Tag Archives: exercises

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”- Playing with Baamboozle

Ohhh! The power of a game! I don’t know anybody who does not welcome a bit of fun while learning/teaching. Playing a game transforms everyone’s mood. It is magical to see what having a little break from routine tasks, can do for students who have been working hard.

I teach two-hour lessons and trust me when I tell you that even people who do not typically like games go out of their way to beat the other teams.

If, to the thrill of playing competitively among teams, you add movement, give them the opportunity to stretch by asking them to stand up and also offer them the chance to change partners frequently, smiles and good vibes are guaranteed.

For this game, I have used the free website baamboozle.com/, which is super easy to use and allows me or my students to create and play games.

  • If you do not want to register, you can still click on Featured games and choose from the large bank of games saved on the website.
  • If you register, you can create your own games.

You can use Baamboozle in 2 ways:

  • On your own, choosing the study mode option
  • In class, in teams, choosing a number, doing the task and getting the points

The game shown below has several goals in mind.

  • Provide students with the opportunity to revise some common collocations associated with Health and Illnesses
  • Provide students with some conversation questions about health and illness
  • Have a break from the textbook and have a bit of fun.

Procedure:

  • Divide students into two or more teams. You can have up to 4 teams.
  • Ask each team to choose a competitive name for their team. The team will also need to name a spokesperson.
  • On the board, display the game.
  • Team A starts by choosing a box. Once I click on the box the points assigned to this answer are displayed.
  • Team A will have 15 seconds to decide on the correct answer. They can have a brief discussion but when the time is up, the spokesperson will need to give an answer.
  • Click on Check and if it is correct, click the Okay! button and the points will be added to their team. If it is incorrect, click the Oops! button and no points will be added.
  • Ask students in pairs to answer the question and repeat procedure for team B.

Ready to play?

Follow-up:

  • Revising: give students the link to the game and ask them at home to revise using the Study Mode.
  • Writing: ask students to choose one of the questions and write about it for about 15 minutes paying attention to their grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. During the class, the next day, choose a box, tell students to quickly provide the collocation and ask a student who has written about it to summarise his ideas for the rest of the class.

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!

The Article in English: Explanation, Exercises and a Challenging Quiz

Although the use of the article in English seems a priori an easy subject to teach, the truth is that some students struggle with the use and omission of it.

What can you find in this post?

  • Intermediate level:
  1. Animated video with some rules on the use and omission of the articles “the, a/an”
  2. Some links to exercises from around the web to consolidate knowledge.
  • Advanced Level:
  1. An engaging quiz with feedback notes featuring some difficult cases related to the use and omission of articles.

 

Grammar. Watch the presentation. Pause it as often as necessary to understand and assimilate the rules.

Exercises: Links to interactive exercises  from around the web to consolidate knowledge.

 


The quiz

 

Teaching Both, Neither and Either with List.ly

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

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

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

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

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


About List.ly


What is List.ly?

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

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

Other features

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

-by voting individual lists items up or down

-by adding to the lists

-by writing comments

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

 Tutorial: here

   How can I use it in the classroom?

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

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

Any other ideas?

 


 Using BOTH, NEITHER AND EITHER


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

I have embedded the presentation using two formats:

  • slideshow format
  •  List format

Four Excellent Sites for Online Dictations

Oh boy. Does it bring back memories!
Dictations! To be completely honest with you, I have mixed feeling as regards dictations. I remember back in primary school when the language teacher gave us lots of dictations like a well- deserved break after a tough grammar lesson; and then, this feeling of “I don’t want to ever hear the word dictation again” that I got from my classes at university where the teacher gave us one-page-long dictations so quickly that when he finished, he was panting for breath and we were seeing red.

Although doing dictations is somewhat regarded as an old-fashioned technique, it is undeniable that a lot of benefits can be derived from doing this exercise. In fact, it is an integrative activity requiring the use of various skills like listening, writing and reading -when you read the passage you have written, looking for grammar or spelling mistakes. You might even add speaking if the dictation is used as a prompt to encourage discussion of the passage.

In case you are not fully convinced that dictations also have their place in the twenty-first century classroom, here are some more benefits you might want to consider:
• It improves spelling.
• It improves recognition of grammatically correct sentences.
• It helps students distinguish sounds in continuous speech.
• It improves students’ awareness of punctuation.
• It gives students practice in comprehending and helps them gain fluency in writing.

If I have managed to convince you, here are some links to online dictations you might want to try or if you are a teacher, heartily recommend to your students.

Dictations  Online.

This site specializes in dictations and although it is free, you can sign in to do more dictations or keep track of your score  and view your score history. They are graded from elementary to advanced.

