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.
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.
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.
It is true that there is so much material out there for our English classes that most of the times, we just need to type some keywords on the internet and voîla, we have it. But, think about it, has it ever happened to you to come across some great material but not just exactly what you are looking for? To me. All the time. And that’s probably why I am always on the lookout for new sites to help me create my own content.
This happened to me last week. I wanted to give my students a board game with conversation questions about sports and at the same time, use a little game to activate the vocabulary we had been studying. I was lucky, from my files, I rescued an old board game that I had used a long time ago. But although it served the purpose, I was not entirely happy and therefore I set out to trawl the internet looking for an editable board game where I could write the questions I wanted my students to discuss.
And as Jeremiah the prophet said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Well, I must have put all my heart into it ‘cause I found it. The design is not perfect but hey! it’s free.
Tools for educators is a nice little site which offers online editable templates. You just choose the template and write your own content.
In my case, I have used the board game, but you can explore the other templates it offers. I am dying to try the dice generator. I don’t know how I am going to use it yet, but use it I know I will.
So, this is what it looks like. You will need to fill in the 21 squares. If you don’t, it will still print the board but with some blank squares. Options when you have run out of questions? Move ahead one space, move back two spaces… Once you have written your content, just print it.
This is a great way to review any subject that needs a little jazzing up
Give students 5 pieces of paper. I normally reuse discarded printed with a blank side, which I cut into approx 10×5 cm pieces.
Instruct them to write on each piece a word or expression they have learnt about, in this case, sports. Ex: face danger, overcome your fears, adventurous. I encourage them to write not just the word but also the collocation as we have learned it.
Ask students to form groups of three or four people.
Ask them to put together all their cards, shuffle them a bit and place them face down in the middle
Give students counters and a die. The youngest in the group starts playing and then players will continue playing clockwise.
When Player A lands on a square, he reads the question and then picks up a card containing an expression which he will have to use when answering the question. They will have one minute to answer the question. If they manage to squeeze the expression, they can keep the card. If not, the card is returned to the pile.
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!
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”
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
What do you call the school where you study and sleep?
What preposition does “committed” collocate with?
How do you pronounce “native”?
Can you give me a synonym for “ obligatory?
What’s the opposite of a “state school”?
Which is correct “do your homework” or “make your homework”?
Another way of saying “ to relax”
“to assign” is a verb, what’s the noun?
Team B questions
What do you call the school which trains students for employment?
Which is correct “do an exam” or “make an exam”?
When you pass an exam with high marks, you can say that you pass it with flying….?
What do you call the money that you pay to attend a school?
How do you pronounce the word “machine”?
What preposition do you use with the verb ”keep” to mean “to go as fast as”?