The Golden Minute: a 1-Minute Revision Game

It’s a gorgeous spring day here, in Asturias. My classes end tomorrow, and before I find it impossible to resist the siren call of a full shift to summer mode, I wanted to tell you about one last fun, fast-paced pandemic-era game I have adapted from one game I heard on the radio.

Does it happen to you? Every time I see a  new game in a TV show or listen to a game on the radio, I am like a dog on alert, ears pricked, bodyweight rolled forward and tail lifted, eager to see if it’s possible to adapt and use it to teach English. Yes. That’s how my mind is wired!

So, I came up with this game while listening to the Spanish radio station, KISS FM. The game the presenters (Xabi and María)  were playing with their listeners was called “El Milnuto”, but since I have adapted it, I will officially rename it “The Golden Minute”. I know, not so good!

Why this game?

First of all, because it can be used as a warm-up for the first 5-10 minutes of the lesson and you know, how important these 5 minutes are.

Secondly, because you can never go wrong with a game. Learning is a serious business,  but this doesn’t mean they cannot have fun while doing it.

Thirdly, because it helps them revise and reinforce content.

Ready? Here we go:

Preparation: prepare a set of 10 questions to revise vocabulary or grammar. They need to be short and to the point. If you add a funny question in between some more academic ones, that would be a blast.

Materials: a stopwatch to monitor 1 minute.

Procedure:

  • Tell students you are going to ask them 10 questions in  60 seconds ( to be honest, I give them a minute and a half, but I don’t tell them)
  • Ask them to write down numbers 1 to 10 (see picture below) in their notebooks. This is an important step for 2 reasons:
  1. They won’t waste time writing down the numbers.
  2. You will use up the whole minute and this means you will have time to repeat some of the questions but always beginning with question number one and then number 2… etc. Writing down the numbers will facilitate identifying the ones they haven’t answered.
  • When the time is up, ask students who have managed to answer all the questions to raise their hands and ask the students sitting next to them to check their answers.

The prize? a big round of applause or perhaps a free homework pass.

TIP: There should be a variety of questions: difficult, easy, translation of one or two words, a surprise funny question not content-related… etc

So, this is the game… creating the right atmosphere to play the game is kind of up to you.

Example of questions:

  1. Preposition that collocates with “depend”
  2. What’s the past of “forecast”?
  3. Phrasal verb beginning with “look” meaning ” to admire someone”
  4. Write the word pronounced /prəˈsiː.dʒər/
  5. Finish this proverb ” An apple a day keeps the doctor..”
  6. Elisabeth II’s grandson: Harry or Larry?
  7. How do you say in English? sotenible
  8. Which is correct: people is or people are?
  9. Which is correct: despite of or despite?
  10. Phrasal verb beginning with “look” meaning ” to despise”

Have fun teaching.  Have fun learning!

My Go-To Websites when Correcting Students’ Essays

And again, it is the month of the year that I hate the most. I love my job. I love teaching but I hate marking exams, especially essays.

I guess it is easy to just cross out mistakes  but if you want to do a decent job and offer feedback and provide alternatives to what they have written, then it can be a hard job and even become a daunting task , especially if you are hard pressed for time, you are not a native speaker and we are talking about C1 exams.

You might think that after 30 years doing the same, one gets used to it. Well, not me.

For those of you who are, like me,  struggling with this task, the only way to make it more palatable is to take long coffee breaks and  have fun while doing your job. And by fun, I mean revising, and  learning by looking up “things”, and contemplating different  alternatives  to offer valuable feedback.

These are my fave go-to websites when correcting essays. What are yours?

  1.  Cambridge Dictionary: to look up the different spellings of a word.
  2. WordHippo: in the same dictionary, you have lots of features, but I use it mainly for synonyms and antonyms. I have blogged about it here.
  3. WordReference: invaluable dictionary for translation.
  4. Ozdic: the best collocations dictionary ever.
  5. Sentence Dict: to see how words or expressions are used in context.
  6. HiNative: a free app where native speakers answer all your questions. I have blogged about it here.
  7. GrammarBook: lots of tips on grammar and vocabulary. Type your question in the search box.
  8. Linguee: It is like a bilingual dictionary but for sentences. I have blogged about it here.

