Tag Archives: C1

Lesson Plan: Good Manners, Customs and Strange Traditions

I know, I know, there is more than one blog post about unusual traditions here, but there are so many of them and they are so much fun to listen to.  Who doesn’t like being told about a totally surprising or creepy custom? It’s like when you were a little child and liked being told stories about far-away places filled with strange characters doing the most extraordinary things.

Well, this is how I feel when people tell me about unusual customs around the world.

So, whenever in the textbook I am following there is a slight reference to unusual traditions, I jump at the opportunity to do something with it.

In this lesson aimed at B2 students, you’ll find:

  •  Two texts about unusual customs
  •  A video about unusual customs with Ellen Degeneres telling the story. By the way, one of them a surprising Spanish custom I didn’t know about.
  •  The quiz : What nationality are your manners?
  •  How I use Google slides for collaborative projects

In this lesson, students will have to:

  • Read a text about an unusual custom and retell their partner – (aimed at improving reading and speaking abilities)
  • Answer a few questions or summarize the traditions heard in the video (aimed at improving listening abilities)
  •  Learn vocabulary and comment on different manners around the world by doing the personality quiz “What nationality are your manners?”
  • Use technology in a collaborative project (aimed at improving students’ digital competency)
  • Give a speech of about 3 minutes about an unusual custom around the world (aimed at improving students’ speaking skills)

Lead-In : Speaking

Display the picture below and ask students in pairs to comment on it. After a couple of minutes, get feedback.

There is always someone who has read or knows a bit about this custom, mainly because every single time a member of the British Royal family goes to New Zealand this is the most popular picture to take. In case they know nothing about it, you can tell them this is the Maori way of greeting people, called Hongi. It is used at important ceremonies. Through the exchange of this greeting, one is no longer considered a visitor.

Have a brief conversation about the etiquette of kissing in your country

Listening: Odd Traditions Around the World (0:00-2:06)

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I’m a big fan of Ellen Degeneres. Write her name on the board and ask students if they know who she is. Tell students they are going to listen to a short extract from Ellen Degeneres show about Odd Traditions around the world.

Note: I have only used the first two traditions (0:00- 2:06 ), the third one is way too weird for my taste.

  1. Write Groundhog Day on the board. Tell students this tradition will be mentioned in the video, but they will learn more about it in the next activity.
  2. There are no questions here. The first time you play the video, students will be required to write down the names of the two festivals. The second time, they will have to explain everything they have learned about the two festivals.

Reading about Two Unusual Traditions. Retelling.
  • Ask students “Have you heard about any unusual traditions in your country or around the world? Ask students to talk in pairs and get feedback
  • Ask students to work in pairs. Student A will get a copy of Groundhog Day (American tradition) and Student B, a copy of Guy Fawkes Day (British tradition).
  • Give them some minutes to read it a couple of times and then,  in pairs, ask them to tell their partner about their tradition in as much detail as possible.

Guy Fawkes PDF , Groundhog Day PDF

Speaking: Giving a short speech about an unusual celebration.

The only thing probably worth mentioning here is the fact that we have used Google Slides to work collaboratively.

I am a very visual person. I do not want to imply that listening to my students’ speeches is boring, but I cannot deny that it is much more pleasant to look at some pictures of the tradition being described, while listening to the students’ performances.

Problem? Every student will bring their own flash drive, we will need to Insert the flash drive into the USB port on the computer, run a virus scan …. etc and this takes time. A lot of time.

Solution? I created a Google Slides Presentation, used the first two slides to give instructions and then wrote the names of my students on the slides. One slide per student. I shared the URL with Edit permissions and asked them to, instead of their name, write the name of their festival and then insert a picture below it.  Problem solved.

 

A speaking Activity Using the Quiz: What nationality are your manners?

This fun quiz contains some very interesting questions which can spark a lot of discussion in the class.

Do the quiz with the whole class.  Display question number 1 and ask a student at random to choose the answer that is true for him.  Ask the whole class to discuss some of the other options.

Find the quiz here

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson!

Cloze Test Activity, Blog de Cristina’s Style

We are talking about Cloze Tests today. Not the printed fit-all-size cloze texts that you can get and photocopy from any textbook or exam preparation book, but the online tailor-made no-prep cloze tests you can get at the wonderfully simple site created by L. George. See it here

Why is it Cristina’s way, you might be wondering? Well, because it combines two of my favourite ingredients in an activity:

  • A touch of technology
  • A game-like activity

The online tool I have used to create the cloze has two features you can choose from: text only (that you can easily copy/paste into a document) and interactive (that you can save as an HTML page). The tool is free and you don’t even need to register.

In this exercise, I have used the simpler text-only version.

Cloze Test Exercise with a Twist

Choose a text that contains a variety of terms you want your students to revise or work with.

