Fun Lively Communicative Game to Reinforce I Wish/If Only

Who doesn’t welcome a bit of fun in the classroom, a light getting-out-of-your-seat activity? I can see no raised hands?  Right, we are all in for this game!!!

Before you continue reading. For this activity, you will need to have space in your classroom, which I don’t. Even though my class is U-shaped, it is still a small class. But, no problem.  Right outside my class, there is a big aisle where we can do this little activity and perhaps, who knows,  some students from other classes might want to join us. The more, the merrier.

We can do this game in two different ways or in both ways. Actually,  I did first Part 1 and then Part 2. Both equally effective.

Before the game: on the board revise the grammar for I Wish/ If Only.

The Game:

Ask students to form a big circle leaving the most space in the middle. They don’t have to hold hands or be excessively close to each other as long as they form a big circle and everybody can see everybody else.

This is how it works:

Part 1. The teacher asks a question containing I wish/ if only.

Shout the first question; for example, Who wishes they were rich? and instruct all the students whose answer is Yes to come into the middle of the circle and there, in pairs or threes, briefly explain their answers. Allow one or two minutes’ conversation and then, ask them to go back to their positions. Encourage them to use the target grammar in their answers.
What do students whose answer is No do? Easy answer: the same. The will need to pair up with the student who is closest to them explaining their answer.

These are the questions I have used. You are welcome to use them.

  • Who wishes they were abroad right now?
  • Who wishes they had a bigger car?
  • Who wishes they had studied harder when they were at school?
  • Who wishes they were thinner or fatter, taller or shorter?
  • Who wishes their neighbours were nicer people?
  • Who wishes they had a different English teacher? 😊
  • Who wishes they had chosen a different profession?
  • Who wishes they had a more positive attitude towards life?
  • Who wishes they could live to be a hundred?
  • Who wishes they could be president of their countries for just one day?
  • Who wishes they had more time to socialize?
  • Who wishes they had had more siblings?
  • Who wishes they had been born in another century?
  • Who wishes they had been born a member of the opposite sex?
Part 2. The students produce the sentences. The High-Five.

I have called this part The High Five. Still standing and forming a circle, ask students to think of a sentence about themselves they think people will easily relate to using I wish/ if only.

Students take it in turns to say their sentence aloud and at the same time move into the centre of the circle.  Anybody who feels the same way moves to the centre of the circle and gives a High-five to the person in the centre of the circle who has said the sentence.

Same procedure as above. In pairs or in 3’s ask them to briefly discuss their answer.

You can start by moving to the centre of the circle and saying:
I wish I could pass my English test ( Note: your hands will hurt from all the high fives you’ll get with this sentence)

Discourage sentences that might be too personal or too specific like
I wish my mother had come with me on that trip.

Remember that it is important to model first and give clear instructions so that students know what they have to do. You want everybody participating and nobody slowing the game down or feeling uncomfortable because they haven’t understood what they need to do. If necessary, use concept check questions( CCQ) to make sure everybody knows what to do.

Revising and Consolidating Vocabulary: No-Prep Fun Strategies

Before we dive into the content of the post today, I’d like for you to know a surprising fact about me. I love traditional teaching. Yes, chalk and board. I say “surprising” because if you have been reading this blog for a while, you will have probably noticed how often I incorporate technology in my lessons. True. I love surprising my students with a new idea to revise, learn or consolidate learning using a digital tool, but I absolutely also adore surprising them with an exercise where the only help is their mind, their classmates and occasionally their teacher.

If I combine both traditional and digital learning, then it’s just my dream lesson. And this is what you’ll find on this post, the traditional Cristina and an updated version of myself. Which one do I love best? That, I still need to decide.

B2 students revising vocabulary

  • Aim: revise and consolidate vocabulary in a communicative way.
  • Levels. B1 upwards

Although the ideas below work better for a topic-based lesson- in my case it was used to revise food-related terms-, I think it might also work to revise random vocabulary as long as you specify which vocabulary you want to revise.

Step 1: Standing Up 

That’s probably one of my favourite ways to revise the vocabulary learnt the previous days.  My students already know me, so when I say: “please, stand up”, they already know what is coming and automatically, it brings a smile to their faces.

Instructions: students need to come up with a food-related term from the ones studied in the unit. They take it turns to say their word and I repeat it loud enough for all the class to hear it. This also gives me a good chance to repeat the word that might have been occasionally mispronounced.

