Tag Archives: B2

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
STEP 1. Introducing New Vocabulary

Display the quiz below on the board and have the whole class contribute with their answers. You might want to explain the meaning of the incorrect options and the difference between the adjectives sour and bitter.

Do the quiz twice to reinforce knowledge and then ask them to contribute with some other food-related words they might know. On the board, write only the ones that might prove a bit more challenging.

NOTE : (about the quiz) Hover over the photo and click on the + sign

What’s the difference between Sour and Bitter?
1. Take a drink of vinegar: This would be sour or so considered to be.
2. Take a bite of real pure dark chocolate: This would be considered bitter
1.A Grannysmith green cooking apple would be sour. Other sour foods are lemon, oranges. beer, spoilt milk                                                                                                                                                  2.Coffee without sugar or cream would be bitter. Other bitter foods are unsweetened cocoa, marmalade, beer, olives

STEP 2. Let's get loud! Reinforcing vocabulary in communicative activity.

Give each student in the class a slip of paper and assign a word from the quiz to each student. Ask them to write it down. If you have more students than words in the quiz, choose from the ones on the board.

Ask students to stand up and move to the middle of the class. Ask them to pair up and try to explain the meaning of their word to the other student. Once they have both explained the meaning and guessed the right word, they swap slips of paper and move on to find another partner.

 

Step 3: Food waste.

A.  Show students the following picture and ask them in groups of three to talk about what it suggests to them.

Get feedback and ask questions such as: How often do you waste food? What can be done to reduce food waste?

It might be a good idea to do this quiz created by WWF.

B. On the board, write the words The Food Loop and ask students what they think it means. Play the video, point to the words The Food Loop and ask again.

Play it once again and ask students to take down notes and explain in detail the whole process.

The Food Loop- Discover where your food waste goes from Obeo on Vimeo.

Step 4: Reading, Speaking, Pronunciation and Acquiring Vocabulary: Food-subtopics

Is there a better way to naturally acquire vocabulary than by reading?  Arguably, there is not.  In this exercise, students are asked to read about food sub-topics and answer in pairs or in threes the follow-up questions.

A. Working on pronunciation.

Introduce the topic of organic food by listening to this short extract from breakingnewsenglish.com “Organic Food No More Nutritious” There are lots of food-related terms in this piece of news students might be mispronouncing.

I use these short extracts very often in class. This is how I work with them:

  • I play it once. Students just read silently and listen.
  • I play it a second time. Students read along but without making any sound.
  • I play it again. Students read along. This time aloud.
  • I focus on some words, point to them and ask students to repeat them
  • I split the text into two, ask students in pairs and assign a part of the text to each student.
  • Whole class: I ask students to read aloud a sentence each.

The whole process takes less than 10 minutes.

b. The texts. PDF here

Step 5: Mediation

Two mediation activities for B2 students

Activity 1 ] Activity 2

Blog de Cristina is on Facebook and on Twitter. 

 

A new Presentation Tool+ Speaking Exams for B2

It’s been raining for one week straight here in Asturias and it doesn’t seem to get any better next week. And while I don’t especially hate the rain, it’s beginning to get inconvenient. Lots of rain means floods and floods mean flooded roads and … well, I could go on and on but I don’t want you to picture me as an old fuddy-duddy.

But, I’m going to be frank and tell you that the more it rains, the less I go out. No worries. This just suits me fine right now, as I have had piles of written exams to mark and a bunch of workshops to prepare. I haven’t finished. It’s Sunday and I’m still working.

Anyway, work is never work when you are having fun and trying and testing new tools is fun for me.

Today, I want to show a fantastic presentation tool  Beautiful. Al with amazing templates which I have been using for some time now.

