Tag Archives: lesson plan

Crime and Punishment: Some Engaging Classroom Activities

I am not a big fan of watching TV. I find most programmes dull and very often uninteresting. However, one of the very first things I do as soon as I wake up (this, of course after my first cup of coffee) is to watch the news. However, lately, I have been considering skipping them. Is it me or do you have the impression that the news is filled with disaster and corruption?  How can you be expected to rise and shine when the world is going crazy,  when all the stories in the news are about crimes and criminals? I’d rather watch the weather forecast! Hey! Hold on!! Just heard about hurricanes and floods? I think I’ll stick to Netflix.

Anyway, please excuse my rambling and let me share with you some of the activities I have designed to help my students learn and practise vocabulary related to crime in a series of engaging speaking activities.


Using grass skirts. Making up a funny crime story

Preparation:

  • Choose a number of crimes and write them down. You can use my own template. See it here.
  • Cut a line between words (see picture) but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach.
  • Each poster contains 9 crimes. If you have between 10 and 18 students you will need two copies of the poster.
  • Put the poster(s) on the walls of the class.

Procedure:

  • Point to the posters on the walls of the class.
  • Tell students they will have about 10 minutes to make up a funny crime story. They can take notes but they cannot write the whole story.
  • Ask students to stand up and take a crime. They will do it by tearing off the piece of paper containing the crime.
  • Students sit down and began making up their funny crime stories.
  • In groups of 3 or 4, they share their stories and decide on the best story in the group.
  • The best story in each group will be then shared with the whole class and again the best story will be chosen.

 


Using a Feedback Tool to play a game to revise vocabulary.

This one is a lot of fun. Believe me!

Aim:  to revise vocabulary related to crime using the free online tool Answergarden

Preparation: Minimal.

If you have never used a feedback tool, you really should give it a try. I have used feedback tools and also backchannels in my classes in a number of ways to teach English and I like them for several reasons.

  1. They are very effective
  2. They tell you in real time whether students are really learning or not.
  3. They give voice to all the students and not just to the ones who always raise hands.
  4. They are fun and make classes more interesting and engaging.

Downside: it requires the use of devices with an internet connection. However, two students can share the same device.


If you find it hard to integrate technology into your classes, I run workshops  on the use of online free tools in the language classroom (tool+practical tested ideas+practice designing your own activities- see workshops here)


How to set a room in Answergarden in less than 1 minute.

  • Go to Answergarden and click on Create Answergarden
  • Type your topic or question
  • Set Classroom or Brainstorm Mode
  • Set the answer length to 20 characters
  • Click on Create and share the link with your students.
  • Students submit their answers and they are represented in the form of a growing word cloud.

Tip: Don’t forget to refresh your page to see all the answers the students are submitting or to choose the expand tab which will refresh the page automatically every 5 seconds.

The Game.Procedure

Step 1. Creating the wordcloud

Share the link for the Answergarden you have created and ask students to submit words related to crime. Their answers will be represented in the form of an attractive wordcloud.

(Note: This is an active answergarden. You can submit words, but please, only words related to crime 🙂

Step 2. Playing

  1.  Divide the class into two teams and ask a representative of each team to come to the front of the class facing away from the board where the word cloud is displayed. Let’s call them Captain A and Captain B. Place a table in front of the students and on the table place two reception bells. If you can’t find the bells, any other sound would do! But, there has to be a sound, mainly, because it’s fun!
  2. Set a timer for 90 seconds. Teams have 1m 30´ to describe as many words as possible. Point to a word and ask the class to describe the word using synonyms, definitions or paraphrasing. If a captain knows the word, he will need to press the bell and then say the word.
  • If the answer is correct, his team scores a point and the game continues in the same way until the time runs out.  The teams choose other captains to continue playing.
  • If the answer is incorrect, he won’t be allowed to guess again until the other captain has had a chance at guessing.


Random Questions- A Speaking Activity.

I have created the presentation with questions to discuss about crime and punishment with the free tool Genial.ly

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to write on a small scrap of paper 5 words they have learned. If they have learned “ to be sentenced to” for example, encourage them to write the whole expression and not just “sentenced “.
  2. Click on the random question button in the presentation. Ask students to swap slips of paper with their partners and get them to discuss the question reminding them to use as many words from the slip of paper as possible. Allow 4 or 5 minutes to discuss this question.
  3.  Ask students to swap lists again before asking them to stand up and find a new partner.
  4. Click on the random question button in the presentation again and repeat procedure.

