Tag Archives: C1

Back to Basics: Conditional Sentences with Two Decks of Cards

Imagine being asked this question: If you were abducted by aliens, would you tell anybody? or this one, If you could switch lives with someone for a week, living their experiences and routines, who would it be and why?   Imagine being prompted to use an alternative to IF in your answer like, for example, as long as or provided.

Fun, challenging and …. grammar-oriented

When preparing a lesson, I normally try to design activities that help students reinforce what we have been working with; more often than not, they have a communicative approach, as I firmly believe in giving students ample opportunity to put into practice what they’ve been studying.

And if there is one thing that clearly defines the way I teach is how I try to keep a balance between traditional teaching and the latest technology. These last weeks were all about AI; and today, we are going for traditional. The very traditional cards.

Materials:
  1. Questions. One deck of cards featuring engaging and entertaining conversation questions, each formulated as a conditional sentence. These questions include prompts like:
  •  If you were abducted by aliens, would you tell anybody? Why?
  • If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what advice would you give?
  • If you were granted two wishes, what would be your choices?
  • …etc

provided by ChatGPT, if I may say so.

2. Alternatives to IF: one set of cards containing alternatives to IF: provided (that), on condition that, supposing, as long as… etc.

Before the class, prepare a set with both types of cards for each group of 4 students.

Get the PDF here

Condtional Prompts by cristina.cabal

How to go about it
  • Put students into groups of 3–5 students and give them a set of cards with questions and a set of cards with alternatives to If.
  • Instruct students to place the cards face down on the table
  • Ask each student to draw a Question Card and an If-Alternative Card, and allow them some thinking time.
  • Emphasize the importance of elaborating on their answers rather than providing brief responses. In their answers, they will have to try to use the words in the If-Alternative card and speak for about 2 minutes, at the end of which they should pose their question to the members of their group.
  • Rotate turns, repeating the procedure for each student.
  • With my students, we have done two rounds of questions

Creative Collaborative Writing with a Touch of Fun to Fix Fossilized Errors

It might not be your case, but most teachers, including myself, do not dedicate enough time to practise writing in class. And this needs to be fixed because students may simply get better if given the right guidance and enough practice. However, I think it’s crucial that we ask them to reflect on their errors and then, ask them to make the necessary corrections, rather than just correcting them ourselves.

This exercise you are about to read is fun, creative, and collaborative; it gets students out of their seats but most importantly, gives them an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and fix fossilized errors.

On Fossilized Errors

Fossilized errors are persistent mistakes that students make despite repeated correction. You know what I am talking about, don’t you?  While teachers play an important role in identifying and correcting these errors, it is imperative for students to take ownership and  conscientiously analyse and rectify their errors; that’s, in my experience, the most effective way to eliminate them.  If you ask me and generally speaking, when students are given a composition with corrected errors, they just have a quick look at them, but they don’t truly reflect on their mistake and then, inevitably, they are bound to make the same mistake over and over again.

IMPORTANT:For this activity, I have used a classroom that has several small whiteboards on the walls. I am not going to deny that using these whiteboards is more appealing, but what if you don’t have these cute whiteboards? No problem, it will work just the same with A3 or A4 paper (the bigger, the better)

Step by Step

STEP 1: FORMING PAIRS AND GETTING A STORY STARTER

  1. Pair up students.
  2. Display the visual below and explain that the boxes contain different story starters. Ask pairs to choose a box. The sentence inside the box will be the beginning of their story. All pairs must choose a different box, meaning they will all have different beginnings.
  3.  I have asked each pair of students to stand next to a board  (alternatively, as explained, a A3 or A4 sheet of paper ) and write the beginning of their story.
  4. Give students about 5/6 minutes to continue the story in any way they fancy.

STEP 2: ADDING A RANDOM PROMPT AND A CONNECTOR OF CONTRAST

After approx 5 minutes, draw students’ attention and ask a volunteer for the whole class to

  • choose a box from the exercise below. Pairs will have to continue the story, incorporating the prompt in the box. Right after opening the box with the prompt,
  • click on the wheel  (fed with connectors of contrast and purpose and some verbs) and ask them to continue the story using the connector/verb randomly picked in the wheel.

Give students 5 or 6 minutes to continue the story.


How many times have I repeated Step 2? 

I have repeated this procedure three times (i.e. three prompts+ three connectors). Make sure you tell them when they need to finish their stories.

Step 3. Giving students Feedback on their Writing 

Give students something to do while you quickly underline the mistakes in their writings. Keywords here: underline their mistakes. I don’t correct them, I underline them. This is vital if you want students to get rid of errors.

