Category Archives: Grammar

Do you Have One Minute? Four sites to Learn English in One Minute

Do you have a minute? This is all you need for these four highly recommended sites I am going to share with you today.

1. English in a Minute 

If you have never watched English in a Minute, I think it’s time!

Centered on confusing vocabulary or grammar points, this ever-growing collection of video clips has been nominated for the ELTons Awards (English Language Teaching Innovation Awards given annually by the British Council)

Why do I recommend these short videos?

  • They focus on real confusing terms.
  • They are clear, short ( 1 minute) and to the point.
  • Transcript for every video is available, so you can also practise pronunciation if you decide to read along.
  • Most of them have a grammar reference
  • Most of them have  a quiz to test your knowledge

Here you can learn about the difference between:

  • Story and History
  • Stop to do and stop doing
  • Person and people

Click on the picture or here

2. BBC News in One-Minute.

Targeting more advanced students, here you can watch the latest news summary from BBC World News updated 24 hours a day. In one minute. As promised.

Click on the picture or here

One-Minute English

Hugh Dellar from Lexical lab is the star in these videos. I love his videos because they teach you real English, the English you might not find in dictionaries but which is essential if you want to understand native speakers. The videos are easy to follow as he speaks slowly and repeats the target word or chunk several times during the recording.

For example: Do you know what the words “sarnie” or “samey” mean?

Click on the picture or here

English in a minute 

And finally, this is another worth-sharing site. If the site above featured British English, this one run by VOA Learning English (Voice of America) explains expressions used in American English although, in most cases obviously, the expressions on the videos are used both in British and in American English.

Again, click on the picture or here

So, here you are, four awesome sites to learn something every day! Enjoy English! Enjoy learning!

A Word On Grammar: Would Rather

I love grammar, don’t you? But I’m not going to lie, sometimes I struggle with making grammar interesting. A lot of times it’s just plain boring grammar. However, when I am feeling inspired, using technology can change everything. Technology is great at showing content, you just need to grab the content from your course book and combine different tools to make a great lesson.

Step 1. The boring part. Teaching grammar.

I am not going to give you the spiel about how important grammar is. I guess if you are reading this blog, it’s because we are all on the same page here.

Feeling lazy myself today, I am going to give my students the grammar from this website: Cambridge English Dictionary. Who would know better?

Step 2.  Revising grammar with an animated video.

I am going to use the first 0:50 seconds and save the grammar for prefer and would prefer for a better occasion. You might need to play twice. The second time, I normally pause the video and ask students to give me their own sentences.

 

Step 3: The exercises.

This is a challenging exercise as all the sentences are different exemplifying different structures with would rather.

How to do it, or rather, how I do it:

  1. First time: I display the sentence and ask students to write down their answers. Allow about 1 minute for this task and then ask students to give you the answer, flip the card and correct.                                                                                                                                  Note: some students will prefer to do the exercise orally and you’ll see a bunch of them staring at the screen waiting for you to ask for the right answer. It’s important to insist that, in this part, they’ll need to write their answers down as it is the first time they will see a variety of different examples of the use of would rather and it might be challenging.
  2. Second time:  Class as a whole. Orally do the exercise.
  3. Third time: at the end of the class or maybe the next day, I do it again, asking individual students to provide the correct answer.

I have used Quizlet to create the study set and I have shared the link with my students so that they can revise at home.

Flip the card to see the answer.


Note: there is nothing like technology to revise again and again without students getting bored. You just need to change the approach.

Step 4: Speaking. Digital Gallery Walk

An engaging activity using a more engaging tool to present it. Ask students to stand up- remember this is a gallery walk- and choose a partner to talk about the first question. Ask them to stop, find a new partner and display question number 2. Allow 3 or 4 minutes per question and encourage students to use the target grammar in their answers.

If you want more oral practice, you’ll find lots of would you rather questions here. Some of them really give me the creeps and would rather not use them. But this is up to you!   🙂Powered by emaze

 

Fun Lively Communicative Game to Reinforce I Wish/If Only

Who doesn’t welcome a bit of fun in the classroom, a light getting-out-of-your-seat activity? I can see no raised hands?  Right, we are all in for this game!!!

