Monthly Archives: March 2019

Developing Fluency Working with News and Fake News

Who needs a fabulous activity to add to their repertoire of activities to teach about the news and the media? Both hands raised? Awesome!

This activity has been inspired by a video I saw on Youtube where Louise Desmier, from British Council Spain, talks about CLIL and offers different activities that can be adapted to different subjects. Check it out 

The idea behind this activity is that by repeating the same information several times, students gain fluency, start making fewer mistakes and gain confidence. 

  • Topic: Newspapers and the media
  • Aim: to develop students’ fluency and incorporate new language by retelling a piece of news several times.
  • Level: Upper Intermediate and above
  • Time:  20 minutes
  • Materials: Short stories (level 2) from News in Levels.
Before the class

Before the class, choose a number of stories from News in Levels that look intriguing or you think might generate interest. Write the headlines of the stories on a folded piece of paper, big enough to see from a distance (see picture). If you have 12 students in class, there should be at least 6  different pieces of news.

Copy/paste each piece of news and print them on different pages. Each headline should be accompanied by their matching piece of news.

Note: You should also include one piece of fake news which, at the end of the exercise, students will need to guess.

Some of my headlines were:

  • Scientist make meat
  • Church sex scandals
Procedure

Bear with me. It takes longer to explain than to actually do the exercise

  • Divide the class into newsreaders and viewers. Ask the newsreaders to sit together in a different area of the classroom.
  • Ask the newsreaders to place their headlines on the desk visible to the rest of the class (viewers)
  • Give the newsreaders the news accompanying the headline and allow them some time to read it. Tell them they will need to retell the story behind the headline.
  • While the newsreaders are reading their piece of news, you can ask the rest of the class to do a small exercise from their textbooks. You don’t want them to be staring at you or wasting their time.
  • Once the five minutes are over, ask the viewers to stand up and choose the headline that intrigues them the most. They should sit facing the newsreader.
  • The newsreader needs to retell the news using his own words but, at the same time, trying to incorporate as much vocabulary from the story as possible.
  • Allow 2 or 3 minutes for this part.
  • Repeat the exercise asking viewers to choose a different intriguing headline.

  • Change roles. Ask students to change roles and repeat procedure. As, ideally, there will be more than 4 pieces of news they can always choose a different headline.

Once the exercise is finished, ask students in pairs to discuss and decide which news was fake news. Answer: the one about the spiders

Find some more fake news here

Hope you have enjoyed the activity! 🙂

Activating Vocabulary in a Reading Comprehension Activity.

Now, this is my kind of activity. Fun, engaging, communicative and effective! And… almost no-prep!

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you surely know about my obsession for “activating “ the vocabulary I teach in class. For this reason, you will always find me devising and designing strategies to bring to life the vocabulary taught during the lesson.

             

This activity I am going to share with you today turns a seemingly boring reading comprehension exercise into an engaging collaborative activity with lots of vocabulary learning involved.

It works really well when you have a text that can easily be divided into sections. Let’s take, for example, a text where 4 people give their opinion about Languages.

Procedure:

Before the class ( I said "almost" non-prep) 

Choose 5 words or expressions in each section you want your students to learn or reinforce. Write them down on a piece of paper (see picture below). You can obviously choose more or fewer words, but 5 works fine for me. Don’t show it to your students. Yet.

In class

Working with vocabulary

  • Form as many groups as different sections in the text you have and assign each group a section to read. For example, group 1 gets text 1, group 2 gets text 2… etc.

Note: In one class, I only had 8 students, so there were only two students in each group. Not a   problem. It worked just fine.

  • Once groups are formed, ask students to individually read their assigned text and underline any words or expressions they think might be worth using/ studying/using.
  • In the group, ask them to compare the words/expressions they have underlined and come up with only 5.
  • Ask them to write them on a piece of paper. Tell them you have also chosen 5 words from their texts. They will score 1 point for every coincidence.
  • Divide the board into four columns ( as many as sections/groups you have) and assign a column to each group.
  • Ask a representative from each group to write the 5 items they have chosen on their assigned column on the board, and explain meanings to the rest of the class.
  • Once this is done, read the words you have chosen and assign a point for every coincidence. On the board, add your chosen words to those written by the group. Clarify meanings and repeat procedure with the rest of the groups.