Step 4. Students correct their mistakes

Ask students to stand up in their pairs and comment, reflect and try to fix the underlined mistakes.

Important: I ask them not to delete the original text so that I can have it as a reference.

Step 5.  Quickly give feedback on their corrections
Step 6. Students vote for the best story

Student stand up again, read their classmates’ stories, and individually vote for the best. They do it by drawing a heart next to the story they like best.

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Exploring Cities: 3 Classroom Activities to Supercharge Speaking Skills

I am not saying these three activities are great, but I am saying they are

  • visual
  • engaging
  • effective
  • dynamic
  • collaborative
  • thought-provoking
  • challenging
  • Interactive
  • … shall I continue?

So, they are the perfect answer to introduce and end a lesson about our cities and future cities.

1. INTRODUCING

Ask students to discuss the following question in pairs or small groups:

When you think about the concept of a futuristic city, what kind of city comes to mind?

USEFUL VOCABULARY

  • Sustainable development
  • Megacity
  • Vertical farming
  • Urban sprawl
  • Green architecture
  • High-speed rail
  • Smart city
  • Zero-emission autonomous vehicles
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • Eco-City
  • Drone Deliver

Display the pictures and allow students time to comment in pairs and then,  have a whole class discussion. These images are unique and, as I am sure you have guessed, created with AI.

HOUSING by cristina.cabal

2. DISCUSSING: GIVING A STUDENTS A CHOICE

This activity is designed to engage students in debates and discussions based on their chosen statements.

Before the class

  • In each corner of the classroom, hang a clothesline by using a rope and some adhesive hooks. You will need to assign a corner to each group of 4-5 students
  • Depending on the number of students you have, you will need to print as many sets of cards (one set for each corner) as groups in your class.
  • If you make groups of 5 students, you will need to come up with 5 controversial statements. You can read mine below. You will also need clothes pins to hang the cards on the clothesline. Assign a clothesline to each group.

During the class

  • Give the students a photocopy with some functional language to express opinion, agree and disagree with someone else’s opinion. Ask them to choose 3 or 4 expressions from each list and encourage them to use these expressions in this activity.
  • Divide the class into 4 groups and assign each group to one of the four corners of the classroom.
  • Tell the students to stand up, go to their assigned corner, and choose the statement (phrase) they like the most or believe they can argue for or against effectively from the cards hanging on their group’s clothesline.
  • Have the students sit down and give them 5 minutes to prepare their arguments.
  • Start the debate within each group. Student A should begin by showing their card, stating whether they are in favour of or against the statement, and presenting their reasons.
  • Encourage other group members to listen carefully, take notes, and contribute their opinions to the discussion.
  • After Student A has finished, it’s Student B’s turn to present their card and arguments.

These are the controversial statements I have used for this activity

AGREE OR DISAGREE by cristina.cabal

3. THE HOUSING CRISIS. ORAL MEDIATION: retelling in groups

Lead-in activity

Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write down one idea for addressing the housing crisis. It could be an affordable housing initiative, a zoning policy, or a rent control measure. Collect the papers and randomly distribute them to different students. Put the students in groups of three and ask them to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the idea on their piece of paper with their group.

The activity

I have used AI to turn text into speech to enhance students’ pronunciation. You will find the QR Code with the audio on page 2  (below).

  • The handout below, Housing Crisis in Cities, is divided into three parts: causes, consequences and solutions
  • Divide the class in groups of 3 students and assign each student in the group a part ( causes. …). Ask them to individually read their part once, underlining any new vocabulary. Divide the whiteboard into three columns( causes, consequences and solutions)  and ask students to contribute with the vocabulary they have underlined. Explain meanings.

  • Once all vocabulary issues have been solved, give students about 5-10 minutes to read their part several times. If they want to improve pronunciation, instruct them to listen to their part  (audio provided by the QRCode). PDF here. 
  • Ask the students that have been assigned Causes of the Housing Crisis to retell the information they have read in as much detail as possible, and then ask the students in their group to contribute with their own ideas by asking :  Can you list more reasons behind/ consequences of /solutions for the housing crisis?
  • Repeat procedure for Consequences and Solutions, with students contributing with their own ideas.
  • Finally, engage students in a whole-class discussion.

Housing crisis by cristina.cabal

Follow-up: Give your students this quote: “Housing is a basic human right, and it is the responsibility of governments to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and stable housing.” Ask them to express their opinion about it.

More activities revolving around Cities

Threeish in a Row with a Twist for Learning

Super fun activity loaded with learning, a nice tad of competitiveness, and team work for the last post of this school year? Yes, please!

Preparation

What do we need for this activity?

