Tag Archives: exam

Fixing Fossilized Grammar and Spelling Errors in an Engaging Effective Way

End of the school year for me! And for you?

This is a post especially dedicated to all non-tech lovers! I am capping off this wonderful school year with an engaging yet effective activity for error correction. It may not be much when you read how to do it but trust me on this one, your students are going to love it!

If you follow me at all on my blog or on social media (facebook, twitter ), you will know that I am a huge fan of using technology in my classes. When I mean “huge”, I don’t mean that technology dominates my teaching practice. I use technology only when I think it’s going to contribute to effective learning. Otherwise, it’s time wasted.

Slips of paper are hands-down my favourite teaching tool. Essentially, they are scraps of paper that I use and reuse constantly in various ways. In fact, my record is having used the same set of slips of paper six times for a single class. I am sure some of my students will remember this day. They certainly learned everything on them.

The activity I am sharing with you today is a  brand new one. I have to say I am happy with the result. It worked really well, it was effective, meaningful and engaging.

This time slips of paper have been used to fix fossilized grammar and spelling errors, but I firmly believe that the use of slips of paper as a teaching tool is a great addition to any lesson plan.

Note 1: “fossilization” refers the way in which some errors become a permanent feature of a language learner’s language

Note 2: at the end of the post, there is a video I’ve put together with some pics and clips I took from the activity. In case you want to see it. Just saying! 🙂

Materials:

  • slips of paper
  • sticky notes
  • sellotape or blue-tack
Before  the class

Yes. I am afraid there is some prep to do but it’s worth it.

  1. Correct their compositions and write down common or relevant errors: for this activity, I have used common spelling or grammar errors.
  2. Write them down on slips of paper.
  3. Write the correction on sticky notes or scraps of paper.
  4. Hang the slips of papers around the room. Identify each slip of paper with a number and write it down on the bottom right-hand corner.
  5. For each slip of paper, and displayed next to it, is a sticky note containing the correction. The sticky note is folded in half so that the right answer cannot be seen unless unfolded.

How to go about it

Round 1

  • Ask students to take out a regular A4 piece of paper, write Round 1 at the top and number it- whatever X slips of paper you are using. Ask them to do the same on another piece of paper and but this time they should write Round 2.
  • Note: It is spring so if it is sunny, why not take them outside the building and hang the slips of paper on the walls of the building? In fact, this is what I did. If you also play some upbeat music while they are doing the exercise, they are going to love you.
  • Ask them to form pairs.
  • Ask them to walk around the class in their pairs, read the sentence, spot the error, discuss the way to correct it and then write their answers on the response sheet. If the number on the slip of paper is 3, they should write it next to number three on their response sheet.  Tell them it doesn’t matter where they start as they will end up doing all the cards.
  • Emphasize that they will need to speak English all the time and that they will both need to discuss how to correct the error- you want both of them to learn, not just one student-  then write down the answer and then, only then, unfold the sticky note with the corrected version.
  • I like to meander around the room and check to see if they are having difficulties with a specific error and try to help them figure out where the mistake is.
  • Once the activity is finished, I ask them to count up the number of mistakes they have been able to correct and write that number at the top of their paper.

Round 2.

We are working here with fossilized errors, ie, errors we have already corrected a thousand times but we haven’t been able to fix.  Reinforcement and consolidation are essential. So, let’s go for Round 2.

Group students: I asked students to form a line based on their birthdays (day/month). Once they formed the line, I ask them to work with the person on their right. (have a look at the video).

  • Explain that they are going to be competing against each other.  At the end of the activity, the winner is the student who has managed to correct the most mistakes.
  • Everything is the same as above, but this time they don’t discuss the error. Together and silently they read the error on the slip of paper, write the correction on their sheets of paper, compare their answers, unfold the sticky note and put a tick or a cross depending on whether they have been able to spot and correct the error. Hopefully, most students will have been able to fix all the errors.

Round 3

Yes. Again. Remember they are fossilized errors.

