Tag Archives: vocabulary

Sentence Betting: a Vocabulary Revision Game

I’m really happy to welcome  again Angeles Jimenez as guest writer on the blog. Ángeles is a friend and fellow teacher from EOI Oviedo with over 25 years’ experience teaching adults and, in this blog post, she will be sharing with us a fun engaging game to revise vocabulary.

The Sentence Betting  game is a vocabulary revision game which requires students to recognize, correct and explain vocabulary related to the topic of work. It’s highly adaptable to any semantic field and it’s a great game to review vocabulary as end-of-unit activity and usually a lot more fun than the typical course book review.

Level: This game in particular works best with C1 students since there are difficult expressions B2 students haven’t studied yet.

Preparation: Prepare a worksheet for students to check for word-usage mistakes related to the topic of work. Include correct sentences in a random order.

Time: about 45 minutes

Materials:

  • A sentence betting worksheet (see handout).
  • Fake money or poker chips (optional). You can download play money here

How to play:

1. Divide the class in teams of 4 students. If you want to play with bigger groups, split each group into two teams.

2. Give each team a handout of the betting sheet. Allow them 10 minutes to go down  the list of sentences to decide and mark which one is either correct or incorrect.

They need to put a tick or a cross and bet a sum of money between 1$ and 5$ depending on how confident they feel about their answer.

3. The auction. Call sentences aloud one by one and ask each team to bet a sum of money stating whether they think is correct or incorrect. Display the answer on the screen. Ask students to fill in the 3rd column with the amount won or lost.

For example, if a pair of students bet 5$ on a sentence because they believe it’s true and they’re correct, then they win 5$. But if they get it wrong, then they lose that sum.

Students add up the figures both plus and minus. The winner is the team with the most money at the end.

Once a team has won the bet by correctly saying that a sentence is wrong, they have the chance to double their money again by correcting it.

Remind students that once the game starts you will limit the amount of time they have to decide if the sentences are right or wrong.

Variation: If you want to build up excitement, divide each group into two teams appointing a spokesperson, who will be in charge of reading each sentence aloud and giving the correct answer after each bet.

Tip: if you want to keep the activity fast-paced, it may be better to play in teams as poor pronunciation will slow down the game.

I’m Shamelessly Addicted to this Game

Yes. It’s true. I love this game. It’s just the right kind challenge for someone studying English.

The game is called Fluent and this is how it works:

  • There are 20 different trivia categories all dealing with grammar and vocabulary.
  • You’ll have to answer each question before you run out of time.
  • You have 3 lives.
  • You’ll need to answer 5 questions correctly to go to the next level.
  • As you level up, you are given less time to answer.
  • You can play it pairs (or 2 teams) and the winner is  the top scorer after 8 questions.

Ready for some fun, a bit of challenge and lots of learning. Here we go, then!

Click on the picture.

fluent

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Quiz: Word of the Year 2016 and 15 New Words Added to Dictionaries

After much discussion Oxford Dictionaries has decided to choose the adjective “post-truth” as its Word of the Year 2016. The adjective means ”relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” and although it has existed for a decade now, this year has seen a spike in its use due, mainly, to the referendum in the United Kingdom and the US elections.

Some common collocations for the adjective are:

  • post-truth politics
  • post-truth age
  • post-truth era
  • post-truth democracy
  • post-truth society

The term, closely associated with the noun“post-truth politics” has been chosen ahead of terms such as “Brexiteer” (someone who supports the Brexit) and “alt-right”, (group of people with far right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in the United States).

I would gladly explain and elaborate a bit more on this adjective, but it isn’t worth the effort as Oxford Dictionaries has published a beautiful explanatory article giving all the details. You can read it here.

I’m not going to lie. This week has been tough for a multiple of reasons, and believe it or not, one of the things that brought a smile to my face was designing this little quiz with all the new words added to dictionaries this year. To be honest, I didn’t know most of them and learning what they meant and inventing false definitions for the quiz was something I really enjoyed.

So, without further ado, here’s the quiz. I hope you enjoy it!

Some Personality Adjectives Spanish Speakers can Easily Remember & Why

Do you speak Spanish? Then, it’s your lucky day today! Why? Because without you being aware of it, you know lots of personality adjectives in English. Unfortunately, in most cases, you’ll  still have to learn the Germanic equivalent if you want to sound informal, but we are off to a good start and besides, sometimes we all want to sound a bit more academic, don’t we?

A bit of history first.

Why does English have so many words of Latin origin?

Although some of the most frequent used words in English have Germanic roots, there are lots of words in English that have Latin origins.