Hope you have enjoyed the activities.
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The Environment: a Lesson Plan for Upper-Intermediate Students

As I thrust this lesson plan towards my students, I realize how little I know about what some environmentally-related terms mean. I know I have heard people talking about the carbon footprint and acid rain, but honestly, I have never given it much thought.  I recycle. I really try to. I don’t eat meat and try to buy local products. But thinking hard. I guess that’s it.  I am drowning in eco-guilt, but this needs to change.

I have promised myself two very simple things: to use reusable shopping bags and to cut down on the minutes I spend singing in the shower. The shower thing is going to be hard. Really hard.

I have just read in the The Guardian this list with 50 easy ways to save the planet. Really, point 16 and 34 are just gross.

 

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

You can see this lesson in digital format here and you will also find it embedded at the end of this post

Introducing the Topic

On the board, write I’m eco-guilty of … Ask students in pairs to discuss their environmental dirty secret and then come up to the whiteboard and write it down. Help with vocabulary and then, discuss some the eco-sins written on the board.

Listening: How Environmentally Friendly are you?
  • Lead in: ask students, in pairs, to write their best tips on how to be environmentally friendly. Write their suggestions on the board.
  • Listening Comprehension: How to be environmentally friendly. 

This is a note-taking exercise. Students listen to some more tips and write them down.  Comment on the tips. Correct using subtitles.

Vocabulary: Revising and Introducing New Vocabulary.

After doing the previous activities, students will probably have learnt lots vocabulary. Yes, I know. Wishful thinking. Anyway, let’s keep trying. Draw a mind- map on the board and brainstorm newly-acquired vocabulary drilling pronunciation. Introduce some new terms if appropriate.

Here’s the vocabulary my students will need to learn and use.

Speaking Activity using Posters

An activity my students always enjoy is gallery-walking. It gives them the opportunity to get out of their seats and interact with other students in the class.

  • Display posters on the walls containing some predictions about the future. See my posters here.
  • Ask students, in pairs, to write on a post-it (a scrap of paper+ sellotape would do) a list of 5 words or expressions they have learned related to the topic. Take their lists and put them on the walls next to the posters. There should be at least one list per poster.
  • Gallery Walk: ask students, in pairs or small groups, to stand up and discuss the sentences written on the posters making sure they use some of the words on the list.
Listening: Environmental Issues our Planet is Facing.
  • Warm up: Ask students, in pairs, to brainstorm environmental issues our planet is facing. Write their suggestions on the board and discuss them.
  • The listening task: Play the video below ( only from 0:00 to 1:35)and ask students to find the answers to the following :
  1.  How old is the earth?
  2. How old is the human race?
  3. List 4 general problems mentioned in the video related to the sea, the animals, the ocean and climate change

Check their answers. Play the video with the subtitles on.

Speaking
  • Discussion Questions:

In this part, students will work in pairs. Encourage the use of the vocabulary they have learned in previous exercises. Use the lists of vocabulary students wrote for the posters activity, giving each pair of students one of these lists. Ask them to swap lists as we move through the questions.

Embedded below. you will find the online lesson with the questions for discussion. Just scroll down the different activities.

  • Picture Prompted

Students, in pairs, talk about the topics suggested in the pictures. Brainstorm ideas for a minute or so, and ask them to speak for about 4 minutes.

There are two sets of pictures.

Photo credit: Frits Ahlefeldt – FritsAhlefeldt.com on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson.

 

The Environment

Health and Illness: A Lesson Plan for Upper-Intermediate Students

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

This lesson plan works well on its own, but I have used it to complement Unit 2 of the course book New English File Upper-intermediate.

 

The Hot Seat. Revising and consolidating vocabulary.

A fun way to revise and consolidate vocabulary is playing the hot seat with the wheel of fortune.

PROCEDURE

    1. Divide the class into two teams and ask them to choose a person to play for them and take the “hot seats”. These two students will be facing their teams and with their backs to the whiteboard
    2. Decide which team starts the game by tossing a coin. Let’s say Team A starts the game. Tell them each team will have one minute to describe and guess as many words as possible.
    3. Spin the wheel. Team A will have to define the word for its player. Once the player has guessed the word, the teacher will spin the wheel again for the same team. For every word they guess, they will get 1 point. If the player for Team A doesn’t know the word, then Team B gets the chance to define the word for its player. If he guesses, the team gets 2 points for this word.
    4. Repeat procedure for Team B.