Things I like about this presentation tool:

  • It is very visual and user-friendly
  • It is free
  • It has a large variety of ready-made very original templates to please everybody
  • It has an image library, so it’s very easy to find the photos you need
  • It is a collaborative tool. You can add collaborators to your presentation and give them permissions to edit the presentation or just view it.
  • You can export it to PDF, PowerPoint or JPEG

The presentation you will find below is not a good example of all the possibilities this presentation tool offers, but this is the one I needed to do today. Two more  presentations follow where you will be able to see more examples of the  templates available,

 

Top 3 Amazing Video Lesson Websites with Downloadable Worksheets

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel up to creating material from scratch for my classes. The reasons vary from feeling too tired to even open my laptop to an absolute lack of inspiration.
Thank goodness, there are always people out there making our lives as teachers so much easier and generously giving away their work for free. Just for the taking.
In this post, I want to share with you three of my favourite sites for working with video clips and I also want, and need, to thank the people behind these three awesome sites that not only handpick the best video clips and sort them out according to level and topic, but also offer free worksheets that make my life as a teacher so much simpler.

These three are keepers. Don’t forget to bookmark them.

 

ESL Brains

Owned by a couple of teachers from Poland, this amazing website offers video-based lessons for level B1, B2 and C1 for free. Right now, they are looking for financial help and offer extra material if you support them by becoming a “patron”.
For my next lesson on Housing with B2 students, I am going to use this video lesson, which comes complete with the downloadable student’s version, teacher’s version and even an extra warm-up exercise.

TedEd

It’s not the first time I have written about TedEd, owned by the popular platform TED.

TedEd is a collection of original animated videos lessons. You can choose by subject and view the video in class or assign it as homework. Every video is accompanied by a lesson with multiple choice questions that check your general comprehension. If your answers are wrong, you can always check with the video hint. There is also a Think section with questions that further explore the topic.

For teachers, one of the most powerful features is the Customize your Lesson area, where you can customize the lesson by editing the title, giving your own instructions, selecting or deselecting multiple choice questions…etc.

This is a lesson I have customized for my students. I have used the video clip Questions No One Knows the Answer To to give my students some practice using Reported Speech Questions. You can see my lesson here

Lessonstream

Last, but not least, is the fabulous site Jamie Keddie owns and runs with an amazing collection of video activities. On this website, you can choose by level, topic, time and many other options which help the teacher or the student find the perfect lesson in two shakes.

A downloadable worksheet is offered with every lesson. Again, for free.

 

Lesson Plan: Save Mother Earth

Hey! How’s the new year treating you?

Question for you. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Or let me rephrase it, have you announced to friends and family that you are finally going to hit the gym, eat fewer carbs and give up smoking? Have you? Sorry to be the party pooper here. Statistics say that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. I am definitely part of the 92%. What about you?

However, I have made a New Year’s resolution. It’s the same I made last year. I am going to try to reuse single-use disposable plastic bags when I do my daily shopping. Last year,  I even went as far as putting a bunch of these bags in the boot of my car. There they are. Exactly in the same place. This year I am going to try again. I am really going to try. It’s not that I don’t want to. I really want to do my part. It’s just that I forget. So, I am considering moving the bags to the front seat. It might work. What do you think?

That’s what I’m eco-guilty of. What about you? What is your darkest eco-sin?

The lesson today is aimed at students with a language level of B2  (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to the environment and environmental issues through a variety of engaging activities which will help them learn vocabulary and  improve listening, speaking and writing.

Introducing the Topic: Playing Hangman. Vocabulary and Speaking

Aim: Introduce some common vocabulary and to work on pronunciation.

On the board, write the word “Environment” and drill pronunciation.

Divide the class into two or three groups, depending on the number of students in your class.

  • Team A starts saying one letter. Whether they guess right or wrong, the turn goes now to Team B who will say another letter.
  • To try to guess the hidden word, a member of the team will need to stand up and say. “We know!”. If they guess right, they score 1 point. If they don’t, the other team can say up to two letters before anybody tries to guess again.
  • Note: they can only attempt to guess the word once half the letters have been guessed. For this, before each game, you will have to count the number of gaps. For example, if the word contains 8 letters, they can only guess when 4 letters have been filled.

There are four words and expressions to be learnt or revised with this exercise. After they have guessed the words, ask them a question where the target word is used in context. You might need to introduce some new vocabulary at this stage.

