Category Archives: General

3 Fun No-Prep Games to Practise Present Perfect Simple and Simple Past

Although I might seem like an organized and methodical person from the outside, the truth is that, in some areas, I am or can become highly and hopefully disorganised.

Context: this week I am teaching Present Perfect Simple /Continuous and its use in combination with the simple Past. I know that, over the years, I have written several posts with games and activities featuring these tenses. Problem? I have so much content on the blog, that, sometimes, it is hard to find what I am looking for. See my problem?

The idea when I started this blog was to have a repository of activities I could resort to, when needed, quickly. For the most part, I have managed to do it. However, in this case, I had to trawl the blog looking for these activities. And this is precisely what has prompted this post. Having them together. Easy to find. Up for grabs! I am not sure which activity I’ll use this year but what  I know is,  it will be easy to find now.

1.How Long?

Speaking game for B1 or B2 levels: Click on the Instructions to read how to play this game. Suitable to practise for and since and the present perfect simple/continuous and the simple past.

R
2. You are lying
A speaking game to consolidate the use of present perfect simple and past simple. Ready for a lot of fun!  Handouts provided.
Read all about it here!
3.  Never Have I Ever
This hilarious speaking activity is fairly simple and requires little preparation. It helps consolidate the use of the present perfect to talk about life experiences.
Read all about it here

Brainstorming, Introducing and Revising Vocabulary Related to Work for C1 Students

Undeniable. This course is proving to be quite challenging. Having your students sitting in rows, stuck on their seats and only being able to talk to the person on their right or on their left has me racking my brains trying to find attractive alternatives to some of the successful dynamics I used in the past.

With teaching online on the rise, more than ever I have been juggling different tools to make sure the work my students do at home is relevant, effective and motivating. I think Genial.ly, the tool I have used in this lesson, is a must-have in any teachers’ toolbox.

In this lesson, you will find:

  • Activating prior knowledge:  handout
  • Introducing new vocabulary: handout
  • Speaking activity
  • Engaging game to revise Vocabulary

Step 1. Activating Students’ Prior Knowledge. Brainstorming

Before introducing new vocabulary, it is crucial to help them activate prior knowledge so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by how much they need to learn. Learning expands gradually from previous knowledge and we cannot and should not neglect this important step.

To brainstorm vocabulary, I gave them 2 minutes to write down on their notebooks, words or expressions related to “work”. On the board, I wrote Work and then wrote their suggestions, exemplifying, clarifying and drilling pronunciation.

When appropriate and relevant, I also started introducing new terms, like the minimum wage as represented in the picture below.   Some  other vocabulary they came up with is here

Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary

PDF here

Individual Work: I gave them this photocopy and a couple of minutes to underline any new words/expressions.

Whole class: Then,  I instructed them to ask the question. Does anyone know what the meaning of…. is?  Only when no one in the class could come up with a clear explanation, did I offer it.  Until then, it is all about asking students to tap into their previous knowledge.

Step 3: Firts attempt at introducing some new vocabulary in a speaking activity

I divided the class into As and Bs and asked As to choose three new words they wanted to use in their speech. I wrote them on the board under the headings A’s words/ B’s words.

I gave As this statement to discuss: Unpaid internships should be banned and I gave B’s Retirement age: higher or lower? I let them have some thinking time and asked them to do the speaking task.

Step 4: Revising Vocabulary with a Game

This proved to be an engaging game to revise vocabulary. You will find the instructions in the second slide, but watch the video with my students doing the activity if you want a sneak peek of how much fun we had.

And here’s the game. I have made the template editable in case you want to add your own pictures. To reveal the hidden word, you’ll need to hover the mouse pointer over the picture.

Otter.ai: an Awesome Free App to Get Accurate Transcript from Audios/Videos

Let me start by saying that this is not a sponsored post. I don’t get paid to write about tools. I just write about what works for me. And thisss …. has already saved my life 3 or 4 times.

Imagine this!  You have an awesome video/audio in your computer or on the internet that is great for the topic you are discussing in class. You want to give it to your students, but you cannot find the transcript. It is simply not available.

