Category Archives: General

The Animal Kingdom: A Multi-Skill Lesson Plan for C1 Students

Packed with engaging activities, this lesson plan about the animal kingdom is going to become your favourite. Trust me!!!

Have you noticed that it seems like everyone’s got a furry friend these days, and not so many babies? Parks are full of dog walkers, not strollers, you know what I mean? This is one of the things we’ll talk about in this lesson.

I was actually planning to publish this when I was not so busy with classes and teacher’s sessions, but I could not wait to get this into your hands because it is a lesson that worked really well. So before I forget, here it is! A lesson plan for C1 students about the animal kingdom and endangered species.

What you will find in this post is:

  • 2 Warm-up Activities
  • Revising and introducing the name of some animals
  • Vocabulary to talk about endangered species
  • Personalized Listening Comprehension
  • Grammar Game: Impersonal Passive
  • Out of their Seats: Controversial statements + some help
Warm-Up One: Sparking Discussion

If you have been reading me for some time, you know how much I like to play with IA, so to engage my students and spark discussion I have generated this image using Microsoft Designer.

In my experience, displaying the image is enough to create debate, but in case you need it, here is some help.

Question: It’s interesting to note the trend of more people opting for pets over having children. What do you think are some of the factors driving this shift in lifestyle choices?

Follow-up Questions: Have you observed this trend in your own social circles or community? How prevalent do you think it is? What do you believe are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having pets instead of children?

Warm-Up Two: Revising Animal Names Students already Know

Building upon prior knowledge is essential for effective learning, wouldn’t you agree?

In this spirit, I have asked my  C1 students to write a list of 10 wild animals excluding the usual : tiger, elephant, lion, zebra…. OK, you get it! I have given them one minute, and we have written the most interesting ones on the board, practising pronunciation.

Ready to revise and introduce some new ones?

Introducing New Vocabulary + Pronunciation
  • Endangered species
  • Threatened ,
  • On the verge of extinction
  • To become extinct
  • Deforestation
  • Habitat
  • Carnivore, herbivore, omnivore
  • Predator
  • food chain,
  • environmentalist,
  • ecosystem,
  • conservation effort,
  • global warming, recover,
  • vulnerable,
  • reforestation,
  • poach,
  • wildlife
  • to decline,
  • overhunt, overharvest, overfish,
  • To breed in captivity,
Helping Students pronounce better:

A word of warning: I forgot to insert some pauses in-between words, so you might need to stop the audio after each word. Sorry, but I realized once I was playing it for my students and I didn’t feel like doing it all over again.

ANIMALS VOCABULARY by cristina.cabal

Personalized Listening Comprehension
PDF here

Animals Listening comprehension by cristina.cabal

If you are wondering why I like using AI so much, I think this lesson is a good example. Most of the time, I am pressed for time and I don’t feel like trawling the internet or the hundred books on the shelves of the English department looking for the right listening comprehension, so now, I just create my own listening comprehension activities with the vocabulary that is relevant for my students. In this case, I have asked ChatGPT to create the text and then used Eleven Labs to read it. Easy-peasy!!

Grammar: Animals: Fact or Myth? Working with Impersonal Passive
Grammar and exercises here

That was fun.

  • I divided the class into teams and asked Team 1 to choose an animal. A representative read the sentence aloud and all teams – and this is really important-have to work  on their notebooks writing two impersonal passive sentences for each statement. Give them about  2 minutes to write both sentences. For example:

People believe that opossums are hanging by their tails.

  • It is believed that opossums are hanging by their tails
  • Opossums are believed to be hanging by their tails
  • When time’s up, ask the representative for Team 1 to read both sentences. If both are correct, Surprise!!!!! they’ll  get 1 point. If they are wrong or one of them is wrong, shout “NO” and the first team to raise their hand have the chance to say the correct sentence and get 1 point. Click on the PASSIVE button in the infographic to check it.
  • Now, back to Team 1. Ask, do you think the statement is a fact or a myth? Hover over the picture to read the answer.

