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.
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.
I love trying new tools and today I’m trying Wideo, which is a tool which lets you create beautiful animated video content in a very easy way. Although I’ll write about some of its pros and cons below, the reason why I’ve chosen Wideo today is because I needed a tool that allowed me to insert interactive buttons in an easy way and Wideo is perfect for this.
So, here’s the video: Tips and Links to Prepare for the Oral Exam at Home
Play the video. It will stop where interactive buttons are provided (last two slides). Click to resume the video.
What I like about this tool:
it’s free, easy to use and very intuitive.
It provides free video hosting
Lots of professionally-designed templates to choose from
You can upload your own picture, music and background images
You can add interactive elements (clickable buttons and contact forms)
It provided a unique url and an embed code
You can switch from video mode to presentation mode for slide-by-slide presentation.
What I don’t like:
Time limit: on a free plan, the length of the videos is restricted to 3o seconds.
Today I want to share with you an amazing screen recording tool Screencast-o-matic, which has a lot of potential to teach and learn English.
Hey! Wait! I know, you are not tech-savvy. You don’t need to be. Trust me. When you finish reading this post, I’m sure you will be willing to give it a go . The reasons?
It’s super easy to use! Do you know how to press a button? Then, you know how to use this tool.
You don’t even need to register.
It has a lot of potential to teach/learn English.
What is Screen-o-matic?
Screencast-o-matic is a free (you don’t even need to register) easy-to-use screen recording. You can use your webcam or both. Screen-o-matic will capture everything on your screen and then, if you wish, share it.
How can I use it in the classroom?
As a teacher
1. For correcting your students’ written assignments. We all have been in this situation: a student is ill or away on a business trip, but he still needs to have some feedback on his written assignment. With this tool, it’s very easy to offer visual constructive feedback by giving audio and visual cues.
Have your students send you their essays by email. Record yourself correcting and explaining their mistakes. Then, send them the video. Thanks to Russell Stannard for this awesome idea. Here’s an example uploaded to screen-o-matic. Sorry, I don’t sound very energetic. It was very late and I was dead tired!
2. For assessing students’ speaking skill, especially when describing pictures or talking about slides. Ask them to choose one or several pictures and ask them to record themselves. Here’s an example of one of my students uploaded to youtube. Thank you Elsa! 🙂
3. For a variety of speaking activities:
To explain a recipe
To talk about your favourite group, hobby, family…etc
To describe, for example, traditional games, unusual customs…etc.
For first-day presentations
For book/film reviews
The only limit is your imagination.
4. For recorded contests:
It’s St Valentine’s day, ask them to invent a romantic story
It’s Halloween, time for a horror story!
Give them a set of pictures and ask them to create a story
Give them some words and expressions and ask them to create a story
For recorded minisagas (maximum of 50 words)
5. For asessing students’ reading fluency and pronunciation. Ask students to read a given text online and ask them to send their recording.
6. For flipping your classroom. Not every student learns in the same way so it would be a good idea to record some of the most difficult grammar points for weak students to revise at home.
7. Doing exams at home. You can even make things easier for students who, for personal reasons, cannot sit exams in the classroom. Send them the test and ask them to record themselves answering the questions either in written or oral form. It might be a good idea to give them a time limit to send back the video with the answers. You can ask them to use the webcam, too (for obvious reasons).
8. To make tutorial videos to explain a task they need to do online or how an online tool works, for example this one. The yellow pointer makes it easy for students to follow your explanations. Example here
9. Help your substitute teacher. You can even make a video to help your substitute teacher if you’re going to miss class.
As a student
10. Using your webcam, for collaborative projects.
11. As an alternative to a Power Point presentation individually or in groups.
12. To do any oral assignment with one or several slides.
13. To state your opinion on any given topic.
14. To record yourself when practising for oral tests.
Why do I like it?
You don’t have to register or give your email address unless you want to upload it to their server.
You can record up to 15 minutes
You can create different folders for your different classes. If you create an account and share the email address and password with your students they can upload their own assignments and have everything neatly organised in folders.
You can choose to record only your computer screen, you can use your webcam or both
You can resize your recording window.
You can choose the microphone you want to use and adjust the volume. For laptops you can use the built-in microphone.
Click the “Start Recording” button and the recording button will be launched.
Click the red button Rec and everything inside the frame will be recorded.
You can pause or restart or click Done when you finish.
Now, a new window will open offering you the possibilities of downloading your video, or uploading it to youtube or to Screen-o-matic.com (to use this last option you will need to register). Uploading to Screen-o-matic.com is free and it has some advantages:
It gives you a unique url or an embed code to use on your website or blog
You can create different channels and upload your recordings in an organised way. This is particularly interesting if you want to create a channel for your students to upload their recordings.
There is an online version, which works pretty well with Windows but not so well with Mac, and a downloadable version which works with both PC and Mac.There is a free and a pro version, but I should say that the free version works just fine.