Role-Play: at the doctor's

At this stage, students will have already learned the vocabulary for minor and more serious illnesses and conditions so now, it’s time to practise it.

Step 1.  Working on pronunciation

On the board, write some of the words students have found most difficult to pronounce and revise their pronunciation. In my case, they might include:

Stomach ache   cough   temperature   consciousness   sprained   antibiotics   antihistamine  wound     blood pressure   medicine    paracetamol

Step 2.  Visiting the doctor

      • Ask students about the last time they were ill. What symptoms did they have? Did they go to the doctor? What was the treatment? Did you follow his advice? Could you go to work/school?
      • Tell students that they are going to role-play a conversation at the doctor’s where half the class will be patients and the other half will be doctors.
      • Students playing the role of patients will get a card with their ailment and they will need to talk to the doctor, describe their ailment and get some advice or treatment.
      • Students playing the role of doctors will have to ask questions and then prescribe some medicine, if necessary, and give some advice (rest, diet…etc).

Step 3.

Build the basic guidelines of the conversation on the board with the students’ help

Doctor: “Good morning/afternoon. What seems to be the problem?”

Patient: “I haven’t been feeling well for a few days/ I don’t feel well”. Explain your symptoms

Doctor: Asks more questions like ” Are you taking anything for… ?“Do you have a headache”? When did it start?” Have you taken your temperature?” …etc

Step 4.

Ask half the class (the doctors) to remain seated at their desks and ask the other half (the patients) to stand up and move to a corner of the room. Give each of the patients a card with their illness and ask them to choose a doctor and role-play the conversation.

When a student playing the role of patient finishes, he should go back to the corner and wait there for another student (patient) to swap the cards. Students will role-play as patients twice.Once this step is over, change roles: patients will now be doctors and doctors will role-play as patients.  Give them new cards or reuse the previous ones.

Cards here

Listening comprehension: Complementary and alternative medicine

Write “alternative medicine” on the board and ask students if they know what it is and if they have ever tried it.

Tell students they are going to watch a video where Dr Mc Cann discusses traditional medicine and alternative medicine. Ask them to listen once and then, in pairs, share any ideas they got from the video.

Ask students to listen a second time (even a third, if necessary) and answer the following:

True or False? Justify your answers

      1. Integrative medicine is a combination of traditional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine.
      2. At medical school, professors show you some alternative and complementary medical practice.
      3. Dr McCAnn thinks a doctor needs to treat patients with either conventional or alternative medicine
      4. According to alternative medicine, the human being can heal himself
      5. Patients of integrative medicine are willing to take an active role in their healing process.
      6. Some patients of integrative medicine are not ill at all.
      7. Dr McCAnn believes integrative medicine is here to stay.

Answers: At the end of this post

Going the extra mile: Introducing more advanced vocabulary
      • To feel under the weather = to feel slightly ill
      • To be as fit as a fiddle= to be healthy
      • To phone in sick= to call work and say you’re ill
      • To suffer from a disease
      • To be a hypochondriac or a cyberchondriac /ˌhaɪ.pəˈkɒn.dri.ək/
      • To give someone a diagnosis /ˌdaɪ.əɡˈnəʊ.sɪs/ Ex: The doctor cannot give a diagnosis without doing some tests
      • To treat an illness such as asthma, depression, high blood pressure
      • To relieve a headache, dental pain, arthritis /ɑːˈθraɪ.tɪs/
      • To practise self-medication with non-prescription medicines /ˈmed.ɪ.sən//ˈmed.sən/
      • To have an operation, to undergo an operation
      • To donate organs, to be a donor
      • To go down with a cold / the flu
      • To need surgery /ˈsɜː.dʒəi/
      • Symptoms
      • A life-threatening illness
      • A tumour /ˈtʃuː.mər/ (UK) /ˈtuː.mɚ/ (US). Ex: Brain tumours develop in fewer than one in 50,000 people
      • The side effects of drugs
      • Vaccination
      • Integrative medicine: a combination of traditional and alternative medicine
      • Home-made remedies
      • Alternative medicine /ɒlˈtɜː.nə.tɪv/
      1. Homeopathy /ˌhəʊ.miˈɒp.ə.θi/: a way of treating illnesses using very small amounts of natural substances,
      2. Osteopathy /ˌɒs.tiˈɒp.ə.θi/:  the treatment of injuries to bones and muscles using pressure and movement
      3. Yoga
      4. Reflexology: a treatment in which your feet are rubbed and pressed in a special way in order to improve blood flow and help you relax,
      5. Acupuncture /ˈæk.jə.pʌŋk.tʃər/: to insert very fine needles into the body at points along the meridians
Controversial Statements about health.Discussion Posters

