Monthly Archives: December 2018

Rise & Shine… and do some English Homework !

Dear students!

Hope the new year brings you everything you wish for.

As promised, this is your ” homework”.  I know it’s the same I gave you last year,  but my mind has completely switched off from work. I just hope yours hasn’t.

The Christmas Tree and how to go about it.

Choose a day and click on the animation below the day. A window will open up with the activity chosen for this day.

I hope you enjoy it! Merry Christmas!

Human Tac Toe to Revise Vocabulary

Shall I say Happy Christmas? When is the right time to start saying happy Christmas? Anyway,  I love that we are right in the hustle and bustle of the season. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and this is the perfect time to try a game I have been looking forward to doing with my students.

I know I post about games quite a bit, but I really believe students learn better when they are having fun.  Mark the word “learn” because playing without learning is a waste of time in my class. So, my students already know that after the game, there is going to be revising and reinforcing.

 

 

If you have been kind enough to be reading this blog for a time, you probably know I love Ellen DeGeneres’s games and I am always looking for a way to adjust them to my own context of teaching.

This is Ellen’s interpretation of the game  Tic Tac Toe (more info here). She calls it Hunk Tac Toe and you’ll just have to watch the video below to understand why she called it Hunk Tac Toe 🙂

After watching her more appealing version, you’ll read my own version. More humble and less visually appealing, but hey, we are trying to learn English here, aren’t we?

 

 

I have designed two variations of the game. One is funnier than the other. The funnier one requires more preparation but trust me when I say it pays off.

Preparation for both versions:

1. You will need to prepare a set of questions to revise the target vocabulary.

Ask simple questions of the type:

  • What do you call the person who…?
  • What’s the opposite of…?
  • Fill in the gap in this sentence….
  • How do you pronounce…?
  • How do you spell…?

2. In both versions, you’ll need to choose two students (student O and student X ) to play the game. Place a table at the front of the class and ask the two contestants to stand behind it facing the class. Students take turns marking the spaces in the 3×3 grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

 Funnier version:

Preparation: print nine Xs and nine Os. You can download them here

Procedure:

  • Ask 9 students to sit forming three rows of three students each forming a 3×3 human grid. (see the pic above)
  • Give each of these students an X and an O
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts playing. Let’s say Student X starts playing.
  • Student X chooses a student in the grid. Let’s say, Ana.
  • Ask Ana a question from the ones you have previously prepared. If she answers correctly, she will hold the X, if she doesn’t answer correctly, then no letter will be displayed.
  • Now it’s Student O’s turn to choose another student. Again, if he answers correctly he will display the O letter if not, no letter will be displayed
  • The winner will be the student who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row.

 

Less funny version, but also fun.

  • Choose the two students who are going to play the game.
  • On the board draw a 3×3 grid and fill it with students’ names (see picture above)
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts the game.
  • Student X or O chooses a student from the grid.
  • Follow the same procedure as above.

Tip: I have played the game twice. The first time I used the less funny version and then I went for the funnier one. The combination worked just awesome!

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

The Art of Persuasion: Speaking Exam Practice for B2

My friends say about me that I am very easily convinced. I am easy, that’s what they say.  I guess they know it’s easy to seduce me into doing things that I like, but I reckon they know that it’s not so easy to talk me into doing something I don’t really want to do. So, I let them think it’s a piece of cake to win me over. They are happy and so am I.  It’s also very true that once I make up my mind, it’s hard to talk me out of doing it and that I am not easily put off by setbacks. For better or for worse, that’s the kind of girl I am. Easy to persuade but hard to dissuade.

1. Working with vocabulary.

In the introduction to the post above, I have highlighted some verbs. Can you tell me which ones are used for persuasion and which ones for dissuasion?

Now, do this exercise to consolidate learning

2. Warming-up. Speaking

Choose the statements you agree with:

  • I am good at persuading people
  • You talk to me enough, you can convince me to do anything
  • I will never lie or exaggerate to persuade someone
  • My parents or my friends just keep on talking and eventually I agree with them
3. Working with Functional Language

The list you’ll find below is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the language you can use in this context, it’s just a selection of some of the functional language  I want my students to use in this speaking activity.

Before you start the role play, make sure students are confident with the language they’ll have to use.

