Category Archives: Resources

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.

Agony Aunts: a No-Prep Activity to Practise Giving and Receiving Advice

Are you gearing up for the first classes of the new year?  I  am. And I want to give my students a back-to-the-grind activity which would get them into the right mood, namely, engaged, learning and having fun.

Have you ever heard about “agony aunts” or“agony uncles”? I am sure you have! In case you have no clue about what I am talking about, this is the definition the Cambridge dictionary gives.

an agony aunt is a person, usually a woman, who gives  advice to people with personal problems, especially in a regular magazine or newspaper article

I bet you all have a famous Agony Aunt in your country.

Inspired by this well-known figure, I have designed this effective activity with two aims

  • To practice writing skills
  • To give students the opportunity to practise the language used to ask and give advice
  • To provide speaking practice interacting with different students

Materials: a piece of paper with “Thank you”  written on it for every student in the class. You can easily ask them to do it before the activity begins.

Step 1: Writing

1. Reading a model.

  • Ask students to discuss, in pairs, who is better at giving advice, men or women.  Ask for feedback.
  • Using the OHP, display the picture below and read it with your students.I hope nobody takes offence, it is just meant for fun!

2. Writing. Individually, ask students to write about a problem they might have. They can also invent it. Walk around the class helping them with grammar and vocabulary.

Step 2 Revising vocabulary to give and ask for advice

Write two columns on the board; one with the heading Giving Advice and the other one with the heading Asking for Advice and ask students to contribute to both. It could look like this

Giving Advice

  • if I were you, I’d…
  • I think you should…
  • In my opinion, you shouldn’t
  • Why don’t you…?
  • I would advise you to
  • You might try….

Asking for Advice

  • What should I do ( about)…?
  • What do you think I should…?
  • Can/ could you give me some advice about…?
  • Do you have any advice on—?
  • Could you recommend…?
  • What do you suggest I do?
  • What ought I to do?

 

STEP 3. Speaking

Divide the class into two groups: Agony aunts and Advice seekers. Using the speed chatting technique, the two groups sit facing each other; there should be an agony aunt for each advice seeker. If you have an odd number of students, consider participating yourself.

The idea is that each problem seeker will tell the agony aunt their problem and the agony aunt after considering the problem, should offer a piece of advice. After two minutes, a bell rings and the advice seekers should move one position to talk to the next aunt agony.

Once they have talked to all the agony aunts, they will need to choose the best piece of advice given for their problem. They will thank the Agony Aunt by giving him/her a card with the words Thank you. The student who gets more Thank you cards  is named Agony Aunt of the Day year and gets a big applause from the class

Now, they change roles and the Agony Aunts become advice seekers and vice-versa.

The Perfect Gift: a Listening and Speaking Lesson Featuring Rihanna

Hiii! Hello! Happy New Year!  Here I am again! Back to the grind or so they say!

Almost a month has passed since my last post. And this break ends right now. The holiday break has me going mad and sometimes I don’t even know what day of the week it is. So, I have started preparing classes. Sort of miss them. Can you believe it?

Anyway, I feel so full of energy and I have prepared so many activities that I have written three posts on a row. I will refrain from publishing them all at once and save them for a rainy day.

This first one has to do with presents, something that almost everyone gets these holidays. I know that some people don’t get any presents; some other people don’t like giving presents and some others don’t like receiving them. It does not matter. This lesson fits all moods.

Warm-up

Ask the class to discuss in pairs or in threes the question: What do you prefer, giving or receiving presents? Why?  Get class feedback.

Ask students if they know the singer Rihanna and the famous American talk show host, Oprah Winfrey. I think Rihanna is world-famous but I am not so sure they will know who Oprah is. If necessary, show them a picture. Tell them they are going to watch a video where the protagonists are Rihanna, her mother and Oprah Winfrey. Ask them to predict the content of the video.

Listening Comprehension: Back to the boards

Ask students to work in pairs: one of them faces the board and the other one faces away from the board. Play the video without sound and ask the student facing the board to describe to his partner what is happening in the video.

Listening Comprehension: the questions

You can ask students to do it online or you can print the PDF. If you decide to do it online, you will get feedback immediately; just press, see your score.

After the listening, ask students: What is the most expensive present you have ever given to someone?

Speaking

You know when you are on holidays, and have some time to spare and decide to try some crazy stuff? What you see below is the result of me having some time on my hands. Obviously, the idea can be simplified and the gift drawn on the board. But, as I said, I was feeling creative and with nothing to do.

As I have 24 students, I have designed two identical gifts (one in green as in the picture and the other one in red). The idea is to divide the class into two teams and assign each team a different gift.  On one side, they can see nonmaterial gifts; they should choose the one they would like to possess in 2020 and on the other side, a conversation question about gifts and presents.

Ask students to remain standing. The two groups should not mix – easy, as the two gifts have different coloured cards, red and green- and they should talk to everybody in their groups asking and answering questions. Encourage them to elaborate on their answers but let’s keep it flexible.

Click here to get the PDF with the conversation questions on the other side of the card.

Enjoy teaching, enjoy learning!

Create your Own Board Game to Practise Speaking and Activate Vocabulary

It is true that there is so much material out there for our English classes that most of the times, we just need to type some keywords on the internet and voîla, we have it. But, think about it, has it ever happened to you to come across some great material but not just exactly what you are looking for?  To me. All the time. And that’s probably why I am always on the lookout for new sites to help me create my own content.