This is due to the fact that during the Renaissance period, which started in France but reached England via France, there were a lot of new ideas or old ideas rediscovered. The problem was that there were no words to describe them in English, so the language adopted or adapted Latin words. In fact, during this period the English lexicon is said to have doubled in size.

What is more, for more than a century, the English aristocracy couldn’t speak any English. William the Conqueror had conquered England (1066) but he didn’t speak the language and although he tried at first, he very soon gave up. He was the first Norman King of England and all the barons he appointed spoke French. But not only did the aristocracy speak French, the religious institutions also spoke French. And that’s the reason why Latin words sound more prestigious than Germanic ones.

About 10,000 French words entered English in the century after the Norman invasion.

It was not until 1204 that the English nobility lost their estates in France and it is then when they started to adopt English as their language, but the Latin form coexisted with the Germanic one.

So, English has a huge number of synonyms, where the main difference is the level of formality, being the prestigious form the Latin option.

Think for example of the adjectives friendly, motherly or clever and their synonyms amicable, maternal and intelligent where the difference is the level of formality, being the Latin choice the most formal one.

So, these are some of the adjectives to describe personality you didn’t know you knew. Warning: spelling sometimes is different. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Source: Oxford Dictionary blog

At the end of the list, you’ll find a spelling quiz .

PERSONALITY ADJECTIVES SPANISH PEOPLE CAN EASILY REMEMBER

  • Responsible /rɪˈspɒn.sə.bəl/
  • Rebellious /rɪˈbel.i.əs/
  • Emotional /ɪˈməʊ.ʃəəl/
  • Anxious /ˈæŋk.ʃəs/
  • Strict /strɪkt/
  • Adventurous /ədˈven.tʃəəs/
  • Affable /ˈæf.ə.bəl/
  • Calm/kɑːm/
  • Considerate /kənˈsɪd.əət/
  • Ambitious /æmˈbɪʃ.əs/
  • Generous /ˈdʒen.əəs/
  • Sociable /ˈsəʊ.ʃə.bəl/
  • Creative /kriˈeɪ.tɪv/
  • Diplomatic /ˌdɪp.ləˈmæt.ɪk/
  • Intellectual /ˌɪn.təlˈek.tʃu.əl/
  • Intelligent /ɪnˈtel.ɪ.dʒənt/
  • Passionate /ˈpæʃ.əət/
  • Persistent /pəˈsɪs.tənt/
  • Practical /ˈpræk.tɪ.kəl/
  • Romantic /rəʊˈmæn.tɪk/
  • Competitive /kəmˈpet.ɪ.tɪv/
  • Aggressive /əˈɡres.ɪv/
  • Insecure /ˌɪn.sɪˈkjʊər/
  • Impatient /ɪmˈpeɪ.ʃənt/
  • Patient/ˈpeɪ.ʃənt/
  • Immature /ˌɪm.əˈtʃʊər
  • Mature/məˈtʃʊər/
  • Affectionate /əˈfek.ʃəət/
  • Independent /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.dənt/
  • Stupid /ˈstjuː.pɪd/
  • Honest /ˈɒn.ɪst/
  • Organized /ˈɔː.ɡəaɪzd/
  • Imaginative /ɪˈmædʒ.ɪ.nə.tɪv/
  • Conservative /kənˈsɜː.və.tɪv/
  • Conventional /kənˈven.ʃəəl/
  • Cruel/ˈkruː.əl/
  • Extrovert /ˈek.strə.vɜːt/
  • Introvert /ˈɪn.trə.vɜːt/
  • Modest /ˈmɒd.ɪst/

On the hand, be careful with these “false friends”.

  • Sensible /ˈsen.sə.bəl/= someone who has common sense and is practical
  • Sensitive /ˈsen.sɪ.tɪv/ = a person who is easily hurt or offended
  • Sympathetic /ˌsɪm.pəˈθet.ɪk/= someone who understands other people’s feelings

Here’s a little spelling quiz.

10 Games and Activities to Practise Personality Adjectives.

Ten entertaining ways to  practise personality adjectives with activities for all ages and levels. In this post, you’ll find listening,writing, speaking activities and games to help students master this vocabulary.

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This is me.  

Ask students to work in pairs and write down as many personality adjectives as they can in two minutes.

On the board write three columns: positive, negative and neutral adjectives and ask students to provide adjectives for the three columns. Have students choose one adjective from each column to describe their personality and in pairs talk about how these adjectives they have chosen are representative of their personality. Ask students to elaborate on their answers and provide examples to support their choice of adjectives.