What do you do? I am going to give 2 options:

  1. Discard the audio/video. After all, you can always use something from the textbook.
  2. Use an app that will easily, effortlessly and accurately transcribe it, giving you the possibility of downloading it in different formats (including Docx), without time stamps and ready to share with your students?

If you have chosen Option 1, you may stop reading. This post is not for you. Hope you continue to drop by.

Those of you choosing Option 2, I can picture you rubbing your hands and holding your breath. Here we go!

Otter.ai is a mind-blowing text-to-speech tool. It is very user-friendly and the transcription you get is incredibly accurate. Perhaps, you might need to add a comma or a stop here and there but that’s it. It is almost perfect.

For free, you get 600 minutes of transcription per month but if you need more, you can always invite friends or colleagues to try Otter.ai. For every friend that decides to try Otter, you will get one month Pro Lite.  Not a bad deal! So, the link I am going to share with you is the one that will allow me to get one-month Pro Lite. There is no money for me here, just the opportunity to enjoy more free minutes of transcription.

I have created a video tutorial to guide you through the app. It is in Spanish but, don’t panic, I have added some explanatory notes with instructions in English.

A big thank you to Miguel A Sánchez (Michel) for bringing it to my attention.

Edited to include contributions and tips from other teachers

  1. “It also records sounds from a YouTube film opened in a different tab. Much better than YouTube transcript.” – Ewa.
  2. “It’s awesome to give feedback in oral exams. I provide my Sts the transcript and underline the death-penalty mistakes. They realise at once and correct them, something that hardly ever happens if they just listen to themselves” Loli Manteiga.

Try Otter here

 

Lesson Plan for C1: Politics and Politicians.

I am certain I am not the only one who is fed up with politicians. Should you ask my friends, they’ll tell you that I never talk about politics. I never criticize or praise politicians. I talk about life, about life issues, but always being respectful of other people’s attitudes. I don’t like radical people. I don’t want them around me. I know that some of you might think knowing about politics is a necessity. I don’t disagree.  However, getting into heated arguments with people who have a different point of view is, in my opinion, a waste of time and frustrating. So, I don’t do it. And, in this frame of mind, I will approach this lesson about Politics.

PDF Teacher’s     PDF Student’s

Warm-up. Whole class
  •  What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word POLITICIAN?
  • What is the minimum voting age in your country? Should it be higher or lower?   See: Voting age around the world
  • What are the main political parties in your country? Who is the most controversial politician?  useful vocabulary here.

 

Working on Vocabulary: Adjectives
  • On the board, write three headings: positive, negative and neutral and ask students to do the same in their notebooks. Tell them you are going to dictate a list of adjectives and qualities that can be applied to politicians.
  • Start calling out adjectives and ask them to place them under one of the columns. You might need to spell some of them, or alternatively write them down on the board. It is a good opportunity to drill pronunciation and clarify/teach meanings.
  • Do the exercise on the board. There might be slight disagreements and that is just fine.

Focusing on Listening:  How the US  and the UK election works

This listening exercise has different parts

Individual work:

  • Students are divided into pairs. Student A listens to How the US election works and Student B to How the UK election works. In my case, I have set it as homework but you can do it in class, asking students to bring some earbuds.
  • As students listen, ask them to write down any words/expressions related to the topic. Ask them to look them up and practise their pronunciation as they might be asked to explain some terms to the class.

In class:

  • Using Mentimeter, ask them to write the words they jotted down from the video. Once the cloud is formed, point to one word and ask them to explain it.

  • Pair up A and B and ask them to report their findings.

Student A. How the US election works

Student B: The voting system in the Uk

Follow up: Cloze with a twist.

Give students the transcript for both videos. Tell them you have deleted some words from the transcript. They will have to listen very attentively as there are no empty spaces showing there is a missing word. Ask them to compare in pairs before correcting the exercise.  You will find the exercise in the PDF.