Follow-up: Ask students to sit down and ask them to write from memory all the mistakes they have been able to fix. Once they have finished, ask them to share them in pairs. Let’s hope that by writing them down from memory and talking about them in pairs …again, we will have helped them eliminate these fossilized errors from their oral and written production.

I love how slips of papers can turn into a simple and fun formative assessment tool that gets students out of their seats and learning, don’t you?

Have a look at the video now to have a clearer picture of the whole activity.

Using Grass Skirts to Revise Topics

This is a very quick post to share with you an idea I had this very same morning to “ask” my students to start revising for oral exams.

Where I teach, the B2 level is divided into two courses: B2.1 and B2.2. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I wish there was a B2.3 course. I always feel like I need more time to prepare them to take the dreaded standardized exams they need to sit at the end of each level.

Anyway, the idea is to politely “force” my students to start revising the topics and obviously the specific topic-related vocabulary studied in B2.1. However, some of my students are really hard-working and they have already started revising on their own. For this reason, I don’t want to schedule the revision, I want them to choose the topics they really need to revise. Worried about the best way to do it, I came up with this idea. I haven’t tested it yet, but I hope it is effective.

TEARABLE TOPICS

First Day. Preparation:

  • Choose a number of topics and write them down. You can use my own template. See it here.   You can make your own template o download the one Tekhnologic  very kindly offers on his website. I have used his.
  • Cut a line between words but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach.
  • Each poster contains 8 topics. If you have between 10 and 18 students, you will need two copies of the poster. I printed them in different colours for easy differentiation.
  • Put the poster(s) on the walls of the class.
  • Divide the class into two groups and assign a poster to each group.
  • Tell students they will have to choose the topic they would like to revise and tear off the piece of paper containing the topic they have chosen. They can only do it from their assigned poster.
  • Homework: tell students that they will need to prepare a speech of about 3 minutes about something related to their topic. Some ideas are suggested in the poster together with more detailed instructions.

 Day 2.Procedure.

  • Students within their groups form groups of 3 and give their speeches.
  • Encourage members of the group to ask follow-up questions once the student has finished.
  • Repeat procedure to continue revising: display new posters (with the same topics) on the walls of the class and again ask students to choose a new topic to be revised. Again, ask them to prepare a short speech for the next day and repeat procedure.

Click to get the editable document

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,

 

The Art of Persuasion: Speaking Exam Practice for B2

My friends say about me that I am very easily convinced. I am easy, that’s what they say.  I guess they know it’s easy to seduce me into doing things that I like, but I reckon they know that it’s not so easy to talk me into doing something I don’t really want to do. So, I let them think it’s a piece of cake to win me over. They are happy and so am I.  It’s also very true that once I make up my mind, it’s hard to talk me out of doing it and that I am not easily put off by setbacks. For better or for worse, that’s the kind of girl I am. Easy to persuade but hard to dissuade.

1. Working with vocabulary.

In the introduction to the post above, I have highlighted some verbs. Can you tell me which ones are used for persuasion and which ones for dissuasion?

Now, do this exercise to consolidate learning

2. Warming-up. Speaking

Choose the statements you agree with:

  • I am good at persuading people
  • You talk to me enough, you can convince me to do anything
  • I will never lie or exaggerate to persuade someone
  • My parents or my friends just keep on talking and eventually I agree with them
3. Working with Functional Language

The list you’ll find below is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the language you can use in this context, it’s just a selection of some of the functional language  I want my students to use in this speaking activity.

Before you start the role play, make sure students are confident with the language they’ll have to use.

 Expressions used to make suggestions:

  • Might I suggest…?
  • Shall I/we…?
  • Why don’t you/we….?
  • I suggest that you… / I suggest+…ing
  • We should….

Expressions used to offer alternatives

  • Instead of … ing
  • Wouldn’t you prefer to….?

Expressions used for reassuring

  • You don’t have to worry about…
  • I can assure you that…
  • I guarantee you won’t (regret it)

Expressions used for dissuading

  • I wouldn’t bother about that.
  • I (would strongly) advise (you) against …ing

 

4. Speaking task

Holiday in Scotland.  Explain that they are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend but they don’t seem to agree on the kind of holiday to book. They will need to discuss the options and try to come to an agreement.

