Science and Research: Vocabulary, Listening and Conversation Questions for C1 students

Back to the grind with an engaging lesson on Science and Research.

  • Topic: Science
  • Level: C1
  • Skill and subskills: Vocabulary, Speaking, listening

Warm-up: Scientists and their discoveries and inventions

1. In pairs: In 1 minute, write as many scientists as you can think of together. Do you recall what they are known for?

2. Whole class. Display the exercise and do it as a whole class.  Students should rank the 3 most important discoveries or inventions in pairs, giving reasons for their choices.

Vocabulary. The words you need.
    • a major breakthrough in the fight against
    • to address the underlying cause of autism
    • to extract DNA from
    • to undertake/carry out a survey
    • to test animals in labs
    • to do experiments on sheep
    • the experiment was flawed
    • to do /carry out research
    • the findings show/ the findings highlight the importance…
    • to pave the way for …
    • lack of funding / get funding
    • genetic disorders
    • genetic engineering
    • gene manipulation
    • to invest in space studies
    • cutting-edge technology
    • to benefit or to harm people
    • to be more prevalent than
    • to clone
    • to devise a way to …
    • to carry out examinations
    • to successfully transplant
    • scientific theories 
    • to provide conclusive evidence
    • to be sceptical (UK)/skeptical (US) about…
    • to have growing concerns about
    • to go beyond the edge of ethics
    • a drugs trial
    • unethical research

Listening:Many Clinics Use Genetic Diagnosis to Choose Sex

Step 1. Pre-Listening:

Read the beginning of the news and ask students to discuss what the news is about

Prenatal genetic testing: A growing number of doctors are pushing the ethical limits of the procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

Some say doctors are going beyond the edge of ethics. Some doctors analyze an embryo’s DNA so parents…

Step 2. Listening Comprension.

TRUE or FALSE?

  1. There is not a 100%  guarantee of success when choosing the sex of your baby.
  2. The American Society of Reproduction Medicine approves of this technique.
  3. The Indian couple is afraid of stigmatization.
  4. In Indian culture, having girls is less desirable than having boys.
  5. According to Dr Potter, the desired sex in most cases is male.

Source and transcript: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6654619&t=1641299618264

Step 3. Now, on the board, write the question: “ Is it ethical to choose the sex of your baby?” and ask students to, individually, list some reasons to defend their position. Put them in pairs to discuss their opinions and then do a whole-class debate.

Note: You will also find this question (slightly modified) in the exercise below.

Speaking: Activating vocabulary

Display the first question and have students, as a whole class, come up with the word that best fits in the gap.

Free No Sign-Up Micro Tools for the Busy Teacher

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. Some people collect coins or postcards and I… I collect digital tools. 🙄  Well, I also like watching tutorials. OMG! Come to think of it, do I qualify as a freak? The irony is that though I use tools to curate and organize my findings: Pinterest, Sites, Wakelet, Pearltress… you name it, the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.

And, much to my chagrin, it appears that I have been adding tools to this list in a fairly haphazard manner with the result that I have so many of them that I’ve opted to include just a few and may create a Part 2 if you find this post useful.

What is mind-blowing  about them is that:

  • They are free
  • They are online
  • You don’t need to register

I have tried to organize them into categories and add a bit of everything. For better or for worse, some of them are multifunctional and don’t fall into just one category.

                                     IMAGES
  • Removing a person/object from a picture. You need Cleanup Pictures: Upload the photo, choose the brush size, paint the area you want to remove and download your new photo. In some cases, you might need to paint the area twice. The 0:20 video below shows how to do it.