  1. Environment: What do you do to help the environment?
  2. Global warming: How do you feel when you hear about global warming?
  3. Recycle: Do you recycle? What kind of things do you recycle?
  4. Renewable energies: Do you know what renewable energies are? Do you use any of them? Why? Why not?
Leaning Vocabulary
  • Drill pronunciation as you teach the words and then flip the cards to see how they are used in context. Do this exercise twice.
  • Reinforcement: there are 24 terms here. Ask students in pairs to write in two minutes as many as they can remember.

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Listening. School Strike for Climate Change

In this inspiring thought-provoking talk, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses the world leaders demanding they act against climate change.

Ask students to take down notes from Greta’s talk and then in pairs talk about the most important ideas in her speech.

Encourage the use of vocabulary.

Three Speaking  Activities
  1. Gallery Walk. Thought-provoking Posters with a Humorous Twist. Giving a Monologue.

Posters here

  • Put the posters containing environmental issues up on the walls of the class.
  • Ask students to stand up, tour the gallery and choose a poster they would like to talk about for about 4 minutes.
  • Ask students to stand next to the poster they would like to talk about.
  • Arrange students in groups of three, being careful to mix students doing different posters.
  • Ask students to sit down and give them 3 minutes to prepare their speeches. Encourage the use of specific vocabulary.
  • Students, in their groups, gallery walk stopping next to the posters they have chosen and delivering their speeches.

 

2. Speaking: Pictures with prompts. Monologues.

Pair students up. Give each of them a speaking task. Allow them 2 minutes to prepare their monologue and ask them to speak for about four minutes.

Student A

Student B

Oral and Written Mediation

Oral Mediation

PDF 1  PDF 2

Context: A friend of yours from New Zealand, who until two weeks ago lived for 20 years in a monastery in Bhutan, has decided to pay you a visit. He doesn’t speak the language and besides, knows nothing of the real world we live in.

Student A. He shows you this infographic but needs help to understand it.  Choose two or three ideas and explain what they mean.

Student B. He sees this cartoon in a newspaper and doesn’t understand it. Explain it to him.

Written Mediation

See the Task  here

Hope you have enjoyed the lesson!

Human Tac Toe to Revise Vocabulary

Shall I say Happy Christmas? When is the right time to start saying happy Christmas? Anyway,  I love that we are right in the hustle and bustle of the season. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and this is the perfect time to try a game I have been looking forward to doing with my students.

I know I post about games quite a bit, but I really believe students learn better when they are having fun.  Mark the word “learn” because playing without learning is a waste of time in my class. So, my students already know that after the game, there is going to be revising and reinforcing.

 

 

If you have been kind enough to be reading this blog for a time, you probably know I love Ellen DeGeneres’s games and I am always looking for a way to adjust them to my own context of teaching.

This is Ellen’s interpretation of the game  Tic Tac Toe (more info here). She calls it Hunk Tac Toe and you’ll just have to watch the video below to understand why she called it Hunk Tac Toe 🙂

After watching her more appealing version, you’ll read my own version. More humble and less visually appealing, but hey, we are trying to learn English here, aren’t we?

 

 

I have designed two variations of the game. One is funnier than the other. The funnier one requires more preparation but trust me when I say it pays off.

Preparation for both versions:

1. You will need to prepare a set of questions to revise the target vocabulary.

Ask simple questions of the type:

  • What do you call the person who…?
  • What’s the opposite of…?
  • Fill in the gap in this sentence….
  • How do you pronounce…?
  • How do you spell…?

2. In both versions, you’ll need to choose two students (student O and student X ) to play the game. Place a table at the front of the class and ask the two contestants to stand behind it facing the class. Students take turns marking the spaces in the 3×3 grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

 Funnier version:

Preparation: print nine Xs and nine Os. You can download them here

Procedure:

  • Ask 9 students to sit forming three rows of three students each forming a 3×3 human grid. (see the pic above)
  • Give each of these students an X and an O
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts playing. Let’s say Student X starts playing.
  • Student X chooses a student in the grid. Let’s say, Ana.
  • Ask Ana a question from the ones you have previously prepared. If she answers correctly, she will hold the X, if she doesn’t answer correctly, then no letter will be displayed.
  • Now it’s Student O’s turn to choose another student. Again, if he answers correctly he will display the O letter if not, no letter will be displayed
  • The winner will be the student who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row.