  • Different coloured whiteboard markers or post-it notes. How many colours? As many as teams in the class.
  • Task cards with content to revise. In my case, a combination of sentences to translate and rewriting exercises. Ideally, the cards will be digital so that you can easily show the exercise to the whole class. (I have used one of the digital flip cards templates on Genial.ly and made it reusable. See it in the last section of this post)
In Class
  • On the board, draw a 5×6 grid
  • Divide the class into teams of 3/4 students and assign each team a different coloured white board marker or, in my case, a different coloured post-it note. It will be used to claim their square on the grid.
The rules
  • In this game, all teams participate simultaneously in completing the task. However, establishing an order for the teams becomes important, especially when they need to claim a square to achieve a three-in-a-row formation. In each exercise, the order of teams claiming a square rotates. Team 1 goes first for one task, followed by Team 2 for the next task, and then Team 3 for the subsequent task. This ensures fairness and equal opportunities for all teams to claim a square.
  • Explain how three-in- a row is going to work in this game:

The goal of each team is to form a straight line of three of their assigned colours, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, i.e., a winning line can be formed horizontally, vertically, or diagonally by having three of the same colours in a row. As long as the assigned task is successfully completed, any team has the opportunity to claim a square on the grid.

Let’s start playing
  • Each team names a secretary who will be responsible for writing the answer to the exercise on the digital task card.
  • The teacher displays a task card and all the teams complete the exercise in written form. The secretary will write the answer on a piece of paper. The time allotted for each task card will vary depending on the difficulty of the exercise.
  • The teacher asks each team to provide their answer and verifies if it is correct or incorrect. This can be done in different ways, but the simplest one is for the teacher to quickly approach each team and check their answer.
  • The teams that have a correct answer stand up and claim a square on the grid that is displayed on the board. They can choose any square they want, as long as it has not already been taken by another team.
  • Repeat steps two to four until all the task cards have been used. The game does not end when a team gets three in a row. Instead, the game continues until there are no more task cards left.
  • Teams can block other teams from getting three in a row by marking a square that interrupts their line. The winner is the team that has the most three in a row at the end of the game.

Ready to play?

 

I hope you have liked the game!!!

Explaining Have Something Done and Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Time is of the essence. I am pressed for time. There is no time to lose. Time is running out or time is ticking are some of the phrases that fit me like a glove now that I have less than a month to wrap up the course. In case you are wondering, nope, I didn’t miss a single lesson this year, so I am not making up for lost time, it is just that I feel there is so much I haven’t taught them; there is so much that still needs to be reinforced.

Anyways, last point of grammar: Have something done. Here we go!!!!

Step 1. Introducing Have Sth Done and Guided Practice

Note: Use the arrows to enlarge the presentation.

Fun: For the exercise in the last slide, put students in groups of three and vote for the most extravagant luxury within the group and then within the class. This will encourage everybody to participate and have a nice laugh while learning.

STEP 2: The killing of the two birds with one stone. Shadow Reading.

Now, you might be wondering why I have chosen the title ‘Kill two birds with one stone’ when it seems like I am just going to explain the structure ‘have something done’. Well, I am and I am not.

In a last attempt to try to improve my students’ pronunciation, I asked them to bring to class their earbuds/headphones and make sure they had a QR Code Reader installed in their phones.

I prepared and assigned them a shadow reading activity which contained, once again, an explanation of the grammar point and some clear examples.

What is shadow reading?

Shadow reading is one of my favourite activities. It is a technique used in language learning to improve students’ pronunciation and fluency. It involves students listening to an audio recording while simultaneously reading the text out loud, trying to match the speaker’s rhythm, intonation, and stress.

How I set it up
  • As you read above, I asked students to bring their earbuds/headphones to class and ensure that they had a QR Code Reader installed on their phones.
  • I gave my students a copy of the text below these lines, and asked them to scan the QR Code.
  • Then, I instructed them to step outside the class, work on the text and come back in 10 minutes.
  • Finally, I invited every student to have a go at reading parts of the text, attempting to mimic the pronunciation and intonation they heard in the video.

Note: while some students made noticeable improvements in their pronunciation, others may have been a little shy to share their progress, but that’s okay! Now they all have a clear model to follow, and they can continue to practice at home with confidence.

A more personal note: I cannot close this section without expressing my total devotion to Simple English videos and to the recently deceased Vicki, my inspirational voice, as well as her husband Jay.  I have always used their videos to warm up my voice before starting class on Monday. (I know you know the feeling)

This is the handout I shared with my students

Shadow Reading de cristina.cabal

The Practice.

Text created with ChatGPT