  • Go to l.georgesCopy/paste the text in the box
  • Choose Text Only and No Clues
  • On the right yellow box with the options, choose “every… words” ( I have chosen to gap my text every 9 words)
  • Using the OHP, display the gapped text on the board or alternatively, print it and give it to your students. Two students can share a copy.

TASK
  • Ask students to work in pairs.  Give or show the Close Test and ask them to predict the lexical category or part of speech that could fit each gap: is it a noun, an adjective, a preposition or maybe an article? Allow a couple of minutes for this task. You might want to show an example.

For example, I wrote a letter___ my mother (students will most likely agree, they ‘ll need   a preposition to fill in this gap)

Let’s start:

  • Ask Student A to face the board. Ask Student B to face away from the board and concentrate on the text.
  • Tell students you’ll write the words on the board in random order, but each of the words will be identified with a number. If you have 8 gaps in the cloze text, you will write the words on the board preceded by the number. Tell Student B to do the same in case he cannot guess a word in the allotted time. For ex: 1. house  2. wrote 3. for.
  • Write one of the missing words on the board, and ask student A to define the word, or give a synonym or antonym for student B to guess and write down. For example, if the word on the board is “wrote”, Student A might say “it’s a verb in the past and you use a pen or a pencil to do it”.
  • Tell students you’ll write a new word every 30 seconds. If Student B guesses the word quickly, he might try to use the rest of the time (up until the 30 seconds)  to try to place the word in the right gap but tell them you’ll not wait.
  • Continue in the same way until you have written all the missing words. The words should be written in random order.

NOTE: If one of the words hasn’t been guessed, at the end of this part Student A will need to try to define the words again. (Remember that the words are still written on the board).  This time, Student A can help Student B  by giving him the first letter.

  • Once they have all the words, Students A and B will work together to complete the gapped test.
  • Place a bell on your table and ask the first pair to finish to come up to your table. Silently check that the exercise is correct and if it is, ask them to ring the bell. From that moment, the rest of the class will have one minute to finish the exercise.
  • Choose another text and repeat procedure. This time Student B will face the board and Student A will concentrate on the text.

 

Note: If you are a student, this is a great tool for self-study. Choose a text from around the web, gap the text every 10 words and then select the interactive feature, which will check your exercise.  Enjoy learning English!

Three Activities to Do on a Spooky Gloomy Halloween Day

You see, Halloween and me, we are not on friendly terms. I don’t really get good vibes off this holiday.  Gory and scary … just scares me. But, that’s ok. I don’t have to like every single holiday. However, I have students and teaching a language is not only about words, it’s also about the culture and traditions of the country you are trying to teach. Halloween is important in Anglo-Saxon countries so this year I have made a point of trying to give it some real attention. I’ll even attend a small Halloween party, where I’ll be wearing a knife-through-head prop and some Halloween skeleton tights. Organising the party? Let’s start small! This year, the party will be hosted by my enthusiastic colleague Marta Dominguez, who has also provided me with some of the activities you’ll see below.

Activity 1.  Video Activity. The Ten Steps (2004)

This activity aims at

  • learning vocabulary: adjectives to describe houses
  • improving their listening skills

This is a great short film (less than 9 minutes and worth every second) that sets the right atmosphere. Draw the curtains and turn off the lights.

I would like to just for one day forget I’m an English teacher and just play the film, but I can’t.  So, we are going to work a bit on vocabulary before the film starts and we are going to focus on some questions to answer in pairs after watching the film.

Before playing the video, show them the picture below or alternatively pause the video. Do the vocabulary exercise with them ( handout)

PDF here

The Ten Steps

 

Activity 2. Writing and Story-Telling

This activity aims at

  • developing creative writing
  • using their stories to develop oral fluency

Remember the lights should be off and the curtains drawn. Lighting a candle might be a good idea for two reasons: it helps create a mysterious atmosphere and prevents students from reading from their essays.

The New York Times has a site where, every day, they publish a picture prompt to inspire students writing. Days prior to the great Halloween Day, I have shown my students this picture and asked them to write a scary story about this house. They should bring their stories on the day of the party.

The idea is to put students in groups of four and tell (not read) their stories. Each group will decide on the best and the whole class will listen to the best stories from each group and then vote on the best one.

It’s also a good idea if you share a story of your own and yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ll still need to correct their stories.

Activity 3.  A bit of fun with Kahoot.

This activity aims at:

  • teaching about traditions
  • developing digital abilities
  • having fun 🙂

I would just not feel fine if, after all the spooky storytelling, my students went home and couldn’t sleep that night, so a Kahoot is in order.

Again, I have not created it. My colleague Marta has just chosen one from the enormous bank of Halloween quizzes Kahoot has and we have adapted it to our needs.

