Category Archives: Funny Stuff

Sentence Betting: a Vocabulary Revision Game

I’m really happy to welcome  again Angeles Jimenez as guest writer on the blog. Ángeles is a friend and fellow teacher from EOI Oviedo with over 25 years’ experience teaching adults and, in this blog post, she will be sharing with us a fun engaging game to revise vocabulary.

The Sentence Betting  game is a vocabulary revision game which requires students to recognize, correct and explain vocabulary related to the topic of work. It’s highly adaptable to any semantic field and it’s a great game to review vocabulary as end-of-unit activity and usually a lot more fun than the typical course book review.

Level: This game in particular works best with C1 students since there are difficult expressions B2 students haven’t studied yet.

Preparation: Prepare a worksheet for students to check for word-usage mistakes related to the topic of work. Include correct sentences in a random order.

Time: about 45 minutes

Materials:

  • A sentence betting worksheet (see handout).
  • Fake money or poker chips (optional). You can download play money here

How to play:

1. Divide the class in teams of 4 students. If you want to play with bigger groups, split each group into two teams.

2. Give each team a handout of the betting sheet. Allow them 10 minutes to go down  the list of sentences to decide and mark which one is either correct or incorrect.

They need to put a tick or a cross and bet a sum of money between 1$ and 5$ depending on how confident they feel about their answer.

3. The auction. Call sentences aloud one by one and ask each team to bet a sum of money stating whether they think is correct or incorrect. Display the answer on the screen. Ask students to fill in the 3rd column with the amount won or lost.

For example, if a pair of students bet 5$ on a sentence because they believe it’s true and they’re correct, then they win 5$. But if they get it wrong, then they lose that sum.

Students add up the figures both plus and minus. The winner is the team with the most money at the end.

Once a team has won the bet by correctly saying that a sentence is wrong, they have the chance to double their money again by correcting it.

Remind students that once the game starts you will limit the amount of time they have to decide if the sentences are right or wrong.

Variation: If you want to build up excitement, divide each group into two teams appointing a spokesperson, who will be in charge of reading each sentence aloud and giving the correct answer after each bet.

Tip: if you want to keep the activity fast-paced, it may be better to play in teams as poor pronunciation will slow down the game.

Spinning the Wheel: an Engaging and Productive Speaking Activity.

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.

Levels: all

PROCEDURE.

  1. Easy peasy! Just go to wheeldecide.com and fill in one wheel with the target vocabulary and another one with the questions you want your students to discuss.
  2. Students in pairs
  3. Spin the wheel containing the questions and then, the wheel containing the word/ expression you want your students to use when answering the question.
  4. Student A has 2 minutes to talk about the question and use the target vocabulary. If he does, he scores a point.
  5. 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.

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10 Creative Ways to Use the Wheel of Fortune to Teach English

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

  1. How to feed the wheel
  2. Ideas to use the wheel of fortune to teach/learn English

 

 

1. How to feed the wheel

  • Click here to get to the wheel
  • 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

Vocabulary

  • 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.

Speaking

  • 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

Writing

  • 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.  😉

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Getting-to-know-you Bingo with a Fun Twist

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.
  • Optional online tool:  Osric
  • Time: about 30 minutes
  • Level: A2 and above

BEFORE THE CLASS

  • Prepare 25 prompts for the students to talk about
  • 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. Osric is the one I used for this activity.

  • Cut up all the 25 different prompts and put them inside a bag or a box.

PROCEDURE:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 These are the prompts I have used

  1. Is an only child
  2. Was born in another country
  3. Speaks 3 languages
  4. Has lived in another city
  5. Can sing a song in English
  6. Can cook
  7. Plays a musical instrument
  8. Has a sports trophy
  9. Has a tattoo
  10. Has a dog
  11. Has done sth cool this summer
  12. Belongs to a sports club
  13. Has a celebrity autograph
  14. Prefers books to ebooks
  15. Has been in three continents
  16. Has had a big argument with a friend
  17. Doesn’t like English
  18. Can tell a joke in English
  19. Has been on holiday recently
  20. Can pronounce 13 and 30
  21. Knows how to pronounce “bear” and “beer”
  22. Knows how to say “gallina” in English
  23. Knows how to say 345,768
  24. Has slept in a tent
  25. Can write the past/past part of “to fly”

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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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Nine Ways to Revise Vocabulary Using Slips of Paper

In today’s post I would like to share with you the link for an article I wrote for the  British Council’s magazine, Voices. As a result of winning this month’s  TeachingEnglish blog award with my article on pronunciation  Most Common Pronunciation Mistakes Heard in Oral Exams I was kindly invited to write a new article for their magazine.

Here’s the article Nine ways to revise vocabulary using slips of paperwhich I hope teachers will find useful.

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The quiz: 13 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary in 2015

Three years ago, a colleague of mine wrote the word “selfie” on the board. She says none of her students knew what the word meant. Nowadays, even my great grandmother, should I have one, would most definitely know what a “selfie” is, and would probably have taken one or two to send her peers.

It is said that the English language has more words than any other language in the world and it seems it might be true. The Oxford Dictionary Online stores over 600,000 words. Despite this number, new words are coined, clipped and blended all the time and although some of them are very soon forgotten, others make their way into the dictionary.
But how do they choose the words they include in a dictionary? The answer is simple: people need to use them. Basically editors watch the word for several years to see how it is used in both spoken and written English. They check to see that the word is used to express an idea clearly, and that the idea is understood. Then, when the word is seen in writing and speech regularly, it can go in the dictionary.

