Tag Archives: online

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

The wheel of fortune? I know. I know. If I want you to continue reading, I’d better explain what it is. Have you ever seen the game show Wheel of Fortune? Yes, that one where you spin a wheel and get money if you successfully guess the missing letters in a word or phrase.

Good news. It can also be used to teach/learn English.

Unfortunately I am not working with primary or secondary students. I know they would love this tool. It’s a lot of fun to work with -spinning a wheel normally is, isn’t it?-, but it also has a lot of potential to teach/learn English. I teach adults and it normally takes them more time to get used to the way I teach. Sometimes, a far cry from traditional. Well, yes, I take my work very seriously but, from time to time, I like to spice up my lessons with little games and online tools to energize my lessons. This tool I’m using today is from classtools.net.

In this post, you’ll learn

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

 

 

1. How to feed the wheel

  • Click here to get to the wheel
  • Click on Edit and write whatever you want to see displayed on the wheel.
  • Click on Save this list as currently shown
  • Choose a password to edit the wheel in the future
  • Make sure you make a note of the unique address of your wheel. I suggest you email yourself the link.
  • After a name or category is selected you can remove it from the wheel.

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

Vocabulary

  • Revising vocabulary. Very useful to revise vocabulary either as a whole class, in pairs or in competitions. Students will need to either explain the meaning of a word or use it in context. Nobody will ever accuse you of favouring a team and there are countless options when working with vocabulary. While you’re reading this article, I am sure your brain is already suggesting lots of possibilities, like irregular verbs, phrasal verbs, phonemic transcription…etc
  • Another possibility to explore would be feeding the wheel with different topics and asking students to write or say as many words related to the topic as possible in one minute. Some easy topics could be: jobs, shops, nationalities, animals, food…etc.

Speaking

  • Three minutes. Feed the wheel with different topics you want students to talk about and ask students to work in pairs and spin the wheel. They’ll have to talk about the topic for about three minutes. Great to revise for oral exams!
  • Hot seat.  Again feed the wheel with different topics you want students to talk about and divide the class into teams and ask a student from Team A to sit in the “hot seat”. Spin the wheel. Members of the other  team need to ask him questions about the selected topic; he’ll need to talk for about three minutes answering the other team’s questions but his answers cannot contain the words YES or NO.
  • Comparing. Do you want students to compare? Feed the wheel accordingly: compare living in the countryside/city, travelling  by bus/plane, working as a teacher/shop assistant…etc

Writing

  • Storytelling. Give students an inspiring story starter and feed the wheel with prompts they need to incorporate in their story. Spin the wheel and give students a minute to use the prompts in their stories. Spin the wheel as many times as you deem appropriate. Display on the walls of the class the stories for everybody to read.
  • Using connectors. Feed the wheel with different connectors (and, but  however, although,…etc). Ask students to work in pairs. On the board, write three sentences and ask students to choose one. Tell them this sentence will be the first in their stories. Spin the wheel and display the first connector they need to use.  Spin the wheel as many times as you deem appropriate. Display on the walls of the class the stories for everybody to read.
  • Dependent prepositions: feed the wheel with verbs such as depend, rely, insist…etc and ask students to write a sentence using the verb together with its dependent preposition.
  • Order of adjectives. Are you teaching the order of adjectives before the noun? Feed the wheel with nouns and ask the students to write a sentence containing the noun modified by two or three adjectives.
  • Verbs followed by infinitive/gerund. Are you teaching/learning verbs followed by infinitive or gerund? Rotate  the wheel and ask students to write a short sentence containing the verb randomly chosen.

I’m sure you have some more ideas to use this classroom tool, which is free and embeddable.  Have fun while learning, have fun while teaching.  😉

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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 Different Ways to Practise your Listening Skills.

I won’t spend much time introducing this post, mainly because today is one of these days when the muse has decided to leave me.

Perhaps you’re wondering what else you can do to pass your listening test with  flying colours apart from doing every single listening comprehension exercise in your student’s book and all the ones in the workbook. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but here are a few things you might want to try.

1.Read a few tips and put them into practice. Students often complain that despite grasping the main information content of the recorded material, they sometimes seem to be unable to provide the right answer and this leads to frustration.