Happy Halloween! Let’s enjoy the holiday break!

The Supporting Act- A Beautiful Lesson to Work with -Ed/-Ing Adjectives

I’m currently in the middle of —what I like to call—beginning-of-the-course chaos. I am busy doing nothing, wasting time on probably unnecessary things and when the day ends, I find I have done nothing from the to-do list I carefully planned in the morning. Total chaos.

Today, I have a guest post from a colleague from EOI Oviedo, Ángeles Jimenez,  who from time to time, saves my a** by agreeing to send me some of her creative activities. This is one of them. I hope you like it as much as I did.

This lesson plan is based on a two-minute short film launched by the B.B.C on Christmas 2017. It’s suitable for intermediate and higher levels.

The lesson starts with a lead-in speaking activity to help students differentiate -ed from -ing adjectives. It’s then followed by a brainstorming activity where students get a lot of talking time.

-ed / -ing adjectives can be a challenging task to teach as students mix them up easily. Sometimes such confusion can lead to amusing mistakes such as “I’m boring” or “I’m tiring” when they truly mean “I’m bored” and “I’m tired”.

STEP 1

To clear up the confusion, I start with a warm-up activity. I write, on the whiteboard, 3 or 4  -ing adjectives and tell students they will need to come up with a wide range of things, activities and/or people that can fit in each category. “Boring”, “Exciting”, “Frightening” and “Disgusting” are some of the -ing adjectives that work well.

For example, if I write the adjective ” Boring” students might say: studying for exams, politics, queuing at the supermarket…etc. 

This is an engaging warm-up as students can personalise the grammar point you’re trying to teach.

I  begin with myself writing the word “moths” in the “frightening” column. They may not be familiar with the noun but students love it when the teacher includes anecdotes and personal examples. They get involved in the activity in no time!

Once the whiteboard is full of the students’ own ideas, I then follow with a “How do you feel” question to elicit the -ed adjective.

Example: “How do I feel about moths? I feel frightened”

and I write the word “frightened” on the board with capital letters underlying the -ed part to emphasize that’s how I feel. To make sure they’ve understood the difference, I go through the adjectives on the board asking the same question: “How do you feel about studying for exams?” To round up, a simple graphic is very helpful:

                  Something ING  ⇒  makes you feel ED

Step 2

I project the frame above from the silent advert because it’s open to interpretation, it offers a lot of speaking practice and I find it’s a great way to revise the use of narrative tenses, especially for intermediate levels. I ask my students to come up with a short story that can explain what is happening/happened, what the girl is/was doing, how she is feeling and what they think is going to happen at the end.

At a more advanced level, they can even make deductions. Elicit some examples such as “It’s late. She must be worried because her parents haven’t arrived home yet”

Also, make sure they use as many adjectives related to feelings as they can.

STEP 3: 

  1. Play the video.
  2. Speaking: Ask students to compare it with the stories they created. Ask some follow-up questions: Did they like it? Did they find it touching? Can they relate?
  3. Vocabulary and speaking.  Pdf here. Give the students the handout that accompanies the video activity. It includes an exercise to learn new vocabulary, another exercise to revise -ed / -ing adjectives and last, but not least, a more ludic and relaxing one to test how good their memory is. You can see the first two exercises below:

Vocabulary exercise. Summarising the story. Choose the most appropriate word from the drop-down menu

Oral exercise. Using adjectives -ed adjectives to talk about feelings. Ask the following questions and encourage students to use -ed adjectives

  1. Watch the T.V add and talk about how the girl felt…
  • when she came out of school. Ex: excited
  • when she gave her dad the talent show leaflet.
  • when her dad answered the call.
  • when she rehearsed at home, in the street…
  1. How did her dad feel when he saw her jumping on the escalators?
  2. Why did she slam the door?
  3. How did she feel when she …
  • drew the curtains?
  • couldn’t remember the dance?
  • when her dad came out of the audience to help?
  • the dance finished?

Silent movies have a great potential for language teaching. They’re a fantastic tool to get students to produce language at any level since it’s the task the teacher sets the one that provides the level. They usually find it easier to memorise vocabulary and grammar when it’s associated with a captivating image or story and when it comes to holding their attention, a short clip does the trick.

Thank you Ángeles, a beautiful activity.

A Game of Cards to Revise Vocabulary in a Speaking Activity. Effective, Engaging and No-Prep.

I have always liked playing cards.  Like about 20 years ago, I used to meet with some friends at the weekend to play cards. We usually met at a cosy old cafe where most of the elderly in my village met to play cards and domino with their buddies. They were old, we were in our twenties. They wanted peace and quiet. We wanted fun and noise and laughs.

It didn’t last. Somehow, we realized we were not welcomed and eventually stopped going. But, I still like playing cards and whenever I can talk some of my friends into playing, I immensely enjoy it. Let’s play cards, then!