Roleplays
Prepare cards with a personality trait written on it (talkative, cheerful, arrogant, stubborn, immature, possessive…etc). Give students a card telling them this is their personality. Pair up students and ask them to start a conversation and act the way the card says until their partner guesses what adjective they were given. Ask students for example to talk about buying a present for the teacher or deciding on what do at the weekend.

Reading your signature.

What does your signature say about you? According to handwriting analysts, signatures reveal a lot about your personality.

  1. Ask students to write the sentence Write soon on a piece of paper and then sign under the sentence.
  2. Ask them to work in pairs and look at their partner’s signature and explain what it means. See interpretation here
  3. Ask them to discuss whether they agree with their partner’s interpretation and why or why not.

What’s your job?

Research has shown that different personality traits tend to have distinct preferences in their choice of careers. On the board write the jobs below. Ask students in pairs to choose five and discuss what personality types the jobs would attract and why. Then discuss their choices with another pair:

Tax inspector    Teacher      politician     computer programmer   librarian

Actor    fashion model    psychologist   entrepreneur   judge

Acting out

Prepare cards with personality adjectives. Divide the class into 2 teams. For each team’s turn, set a time (1 minute).

On the board write the sentence: I want to go to the cinema tomorrow.

Team 1 begins and choose a player to sit at the front of the class. The player draws a card and acts out the phrase according to the adjective on the card. When the team guesses correctly, he can draw another card. He continues until the time is up. The timer is set again for the other team, and turns continue until all the slips are gone. Count the slips and give those points to their teams.

Quotes.

On the walls of the class stick the following quotes. Students in threes stand up and discuss what the quote means and whether they agree or disagree with them.

  • Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Bruce Lee.
  • It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not. André Gide. 
  • If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am
  • Beauty attracts the eye but personality captures the heart.
  • Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
  • It’d never too late for what you might have been. George Elliot.

 

Guess who. A speaking or writing activity.

Speaking. Before the class, prepare a set of pictures of famous people with very clear personality traits. For this activity the students are sitting in pairs, one student (A) facing the board and the other (B) with his back to the board. Display the photo of a celebrity and ask student A to describe this person in general terms focusing on his personality.

Writing. Before the class, prepare a collage with pictures of famous people with very clear personality traits. Ask students to write a description of one of them focusing on their personality without saying their names. Descriptions are read aloud and students will need to determine the identity of the person being described.

The four big questions.

Tell students you’re going to analyse their personality by asking them four key questions to which they should answer using three adjectives for each question. Adjectives cannot be repeated.
1. Choose a colour, the first colour that comes to mind.
Once you have that colour, list three adjectives that describe it.

2. Choose an animal, the first animal that comes to mind.
Once you have selected an animal, list three adjectives that describe it.

3. Choose a body of water like a river, ocean, sea, or lake. Once you have chosen a body of water, list three adjectives that describe it.

4. Let’s say you are in a white room with no windows no doors, list three emotions that you are feeling.

When you are done answering those questions, highlight the following to get your results: your colour represents what you think of yourself, the animal represents what you think of other people, the body of water represents your love life, and the white room represents what you will feel like when you are about to die.

Birth order

Do you think birth order has any influence on our personality?

Ask students to work in groups of 4. Tell them they are going to see a video where personality is related to birth order. Assign each person in the group the task of writing down information they can gather from the video about either first borns, middle children, last borns or only children.

Whole class discussion. Starting with “first-borns”, write on the board all the information the students learnt from the video. Start a class discussion where first borns in the class will say whether they agree or disagree with the content in the video. Repeat procedure for middle children, last borns and only children.

 

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe. also known as noughts and crosses or Xs and Os is a game for two players, X and O, who take turns marking the spaces in a 3×3 (3×4 in this game) grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

In this game, to place their mark they’ll need to talk for about two minutes about the question in the box.

 

 

 

Spinning the Wheel: an Engaging and Productive Speaking Activity.

This is a very simple communicative activity that works wonders because it is highly engaging, students love it and it is very productive. It takes 2 minutes to create and it is adaptable to any topic of discussion and suitable for all levels.

 

Aim: activating new vocabulary through discussion questions.

Levels: all

PROCEDURE.

  1. Easy peasy! Just go to wheeldecide.com and fill in one wheel with the target vocabulary and another one with the questions you want your students to discuss.
  2. Students in pairs
  3. Spin the wheel containing the questions and then, the wheel containing the word/ expression you want your students to use when answering the question.
  4. Student A has 2 minutes to talk about the question and use the target vocabulary. If he does, he scores a point.
  5. Spin the wheels again. It’s student B’s turn.

