Ohhh! The power of a game! I don’t know anybody who does not welcome a bit of fun while learning/teaching. Playing a game transforms everyone’s mood. It is magical to see what having a little break from routine tasks, can do for students who have been working hard.
I teach two-hour lessons and trust me when I tell you that even people who do not typically like games go out of their way to beat the other teams.
If, to the thrill of playing competitively among teams, you add movement, give them the opportunity to stretch by asking them to stand up and also offer them the chance to change partners frequently, smiles and good vibes are guaranteed.
For this game, I have used the free website baamboozle.com/, which is super easy to use and allows me or my students to create and play games.
If you do not want to register, you can still click on Featured games and choose from the large bank of games saved on the website.
Revising: give students the link to the game and ask them at home to revise using the Study Mode.
Writing: ask students to choose one of the questions and write about it for about 15 minutes paying attention to their grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. During the class, the next day, choose a box, tell students to quickly provide the collocation and ask a student who has written about it to summarise his ideas for the rest of the class.
We are talking about Cloze Tests today. Not the printed fit-all-size cloze texts that you can get and photocopy from any textbook or exam preparation book, but the online tailor-made no-prep cloze tests you can get at the wonderfully simple site created by L. George. See it here
Why is it Cristina’s way, you might be wondering? Well, because it combines two of my favourite ingredients in an activity:
A touch of technology
A game-like activity
The online tool I have used to create the cloze has two features you can choose from: text only (that you can easily copy/paste into a document) and interactive (that you can save as an HTML page). The tool is free and you don’t even need to register.
In this exercise, I have used the simpler text-only version.
Cloze Test Exercise with a Twist
Choose a text that contains a variety of terms you want your students to revise or work with.
On the right yellow box with the options, choose “every… words” ( I have chosen to gap my text every 9 words)
Using the OHP, display the gapped text on the board or alternatively, print it and give it to your students. Two students can share a copy.
Ask students to work in pairs. Give or show the Close Test and ask them to predict the lexical category or part of speech that could fit each gap: is it a noun, an adjective, a preposition or maybe an article? Allow a couple of minutes for this task. You might want to show an example.
For example, I wrote a letter___ my mother (students will most likely agree, they ‘ll need a preposition to fill in this gap)
Ask Student A to face the board. Ask Student B to face away from the board and concentrate on the text.
Tell students you’ll write the words on the board in random order, but each of the words will be identified with a number. If you have 8 gaps in the cloze text, you will write the words on the board preceded by the number. Tell Student B to do the same in case he cannot guess a word in the allotted time. For ex: 1. house 2. wrote 3. for.
Write one of the missing words on the board, and ask student A to define the word, or give a synonym or antonym for student B to guess and write down. For example, if the word on the board is “wrote”, Student A might say “it’s a verb in the past and you use a pen or a pencil to do it”.
Tell students you’ll write a new word every 30 seconds. If Student B guesses the word quickly, he might try to use the rest of the time (up until the 30 seconds) to try to place the word in the right gap but tell them you’ll not wait.
Continue in the same way until you have written all the missing words. The words should be written in random order.
NOTE: If one of the words hasn’t been guessed, at the end of this part Student A will need to try to define the words again. (Remember that the words are still written on the board). This time, Student A can help Student B by giving him the first letter.
Once they have all the words, Students A and B will work together to complete the gapped test.
Place a bell on your table and ask the first pair to finish to come up to your table. Silently check that the exercise is correct and if it is, ask them to ring the bell. From that moment, the rest of the class will have one minute to finish the exercise.
Choose another text and repeat procedure. This time Student B will face the board and Student A will concentrate on the text.
Note: If you are a student, this is a great tool for self-study. Choose a text from around the web, gap the text every 10 words and then select the interactive feature, which will check your exercise. Enjoy learning English!
Several times I have been on the verge of almost writing a post exclusively to share with you this beautiful presentation tool without any reference whatsoever to English teaching.
But I didn’t. I don’t know why, but I’m glad I didn’t.
Normally posts about tools and apps you can use in the classroom go unnoticed, unless you’re clearly into incorporating technology into your classes.