Using vocabulary is key in this lesson. In fact, all the lesson is aimed at motivating students to use vocabulary they are already familiar with and to give them a chance to use newly-learnt terms.

So, this lesson could not finish without devising another strategy to help them use the target vocabulary; this time with the help of visual images in the form of posters and with controversial statements that will, hopefully, spark discussion.

Procedure: Gallery Walk

On the wall of the class, display the posters. Ask students in threes to choose a poster and discuss the statement written on it. Encourage the use of target vocabulary.

You can download the posters here.


Listening Comprehension Answers:

1.T  2.F  3.F  4.T  5.T  6.T  7.T


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Lesson Plan: I don’t believe in paranormal but….

Fall has finally hit!This is Halloween’s week and it seems the weather has finally chilled out and stopped being silly. The truth is that I don’t see myself telling scary stories in class while the sun outside is shining bright. It just wouldn’t do! Telling scary stories requires a dark, grey, gloomy day; one cannot be telling scary stories and thinking about going to the beach.

Level: B2

Aim:

  • to introduce and revise vocabulary used to talk about paranormal or unnatural phenomena
  • to give students’ some listening and speaking practice.
  • to develop students’ writing skills

STEP 1. INTRODUCTION

Write Paranormal on the whiteboard. Ask students if they know what it means (if necessary, explain that a paranormal activity is not scientifically explainable), and ask them if they believe in paranormal phenomena.

STEP 2. LISTENING COMPREHENSION. A PARANORMAL STORY.

Ask students if they know what a Ouija board is and ask them whether they, or anybody they know, have ever played with a Ouija board. I have a real experience to share with them but in case you don’t, there are plenty of terrifying stories online you might want to share with your students (just to build the right kind of atmosphere).

  1. Play the first 0:53 seconds of the video and ask students to predict what will happen next. Listen to their predictions and then, play the rest of the story.
  2.  Play the video a second time and ask the following questions:

True or False? Justify your answer

  1. The narrator and his brother had just bought a Ouija board
  2. The narrator’s brother was willing to play with the board
  3. The first time, the narrator’s brother moved the planchette.

Answer the following questions in your own words:

  1. Why did they decide to play a second time?
  2. What is the ideal environment for a Ouija board?
  3. Why did the narrator leave the room?
  4. Why did he run back to the room and what did he see?

 

STEP 3. SPEAKING

Before asking students to discuss the questions you might want to pre-teach or revise some vocabulary.

  • To set the mood: gloomy, desolate, haunted, abandoned, scary, spooky, frightening, creepy and supernatural
  • To say how you feel:  horrified, terrified, petrified, panic-stricken, trembling, paralysed, shuddering
  • To talk about “people”: a ghost  ( a ghostly figure), an apparition, a shadow, an entity, an (evil) spirit, a hallucination, a medium, a UFO.

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

  • Do you believe in ghosts? If not, how do you explain people’s claims to have seen them?
  • Have you experienced the feeling of déjà vu? How do you explain this strange feeling?
  • Telepathy is communication directly from one mind to another. Is it possible to communicate this way?
  • Sometimes, the police use psychics to help them. What do you think about this?
  • Do you believe in hypnosis? What happens when a person is hypnotized?
  • Can people predict the future? Have you ever had a feeling about the future that turned out to be true?
  • Have you ever visited a fortune teller?
  • What do you think about UFO sightings?
  • Are you a superstitious person? What things are you superstitious about?

Most of the questions are from this site. 

STEP 4. WRITING CONTEST. I DON’T BELIEVE IN PARANORMAL, BUT….

I love telling stories, don’t you?  Well, the heading in this Step 4 needs no explanation. A contest.  A contest which will give me the opportunity to revise narrative tenses and connectors to help students sequence their ideas.

I’m going to use this excellent post from Thought.Co

A good contest, deserves a nice poster. Here it is.