 

  • Removing the background of an image. Go to Remove.bg. As easy as choosing the photo and uploading it. You don’t even have to click any buttons.
  • You can find Cool 3D icons  for your projects On Free3DIcon, and images on CloudDevs
  • To create a Breaking News Image, go to Classtools.net
  • StorySet is an amazing site for your projects.  Choose an illustration and now…
  • delete elements
  • change the colour of the illustration
  • animate one or all the elements in the illustration
  • download it as a GIF or MP4
                                    VIDEO 🎥
  • TypeStudio is just awesome. It is a new approach to editing a video, text-based. That means you edit your video by just editing the transcribed text. You can also add subtitles automatically, turn the video into a blog article and everything runs online in your browser. How to go about it:
  • upload the video
  • the screen will be split into two parts. On the left, you will see the transcript for the video and on the right, your video.
  • Now, you will be able to edit the transcript by deleting a word or words from the video. It is like magic! Imagine the possibilities for language learning.
  • Removing or changing the background from a video clip. Go to Unscreen.com. The 0:40 video below shows how to do it.

  • Facebook is blocked in your school? Then, you need Snapsave. Just copy the link of a video that you wish to download, then paste the link in SnapSave and select the video quality that you want to download.
  • Automatically or manually adding subtitles to a video, go to Veed. Veed is a free editing video tool with lots of possibilities.

  • Downloading a Youtube Video, go to YT5s 
  • Downloading the audio from a Youtube Video, go to YT5s and paste the link. Downside: it has some annoying ads and you will probably need to close some pop-ups and probably a window. Other than that 😉  it works fine
  • Free downloadable video clips, sound effects and images for your projects on MixKit
                               DOCUMENTS

  • Extracting text from online images, PDFs or Websites, you need CopyFish, a Chrome extension. The 0:52  video below shows how to do it.

                              MULTI-PURPOSE
  • Tiny Wow is a wow of a tool.  It works with PDFs, videos, images and URls. Remember you don’t have to register. Files are deleted after 15 minutes.

  • Converting a myriad of media files from one format to another, go to Onlineconverter is just what you need to convert
  • audio
  • ebooks
  • images
  • files
  • etc…
                                     READING
  • Speechify This is a Chrome extension that when installed reads any text. Great to practise pronunciation and boost reading fluency.
  • Text to downloadable speech? Yes! Go to Speak. Voice clips are up to 300 characters but if you register (free), you get clips of up to 1,000.
  • Don’t know what to read next? Go to Whichbook and choose your next book based, for example, on your mood.
                               MISCELLANEOUS
  • If you have forgotten your password on a specific site, you might find it here https://passwords.google.com/
  • If you want to know if a file or a  website is free of viruses, go to VirusTotal 
  • Alternative to: this site finds the best free alternatives for paid or free apps or programs. As easy as typing the app you need to find an alternative to.
  • Changing the cursor. I know. Just for fun! To change your cursor, you need to add the free Chrome extension, Custom Cursor
  • QR Codes. My favourite is QRCode Monkey because it allows you to customize your QR by adding a logo or changing the colour or the design.

 

If you have found some of these tools useful, share this post it with someone who might need it!

Happy and Healthy New Year!

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Mixed Conditional Sentences

Learning about  Mixed Conditional Sentences is the perfect way to finish this weird year, don’t you think so?

I am sure you have been speaking English way too long without adorning your speech with  Mixed Conditional Sentences. Well, I am here to remedy this.

First, you need to open your mind to the fact that when you first start learning about Conditional Sentences, we only teach you the basic types like, for example, when you learn Conditional Type I and we teach you If+present simple⇒Future “Will” . Of course, this is correct  but as you get more proficient, you soon realize that there are so many variations to the basic type that you begin to wonder if any combination is possible. I am tempted to say “yes”.

Anyway, I am here to teach you about Mixed Conditional Sentences. Are you ready?

So, we are going to study two cases:

  1. If + Past Perfect ⇒ Would

                                  If I hadn’t studied, I wouldn’t be in the advanced course.

As you can see,  we have a combination of Conditional Type III  (if+Past Perfect) and Conditional Type II  (would+infinitive)

When do we use it? When we refer to a past event that could have had a direct result on a present situation if it had been different.

I know … difficult to grasp. Some help in Spanish?

(Nos referimos a un hecho pasado que de haber sido de otro modo habría cambiado el presente.)

Now, let’s have a look at some pictures with some hints in bubbles. Try to finish the sentences using this Mixed Conditional Structure.

 

Now, write your own sentences.

