Create your Own Board Game to Practise Speaking and Activate Vocabulary

It is true that there is so much material out there for our English classes that most of the times, we just need to type some keywords on the internet and voîla, we have it. But, think about it, has it ever happened to you to come across some great material but not just exactly what you are looking for?  To me. All the time. And that’s probably why I am always on the lookout for new sites to help me create my own content.

This happened to me last week. I wanted to give my students a board game with conversation questions about sports and at the same time, use a little game to activate the vocabulary we had been studying.  I was lucky, from my files, I rescued an old board game that I had used a long time ago. But although it served the purpose, I was not entirely happy and therefore I set out to trawl the internet looking for an editable board game where I could write the questions I wanted my students to discuss.

And as Jeremiah the prophet said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Well, I must have put all my heart into it ‘cause I found it. The design is not perfect but hey! it’s free. 

 Tools for educators is a nice little site which offers online editable templates. You just choose the template and write your own content. 

In my case, I have used the board game, but you can explore the other templates it offers. I am dying to try the dice generator. I don’t know how I am going to use it yet, but use it I know I will. 

So, this is what it looks like. You will need to fill in the 21 squares. If you don’t, it will still print the board but with some blank squares. Options when you have run out of questions?  Move ahead one space, move back two spaces… Once you have written your content, just print it.

Activating vocabulary

This is a great way to review any subject that needs a little jazzing up

  • Give students 5 pieces of paper. I normally reuse discarded printed with a blank side, which I cut into approx 10×5 cm pieces.
  • Instruct them to write on each piece a word or expression they have learnt about, in this case, sports. Ex: face danger, overcome your fears, adventurous. I encourage them to write not just the word but also the collocation as we have learned it.
  • Ask students to form groups of three or four people.
  • Ask them to put together all their cards, shuffle them a bit and place them face down in the middle
  • Give students counters and a die. The youngest in the group starts playing and then players will continue playing clockwise.
  • When Player A lands on a square, he reads the question and then picks up a card containing an expression which he will have to use when answering the question. They will have one minute to answer the question. If they manage to squeeze the expression, they can keep the card. If not, the card is returned to the pile.

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

My latest Tech Crush: Fluentkey. An Interactive Listening Competitive Game

If you have been following me for a while, you must know that I am deeply into technology. I don’t know how it happened. I am not a digital native. Far from it. I don’t know. I think it was love at first sight. We have been together for almost 14 years and I don’t think we are going to split up anytime soon.

Technology is so integrated into my lessons that I no longer realize how often or how many different activities I have created with a certain tool. Technology is just part of the lesson and using it feels like having a break. Like  having a shower after a long day. Students are beginning to tune out? Time to introduce an activity created with a digital tool. Carefully planned, of course. With methodology, of course.

Anyway, the hardest question I’ve been asked lately has been, “What’s your favourite digital tool to use in class?” Well, this is hard for me to answer. I have so many. The question I  automatically asked was: What for? There are some tools that are more versatile than others but if I had to answer, I’d wince( I love so many) and say the ones where students can take an active role and that add an element of healthy competition. And the tool I am going to share with you today offers that.

Can you imagine a tool, just like Kahoot, but for Listening Comprehension activities? That’s what FluentKey.com/live is.

There are lots of different ways we can exploit video or audio in class. Some more engaging than others. Well, let me tell you that Fluent key is totally engaging. It is just the tool I was waiting for. It makes listening fun by turning real-life videos into an interactive game student can play using their mobiles.
Created by two language teachers, Hollin Wakefiled and Hugo Xiong and a software engineer Tajddin Maghni, it is bound to revolutionize the way we do listenings.

What is Fluentkey?

FluentKey Live is an interactive classroom listening game. The teacher displays a video on a projector while students race to answer comprehension questions on their own devices and compete for the highest score.

How does it work?

o Register for free
o Find the right video
o Choose Play Fluentkey/live
o Share the code with your students and ready to go!

Why do I like it?
The teachers:

o Are you up to your eyes and don’t have the time to look for a video and create the comprehension questions? No problem. Fluentkey has a library of ready-made videos with quizzes. You can find the right video for your class by using the different filters (level, category, theme). Choose the video, have a look at the questions in the quiz and if you like them, just share the code with your students and get ready to play.
o Do you like the video but need to modify some questions or/and add new ones?? No problem! Duplicate the video and edit it.
o Can’t you find the right video for you? No problem! 😆 Upload a video from YouTube or Facebook (Yes!!. Facebook.) or copy/paste the link,  click on Create a quiz and add your own questions. You can add multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, matching… among others.
o Playing Fluentkey/live is completely free.
o You can adjust the speed of the audio

The students

o The students do not need to download any app. You just instruct them to go to fluentkey.com/live , type the code you give them and play.
o Students can use their computers, tablets or mobile phones.
o They can play individually or in groups
o The faster they answer, the more points they get

The game:

Once you press Play, the video will automatically play until it reaches a question. Students on their devices can preview the question and the kind of question (multiple choice, matching…) but the answers are not yet visible. At this point, the teacher can choose Watch again or Ready to answer. If you press Ready to answer, the answers show up on the students’ devices and a 30-second countdown begins. The faster they answer, the more points they get. Press Next to show the score and then again Next to keep playing the video

What I don’t like

o You cannot change the time students are given to answer a question. It’s always 30 seconds.

TIP: FluentKey was released only this year and they are still growing so not everything is perfect right now. I strongly recommend turning off the subtitles on YouTube before pasting the link on Fluentkey.