 Expressions used to make suggestions:

  • Might I suggest…?
  • Shall I/we…?
  • Why don’t you/we….?
  • I suggest that you… / I suggest+…ing
  • We should….

Expressions used to offer alternatives

  • Instead of … ing
  • Wouldn’t you prefer to….?

Expressions used for reassuring

  • You don’t have to worry about…
  • I can assure you that…
  • I guarantee you won’t (regret it)

Expressions used for dissuading

  • I wouldn’t bother about that.
  • I (would strongly) advise (you) against …ing

 

4. Speaking task

Holiday in Scotland.  Explain that they are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend but they don’t seem to agree on the kind of holiday to book. They will need to discuss the options and try to come to an agreement.

Students work in pairs to develop the role-play based on the information given to them on their corresponding handout. If there are three students in the group, the third one could be the travel agent.

Tell students they will need to talk for about 5 minutes and try to reach an agreement at the end of the conversation.

Student A

Bed and Breakfast and drive:  you are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend. You think the best idea is to hire a car and drive, staying at bed and breakfasts/guests houses.

Student B

Package holiday in Scotland:  you are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend. You think the best idea is to go on a package holiday, staying at hotels and going on organized excursions to the most famous places.

Credit: This speaking task has been inspired by a task published by Conselleria D’Educació- Generalitat Valenciana. 

PDF here

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

I am going to be honest here and tell you that although I love Asturias and have always lived here, I miss the light.  Whenever it gets cold and blustering outside, whenever I look through my window at 6 pm and see darkness outside, the number one thing that I always crave is travelling to a place where it’s summer and the days are long and sunny and bright. I dream. I daydream.

So, almost winter in Spain. Time to talk about holidays.

Have a look at these two sentences. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

Let’s find out!

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

TRAVEL
  • As a verb: “travel” is normally used as a verb. It is used to refer to the general activity of moving from place to place

I travel to work by car

  • As a noun: “travel” as a noun is normally uncountable

The pass allows unlimited travel on all public transport in the city.

As it’s uncountable, things such as “ I had a nice travel” are wrong

Note: although uncountable, sometimes “travel” can be used in the plural

This exhibition reflects scenes and inspiration from his travels at home and abroad.

The novel is based on her travels in Asia

More common collocations associated with the noun “travel” are

  • Travel expenses
  • Travel agency
  • The travel industry
  • Travel sickness
  • A travel bag
  • Air travel
JOURNEY
  • “Journey” is also usually used as a noun. It means the time when you travel from one place to another. The emphasis is on the travelling itself, it does not refer to the time you stay there.

It was a long and difficult journey  through the mountains 
      I read during the train journey to work. 
      Did you have a good journey? 

 

TRIP
  • “Trip” is used as a noun and it’s countable. A “trip” is when you go on a short journey, or a journey you do not usually make, and come back again. We use this when the emphasis is on where you are going or why you are going there. The time you stay there is important.

         It was my first trip to the States
I am going on a business trip
Was it a good trip? 

Let’s go back to our two sentences at the beginning of this post. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

They are incorrect.

  1. “travel” is uncountable, you cannot use the indefinite article “a” with it. The correct sentence would be. “Have a safe journey”
  2. It’s incorrect because the focus is only on the travelling itself, we are not interested in where you are going or what you are going to do there, only on the duration. The correct sentence would be: ” The journey by train took two hours”.

Ready for some exercises now?

Drag and drop the sentences in the right column

Lesson Plan: Online Shopping and Traditional Shopping

So, who doesn’t like shopping???

I know, I know, I can see some of you raising an eyebrow and thinking… “well, I must be weird then, if I don’t like shopping”. Of course, you are not, it’s just that I love it so much that now that I don’t have as much spare time as I used to have, I miss it like crazy.

But I know, not everyone is a shopper, not everyone is a consumer. However, we all need to buy, whether it’s clothes, food or any other stuff. So, this lesson might come in handy whenever you decide to set your foot in a shop.

Hold on! Shop? Did I just say, “set your foot in a shop”? Like in a physical shop? It seems to me that right now, the online shopping experience has become so incredibly diverse and sophisticated that no matter what you need, it is simply a click away from you. You don’t even need to physically go to a shop. You can get yourself the latest craze from anywhere in the world without actually moving from your sofa. Kind of awesome!  Yeahhh, awesome but boring!!!