A student sits down, ie. is eliminated,  if…

  • he cannot come up with a word
  • if another student has already said the word
  • if he cannot come up with a word in 10 seconds.

Big applause for the last person to remain standing and one of the sweets I keep in my candy box.

Step 2: Using Slips of Paper. Moving around the class.

Once terms and pronunciation have been revised, it’s time to work on meaning.

  1. Give students a slip of paper. I use old photocopies printed only on one side and cut them lengthwise. You should get two slips of paper per copy.
  2. Ask them to write two terms they would like to revise. Encourage them to write big enough to see the words from a distance (Note: this is unnecessary but I find the bigger their letters are, the easier it is to understand their handwriting). Once they have done so, ask them to make sure they know how to define them. Also, help with pronunciation.
  3. Ask students to stand up. The desks in my class form a U so I tell them to move to the centre of the class. Students choose a partner and they take it turns to define their words for the other student to guess/revise. Before they move on to find a new partner, they swap cards. This is a very important step as once they swap, they will need to define/revise other words.

After 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the number of students, students sit down, Ask them to keep the last slip of paper they have defined.

Step 3:  Asking Open-Ended questions. 

Now, this is the part where I use technology and one of my favourite tools to get feedback. But, let’s go step by step.

a. Writing the questions

Students sit down. Ask them to write down an open-ended question using one of the words on their slip of paper. Tell them some of the questions will be chosen to do a speaking activity. Encourage them to write questions related to the topic, in my case food.

Questions are difficult in English so walk around the room helping students.

b. Using  Mentimeter.com to get feedback

As I mentioned above, this tool is one of my favourites to get feedback.

It takes less than 30 seconds to set up the task.

  • Go to mentimeter.com
  • Choose the open-ended slide
  • Click on Present and  display the slide with the OHP
  • Ask students to take out their mobiles and go to menti.com
  • Give them the code
  • Ask them to write their questions and submit them

Once their questions are displayed, correct possible grammar mistakes and choose 6 or 8  to be discussed in pairs or in groups of 3.

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson.

Teach and have fun!

Food for Thought Issues. A lesson about Food for B2 students

February is a short month. First round of exams is over and I need to concentrate on preparing my students to take standardized exams. I am beginning to feel the pressure. OMG! It’s only February and I  am already a bit stressed out. Will I make it to the end of the course with all my wits about me? Highly unlikely!

So, next topic on my list is Food and Nutrition and all the subtopics around it, which are …like a lot.

What you will see in this post is an example of how I prepare my students to take oral exams.

  • Revision and introduction of vocabulary-related terms
  • Listening Comprehension Activity: Food waste
  • Pronunciation Activity: Organic Food No More Nutritious
  • Speaking Activity through Reading passages with Follow-up Questions
  • Mediation Activities

Continue reading Food for Thought Issues. A lesson about Food for B2 students

A new Presentation Tool+ Speaking Exams for B2

It’s been raining for one week straight here in Asturias and it doesn’t seem to get any better next week. And while I don’t especially hate the rain, it’s beginning to get inconvenient. Lots of rain means floods and floods mean flooded roads and … well, I could go on and on but I don’t want you to picture me as an old fuddy-duddy.

But, I’m going to be frank and tell you that the more it rains, the less I go out. No worries. This just suits me fine right now, as I have had piles of written exams to mark and a bunch of workshops to prepare. I haven’t finished. It’s Sunday and I’m still working.

Anyway, work is never work when you are having fun and trying and testing new tools is fun for me.

Today, I want to show a fantastic presentation tool  Beautiful. Al with amazing templates which I have been using for some time now.

Things I like about this presentation tool:

  • It is very visual and user-friendly
  • It is free
  • It has a large variety of ready-made very original templates to please everybody
  • It has an image library, so it’s very easy to find the photos you need
  • It is a collaborative tool. You can add collaborators to your presentation and give them permissions to edit the presentation or just view it.
  • You can export it to PDF, PowerPoint or JPEG

The presentation you will find below is not a good example of all the possibilities this presentation tool offers, but this is the one I needed to do today. Two more  presentations follow where you will be able to see more examples of the  templates available,

 

Top 3 Amazing Video Lesson Websites with Downloadable Worksheets

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel up to creating material from scratch for my classes. The reasons vary from feeling too tired to even open my laptop to an absolute lack of inspiration.
Thank goodness, there are always people out there making our lives as teachers so much easier and generously giving away their work for free. Just for the taking.
In this post, I want to share with you three of my favourite sites for working with video clips and I also want, and need, to thank the people behind these three awesome sites that not only handpick the best video clips and sort them out according to level and topic, but also offer free worksheets that make my life as a teacher so much simpler.