 

Less funny version, but also fun.

  • Choose the two students who are going to play the game.
  • On the board draw a 3×3 grid and fill it with students’ names (see picture above)
  • Toss a coin to decide who starts the game.
  • Student X or O chooses a student from the grid.
  • Follow the same procedure as above.

Tip: I have played the game twice. The first time I used the less funny version and then I went for the funnier one. The combination worked just awesome!

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

I am going to be honest here and tell you that although I love Asturias and have always lived here, I miss the light.  Whenever it gets cold and blustering outside, whenever I look through my window at 6 pm and see darkness outside, the number one thing that I always crave is travelling to a place where it’s summer and the days are long and sunny and bright. I dream. I daydream.

So, almost winter in Spain. Time to talk about holidays.

Have a look at these two sentences. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

Let’s find out!

Travel, Trip and  Journey: How to use them

TRAVEL
  • As a verb: “travel” is normally used as a verb. It is used to refer to the general activity of moving from place to place

I travel to work by car

  • As a noun: “travel” as a noun is normally uncountable

The pass allows unlimited travel on all public transport in the city.

As it’s uncountable, things such as “ I had a nice travel” are wrong

Note: although uncountable, sometimes “travel” can be used in the plural

This exhibition reflects scenes and inspiration from his travels at home and abroad.

The novel is based on her travels in Asia

More common collocations associated with the noun “travel” are

  • Travel expenses
  • Travel agency
  • The travel industry
  • Travel sickness
  • A travel bag
  • Air travel
JOURNEY
  • “Journey” is also usually used as a noun. It means the time when you travel from one place to another. The emphasis is on the travelling itself, it does not refer to the time you stay there.

It was a long and difficult journey  through the mountains 
      I read during the train journey to work. 
      Did you have a good journey? 

 

TRIP
  • “Trip” is used as a noun and it’s countable. A “trip” is when you go on a short journey, or a journey you do not usually make, and come back again. We use this when the emphasis is on where you are going or why you are going there. The time you stay there is important.

         It was my first trip to the States
I am going on a business trip
Was it a good trip? 

Let’s go back to our two sentences at the beginning of this post. Are they correct or incorrect?

  1. Have a safe travel!
  2. The trip by train took two hours.

They are incorrect.

  1. “travel” is uncountable, you cannot use the indefinite article “a” with it. The correct sentence would be. “Have a safe journey”
  2. It’s incorrect because the focus is only on the travelling itself, we are not interested in where you are going or what you are going to do there, only on the duration. The correct sentence would be: ” The journey by train took two hours”.

Ready for some exercises now?

Drag and drop the sentences in the right column

Lesson Plan: Online Shopping and Traditional Shopping

So, who doesn’t like shopping???

I know, I know, I can see some of you raising an eyebrow and thinking… “well, I must be weird then, if I don’t like shopping”. Of course, you are not, it’s just that I love it so much that now that I don’t have as much spare time as I used to have, I miss it like crazy.

But I know, not everyone is a shopper, not everyone is a consumer. However, we all need to buy, whether it’s clothes, food or any other stuff. So, this lesson might come in handy whenever you decide to set your foot in a shop.

Hold on! Shop? Did I just say, “set your foot in a shop”? Like in a physical shop? It seems to me that right now, the online shopping experience has become so incredibly diverse and sophisticated that no matter what you need, it is simply a click away from you. You don’t even need to physically go to a shop. You can get yourself the latest craze from anywhere in the world without actually moving from your sofa. Kind of awesome!  Yeahhh, awesome but boring!!!

Anyway, in this lesson aimed at B2 students, we will be focusing on the topic of shopping and we ’ll be comparing online shopping to traditional shopping.

 

ONE: Lead-in Activities

A. Types of shops

Although students have a B2 level, I find they always welcome an opportunity to review vocabulary and maybe learn the names for some less common shops.