I’ll be presenting this tool for the first time in Menorca this weekend. Can’t wait to hear what teachers think about it!

Have a look at my face-to-face workshops: here and here.: the perfect combination of the latest technology and traditional teaching.

A Speaking Lesson about Customs and Traditions in Spain

When in Rome do as the Romans Do: a Lesson about Manners, Habits, Customs and Traditions

Say hello to one of my favourite activities.

Here’s what makes this activity perfect for me and my style of teaching

  • Enhancing their listening skills by listening to authentic audio. Giving students authentic audio they can understand is a real boost to their confidence. Another plus, if there are no comprehension questions, as is the case, students feel more relaxed. Did you know that reducing stress enhances learning? (D Krashen 1981).
  • Gallery walks using posters which gives students the chance to stretch their legs, and practise their speaking abilities.
  • A small writing activity related to the posters
  • Giving students the possibility to work with different students in the class

The lesson
Lead-in

On the board, write the proverb below and ask students, in pairs, to comment on its meaning. Encourage students to share their anecdotes.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Listening Comprehension: British manners. A note-taking listening exercise

This authentic material is great for B2 learners. It poses just the right challenge. Not too hard, not too easy!

Tell students they are going to hear a man called Elliot talking about 5 British manners. The task is simple. Play each example of good manners individually and…

  • First time: ask students to write what manners he is talking about
  • Second time: play the video again and ask students to take down notes
  • Pair up students and ask one of them to retell the information offered in the video. The other student listens and /or helps. This role will be changed for the second example of manners
  • Ask someone to retell the information for the whole class.
  • Write any relevant vocabulary on the board.
  • Ask: what about in your country? 
  • Repeat procedure for the second example of manners. Remember, there are 5 of them.

 

Gallery Walks: a speaking and writing activity using posters

Can you see any benefits to always working with the same person/student? I cannot. That’s why I always encourage my students to change partners regularly. However, some of them are quite reluctant and need a gentle push.

Forming groups: I have used small popsicle sticks to form groups of three.  The sticks were coloured as in the picture and they just needed to find the other two students with the same colour.

Before the activity: I cut small pieces of paper of different colours and I assigned each poster a different colour

  • On the walls – I put up simple posters – I had to use the space outside my classroom as my class is tiny. I had six posters: Greetings, table manners, punctuality, gender roles, tipping and taboos.
  • Students in their groups choose a poster and they are instructed to do the following:

  1. Discuss the manners on the poster in their country and in other countries they might have been to. Is it the same or different?
  2. Before moving to the next poster, students are instructed to take a piece of paper with the colour corresponding to the poster they have been working with and write a piece of advice for someone visiting their country, in this case, Spain.  ( if they were talking about Tipping, they should write a piece of advice on tipping).They were instructed to leave their written piece of advice on the table, choose a new poster and repeat procedure.
  3. Allow 25-30 minutes for this part
  4. Quickly correct spelling and grammar mistakes. Using blue-tack, put all the pieces of advice around the posters the advice has been written for.
  5. Ask students to do a second gallery walk commenting on all the tips and having a look at their mistakes.

Posters here

Writing an article about an unusual custom in the world

Lead-in:

Ask students: Have you ever experienced culture shock? Where were you? What happened?

Unit 1 in our textbooks explains how to to write an article. Using this format, I have asked students to do a bit of research on the internet and write about an unusual custom. To spice things a tiny bit, I have assigned students different countries using a random wheel.

 

A Cool Game to Revise the Irregular Past of Verbs

Time to revise irregular verbs. I know, I know!! I am teaching B2, but trust me, they need the revision.

I mean, let’s be real. Technically, they have learned the irregular verbs sometime between A2 and B1 but you and I know that irregular verbs are like a pain in the neck to learn only compared to studying phrasal verbs. So, welcome revision!!

I have always believed that using technology in the classrooms has a lot of benefits for the students- this is probably not the post to enumerate them- but also, I firmly believe that technology without methodology does nothing for the student. Just because you use the latest tools does not mean students are going to learn more or better. They do not. You have to plan exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it if you want the activity to be effective. Otherwise, you are just playing or entertaining students. And this is something I don’t do in my classes. So, playing and learning, a big YES; just playing, a huge NO.

Anyways, since  I am a superfan of :

  • using games to learn
  • using technology effectively and meaningfully in my classes

I have created the game below using the cool interactive freemium tool Genial.ly (proud to say I am an ambassador of this great tool developed in Spain)

For more information about my workshops on how to use free online tools effectively in your class, have a look here or  here

 

IRREGULAR VERBS

Aim: to revise irregular verbs.

Level: intermediate

Procedure:

  • Explain that this a competition to be played in pairs: student A and B
  • Whole class: As decide on a letter to challenge Bs.
  • Bs will have one minute to write as many irregular verbs (infinitive-past-past participle) beginning with the selected letter as they can think of.
  • Explain that irregular verbs will be awarded 1 or 2 points depending on the difficulty of their spelling or on their frequency at an intermediate level. Challenge students to try the difficult ones.
  • Set a timer for the allotted time and when time is up, display the answers by clicking on the interactive letter.
  • Student B gets 1 point or 2 points (depending on the verb) only if he has correctly spelt the verb in the past and past participle.
  • Now, it ‘s Student B’s turn

NOTE: What do As or Bs do while it’s the other student’s turn to compete? They can also do the challenge, but no points will be awarded!

Note: This is an interactive tool. Click on the letters. Click on the arrows to enlarge the game.

Enjoy teaching. Enjoy learning!