Students work in pairs to develop the role-play based on the information given to them on their corresponding handout. If there are three students in the group, the third one could be the travel agent.

Tell students they will need to talk for about 5 minutes and try to reach an agreement at the end of the conversation.

Student A

Bed and Breakfast and drive:  you are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend. You think the best idea is to hire a car and drive, staying at bed and breakfasts/guests houses.

Student B

Package holiday in Scotland:  you are planning a week’s holiday in Scotland with a friend. You think the best idea is to go on a package holiday, staying at hotels and going on organized excursions to the most famous places.

Credit: This speaking task has been inspired by a task published by Conselleria D’Educació- Generalitat Valenciana. 

PDF here

The Two-Corner Technique. How I Train my Students to Pass the Standardized Speaking Exam.Part 2

It’s Monday. I swear it was Friday when I last blinked. Exam time is inching closer and closer and I figure it’s about time I share part 2 of how I prepare my students to take oral exams. Please, note that attending classes and piling up dozens of photocopies helps, but this alone does not guarantee you are going to pass the exam. Practice. Keyword here.

In Part 2, you are going to read about the two-corner technique and the websites  I use to help my students gather ideas.

The anecdote.

What I am going to relate here is one of the reasons why I try to offer my students not only vocabulary and structures but also ideas. Yes, I present them with different ideas, but  I don’t ask them to study and use them as if they were theirs, I ask them to discuss them. Why? Mainly because by discussing ideas they can develop their own, acquire some others and also learn to challenge opinions they do not agree with.

You have probably heard students, or experience if you are one, talk about this fear of not knowing what to say.

Only last week I set a writing activity to be done in class. I asked students to write for about 20 minutes giving their opinion about a topic we had already discussed in class.

I observed one of my students was not writing but staring into space. After 5 minutes, I approached him and asked why he wasn’t writing. He said he could not come up with any ideas, said he wasn’t inspired and that he was afraid this would happen on the day of the exam.

And I worry. Even though my students study hard, sometimes they find it hard to think on their feet and start talking or writing.

It’s with this in mind that I try to provide my students not only with grammar and vocabulary but also with other people’s points of view on a given topic so that they can discuss these ideas and develop their own arguments. Speaking is not only talking about what you would do but also about what you wouldn’t do.

Topic:  Ebooks versus paper Books

Level: B2 (upper-intermediate)

Time: about 30 minutes

  • Step 1.  Brainstorming vocabulary.  As usual, we brainstorm vocabulary on the board. This is a necessary step as you don’t want students to get stuck because they can’t come up with a term.
  • Step 2. Posing the question.  I write on the board ht e big question. In this case: What do you prefer? Ebooks or paper books?
  • Step 3. Using the two-corner teaching technique.  This technique is actually called the four- corner technique, but I find a two-corner approach suits my classes better. With this technique, you get your students out of their seats and thinking about the topic they are going to discuss. In one corner of the classroom, I put up a notice saying paper books and in another corner a notice with ebooks written on it.

I ask students, still in their seats, to think which corner of the room they would choose and think of the reasons why they prefer one choice to another. After a bit of thinking time, I ask them to stand up and go to their corner of the room. Once there, they talk to the members of their group sharing ideas and talking about why they favour one choice and not the other.

  • Step 4.  Getting ideas from other sources.

Time to see how others express your same idea and maybe get some others. Give students in favour of ebooks handout A and give handout B to students who prefer paper books. Let them read it and comment it in their groups.

  • Step 5. Persuading and Convincing

This is the part I like best. Pair up students from both corners. Their aim will be to campaign on behalf of their choice and try to convince a student from the opposite corner to flip sides.

For this activity, I have used the website https://netivist.org/ , which is a platform where users can debate and engage in thoughtful discussion sharing different points of view.

Other  similar websites  are:

https://www.kialo.com/

https://debatewise.org/

Going the extra mile?

  1. Students practise talking about what these two sets of pictures suggest to them

2. Students listen to what other people have to say on the subject.

If you have missed Part 1 of how I prepare my students to take oral exams, you can read it here