Getting a high mark in a listening comprehension exercise requires practice, lots, and also knowing a few tips. The most common types of listening exercises are Blank Filling and Multiple Choice and there are a few handy hints on how best to deal with them that you might want to read. The tips below aim at teaching students to listen effectively to enable them to select the information they require from what they hear.

 2.The obvious. Find a good listening site with plenty of listening exercises to choose from.

One of the sites I have been recommending my students lately to practise Listening is Ingles en Aviles, a fantastic blog aimed at B2 (upper-intermediate) and C1 (advanced students) where you’ll find lots of listening comprehension exercises to choose from.

Can I also suggest my own Listening section? 

3. Listening to Vaughan radio

Vaughan Radio is a live radio station broadcasting from Madrid, Spain that provides listeners the chance to improve English language skills. So while you’re at home, maybe cleaning or ironing and bored to death, you might want to give it a try. From time to time you’ll hear some Spanish words to help Spanish listeners, but most of the time the show is in English and really worth listening to.

Here’s the link to listen on the computer. Alternatively, you can download the app on your smart phone. Type Radio Vaughan in the search box to download the app. My favourite programme? “The show with no name”.

4. Watching series.

Here, I would recommend ororo.tv. What can ororo.tv do to help you improve your English? What will you find on this website? An amazing number of TV shows and films in their original versions and with subtitles in English. Right now, I am hooked on the Big Bang Theory, an American sitcom about four young scientists, but surely you’ll find attractive alternatives here to suit every taste and mood.

5. A new web tool: Youglish.

A very interesting tool to help you with your pronunciation and your listening is Youglish.  In the search box, type the word or expression you want to hear in context. Youglish provides you with videos, from You Tube, where the word/expression is spoken by real people and in context.


In case you’re wondering, this is not a sponsored post. It’s just a few recommendations from a humble teacher trying to help students by sharing some useful links.

Thanks for reading!

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Word of the Day: to Suggest and How to Make Suggestions

Would you agree with me if I said one of the trickiest verbs in English is ” suggest“?

This is one of the most common mistakes students make with this verb. Do you have this mistake?

My  mother suggested me to learn English

The sentence above is wrong  because “suggest” is not followed by object+infinitive. 

Below you’ll find some of the most common structures with “suggest”:

 

  • Suggest+that clause:  We can use present, past, should+infinitive and subjunctive in the that clause. That  can be omitted in informal style.

My mother suggested (that) I should learn English.

I suggest (that) you study a bit more

  •  Suggest+-ing

I suggest eating in that Italian restaurant.

  • Suggest+ Wh-word (when, where, who, how..etc)

Can you suggest where we  can have a nice meal?

  • Suggest+ noun

He suggested  the new restaurant in town for the wedding.

If we need to mention the person who receives the suggestion, we use a to-construction.

He suggested a new restaurant to me.

     He suggested me a new restaurant.

MAKING SUGGESTIONS

And now that we are on the subject, do you know how to make suggestions in English?

Click “play” on the interactive mind map below to study the different ways we can suggest in English and then see the video to do some practice.

Mapa Mental creado con GoConqr por cristina.cabal

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Tools used: Goconqr and Picovico

Internet Radio: All the Radio Stations only a Click Away from you!

Do you like listening to the radio?

Today, I want to share with you a very nice  user-friendly site to listen to the radio.  With a simple click you can listen  to the best live radio stations from the UK. In fact, you can listen to any online radio station in the world, but the focus here is on English, isn’t it?

Internet Radio UK lists all top online radio stations from the United Kingdom. On the right of the screen, you will see a menu with links to different radio stations in the UK.

Hope it helps you improve your English!

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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.

 

6 Excellent Free Sites to Practise Reading Comprehension

It’s been too long since I’ve written about improving reading skills. Last time I posted about sites to help you practise reading comprehension was in May last year. Way too long. The truth is that doing reading comprehension activities in class takes time, especially if we are talking about long texts with an amount of difficulty, and very often this is one of the tasks we give students as homework.

