February is a short month. First round of exams is over and I need to concentrate on preparing my students to take standardized exams. I am beginning to feel the pressure. OMG! It’s only February and I am already a bit stressed out. Will I make it to the end of the course with all my wits about me? Highly unlikely!
So, next topic on my list is Food and Nutrition and all the subtopics around it, which are …like a lot.
What you will see in this post is an example of how I prepare my students to take oral exams.
Revision and introduction of vocabulary-related terms
Listening Comprehension Activity: Food waste
Pronunciation Activity: Organic Food No More Nutritious
Speaking Activity through Reading passages with Follow-up Questions
Question for you. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Or let me rephrase it, have you announced to friends and family that you are finally going to hit the gym, eat fewer carbs and give up smoking? Have you? Sorry to be the party pooper here. Statistics say that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. I am definitely part of the 92%. What about you?
However, I have made a New Year’s resolution. It’s the same I made last year. I am going to try to reuse single-use disposable plastic bags when I do my daily shopping. Last year, I even went as far as putting a bunch of these bags in the boot of my car. There they are. Exactly in the same place. This year I am going to try again. I am really going to try. It’s not that I don’t want to. I really want to do my part. It’s just that I forget. So, I am considering moving the bags to the front seat. It might work. What do you think?
That’s what I’m eco-guilty of. What about you? What is your darkest eco-sin?
The lesson today is aimed at students with a language level of B2 (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to the environment and environmental issues through a variety of engaging activities which will help them learn vocabulary and improve listening, speaking and writing.
Introducing the Topic: Playing Hangman. Vocabulary and Speaking
Aim: Introduce some common vocabulary and to work on pronunciation.
On the board, write the word “Environment” and drill pronunciation.
Divide the class into two or three groups, depending on the number of students in your class.
Team A starts saying one letter. Whether they guess right or wrong, the turn goes now to Team B who will say another letter.
To try to guess the hidden word, a member of the team will need to stand up and say. “We know!”. If they guess right, they score 1 point. If they don’t, the other team can say up to two letters before anybody tries to guess again.
Note: they can only attempt to guess the word once half the letters have been guessed. For this, before each game, you will have to count the number of gaps. For example, if the word contains 8 letters, they can only guess when 4 letters have been filled.
There are four words and expressions to be learnt or revised with this exercise. After they have guessed the words, ask them a question where the target word is used in context. You might need to introduce some new vocabulary at this stage.
Environment: What do you do to help the environment?
Global warming: How do you feel when you hear about global warming?
Recycle: Do you recycle? What kind of things do you recycle?
Renewable energies: Do you know what renewable energies are? Do you use any of them? Why? Why not?
Drill pronunciation as you teach the words and then flip the cards to see how they are used in context. Do this exercise twice.
Reinforcement: there are 24 terms here. Ask students in pairs to write in two minutes as many as they can remember.
Listening. School Strike for Climate Change
In this inspiring thought-provoking talk, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses the world leaders demanding they act against climate change.
Ask students to take down notes from Greta’s talk and then in pairs talk about the most important ideas in her speech.
Encourage the use of vocabulary.
Three Speaking Activities
Gallery Walk. Thought-provoking Posters with a Humorous Twist. Giving a Monologue.
Context: A friend of yours from New Zealand, who until two weeks ago lived for 20 years in a monastery in Bhutan, has decided to pay you a visit. He doesn’t speak the language and besides, knows nothing of the real world we live in.
Student A. He shows you this infographic but needs help to understand it. Choose two or three ideas and explain what they mean.
Student B. He sees this cartoon in a newspaper and doesn’t understand it. Explain it to him.
I know, I know, I can see some of you raising an eyebrow and thinking… “well, I must be weird then, if I don’t like shopping”. Of course, you are not, it’s just that I love it so much that now that I don’t have as much spare time as I used to have, I miss it like crazy.
But I know, not everyone is a shopper, not everyone is a consumer. However, we all need to buy, whether it’s clothes, food or any other stuff. So, this lesson might come in handy whenever you decide to set your foot in a shop.
Hold on! Shop? Did I just say, “set your foot in a shop”? Like in a physical shop? It seems to me that right now, the online shopping experience has become so incredibly diverse and sophisticated that no matter what you need, it is simply a click away from you. You don’t even need to physically go to a shop. You can get yourself the latest craze from anywhere in the world without actually moving from your sofa. Kind of awesome! Yeahhh, awesome but boring!!!
Anyway, in this lesson aimed at B2 students, we will be focusing on the topic of shopping and we ’ll be comparing online shopping to traditional shopping.