  • Aim: to revise vocabulary in a speaking exercise
  • Level: B1 upwards
  • Topic: any

THE  GAME OF CARDS

The game is SO simple. The only prep is to make sure you have enough pieces of paper cut up in advance. By the way, a good opportunity to reuse photocopy paper that has been used only on one side.

Preparation:

Take a regular A4 sheet of paper. You want to obtain 8 pieces of paper. Fold it in half and cut it along the crease. Fold the two pieces again and repeat procedure. Do it a third time and there you have your 8 pieces of paper resembling the size of an average size of a card in a deck of cards.

 

  • Ask students to sit in groups of three in a circle around a table.
  • Write the topic you want to revise on the board. For example, Education.
  • Give each student in the group 8 blank cards and tell them they will need to write on each card a word or expression related to the topic on the board. Explain that it does not matter if the words are repeated in the same deck of cards, in fact, if they get the same words twice, it will only help consolidate meaning and use. Challenge students to write newly-acquired vocabulary. Allow them to have a look at their notes.
The game:
  1. Ask a student in the group to take all the cards, shuffle them and deal 3 cards one at a time, face down, starting with the student to the dealer’s left.
  2. Place the rest of the cards face down on a pile in the centre of the table.
  3. Write on the board or call out a question for discussion. For example,                                            Are exams necessary or are they a waste of time? 
  4.  Tell students they will all need to talk about the question in their groups trying to use the words on their cards.  As they use them, they place them face up on the table and pick up another one from the pile. They always need to have three to choose from.
  5. Allow 5-6 minutes per question. Once the time is up, ask students to count how many words they have used.
  6. Repeat all the steps and write another question for discussion on the board.

Note:

  • Every two or three questions, you can ask groups to swap cards and repeat steps 1-5. By swapping cards students get a new batch of cards with hopefully some new words to use.

Using an Interactive Image to Play a Game to Revise and Consolidate Feeling Adjectives

Autumn is probably my favourite season. Autumn is the season of birthdays in my family. Also, it’s not too hot or too cold. This year, this is especially important for me as I have been assigned a small class facing south and I know, come May,  I’ll be sweating up a storm. So, for the time being, let’s enjoy beautiful autumn.

This year I am teaching 2-hour lessons so, more than ever, I feel the necessity to design activities that might change the pace of the lessons and keep my students from dozing off in my classes. The activity below is aimed at that. Still, I need to be completely honest here. I have not started teaching proper lessons so this activity has not been tested yet.  I’ll let you know how it goes and if I hear any snores or see people yawning, then I would know it has been a complete failure.

 

Aim:

  • to revise and consolidate adjectives related to feelings
  • to use these adjectives in a speaking activity.

Tool: Genial.ly. For this activity, we will use the grid below with gifs representing different feelings. This is an interactive image created with an awesome tool called Genial.ly, which I am proud to say is a Spanish start-up used all around the world. Genial.ly lets you create engaging interactive visual content and for this activity, I have used the “Hide” effect so if you mouse over the gif, you’ll be able to see the adjective. Also, the questions for discussion will be displayed when you click on the numbers.

(click on the arrows to enlarge the image)

 

Procedure

For each of the squares in the grid, do part 1 and then part 2.

FIRST PART: WORKING ON VOCABULARY

  • Ask students to work in pairs. Student A will be playing “against” Student B.
  • Ask student As to choose a number from the Feelings Grid below. You can ask all the As to agree on a number, but in some classes, it might prove a difficult task to reach quick consensus, so you might want to just choose a random student A to decide on a number.
  • Once they have chosen a number, both student A and B will write the adjective they think is hidden behind the gif representing the feeling. Allow 30 seconds for this step. Let student A and B compare their answers and then mouse over the gif to display the hidden adjective.
  • If they have guessed the adjective, they score 2 points. If the adjective they have written is a synonym, they score 1 point. Ask students to keep score of the points they get.
  • On the board, you might want to write the target adjective and the synonyms they come up with. Drill pronunciation of the adjective and all its synonyms.

For example, if they choose Gif  9 and the adjective is worried you might want to accept “anxious, troubled or concerned” as synonyms. You can use a synonym dictionary, like this one https://www.thesaurus.com/. There is no shame in this. 😉

SECOND PART: WORKING ON SPEAKING

  • Click on the number, in this case, number 9 and a question will be displayed. Ask students in pairs to discuss the question. Set about 4 minutes per question. Walk around. Monitor and help. Avoid overcorrecting.

Now, B’s choose a new number from the Feelings Grid.

Note: if you haven’t taught any of the adjectives, you can still use the activity.  Change the rules of the game and instead of scoring two points if they guessed the adjective, you might want to give them the points if they come up with a synonym even though it’s not exactly the one hidden behind the gif.