Retelling

Form new groups. Ask every student in Group 1 to form a different group with students from Group 2, 3 and 4. Allow them to reread their texts once or twice and ask them to retell their part making sure they use the vocabulary on the board.

Finally, do the reading comprehension questions as a whole class. Everybody should be able now to answer the questions for the whole text.

Some Tips to Score High in Paired Oral Interaction Exams

March means the clock is ticking and my students are beginning to feel the pressure of getting ready to take standardized exams. Not an easy thing to do when it comes to taking oral exams and the pressure and the tension can sometimes be overwhelming.

The most important tip I could probably give you is practice, practice and practice. Remember the saying “Practice makes perfect”

Let’s start  ♥

What you need to know about this part
  • In this part, two or three candidates will be asked to speak together. The examiner will give you a task and there will be some prompts to talk about. You’ll need to express your own opinion and also ask for your partner’s opinion, you will need to share ideas and interact discussing some of the points written on your worksheet.
  • You’ll have 1 or 2 minutes to look at the task, but you won’t be able to take notes. Your conversation should last about 5 or 6 minutes.
  • You need to perform well in terms of Interactive Communication.  You need to ask questions, ask for opinion, suggest…etc and link your contribution to what the other candidate has said.
Tips
  • This is an interaction between two or three students, so you might want to think of the questions you want to ask your partner to ask for his opinion or preference.
  • Remember that this is not a monologue. You should speak and address your partner, not the examiner.
  • Be prepared to start a discussion with your partner, as well as respond to what they
  • have to say.
  • If you make a mistake, correct it. Obviously, it’s better not to make any mistakes but if you do, correct it and carry on talking.
  • Remember this is not a listening exam, it is a speaking exam. Speak as much as possible when it’s appropriate.
  • Be sensitive to turn-taking. The other candidate has to speak too. You need to find a balance between speaking too little and too much.
  • There are no right or wrong opinions. We are assessing language here.
Do's
  • Think about vocabulary you might want to use
  • Don’t forget that it is important to use a wide variety of structures.
  • Keep in mind you’ll need to state your opinion elaborating on it, ie, giving reasons
  • Don’t just talk about a single idea. You won’t probably have to talk about all the points suggested in the worksheet, but you should not focus on only one. You need to move from one idea to another.
  • Just remember to speak clearly so that both the interlocutor and assessor can hear you
  • Remember your pronunciation should always be intelligible.
  • Make sure you take every opportunity to speak.
  • Listen to your partner carefully and link what you say with what the other candidate says
  • If you are not sure what to do, ask for clarification.
Don't
  • Learn long answers or speeches by heart.
  • Don’t leave long or frequent pauses.
  • Don’t interrupt your partner when he is speaking,
  • Don’t give short answers or one-word answers. Elaborate on your ideas.
  • Don’t talk to the examiner. Talk to the other candidate.

Some functional language you might want to use:

Asking for opinion: what do you think about …? What are your thoughts on…? What about you? How about you? Do you agree?

Suggestions: How about moving on to….? Let’s discuss a different one now. Let’s talk about the advantages now.

More functional language here

Examples
  • See an example below

  • Oral Interaction Exams from EEOOII Castilla-La Mancha. Here
  • Video of a mock exam explaining what to do and not to do in an oral interaction exam.

I am a huge fan of Simple English Videos and I have found this one below that might give you an idea or what to do and what not to do in the exam.

Confusing Words: Classical vs Classic, Historic vs Historical and Economic vs Economical

These past few weeks I’ve been teaching like crazy and the next two weeks, gosh, it’s going to be hectic. Working in the mornings as an adult EFL teacher and then, teacher training in the afternoons/evenings + the weekend. Hey, I’m not complaining! I love my job! The only problem is that I don’t have time to post as regularly as I would like to. So, please excuse me for this late post this week.

Besides, there are weeks that go by where I feel like all of my ideas are not worth posting. Other weeks, I feel like I have hit a groove and everything I do is really effective and I just feel great. Problem is, as I said above, I need to find the time to write it down.

Anyway, this means I have a bunch of posts I want to write. This first one is not super creative but it’s really effective.

