Tag Archives: B2

When in Rome do as the Romans Do: a Lesson about Manners, Habits, Customs and Traditions

Say hello to one of my favourite activities.

Here’s what makes this activity perfect for me and my style of teaching

  • Enhancing their listening skills by listening to authentic audio. Giving students authentic audio they can understand is a real boost to their confidence. Another plus, if there are no comprehension questions, as is the case, students feel more relaxed. Did you know that reducing stress enhances learning? (D Krashen 1981).
  • Gallery walks using posters which gives students the chance to stretch their legs, and practise their speaking abilities.
  • A small writing activity related to the posters
  • Giving students the possibility to work with different students in the class

The lesson
Lead-in

On the board, write the proverb below and ask students, in pairs, to comment on its meaning. Encourage students to share their anecdotes.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Listening Comprehension: British manners. A note-taking listening exercise

This authentic material is great for B2 learners. It poses just the right challenge. Not too hard, not too easy!

Tell students they are going to hear a man called Elliot talking about 5 British manners. The task is simple. Play each example of good manners individually and…

  • First time: ask students to write what manners he is talking about
  • Second time: play the video again and ask students to take down notes
  • Pair up students and ask one of them to retell the information offered in the video. The other student listens and /or helps. This role will be changed for the second example of manners
  • Ask someone to retell the information for the whole class.
  • Write any relevant vocabulary on the board.
  • Ask: what about in your country? 
  • Repeat procedure for the second example of manners. Remember, there are 5 of them.

 

Gallery Walks: a speaking and writing activity using posters

Can you see any benefits to always working with the same person/student? I cannot. That’s why I always encourage my students to change partners regularly. However, some of them are quite reluctant and need a gentle push.

Forming groups: I have used small popsicle sticks to form groups of three.  The sticks were coloured as in the picture and they just needed to find the other two students with the same colour.

Before the activity: I cut small pieces of paper of different colours and I assigned each poster a different colour

  • On the walls – I put up simple posters – I had to use the space outside my classroom as my class is tiny. I had six posters: Greetings, table manners, punctuality, gender roles, tipping and taboos.
  • Students in their groups choose a poster and they are instructed to do the following:

  1. Discuss the manners on the poster in their country and in other countries they might have been to. Is it the same or different?
  2. Before moving to the next poster, students are instructed to take a piece of paper with the colour corresponding to the poster they have been working with and write a piece of advice for someone visiting their country, in this case, Spain.  ( if they were talking about Tipping, they should write a piece of advice on tipping).They were instructed to leave their written piece of advice on the table, choose a new poster and repeat procedure.
  3. Allow 25-30 minutes for this part
  4. Quickly correct spelling and grammar mistakes. Using blue-tack, put all the pieces of advice around the posters the advice has been written for.
  5. Ask students to do a second gallery walk commenting on all the tips and having a look at their mistakes.

Posters here

Writing an article about an unusual custom in the world

Lead-in:

Ask students: Have you ever experienced culture shock? Where were you? What happened?

Unit 1 in our textbooks explains how to to write an article. Using this format, I have asked students to do a bit of research on the internet and write about an unusual custom. To spice things a tiny bit, I have assigned students different countries using a random wheel.

 

A Cool Game to Revise the Irregular Past of Verbs

Time to revise irregular verbs. I know, I know!! I am teaching B2, but trust me, they need the revision.

I mean, let’s be real. Technically, they have learned the irregular verbs sometime between A2 and B1 but you and I know that irregular verbs are like a pain in the neck to learn only compared to studying phrasal verbs. So, welcome revision!!

I have always believed that using technology in the classrooms has a lot of benefits for the students- this is probably not the post to enumerate them- but also, I firmly believe that technology without methodology does nothing for the student. Just because you use the latest tools does not mean students are going to learn more or better. They do not. You have to plan exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it if you want the activity to be effective. Otherwise, you are just playing or entertaining students. And this is something I don’t do in my classes. So, playing and learning, a big YES; just playing, a huge NO.

Anyways, since  I am a superfan of :

  • using games to learn
  • using technology effectively and meaningfully in my classes

I have created the game below using the cool interactive freemium tool Genial.ly (proud to say I am an ambassador of this great tool developed in Spain)

For more information about my workshops on how to use free online tools effectively in your class, have a look here or  here

 

IRREGULAR VERBS

Aim: to revise irregular verbs.

