Tag Archives: C1

Lesson Plan: “What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”

I have to confess that I had to look up who Alfred Mercier, the owner of this quote, was. And I say “was” because although this inspirational poet was born at the beginning of the XIXc.,  he is very much in line with my way of thinking:  “what we learn with pleasure, we never forget”.

This has always been my aim: to teach trying to make my lessons memorable for my students. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. But I am always trying. Anyway, I really believe the first five minutes of the class, mark its rhythm and that the way you present the information to students is of the utmost importance.

This lesson for C1 students focuses on education. It offers practice in the following:

  • vocabulary
  • listening
  • speaking
  • reading
Warm-up: What's the weirdest thing your teacher has done?

So, let’s start with some fun. On the board, write the word Weird and drill pronunciation. Show them the gif for a bit of fun and display or read some of the tweets sent to Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag game #MyWeirdTeacher. Here’s the link.  I think my fav is Number 1. That’s the one I would give my students as an example.

Ask the question: What’s the weirdest thing your teacher has done?. Give them some thinking time and listen to their stories.

Revising vocabulary

For a student, learning new vocabulary can be a bit overwhelming so it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ knowledge. It really helps make learning new words much easier. The method or activity used to extract previous knowledge should differ from the one used to teach new content using more dynamic strategies to work with the former.

A simple activity could be giving students 1 minute to write down as many topic-related words as they can remember, emphasizing words such as “teacher” or ” primary school” are not adequate for this level and will be dismissed.  I will be using Mentimeter for this activity but feel free to use the familiar pen and paper. The prize for the winner? a round of applause- we are suffering cuts in the school budget 🙂

Speaking and Writing: Small activities

Change one thing: If I could change one thing about the past school year…

Six adjectives: use 6 adjectives to describe your last academic year

What advice would you give to someone who is beginning to learn English?

Listening: What makes a good teacher? What makes a good student?

Pre-listening:

a. Give students some thinking time to come up with their ideas of what, in their opinion, makes a good teacher. This is a good opportunity to introduce vocabulary they will find in the video.

b. At the same time, ask them to write 3 adjectives that a good teacher needs to possess.

Before playing the video,  ask students to read the three adjectives they have written. Play the video once and see whose choice of adjectives are on the video. Play a second and even a third time and ask students to take notes.

Tapescript, here

Repeat procedure for What makes a successful student?

Introducing new vocabulary collaboratively

Give them the list of new words and ask students to underline the words they already know. This is a good way to guarantee you are not going to be the only one doing the work here and they will be engaged throughout the activity. After a couple of minutes, go through the list asking individual students to provide definitions and give examples. Clarify and exemplify any real new words.

Get the PDF here

Drill the pronunciation of…

  • creativity
  • data
  • discipline
  • plagiarism
  • poem
Speaking Interactive Posters : thumbs up, thumbs down.

Present the students with the following statements, one at a time, and ask them to give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement on display.

Once they have established where they stand, click on the interactive button on the poster, displaying suggested vocabulary they can use when presenting their point of view. Give them one minute to plan what they are going to say. Repeat procedure with all or some of the posters.

 

Further Practice. Homework

 

A Digital Board Game to Use “Would you Rather” in Speaking and Writing

Is there anything better than a little game to break the ice?

This board game I am sharing with you today is meant to be used as a get-to-know-each-other activity for my first class, but I am sure it can be used in other contexts.

Here’s the thing,I like games as much as the next girl;  buut…, although I haven’t started teaching yet, I already feel the pressure of an overwhelming curriculum. Is it the same for you? So, first-day fun speaking activities? Totally. But, and this is a big “but”, adding a grammar structure that needs to be learned.

This year, goodbye normalcy. So long. See you next year. Hopefully.

 

  • Aim: to teach or revise “would rather” in positive, negative and interrogative sentences
  • Skills: speaking and writing
  • Level: B2 and upwards
  • Handout: “would rather” grammar, here

After explaining/revising the grammar and giving and asking for lots of examples both in written and spoken form, it’s time to play with our digital board game. I have used Genial.ly, one of my fave sites to create content for my classes.

The instructions are pretty simple.

  1. Ask students to work in pairs.
  2. Throw the built-in dice and move the counter.
  3. Click on the square and a would you rather question would be displayed.
  4. Ask students to work in pairs expressing their preferences. Encourage them to elaborate on their answers.
  5. Choose a couple of students to express their preferences aloud for the rest of the class. You can always ask someone who has chosen a different option in the would you rather question. Students answers should follow this model:
  •            Question: Would you rather be Donal Trump or Melania Trump for a moth?
  •            Answer: I’d rather be Melania Trump than D. Trump because…

       6. Writing: if they land on a square with the question gif, students will need to write a “would you rather” question for the teacher. Yes. You have to answer. You are allowed some white lies, though.

