Category Archives: Listening

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!

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.

Learn with News: a Real Time-Saver for Teachers and Students

Do you regularly read or watch the news? I don’t

Look, I know I’m supposed to act all adult-like and be like, “yeah! Every day… can’t live without knowing what’s happening in my country? Honestly? I don’t need the news- I want to be happy. Don’t you feel that nothing good ever happens in this world when you are watching the news?

But my role as an English teacher is to encourage exposure to examples of language in different contexts, from different sources and from different speakers. And this is precisely the reason why I am posting about this helpful site.

Learn with News is an English news website and you are gonna love it ’cause it’s free. In 3 levels. With exercises. Bonus points: with answers.

If you are a student

  • you get to choose the level of the news. There are three levels: level 1 for beginners, level 2 for intermediate students and level 3 for advanced students.
  • They provide materials for reading, vocabulary, speaking and listening
  • They provide the answers.

If you are a teacher

  • What is there not to love? They have prepared your class for free. Yay!

 

Don’t Just Ask them to Listen. Strategies for Better Understanding

Let’s talk about listening!

Do you or your students struggle with listening? If we are going to come clean here, I have to confess that I do not like listening comprehension tests. I think that most of the times, they are so tricky that even though the student understands pretty well what is being said, very often they cannot guess the right answer, and this happens especially in Multiple Choice listening tests.  So, dear students, listening comprehension questions can be hard to answer but know that you are not the only ones suffering. I have heard native speakers teaching their own native language confess to being unable to guess the right answer.

 

On the bright side, there are some things that we, as teachers, can do to help students understand better, but one that is essential is to encourage the correct pronunciation of words in every lesson and to do exercises on connected speech often. Isn’t it true that you cannot expect a student to understand a word if they are mispronouncing it?

On the other hand, I  firmly believe that in order to get better at listening you need to become an active listener and there are a number of things that we can do to encourage this active listening.

These last weeks, I have been teaching about Education and obviously the listening comprehension exercises are all about education. The listening I am going to give them today is in their course books and the instructions read like this

You are going to hear five people talking about how they study for exams.

Nice topic, isn’t it?

Well, the idea is to not just play the listening and ask them to do the task but to introduce the topic and do some short activities that will prepare them for what they are going to hear.

IDEA 1. Focusing on the title

Ask a student to read aloud the introduction to the listening task in their course books and on the board write

 Studying  for an exam

Ask students to brainstorm in pairs vocabulary that might be said by the speakers in the listening activity. Write the words they come up with on the board. Don’t clean the board yet.

Tip: Before the class, read the transcript for the audio and select a few words you want your students to focus on. In case these words you have chosen are not offered by the students in the brainstorming activity, subtly write them on the board.

IDEA 2. Speaking

Using visuals is always a great idea and it never fails to spark a discussion. Ask the question: How do you revise for exams? and show them the two gifs below. Hopefully, you will, at least, get a smile from them.  Ask them to identify themselves with a gif and in pairs talk about the question. Get feedback.

IDEA  3. Play the listening the first time.

Remember the words on the board? Play the listening once and ask students to stand up every time they hear one of the words on the board. I guarantee they will be completely focused.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy! 🙂

A Wonderful Website to Practise Natural Spoken English: 1-2 minutes Audios

First of all, let me tell you that this is not a sponsored post. In fact, I have never been paid to feature a website or an app. I just write about what I find interesting to me or my students.

I bumped into High Level Listening quite by chance. Feeling a bit lazy myself but still wanting to offer my students the best, I did a web search hoping Google would do the work for me and find me vocabulary related to the media. Disappointingly, I couldn’t find anything I really, really liked (I apologize if you are reading this and you have published something wonderful. I am sorry,  I have probably missed it).

Fortunately, the search was not in vain and in fact, ended up being quite fruitful as I found this wonderful website owned by two teachers, Pat from America and Mark from the Uk, who record natural conversations (1-2 minutes long) on common topics introducing relevant vocabulary in a natural way.

The audios are perfect for note-taking listening activities activating the vocabulary featured in the conversations. In most cases, there is no transcript for the audio but there is a glossary of terms students can benefit from. Also, in some cases,  you can also request the transcript for free.

In my case, I am going to be focusing on Social Media vocabulary and to my delight, there are 5 posts dedicated to this topic. Check them out here

High Level Listening is perfect for B1 and B2 students who want to learn natural spoken English. I just hope they keep adding new topics.