; Stretching a Sentence (original source here) and the Verb Shaker (original post here )

♥STETCHING A SENTENCE
I have created a PPT presentation (see below) to heighten the idea of a telescopic sentence.
The main idea is starting with a verb or a noun and stretching the sentence by giving the students some hints in the form of questions (who, when, where, what, why). In the end, they easily and effortlessly come up with a sentence that has some consistency and that I hope will help  them get rid of their fear of writing. This exercise does not focus on complex sentences as it is aimed at elementary and pre-intermediate students. It might also be necessary to point out that previous to this exercise, we have worked on the order of adjectives before the noun (basically Opinion+Size+Age+Colour) so you can imagine how colourful their sentences were.

♥VERB SHAKER

This funny idea came form the wonderful blog Crazy Speech World and though dyeing the rice and laminating the cards is an awesome idea I have to confess that I don’t have the time, so my students will have to make up do with just the box and the paper cards.
My idea is using this game with elementary and pre-intermediate students. I have written the verbs in two different colours:  in green, the easiest verbs to use in a sentence  and in blue, verbs which could be a bit more difficult to use. Using two colours, they can be easily separated. I have also included some blank cards in the box.

The game: one student picks up a verb (eyes closed) from the box and students, in pairs, have about 90 seconds to write a sentence including the verb. The longer the sentence, the more possibilities they have of getting the point, which will be awarded to the pair with the best sentence. (Remind students of the Who, What, When, Where, Why from the previous exercise). If a student draws a blank card, he can choose the verb he fancies.

To make things easier for me, I’ll provide them with slips of paper  to write their sentence so that when the time’s up they can raise it up and I can have a quick check. Sentences with mistakes will be automatically discarded and the remaining sentences will be read aloud and voted. The pair with the best sentence gets the point.

Edited: Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 verbs

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...