  • explanation
  • exercises

 

Lesson Plan: Crime and Punishment

Yay! It’s March! One of my fav seasons! I’m basically ticking off the days in my calendar until March 31 when we turn the clocks ahead and get more hours of daylight. In case you haven’t figured yet, I’m a sucker for bright sunny days.

This lesson plan about Crime and Punishment has been on my to-make list for a long time. And since I’m also ticking off the days before finals, I have decided to finally write it.  “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today” or so they say.

This lesson plan is intended to fill a four-hour lesson or maybe a bit more. My classes are 110 minutes long so my intention is to dedicate two classes to talking about this topic. You can skip some of the tasks – don’t you dare!- if you don’t want to spend four hours talking about crime and punishment.

Day 1

Day One is a bit more boring than Day 2. Be warned!

Step 1: Lead-in.

1. Revising vocabulary. At this level, students know some common vocabulary related to crime and it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ prior knowledge. You want them to feel they are learning, but you probably don’t want them to feel overwhelmed by the amount of vocabulary they have to study.

Write Crime on the board and ask students in pairs to write down as many different crimes as they can think of.

Ask for feedback and write them on the board. It might be a good idea to introduce at this point the names for the criminals and the action verbs for each crime.

Example: they write kidnapping, and they also get kidnapper and to kidnap

2. Speaking: Point to some of the crimes on the board and ask simple questions such as

Do you know anyone who has been burgled/ mugged/kidnapped/ stopped by the police while drunk-driving? What happened?

Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary.

1. A Game with FlipCards. As I wrote in another post, Quizlet and I have made up, it’s not that we had fallen out, it’s just that I found other flip card apps more visually appealing.  I still think they could update their app but the truth is that now I find myself using Quizlet more and more often. I am planning to use Quizlet in two ways. The one below- Flashcards mode-on Day 1 and Quizlet Live on Day 2 ( I warned you, Day 2 is more fun!)

Procedure: Divide the class into Team A and Team B.  They should name a spokesperson for each team. Flip a virtual coin to decide who starts the game. Let’s say Team A starts the game. Display the first definition and ask Team A to guess the crime. Allow a maximum of 10 seconds and ask the spokesperson to tell you the crime. They can continue playing until they make a mistake or cannot come up with the crime matching the definition. At this point,  the turn goes to Team B who can try to guess the crime.  If they can’t, they will still continue trying to guess crimes until again they make a mistake or cannot provide the crime for the definition on display. Every correct guess scores 1 point. It goes without saying the winner is the team who has scored the most points.

The idea is to facilitate learning, so after the game do the exercise again with the whole class, this time trying to focus only on the pictures and quickly saying the crime. A third time at the end of the class? Why not!

Introduce the term “white-collar crimes”  also called “corporate crime”. Explain that white-collar crimes are those financially motivated, nonviolent crimes committed by business and government professionals. Ask students to name some white-collar crimes and ask:

Do you think white-collar criminals should do time in jail?

Want to go the extra mile? For a more extensive list, click here

2. Vocabulary related to Crime and Punishment.

We have the crimes and the criminals. Now, what else? To talk about crimes and punishment we need vocabulary. Find the PDF here

3. Confusing words: steal, rob and burgle

This post about the difference between these three verbs published some time ago, comes in handy. Check it out

Step 3: Speaking. 

Time: 2 minutes per question

Ask students to work in groups of three.  Name them Student A, B and C. Give each of them a scrap of paper and ask them to write 4 words they remember related to crimes. Display the first question from the presentation below and ask student As in the group to answer the question trying to use the words in their scraps of paper.  Display the second question and ask student Bs to do the same. Repeat procedure for student Cs.

Ask students to swap scraps of paper within the members of their group and then ask all the student As in the groups to move to another group. Repeat the procedure above.

Note: Ask students to keep their scraps of paper as they will be used on Day 2.

Step 4: Listening and Speaking. Note-taking

Play the following videos. The task for each of them is the same.

  • Ask students to take notes and summarize the information
  • Ask: Does the punishment fit the crime?

Five teens charged for murder for throwing rocks

Animal abuse

Drunk driving

I know, I know... I said  two hours... maybe a bit more :)

Day 2

Day 2 is all about reinforcing vocabulary, playing and speaking. Check it out!

Continue reading Lesson Plan: Crime and Punishment