This happened to me last week. I wanted to give my students a board game with conversation questions about sports and at the same time, use a little game to activate the vocabulary we had been studying.  I was lucky, from my files, I rescued an old board game that I had used a long time ago. But although it served the purpose, I was not entirely happy and therefore I set out to trawl the internet looking for an editable board game where I could write the questions I wanted my students to discuss.

And as Jeremiah the prophet said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Well, I must have put all my heart into it ‘cause I found it. The design is not perfect but hey! it’s free. 

 Tools for educators is a nice little site which offers online editable templates. You just choose the template and write your own content. 

In my case, I have used the board game, but you can explore the other templates it offers. I am dying to try the dice generator. I don’t know how I am going to use it yet, but use it I know I will. 

So, this is what it looks like. You will need to fill in the 21 squares. If you don’t, it will still print the board but with some blank squares. Options when you have run out of questions?  Move ahead one space, move back two spaces… Once you have written your content, just print it.

Activating vocabulary

This is a great way to review any subject that needs a little jazzing up

  • Give students 5 pieces of paper. I normally reuse discarded printed with a blank side, which I cut into approx 10×5 cm pieces.
  • Instruct them to write on each piece a word or expression they have learnt about, in this case, sports. Ex: face danger, overcome your fears, adventurous. I encourage them to write not just the word but also the collocation as we have learned it.
  • Ask students to form groups of three or four people.
  • Ask them to put together all their cards, shuffle them a bit and place them face down in the middle
  • Give students counters and a die. The youngest in the group starts playing and then players will continue playing clockwise.
  • When Player A lands on a square, he reads the question and then picks up a card containing an expression which he will have to use when answering the question. They will have one minute to answer the question. If they manage to squeeze the expression, they can keep the card. If not, the card is returned to the pile.

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

My latest Tech Crush: Fluentkey. An Interactive Listening Competitive Game

If you have been following me for a while, you must know that I am deeply into technology. I don’t know how it happened. I am not a digital native. Far from it. I don’t know. I think it was love at first sight. We have been together for almost 14 years and I don’t think we are going to split up anytime soon.

Technology is so integrated into my lessons that I no longer realize how often or how many different activities I have created with a certain tool. Technology is just part of the lesson and using it feels like having a break. Like  having a shower after a long day. Students are beginning to tune out? Time to introduce an activity created with a digital tool. Carefully planned, of course. With methodology, of course.

Anyway, the hardest question I’ve been asked lately has been, “What’s your favourite digital tool to use in class?” Well, this is hard for me to answer. I have so many. The question I  automatically asked was: What for? There are some tools that are more versatile than others but if I had to answer, I’d wince( I love so many) and say the ones where students can take an active role and that add an element of healthy competition. And the tool I am going to share with you today offers that.

Can you imagine a tool, just like Kahoot, but for Listening Comprehension activities? That’s what FluentKey.com/live is.

There are lots of different ways we can exploit video or audio in class. Some more engaging than others. Well, let me tell you that Fluent key is totally engaging. It is just the tool I was waiting for. It makes listening fun by turning real-life videos into an interactive game student can play using their mobiles.
Created by two language teachers, Hollin Wakefiled and Hugo Xiong and a software engineer Tajddin Maghni, it is bound to revolutionize the way we do listenings.

What is Fluentkey?

FluentKey Live is an interactive classroom listening game. The teacher displays a video on a projector while students race to answer comprehension questions on their own devices and compete for the highest score.

How does it work?

o Register for free
o Find the right video
o Choose Play Fluentkey/live
o Share the code with your students and ready to go!

Why do I like it?
The teachers:

o Are you up to your eyes and don’t have the time to look for a video and create the comprehension questions? No problem. Fluentkey has a library of ready-made videos with quizzes. You can find the right video for your class by using the different filters (level, category, theme). Choose the video, have a look at the questions in the quiz and if you like them, just share the code with your students and get ready to play.
o Do you like the video but need to modify some questions or/and add new ones?? No problem! Duplicate the video and edit it.
o Can’t you find the right video for you? No problem! 😆 Upload a video from YouTube or Facebook (Yes!!. Facebook.) or copy/paste the link,  click on Create a quiz and add your own questions. You can add multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, matching… among others.
o Playing Fluentkey/live is completely free.
o You can adjust the speed of the audio

The students

o The students do not need to download any app. You just instruct them to go to fluentkey.com/live , type the code you give them and play.
o Students can use their computers, tablets or mobile phones.
o They can play individually or in groups
o The faster they answer, the more points they get

The game:

Once you press Play, the video will automatically play until it reaches a question. Students on their devices can preview the question and the kind of question (multiple choice, matching…) but the answers are not yet visible. At this point, the teacher can choose Watch again or Ready to answer. If you press Ready to answer, the answers show up on the students’ devices and a 30-second countdown begins. The faster they answer, the more points they get. Press Next to show the score and then again Next to keep playing the video

What I don’t like

o You cannot change the time students are given to answer a question. It’s always 30 seconds.

TIP: FluentKey was released only this year and they are still growing so not everything is perfect right now. I strongly recommend turning off the subtitles on YouTube before pasting the link on Fluentkey.

I’ll be presenting this tool for the first time in Menorca this weekend. Can’t wait to hear what teachers think about it!

Have a look at my face-to-face workshops: here and here.: the perfect combination of the latest technology and traditional teaching.