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.
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.tvdo 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.
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.
When I was a kid in my hometown, a little village in the north of Spain, there used to be a cinema. Not any more and not for a long time. In fact, it seems to me there are very few towns or even cities which still have a cinema and I’m not talking about the outdoor cinemas, which are so popular in summer, I am talking about the real thing. Cinemas with endless rows of seats smelling oldish and where the usher always told you off before you even got to your seat and started cracking up. I remember we didn’t get to see the latest films until they were 4 or 5 years old and then, they were not new any more as our friends from the capital city kindly reminded us rolling their eyes in disbelief when they came on holiday, but all the same it brings back very good memories. I must be getting old!
So today I’m sharing with you an engaging lesson with lots of activities around the theme of films and the cinema. Hope you enjoy it!
This lesson is aimed at students with a language level of B2 (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to films and the cinemathrough a variety of engaging activities which will help them improve listening, writing and speaking.
Activity 1. Warming-up. Learning and using vocabulary.
Display the word cloud and ask students to guess the topic. Click on the words you want to highlight and ask students to guess meanings and try to use them in a sentence. Alternatively, you can choose the latest box-office hit and ask students to give you a sentence about this film containing the targeted word.
Step 2. Mind mapping. Handout with vocabulary here
Ask students to work in pairs. Write on the board a mind map as the one below (give them only the words inside the circles) to help them revise vocabulary related to this thematic area. Allow them some minutes to complete their mind maps and get feedback from the whole class, completing the mind map on the board with their suggestions.
The class is divided into two groups. In turns, one member from each group sits on the Hot Chair facing away from the whiteboard. The members of their group have one minute to describe the film being displayed without mentioning the title ( that goes without saying, but just in case, I’m saying it). The aim is to guess as many films as possible in one minute. Then, it’s the other team’s turn.
They will need to talk about:
Kind of film/ Nationality of the film/ director/ plot/
♥The film ‘_______’ is a(n) _______ film which takes place in _______.
♥The film is set in __(ancient Greece)__.
♥The story is based on __(a popular novel)__.
♥The film is directed by _______.
♥The main character(s) in the film is/are _______.
♥_______ is a character who _______.
♥__(Johnny Depp)__ stars as __(Captain Sparks)__.
♥In the film, __(Jack Black)__ plays __(a rock guitarist). The story is about _______
♥The best scene of the film is_____
Activity 3. A listening : interview with Hitchcock talking about his film Psycho.
Ask students: What kind of films do you like? Do you have a favourite director?
Write on the board Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho and ask students if they know who he is and if they know any of his films. Students most probably will have heard about Hitchcock and seen some of his films, but in case they haven’t, tell them Hitchcock is considered “the master of suspense” and “Psycho”(1960) s is arguably Hitchcock’s best-known film.
Play the video and ask students to answer the questions. (Find the answers at the end of this post).
What’s Hitchcock’s opinion of films such as Frankenstein
What’s his idea of a horror film?
When he made Psycho, did he have a mind a horror film or an amusing film?
Was the film “Psycho” a very violent film? If not, why did it make people scream? Explain in your own words.
Activity 4. Speaking.
Ask students to work in pairs or in small groups and answer the following questions.
Activity 5. Writing a film review.
Handout with the task and useful vocabulary and expressions to use in your review.
What’s Hitchcock’s opinion of films such as Frankenstein?He thinks they are very easy to make and that they are props
What’s his idea of a horror film?
He believes in putting the horror in the mind of the audience and not necessarily on the screen.
When he made Psycho, did he have a mind a horror film or an amusing film?</li>
An amusing film
Was the film “Psycho” a very violent film? If not, why did it make people scream? Explain in your own words.
There is only one violent scene in the film, which is at the beginning when the girl is violently murdered in the shower. As the film developed, there is less and less violence. The horror and the tension are transferred to the mind of the viewers, which are the end of the film are screaming.
Tagul, Hot Potatoes, Picture Trail, Thematic
There are about 10 ideas for posts on my to-write list, but this is definitely a post I have meaning to write for a long time and that for some reason or another I never got around to writing it.
This post is not about English; it has nothing to do with vocabulary or grammar. It is just a post featuring two tools that might come in handy.
♥ KeepVid might prevent you from having a nervous breakdown when after spending Sunday afternoon preparing activities with content from You Tube or any other video site for the coming week, you find that Internet is not working. Sounds familiar? Of course, as well-seasoned teachers we can always resort to plan B or plan C, but isn’t it terribly frustrating?
Keep Vidis a handy tool for downloading video. As they advertise on their site:
Keep Video Downloader is a free web application that allows you to download videos from sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch.Tv, Vimeo, Dailymotion and many more. All you need is the URL of the page that has the video you want to download. Enter it in the textbox and simply click ‘Download’. KeepVid will then fetch download links in all possible formats that the particular site provides.