To be on the safe side, and to avoid wasting time checking the dictionary, you might want to write a list of synonyms before you play the game.

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Please, Come In! 3 Activities to Start Off the Course on the Right Foot

Ahh almost October! How are we here already?

I can’t even wrap my head around the idea that this is going to be my 27th year teaching English. Time, please stand still! OMG, It makes me cringe to even think about it! Ugh. But, here we are.This is life.

I know, I know. Most of you have already started classes in late August or early  September, but here in the EOI in Asturias, we dedicate the whole month of September to assessing written and oral exams. Nothing to envy here, trust me!

Anyway, a new school year, new students, a fresh start, a clean slate. I feel like in these 27 years I have tried all the different get-to-know-you activities that have been used all around the world, so this year I’m going to recycle and tweak some of my favourite activities,  changing the context to fit the mood.

So, the plan for the first day is the one below. An interactive game to revise grammar and vocabulary from the previous year (lots of fun, but also lots of learning) and not one, but 2 highly engaging speaking activities that can be considered, if you wish, get-to-know-each-other activities but that can be easily adapted to any context.

Activity 1. A Kahoot to revise

We will start the course playing a Kahoot to revise some of the content studied in the previous course. Always fun and to be honest, I am going to be recycling the one I did last year. That’s one of the things I like about technology, it’s paperless, recyclable and “findable”( meaning, easy to find,  yes, I know, I have just invented the word)

If you ask students to play in pairs or in threes, you’ll just need a device for each group. I like playing Kahoots in groups. It enhances learning as students will need to discuss the right answer and it’s more engaging and therefore much more fun.

This is the link in case you want to use my Kahoot. Here

 

Activity 2.  Welcome post-it notes

(I know! It looks home-made, but this is because it is)

  • On one wall of the class, I have displayed the word “Welcome” formed using Post-it notes, as in the picture.
  • On the back of each post-it note, I have written a question that will help students and teachers get to know each other.
  • I have asked students to stand up and pick a post-it note containing a question.
  • I have asked students to remain standing, pair up with another student and ask each other the questions on their post-it notes.
  • I have allowed them about 4 minutes to ask and answer their questions before asking them to find a new partner.
  • I have also participated in this mingle activity. After all, I also want them to know me and it gives me a good chance to assess their English.
  • Please, refrain from overcorrecting or even correcting. It’s their first day.

Can’t think of questions to ask? This site has you covered. bit.ly/2zqxcJP

Idea for the post inspired by Post-it.com

Activity 3. Yes, I have, I have never

This activity is just so much fun.  What do we need? We need slips of paper, as many as students in the class. I normally fold a regular sheet of paper in half, lengthwise, and get two slips of paper.

  • I ask students to write on one side I HAVE and, on the other side, I HAVE NEVER. Ask them to write the words big enough to see from a distance.
  • Tell students you are going to ask them questions and they should display their slip of paper with their answer to the question.

For example. Imagine that I ask  Have you ever failed an English exam?

In the picture below, you can see Julio, the German teacher, and me exemplifying the possible answers (sorry, as I said, classes have not started yet and I had to bribe a colleague).

  • Choose one or two students to elaborate on their answer and then ask another question and repeat procedure.
  • To add to the fun, and because it’s also important that students get to know you,  you should also have a slip of paper and once or twice give some details about you.

Note: Make sure you ask randomly I have and I have never answers, otherwise some students might never display the I have option.

Possible questions:

  • Have you ever been on TV?
  • Have you ever won a contest a received a prize?
  • Have you ever been stuck in a lift?
  • Have you ever got in trouble at school?
  • have you ever helped someone who was in danger?

Get more questions here and here  

Hope you have liked my first post! If you do not want to miss any of my posts, you might  want to follow Blog de Cristina on Facebook and on Twitter.

Great to be back!!! I’ve missed you!

Countable and Uncountable Nouns: a Game and a Quiz with Partitives

Most of the times, it is easy to tell when a noun is countable (ie. can be counted) and when it is uncountable.  Think about the words “dog” and “sugar”. Easy, isn’t it?

We can say one dog, two dogs or a dog, ie, you can count “dogs

But can you count “sugar”? Of course, you can’t. You can’t say one sugar, two sugars or sugars, not even a sugar.

If only it were that easy! 🙂 Take for example vegetables and fruit. Vegetables are countable, but fruit is normally uncountable, though in some cases, to complicate things, it can be made plural when referring to different kinds of fruit.

The vast majority of commonly consumed fruits qualify as non-starchy.
Would you like some fruit for dessert?

There you have it, this is English!

If you want to know more about countable and uncountable nouns, here,  it is clearly explained.