So, next week I’ll be teaching the grammar for both, neither and eitherand I thought it would be nice to use this tool to present and teach these pronouns as, among other things, List.ly helps you build beautiful presentations, add text and links.
Now, if you’re not interested in incorporating List.ly into your classes, you can skip all about List.ly below and go straight for the grammar. 🙂 although I hope you don’t.
Oh boy. Does it bring back memories!
Dictations! To be completely honest with you, I have mixed feeling as regards dictations. I remember back in primary school when the language teacher gave us lots of dictations like a well- deserved break after a tough grammar lesson; and then, this feeling of “I don’t want to ever hear the word dictation again” that I got from my classes at university where the teacher gave us one-page-long dictations so quickly that when he finished, he was panting for breath and we were seeing red.
Although doing dictations is somewhat regarded as an old-fashioned technique, it is undeniable that a lot of benefits can be derived from doing this exercise. In fact, it is an integrative activity requiring the use of various skills like listening, writing and reading -when you read the passage you have written, looking for grammar or spelling mistakes. You might even add speaking if the dictation is used as a prompt to encourage discussion of the passage.
In case you are not fully convinced that dictations also have their place in the twenty-first century classroom, here are some more benefits you might want to consider:
• It improves spelling.
• It improves recognition of grammatically correct sentences.
• It helps students distinguish sounds in continuous speech.
• It improves students’ awareness of punctuation.
• It gives students practice in comprehending and helps them gain fluency in writing.
If I have managed to convince you, here are some links to online dictations you might want to try or if you are a teacher, heartily recommend to your students.
This site features two levels: elementary and intermediate. It has a very clean interface where you’ll see two recording of the same dictation. One recorded at a normal speed and the other one at a slow speed with pauses to give you time to write down what you hear. You only need to follow the instructions.
1. The first stage in writing is producing ideas. It’s important to dedicate two or three minutes to carefully planning what you are going to say. Make a list of the points for and against. Remember that the key to writing a good balanced essay is to include as many arguments you disagree with as those you agree with. They should be noted impartially although in your conclusion you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.
2. Producing and organising ideas is one thing. Shaping ideas and the organisation of your writing is another. But often the most difficult part is starting a first draft.
Once you have your first draft pay attention to how you have organised the information into paragraphs and grouped ideas.
Once this is done you can focus on expression. This means looking at sentence structure, tense usage and vocabulary. It’s important to write clearly and economically. This can mean either rephrasing ideas in two sentences instead of one, or rewriting two longer sentences as one shorter sentence. So, go over your first draft, looking for ways of improving sentence structure, tense usage and vocabulary.
3. Organise your essay into three parts:
Introduction- Paragraph 1- Introduce the topic. The opening should engage the reader’s interest and give a hint of what is to follow.
Main Body- Normally you have two paragraphs. In Paragraph 2, you state your arguments for and in Paragraph 3, your arguments against.
Conclusion– In paragraph 4 you refer back to the topic and summarize. Here you can say why you find one side more convincing than the other.
4. It’s important that you begin each paragraph with a main idea and then develop this idea. For a new idea, begin a new paragraph.
5. This is academic writing, so don’t use informal style ( no contractions, colloquial words, or emotional language).
6. Remember to use a variety of structures and vocabulary adequate to your level.
Are you ready to write now? Here’s a compilation of 53 for and against topics to write about from different sites and course books. Take your pick, follow all the tips and guidelines and good luck!
Should schools start later in the morning?
Benefits of teaching children second languages early on.
The pros and cons of single gender classrooms.
Is sex education the job of parents or of the school?
The pros and cons of reduction of physical education hours in our current school system.
The pros and cons of security cameras in schools.
Pros and cons of a 4-day school week.
Should parents pay students for good grades?
The pros and cons of bilingual or dual language education.
The pros and cons of wearing a uniform.
The pros and cons of banning junk food in schools.
Should sexual education be taught in high schools?
The education a child receives at home from having parents who are positive role models is more important than the academic education a child receives at school. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Plastic surgery- vanity or need?