Level: intermediate

Procedure:

  • Explain that this a competition to be played in pairs: student A and B
  • Whole class: As decide on a letter to challenge Bs.
  • Bs will have one minute to write as many irregular verbs (infinitive-past-past participle) beginning with the selected letter as they can think of.
  • Explain that irregular verbs will be awarded 1 or 2 points depending on the difficulty of their spelling or on their frequency at an intermediate level. Challenge students to try the difficult ones.
  • Set a timer for the allotted time and when time is up, display the answers by clicking on the interactive letter.
  • Student B gets 1 point or 2 points (depending on the verb) only if he has correctly spelt the verb in the past and past participle.
  • Now, it ‘s Student B’s turn

NOTE: What do As or Bs do while it’s the other student’s turn to compete? They can also do the challenge, but no points will be awarded!

Note: This is an interactive tool. Click on the letters. Click on the arrows to enlarge the game.

Enjoy teaching. Enjoy learning!

Teaching from Afar: an Online Project Using Technology

"I am not telling you it's going to be easy. I am telling you it's going to be worth it" Art Williams

I’m going to scream this from the rooftops. Social media is more than meets the eye.

I love the possibilities social media offers for both students and teachers alike. Today, I want to share with you a project I did with my B2 students using technology and my professional social media network. But, before we dive in, let me ramble for a little bit here.

Social media is more than meets the eye. True that most people use it just for fun, to catch up with friends old and new and read the occasional news, hardly ever bothering to check the source of the news, but there are also lots of people who are using social media for other purposes.

Right now, social media provides teachers with lots of opportunities to learn and see what other teachers are doing all around the world. Instantly. For free.  You do not have to wait to read in a journal about the latest methodologies, about what teachers are doing on the other side of the world. You just follow people or communities, open your Facebook or your Twitter and there it is, opening doors and pulling down borders.

I grew up watching the news in black and white and using a landline phone to ask the operator to dial a number for me to be able to make a phone call so when in my 30’s there was talk of the possibility of making videoconferences, I thought it was science fiction. I couldn’t be more mistaken as we all know nowadays.

Today I would like to share with you a successful project I recently carried out with my B2 students using my professional social media and a free video/audio conference platform.

You are not one of my followers yet? Don’t worry! It is never too late!

Topic: education

Motivation:

  • to offer my students the opportunity to interact with native speakers from different countries ( something that is not easy in the north of Spain)
  • To ask them questions about their education system
  • To offer my students the opportunity to do a meaningful activity using the vocabulary learned during the lesson.
  • To make them realize they can understand and be understood by native speakers.

Tools:

  • Twitter/Facebook
  • Zoom
  • Slips of paper

Project: to interact with British/American native speakers and ask them questions about their education system using Zoom, a reliable  free video platform

Thanks to

My most heartfelt thanks to Tamara Parson, who is an English teacher living on the south coast of England; Trudi Rogers, also an English teacher living in France, and Hollin Wakefield,  a French teacher form Berkeley (California) and creator of the awesome app Fluentkey. Thank you very much for your generosity and patience. I couldn’t have done it without you.

One week  before the activity
  1. We worked with the topic of education and learned and practised vocabulary related to it.
  2. It was my first time using Zoom. I had to make sure I knew how to use it so I needed to persuade someone with enough computing skills to help me set a fake conference. (Thanks MªJosé)
  3. Using my professional social network Facebook and Twitter (bait, click to follow) I asked for collaboration of teachers from the UK and the USA.
The day before the activity
  1. I explained the activity and told my students we were going to have a video conference with experts on education from the UK and the USA. The conference was going to last about 30 minutes
  2. I asked my students to write interesting questions about things they wanted to know about the education system in the Uk and the USA. I instructed them to ask open questions.

This way we practised writing questions, which is something students always struggle with.

  1. Once they had their questions, I gave them a slip of paper and asked them to write their question there and at the back of it, their name.
  2. Using blue-tack, I displayed their questions on the walls of the class.
  3. I asked students to stand up and read all of them and then do a second reading choosing the ten questions they liked best. To indicate they liked a particular question, they just had to put a tick.