Remember that if you want to download videos from Facebook, you will need the url. You can get it by right-clicking on the video to get its hidden url.
♥ Downsub.As for the second useful tool, how handy could it be to have a tool that downloads subtitles from YouTube? Very!
Well, this is what http://downsub.com/ does for you. The only thing you need to do is enter the url and choose the language.
Hope this blog post has been helpful! Keep posted!
You might be wondering what a “flub” is. A flub is an embarrassing mistake or blunder and this is precisely the best word to describe what happened at this year’s Miss Universe pageant where Miss Colombia was by mistakenly crowned Miss Universe by host Steve Harvey.
Yes, I agree. Everybody makes mistakes, to err is human and stuff like that, but -hey Steve!- this one was just huge, enormous. It was a Himalayan blunder. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip and you wanted to crown Miss Colombia and thought nobody would notice!
Anyway, I feel bad for both misses, don’t you?
At the Golden Globes this year, the actor Jamie Foxx parodied this situation and this gives me the chance to have a look at the ways we can apologize in English. See? Every cloud has a silver lining!
Age group: any
Step 1.Watch the video and write down all the expressions Jamie Foxx uses to apologize. Check them at the end of this post.
Step 2. Speaking.Get students in groups of three or four and ask them to discuss the following questions
♥ What’s the worst mistake you’ve made at work/school and how did you deal with it?
♥ What is the biggest mistake you have ever made and what did you learn from it?
♥ Is it easy for you to admit that you have made a mistake or do you tend to blame others or circumstances for your mistakes?
Step 3.Do you know when to use excuse me, pardon (me), beg your pardon and sorry?
You usually use sorry to apologize after you have done something wrong. It is the simplest way to apologize.
If you want to be more polite, you can always use the longer version “I’m sorry”.
If you want to emphasize how sorry you are, you can use “I’m so /terribly/very/extremely/really sorry”.
If you want to say what you’re sorry for, you can say:
I am sorry I shouted at you
I am sorry about last night
I am sorry for being late
When you accidentally step on someone’s toe , you say ” I’m sorry” or just “Sorry”
When you bump into someone on the street, you say “Sorry”
When we hear bad news and we want to express our feelings, we say “ I am sorry to hear that.”
It is also used as a polite way of introducing disappointing information or bad news I’m sorry, but you have not passed the test
Used when you have said something that is not correct, and want to say something that is correct. For example: A synonym of large is small – sorry big!
Used when you disagree with someon. For example: I’m sorry but I can’t agree with you here.
when you want to interrupt someone. For example: Excuse me, I have a question.
When you want to call someone’s attention. For example: Excuse me,can I have the bill?
When you are trying to leave a room and someone is in your way
When you want ot ask for permission to do something , you might start with Excuse me, can I open the window?
Excuse me can also be used, especially in American English, when you have not heard or understood what someone has said. For example:You’re late.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘I said you’re late.’ ‘Oh, sorry.’
Speakers of British English usually use pardon when they have not heard or understood what soemone has said. For example: ‘My name is Timothy.’ ‘Pardon?
In American English, it is also possible to use pardon me in these situations.
In British English, you usually say pardon me when you have done something slightly impolite such as burping or sneezing. In American English, you usually say excuse me.
BEG YOUR PARDON
This expression is rather old-fashioned. It is used to apologize for doing something embarrassing or for making a mistake in what you have said
A synonym for big is small – beg your pardon- it’s large.
Do you like visiting places off the beaten track? Do you choose for your holidays unsual tourist destinations? Would you choose to visit Alcatraz, the famous penintentiary?
Alcatraz, also called The Rock, is an island and probably the most famous or maybe infamous prison in the world. Located in San Francisco, it is separated from the mainland by 2,5 kilometres of freezing water, strong currents, cold winds and high waves, which made it impossible to escape.
Gangster and mafia boss Al Capone was one of the best known residents in Alcatraz. As soon as he set foot in prison, he paid the guards to make his life comfortable while in prison. Below, a picture of his cell.
Would you like to know more about Alcatraz? Watch the video and test your comprehension with the exercise below. (video lasts 2:08)
This is my suggestion for Christmas homework and the kind that if I were a student , I would love to be given.
1. Word Games. Do you have five minutes to spare? Find your level and choose from these 13 addictive games. Click here
2. Watching Series. Do you like watching series? Go to ororo.tv, choose the series you’d like to see and watch an episode every day on this site. I am suggesting series and not films ’cause I hope you’ll get hooked on the series . The only catch is that you can only see an episode a day on this site. Click here
3. Listen to music, but not any kind of music; for this exercise listen to ballads , which are easier to understand. Listen to a song and concentrate on understanding the lyrics. Then, look up the lyrics online and sing along. I suggest singers such as the mighty Adele, Ed Sheeran or James Blunt. If you live in Spain, you can listen to radio stations such as Kiss FM.