Is vegetarianism a healthy diet?
One of the largest parts of government expenditure is health. Some people argue that this money would be better spent on health education on the principle that prevention is better than cure. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Should parents be allowed to choose their child’s gender?
Pros and cons of having exotic animals as home pets?
Should advertising for plastic surgery be illegal?
Should priests be celibate?
What does everyone think about zoo animals? Is it a good or a bad thing?
Does legal prostitution reduce crime?
To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable? Discuss the pros and cons.
Some people argue that the amount of violence shown in films and on television has led to an increase in violent crimes in society. Do you agree with this argument? Should the government control what is shown on television and in the cinema?
Should rich countries forgive all debts for poor countries?
The pros and cons of children under the age of 10 playing video games.
The pros and cons of film, television, and music piracy.
Should kids under the age of 13 have a phone?
Advantages and disadvantages of digital spying on kids and teens.
The pros and cons of owning an electric car.
Have we become too dependent on technology? Discuss the pros and cons.
Should students be allowed to have cell phones in elementary and high schools?
Should we ban the sale of violent video games?
Some people say that the Internet is making the world smaller by bringing people together. To what extent do you agree that the Internet is making it easier for people to communicate with one another?
Should pro wrestling be considered a sport?
Should sport hunting be banned?
Many people want their country to hold the Olympics. Others believe that international sporting events bring more problems than benefits. Discuss both views and state your opinion.
In the future, we will have more and more leisure time as machines replace many of the tasks we do at home and work. Discuss the benefits this will bring and also the problem it will cause.
It is said that travel broadens the mind. What can we learn by travelling to other countries? Should we first explore our own countries? Discuss.
In many countries tourism is a major part of the economy, but it also causes environmental damage and ruins the places it exploits. It is argued that tourists should pay an additional tax to compensate for this damage. Do you agree?
Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.
Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?
Most high level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
Should retirement be compulsory at 65 years of age?
Differences between countries become less evident each year. Nowadays, all over the world people share the same fashions, advertising, brands, eating habits and TV channels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society?
Some people like living in a house, while others prefer an apartment. Are there more advantages than disadvantages to living in a house rather than in an apartment?
FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS
The pros and cons of gay marriage.
Some parents choose not to have a television at home because of the influence on their children. Is this a good or a bad thing?
Some people believe in the traditional idea that the woman’s place is in the home, while others say that idea is outdated and that women should play an increasingly important role in the workplace of the future. What is your opinion?
People are now living longer than ever before and many old people are unable to look after themselves. Some people believe that it is the responsibility of families to look after the elderly, while others say governments should provide retirement homes for them where they can be looked after properly. Discuss.
Are women better parents than men?
If children behave badly, should their parents accept responsibility and also be punished?
This is a small presentation I have made for my students using a new online tool smore.com, which is basically a tool for creating flyers. As it happens with most online tools originally designed for other purposes, it has a lot of potential for creating beautiful content for our classes. You can add text, pictures, audio, videos… etc , and you can also embed a link, which in the specific case of this presentation is a great help.
I hope you find this presentation on connectors of contrast useful. At the end of the flyer, you will be able to test your knowledge with some online exercises. Special attention requires the punctuation before or after these connectors.
Tired of always looking for exercises for different grammar points I have started putting together everything I need, related to a certain point of grammar, on the same page.
Today I have uploaded The Passive. On the same page I have put together Grammar and Exercises for pre-intermediate/intermediate levels. Exercises cover practice for:
♥ basic and more complex tenses,
♥ active to passive and the other way round,
♥ questions in passive sentences,
♥ sentences with two objects,
♥ the prepositions by and with,
♥ impersonal passive (it is said/believed) ,
♥ be supposed to
♥ have sth done
Hope it is as helpful to you as it is to me.Now, I can safely take them to the computer room, ask them to go to this url where they’ll find everything they need to work on. Very useful too, to do as homework or revise just before exams at their own pace.
Click on the picture to give it a go
Below I have embedded A MentorMob Playlist with all the Grammar and Exercises already published. More will follow; I hope!