 

 

Speaking: The Three Corners.
Material: Posters
Cards: here and here
  • Take 3 pieces of paper and write the following words on each: “I AGREE”, “I DISAGREE”, and if you have many students, “I AM UNSURE”. Place these papers in different corners of your classroom.
  • Explain they will see a poster with a debatable statement about animals and they will need to choose the corner that best represents how they feel about the statement.
  •  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.
  • Give them enough time to come up with their own arguments to justify their position.
  • After a 10-minute discussion, ask students from both corners to face each other.
  •  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”.

Note: Again, using AI, I have helped my students with some ideas to support their opinion. Of course, this is entirely optional, but I felt my class needed some modelling to get started. Here you’ll find the cards for two of the statements. Animal testing here and Animals in circuses here

I know writing is missing from this lesson plan. Keep posted! It’s coming!

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Chatbots to the Rescue: 8 Time-Saving Ideas for Busy ESL Teachers

  1. Imagine having a tireless, always-available language tutor for your students – that’s the magic of chatbots! Can they replace teachers? Of course not! They are never ever going to substitute teachers. But, can they help students when teachers are not available? There you have it!  Chatbots are fun, interactive, and students can practise anytime, anywhere.

I tried and tested my first chatbot  in early February and wrote about it here. They worked so well that I have been on a creation spree, designing and testing chatbots for different purposes.

Ready to see my chatbots in action? Below these lines, you will find a cool interactive infographic below  -created with Genial.ly-  showcasing eight ideas to use chatbots in your classroom.

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find:

  • Practice Conversations: Role-play everyday scenarios like ordering food or asking for directions with an anonymous chatbot, or talk about the environment with King Charles III.
  • AkAInator chatbot. A fun and engaging chatbot where students guess worldwide characters using yes/no questions. Enhances critical thinking and deductive skills
  • Grammar Drills: Get personalized feedback on sentence structure and verb tenses.
  • Pronunciation Perfection: This chatbot serves as a personal language coach, focusing on enhancing pronunciation through interactive practice and instant feedback. Ideal for integrating into language lessons to boost students’ confidence and accuracy in speaking
  • Grammar Quiz. Let chatbots design personalized quizzes based on learned material. Include explanations for correct and incorrect answers to aid in comprehension.
  • Topic-Related Conversations suggesting target vocabulary. This chatbot enhances vocabulary and grammar through interactive dialogue on travel topics, offering instant feedback and tailored suggestions
  • Interlinguistic Mediation. A language practice chatbot focusing on summarizing and paraphrasing Spanish texts about the environment into English. Enhances language proficiency and comprehension through guided practice. Teachers can use it to support students in improving their language skills.
  • Giving Feedback on Book Reviews. Students will write or paste their book reviews here and the chatbot will provide personalized feedback.

How to use the infographic. Click on the three dots to expand the Genial.ly and then hover over the texts. The text in bold will take you straight to the chatbot, and +info will explain what the chatbot does. Enjoy!!

 

I have used Mizou to create the chatbots. Mizou is surprisingly user-friendly, and I’d love to help you get started. Imagine the possibilities: personalized practice for specific topics, grammar drills that fit your curriculum, even cultural guides for exploring different customs!

Intrigued? Shoot me an email at cristina.cabal@gmail.com and let’s chat about how to bring chatbots into your classroom.

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Let’s Move!!!! A Simple Low-Prep Speaking Activity to Revise Vocabulary

Hello hello! Still enjoying Easter holidays? Yeahhh me, too! So, I just wanted to pop in real quick with an activity I think might make going back to the grind a little bit easier.

What are the main goals of this activity?

  • Revise and activate newly-acquired vocabulary
  • Reinforce how to formulate questions
  • Boost students’ speaking abilities
  • Introduce movement in the classroom: gallery walks
How to do it
  • Write six to eight words or expressions you want to revise on cards, big enough to see from a distance. Stick them on the walls of the class for everybody to see.
  • Depending on the number of students in your class, ask them to work in pairs or groups of three. For each word on the wall, the group must think of an open question using the target vocabulary.
  • Walk around the room and help with grammar and spelling.
  • Once the group have their question, ask them to write it on a post-it note or a scrap of paper and put it next to the target word on the wall.
  • When they have finished and all the questions are displayed on the walls, ask learners to stand up and, in new groups, do a gallery walk discussing the questions.

