The Shopping List: a Vocabulary Revision Game

Raise your hand if you find it hard to learn new vocabulary!  Make that two hands if you find it even harder to use it when you speak! For those of you who have raised a hand or two, I have created this exercise. A modern version of a shopping list, only this time we will be buying words. Words are worth points.

Pre-game: This is a retrieval practice kind of game. For those of you not familiar with the strategy, broadly speaking, retrieval practice is a strategy used to pull information out of the student. This strategy has proved to be a more effective way of learning as it challenges the mind to recall this information; but obviously, first, before bringing any information to mind, we need to push it in. Information= vocabulary

So, for this game, we have already taught students some new vocabulary. Time to pull it out to help them remember.

Setting the context

Tell students we are going to revise and use, in a speaking activity, newly-acquired vocabulary in a game called The Shopping List.

Step 1

Open the two editable lists and with the help of the whole class, fill in the two lists with the same number of words/expressions. You don’t have to fill in the 10 spaces, but you need to make sure the two lists are balanced in difficulty ie, if there is a phrasal verb on List A, there should be another on List B.

To see both lists displayed at the same time, I use the Google Extension Tab Resize. I have been using it for ages and it works great.

Step 2

Again, with the help of your students, assign points to the words on the list. I would give 1 point to the easiest and 2 points to the most difficult. To do this, you can easily project the lists on the board and write on the image.

Step 3

Divide the class into pairs A and B, and assign students their corresponding list.

Step 4

Give Student A  a question to discuss. Depending on the level, they will have to talk for about X minutes. While student A answers the question, student B jots down the words from the list he or she has used. When Students A finishes, he adds up the number of points according to the words used. Now, it’s Student B’s turn. Ask a new question and repeat procedure.

Note: Students can use the same list a number of times. In fact, the more they use the words, the more confident they will get. However, in my case, I will use the same list only 3 times and then ask them to swap lists so that new words are used.

Get the template for the lists here. Student A’s list and Student B’s list ( it will create a copy of the document on you Drive)

Lesson Plan: “What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”

I have to confess that I had to look up who Alfred Mercier, the owner of this quote, was. And I say “was” because although this inspirational poet was born at the beginning of the XIXc.,  he is very much in line with my way of thinking:  “what we learn with pleasure, we never forget”.

This has always been my aim: to teach trying to make my lessons memorable for my students. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. But I am always trying. Anyway, I really believe the first five minutes of the class, mark its rhythm and that the way you present the information to students is of the utmost importance.

This lesson for C1 students focuses on education. It offers practice in the following:

  • vocabulary
  • listening
  • speaking
  • reading
Warm-up: What's the weirdest thing your teacher has done?

So, let’s start with some fun. On the board, write the word Weird and drill pronunciation. Show them the gif for a bit of fun and display or read some of the tweets sent to Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag game #MyWeirdTeacher. Here’s the link.  I think my fav is Number 1. That’s the one I would give my students as an example.

Ask the question: What’s the weirdest thing your teacher has done?. Give them some thinking time and listen to their stories.

Revising vocabulary

For a student, learning new vocabulary can be a bit overwhelming so it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ knowledge. It really helps make learning new words much easier. The method or activity used to extract previous knowledge should differ from the one used to teach new content using more dynamic strategies to work with the former.

A simple activity could be giving students 1 minute to write down as many topic-related words as they can remember, emphasizing words such as “teacher” or ” primary school” are not adequate for this level and will be dismissed.  I will be using Mentimeter for this activity but feel free to use the familiar pen and paper. The prize for the winner? a round of applause- we are suffering cuts in the school budget 🙂

Speaking and Writing: Small activities

Change one thing: If I could change one thing about the past school year…

Six adjectives: use 6 adjectives to describe your last academic year

What advice would you give to someone who is beginning to learn English?

Listening: What makes a good teacher? What makes a good student?

Pre-listening:

a. Give students some thinking time to come up with their ideas of what, in their opinion, makes a good teacher. This is a good opportunity to introduce vocabulary they will find in the video.

b. At the same time, ask them to write 3 adjectives that a good teacher needs to possess.

Before playing the video,  ask students to read the three adjectives they have written. Play the video once and see whose choice of adjectives are on the video. Play a second and even a third time and ask students to take notes.

Tapescript, here

Repeat procedure for What makes a successful student?

Introducing new vocabulary collaboratively

Give them the list of new words and ask students to underline the words they already know. This is a good way to guarantee you are not going to be the only one doing the work here and they will be engaged throughout the activity. After a couple of minutes, go through the list asking individual students to provide definitions and give examples. Clarify and exemplify any real new words.

Get the PDF here

Drill the pronunciation of…

  • creativity
  • data
  • discipline
  • plagiarism
  • poem
Speaking Interactive Posters : thumbs up, thumbs down.

Present the students with the following statements, one at a time, and ask them to give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement on display.

Once they have established where they stand, click on the interactive button on the poster, displaying suggested vocabulary they can use when presenting their point of view. Give them one minute to plan what they are going to say. Repeat procedure with all or some of the posters.

 

Further Practice. Homework

 

Stand Up , Please !

Aka my new favourite vocabulary game.  Seriously, this little game is about to be your favourite vocabulary revision game. Why? Because it’s both fun and effective and requires almost no preparation. Your whole class is going to love it! I promise!

How does it work?

