Category Archives: Vocabulary

Food for Thought Issues. A lesson about Food for B2 students

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
  • Mediation Activities

Continue reading Food for Thought Issues. A lesson about Food for B2 students

Human Tac Toe to Revise Vocabulary

Shall I say Happy Christmas? When is the right time to start saying happy Christmas? Anyway,  I love that we are right in the hustle and bustle of the season. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and this is the perfect time to try a game I have been looking forward to doing with my students.

I know I post about games quite a bit, but I really believe students learn better when they are having fun.  Mark the word “learn” because playing without learning is a waste of time in my class. So, my students already know that after the game, there is going to be revising and reinforcing.

 

 

If you have been kind enough to be reading this blog for a time, you probably know I love Ellen DeGeneres’s games and I am always looking for a way to adjust them to my own context of teaching.

This is Ellen’s interpretation of the game  Tic Tac Toe (more info here). She calls it Hunk Tac Toe and you’ll just have to watch the video below to understand why she called it Hunk Tac Toe 🙂

After watching her more appealing version, you’ll read my own version. More humble and less visually appealing, but hey, we are trying to learn English here, aren’t we?

 

 

I have designed two variations of the game. One is funnier than the other. The funnier one requires more preparation but trust me when I say it pays off.

Preparation for both versions:

1. You will need to prepare a set of questions to revise the target vocabulary.

Ask simple questions of the type:

  • What do you call the person who…?
  • What’s the opposite of…?
  • Fill in the gap in this sentence….
  • How do you pronounce…?
  • How do you spell…?

2. In both versions, you’ll need to choose two students (student O and student X ) to play the game. Place a table at the front of the class and ask the two contestants to stand behind it facing the class. Students take turns marking the spaces in the 3×3 grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

 Funnier version:

Preparation: print nine Xs and nine Os. You can download them here

Procedure:

  • Ask 9 students to sit forming three rows of three students each forming a 3×3 human grid. (see the pic above)
  • Give each of these students an X and an O
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts playing. Let’s say Student X starts playing.
  • Student X chooses a student in the grid. Let’s say, Ana.
  • Ask Ana a question from the ones you have previously prepared. If she answers correctly, she will hold the X, if she doesn’t answer correctly, then no letter will be displayed.
  • Now it’s Student O’s turn to choose another student. Again, if he answers correctly he will display the O letter if not, no letter will be displayed
  • The winner will be the student who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row.

 

Less funny version, but also fun.

  • Choose the two students who are going to play the game.
  • On the board draw a 3×3 grid and fill it with students’ names (see picture above)
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts the game.
  • Student X or O chooses a student from the grid.
  • Follow the same procedure as above.

Tip: I have played the game twice. The first time I used the less funny version and then I went for the funnier one. The combination worked just awesome!

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

I am going to be honest here and tell you that although I love Asturias and have always lived here, I miss the light.  Whenever it gets cold and blustering outside, whenever I look through my window at 6 pm and see darkness outside, the number one thing that I always crave is travelling to a place where it’s summer and the days are long and sunny and bright. I dream. I daydream.

So, almost winter in Spain. Time to talk about holidays.

Have a look at these two sentences. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

Let’s find out!

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

TRAVEL
  • As a verb: “travel” is normally used as a verb. It is used to refer to the general activity of moving from place to place

I travel to work by car

  • As a noun: “travel” as a noun is normally uncountable

The pass allows unlimited travel on all public transport in the city.

As it’s uncountable, things such as “ I had a nice travel” are wrong

Note: although uncountable, sometimes “travel” can be used in the plural

This exhibition reflects scenes and inspiration from his travels at home and abroad.

The novel is based on her travels in Asia

More common collocations associated with the noun “travel” are

  • Travel expenses
  • Travel agency
  • The travel industry
  • Travel sickness
  • A travel bag
  • Air travel
JOURNEY
  • “Journey” is also usually used as a noun. It means the time when you travel from one place to another. The emphasis is on the travelling itself, it does not refer to the time you stay there.

It was a long and difficult journey  through the mountains 
      I read during the train journey to work. 
      Did you have a good journey? 

 

TRIP
  • “Trip” is used as a noun and it’s countable. A “trip” is when you go on a short journey, or a journey you do not usually make, and come back again. We use this when the emphasis is on where you are going or why you are going there. The time you stay there is important.

         It was my first trip to the States
I am going on a business trip
Was it a good trip? 

Let’s go back to our two sentences at the beginning of this post. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

They are incorrect.

  1. “travel” is uncountable, you cannot use the indefinite article “a” with it. The correct sentence would be. “Have a safe journey”
  2. It’s incorrect because the focus is only on the travelling itself, we are not interested in where you are going or what you are going to do there, only on the duration. The correct sentence would be: ” The journey by train took two hours”.

Ready for some exercises now?

Drag and drop the sentences in the right column

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”- Playing with Baamboozle

Ohhh! The power of a game! I don’t know anybody who does not welcome a bit of fun while learning/teaching. Playing a game transforms everyone’s mood. It is magical to see what having a little break from routine tasks, can do for students who have been working hard.

I teach two-hour lessons and trust me when I tell you that even people who do not typically like games go out of their way to beat the other teams.

If, to the thrill of playing competitively among teams, you add movement, give them the opportunity to stretch by asking them to stand up and also offer them the chance to change partners frequently, smiles and good vibes are guaranteed.

For this game, I have used the free website baamboozle.com/, which is super easy to use and allows me or my students to create and play games.

  • If you do not want to register, you can still click on Featured games and choose from the large bank of games saved on the website.
  • If you register, you can create your own games.