EXTRA: to spice up this activity a bit more, you might ask random students to guess your preference.

Note: You  might want to c

lick on the arrows to enlarge the board

 

FOLLOW UP: Working with Would you Prefer

Below, you will find the same board; only this time, students will be required to use a Would Prefer structure

  • Would you prefer to be Donal Trump or Melania Trump for a moth?
  • I’d prefer to be Donald Trump rather than Melania Trump because…

This is a perfect example of killing two birds with one stone: same board, two grammar points.

Learning Languages: my Fave Videos to Spark Discussion

Hello March!

Kicking off the month with one of my favourite topics of conversation: languages learning. This is a lesson I feel I could entirely teach based on videos from the internet and conversation questions.

I always like to introduce a new topic with some visual aid that either sparks discussion or puts a smile on my students’ faces. This time, I might have gone too far and used not one but four videos. Ohh, but they are so good!

These are the videos I have been using over the years and that have never failed me!

TO PUT A SMILE ON THEIR FACES

I normally play this video at the very beginning of the lesson and ask them to guess our next topic.  Believe it or not, although I have seen it a thousand times, I still laugh my head off.

Useful Vocabulary:

  • translator, interpreter, to translate from Spanish into English, native speaker,  to be fluent, to speak a language fluently, to be proficient in (English); to speak like a native speaker, to be bilingual, lingua franca.

Discussion Questions

  • How many languages do you speak?
  • What is the most difficult language to learn in your opinion?
  • Have you ever tried to learn a language and given up because it was very difficult?
  • Do you think that in the future there will be just one language in the world?
  • Nowadays English is the lingua franca; do you think this is going to change any time soon?
TO BOOST THEIR MOTIVATION

Before playing the video, ask students:

Why are you learning English?

Useful Vocabulary:

to do a course, have a chat, standard English, slang, take a message,  widely spoken, mother tongue, make mistakes, pronunciation issues, to make an effort, to sign up for a course, to learn a language online, a complete beginner.

Discussion Questions

  1. How old were you when you started learning English? Do you think it is a good age?
  2. What motivated you to start learning English?
  3. What are the advantages of learning a foreign language?
  4. Are there any similarities between English and Spanish? Does Spanish have many loan words from English?
  5. When you are speaking in English, do you try to be accurate or do you just talk and not worry about making mistakes? Which way do you think is better?
TO HELP THEM GET BETTER AT ENGLISH

 

Useful Vocabulary:  to switch between two languages, to put into practice, to feel frustrated,   a conversation partner, to memorize vocabulary, to improve your grammar, speaking skills, to have a good range of vocabulary.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think it is possible for a non-native speaker to speak the language like a native?
  • What do you find most difficult to learn in English?  Why do you think is that?
  • What is the best way to speak a language?
  • What do you do on your own to improve your English?
  • What techniques do you use to learn new vocabulary?
TO SPARK DISCUSSION

 

Useful Vocabulary:

translator, interpreter,  context, translation fails, to come in handy, accurate translation,  basic conversation, translation app, a translation device.

Controversial Statements

On the board, write these two statements and ask students to choose the one they agree with.  Form two groups depending on their choice. Allow them to discuss their reasons to support the statement and then pair up students from different groups to try to convince each other to change sides.

The statements:

  • There is no point in learning a foreign language when Google Translator can do it for you”
  • “Translation technology is good but should not replace learning languages”

You,  as a teacher,  want to agree with the second statement. Here are some reasons against the use of translation apps and in support of the second statement  I have found to convince my students to keep on learning English. Do you think I’ll manage to convince them? Translation apps:

  • They cannot understand context or  translate pronouns correctly
  • Cultural references are lost
  • They don’t produce high-quality translations
  • Accuracy depends on your accent  or on background noise
  • You cannot use it for long  and involved conversations
  • It is not good at recognising proper names and names of cities
  • Your data is not safe

Modern Taboo with a Twist

Is there anything students love more than a good game? The Taboo Game is an oldie but goodie and I have yet to find a student who does not like it.  Playing and learning? It’s always a win-win.

Playing games in class is something that I often do. Well, not this year. I have been on sick leave for 2 weeks and it is taking its toll on my lessons. I feel like I am always in a  hurry trying to make up for lost time. It might be working. I might be finally catching up with the syllabus but I am not having as much fun this year as in the previous ones. And this needs to stop. Right now.