These three are keepers. Don’t forget to bookmark them.

 

ESL Brains

Owned by a couple of teachers from Poland, this amazing website offers video-based lessons for level B1, B2 and C1 for free. Right now, they are looking for financial help and offer extra material if you support them by becoming a “patron”.
For my next lesson on Housing with B2 students, I am going to use this video lesson, which comes complete with the downloadable student’s version, teacher’s version and even an extra warm-up exercise.

TedEd

It’s not the first time I have written about TedEd, owned by the popular platform TED.

TedEd is a collection of original animated videos lessons. You can choose by subject and view the video in class or assign it as homework. Every video is accompanied by a lesson with multiple choice questions that check your general comprehension. If your answers are wrong, you can always check with the video hint. There is also a Think section with questions that further explore the topic.

For teachers, one of the most powerful features is the Customize your Lesson area, where you can customize the lesson by editing the title, giving your own instructions, selecting or deselecting multiple choice questions…etc.

This is a lesson I have customized for my students. I have used the video clip Questions No One Knows the Answer To to give my students some practice using Reported Speech Questions. You can see my lesson here

Lessonstream

Last, but not least, is the fabulous site Jamie Keddie owns and runs with an amazing collection of video activities. On this website, you can choose by level, topic, time and many other options which help the teacher or the student find the perfect lesson in two shakes.

A downloadable worksheet is offered with every lesson. Again, for free.

 

Lesson Plan: Save Mother Earth

Hey! How’s the new year treating you?

Question for you. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Or let me rephrase it, have you announced to friends and family that you are finally going to hit the gym, eat fewer carbs and give up smoking? Have you? Sorry to be the party pooper here. Statistics say that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. I am definitely part of the 92%. What about you?

However, I have made a New Year’s resolution. It’s the same I made last year. I am going to try to reuse single-use disposable plastic bags when I do my daily shopping. Last year,  I even went as far as putting a bunch of these bags in the boot of my car. There they are. Exactly in the same place. This year I am going to try again. I am really going to try. It’s not that I don’t want to. I really want to do my part. It’s just that I forget. So, I am considering moving the bags to the front seat. It might work. What do you think?

That’s what I’m eco-guilty of. What about you? What is your darkest eco-sin?

The lesson today 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 learn vocabulary and  improve listening, speaking and writing.

Introducing the Topic: Playing Hangman. Vocabulary and Speaking

Aim: Introduce some common vocabulary and to work on pronunciation.

On the board, write the word “Environment” and drill pronunciation.

Divide the class into two or three groups, depending on the number of students in your class.

  • Team A starts saying one letter. Whether they guess right or wrong, the turn goes now to Team B who will say another letter.
  • To try to guess the hidden word, a member of the team will need to stand up and say. “We know!”. If they guess right, they score 1 point. If they don’t, the other team can say up to two letters before anybody tries to guess again.
  • Note: they can only attempt to guess the word once half the letters have been guessed. For this, before each game, you will have to count the number of gaps. For example, if the word contains 8 letters, they can only guess when 4 letters have been filled.

There are four words and expressions to be learnt or revised with this exercise. After they have guessed the words, ask them a question where the target word is used in context. You might need to introduce some new vocabulary at this stage.

  1. Environment: What do you do to help the environment?
  2. Global warming: How do you feel when you hear about global warming?
  3. Recycle: Do you recycle? What kind of things do you recycle?
  4. Renewable energies: Do you know what renewable energies are? Do you use any of them? Why? Why not?
Leaning Vocabulary
  • Drill pronunciation as you teach the words and then flip the cards to see how they are used in context. Do this exercise twice.
  • Reinforcement: there are 24 terms here. Ask students in pairs to write in two minutes as many as they can remember.

<

Listening. School Strike for Climate Change

In this inspiring thought-provoking talk, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses the world leaders demanding they act against climate change.

Ask students to take down notes from Greta’s talk and then in pairs talk about the most important ideas in her speech.

Encourage the use of vocabulary.

Three Speaking  Activities
  1. Gallery Walk. Thought-provoking Posters with a Humorous Twist. Giving a Monologue.