On the other hand, I am one of those teachers who think reading aloud in class is a good exercise. In my opinion,

  • Reading aloud fluently not only helps to improve the reading ability, but also oral expression.
  • It gives students a chance to focus only on fluency, pronunciation and intonation as they don’t need to worry about grammatical accuracy.
  • It gives teachers a nice opportunity to correct pronunciation mistakes.
  • It helps students enhance comprehension as pauses should be made in the correct places.
  • Reading aloud is especially good for students who don’t feel very confident speaking English in public. It gives them a nice chance to use English in a safe environment and helps them gain confidence.

These are some of the sites I’ve been recommending my students to further practise reading comprehension.They are all completely free.

1. Newsela. Have you already tried Newsela? It’s a really good site to help students become stronger readers while reading current event articles.

I teach different levels, and what I like most about Newsela is that you can give the same news article to all your classes no matter the level. Why? Newsela offers five different levels of the same news item. You just need to choose the levelled version you want to use.

The site also offers a multiple choice exercise to test your comprehension of the article.

Although you have to sign up, the site is free. As a teacher, you can assign articles to students in your classes and monitor their progress. Find out how to do it here .

2. Dreamreader is a free website with more than 500 reading lessons. Every lesson comes with free audio, a free printable worksheet and a free multiple choice quiz.

The site offers 5 categories, but the most interesting ones to help enhance your reading comprehension ability are “Fun English” and “Academic  English”. This last category is full of lessons and quiz questions for beginner, low intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced students.

3. GCF LearnFree.This is a fantastic site to improve your reading skills. There is a wide variety of topics displayed at the top of the page. Choose the topic you want to read about and then at the bottom, select the kind of exercise you want to do. If you want to practise reading comprehension, select “Text” and then from the two options offered, choose “Reading Comprehension”.

The site is very visual and user- friendly and I highly recommend exploring all its possibilities.

4. Easy reading

This is a section of the British Council especially aimed at teens though I have often used it with adults with great success, too. Here, you can read stories and articles written at three different levels A2 (elementary), B1 (intermediate) and B2 (upper-intermediate).

After the reading test, you can do an online interactive multiple choice exercise to test your comprehension and a grammar exercise based on the text. The site also gives you the possibility of downloading the text and the activities.

5. Literacynet. Aimed at adults with an advanced level of English, it offers texts on a variety of subjects.

Select a topic and the piece of news you want to read. Click on “Story” and then from the menu on the left, choose the activity you want to do. There are five comprehension activities.

6. Teaching Kids News is a very interesting site that offers original news articles on topics that are “timely, relevant and intriguing”. Though it doesn’t offer the standard type of comprehension exercises you normally find in English exams, each article includes Writing/Discussion Prompts, Grammar Features, and a Reading Prompt.

Hope you find these sites useful!

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Giving Students a Well-Deserved Break- 13 Addictive Word Games

Ever thought learning vocabulary or grammar was dull? I’m pretty sure this thought never ever crossed your mind, but just in case you know someone who  might need  a break from the traditional  grammar and vocabulary  exercises, let me share with you a nice alternative.

Whether you have two minutes or two hours, spend your break testing your knowledge with these amazing vocabulary and grammar games, some of them from well-known dictionaries. Have fun and learn some new words along the way. You don’t have to register for any of them, although some of these sites offer this possibility for those students who want to track their progress.

My favourite? Yes, I do have a favourite. I am hooked on Fluent (nº 12) from a website called Road to Grammar. Addictive!!! Trust me!

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VOCABULARY GAMES

1. Learner’s Vocabulary Quiz (intermediate and higher)

A 10-question quiz you can try  as often as you would  like as they have  many different versions.

2. Vocabulary Quiz ( advanced and higher)

Take this quiz from Encyclopedia Britannica to test your knowledge of English words and their definitions. You have 10 seconds to answer each question.The faster you answer, the higher your score.

 

3. Topic Vocabulary Quiz (upper Intermediate and higher)

Select a topic -from the Animal Kingdom to Religion and Philosophy-, select a level ( 1 or 2), a timer (30 or 60 seconds) and the number of questions (10 or 25).

4. Knoword  (Proficient)

A challenging vocabulary game for the most advanced students. When you start a new game you’ll be given a definition, the first letter of the word it’s referring to and 1 minute to solve the problem. Guess the correct word and you’ll move on to the next puzzle. If you don’t know the answer, simply press the “X”-shaped skip button.