On this post, I want to share with you two activities I did with my Upper-intermediate students in case you want to use them in your classes.

 Game: Sit down. Stand Up

The first one is a very simple activity, perfect to use after a tedious lesson when you see attention is beginning to fade. Actually, it is not a game as there is no competition and nobody is eliminated but, to be honest, I don’t know how to call it. An energizer, perhaps? What is clear is that it will keep your students engaged and motivated.

I have used this activity with upper-intermediate students so the concept of countable or uncountable (mass) is not new to them.

Before the class: prepare a list of names that are clearly either countable or uncountable.

How to play:

  1. Tell students you are going to call out nouns that can be classified as either countable or uncountable.
  2. Tell them they will need to sit down if the noun is uncountable and stand up if it countable.

This is the list of nouns I have used:

Uncountable nouns: weather, advice, accommodation, luggage, staff, furniture, scenery, rubbish, behaviour, health, cotton, politics, work, homework, news, clothes, money

Countable:  vegetables, worksheet, newspaper, item, journey, grape, difference

As you can see there are far more uncountable than countable nouns because my students already have a clear idea of what countable and uncountable means. If you are introducing this concept for the first time, I would suggest you use more or less the same number of countable and uncountable nouns.

The Quiz

So, how can we make an uncountable noun countable? That’s easy! Very often, we can use “a piece of…” before the uncountable nouns.

We can say:

A piece of fruit/cake/cheese/baggage/furniture/news/rubbish/research… etc

But English wouldn’t be considered one of the richest languages if you could just use “ a piece of” with every uncountable noun, would it? So here’s a quiz where you will learn some other partitive structures used with uncountable nouns.

How I suggest you work with the quiz:

You can certainly do the quiz once if you have a prodigious memory and are able to remember every combination, but if you are like the rest of the mortals, taking the quiz once is not enough.

I would suggest taking the quiz two or three times, then writing down all the combinations you can remember and then taking the quiz again to check and consolidate.

Learning or Teaching Reporting Verbs? 5 Low-Tech and High-Tech Activities

And finally, it’s springtime. “Here comes the sun da-da-da-da”. After, like two months raining non-stop and cold spells whimsically coming and going, I was beginning to flirt with the idea of leaving “sunny” Spain. But, fortunately, it seems spring is here to stay. And this means light. Don’t you feel more energetic when you wake up in the morning, and there is this beautiful sunny day waiting for you outside? I do.

It seems to me that even explaining reported speech introductory verbs is a lighter task.

Here you can read some of the activities I did with my students to introduce, revise and consolidate reporting verbs. I have used a variety of online free tools. Free tools, as usual.

  • Aim: to introduce, revise and consolidate reporting verbs other than “say” “ask” and “tell”
  • Level: B2

AN INFOGRAPHIC TO CONSOLIDATE THE GRAMMAR STRUCTURE OF SOME REPORTING VERBS

I like infographics. They are colourful and can be displayed on the walls of the class for students to refer back to if they, God forbid, forget the grammar of these verbs. Honestly? I like creating them. I like playing with the fonts, icons, lines and anything the site has to offer to create them.

reporting verbs by cristina.cabal    I have created this infographic with Canva.

Direct link here


A "HALF-A-CROSSWORD" GAME TO HELP THEM REMEMBER THE MOST COMMON REPORTING VERBS.

This kind of exercise gives students a nice opportunity to use a variety of skills.

I have used a free website with a very complicated name, which I am not even going to attempt to write. Here’s the link. The only thing you need to do is write the terms in the box provided and then print the outcome. It’s magic.


A GALLERY QUIZ: A MATCHING EXERCISE WITH SOME REPORTING VERBS

This exercise takes students a step further as they will have to associate the meaning of a sentence in direct speech with the corresponding reporting verb.

This is a visual exercise you can do more than once to consolidate knowledge.


A STUDY-SET OF FLASHCARDS

Students should be ready to get into more demanding exercises as are the ones I suggest below.

In this exercise, students orally provide the reporting sentence.  The exercise has been created with quizlet, a well-known free tool I highly recommend as study sets are very easy to create and it’s great for rote learning. Although it offers a premium version, the free one is quite generous.
Depending on how confident your students feel, you can set this task to be done as an individual written exercise or orally as a whole class exercise.

Created with quizlet


USING GRASS SKIRTS: A TRANSLATION EXERCISE

This is game from the archives. I highly recommend you do it with your students. Lots of learning and lots of fun too. Your students are going to adore you.

Before the class: Decide on 8 sentences using a variety of reporting verbs you’d like your students to translate. You can use Tekhnologic’s template or create your own. Write the sentences in the spaces provided. Print as many copies as you need and cut along the dotted lines. Each group of three or four students will be assigned a copy. A good idea would be to use a different coloured paper for each group, but this is entirely optional. Put them on the walls of the class.