Posters here

  • Put the posters containing environmental issues up on the walls of the class.
  • Ask students to stand up, tour the gallery and choose a poster they would like to talk about for about 4 minutes.
  • Ask students to stand next to the poster they would like to talk about.
  • Arrange students in groups of three, being careful to mix students doing different posters.
  • Ask students to sit down and give them 3 minutes to prepare their speeches. Encourage the use of specific vocabulary.
  • Students, in their groups, gallery walk stopping next to the posters they have chosen and delivering their speeches.

 

2. Speaking: Pictures with prompts. Monologues.

Pair students up. Give each of them a speaking task. Allow them 2 minutes to prepare their monologue and ask them to speak for about four minutes.

Student A

Student B

Oral and Written Mediation

Oral Mediation

PDF 1  PDF 2

Context: A friend of yours from New Zealand, who until two weeks ago lived for 20 years in a monastery in Bhutan, has decided to pay you a visit. He doesn’t speak the language and besides, knows nothing of the real world we live in.

Student A. He shows you this infographic but needs help to understand it.  Choose two or three ideas and explain what they mean.

Student B. He sees this cartoon in a newspaper and doesn’t understand it. Explain it to him.

Written Mediation

See the Task  here

Hope you have enjoyed the lesson!

Rise & Shine… and do some English Homework !

Dear students!

Hope the new year brings you everything you wish for.

As promised, this is your ” homework”.  I know it’s the same I gave you last year,  but my mind has completely switched off from work. I just hope yours hasn’t.

The Christmas Tree and how to go about it.

Choose a day and click on the animation below the day. A window will open up with the activity chosen for this day.

I hope you enjoy it! Merry Christmas!

Human Tac Toe to Revise Vocabulary

Shall I say Happy Christmas? When is the right time to start saying happy Christmas? Anyway,  I love that we are right in the hustle and bustle of the season. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and this is the perfect time to try a game I have been looking forward to doing with my students.

I know I post about games quite a bit, but I really believe students learn better when they are having fun.  Mark the word “learn” because playing without learning is a waste of time in my class. So, my students already know that after the game, there is going to be revising and reinforcing.

 

 

If you have been kind enough to be reading this blog for a time, you probably know I love Ellen DeGeneres’s games and I am always looking for a way to adjust them to my own context of teaching.

This is Ellen’s interpretation of the game  Tic Tac Toe (more info here). She calls it Hunk Tac Toe and you’ll just have to watch the video below to understand why she called it Hunk Tac Toe 🙂

After watching her more appealing version, you’ll read my own version. More humble and less visually appealing, but hey, we are trying to learn English here, aren’t we?

 

 

I have designed two variations of the game. One is funnier than the other. The funnier one requires more preparation but trust me when I say it pays off.

Preparation for both versions:

1. You will need to prepare a set of questions to revise the target vocabulary.

Ask simple questions of the type:

  • What do you call the person who…?
  • What’s the opposite of…?
  • Fill in the gap in this sentence….
  • How do you pronounce…?
  • How do you spell…?

2. In both versions, you’ll need to choose two students (student O and student X ) to play the game. Place a table at the front of the class and ask the two contestants to stand behind it facing the class. Students take turns marking the spaces in the 3×3 grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

 Funnier version:

Preparation: print nine Xs and nine Os. You can download them here

Procedure:

  • Ask 9 students to sit forming three rows of three students each forming a 3×3 human grid. (see the pic above)
  • Give each of these students an X and an O
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts playing. Let’s say Student X starts playing.
  • Student X chooses a student in the grid. Let’s say, Ana.
  • Ask Ana a question from the ones you have previously prepared. If she answers correctly, she will hold the X, if she doesn’t answer correctly, then no letter will be displayed.
  • Now it’s Student O’s turn to choose another student. Again, if he answers correctly he will display the O letter if not, no letter will be displayed
  • The winner will be the student who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row.

 

Less funny version, but also fun.

  • Choose the two students who are going to play the game.
  • On the board draw a 3×3 grid and fill it with students’ names (see picture above)
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts the game.
  • Student X or O chooses a student from the grid.
  • Follow the same procedure as above.

Tip: I have played the game twice. The first time I used the less funny version and then I went for the funnier one. The combination worked just awesome!