  1. I also read the questions, correcting grammar and spelling mistakes.
  2. The 10 questions which got more ticks were the ones students had to ask. However, if we had any spare time, any student could volunteer to ask any of their questions. In fact, in one of the groups, two or three extra questions were asked.
  3. I gave back each and every question to their owners and we worked on pronunciation.
  4. I told all my students to practise their questions at home as homework.
  5. I went home, set up the meeting on Zoom and emailed the collaborating teachers the invitation to the Zoom conference.
The day of the activity.
  1. We practised asking the questions again so that students felt more confident about their pronunciation.
  2. We moved chairs in front of the screen and at the appointed time, the videoconference began.
My personal experience

It is with immense satisfaction that I can say that it was a tremendous success.  Trudi, Tamara and Hollin were just awesome and even though I had never seen them before and could have easily pulled back, they didn’t and they were really generous with their time.

From an academic point of view, my students were really motivated and it was really a boost to their confidence as not even once did they have to repeat their questions and they could easily follow the answers and sometimes lengthy explanations.

What is more, in the answers given by the native teachers, they could recognize most of the vocabulary they have worked with in class and this made studying this vocabulary more meaningful to them.

As for me, I was delighted. I am not going to say, it did not take time to set it up because I would be lying but it was really worthwhile.

Besides, the press caught wind of the activity and we made it to the local news as you can see in the photo below.

Thanks to Illán García from La Nueva España and to José Alesson for the photographs.

"I am not telling you it's going to be easy. I am telling you it's going to be worth it" Art Williams

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!

 

The 5 Seconds Game to Revise Vocabulary

I have realized something about myself today.  Vocabulary revision games are my thing.

All my good lessons begin with revision. I make a point of beginning my classes revising what we learned the previous lesson. It takes five minutes, but I honestly believe it makes a big difference. The little game below takes exactly that, 5 minutes. Just saying.

 

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you probably know by now that one of my most nagging worries- shall I call it an obsession?-  is teaching vocabulary about a certain topic and then hearing my students speak about the topic without a trace of the vocabulary we have been learning.

I never get angry. Believe me. I am a very nice teacher. But this,… I can hardly restrain myself.

So, again,  I have designed a fun little activity to revise vocabulary, collocations…etc about any topic and I have called it “The 5 seconds game”.

Before the class:

Prepare a set of 7-10 small questions for each pair. They need to be quick questions. Have a look at my questions below. They are all about Unit 1 dealing with “Education”

In class:
  • Ask students to choose a partner. After pairing up, each pair become a team and play against another team. So, we will have Team A and Team B ( 4 students)
  • Tell teams you will ask each team  X questions. After each question, they will have 5 seconds to think and when the bell rings, they will have to give the answer to the question at the same time. If the answer is the same and it is correct and they have answered at exactly the same time, they will score 1 point
  • Say Team A starts. Ask them to sit facing each other and in clear view of Team B who will be listening to their answers very attentively and keeping score of the points they get.
  • Ask the first question, mentally count 5 seconds, ring a bell or use any other device that makes noise and ask the two members of Team A to give the answer at exactly the same time. Team B will be in charge of making sure the rules are followed to the letter.
  • Continue in the same way until the X questions have been answered.
  • To reinforce, ask the questions again, but this time to the whole class.
  • Repeat procedure for Team B with X new questions

VARIATION:  In another group, I asked students to work in pairs, competing against each other and not against another pair. It also worked very well, probably better.

Thanks to Andrea and Paula for giving me permission to record them

Team A questions

  1. What do you call the school where you study and sleep?
  2. What preposition does “committed” collocate with?
  3. How do you pronounce “native”?
  4. Can you give me a synonym for “ obligatory?
  5. What’s the opposite of a “state school”?
  6. Which is correct “do your homework” or “make your homework”?
  7. Another way of saying “ to relax”
  8. “to assign” is a verb, what’s the noun?

Team B questions

  1. What do you call the school which trains students for employment?
  2. Which is correct “do an exam” or “make an exam”?
  3. When you pass an exam with high marks, you can say that you pass it with flying….?
  4. What do you call the money that you pay to attend a school?
  5. How do you pronounce the word “machine”?
  6. What preposition do you use with the verb ”keep” to mean “to go as fast as”?
  7. “To rehearse” is a verb, what’s the noun?
  8. What preposition does “ hopeless” collocate with?