Getting Itchy Feet? A Speaking and Listening Lesson for C1 students

I have to admit that talking about Travelling and Tourism might not be the best thing to do in these circumstances.

Like so many of you, it is been a long time since I have travelled anywhere on holidays and this summer we had to make the tough decision to cancel our long-anticipated plane tickets and stay put in Asturias.  Which was totally the wise decision.  But, still a hard one.  So, I don’t really feel like giving my students this topic, but I need to follow the syllabus. So, here it goes!

The first thing we need to do is acquire vocabulary and we did it in two different ways: by reading and listening.

Step 1: Reading Text from their Textbooks

There was a beautiful text with different holiday brochure extracts; note that when I say “beautiful” I mean packed with interesting vocabulary.  So, the first activity was to open a collaborative board on NearPod asking them to contribute with a couple of words they didn’t know the meaning of. Apart from writing the definition, students were asked to write a sentence using this vocabulary in context.  Together we read the extracts and used everyone’s contributions. I loved the activity and how students helped each other with a difficult text. This is what the board looked like. I

 

Step 2: Listening and Speaking

There are tons of videos about travelling and travelling issues and it is difficult to choose the best ones, but this has been my choice. I will probably be adding some more as we advance on the unit.

1. Covid 19 Travelling bans. More countries have banned arrivals from the UK because of concerns at the spread of a new variant of coronavirus. A sad topic, I know.

  • Do travel bans work to stop the spread of the coronavirus?
  • Would you now travel within your country; what about internationally?
  • Can virtual travel replace real travel?

2. The greenest way to travel

The first video was given as homework and students were asked to jot down any relevant words. In class, we created this word cloud and worked on pronunciation.

Then, I asked my students to summarize the video trying to use words from the cloud.

Follow-up questions

-What’s your favourite means of transport?
-Does your city have a good public transportation system? What could be improved about it?
-What is good and bad about using public transport?
-When you visit a new place, the transportation system can be confusing. What good or bad transport experiences have you had in a new place?
-What transportation method will be common 50 years in the future?

3. Bizarre types of Tourism

  • What type of traveller are you? Are there any differences between a tourist and a traveller?
  • Do you agree that the destruction of many of the world’s idyllic places is inevitable?
  • What kind of accommodation do you choose to stay in when you go somewhere? Would you consider using a web-based community service such as Couchsurfing, through which you stay in someone’s house?
  • Do you like to try local foods when you go somewhere? Have you ever had something really delicious? Talk about it.
  • Things can go wrong when you travel. Have you had any bad travel experiences?
  • There are many types of specialised tourism like battlefield, culinary, eco, disaster, celebrity, health/medical tourism, volunteer …etc. How do you feel about them? Would you try any of them?

More interesting videos:

If you have any other interesting videos, do not hesitate to drop a comment below.

 

Timesaver: Repository of Writing Prompts for Every Essay Type

Although I have been doing this job for a long time, it still surprises me to realize how terribly inefficient I can be at times. I think this must be one of the reasons why I started this blog.

It’s hard to understand, even for me and about myself, why I do not have a repository of writing topics to give my students. Is it the same for you?

How many times, for God’s sake, have I given my students the task of writing an opinion essay or a cover letter? Hundreds. Well, believe it or not, every single time I spend precious time looking for an adequate topic or a suitable advertisement. After 3o years doing the same, one would think I should have a dozen to choose from.

Nothing like that, believe me; that’s why this post is so necessary. What you will find below are links to websites with lots of possibilities to choose from. In some cases, they are not only inspiration for writing but also for speaking activities/assignments. Lets’ jump right in!

A bit of everything

501  Writing Prompts ( persuasive, expository, narrative and literary) targets students,  encouraging autonomous learning by including model essays for a certain number of prompts so that students can compare and contrast their writing. It also includes a  scoring guide. Students are encouraged to use this guide to get an idea of how their essay may be graded.

Essay questions divided by topic

From IELTS LIZ, we get 100 essay questions organized alphabetically by topic: from Art to Work and much more.

Narrative and Personal Writing

From The NewYork Times, we get 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.

Lots of writing prompts touching from family life to pop culture, gender roles, video games, social media, travel and more.

Creative Writing Prompts

  • Creative writing Prompts is a site that I use for 15-minute writing practice in class.Some suggestions to use this website:
    • A quick writing activity in class. Students decide on a number and write for about 15 minutes. You can do this activity often as it only takes 15 minutes and gives them a lot of practice if done regularly. They also get direct help from the teacher as it’s a class activity.
    • You can also divide the class into pairs or groups of three, depending on how large your class is and ask each group to assign a writing task to another group in the class by choosing a random prompt. Students write their stories. Set a time limit of 30 or 35 minutes. Put their stories up on the walls of the class for all the students to read.
    • Brainstorm vocabulary recently studied. Make sure there is a variety of nouns, adjectives, phrasal verbs, idioms…etc to choose from. Write them on the board. Ask students to choose two numbers and write the two prompts on the board too. Students choose one of these options and write their story including some of the target vocabulary.
  • 100 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School includes a selection of story starters, research prompts and expository prompts among others
Argumentative, Persuasive, Opinion Essay Prompts

 

Formal and Informal Emails/letters

If you know of any other great sites, please leave a comment with writing prompts, leave a comment.

3 Fun No-Prep Games to Practise Present Perfect Simple and Simple Past

Although I might seem like an organized and methodical person from the outside, the truth is that, in some areas, I am or can become highly and hopefully disorganised.