Before you continue reading. For this activity, you will need to have space in your classroom, which I don’t. Even though my class is U-shaped, it is still a small class. But, no problem.  Right outside my class, there is a big aisle where we can do this little activity and perhaps, who knows,  some students from other classes might want to join us. The more, the merrier.

We can do this game in two different ways or in both ways. Actually,  I did first Part 1 and then Part 2. Both equally effective.

Before the game: on the board revise the grammar for I Wish/ If Only.

The Game:

Ask students to form a big circle leaving the most space in the middle. They don’t have to hold hands or be excessively close to each other as long as they form a big circle and everybody can see everybody else.

This is how it works:

Part 1. The teacher asks a question containing I wish/ if only.

Shout the first question; for example, Who wishes they were rich? and instruct all the students whose answer is Yes to come into the middle of the circle and there, in pairs or threes, briefly explain their answers. Allow one or two minutes’ conversation and then, ask them to go back to their positions. Encourage them to use the target grammar in their answers.
What do students whose answer is No do? Easy answer: the same. The will need to pair up with the student who is closest to them explaining their answer.

These are the questions I have used. You are welcome to use them.

  • Who wishes they were abroad right now?
  • Who wishes they had a bigger car?
  • Who wishes they had studied harder when they were at school?
  • Who wishes they were thinner or fatter, taller or shorter?
  • Who wishes their neighbours were nicer people?
  • Who wishes they had a different English teacher? 😊
  • Who wishes they had chosen a different profession?
  • Who wishes they had a more positive attitude towards life?
  • Who wishes they could live to be a hundred?
  • Who wishes they could be president of their countries for just one day?
  • Who wishes they had more time to socialize?
  • Who wishes they had had more siblings?
  • Who wishes they had been born in another century?
  • Who wishes they had been born a member of the opposite sex?
Part 2. The students produce the sentences. The High-Five.

I have called this part The High Five. Still standing and forming a circle, ask students to think of a sentence about themselves they think people will easily relate to using I wish/ if only.

Students take it in turns to say their sentence aloud and at the same time move into the centre of the circle.  Anybody who feels the same way moves to the centre of the circle and gives a High-five to the person in the centre of the circle who has said the sentence.

Same procedure as above. In pairs or in 3’s ask them to briefly discuss their answer.

You can start by moving to the centre of the circle and saying:
I wish I could pass my English test ( Note: your hands will hurt from all the high fives you’ll get with this sentence)

Discourage sentences that might be too personal or too specific like
I wish my mother had come with me on that trip.

Remember that it is important to model first and give clear instructions so that students know what they have to do. You want everybody participating and nobody slowing the game down or feeling uncomfortable because they haven’t understood what they need to do. If necessary, use concept check questions( CCQ) to make sure everybody knows what to do.

Interested in spicing up your lessons? I ran face-to-face workshops helping teachers integrate technology in their classes in an easy way, using free online digital tools. Practical tested ideas that combine traditional teaching with modern techniques. Fun and learning, a win-win!

From teacher to teacher. In English and in Spanish.

Cloze Test Activity, Blog de Cristina’s Style

We are talking about Cloze Tests today. Not the printed fit-all-size cloze texts that you can get and photocopy from any textbook or exam preparation book, but the online tailor-made no-prep cloze tests you can get at the wonderfully simple site created by L. George. See it here

Why is it Cristina’s way, you might be wondering? Well, because it combines two of my favourite ingredients in an activity:

  • A touch of technology
  • A game-like activity

The online tool I have used to create the cloze has two features you can choose from: text only (that you can easily copy/paste into a document) and interactive (that you can save as an HTML page). The tool is free and you don’t even need to register.

In this exercise, I have used the simpler text-only version.

Cloze Test Exercise with a Twist

Choose a text that contains a variety of terms you want your students to revise or work with.

  • Go to l.georgesCopy/paste the text in the box
  • Choose Text Only and No Clues
  • On the right yellow box with the options, choose “every… words” ( I have chosen to gap my text every 9 words)
  • Using the OHP, display the gapped text on the board or alternatively, print it and give it to your students. Two students can share a copy.

