Monthly Archives: February 2019

Lesson Plan. Success and Failure

Step 1. Lead-in

Number 1. Display the collage below and ask students whether they know any of these people.  Ask them in pairs to discuss what they have in common.

Ask for feedback. Hopefully, they will tell you what you want to hear from them; that they are all very successful people.

The people below are Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Amancio Ortega and Jeff Bezos. Just in case 🙂

Number 2. On the board, write the words ” success” and “failure”. You might want to drill pronunciation /səkˈses/  and  /ˈfeɪljə(r)/. Ask: what are the verbs?  What are the adjectives?

Teach the adjectives successful and  failed  and the verbs succeed in/ at  and fail in.

  • He is a successful writer/ He is a failed writer.
  • He has succeeded in life/ he has succeeded at work/ He has failed in his attempt to win the race

Number 3.  Ask students in pairs to brainstorm vocabulary they associate to success and failure. You might want to teach some more advanced vocabulary. Ask students to write three columns on their notebooks ( words related to Success/ words related to failure/ related to both ). Write the words down, one at a time, on the board and ask students to tell you whether they are related to success or failure or both.

  • to accomplish / accomplishment
  • to achieve/( remarkable) achievement
  • to take risks / a risk taker
  • a visionary
  • a dreamer
  • an entrepreneur
  • an opportunist
  • to take a chance
  • to make a fortune
  • a half-baked idea
  • to chew over an idea
  • to be the main breadwinner
  • to save for a rainy day
  • unprecedented/modest success
  • to bring out the best in people
  • to be doomed to failure
  • to blow it
  • to be quite a feat
  • to suffer a setback
  • to do something as a last resort

Ask students in pairs to discuss the following questions. Encourage the use of vocabulary

  1. Talk about a successful person you know
  2. Is success important to you?
  3. What is your biggest success in life?
  4. Share with your partner a time when you failed at something. What happened? How did you feel?

 

Step 2: Listening: Cloze Test

Tell them they are going to see Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech at Oscars 2019 for best original song.

Procedure:

Display this gapped text with the OHP or print it. Don’t play the video  yet.

 

  • Ask students 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 students to work in pairs. 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 9 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.

The missing words from Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech are: 1. sister 2. sung  3. hard  4. winning 5. fight  6. passion  7. fall  8. stand   9. brave.

Don’t forget to write the board in random order.

Play Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech and ask students in pairs to comment on it and give you feedback.

Step 3: Speaking. Quotes.

Ask students in groups of three to discuss the following quotes. Display the first quote and allow them to discuss it for about 4 or 5 minutes and then get feedback. Display the second one and repeat procedure.

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.

Revising and Consolidating Vocabulary: No-Prep Fun Strategies

Before we dive into the content of the post today, I’d like for you to know a surprising fact about me. I love traditional teaching. Yes, chalk and board. I say “surprising” because if you have been reading this blog for a while, you will have probably noticed how often I incorporate technology in my lessons. True. I love surprising my students with a new idea to revise, learn or consolidate learning using a digital tool, but I absolutely also adore surprising them with an exercise where the only help is their mind, their classmates and occasionally their teacher.

If I combine both traditional and digital learning, then it’s just my dream lesson. And this is what you’ll find on this post, the traditional Cristina and an updated version of myself. Which one do I love best? That, I still need to decide.

B2 students revising vocabulary

  • Aim: revise and consolidate vocabulary in a communicative way.
  • Levels. B1 upwards

Although the ideas below work better for a topic-based lesson- in my case it was used to revise food-related terms-, I think it might also work to revise random vocabulary as long as you specify which vocabulary you want to revise.

Step 1: Standing Up 

That’s probably one of my favourite ways to revise the vocabulary learnt the previous days.  My students already know me, so when I say: “please, stand up”, they already know what is coming and automatically, it brings a smile to their faces.

Instructions: students need to come up with a food-related term from the ones studied in the unit. They take it turns to say their word and I repeat it loud enough for all the class to hear it. This also gives me a good chance to repeat the word that might have been occasionally mispronounced.

A student sits down, ie. is eliminated,  if…

  • he cannot come up with a word
  • if another student has already said the word
  • if he cannot come up with a word in 10 seconds.

Big applause for the last person to remain standing and one of the sweets I keep in my candy box.

Step 2: Using Slips of Paper. Moving around the class.

Once terms and pronunciation have been revised, it’s time to work on meaning.

  1. Give students a slip of paper. I use old photocopies printed only on one side and cut them lengthwise. You should get two slips of paper per copy.
  2. Ask them to write two terms they would like to revise. Encourage them to write big enough to see the words from a distance (Note: this is unnecessary but I find the bigger their letters are, the easier it is to understand their handwriting). Once they have done so, ask them to make sure they know how to define them. Also, help with pronunciation.
  3. Ask students to stand up. The desks in my class form a U so I tell them to move to the centre of the class. Students choose a partner and they take it turns to define their words for the other student to guess/revise. Before they move on to find a new partner, they swap cards. This is a very important step as once they swap, they will need to define/revise other words.

After 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the number of students, students sit down, Ask them to keep the last slip of paper they have defined.

Step 3:  Asking Open-Ended questions. 

Now, this is the part where I use technology and one of my favourite tools to get feedback. But, let’s go step by step.

a. Writing the questions

Students sit down. Ask them to write down an open-ended question using one of the words on their slip of paper. Tell them some of the questions will be chosen to do a speaking activity. Encourage them to write questions related to the topic, in my case food.

Questions are difficult in English so walk around the room helping students.

b. Using  Mentimeter.com to get feedback

As I mentioned above, this tool is one of my favourites to get feedback.

It takes less than 30 seconds to set up the task.

  • Go to mentimeter.com
  • Choose the open-ended slide
  • Click on Present and  display the slide with the OHP
  • Ask students to take out their mobiles and go to menti.com
  • Give them the code
  • Ask them to write their questions and submit them

Once their questions are displayed, correct possible grammar mistakes and choose 6 or 8  to be discussed in pairs or in groups of 3.

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson.

Teach and have fun!

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