Context: this week I am teaching Present Perfect Simple /Continuous and its use in combination with the simple Past. I know that, over the years, I have written several posts with games and activities featuring these tenses. Problem? I have so much content on the blog, that, sometimes, it is hard to find what I am looking for. See my problem?

The idea when I started this blog was to have a repository of activities I could resort to, when needed, quickly. For the most part, I have managed to do it. However, in this case, I had to trawl the blog looking for these activities. And this is precisely what has prompted this post. Having them together. Easy to find. Up for grabs! I am not sure which activity I’ll use this year but what  I know is,  it will be easy to find now.

1.How Long?

Speaking game for B1 or B2 levels: Click on the Instructions to read how to play this game. Suitable to practise for and since and the present perfect simple/continuous and the simple past.

R
2. You are lying
A speaking game to consolidate the use of present perfect simple and past simple. Ready for a lot of fun!  Handouts provided.
Read all about it here!
3.  Never Have I Ever
This hilarious speaking activity is fairly simple and requires little preparation. It helps consolidate the use of the present perfect to talk about life experiences.
Read all about it here

Brainstorming, Introducing and Revising Vocabulary Related to Work for C1 Students

Undeniable. This course is proving to be quite challenging. Having your students sitting in rows, stuck on their seats and only being able to talk to the person on their right or on their left has me racking my brains trying to find attractive alternatives to some of the successful dynamics I used in the past.

With teaching online on the rise, more than ever I have been juggling different tools to make sure the work my students do at home is relevant, effective and motivating. I think Genial.ly, the tool I have used in this lesson, is a must-have in any teachers’ toolbox.

In this lesson, you will find:

  • Activating prior knowledge:  handout
  • Introducing new vocabulary: handout
  • Speaking activity
  • Engaging game to revise Vocabulary

Step 1. Activating Students’ Prior Knowledge. Brainstorming

Before introducing new vocabulary, it is crucial to help them activate prior knowledge so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by how much they need to learn. Learning expands gradually from previous knowledge and we cannot and should not neglect this important step.

To brainstorm vocabulary, I gave them 2 minutes to write down on their notebooks, words or expressions related to “work”. On the board, I wrote Work and then wrote their suggestions, exemplifying, clarifying and drilling pronunciation.

When appropriate and relevant, I also started introducing new terms, like the minimum wage as represented in the picture below.   Some  other vocabulary they came up with is here

Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary

PDF here

Individual Work: I gave them this photocopy and a couple of minutes to underline any new words/expressions.

Whole class: Then,  I instructed them to ask the question. Does anyone know what the meaning of…. is?  Only when no one in the class could come up with a clear explanation, did I offer it.  Until then, it is all about asking students to tap into their previous knowledge.

Step 3: Firts attempt at introducing some new vocabulary in a speaking activity

I divided the class into As and Bs and asked As to choose three new words they wanted to use in their speech. I wrote them on the board under the headings A’s words/ B’s words.

I gave As this statement to discuss: Unpaid internships should be banned and I gave B’s Retirement age: higher or lower? I let them have some thinking time and asked them to do the speaking task.

Step 4: Revising Vocabulary with a Game

This proved to be an engaging game to revise vocabulary. You will find the instructions in the second slide, but watch the video with my students doing the activity if you want a sneak peek of how much fun we had.

And here’s the game. I have made the template editable in case you want to add your own pictures. To reveal the hidden word, you’ll need to hover the mouse pointer over the picture.

Otter.ai: an Awesome Free App to Get Accurate Transcript from Audios/Videos

Let me start by saying that this is not a sponsored post. I don’t get paid to write about tools. I just write about what works for me. And thisss …. has already saved my life 3 or 4 times.

Imagine this!  You have an awesome video/audio in your computer or on the internet that is great for the topic you are discussing in class. You want to give it to your students, but you cannot find the transcript. It is simply not available.

What do you do? I am going to give 2 options:

  1. Discard the audio/video. After all, you can always use something from the textbook.
  2. Use an app that will easily, effortlessly and accurately transcribe it, giving you the possibility of downloading it in different formats (including Docx), without time stamps and ready to share with your students?

If you have chosen Option 1, you may stop reading. This post is not for you. Hope you continue to drop by.

Those of you choosing Option 2, I can picture you rubbing your hands and holding your breath. Here we go!

Otter.ai is a mind-blowing text-to-speech tool. It is very user-friendly and the transcription you get is incredibly accurate. Perhaps, you might need to add a comma or a stop here and there but that’s it. It is almost perfect.

For free, you get 600 minutes of transcription per month but if you need more, you can always invite friends or colleagues to try Otter.ai. For every friend that decides to try Otter, you will get one month Pro Lite.  Not a bad deal! So, the link I am going to share with you is the one that will allow me to get one-month Pro Lite. There is no money for me here, just the opportunity to enjoy more free minutes of transcription.

I have created a video tutorial to guide you through the app. It is in Spanish but, don’t panic, I have added some explanatory notes with instructions in English.

A big thank you to Miguel A Sánchez (Michel) for bringing it to my attention.

Edited to include contributions and tips from other teachers

  1. “It also records sounds from a YouTube film opened in a different tab. Much better than YouTube transcript.” – Ewa.
  2. “It’s awesome to give feedback in oral exams. I provide my Sts the transcript and underline the death-penalty mistakes. They realise at once and correct them, something that hardly ever happens if they just listen to themselves” Loli Manteiga.

Try Otter here