Now, you are ready to start.

Procedure:

Ask students to work in groups of three or four. Draw students’ attention to the walls of the class and assign each group a poster with the 8 sentences.

Tell students that the aim of the game would be to translate all the sentences on their assigned poster on the wall. To do so, they must nominate a runner who is the one who must run to the wall, tear off the sentence, run back to his group and then together translate the sentence.

Once it’s done, the runner must go to the teacher and show him their translated sentence. If it’s correct, the runner can tear off the second sentence. If it’s incorrect, he must return to his group and correct the mistake(s). The teacher can help a bit by underlining where the mistake is. Only if the teacher has marked the sentence with a tick, it is considered correct.

Rules.

  • The runner cannot tear off a new sentence until the previous one has been shown to the teacher and marked with a tick.
  • The runner cannot correct the sentence at the teacher’s desk. He must return to his group and there, correct the sentence.
  • Groups can only tear off sentences from their assigned posters.
  • The first group to have a tick in all 8 sentences is the winner.

Follow-up: Whole class. Read out the sentences from the poster and ask students to, orally, translate them.  Focus on any common problems you might have noticed.


THE FRUIT MACHINE: A MORE DEMANDING EXERCISE ALLEVIATED WITH A BIT OF FUN

This activity is probably the most challenging in this compilation.

How to go about it:

  • Divide the class into two teams, Team A and Team B. Ask a representative of each team to come to the front of the class facing away from the board where the fruit machine is displayed. Let’s call them Captain A and Captain B.
  • Set a timer for 90 seconds.

The activity has two parts:

Part 1.  Team A starts playing. Spin the fruit machine and a reporting verb will be randomly chosen.

For example: Suggest

Team A  needs to, using direct speech, come up with a sentence to exemplify “suggest”

For example: “Why don’t we go to the cinema?”

Captain A needs to guess the reporting verb associated with the sentence. If he does his team scores 1 point.

Part 2. Ask team members to repeat their sentence and have Captain A report the sentence using the reporting verb in indirect speech. If he does, his team scores an extra point.

Teams have a maximum of 90 seconds to do part 1 and 2.

Now, it is Team B’s turn to play.

I have created this activity with classtools.net. Click on the image to see the fruit machine in action. Warning: you might want to turn down the volume in your computer.

6 Steps to Getting a Job: How to write a Cover Letter Applying for a Job and a Résumé

When applying for a job, there are some things you might have to do:

  • Send a résumé or a CV ( Curriculum Vitae)
  • Fill in an application form
  • Write a letter applying for a job

 

In this post, I’ll guide you step by step to help you write a good cover letter and a résumé

  • Step 1. The difference between a résumé and a CV
  • Step 2. Writing a CV or a résumé. Templates
  • Step 3. Writing a cover letter. Some tips. 
  • Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.
  • Step 5. Sending your cover letter via email.
  • Step 6. Some tips on how to answer a job interview.

Let’s start.

Step 1. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV?

It’s more or less the same. The CV is longer than the résumé. The résumé includes a summary of your education, experience, and skills and it’s usually one page long whereas the CV is two or three pages long and includes more details like research, awards, presentations, publications …etc. It’s ideal for academics.

Some tips:

  • Keep it simple. It shouldn’t be longer than two pages.
  • The content should be  easy to read
  • Use reverse chronological order. You should put your most recent job first and then write the other jobs going back in time.
  • You don’t have to write full sentences. Ex: “Developed a social media strategy…”
  • Skip personal information such “Divorced and with 2 kids”.

 

Step 2. Writing a CV or résumé. Templates.

 

Here are two links to templates to write your CV or résumé. (Please note that this is not a sponsored post)

  • Canva: you will need to register. Find the templates in the Documents section. Make sure you use a free template
  • Uptowork: provides guided free templates to build your résumé or CV.

 

Step 3: Writing a cover letter. Some tips

A job application letter, also known as cover letter normally accompanies a résumé or CV. Nowadays, unless you are specifically required to send a letter by snail mail, cover letters are normally sent by email or attached as a file in online application systems.

Sending an email instead of a letter makes little difference. It’s only the layout that varies slightly.

Now here are some tips:

  • Use formal language.
  • Don’t use contractions and punctuation such as dashes and exclamation marks.
  • Don’t use personal or emotional language.
  • If you are replying to an advertisement, relate to all the points asked for and give additional information.
  • Mention your skills and experience and give supporting details.
  • Have spaces between paragraphs
  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • Use a professional email address; kittylou@gmail.com might not be appropriate or very professional.
  • Remember to check that you have used the appropriate style for the person you are writing to.
  • Check your email carefully for spelling, grammar mistakes, and punctuation
  • Make sure you sign your cover letter.
  • If you are sending your CV or résumé, put “Enclosed: CV/résumé” at the end of
    your cover letter

 

Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.