Awesome Sentence Dictionary: to Study How Words are Used in Context

Native speakers – no offence meant- are likely to sniff at this kind of dictionaries, but for non-native learners, they can really be an enormous help.

Standard dictionaries can, of course, provide the learner with other very important information about a word/ expression  and they can even exemplify with a couple of sentences. Well, it is not enough. Sometimes, what you need to see is how the word collocates with others and how it  is used in different contexts. That’s why when I found this dictionary, I immediately thougth: “I need to share this”.

Over the years, I have recommended others like sentenceyourdictionary  , but    https://sentencedict.com/   is a game-changer.  In this dictionary, you can write a combination of words like “potable water”,”natural resources” or “take for granted” and it will show you- obviously depending on the chunk of words- lots of examples you can study and use.

Hope it helps you pass your exams with flying colours!

Ckeck also, Six Amazing Websites that Make your Writing Stronger

 

 

 

Catwalk Controversies: Questions about Fashion to Spark off Debate

Favourite tools to create a lesson plan, in order:

  • Spark Page
  • Spark Page
  • Spark Page

In my professional life, I give bonus points to any tool that is super easy to navigate and gives me, in a matter of minutes, a very visual professional-looking design.  And more bonus points if it is free, easily shared and reliable. And that’s Spark Adobe Page. I have been using it since 2017 and no other tool has been able to supersede it. I really cannot say enough how much I love this tool. Well, I think I just have!! 😆

This time, I have created a beautiful speaking lesson for my C1 students. These food-for-thought questions are likely to spark off some controversy and heavily engage your students- in fact, my students spent an hour talking about the first two questions.

Hope you enjoy the lesson and starting today, it also becomes a must-go tool for you, too.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I only write about what I like and works for me.

Catwalk Controversies

The Future with Be: the Visuals, the Grammar, and the Exercise

After over a decade of running this site, if I have developed one signature post, I would say it’s ideas to bring to life content from the course books.  That’s, at least, the posts I enjoy writing the most.

But, in this post, the star of the show is grammar and the featured tool is one of my favourites, for its versatility and visual impact. I am sure you all know and tried and fallen in love with Genial.ly, so I am not going to waste your time or mine talking about it.

Whether explaining grammar or doing a speaking activity, visuals play a very important role in my teaching. Is it the same for you?

Finding the right visuals to accompany a point of grammar is not a task you do in the blink of an eye; it takes time and it is never entirely fulfilling as you are left with the feeling “there should be a better picture to represent this if only I kept looking”. Unfortunately, time is tight and sometimes you just have to make do with what you have.

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the visuals.

The Visuals:

After writing on the board the point of grammar we are addressing –the future with the verb “to be”– and eliciting some structures they might already know, I display the first picture.

  1. Students, in pairs, try to come up with a sentence that describes the picture.
  2. Listen to their sentences. In most cases, they will give you a “be going to” sentence, but someone is likely to give you the “right” one. If not, don’t despair; this will only happen the first time you show the pictures. The second time -yes, there is a second time and even a third- they will do better and quickly come up with your same sentence or a similar one.
  3. Click to show your sentence, explain without getting into much detail, move to the next picture and repeat procedure.
  4. Once, you have shown them all the pictures; start again, this time a little bit faster.

 

The Grammar

Now that students are familiar with the structures, let’s jump right into the grammar. Rules should be very easy to understand now.

 

The Exercise

This grammar exercise is from their textbooks and yes, I know you can do this same exercise in their books, but it is not the same, is it? The exercise in their textbooks can be set for homework to reinforce this point of grammar.

You can even divide the class into two teams. Display the first sentence, give them a minute to rewrite the sentence using the future with the verb to be and then ask Team A to challenge a student from Team B to say the sentence. If the student from Team B gives a correct answer, he will score a point for his/her team; if incorrect, the point will be awarded to Team A. Display the second sentence and repeat procedure with Team B.