You can use Baamboozle in 2 ways:

  • On your own, choosing the study mode option
  • In class, in teams, choosing a number, doing the task and getting the points

The game shown below has several goals in mind.

  • Provide students with the opportunity to revise some common collocations associated with Health and Illnesses
  • Provide students with some conversation questions about health and illness
  • Have a break from the textbook and have a bit of fun.

Procedure:

  • Divide students into two or more teams. You can have up to 4 teams.
  • Ask each team to choose a competitive name for their team. The team will also need to name a spokesperson.
  • On the board, display the game.
  • Team A starts by choosing a box. Once I click on the box the points assigned to this answer are displayed.
  • Team A will have 15 seconds to decide on the correct answer. They can have a brief discussion but when the time is up, the spokesperson will need to give an answer.
  • Click on Check and if it is correct, click the Okay! button and the points will be added to their team. If it is incorrect, click the Oops! button and no points will be added.
  • Ask students in pairs to answer the question and repeat procedure for team B.

Ready to play?

Follow-up:

  • Revising: give students the link to the game and ask them at home to revise using the Study Mode.
  • Writing: ask students to choose one of the questions and write about it for about 15 minutes paying attention to their grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. During the class, the next day, choose a box, tell students to quickly provide the collocation and ask a student who has written about it to summarise his ideas for the rest of the class.

The Supporting Act- A Beautiful Lesson to Work with -Ed/-Ing Adjectives

I’m currently in the middle of —what I like to call—beginning-of-the-course chaos. I am busy doing nothing, wasting time on probably unnecessary things and when the day ends, I find I have done nothing from the to-do list I carefully planned in the morning. Total chaos.

Today, I have a guest post from a colleague from EOI Oviedo, Ángeles Jimenez,  who from time to time, saves my a** by agreeing to send me some of her creative activities. This is one of them. I hope you like it as much as I did.

This lesson plan is based on a two-minute short film launched by the B.B.C on Christmas 2017. It’s suitable for intermediate and higher levels.

The lesson starts with a lead-in speaking activity to help students differentiate -ed from -ing adjectives. It’s then followed by a brainstorming activity where students get a lot of talking time.

-ed / -ing adjectives can be a challenging task to teach as students mix them up easily. Sometimes such confusion can lead to amusing mistakes such as “I’m boring” or “I’m tiring” when they truly mean “I’m bored” and “I’m tired”.

STEP 1

To clear up the confusion, I start with a warm-up activity. I write, on the whiteboard, 3 or 4  -ing adjectives and tell students they will need to come up with a wide range of things, activities and/or people that can fit in each category. “Boring”, “Exciting”, “Frightening” and “Disgusting” are some of the -ing adjectives that work well.

For example, if I write the adjective ” Boring” students might say: studying for exams, politics, queuing at the supermarket…etc. 

This is an engaging warm-up as students can personalise the grammar point you’re trying to teach.

I  begin with myself writing the word “moths” in the “frightening” column. They may not be familiar with the noun but students love it when the teacher includes anecdotes and personal examples. They get involved in the activity in no time!

Once the whiteboard is full of the students’ own ideas, I then follow with a “How do you feel” question to elicit the -ed adjective.

Example: “How do I feel about moths? I feel frightened”

and I write the word “frightened” on the board with capital letters underlying the -ed part to emphasize that’s how I feel. To make sure they’ve understood the difference, I go through the adjectives on the board asking the same question: “How do you feel about studying for exams?” To round up, a simple graphic is very helpful:

                  Something ING  ⇒  makes you feel ED

Step 2

I project the frame above from the silent advert because it’s open to interpretation, it offers a lot of speaking practice and I find it’s a great way to revise the use of narrative tenses, especially for intermediate levels. I ask my students to come up with a short story that can explain what is happening/happened, what the girl is/was doing, how she is feeling and what they think is going to happen at the end.

At a more advanced level, they can even make deductions. Elicit some examples such as “It’s late. She must be worried because her parents haven’t arrived home yet”

Also, make sure they use as many adjectives related to feelings as they can.

STEP 3: 

  1. Play the video.
  2. Speaking: Ask students to compare it with the stories they created. Ask some follow-up questions: Did they like it? Did they find it touching? Can they relate?
  3. Vocabulary and speaking.  Pdf here. Give the students the handout that accompanies the video activity. It includes an exercise to learn new vocabulary, another exercise to revise -ed / -ing adjectives and last, but not least, a more ludic and relaxing one to test how good their memory is. You can see the first two exercises below:

Vocabulary exercise. Summarising the story. Choose the most appropriate word from the drop-down menu

Oral exercise. Using adjectives -ed adjectives to talk about feelings. Ask the following questions and encourage students to use -ed adjectives

  1. Watch the T.V add and talk about how the girl felt…
  • when she came out of school. Ex: excited
  • when she gave her dad the talent show leaflet.
  • when her dad answered the call.
  • when she rehearsed at home, in the street…
  1. How did her dad feel when he saw her jumping on the escalators?
  2. Why did she slam the door?
  3. How did she feel when she …
  • drew the curtains?
  • couldn’t remember the dance?
  • when her dad came out of the audience to help?
  • the dance finished?

Silent movies have a great potential for language teaching. They’re a fantastic tool to get students to produce language at any level since it’s the task the teacher sets the one that provides the level. They usually find it easier to memorise vocabulary and grammar when it’s associated with a captivating image or story and when it comes to holding their attention, a short clip does the trick.

Thank you Ángeles, a beautiful activity.