ONE: Lead-in Activities
A. Types of shops
Although students have a B2 level, I find they always welcome an opportunity to review vocabulary and maybe learn the names for some less common shops.
Play the video once without stopping and at the end of it, ask students in pairs to write down as many different kinds of shops as they can remember from the video. Write the words on the board for correct spelling and drill pronunciation.
Divide the class into As and Bs. Ask As to face the board and Bs to face away from it. Play the video, display the first picture and ask As to quickly describe the kind of shop they see on the board. As describes half the pictures and then they change roles with Bs doing the description and As guessing the shop.
Note: The slides contain music. Turn down the volume if you do not want it.
You’ll find the list with all the shops featured in this video at the end of the post.
Click on each of the pictures below to enlarge them and ask students in pairs to comment on them briefly. Ask for feedback.
Note: the slides contain music. I didn’t want it, but I did not have an option. It’s Mozart. Turn down the volume now if you prefer not to be distracted by the music.
TWO. Brainstorm and introduce new vocabulary
Give students two minutes to write down as many words as they know related to shopping. When the two minutes are over, ask them to stop. After a quick round to see who has written the highest number of words ask students to tell you their words, writing on the board only the ones that are a bit more challenging.
For example, words such as “deal” or “goods” will be written on the board while “shop” or “money” will not.
More useful vocabulary:
A good deal: if something is a good deal, you pay a low price. You can say that a store has some great deals, for example
A bargain: the same as above
20% off : the price is now 20% less than the original price
Overpriced: if sth is overpriced, it costs much more than you think it should
To order: when you order something that you are going to pay for, you ask for it to be brought to you, sent to you, or obtained for you. “to order things online”
To place an order
If you have a discount on the retail price, you pay less price than the price normally charged
Goods: things made to be sold
To be scheduled for delivery (tomorrow)
A secure payment page
To enter your card details
Get a refund
You can pay “Cash on Delivery”
To exchange a product
To track your package
Ready to test your knowledge? Fill in the blanks with some of the words above.
THREE. Listening. Video Activity: Singles’ Day
Lead-in: Ask students if they know anything about Singles’ Day. Info,here
Play the video once without giving students any tasks.
Give students the gapped text and ask them to complete it with the words they hear. Play the video.
Play it again, if necessary
See the activity here. You can check the answers by activating the subtitles in the video.
FOUR. Speaking: Online Shopping versus Traditional Shopping
Divide the class into two groups: those preferring online shopping and those preferring traditional shopping. Ideally, you would pair up students in this way, but more often than not, you’ll have to persuade some students to take a different view for the sake of the exercise.
Give each student their corresponding handout and ask them to read the information on it. Their aim, when pairing up with a student holding an opposing view, will be to try to convince their partner to change their mind.
NOTE: These activities will be in Spanish. Students will need to act as mediators in an oral interlinguistic mediation activity.
This is the first time I am going to do an interlinguistic oral mediation activity with my students. My students are going to take the role of mediators and use a source text in Spanish and relay the selected information to an English speaker, who does not understand Spanish.
What is a mediator and what does he do?
The mediator acts as a facilitator in a social event during which two or more parties interacting are experiencing a communication breakdown or when there is a communication gap between them.
Watch the video and find out a bit more about mediation.
These are the first two tasks I have prepared for my students. More would be coming!
Oh my goodness, I’ve been completely obsessed with this tense these past few weeks. Even though my students are studying a B2 level, they still seem to have problems when talking about past events, especially those related to their own lives. It might be because they are so focused on telling their own real stories that grammar tends to be forgotten. It might or it might not. The thing is that I find myself constantly reminding them not to slip to present tenses. I have used several techniques but none of them seem to be working.
You might think I am a bit nuts here but when I have some time to kill, I sometimes find myself thinking about my students’ problems with the language and trying to devise new games or strategies to help them overcome their difficulties.
This strategy came to my mind on my way to Marbella to run a workshop. The plane was delayed by an hour and I had some time to kill. The technology I have used to display the prompts is one that I often use, but the idea for the layout sprang from seeing one of the teachers in the workshop work with Spark Adobe Page ( thanks Monica Redondo). Obviously, you don’t need technology to do this activity but it looks so much nicer!!
Aim: to help students avoid making the mistake of using the present simple when talking about past events.
This engaging past simple activity requires that students help each other fixing the very common mistake of switching to the present tense when talking about events, situations or anecdotes related to their pasts.
In this activity, students work in pairs. Display the first prompt. Student A will talk while Student B will listen. Every single time, Student A slips to the present simple when referring to the past, Student B will stop him by saying: ” Hey! Hold on!”