Lesson Plan: Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world- Nelson Mandela

I’m so excited. Truly. I am. It’s been months since the last time I taught a class full of students. I know it’s going to be hard but I’m really willing to get back in the swing of things. I’m also preparing material for my workshops, and I have a bunch of work to catch up on, but I’m anyway feeling really motivated. So, it seems I am off to a good start.

This is a lesson for upper- intermediate students (B2) about education. In this post, you will find

  • Some vocabulary you might need to revise/learn when discussing this subject.
  • A small challenge with some confusing terms related to education
  • A video about  6 problems of our education system
  • Speaking practice: questions to discuss
  • A written assignment

The warm-up. Setting the context

I don’t think there is a better way to introduce a topic than by showing students a picture that will probably spark interest and hook students into the lesson. That’s the aim of the picture below.

Show the picture and listen to student’ reactions. Probably, the first one would be “Me, neither”, but let’s dig in for more profound reactions.

Tell students to get into pairs and think of three reasons why this boy wouldn’t want to go to school. Allow them 2 or 3 minutes and the write their suggestions on the board and discuss them.

Ask students: Can you relate to the boy in this picture? What can you remember about your kindergarten? In your opinion, what’s the ideal age to start school?

The vocabulary

Ask students to work in pairs. Write on the board the word “education” and ask students to brainstorm vocabulary related to the topic. Encourage them to mind map to help them revise vocabulary related to this thematic area. Allow them some minutes and get feedback from the whole class.  I gave handout 1   to my intermediate students last year, so this year (B2), I will probably need to revise and add the terms in handout 2 explaining difficult vocabulary.

The challenge.Did you know?

In this part of the lesson, students are presented with some confusing terms.

Ask them to work in pairs and discuss the questions posed in the flip cards. Award 1 point to the student who has guessed the right answer.
Flash Card Deck created by Cristina Cabal with GoConqr
 

Speaking. The questions.

Ask students, in pairs or small groups, to answer the following questions about education, where they will revise some of the vocabulary learned in the previous step. Encourage the use of new vocabulary.

You can get the PDF with the questions here, but isn’t it more appealing to use the Spark below.

Education

Listening. The video: 6 problems with our school system.

Methodology: collaborative retelling

It is a longish video. It lasts almost 6 minutes so I’d suggest breaking it up and asking students to work on different parts of the video.  In the video, 6 problems with our education system are mentioned.

This activity will be set as homework.

  1. Introduction.  In class, play the first 34 seconds of the video and tell students to give you a summary. They will probably say that the video shows how our system of education has become obsolete and is not preparing children for the real world. Ask them whether they agree with this idea.

2. Homework.

  • Explain that everybody will need to listen to the introduction again (first 34 sec) which summarizes the content of the video.
  • Tell students the video talks about 6 problems our current education system is facing nowadays.
  • Form groups of six students and tell them that, in the next lesson, they will be working in groups of six and each of them will share what they have learned about their assigned problem and their opinion on whether this is a real problem in their country providing examples, if possible.Alternatively, you can form groups of 3 students and assign each student two problems.
  • Assign tasks to the different students in the  group
  • Student 1: Industrial Age values 0:35-1:26
  • Student 2: Lack of autonomy 1:26-2:18
  • Student 3: Inauthentic learning  2:18-3:12
  • Student 4: No room for passion 3:12-4:15
  • Student 5: Differences in how we learn 4:15-4:40
  • Student 6: Lecturing 4:40-5:56

Writing. An opinion essay.

Write an opinion essay on the following:

Our current system of education is now outdated and ineffective.

Here’s a nice post I wrote last year which might help you.

Five Steps to Writing an Excellent Opinion Essay

Thanks for reading!

Ready-Made Lesson: Personal Identity

I must have been in my teens, but I vividly remember my mother telling my father that someone called James Dean had called. The funny part was not only that the famous now-long- deceased actor had phoned my dad, but the way everybody pronounced his name, /jamez dean/, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, while me and my naughty siblings couldn’t help cracking up, repeating /james dean, james dean/while in stitches. (The Spanish pronunciation of the “j” is similar to the Scottish word “loch” or the German word “Bach”)

In case you are wondering, my parents (now almost 80)  had never ever heard a word in English so everybody said /james dean/ just like that and never gave it a second thought. We, me and my three siblings, just liked fooling around. I know better now!! 🙂

About the lesson:

In this lesson, aimed at B2 students and above, students discuss their names and their personalities through some engaging activities.