New words are added every year, but also words that are no longer used are eliminated.

Every year, the Oxford Dictionary selects a Word of the Year. “Selfie” was chosen Word of the Year three years ago. This year, the award has been given to the emoji (plural emoji or emojis) Face with Tears of Joy. The decision to choose a pictogram as word of the year, when it is clearly not a word, has been publicly criticized by many. But despite the selection of this word being frowned upon in many circles, the question to consider is: if words are used to communicate, aren’t emojis also used to communicate feelings and emotions in this new digital era?

So, as stated above, lots of new words enter the dictionaries every year. In this little quiz below you will find some of the most recent additions to the dictionaries

Are you up to the challenge?

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An Engaging Combination: First-Day Introductions+Indirect Questions + Concentric Circles Technique

Last week was crazy. No lessons yet but lots of tests to be marked and tons of red tape to go through. So, I am shockingly super excited about beginning a new course; yes, excited about getting up early and teaching non-stop for six hours and   no…  I did not trip and fall  into a bucket full of cider   😉 (typical drink where I live).

First days are for introductions and little more, but  this year I think I am going to kill two birds with one stone  and combine introductions and some grammar that needs to be reviewed. So, I have got this idea in mind of asking students to introduce themselves to each other using indirect questions. I hope most of my new students will have, at some point over the years, studied  with me and for the rest, I will have to find a way to deal with the OMG- shocked looks I am sure I am going to get. But let’s cross that bridge when I come to it!

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Level: Intermediate and Above

Time Required: 30-45 minutes

Description of the Activity .This engaging activity has been designed as a  first-day oral introduction activity and to teach/help students revise how to make indirect questions . I will use the concentric circles  technique,  which is a mingle activity .The technique is explained below and I have also published a picture of my students doing the task.

STEP 1.Revision of Indirect Questions.

Indirect questions were studied last year, so we will just do a quick revision with this video I have  created using the free tool powtoon.com

If necessary, we will spend some minutes brushing up in two different ways

  1. Doing some online exercises you can find here  or , here  or if you do not have a computer, you might want to photocopy this worksheet here
  1. Orally producing some questions and asking students to provide the indirect question.

 STEP 2. Writing .

Ask students to write a question they would like to ask their classmates. For example: ” Do you speak any other languages?”, “Where do you live?” or “How long have you been studying English?”.

Give students slips of paper containing the beginning of an indirect question and ask them to make sure they know how to ask their question beginning with the phrase on their card. Cards here. (template downloaded from Teknologic). For example : “Can I ask  you where you live?” or “Would you mind telling me how long you have been studying English?”. 

STEP 3. Explaining the concentric circle technique.

This technique is a kind of mingle. Although mingles can be a bit noisy  and a bit disorganised, most students love it.The distinctive feature of a mingle activity is that all the students work simultaneously and switch from one classmate to another while speaking. Mingles allow constant repetition and this raises students’ confidence in their use of English.

Students arrange themselves so that they are facing each other in two circles. The inner circle faces out, the outer circle faces in, so that each participant has a partner that they are facing (Note: If the group has an uneven number of people, the teacher should participate in the circles). Each student from the outside circle, after speaking with the person facing him or her, moves one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle. I would suggest asking students to switch partners every four minutes for this activity. This concentric circle technique can very well be adapted to talk about any given topic of discussion. Encourage students to elaborate on their answers and use targeted language structure.

STEP 5. Speaking.

Students introduce themselves to the person they are facing and then ask their indirect questions making conversation with their partner. After four minutes, call time and rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership.

The conversation might go something like this:

Student A: Hi, I’m (student’s name)

Student B: Hello, my name’s  (student’s name)

Student A: Can you tell me how long you have been studying English?

Student B : (answers the question giving as many details as possible)

Student B : Can I ask you a question now? Would you mind telling me why you are studying English?

Student A: Answers

Teacher  says :”  Rotate” and students from the outside circle move one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle.

Model an example of a conversation with a student.

Stop the activity when they have had a chance to speak to most students.

 

 

 

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!!!

 

What is a “veggie”?

Well, I don’t know what I am, that’s why I have dedicated some time to finding an answer to what I am or rather to what I eat or don’t eat. For me,one of the most tiring things about not eating what everybody around me eats is having to hide the fact that I just eat differently and having everybody around me worried about what they might offer me; so, when my friends and I go to a party or birthday or whatever occasion where food is involved I ask them not to attract attention to my eating habits. I can tell you it’s not fun struggling to make people understand that I won’t eat anything cooked with meat and what is worst, trying to explain that even though they remove the chicken or the meat I still won’t eat it.
The word “vegetarian” is a blanket term used to describe somebody who does not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. But then, within this term there exist different sub-groups.
VEGAN . This person doesn’t eat any animal products or by products and this includes cheese, milk… some of them don’t even wear leather or wool.
LACTO-VEGETARIAN : The same as vegans but they eat dairy products
OVO- VEGETARIAN : The same as vegans but they eat eggs
OVOLACTO VEGETARIANS are by far the largest group of vegetarians
SEMI-VEGETARIAN are not vegetarians strictly-speaking as they may eat fish but not meat or the other way round.

Silly things people say to vegetarians ….. when given the chance. I no longer do.
•So what do you eat? A lot of salad?
•Can’t you just pick out the bits of meat in (insert name of dish here) and eat the rest of it?
•You should feel bad about the pain and suffering you’re causing all those plants you’re eating.
•What did you say gelatin was made of? You’re joking.

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