The students hear the dictation four times

  • The first time, the whole passage is read at normal speed to listen for gist.
  • The  second time, each phrase is read slowly twice, with punctuation.
  • Then the whole passage is read again to check your work.
  • And finally, the written text is shown  for you to see  your mistakes.

Englishclub.

I like the site. It is very user-friendly. The dictations are graded going from Elementary, with short recordings of one or two phrases, to Advanced with recordings of one or two paragraphs.

Learn English free

This site features two levels: elementary and intermediate. It has a very clean interface where you’ll see two recording of the same dictation. One recorded at a normal speed and the other one at a slow speed with pauses to give you time to write down what you hear. You only need to follow the instructions.

ESL: English as a Second Language

Aimed at Intermediate and Upper-intermediate students, this site offers an amazing numbers of dictations

Do you like these sites or would you rather create your own dictations? Here are two online free tools to convert text to speech.

VOKI

SLIDETALK

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Five Steps to Writing a Good For and Against Essay

An essay is a formal piece of writing which describes, analyses or discusses a particular issue.

The most common types are:

  • Opinion essays. They present the writer’s personal opinion of the topic, supported with examples and reasons.
  • For and against essays. They   present both sides of an issue in a balanced way. In the concluding paragraph you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.

In this post, I’ll guide you step by step to help you write a good for and against essay.

  • Step 1. Tips and Guidelines +sample essay (pdf)
  • Step 2. Presentation + sample essay (reinforcing)
  • Step 3. Using connectors of contrast
  • Step 4. Using connectors of purpose
  • Step 5. Write: 53 topics to write about. (pdf)

Step 1. Tips and guidelines+sample essay 

Download pdf

1. The first stage in writing is producing ideas. It’s important to dedicate two or three minutes to carefully planning what you are going to say. Make a list of the points for and against. Remember that the key to writing a good balanced essay is to include as many arguments you disagree with as those you agree with. They should be noted impartially although in your conclusion you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.

2. Producing and organising ideas is one thing. Shaping ideas and the organisation of your writing is another. But often the most difficult part is starting a first draft.

Once you have your first draft pay attention to how you have organised the information into paragraphs and grouped ideas.

Once this is done you can focus on expression. This means looking at sentence structure, tense usage and vocabulary. It’s important to write clearly and economically. This can mean either rephrasing ideas in two sentences instead of one, or rewriting two longer sentences as one shorter sentence. So, go over your first draft, looking for ways of improving sentence structure, tense usage and vocabulary.

3. Organise your essay into three parts:

  • Introduction- Paragraph 1- Introduce the topic. The opening should engage the reader’s interest and give a hint of what is to follow.
  • Main Body- Normally you have two paragraphs. In Paragraph 2, you state your arguments for and in Paragraph 3, your arguments against.
  • Conclusion– In paragraph 4 you refer back to the topic and summarize. Here you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.

4. It’s important that you begin each paragraph with a main idea and then develop this idea. For a new idea, begin a new paragraph.

5. This is academic writing, so don’t use informal style ( no contractions, colloquial words, or emotional language).

6. Remember to use a variety of structures and vocabulary adequate to your level.

Step 2. Presentation + sample essay (reinforcing ).

Powered by emaze

Step 3. Using connectors of contrast.

Using connectors is important to express different relationships between ideas. Here, you’ll learn how to use connectors of contrast.

Read the flyer below to learn how to use: despite/in spite of, nevertheless, however, on the other hand, although, even though, though, yet, still, but and while/whereas. 

At the end of the flyer there are some interactive exercises to test your knowledge.

Step 3. Using connectors of purpose.

Now we learn how to express purpose with the following words: to, in order to, so as to, for, so that and in case.

Test your knowledge

Step 5. Write: 53 topics to write about.  Pdf here

Are you ready to write now? Here’s a compilation of 53 for and against topics to write about from different sites and course books. Take your pick, follow all the tips and guidelines and good luck!

EDUCATION

  1. Should schools start later in the morning?
  2. Benefits of teaching children second languages early on.
  3. The pros and cons of single gender classrooms.
  4. Is sex education the job of parents or of the school?
  5. The pros and cons of reduction of physical education hours in our current school system.
  6. The pros and cons of security cameras in schools.
  7. Pros and cons of a 4-day school week.
  8. Should parents pay students for good grades?
  9. The pros and cons of bilingual or dual language education.
  10. The pros and cons of wearing a uniform.
  11. The pros and cons of banning junk food in schools.
  12. Should sexual education be taught in high schools?
  13. The education a child receives at home from having parents who are positive role models is more important than the academic education a child receives at school. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

 

HEALTHY ISSUES

  1. Plastic surgery- vanity or need?
  2. Is vegetarianism a healthy diet?
  3. One of the largest parts of government expenditure is health. Some people argue that this money would be better spent on health education on the principle that prevention is better than cure. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

MORAL ISSUES

  1. Should parents be allowed to choose their child’s gender?
  2. Pros and cons of having exotic animals as home pets?
  3. Should advertising for plastic surgery be illegal?
  4. Should priests be celibate?
  5. What does everyone think about zoo animals? Is it a good or a bad thing?
  6. Does legal prostitution reduce crime?
  7. To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable? Discuss the pros and cons.
  8. Some people argue that the amount of violence shown in films and on television has led to an increase in violent crimes in society. Do you agree with this argument? Should the government control what is shown on television and in the cinema?
  9. Should rich countries forgive all debts for poor countries?