2. If + Simple Past --- Would have+ Past Participle

              If I were tall, I would have enrolled in the army

As you can see,  we have a combination of Conditional Type II (if+Past Simple) and Conditional Type III  (would have+ past participle)

When do we use it? When we refer to a present event that could have changed a past situation.

In Spanish? Un hecho presente que podría haber cambiado un hecho pasado, es decir, el pasado habría sido diferente ,si el presente fuera diferente. I know, you have to read it several times.

Now, let’s have a look at some pictures with some hints in bubbles. Try to finish the sentences using this Mixed Conditional Structure.

Now, write your own sentences.

 Writing: Ready for a Guessing Game?

Aim: guessing the exact sentence on the back of the tile

Time: 1 minute/sentence

Put students into pairs and choose one of the flip tiles. Instruct students to complete the conditional sentence on the tile. They will need to write it down. Tell them the picture is a hint. Listen to their sentences and flip the tile. Award 1 point for each exact sentence. Similar but not quite? Half a point 🙂

 

PDF with more exercises here. Use a QR Code Reader to scan de key

Talking about Art: the Battle of Wills

Introducing movement in my lessons is one of my favourite things to do when I am teaching.

On most days, when I am preparing my lessons, I really hate how this pandemic has put a stop to some of the most fun dynamics to engage our students. Fortunately, the headmaster in my school has had the bright idea to convert the staff room into a more flexible kind of room and pushed tables together, got rid of unnecessary furniture and provided teachers with a space to give free rein to our creativity, a place big enough for students to move around and keep their distance.

 

  • Level: C1
  • Topic: Art
  • Time: 60-70 minutes
  • Skills: Speaking
  • Material: Posters here, Cards here

I am not going to lie. This lesson has required preparation, like a lot. The good news is that you can use my lesson if you like it.

Before the class
  • I have designed 3 posters; one for every controversial statement. It was not necessary, I know. I could have easily read out the statements. But it is not the same. Plus, I just enjoy doing this kind of thing.
  • I have trawled the web looking for arguments for and against to help my students get some ideas. Come on! It is not easy to talk about art when you are not even remotely interested in the topic.
  • I have made cards with arguments for and against, I have printed and cut them out.
  • I have labelled two corners of the room with AGREE and DISAGREE.

In the class

Brainstorm vocabulary related to the Arts and write on the board. Add to their suggestions, the vocabulary listed below and drill pronunciation.

  • Exhibition/an exhibit = an object or collection of objects on public display in an art gallery or museum
  • Sculpture /ˈskʌlp.tʃər/ /sculptor /ˈskʌlp.tər/
  • Art installation= a form of modern sculpture
  • Artefact /ˈɑːtɪfakt/ or antiquity = an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest
  • Artist
  • To commission a portrait/ a piece of art (normally in the passive)= a paid request for artwork
  • An auction
  • To bid at an auction
  • A collector
  • Street art/street artist
  • Optical illusions
  • Canvas
  • Graffiti artists
  • Artistic movement/style
  • Sitter
  • Self-portrait
  • Landscape
  • Still life
  • Minimalism/impressionism/classicism/cubism
  • Fake or counterfeit /ˈkaʊntəfɪt/
  • A curator= a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.
  • A work of art/ a piece of art
  • Patron /ˈpeɪ.trən/, patronage/ˈpatr(ə)nɪdʒ,ˈpeɪtr(ə)nɪdʒ/
  • Protegee /ˈprɒt.ə.ʒeɪ/ a young person who is helped and taught by an older and usually famous person
  • To promote the art
Revising vocabulary with a crossword

Speaking: Warm-up. Here we go.
  • Do you have any art in your house? What’s your favourite piece?
  • Do you have any artistic friends? What kinds of art do they create?
  • Are Arts sufficiently promoted in Spain? Do you think Art is important to society?

Stirrer:

Show this picture and ask students to guess what it is.  Someone will probably come up with the right answer.  Ask: Do you like this painting? How much would you pay for it?