Presentation

 

On the Right

  • Your address: on the right-hand side of the page (without your name)
  • Date: below your address. Leave a blank line in between.

On the left

  • Position/name of the person you are writing to. Start one line below the date.
  • Address of the person or company you are writing to.

Greeting:

Use an appropriate formal greeting. Use a comma after the greeting or nothing.

If you know the name of the person you are writing to:

  •  Dear Mrs/Miss/ Ms + surname if you are writing to a woman
  • Dear  Mr+ surname if you are writing to a man.

If you don’t know their names, use

  • Dear Sir or Madam or Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Human Resource Manager
  • Alternatively, you can use To whom it may concern

Note that all the salutations start with Dear.

Follow the salutation with a comma.

Opening Paragraph:  Always start by stating what the purpose of your letter is. Here you should mention the position you are applying for and where you learn of the vacancy. This section should be short and to the point. It’s the most important part of your letter. Here, either you grab the reader’s attention or you can bore him and decide not to continue reading.

Some useful expressions:

  • I am writing in response to your advertisement for…
  • I am writing to express my interest in the …. position listed on …(name of the website)
  • I am writing with reference to your advertisement…
  • I would like to apply for the …. position advertised in /on……

Main Body:  It can be divided into several paragraphs. Organise your content into the different paragraphs.

Here you need to expand on your experience and qualifications showing how you are relevant to this job.  Give clear details and examples. You don’t need to repeat all the information on your résumé but highlight what is relevant to this position. Emphasize your strengths.

Emphasize also your interest in the job and why you think you are suitable for the job. Remember that your goal is to get a job interview.

If you have attached a copy of your résumé or completed an application form, mention it.

Useful expressions:

  • I think I am the right person for the job because…
  • I feel I am well qualified for the position
  • I think I have the knowledge and experience that is needed for…
  • I have some/ a lot of experience working with…
  • With regard to your requirements, I believe that I am a suitable candidate for this post as
  • I believe I would be good at…
  • I believe I would make a good …. because I am…
  • I am very reliable and I get on well with people…
  • I have always had an interest in…
  • I think I would be suitable for the job / a good choice ( to be a/ an…) because...

Closing Paragraph: 

Explain why you think your application should be taken into consideration. If relevant, mention that you enclose a CV/ reference. State that you are willing to attend an interview and thank the reader.

Useful expressions:

  • A résumé/CV giving details of my qualifications and experience is attached
  • As requested, I am enclosing my CV and two references and my completed job application
  • I hope you will consider me for the position.
  • I would be able to start immediately
  • I would be happy to attend an interview any time convenient to you.

Signing  off

  • Using  I look forward to hearing from you   or Thank you for your time and consideration  are good ways to end a formal letter
  • End with Yours faithfully if you begin with Dear Sir/Madam
  • End with Yours sincerely if you begin with Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms + surname

In American English, Yours truly and Yours sincerely are commonly used in both cases.

If in the greeting you have followed the salutation with a comma, write a comma also after Yours faithfully/sincerely.


Some words commonly used in job applications

Nouns such as preference, qualifications, company, reference, information, opportunity, experience, position, vacancy, ability, advertisement, employment, résumé, details, interview…etc

Verbs such as  apply, reply, advertise…etc

Adjectives such as  convenient, excellent, qualified, enthusiastic, necessary, energetic, suitable, available, attached, experienced, interested, responsible, possible, friendly…etc

Adverbs such as immediately, recently, extremely, sincerely…etc


Get some practice writing cover letters here

Step 5.  Sending your cover letter via email
  •  In the subject line of the message, write your name and the job you are applying for.
  • Don’t write the date or the employer’s contact information. Start your email with the salutation
  • Don’t forget to write all your contact details after you sign off.

Practice:

Write a cover letter/email applying for one of these two jobs.

Step 6: Some tips on how to answer a job interview
  • When they ask you to describe yourself in three words, they are asking you about your professional persona and how you would fit in the company. Talk about what makes you stand out. Talk about accomplishments and skills that you know are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Do some research on the company and show it in your answers.
  • Don’t give them personal details. They are not really interested in your life or your problems.
  • It’s Ok to ask the interviewer questions about the job. You also want to make sure this is the right job for you and at the same time show the interviewer you are interested in the job. Prepare them beforehand  and try not to ask yes/no questions:
  • Can you tell me about the responsibilities of this job?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Avoid questions about salary, holidays, etc

Hope this post helps you get the best job 🙂

PDF for this lesson here

Special thanks to Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat from English with a Twist for answering some of my questions.

Here’s a funny sketch where former President Obama tries to sharpen his skills to pass a job interview. Don’t miss it!

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