TECHNOLOGY

  1. The pros and cons of children under the age of 10 playing video games.
  2. The pros and cons of film, television, and music piracy.
  3. Should kids under the age of 13 have a phone?
  4. Advantages and disadvantages of digital spying on kids and teens.
  5. The pros and cons of owning an electric car.
  6. Have we become too dependent on technology? Discuss the pros and cons.
  7. Should students be allowed to have cell phones in elementary and high schools?
  8. Should we ban the sale of violent video games?
  9. Some people say that the Internet is making the world smaller by bringing people together. To what extent do you agree that the Internet is making it easier for people to communicate with one another?

SPORTS

  1. Should pro wrestling be considered a sport?
  2. Should sport hunting be banned?
  3. Many people want their country to hold the Olympics. Others believe that international sporting events bring more problems than benefits. Discuss both views and state your opinion.

FREE TIME

  1. In the future, we will have more and more leisure time as machines replace many of the tasks we do at home and work. Discuss the benefits this will bring and also the problem it will cause.
  2. It is said that travel broadens the mind. What can we learn by travelling to other countries? Should we first explore our own countries? Discuss.
  3. In many countries tourism is a major part of the economy, but it also causes environmental damage and ruins the places it exploits. It is argued that tourists should pay an additional tax to compensate for this damage. Do you agree?
  4. Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.

EMPLOYMENT

  1. Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?
  2. Most high level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
  3. Should retirement be compulsory at 65 years of age?

 GLOBALISATION:

  1. Differences between countries become less evident each year. Nowadays, all over the world people share the same fashions, advertising, brands, eating habits and TV channels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
  2. Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society?

HOUSING

  1. Some people like living in a house, while others prefer an apartment. Are there more advantages than disadvantages to living in a house rather than in an apartment?

FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS

  1. The pros and cons of gay marriage.
  2. Some parents choose not to have a television at home because of the influence on their children. Is this a good or a bad thing?
  3. Some people believe in the traditional idea that the woman’s place is in the home, while others say that idea is outdated and that women should play an increasingly important role in the workplace of the future. What is your opinion?
  4. People are now living longer than ever before and many old people are unable to look after themselves. Some people believe that it is the responsibility of families to look after the elderly, while others say governments should provide retirement homes for them where they can be looked after properly. Discuss.
  5. Are women better parents than men?
  6. If children behave badly, should their parents accept responsibility and also be punished?

Have you visited my writing section yet?

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Clauses of Contrast: Connectors and Online Practice

This is a small presentation I have made for my students using a new online tool smore.com, which is basically a tool for creating flyers. As it happens with  most online tools  originally designed for other purposes, it has a lot of potential for creating beautiful content for our classes. You can add text, pictures, audio, videos… etc , and  you can also embed a link, which in the specific case of  this presentation is a great help.

I hope you find this presentation on connectors of contrast useful. At the end of the flyer, you will be able to test your knowledge with some online exercises. Special attention requires  the punctuation before or after these connectors.

 

A word on Grammar:Prepositions after superlatives

After superlatives, we normally use two prepositions of and in

♥ we use in with a singular word referring to a place or group

I am the happiest woman in the world

Mary is the fastest player in the team

♥we use of before plurals, before time periods such as year/month

She’s the fastest tennis player of them all

Saturday is the best day of the week

Test your knowledge

 

The Passive: Grammar and Exercises

Tired of always looking for exercises for different grammar points I have started putting together everything I need, related to a certain point of grammar, on the same page.

Today I have uploaded The Passive. On the same page  I have put together Grammar and Exercises for  pre-intermediate/intermediate  levels. Exercises cover  practice for:

♥ basic and more complex tenses,

♥ active to passive and the other way round,

♥ questions in passive sentences,

♥ sentences with two objects,

♥ the prepositions by and with,

♥ impersonal passive (it is said/believed) ,

♥ be supposed to

♥  have sth done

Hope it is as helpful to you as it is to me.Now, I can safely take them to the computer room, ask them to go to this url where they’ll find everything they need to work on. Very useful too, to do as homework or revise just before exams at their own pace.

Click  on the picture to give it a go

Below I have embedded A MentorMob Playlist with all the Grammar and Exercises already published. More will follow; I hope!

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!
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