  • Play the video once without stopping and at the end of it, ask students in pairs to write down as many different kinds of shops as they can remember from the video. Write the words on the board for correct spelling and drill pronunciation.
  •  Divide the class into As and Bs. Ask As to face the board and Bs to face away from it.   Play the video, display the first picture and ask As to quickly describe the kind of shop they see on the board. As describes half the pictures and then they change roles with Bs doing the description and As guessing the shop.

Note: The slides contain music. Turn down the volume if you do not want it.

You’ll find the list with all the shops featured in this video at the end of the post.

 

B.  Speaking. 

Click on each of the pictures below to enlarge them and ask students in pairs to comment on them briefly. Ask for feedback.

Note: the slides contain music. I didn’t want it, but I did not have an option. It’s Mozart. Turn down the volume now if you prefer not to be distracted by the music.

TWO. Brainstorm and introduce new vocabulary

Give students two minutes to write down as many words as they know related to shopping. When the two minutes are over, ask them to stop.  After a quick round to see who has written the highest number of words ask students to tell you their words, writing on the board only the ones that are a bit more challenging.

For example, words such as “deal” or “goods” will be written on the board while “shop” or “money” will not.

More useful vocabulary:

  • A good deal: if something is a good deal, you pay a low price. You can say that a store has some great deals, for example
  • A bargain: the same as above
  • 20% off : the price is now 20% less than the original price
  • Overpriced: if sth is overpriced, it costs much more than you think it should
  • To order: when you order something that you are going to pay for, you ask for it to be brought to you, sent to you, or obtained for you. “to order things online”
  • Order number
  • To place an order
  • If you have a discount on the retail price, you pay less price than the price normally charged
  • Goods: things made to be sold
  • To be scheduled for delivery (tomorrow)
  • Online form
  • A secure payment page
  • To enter your card details
  • Get a refund
  • You can pay “Cash on Delivery”
  • To exchange a product
  • To track your package
  • Shipping rates

Ready to test your knowledge?  Fill in the blanks with some of the words above.

THREE. Listening. Video Activity: Singles’ Day

Lead-in: Ask students if they know anything about Singles’ Day. Info, here

  • Play the video once without giving students any tasks.
  • Give students the gapped text and ask them to complete it with the words they hear. Play the video.
  • Play it again, if necessary

See the activity here. You can check the answers by activating the subtitles in the video.

FOUR. Speaking: Online Shopping versus Traditional Shopping

Divide the class into two groups: those preferring online shopping and those preferring traditional shopping. Ideally, you would pair up students in this way, but more often than not, you’ll have to persuade some students to take a different view for the sake of the exercise.

Give each student their corresponding handout and ask them to read the information on it. Their aim, when pairing up with a student holding an opposing view, will be to try to convince their partner to change their mind.

  • Handouts  for student A and B here
  • Functional language to be used here

FIVE: Oral mediation

NOTE: These activities will be in Spanish. Students will need to act as mediators in an oral interlinguistic mediation activity.

This is the first time I am going to do an interlinguistic oral mediation activity with my students. My students are going to take the role of mediators and use a source text in Spanish and relay the selected information to an English speaker, who does not understand Spanish.

What is a mediator and what does he do?

The mediator acts as a facilitator in a social event during which two or more parties interacting are experiencing a communication breakdown or when there is a communication gap between them.

Watch the video and find out a bit more about mediation.

These are the first two tasks I have prepared for my students. More would be coming!

Task 1   〉    Task 2

SIX. Discursive writing. A pros and cons essay.

Write an essay of about 200 words on the advantages and disadvantages of buying in local shops.

Tips and example here

Shops featured in the video:

clothes shop, chemist’s, fishmonger’s greengrocer’s, baker’s, bookshop, shoe shop, butcher’s, record shop, haberdashery, florist’s, barber, optician’s, newsagent’s, petrol station, pet shop, toy shop, stationer’s, chain store, charity shop, corner shop, tobacconist’s, sports shop, travel agent’s,  jeweller’s,

Hey! Hold On! A Simple Activity to Fix Slipping to the Present Tense when Talking about the Past

Oh my goodness, I’ve been completely obsessed with this tense these past few weeks. Even though my students are studying a B2 level, they still seem to have problems when talking about past events, especially those related to their own lives.  It might be because they are so focused on telling their own real stories that grammar tends to be forgotten. It might or it might not. The thing is  that I find myself constantly reminding them not to slip to present tenses. I have used several techniques but none of them seem to be working.