Working on Vocabulary

Have a look at how these verbs collocate

  • Boost the economy
  • Harm/benefit someone or an organization
  • Put a strain on the finances of a country/area
  • Exacerbate a problem
  • Undermine the morale of citizens
  • Create divisions
  • Lead to tensions
  • Cut taxes
  • Extend working hours
  • Increase public spending
  • Abolish unemployment benefits
  • Allow a vote on independence
  • Increase penalties for…
  • Damage the economy
  • Resolve existing social problems
  • Rise of income inequality
  • Reform the education system
  • Solve social problems
  • Ensure prosperity
  • Hold an election
  • Rig the election
  • Stand for election

Other words you might want to know: floating voters. popularity ratings, a right-winger, a left-winger, a polling station, a running mate, a high turnout, voting booth, ballot card

Speaking

Before each section, ask students to call out 6 words or expressions they have learned in this unit. Divide the class into As and Bs and assign As three words and Bs three words. Display the first section and ask them to take in turns to answer the questions trying to use the vocabulary on the board

Politcs and Policiticians

 

Speaking and writing using Flipgrid

I have been dying to use Flipgris’s new update. “And what is it that has you so excited?” -you might be wondering. Well, it is the possibility of responding to a video in a written form.  Imagine the possibilities, imagine the potential it has for language teaching.

So, here’s the first activity for my students using the brand new Text Comments. I know it is a dangerous activity, but I teach adults and am relying on their self-restraint.

Breaking the Mould: a Speaking and Listening Lesson on Success

…and there I go again. Up to my eyes in work this week and yet, I cannot resist the temptation of stepping outside the book and giving my students a taste of fun and the opportunity to listen to a piece of audio that is not staged and academic and still relevant to the lesson. I think I have managed to accomplish both. Some might say it is a sacrilege to spend more time than necessary planning lessons and that this time should be devoted to socialising, but, … in Spain, no chance of doing that in the near future, so here we are glued to the computer and virtually socialising.

I am working with Language Leader Advanced and the lesson focuses on success and successful people. I have to admit I was greatly surprised that the three people chosen as representatives of this success were all women; one of them was Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo and a woman known for her communication skills and leadership. I loved it when I read she had grown up playing the game What would you do if you were the president of…? It kind of rubbed off on her, don’t you think?

This smallish lesson has two parts and is meant to be used as a side dish and part of a larger lesson on the topic of success.

Game: speaking and learning vocabulary

1.Ask students to write the most defining  5 traits successful people share, in their opinion.

Introduce qualities such as willingness to learn, discipline, humble nature, sociability, integrity, passion, patience, willpower, self-confidence, commitment, consistency, the ability to embrace change…etc.

2. Tell students you are going to display the pictures of remarkably successful people. On one side of the flashcard, they will see their picture and on the other side, they will see some facts about their lives.  Put students into pairs and ask student A to face away from the board. Student B will briefly have a look at the picture and then use some of the facts on the back of the flashcard to help student A guess the person on display. Warn students it is very important not to give specific details in order to make their partner sweat a bit, ie, if you are showing Mark Zukerberg, you cannot mention Facebook.  Encourage them to use the facts on the back of the flipcard, but also the adjectives brainstormed in Exercise 1

There are 4 people on the flashcards and students take it in turns to talk about them.  Do not forget to go through any new vocabulary before displaying a new name.

Listening Comprehension

A word: The audio is not very good in the sense that it is very low in volume, but my class is about 50 square meters, there are 20 students in it and they have all managed to do it. Just instruct them not make any noise.

Ready? Here we go!!

First time listening

Listen to Indra Nooyi talking about what she calls her list of essential skills for leaders “ the five C’s” and cross out the words/expressions as you hear them. There are some distractors. I won’t tell you how many. You are a C1 student.

  1. The go-person
  2. Stand out from the pack
  3. Abreast
  4. True innovator
  5. Overinvest
  6. Mobilize the troops
  7. Graduate
  8. Flunked
  9. True innovator
  10. Sync
  11. Key elements
  12. Second-guessing
  13. Crashing down
Second time listening

Can you identify the five C’s?

Third time Listening

Make notes of what she says about each of them

Get the PDF here

 

Vocabulary Revision from the Video