  1. In advance, write a list of the vocabulary you want to revise.
  2. Divide the class into two, or maybe three teams, with the same number of students in each team. Well, more or less; it doesn’t have to be the exact same number. To be honest, it is easier with only two teams.
  3. Ask a representative from each team to stand up.
  4. Now, define one of the words on your list. You can also give a synonym or an antonym. Whatever helps them guess the word.
  5. The first person to guess the word remains standing and the person from the other team who couldn’t guess or guessed second sits down. The student sitting down is quickly replaced by another person from this same team.
  6. Call out all the words you want to revise.
  7. The winner will be the team whose members had to sit down less often.

Follow up:  ask students to write a list of all the words they can remember from the game and revise them once again, this time focusing on pronunciation. If you have time, you can ask them to provide a sentence including the target word or chunk.

Enjoy learning, enjoy teaching!!

A Digital Board Game to Use “Would you Rather” in Speaking and Writing

Is there anything better than a little game to break the ice?

This board game I am sharing with you today is meant to be used as a get-to-know-each-other activity for my first class, but I am sure it can be used in other contexts.

Here’s the thing,I like games as much as the next girl;  buut…, although I haven’t started teaching yet, I already feel the pressure of an overwhelming curriculum. Is it the same for you? So, first-day fun speaking activities? Totally. But, and this is a big “but”, adding a grammar structure that needs to be learned.

This year, goodbye normalcy. So long. See you next year. Hopefully.

 

  • Aim: to teach or revise “would rather” in positive, negative and interrogative sentences
  • Skills: speaking and writing
  • Level: B2 and upwards
  • Handout: “would rather” grammar, here

After explaining/revising the grammar and giving and asking for lots of examples both in written and spoken form, it’s time to play with our digital board game. I have used Genial.ly, one of my fave sites to create content for my classes.

The instructions are pretty simple.

  1. Ask students to work in pairs.
  2. Throw the built-in dice and move the counter.
  3. Click on the square and a would you rather question would be displayed.
  4. Ask students to work in pairs expressing their preferences. Encourage them to elaborate on their answers.
  5. Choose a couple of students to express their preferences aloud for the rest of the class. You can always ask someone who has chosen a different option in the would you rather question. Students answers should follow this model:
  •            Question: Would you rather be Donal Trump or Melania Trump for a moth?
  •            Answer: I’d rather be Melania Trump than D. Trump because…

       6. Writing: if they land on a square with the question gif, students will need to write a “would you rather” question for the teacher. Yes. You have to answer. You are allowed some white lies, though.

EXTRA: to spice up this activity a bit more, you might ask random students to guess your preference.

Note: You  might want to c

lick on the arrows to enlarge the board

 

FOLLOW UP: Working with Would you Prefer

Below, you will find the same board; only this time, students will be required to use a Would Prefer structure

  • Would you prefer to be Donal Trump or Melania Trump for a moth?
  • I’d prefer to be Donald Trump rather than Melania Trump because…

This is a perfect example of killing two birds with one stone: same board, two grammar points.

Keeping a Digital Journal to Prevent Students from Falling behind

Hey, dear readers! I am back! Who is up for the 12th season of the blog?

Normally I resume posting when classes start rolling, but this year  I  have decided to start posting earlier before my classes begin. I have missed you!  I will be returning to classes on October 7th and man, what a different class I will be returning to. Will it be teaching in-person, hybrid or online? That’s the one-million question.

I am a notorious hoarder of free edtech tools and it seems that the stress of going hybrid this year only drove this hobby of mine into high gear. I know technology is a sticking point for some teachers but, seriously, this year we need to make a special effort and start flirting with tech.

Anyway,  the pandemic, the possibility of doing hybrid or online teaching and an overwhelming curriculum got me thinking and I came up with the idea of sharing a  digital class journal with my students. The reason?  I might be wrong but I think that we are going to spend the year shifting from in-person classes and online classes. On and off, on and off -repeat. Moreover, even though we manage to teach in the classroom, I  predict our students will be undergoing confinement for one reason or another. Therefore, it is essential that they don’t fall behind and give up. One way to make sure this does not happen and to make things easier for us as teachers is to share our class journal with our students.

When I talk about Class Journal, I don’t mean my real class journal; not the one where I write warm-ups, follow-ups… etc. No. That would be a nightmare. I mean a very simple version; one that tells students in a very simple way what we have covered that day,

Advantages of sharing a Digital Class Journal
  • Information is updated (forget about sending endless emails to students who have missed your class. Yay!!!)
  • You can insert videos from youtube, audios from your Drive and links to anything that is online.

  • Everything is in the same place. No need to share links for extra activities; as long as it is online, it can be shared; they just have to click.
  • You can link to anything that is on your Google Drive: exam calendar, photocopies…etc.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Right, now…

What do you need?
  1. A virtual class to share your class journal. I use Google Classroom, but you might prefer Teams or Moodle or any other. As I use Google Classroom, I am going to show you how I do it on this platform but I am sure you will find a way to do it in your virtual classroom of preference.
  2. The Class Journal. Don’t worry!!! You don’t have to do anything. SlidesMania.com has you covered. There are many websites that offer free templates for Google slides or PowerPoints but I worship at the altar of Slides Mania. ( btw, this is not a sponsored post) , Click here to get to the free Class Journal, and then find the button that reads  Open in Google Slides. Again, if you are not using Google Classroom, you might want to choose the button Download Powerpoint.
  3. I like to keep my Google Drive organized so once in my Drive, I will move this template to a Folder (previously created called School Year 20-21).
  4. On Google Classroom, on the Classwork Tab, I create a  Topic called Class Journal and then attach the class journal. See how I do it.

Bear in mind that every time you update the class journal on your Google Drive, it will automatically be updated on Google Classroom.

Hope this has been helpful and none of your students gives up this year.