You might think I am a bit nuts here but when I have some time to kill, I sometimes find myself thinking about my students’ problems with the language and trying to devise new games or strategies to help them overcome their difficulties.

This strategy came to my mind on my way to Marbella to run a workshop. The plane was delayed by an hour and I had some time to kill. The technology I have used to display the prompts is one that I often use, but the idea for the layout sprang from seeing one of the teachers in the workshop work with Spark Adobe Page ( thanks Monica Redondo).  Obviously, you don’t need technology to do this activity but it looks so much nicer!!

Aim: to help students avoid making the mistake of using the present simple when talking about past events.

This engaging past simple activity requires that students help each other fixing the very common mistake of switching to the present tense when talking about events, situations or anecdotes related to their pasts.

  • In this activity, students work in pairs. Display the first prompt. Student A will talk while Student B will listen. Every single time, Student A slips to the present simple when referring to the past, Student B will stop him by saying: ” Hey! Hold on!”
  • At this point, student A will need to start again.
  • Points: every time the student needs to start again, he will score -1 point :(.
  • Fun: every time a student slips to the present simple, he will have to quickly stand up and sit down 🙂  This also allows you, as a teacher, to see who needs more help.
  • Allow about 3 minutes and emphasize that even though they don’t make a mistake, they’ll need to talk for the entire three minutes. This will prevent stronger students from finishing before the 3 minutes are over and will challenge them to keep talking by elaborating on their stories.
  • When the three minutes are over, display a new prompt and ask Student B to do the talking and Student A to help him by paying close attention to the tenses he uses and stopping him using the “Hey! Hold on” technique.
  • After both Student A and B have talked, ask them to stand up and choose a new partner. Display a new prompt and repeat procedure.

Ready? Let’s start!

Hey! Hold On!

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”- Playing with Baamboozle

Ohhh! The power of a game! I don’t know anybody who does not welcome a bit of fun while learning/teaching. Playing a game transforms everyone’s mood. It is magical to see what having a little break from routine tasks, can do for students who have been working hard.

I teach two-hour lessons and trust me when I tell you that even people who do not typically like games go out of their way to beat the other teams.

If, to the thrill of playing competitively among teams, you add movement, give them the opportunity to stretch by asking them to stand up and also offer them the chance to change partners frequently, smiles and good vibes are guaranteed.

For this game, I have used the free website baamboozle.com/, which is super easy to use and allows me or my students to create and play games.

  • If you do not want to register, you can still click on Featured games and choose from the large bank of games saved on the website.
  • If you register, you can create your own games.

You can use Baamboozle in 2 ways:

  • On your own, choosing the study mode option
  • In class, in teams, choosing a number, doing the task and getting the points

The game shown below has several goals in mind.

  • Provide students with the opportunity to revise some common collocations associated with Health and Illnesses
  • Provide students with some conversation questions about health and illness
  • Have a break from the textbook and have a bit of fun.

Procedure:

  • Divide students into two or more teams. You can have up to 4 teams.
  • Ask each team to choose a competitive name for their team. The team will also need to name a spokesperson.
  • On the board, display the game.
  • Team A starts by choosing a box. Once I click on the box the points assigned to this answer are displayed.
  • Team A will have 15 seconds to decide on the correct answer. They can have a brief discussion but when the time is up, the spokesperson will need to give an answer.
  • Click on Check and if it is correct, click the Okay! button and the points will be added to their team. If it is incorrect, click the Oops! button and no points will be added.
  • Ask students in pairs to answer the question and repeat procedure for team B.

Ready to play?

Follow-up:

  • Revising: give students the link to the game and ask them at home to revise using the Study Mode.
  • Writing: ask students to choose one of the questions and write about it for about 15 minutes paying attention to their grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. During the class, the next day, choose a box, tell students to quickly provide the collocation and ask a student who has written about it to summarise his ideas for the rest of the class.