In part 2, you have the possibility of asking students to use their own devices and complete the task in class or alternatively set the task for homework.

 


Part 1. Talking about your name

A video-based listening activity

Tell students they are going to watch a short extract from the Graham Norton show, where the actresses Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman discuss their birth names. Play from 0:00 until 2:50.

Introduce: 

  • To be named ( after someone)
  • To name someone
  • A pet name
  • A middle name
  • A nickname

Procedure:

Play the video once and ask students some comprehension questions. Play the video a second time if necessary.

  1. Meryl Streep was named Mary at birth. How did she end up being called Meryl?
  2. Is she happy about her surname? How does she wish it to be different?
  3. Why is Nicole Kidman called Hokulani? Who is she named after?

Discussion questions:

  • Are you happy with your name? Why (not)?
  • Does your name have a meaning? If so, what does it mean?
  • Do you have a middle name? What is it?
  • Do you have a nickname? If so, what is it and how did you get it?
  • If you could change your name would you? What would it be? Why?
  • U2’s lead singer, Bono, called his daughter Memphis Eve and Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter is called Apple. Do you know any “normal people” with unique baby names? What about you, do you prefer giving your child a more traditional name or a unique name?
  • In some countries, when women marry they take their husband’s last name? What do you think of this?

Part 2. Talking about your personality

In this second part, we are going to revise and learn some more complex personality adjectives.  To introduce personality adjectives we are going to use a website which analyses your personality based on the numerical value of your name. Whether students believe in it or not should be irrelevant, we are only interested in language acquisition here.

The warm-up

As this lesson is aimed at upper-intermediate students and above, students will have some prior knowledge of the most common personality adjectives, at least enough to get them started.

Choose any activity from 10 Games and Activities to Practise Personality Adjectives, a very successful – if I might say so-blog post I wrote last year

Homework.  The Website.

Ask students whether they think a name can shape their personality and refer them to this website where they’ll have to write their name in the space provided and read about their personality.

You can always ask them to read their horoscope, but this is “old news”, so I thought this might better spark students’ interest.

At home, students go to the website and find out about their personality based on their names. They look up any new words they don’t know, especially personality adjectives, as they will need to share this analysis with their classmates and say whether they agree or disagree with it, giving reasons.

Gathering Feedback

This activity can be done in a traditional way i.e board and chalk. Students call out an adjective and you write the personality adjective on the board.

Again, with the aim of creating a more engaging activity, I’m going to use a free online tool called “Answergarden” to get instantaneous feedback. The tool is very easy to use. Here’s a tutorial in case you need it, but it really has a very friendly intuitive interface making it very easy to use, even for those teachers who are not too tech-savvy. The app takes students answers and creates a word cloud that can be exported or embedded.  Students will need to use their own devices but, if necessary, every three students can share one.

Once you have created the word cloud in Asnwergarden, use the overhead proyector to display it and ask volunteer students to explain the meaning of the adjectives and say whether they think it is positive, negative or neutral.

Below, an example of a word cloud created with Answergarden.

Speaking

Put students in pairs and ask them to share their name report from the website and say whether they agree or disagree with such analysis.

Ask them to discuss the following questions.

  • What kind of people do you usually get along with?
  • What kinds of personality traits do you hate?
  • Is your personality more similar to your mother’s or father’s?
  • Do you think we are born with our personalities, or do we develop them because of what happens to us?
  • Do you tend to fall in love with good looks or with a great personality?
  • Does one person’s character affect the personalities of the surrounding people? Are you influenced by anybody you know?
  • Does birth order affect personality? What qualities do a first-born child, a last-born and an only child have?

The Quiz: As Free as a Bird. 

Let’s go the extra mile! In this quiz, you’ll find more colourful ways to talk about someone’s personality. In order to learn them, I suggest taking the quiz two or three times, the last time checking if just by looking at the picture students can remember the simile.

After doing the quiz, you can always ask some follow-up questions like:

Do you know anybody who is as stubborn as a mule?

Enjoy!

Are we Killing or Promoting Creativity? A Collaborative Writing and Speaking Lesson

Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

I had a full-blown, real, very much needed holiday. The last two months had been unbelievably hectic: end-of-term exams, working full-time during the week and some teacher training weekends and, to top it all, I was also writing a project to apply for a European grant, which unfortunately I won’t get.