So, to give my students a much-needed respite, we have revised the relative sentences using the Taboo game.

GUIDED PRACTICE: RELATIVE SENTENCES
  1. Before playing, I wrote the beginning of a sentence and asked students to provide the relative pronoun. This is the best time to correct potential mistakes.
  • It’s a person… WHO/THAT
  • It’s something … WHICH/THAT
  • It’s  a place … WHERE
  • It’s a time … WHEN

2. I wrote the word  DOG on the board and asked students to define it using the correct relative pronoun. (for ex, it is an animal that barks).

3. Then, I wrote TEACHER in capitals and under the word TEACHER, I wrote 4 taboo words they were not allowed to use in their description of the word. For example: teach, students, subjects, school. Their definition could be something like ” it is a person whose job involves using the board a lot and helping people learn  English or maths”.

Tip: if it’s a B1 class, I would use only 3 taboo words instead of the 4 you have in this game

SEMI-GUIDED PRACTICE: MODERN TABOO

Once again, to create this game I have used the flexible multipurpose Spark Adobe ( honestly, I cannot go without it).

Procedure:

  1. Divide the class into two teams and ask a representative from each team to come to the front of the class and face away from the board. Decide which team is going to start.
  2.  Player A faces their team A.  Display the presentation below. Team A describes the word at the top of the slide, without using any of the words below it (taboo words). If they use any of the taboo words, they will lose 1 point for their team and a new slide will be displayed. When Player A guesses a word, the team gets 1 point and a new slide is displayed.
  3. Team A continues to describe words for Player A for 1 minute. The game continues with teams and players taking it in turns to describe and guess words. The team with the highest score at the end of the game are the winners.

NOTE: Make sure you don’t use all the words on the presentation below. You will need at least 4 for a variation od the Taboo Game you can do at the end of the game to practise questions.

Taboo

FREE PRACTICE

Once each team has had their turn, I have put them in groups of 4 and given them paper cards to continue playing. This time, Player A describes the word to their Team. One player from Team B is allowed to see the card to make sure none of the words on the card are used. You can get plenty of Taboo cards on IslCollective. Bear in mind, you will need to register to download content.

You can also download the traditional Taboo Cards here (B1-B2)  and here (A1-A2)

THE TWIST: ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

To wrap up the activity, ask a representative from Team A and Team B to come to the front of the class. Ask them to face their team and away from the board.  Display a word. The team will have to ask questions so that Student A guesses the word; again, they cannot use any of the Taboo words in their questions.

Remember our example?TEACHER? This could go like this…

Team A to Student A

  • Who helps you learn English?  Who is standing right next to you? Who writes your school report?

I hope you have enjoyed the activity! Have fun teaching, have fun learning!

Guess my Age: a Fun Game to Practise Modal Verbs of Possibility and Certainty

Have you ever seen the contest  “El Concurso del Año” on TV? It is on Channel 4. I had never seen it before and I don’t think I am going to see it again any time soon. I found it incredibly boring and uninteresting. But dull as it was, I realized it had great potential to teach modal verbs. Yep. That sad! I am watching TV and  I can only think of teaching. So guess what, I am about to make this contest your new favourite thing to teach modals of possibility and certainty.

  • Now, what is the goal of the game? to guess the exact age of 6 celebrities. 
  • What’s the target language?  modal verbs of certainty and possibility in both their simple and perfect forms.
  • What skills are we working with? speaking and writing.

Materials: you will need blank slips of  paper  (a good opportunity to recycle the back of some old photocopies)

These are the basic rules of the game, which I have slightly modified to meet my students’ needs but hey, the ingredients in this game are just really appealing: celebrities, music, interaction, fun, new technologies…etc and lots of learning.

  1. The class is divided into teams. The aim of the game is to find out the exact age of some famous people while using the target language. In this case, modal verbs.
  2. Teams will be offered a clue to help them guess the exact age.

There are 3 types of clues:

  • the SONG ( one song released on the year of birth of the famous person)
  • the EVENT (an important event of the year the celebrity was born)
  • the CELEBRITY ( another famous person born in the same year)

To see how to play, and to play this fun game, open the interactive presentation below.

Personal experience: students really enjoyed the game and in their excitement, they tended to say just the age or slip into Spanish. Remind them to use the target modal verbs and English.

Note: To enlarge this beautiful interactive presentation created with Genial.ly, click on 3 dots and then on the arrows.