No Batteries Required: A Translation Game with Tic Tac Toe

Who can resist playing tic-tac-toe with a wooden board and small wooden Xs and Os? If you can’t, then you’re gonna love this game!

Do you like giving your students short translation activities? I do. They allow me to target specific vocabulary and grammar structures and help students to make fewer mistakes.

So, Tic Tac Toe or a translation exercise? Why not have both?  I’ve had this version of a tic-tac-toe game sitting on the shelves for some time now, but life! Time! Work! Life! More work! You get it.

Recently I’ve met several teachers who shared how much they have enjoyed the games I have published on the blog over the years, and though it is not the best time of the year for me, this encouraging feedback gave me the push I needed to sit down and write this post. So, let’s dive right in!!

First things first. You know how to play Tic Tac Toe, right? Well, if you have never played, I suggest you have a look at the rules before you continue reading. I had originally planned to play Tic Tac toe with pen and paper, but then, I saw these beautiful miniature sets. They were inexpensive, so I bought 14 – one for each student pair.

Preparation
  1. Prepare some sentences to be translated. I would recommend, at least, 8 sentences.
  2. Ask students to pair up and explain how to play Tic Tac Toe, if necessary. One student can choose X’s, the other O’s
  3. Provide each student pair with a Tic Tac Toe game. Alternatively, you know, the pen and paper option.
  4. Students who choose X’s go first. They play against each other.
Time to learn!

  1. Display the first sentence for translation or, alternatively, write it on the board. All students have to translate the sentence, even though it’s X’s turn.
  2. Allow time for translation. The time will vary depending on sentence length and difficulty.
  3. When time is up, display the correct translation on the board. Be prepared to discuss and accept alternative translations, but emphasize the importance of accuracy. Small mistakes or typos will result in an incorrect sentence. O’s can monitor X’s translations for accuracy.
  4. If X’s sentence is correct, they place their wooden X on an empty square. If X’s sentence is incorrect, but O’s sentence is correct, then O places their wooden O on any empty square. If both X and O have correct translations, X gets to place their wooden X (since it’s their turn).
  5. Display a new sentence for translation and repeat the procedure. Now, it’s O’s turn!.

Just like in regular Tic Tac Toe, the goal here is to be the first to score three of your marks in a row – horizontally, vertically, or diagonally! Don’t forget, you can block your opponent’s moves to prevent them from winning.

Keep on playing until you have run out of sentences to translate and have fun!!!

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Diffit: Your Go-to Tool for Differentiated & Inclusive Lessons

Diffit: an IA free tool to easily create resources for differentiation and inclusivity.

I’ve been meaning to write about this website for a few months. To be honest, it is not just this website I’d like to write about but some others as well. The problem with me is always lack of time. Juggling being a full-time teacher, a part-time tech coach, mum, housewife, friend, daughter, and blogger is difficult. You can relate, can’t you? Every time I swear I am going to write about them all, something comes across, and I feel I must write about that “something” first.

But today I have decided to forget about all the other things and write about Diffit. Why? Because I think it is a great tool and can help reduce your workload a lot, especially if you are a primary or secondary teacher and have students with different learning needs.

So, What is Diffit, and how can it help you? To put it simply, Diffit  tailors learning for every student and easily convert any content to all reading levels.

It generates texts in three different ways:
  1. By searching for a topic, theme or question
  2. By pasting a URL of an article in a website or a YouTube Video
  3. By copy/pasting a text
  4. By uploading a PDF
You, then, choose
  • the reading level (from 2nd grade to 11+ grade-you can also keep the original text)
  • the language

More about Diffit to keep in mind
  • It has a very generous free version and works in 68 languages
  • Diffit magically adapts any text, topic, article, YouTube video with a URL to any reading level.
  • Besides the reading text, it also provides:
  1. a summary of the text
  2. key vocabulary words
  3. multiple choice questions about the text (by default 3 questions) but you can add more) and the answers to the questions
  4. short answer questions (again, by default it creates 3)
  5. open-ended prompts
  • You can edit, add and copy the generated text and resources.
  • You can translate the adapted text into 68 languages, making your classroom more accessible to all students.
  • You can get the student activities in PDF format for free.

Ready to try Diffit?

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