So, there I was, fully enjoying my break , when I stumbled upon an article in El Pais about a short animated short film “Alike”, which had won a Goya award in 2016, and I was struck with how beautiful, touching and thought-provoking the video was. And I just knew I had to show it to my students, do something with it and well, here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

About the lesson: In this lesson, aimed at B2 students and above, students watch a short silent film called Alike (7 minutes) with two main aims:

  1. To give voice to the story and for this:
  • they will have to collaboratively write the story
  • they will have to collaboratively retell the story

2. To discuss some questions related to education, the promotion of creativity and         daring to be different.


Step 1. Warm-up: Copi and Paste

Tell students they are going to watch a short  video called Alike, where the main two characters are a father and a son whose names are Copi and Paste. Focus on the names, write them on the board and ask students to predict what the story could be about. Hopefully, students will come up with some of these ideas

  • (Lack of)Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Routine
  • Lack of ideas
  • Plagiarism
  • Inspiration
  • Deception

Step 2. Introducing the video and the task

Explain that the video they are about to see is an animated short film (7 minutes) called “Alike” where there is no dialogue. However, the video is so touching and thought-provoking that words are not necessary; images and especially colours play an essential role and are enough to tell this beautiful story and to give us something to think about.

Play the video once asking students to focus on how the colours (or lack of colour) help tell the story. You can also tell them that, later in the lesson, they will need to narrate the story so they need to concentrate on everything that happens.


Step 3.Working on vocabulary.


The next step will focus on teaching/revising the vocabulary they will need to know to write the story.  Below, some flipcards I have used with my students.
Flash Card Deck created by Cristina Cabal with GoConqr

 


Step 4. Collaborative Writing and Retelling

1. Form groups and assign each group a part of the story. The aim is first to write and then to tell their part of the story as it happens, but also to analyse the hidden meaning and the values it tries to highlight.

  • The day begins (0:06- 1:32)
  • At school/ at work ( 1:33-2:38)
  • Leaving the office/school (2:39-3:07)
  • The next days (3:08-3:52)
  • Copi’s surrender (3:53-5:00)
  • But one day (5:01-6:50)

Depending on the number of students, you can ask them to work in pairs or assign each group two parts.

2. Play the story once again for the students to take down notes and get stsrted with the writing task. Walk around offering help and guidance.

3.  Play the story again to help students polish their part.

4. Ask each group to name a spokesperson and ask these students to come to the front of the class and give voice to the story as you play it once again.  Be ready to pause the video as required.

(below my students performing)

via GIPHY

 


Step 4. Speaking


For this activity there should be a supportive atmosphere within the class.

Form groups to discuss the following questions. When all the questions have been discussed, the groups should report back to the whole class.

  • Have you ever done something different or behaved differently from your peers?
  • Do you remember a time when, for some reason, you stood out as different?
  • Do you remember a time when you went against the established rules?
  • What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  • Do you think the way education is organized destroys children’s creativity?
  • Do you think education for children under seven is excessively focused on the curriculum?
  • Do you think that be learning to be creative is more important than knowing how to spell correctly?

Life Begins at 70: a Future Perfect and Future Continuous Lesson

To me, old age is always ten years older than I am”  John Burroughs

In this engaging lesson students will consolidate the use of future perfect and future perfect continuous through some engaging activities.


WARM UP


Show them a picture of how you see yourself when you are 70 and explain why you see yourself like that. (below you’ll see the picture I showed my students). After some laughs and a bit of explaining, ask students:

How do you see yourselves when you are 70? Do you look forward to getting old?

Ask them to talk in pairs for two or three minutes and get feedback.


THE POEM- WARMING by Jenny Joseph


This is a nice opportunity to introduce poetry in class.

Explain that the poem they are about to listen/read, written by Jenny Joseph,  goes hand in hand with the picture of yourself shown above. After listening to the poem, ask students whether they think the author is looking forward to getting old and why.

It seems the poetess is rebellious, but she is only comfortable to ‘break the rules’ when she has the excuse of old age and senility. Ask students what they think about her attitude.


