Category Archives: General

Passive Sentences: from Basic Grammar to More Advanced Points

Oh dear, another bizarre and unreal week. I know we will all be struggling to get through it so thank you for stopping by. I hope you can find on this blog lots of ideas and lesson plans which will make your teaching easier.

Today, what I want to share with you is nothing fancy but probably useful.  A bunch of teachers from different Official Language Schools in Spain have gathered together to host webinars trying to help teachers shift to online teaching. In one of them, given by Fernanda from EOI Málaga, I learned how to use Google Sites to create, in a flash, beautiful websites. It literally took me less than 15 minutes to put together what you can see when you click on the picture.

You can see her webinar here and subscribe to the channel for more interesting webinars here. You might also want to see mine covering Flipgrid  here

Anyway, this is a Google Site I have shared with my students to help them revise Passive Sentences. There is also a board with a speaking activity I am planning to play with them in our weekly speaking session via 8×8.vc

Without further ado, here’s the lesson. I hope you find it useful! bit.ly/2R1Swhj

In Times of Crisis, Laughter is the Best Medicine

As we are confined in our homes trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus, we must try and make the most of this situation. Nobody could have predicted, back in September when we started the course, that talking about viruses and fear and panic and death was going to be one of our topics this course. Despite our growing concern for what lays ahead of us, I cannot and will not give my students a lesson that will cause them more pain and sadness. Yes. I want them to understand and use the vocabulary related to the situation we are living nowadays, but I also want to do my bit and help brighten up their day. I hope nobody takes offence.

We all know it’s bad out there but fear and worry over the coronavirus have prompted a crop of funny videos that I hope help me put a smile on your face. We need to be worried and we need to have a sense of common responsibility. That’s undeniable. But a little levity now and then is surely appreciated. I don’t need science to know that in times of crisis, laughter is the best medicine we have.

In this lesson, you will find

  • useful language to talk about the situation we are living now due to the coronavirus
  • a bit of listening practice
  • funny videos featuring situations or attitudes prompted by the pandemic
  • some conversation questions following the videos

Note: it goes without saying this speaking lesson will be done online.  I have shared this lesson with my students in advance and asked them to see the videos and have a look at the vocabulary.

The coronavirus

The Easiest Video Conference Platform- Need to Connect with your Students to Practise Speaking?

Really, it cannot be easier!

 

Since half the world is in lockdown and we are confined to our houses, now more than ever, technology comes to the rescue.

We, dedicated teachers, are doing our best to keep in touch with our students and though some of us have been using learning platforms for some time now, this is not the case for many teachers.

For most of us, home teaching is something new and although it is fairly easy to give students grammar and vocabulary exercises or listening comprehension activities to do at home when it comes to practising speaking, things get a bit more complicated.

Today, I want to share with you a video conferencing platform  8X8.vc , which is really super simple. It takes just one click to start a meeting. Seriously. You don’t even have to create an account.

I learned this from the generous Ingrid Mosquera and it is with her consent that I am publishing this post.

Note: At the end of the post, you will find a step by step guide for both teachers and students. Keep on reading, please.

Why do I like it?
  • Neither you nor your students have to register.
  • It offers unlimited meetings and unlimited minutes.
  • You don’t have to download any program or plugin.
  • There is not a limited free trial.
  • Students simply start or join a meeting with the click of a button.
  • The maximum number of participants is 50 (enough in my case).
How to set up a room without signing up
  • Open your Google Chrome browser and go to 8×8.vc. This is the best browser for this platform.
  • Name your meeting and click Start Meeting. Note: you can name the room or you can choose to keep the weird random name the program gives you. If you are worried about being hacked, this is probably safer than calling a room Cristina.
  • You might be prompted to download the extension for Google Calendar and Office. I have not done it.
  • Share the URL of the meeting with your students and automatically they will be in the same room as you.
  • If you sign up, then you can record the meeting.
  • Among other features, you can:
  • Share your screen
  • Raise your hand
  • Chat
What I like less and what to take into account before setting up a meeting
  • On a mobile device, you will have to download their app  8×8 Video Meetings.
  • It works best on Chrome.
  • The current maximum number of participants in a single meeting is 50, however, for meetings requiring additional participants, hosts can select a live stream to YouTube option that will support unlimited viewers. See How to Live Stream 8×8.vc  on Ingrid’s Youtube Channel.  I also highly recommend visiting her blog here.
  • If there are too many students you can ask them to mute their mikes. There is an icon for that.

Link to a step by step for students

Link to a step by step for teachers

Hope it is helpful!

 

Is it advice or advise? Awesome Repository of Confusing Words in English

I always tell my students English is easy.  When they hear me say that, those who have been with me for two or three years just roll their eyes and say: “Teacher, you always say that!  For you, everything is easy!” But hey! What’s the point of saying ” Careful here!! This is very difficult!”

I am sure you see my point.

 

Anyway, the thing is that when learning a foreign language not everything is a breeze. Unfortunately.  There are hundreds of words that can be easily confused because they have a similar spelling or a related, but different, meaning.

Today, I want to share with you a website Writing Explained that is really helpful in clarifying differences or similarities in the meaning of hundreds of confusing words. For example, do you know when or how to use  Altogether and All together? Some day versus Someday? Elder and older?

Why do I like this site?

  • Though the list of confusing words is not exhaustive and new sets of words are added every day, it is just perfect for the average students.
  • The words are in alphabetical order so it is very easy to find what you are looking for
  • It is explained in clear everyday English
  • Differences are always explained in 5 steps and I love the Summary. This is the one I would read if I knew the difference and just wanted to double-check.
  • I also like the idioms dictionary on this website. Why?  Because it not only explains the meaning of the featured idiom but also gives its origin and uses the idiom in a clear context.

Check it out! You’ll love the site!

Note: Fromm my enthusiasm describing this website, you might think that this is a sponsored post.  It is not. 😉

The Secret List: A Non-Prep Vocabulary Revision Game to Kick Off the Lesson

I always start my classes revising what we learned in the previous lesson. I do it for many reasons: it allows students who have missed the previous lesson to catch up and not fall behind, it gives students the opportunity to clarify meanings or pronunciation they haven’t quite grasped, and also it encourages retrieval practice that, in my opinion, is the way to learn.

I really think that the first 5 minutes are really important as it sets the mood for the rest of the lesson. That’s why I  am always designing revision activities that add variety in my lessons and, if possible, fun.

This one I will call The List. It’s quick, fun and effective.

Context: I have been working with the topic Language Learning and my students have been learning some new vocabulary. Time to revise it!

Procedure: Ask your students to write a secret list of 10 words, collocations or expressions they learned during the previous lesson. Ask them to keep it secret.

Pair students up. Tell students they will have 1 minute to try to guess the words on their partner’s list. Say Student A starts trying to guess the words on Student B’s list. As B listens to the words, he crosses the ones Student A has guessed. Ask them to change roles. Let students compare lists and have a look at the ones they could not guess. You might want to write them on the board to revise and reinforce.

Award 1 point for each guess. Need a timer?  Here

Done! Easy peasy!