5. Challenge (upper Intermediate and higher)

This vocabulary game presents successively harder words. Read the sentence or phrase at the top and choose the most appropriate answer. You have 20 seconds per word. Play as many times as you want to obtain a more accurate score which will be calculated by the number of correct words and the speed at which you complete the challenge.

6. Wordbuster   (upper Intermediate and higher)

Type a word that begins with the given 3 letters, and press enter. Press space to delete the letters. Find as many words as you can, that begin with the three-letter seed. The longer the word, the higher the score.

7. Wordshake (intermediate and higher)

How many words can you make from the random assortment of 16 letters in a time limit of 3 minutes? Spell the words correctly and remember, the longer the words, the more points you will score.

VISUAL VOCABULARY GAMES

8. Name that thing  (intermediate and higher)

A visual vocabulary quiz you will get addicted to. You are given an image, four options and 15 seconds.

9Name that Thing  (Proficient)

With the same name as the previous one but sponsored by Encyclopedia Britannica, this visual game will test the most proficient students. You have 10 seconds to answer each question. The faster you answer, the higher your score. When you’re done, try again to beat your best score!

SPELLING WITH AUDIO

10 .Spell It (intermediate)

A 10-word spelling quiz you can do as often as you’d like as it has different versions. Hear the word, and then spell it.  You’ll have 15 seconds to answer each question. The faster you answer, the higher your score.The harder the question, the higher your score.

11. Spelling Challenge  (Upper-Intermediate and higher)

Select difficulty level : Tricky/Difficult/Fiendish and whether you want  British English or American English spelling. Click to hear the word and have fun.

A BIT OF EVERYTHING

12. Road To Grammar.  (upper intermediate and higher)
My favourite. I am addicted to this game. It tests many areas of your knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary and it allows two students to play . Be careful if you choose this game. It’s kind of addictive!

APOSTROPHES

13. The Apostrophe Challenge  (intermediate)

Do you have problems with apostrophes in English? Then, this quiz is for you. Choose the level of difficulty and improve quickly.

Lingro: a Cool Way to Read and Increase your Vocabulary

Everybody knows  that one of the best ways to acquire new vocabulary is by reading, but what do you normally do? Do you look up new words as you come across them while you’re reading, do you write them down to look them up later  when you put down your book,or do you just skip them and try to infer their meanings?

If you should ask me, most of the times I try to  work out the meaning of words. I try to figure out what the words mean by looking at the context. However, I have to admit, that when I am reading on my iPad I find myself looking up words much more often  than when I am reading a book or something on the Internet, and this is thanks to the built in dictionary that makes things easier and even fun; I sometimes play against myself trying to guess the meaning of a word and then checking in the dictionary.

We could say that Lingro works like a built in dictionary, too. Lingro is an amazing free website that can facilitate a lot the reading process.

How does it work?

  • Enter the website address to make all the words on the page clickable
  • Click on any word to see its definition in English or in any other 11 languages
  • Register if you want create and categorize word lists and play  flashcard games
  • It’s free. Registering is optional

 

Two Superb Sites to Practise Pronunciation by Reading Along

In this post, I want to share with you two superb sites that can help you improve pronunciation by reading along.

Aim:

By asking students to repeatedly read a selected text or story while simultaneously listening to a text or a story, you can help them

  • improve reading fluency
  • improve pronunciation
  • improve automatic word recognition

1. The first site Listen A Minute.com is one I have been using for years. Here you can find alphabetically-listed topic- based activities  from  Airports and Harry Potter to Zoos.You don’t even need to register. It’s completely free!! Choose a topic and read along. One minute a day… that’s all they are asking and in return… you’ll be passing your listening/speaking tests with flying colours.

2. The second site I want to share with you is a youtube channel called Learn English Through Story ,where short stories at various levels are read at a slow pace to further improve reading and listening skills in English. There are 7 levels. Choose the one that fits your level best. Visit youtube and write  Learn English through Story on the search box.

Procedure:

  • Pick a topic or a story
  • Set a  timer for one minute, and read the article/ story aloud until the timer goes off.
  • Read aloud the same passage  three times or until you feel confident.
  • Remember that the aim is to read along, not just to listen.
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