GALLERY WALK

  • On the walls of the class display pictures of elderly people reflecting different attitudes towards life when they are old.
  • Ask students to stand up, have a look at all of them and decide which one will best represent their attitude to life. They now return to their desks.
  • Ask them to write two sentences using the future perfect and two sentences using the future continuous, based on the picture they have chosen.
  • Get students in threes now and ask them to explain their choice to their partners and use the 4 sentences they have written.
  • For example and based on my picture
  • I will have tried parachuting when I am 70
  • I will have probably written a recipe book.
  • I will probably be living in Bhutan
  • I will be living life to the fullest

I have used these pictures  to display on the walls, and this presentation when giving feedback see  here.


SPEAKING


Students now work in small groups and answer the following questions about the future. Remind them that they need to elaborate on their answers giving reasons and using different expressions to give opinion. All the questions contain either a future perfect or a future continous form; encourage students to use these tenses in their answers.

You might find this handout useful

Looking Forward to the Future

Lesson Plan: Do you Speak English?

This lesson is aimed at students with a language level of B1  (intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to learning languages through a variety of engaging activities.

In this lesson students will get listening and speaking practice, learn new vocabulary, and have the opportunity to improve their writing skills.

Topic: Learning languages

Level:  Intermediate and above

Time:  60/90 minutes

Materials: PDF vocabulary, teacher’s notes

Online tools used: Spark adobe and Playbuzz


Warm up:

Guessing the topic.This funny sketch below works like magic to introduce the topic. The idea is to play this short funny video (2:48) and let students guess what we will be talking about.

Now, ask students to discuss these 2 questions:

  1. What’s the most spoken language in the world?
  2. What’s the most widely spoken language in the world?

Revising, introducing and using vocabulary

The idea is to elicit vocabulary by posing some questions and showing some pictures meant to stimulate spontaneous speech and class discussion. New vocabulary will be written on the board. See PDF with targeted vocabulary here

Tell students that of a total of 1, 5 billion speakers only 375 million are native speakers, so this means that over 1 billion people speak English as a second language. Ask them:

  • How do you think your country ranks in terms of English language proficiency?

Show them the picture below. If their country is not there, click here to see how it ranks. Elicit any reactions to the picture.

  • Does the ranking surprise them? Why (not)?

Get students in pairs to discuss the question below:

  • What do you find most difficult about learning English? Why do you think is that?

 

 


Listening and speaking

In this section there are 3 videos. Below you’ll find instructions to work with them. You can watch all of the snaps in a row or freely jump around from snap to snap.

Part 1: Speaking. English borrowings.

Follow the instructions in the video.

Part 2. Listening Comprehension. Note taking exercise.

Alex Rawlings, who speaks 11 languages, says that the way to start speaking a language more fluently and more proficiently is to practise speaking. In the video, he gives us four tips to get more practice speaking the language we’re learning.

      1. Get a conversation partner
      2. Talk to yourself.
      3. Learn vocabulary in phrases
      4. Imagine how you’ll use the language.

Watch the video and summarise what he says about each of these tips.

Part 3. Speaking. Reasons for learning a foreign language.

After watching the video, in groups of 3 share the reason why you’re learning English

Answer the following questions

      • Do you know anybody who has emigrated from your country?
      • Do you know any immigrants? Can they speak your language?
      • Before entering your country, should immigrants be required to speak the local language?

Speaking

Do you Speak English?


Writing

Write an article on one of the following:

  • “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” Zig Ziglar
  • “There is no elevator to success; you have to take the stairs”.Zig Ziglar

Post on how to write an article here

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Lesson Plan: US Elections Explained

On November 8,  Americans will cast their ballots and decide who is going to be their new president. I don’t know about your country but, in Spain, the “war” between H. Clinton and D. Trump is every day in the news and the “poisonous” debates are thoroughly discussed ad nauseam on TV current affairs programmes.

Being this an issue of so much interest, I thought my students would welcome a brief explanation of what the presidential election in the US entails.

Level: suitable for upper intermediate (B2) and advanced (C1) level English students.

Time: About 60 minutes

Materials: lesson plan pdf here

In this lesson students will get listening practice, learn new vocabulary, improve their communicative skills by discussing some interesting quotes and also, their writing skills by choosing one of the quotes to write an opinion essay.

The lesson starts off with some questions about politics which will be discussed in pairs or small groups, followed by some vocabulary exercises extracted from the video in preparation for the listening task that follows. The video for the listening activity is from “The Telegraph” and lasts 2.16.  It will be followed by group discussion of two controversial quotes.

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