TASK
  • Ask students to work in pairs.  Give or show the Close Test and ask them to predict the lexical category or part of speech that could fit each gap: is it a noun, an adjective, a preposition or maybe an article? Allow a couple of minutes for this task. You might want to show an example.

For example, I wrote a letter___ my mother (students will most likely agree, they ‘ll need   a preposition to fill in this gap)

Let’s start:

  • Ask Student A to face the board. Ask Student B to face away from the board and concentrate on the text.
  • Tell students you’ll write the words on the board in random order, but each of the words will be identified with a number. If you have 8 gaps in the cloze text, you will write the words on the board preceded by the number. Tell Student B to do the same in case he cannot guess a word in the allotted time. For ex: 1. house  2. wrote 3. for.
  • Write one of the missing words on the board, and ask student A to define the word, or give a synonym or antonym for student B to guess and write down. For example, if the word on the board is “wrote”, Student A might say “it’s a verb in the past and you use a pen or a pencil to do it”.
  • Tell students you’ll write a new word every 30 seconds. If Student B guesses the word quickly, he might try to use the rest of the time (up until the 30 seconds)  to try to place the word in the right gap but tell them you’ll not wait.
  • Continue in the same way until you have written all the missing words. The words should be written in random order.

NOTE: If one of the words hasn’t been guessed, at the end of this part Student A will need to try to define the words again. (Remember that the words are still written on the board).  This time, Student A can help Student B  by giving him the first letter.

  • Once they have all the words, Students A and B will work together to complete the gapped test.
  • Place a bell on your table and ask the first pair to finish to come up to your table. Silently check that the exercise is correct and if it is, ask them to ring the bell. From that moment, the rest of the class will have one minute to finish the exercise.
  • Choose another text and repeat procedure. This time Student B will face the board and Student A will concentrate on the text.

 

Note: If you are a student, this is a great tool for self-study. Choose a text from around the web, gap the text every 10 words and then select the interactive feature, which will check your exercise.  Enjoy learning English!

Life Begins at 70: a Future Perfect and Future Continuous Lesson

To me, old age is always ten years older than I am”  John Burroughs

In this engaging lesson students will consolidate the use of future perfect and future perfect continuous through some engaging activities.


WARM UP


Show them a picture of how you see yourself when you are 70 and explain why you see yourself like that. (below you’ll see the picture I showed my students). After some laughs and a bit of explaining, ask students:

How do you see yourselves when you are 70? Do you look forward to getting old?

Ask them to talk in pairs for two or three minutes and get feedback.


THE POEM- WARMING by Jenny Joseph


This is a nice opportunity to introduce poetry in class.

Explain that the poem they are about to listen/read, written by Jenny Joseph,  goes hand in hand with the picture of yourself shown above. After listening to the poem, ask students whether they think the author is looking forward to getting old and why.

It seems the poetess is rebellious, but she is only comfortable to ‘break the rules’ when she has the excuse of old age and senility. Ask students what they think about her attitude.


GALLERY WALK

  • On the walls of the class display pictures of elderly people reflecting different attitudes towards life when they are old.
  • Ask students to stand up, have a look at all of them and decide which one will best represent their attitude to life. They now return to their desks.
  • Ask them to write two sentences using the future perfect and two sentences using the future continuous, based on the picture they have chosen.
  • Get students in threes now and ask them to explain their choice to their partners and use the 4 sentences they have written.
  • For example and based on my picture
  • I will have tried parachuting when I am 70
  • I will have probably written a recipe book.
  • I will probably be living in Bhutan
  • I will be living life to the fullest

I have used these pictures  to display on the walls, and this presentation when giving feedback see  here.


SPEAKING


Students now work in small groups and answer the following questions about the future. Remind them that they need to elaborate on their answers giving reasons and using different expressions to give opinion. All the questions contain either a future perfect or a future continous form; encourage students to use these tenses in their answers.

You might find this handout useful

Looking Forward to the Future