Before displaying the image, it might be a good idea to read the news here.  (Robert Ryman’s Untitled sold for $20 million)

News here

Speaking: Battle of Wills (so to speak)

For this activity, I have used two corners of the classroom and labelled them AGREE and DISAGREE. You will find the PDF for the posters above.

Procedure:

Step 1. Explain they are going to see a poster with a debatable statement about art and they will need to choose the corner that best represents how they feel about the statement.

Step 2. Explain that in their corners, they will need to talk about the reasons for their choice and develop strong arguments to support their opinion as they will be challenged by students with opposing views. Encourage the use of vocabulary.

Step 3. Give them enough time to come up with their own arguments to justify their position.

Step 4. After a 10-minute discussion, ask students from both corners to face each other.

Step 5. Battle: This is the part I like best. Ask students to choose someone from the opposing corner. Pair them up and tell them they have 5 minutes to try to convince each other, using strong arguments,  to switch corners. For drama, ask them to use the phrase: “I challenge X”. ) Have a look at the picture above to see the position they take when they start the challenge. This is also important. “The magic behind every outstanding performance is always found in the smallest of details.”

These are the 3 posters I have used. Get the printable version here

Note: After Step 3, I have helped students build more solid arguments by handing out the cards below, which they had to read and comment on before the battle.

Get the printable version here

Art posters here    Art cards here

 

How to Ace the C1 Monologue: the Skeleton

I have never been politically correct so let’s not mince words. For an exam, you need to follow these three tips:

  1. study
  2. practise
  3. be smart

I know you are able to maintain a conversation at a decent level but this is not what an exam is about. An exam is about impressing the examiner. Yes! You heard me correctly! You need to make a strong, though not necessarily lasting, impression on the examiner(s).

Disclaimer: this is the way I would do the monologue. This does not necessarily mean it is the only way to approach it.

So, now that we are on the same page, the big question is…Do you want to ace your exam?

Assuming you have followed tips number 1 and number 2 above( I would reconsider taking the exam if you have not studied or practised, like a lot. ), here comes the most difficult part: bringing to mind vocabulary specific to the topic you have been given, which is part and parcel of tip number 3 and this brings us back to tip number 1.  

Am I making any sense?

Tip 3: About being smart. General TIPS
  1. Say you are given a monologue with three prompts to talk about. They might also throw in some images for visual effect but you do not, and I repeat do not, need to describe them. Can you make references to them when you are speaking? Yes. 
  2. You are not being tested on your honesty. So, if you feel you have nothing to say on the topic, lie, invent… all is fair in love and war! 
  3. If you are allowed some time to organise your ideas, use that time in a clever way and plan. I have often seen candidates not taking this minute and making a mess of the exam just because they didn’t take the time to organise their ideas.
  4. You need to talk about all the prompts given. If you do not have much to say about a certain prompt, spend less time on it and introduce it by saying something like: I am not really much into… I am not an expert st/in… 
  5. Brainstorm vocabulary (idioms, phrasal verbs, specific vocabulary to include). This is a unique step, and this where studying and feeling confident that you know the vocabulary is important. Listen up! You need to use a good range of vocabulary.
  6. Remember that you need to use a full range of grammatical structures and this is again where being clever is important. You need to think in advance of some “flashy” grammar you want to use. OK. Say you want to use an inversion. Easy…

I could go on and on but I think you get the gist.

NOTE: These are some ideas and you should be adding to this list the items you feel most comfortable with. You don’t have to use these ones, what you need to bear in mind is that you have to use advanced vocabulary and structures. So, you need to pull your weight and add to this list or cross off what you don’t feel confident using.  It is up to you, now.

It is important to practise key phrases, which you can use no matter the topic in the exam. What I like to call the “skeleton” of your monologue and you need to write it down and say it and try it with different topics and figure out a way to make it work with whatever topic you land yourself with.

  • write it down
  • say it aloud
  • practise it with different topics

So, here you have some ideas for your “skeleton”:

Download the poster here

 I know that taking an oral exam is a nerve-wracking experience but, if you practise and study, I cannot promise it is going to be a walk in the park but it will certainly be easier.

NOTE: my students will be using Flipgrid to record themselves doing a number of topics.