At this point, student A will need to start again.
Points: every time the student needs to start again, he will score -1 point :(.
Fun: every time a student slips to the present simple, he will have to quickly stand up and sit down 🙂 This also allows you, as a teacher, to see who needs more help.
Allow about 3 minutes and emphasize that even though they don’t make a mistake, they’ll need to talk for the entire three minutes. This will prevent stronger students from finishing before the 3 minutes are over and will challenge them to keep talking by elaborating on their stories.
When the three minutes are over, display a new prompt and ask Student B to do the talking and Student A to help him by paying close attention to the tenses he uses and stopping him using the “Hey! Hold on” technique.
After both Student A and B have talked, ask them to stand up and choose a new partner. Display a new prompt and repeat procedure.
I know, I know, there is more than one blog post about unusual traditions here, but there are so many of them and they are so much fun to listen to. Who doesn’t like being told about a totally surprising or creepy custom? It’s like when you were a little child and liked being told stories about far-away places filled with strange characters doing the most extraordinary things.
Well, this is how I feel when people tell me about unusual customs around the world.
So, whenever in the textbook I am following there is a slight reference to unusual traditions, I jump at the opportunity to do something with it.
In this lesson aimed at B2 students, you’ll find:
Two texts about unusual customs
A video about unusual customs with Ellen Degeneres telling the story. By the way, one of them a surprising Spanish custom I didn’t know about.
The quiz : What nationality are your manners?
How I use Google slides for collaborative projects
In this lesson, students will have to:
Read a text about an unusual custom and retell their partner – (aimed at improving reading and speaking abilities)
Answer a few questions or summarize the traditions heard in the video (aimed at improving listening abilities)
Learn vocabulary and comment on different manners around the world by doing the personality quiz “What nationality are your manners?”
Use technology in a collaborative project (aimed at improving students’ digital competency)
Give a speech of about 3 minutes about an unusual custom around the world (aimed at improving students’ speaking skills)
Lead-In : Speaking
Display the picture below and ask students in pairs to comment on it. After a couple of minutes, get feedback.
There is always someone who has read or knows a bit about this custom, mainly because every single time a member of the British Royal family goes to New Zealand this is the most popular picture to take. In case they know nothing about it, you can tell them this is the Maori way of greeting people, called Hongi. It is used at important ceremonies. Through the exchange of this greeting, one is no longer considered a visitor.
Have a brief conversation about the etiquette of kissing in your country
Listening: Odd Traditions Around the World (0:00-2:06)
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I’m a big fan of Ellen Degeneres. Write her name on the board and ask students if they know who she is. Tell students they are going to listen to a short extract from Ellen Degeneres show about Odd Traditions around the world.
Note: I have only used the first two traditions (0:00- 2:06 ), the third one is way too weird for my taste.
Write Groundhog Day on the board. Tell students this tradition will be mentioned in the video, but they will learn more about it in the next activity.
There are no questions here. The first time you play the video, students will be required to write down the names of the two festivals. The second time, they will have to explain everything they have learned about the two festivals.
Reading about Two Unusual Traditions. Retelling.
Ask students “Have you heard about any unusual traditions in your country or around the world? Ask students to talk in pairs and get feedback
Ask students to work in pairs. Student A will get a copy of Groundhog Day (American tradition) and Student B, a copy of Guy Fawkes Day (British tradition).
Give them some minutes to read it a couple of times and then, in pairs, ask them to tell their partner about their tradition in as much detail as possible.
Speaking: Giving a short speech about an unusual celebration.
The only thing probably worth mentioning here is the fact that we have used Google Slides to work collaboratively.
I am a very visual person. I do not want to imply that listening to my students’ speeches is boring, but I cannot deny that it is much more pleasant to look at some pictures of the tradition being described while listening to the students’ performances.
Problem? Every student will bring their own flash drive, we will need to Insert the flash drive into the USB port on the computer, run a virus scan …. etc and this takes time. A lot of time.
Solution? I created a Google Slides Presentation, used the first two slides to give instructions and then wrote the names of my students on the slides. One slide per student. I shared the URL with Edit permissions and asked them to, instead of their name, write the name of their festival and then insert a picture below it. Problem solved.
A speaking Activity Using the Quiz: What nationality are your manners?
This fun quiz contains some very interesting questions which can spark a lot of discussion in the class.
Do the quiz with the whole class. Display question number 1 and ask a student at random to choose the answer that is true for him. Ask the whole class to discuss some of the other options.