Anyway, in this lesson aimed at B2 students, we will be focusing on the topic of shopping and we ’ll be comparing online shopping to traditional shopping.

 

ONE: Lead-in Activities

A. Types of shops

Although students have a B2 level, I find they always welcome an opportunity to review vocabulary and maybe learn the names for some less common shops.

  • Play the video once without stopping and at the end of it, ask students in pairs to write down as many different kinds of shops as they can remember from the video. Write the words on the board for correct spelling and drill pronunciation.
  •  Divide the class into As and Bs. Ask As to face the board and Bs to face away from it.   Play the video, display the first picture and ask As to quickly describe the kind of shop they see on the board. As describes half the pictures and then they change roles with Bs doing the description and As guessing the shop.

Note: The slides contain music. Turn down the volume if you do not want it.

You’ll find the list with all the shops featured in this video at the end of the post.

 

B.  Speaking. 

Click on each of the pictures below to enlarge them and ask students in pairs to comment on them briefly. Ask for feedback.

Note: the slides contain music. I didn’t want it, but I did not have an option. It’s Mozart. Turn down the volume now if you prefer not to be distracted by the music.

TWO. Brainstorm and introduce new vocabulary

Give students two minutes to write down as many words as they know related to shopping. When the two minutes are over, ask them to stop.  After a quick round to see who has written the highest number of words ask students to tell you their words, writing on the board only the ones that are a bit more challenging.

For example, words such as “deal” or “goods” will be written on the board while “shop” or “money” will not.

More useful vocabulary:

  • A good deal: if something is a good deal, you pay a low price. You can say that a store has some great deals, for example
  • A bargain: the same as above
  • 20% off : the price is now 20% less than the original price
  • Overpriced: if sth is overpriced, it costs much more than you think it should
  • To order: when you order something that you are going to pay for, you ask for it to be brought to you, sent to you, or obtained for you. “to order things online”
  • Order number
  • To place an order
  • If you have a discount on the retail price, you pay less price than the price normally charged
  • Goods: things made to be sold
  • To be scheduled for delivery (tomorrow)
  • Online form
  • A secure payment page
  • To enter your card details
  • Get a refund
  • You can pay “Cash on Delivery”
  • To exchange a product
  • To track your package
  • Shipping rates

Ready to test your knowledge?  Fill in the blanks with some of the words above.

THREE. Listening. Video Activity: Singles’ Day

Lead-in: Ask students if they know anything about Singles’ Day. Info, here

  • Play the video once without giving students any tasks.
  • Give students the gapped text and ask them to complete it with the words they hear. Play the video.
  • Play it again, if necessary

See the activity here. You can check the answers by activating the subtitles in the video.

FOUR. Speaking: Online Shopping versus Traditional Shopping

Divide the class into two groups: those preferring online shopping and those preferring traditional shopping. Ideally, you would pair up students in this way, but more often than not, you’ll have to persuade some students to take a different view for the sake of the exercise.

Give each student their corresponding handout and ask them to read the information on it. Their aim, when pairing up with a student holding an opposing view, will be to try to convince their partner to change their mind.

  • Handouts  for student A and B here
  • Functional language to be used here

FIVE: Oral mediation

NOTE: These activities will be in Spanish. Students will need to act as mediators in an oral interlinguistic mediation activity.

This is the first time I am going to do an interlinguistic oral mediation activity with my students. My students are going to take the role of mediators and use a source text in Spanish and relay the selected information to an English speaker, who does not understand Spanish.

What is a mediator and what does he do?

The mediator acts as a facilitator in a social event during which two or more parties interacting are experiencing a communication breakdown or when there is a communication gap between them.

Watch the video and find out a bit more about mediation.

These are the first two tasks I have prepared for my students. More would be coming!

Task 1   〉    Task 2

SIX. Discursive writing. A pros and cons essay.

Write an essay of about 200 words on the advantages and disadvantages of buying in local shops.

Tips and example here

Shops featured in the video:

clothes shop, chemist’s, fishmonger’s greengrocer’s, baker’s, bookshop, shoe shop, butcher’s, record shop, haberdashery, florist’s, barber, optician’s, newsagent’s, petrol station, pet shop, toy shop, stationer’s, chain store, charity shop, corner shop, tobacconist’s, sports shop, travel agent’s,  jeweller’s,

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