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

The Art of Persuasion: Speaking Exam Practice for B2

My friends say about me that I am very easily convinced. I am easy, that’s what they say.  I guess they know it’s easy to seduce me into doing things that I like, but I reckon they know that it’s not so easy to talk me into doing something I don’t really want to do. So, I let them think it’s a piece of cake to win me over. They are happy and so am I.  It’s also very true that once I make up my mind, it’s hard to talk me out of doing it and that I am not easily put off by setbacks. For better or for worse, that’s the kind of girl I am. Easy to persuade but hard to dissuade.

1. Working with vocabulary.

In the introduction to the post above, I have highlighted some verbs. Can you tell me which ones are used for persuasion and which ones for dissuasion?

Now, do this exercise to consolidate learning

2. Warming-up. Speaking

Choose the statements you agree with:

  • I am good at persuading people
  • You talk to me enough, you can convince me to do anything
  • I will never lie or exaggerate to persuade someone
  • My parents or my friends just keep on talking and eventually I agree with them
3. Working with Functional Language

The list you’ll find below is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the language you can use in this context, it’s just a selection of some of the functional language  I want my students to use in this speaking activity.

Before you start the role play, make sure students are confident with the language they’ll have to use.

 Expressions used to make suggestions:

  • Might I suggest…?
  • Shall I/we…?
  • Why don’t you/we….?
  • I suggest that you… / I suggest+…ing
  • We should….

Expressions used to offer alternatives

  • Instead of … ing
  • Wouldn’t you prefer to….?

Expressions used for reassuring

  • You don’t have to worry about…
  • I can assure you that…
  • I guarantee you won’t (regret it)

Expressions used for dissuading

  • I wouldn’t bother about that.
  • I (would strongly) advise (you) against …ing

 

4. Speaking task

Holiday in Scotland.  Explain that they are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend but they don’t seem to agree on the kind of holiday to book. They will need to discuss the options and try to come to an agreement.

Students work in pairs to develop the role-play based on the information given to them on their corresponding handout. If there are three students in the group, the third one could be the travel agent.

Tell students they will need to talk for about 5 minutes and try to reach an agreement at the end of the conversation.

Student A

Bed and Breakfast and drive:  you are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend. You think the best idea is to hire a car and drive, staying at bed and breakfasts/guests houses.

Student B

Package holiday in Scotland:  you are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend. You think the best idea is to go on a package holiday, staying at hotels and going on organized excursions to the most famous places.

Credit: This speaking task has been inspired by a task published by Conselleria D’Educació- Generalitat Valenciana. 

PDF here

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

I am going to be honest here and tell you that although I love Asturias and have always lived here, I miss the light.  Whenever it gets cold and blustering outside, whenever I look through my window at 6 pm and see darkness outside, the number one thing that I always crave is travelling to a place where it’s summer and the days are long and sunny and bright. I dream. I daydream.

So, almost winter in Spain. Time to talk about holidays.

Have a look at these two sentences. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

Let’s find out!

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

TRAVEL
  • As a verb: “travel” is normally used as a verb. It is used to refer to the general activity of moving from place to place

I travel to work by car

  • As a noun: “travel” as a noun is normally uncountable

The pass allows unlimited travel on all public transport in the city.

As it’s uncountable, things such as “ I had a nice travel” are wrong

Note: although uncountable, sometimes “travel” can be used in the plural

This exhibition reflects scenes and inspiration from his travels at home and abroad.

The novel is based on her travels in Asia

More common collocations associated with the noun “travel” are

  • Travel expenses
  • Travel agency
  • The travel industry
  • Travel sickness
  • A travel bag
  • Air travel
JOURNEY
  • “Journey” is also usually used as a noun. It means the time when you travel from one place to another. The emphasis is on the travelling itself, it does not refer to the time you stay there.

It was a long and difficult journey  through the mountains 
      I read during the train journey to work. 
      Did you have a good journey? 

 

TRIP
  • “Trip” is used as a noun and it’s countable. A “trip” is when you go on a short journey, or a journey you do not usually make, and come back again. We use this when the emphasis is on where you are going or why you are going there. The time you stay there is important.

         It was my first trip to the States
I am going on a business trip
Was it a good trip? 

Let’s go back to our two sentences at the beginning of this post. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

They are incorrect.

  1. “travel” is uncountable, you cannot use the indefinite article “a” with it. The correct sentence would be. “Have a safe journey”
  2. It’s incorrect because the focus is only on the travelling itself, we are not interested in where you are going or what you are going to do there, only on the duration. The correct sentence would be: ” The journey by train took two hours”.

Ready for some exercises now?

Drag and drop the sentences in the right column