NOTE: When creating the wheel, go to the advanced section to choose colour and whether you want the option to be removed after it is landed on or not.

 

 

If you are a student and you’re preparing for exams or studying on your own, you probably have your own studying strategies, but I invite you to try this new one. I’m sure you’ll find it engaging and productive.

I ‘d like to thank Cristina Serafim for bringing wheeldecide to my attention.

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Rewordify: a Free Online Tool to Simplify Difficult English

Today I want to share with you an amazing free online tool which has a lot of potential for learning English.

Rewordify simplifies difficult English and helps you understand what you read.

How this tool works

  • Go to Rewordify.com
  • Enter sentences or whole paragraphs difficult to understand into the yellow box at the top of the page. You can also enter a web site URL.
  • Click Rewordify text and you’ll instantly see an easier version of the text providing clear, easy-to-understand definitions. (see picture below)
  • The reworded words are highlighted in yellow— click them to hear and learn the original harder word.
  • You can also click the non-highlighted words to read their definition.
  • Click the Print button and choose the type of printout you want. You can print the original text, the rewordified one, vocabulary lists with definitions and without them, a word bank quiz, a standard quiz or a difficult one… etc (see picture below)
  • By clicking the Parts of Speech button you’ll see nine part of speech categories (see picture below).You can turn on and turn off the highlighting of each part of speech by the words in the header. For example, if you only want the nouns and verbs highlighted, click all other parts of speech in the header

You don’t even have to register but if you free register:

  1. You can change how the highlighting works to match the way you learn
  2. Store, edit and delete your documents
  3. Share your documents
  4. Save vocabulary lists

Up for a little game?

And if after working hard on vocabulary you still feel up for a little challenge, Rewordify has created two word games for you

  • Reword where you’ll have to select the correct definition for the hardest words in English, as fast as you can.
  • Difficult Hangman. An old favourite but with hard words.

Thanks for reading!

Quiz Challenge: 30 Common Phrasal Verbs that you Really Need to Know

Can we still be friends if today’s post is on phrasal verbs?

I know, I know, I’ve been a student, too. I know what you’re thinking. How, for goodness sake, one is supposed to learn that a car pulls in/off/over/out/up/away and into something and be expected not to make a mistake?

When I was a student at university, they made us learn like two thousand phrasal verbs or maybe more. I cannot remember exactly how many, but what I do remember is that I had them sellotaped  -sticky notes hadn’t been invented yet- on the walls of every single room in the flat I was sharing. I am pretty sure my flatmates entertained the idea of asking me to leave, especially when they heard me enter a room, point at the wall and recite the list, but I am pretty sure they learned a phrasal verb or two.

Anyway, I am not planning to ask my students to memorise long lists of phrasal verbs out of context. There are more pleasant ways to learn them, aren’t there?

This quiz below is a good example of that. According to Roy Norris, author of Ready for First, Ready for Advanced and Straightforward (advanced) among others, these are the 30 most common phrasal verbs in English.

Do you have any others to add to the list?

 

This is how I suggest you work with the quiz:

  • Do the quiz
  • Once you have finished doing it, try to remember which phrasal verbs were tested and write them down on a piece of paper together with their meaning.
  • Do the quiz once again and compare your written answers with the ones given in the quiz.
  • Write down the ones you didn’t know. Look them up in a good dictionary and read the example sentences to see how they are used in context.
  • Try the quiz again some other day to consolidate knowledge.

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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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Did you know… What’s the weather like? or How is the weather?

Officially it’s still spring, but here in the north of Spain it seems the summer has arrived. So, while some people are already kind of brown and wearing colourful garments, I am still hidden under layers of dark clothes looking like a stuffed sausage and crazy busy 🙂 checking exams.

Talking about the weather seems to be a favourite topic of conversation,but not only for British people. Every foreigner I’ve met, no matter the nationality, eventually talks about the weather.

Do you talk about the weather?  Isn’t it true that when talking to people you have just met to simply start a conversation and avoid the I-don’t-know-what-to-say embarrassing moment, we talk about the weather?

So, how do you ask about the weather? Choose the correct answer

  1. What’s the weather like?
  2. How’s the weather?
  3. Both

The correct answer is c.

There is not much difference between these two questions when talking about the weather. Either of these is used in every day English. Some people might argue that “What’s the weather like in Spain?” asks for a more detailed description of the usual  weather in Spain, whereas “How’s the weather in Spain?” would be more casual and  would get “Good/Bad/Rainy” as an answer .

The truth is that asking these two questions will almost always get you the same answer.

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