Tag Archives: first day activities

Flexible Seating Using Collocations

What could be the advantages of sitting always in the same place working with the same partner? Can you see any? I can’t.¬† The activity below has been designed to give students plenty of opportunities to work with different partners in an engaging way. It is very flexible and lots of fun.

But first of all, a small intro. It is my first post in a long, long time so please bear with me. ūüėČ

 

It is October! 

If you are wondering, no, we haven’t started classes yet. I’ll be greeting my new students tomorrow, 7th October. I can’t wait! I already know my classes are full. 25 students and some more on a waiting list. I am a bit worried because my class is tiny. One of the smallest in the premises but hey! I am not sharing it with any other teachers. It’s just for me, so I am not complaining. However, I like to do activities where students get up from their seats and move around the class and that’s going to prove difficult in this smallish class. I guess I will just need to use the hall for some activities.

Isn’t it true that we spend most of our day at school or work sitting down? And after some time,¬† sitting down gets boring, doesn’t it? Well,¬† in this activity students will need to stand up, move around the class and then sit down several times. Just my kind of activity. Besides, it can be adapted flexibly and creatively in different contexts and situations.¬† At the end of the post, you can read some other ideas I have to teach or revise vocabulary using this classroom dynamics.

Aim

  • to revise very common collocations
  • to ask and give information about yourself
  • to provide opportunities to get to know everybody in the class
  • to provide a friendly environment where students do not feel uncomfortable making mistakes and can learn from each other.

Time: 30-40 minutes

Preparation:

  • The collocations. Prepare a set of common collocations. You will need one per student. I have 25 students, so I will need 25 collocations. For example: break the law or fail an exam. On a card, write break or¬†fail; on another card write the law or an exam. The cards containing the second part of the collocation¬† (the law, an exam) should be sellotaped to the back of the chairs of the classroom, visible to all the students. I use different colours for easy differentiation. (see picture below)
  • NOTE: it is important that the collocations are unique, ie, that they can only match once. For example: if you have break //the law,¬† ¬†you cannot have¬†twist //your arm; as break¬†can also collocate with arm as in break//your arm.¬†It is useful to keep a list of the collocations you are using for agility purposes.
  • The questions to discuss. Prepare a set of questions; in my case, and for this class,¬† of the type get-to-know-each-other questions. I have prepared 25 but you can easily just use half the questions and have students share and talk about the same card.

Downloadable Materials:

Procedure:

  • Greet students at the door and hand them a card containing the first part of the collocation.
  • Explain that they will have to find the second part by reading the cards taped on the chairs.
  • Once they have found the matching card on a chair, they should sit down on that same chair.
  • Quickly check that everybody has found the right collocation and if they haven’t, ask students to work out where the matching part is before you intervene. It is good to make mistakes. That’s very often how you learn.
  • Ask them to say their collocation aloud so that the class can also revise it.
  • Once they are in their right seats, hand them a card containing a get-to-know-you question. Encourage them to include their collocation in their conversations.
  • ¬†Ask them to leave the cards containing the get-to-know-you questions on the table. They can remain there for the next students.
  • Allow 6-7 minutes’ conversation and then collect the cards containing the first part of the collocation. (in the picture below, the pink ones)
  • Shuffle them, hand them out to different students and repeat procedure so that students get the chance to sit in another place and talk to a different student.
  • This second time, when students say their collocations aloud, ask them to pause for a second to give the class the chance to provide the second part of the collocation. This way, we reinforce without effort.

TIPS:

  • ¬†I did the activity 4 times. The first time students found it harder to find the right collocation than the second time; the third and fourth time, they were incredibly quick.
  • I asked students to focus on their cards and read them carefully. Sometimes, the key to finding the right collocation resides in an article or a preposition.
  • The first and second time, and always before the speaking activity, I asked students to read their collocations aloud so that everybody got familiar with them. The third time, I asked them to try to remember their collocation without looking at the back of the chair. The fourth time,¬† I asked students to read aloud just the first part and then pause, giving the class the opportunity to provide the matching collocation. Revising, reinforcing and consolidating. That’s what we are aiming for.
  • At the end of the activity, I asked students to write down all the collocations they could remember and wrote them on the board to correct spelling mistakes. I gave a sweet to the student who remembered the most collocations¬† ūüôā

VARIATIONS

  • ¬†Working with the vocabulary of a certain topic; on the chairs sellotape the cards containing the term and give students the cards containing the definition. For example, if¬† I am teaching Education: on one card professor¬† (taped on the chair) and on the other card a senior teacher at a university or college; and on the table a question such as: What was your favourite subject at school?
  • Working with phrasal verbs: term//definition
  • Working with compound nouns: first half// second half. For example: sitting// room
  • Working with phonemic transcriptions; on one card the phonemic transcription; on the chair the card with the matching word¬† /si:n/ seen
  • Working with functional language; on one card the function in the form of a question and on the chair,¬† a card with a possible answer. The follow-up task might be to continue the dialogue.

I don’t know. So many possibilities. The limit is your imagination.

 

An Engaging Combination: First-Day Introductions+Indirect Questions + Concentric Circles Technique

Last week was crazy. No lessons yet but lots of tests to be marked and tons of red tape to go through. So, I am shockingly super excited about beginning a new course; yes, excited about getting up early and teaching non-stop for six hours and ¬†¬†no… ¬†I did not trip and fall ¬†into a bucket full of cider ¬† ūüėȬ†(typical drink where I live).

First days are for introductions and little more, but ¬†this year I think I am going to kill two birds with one stone ¬†and combine introductions and some grammar that needs to be reviewed. So, I have got this idea in mind of asking students to introduce themselves to each other using indirect questions. I hope most of my new students will have, at some point over the years, studied ¬†with me and for the rest, I will have to find a way to deal with the OMG- shocked looks I am sure I am going to get. But let’s cross that bridge when I come to it!

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Level: Intermediate and Above

Time Required: 30-45 minutes

Description of the Activity .This engaging activity has been designed as a  first-day oral introduction activity and to teach/help students revise how to make indirect questions . I will use the concentric circles  technique,  which is a mingle activity .The technique is explained below and I have also published a picture of my students doing the task.

STEP 1.Revision of Indirect Questions.

Indirect questions were studied last year, so we will just do a quick revision with this video I have  created using the free tool powtoon.com

If necessary, we will spend some minutes brushing up in two different ways

  1. Doing some online exercises you can find here  or , here  or if you do not have a computer, you might want to photocopy this worksheet here
  1. Orally producing some questions and asking students to provide the indirect question.

 STEP 2. Writing .

Ask students to write a question they would like to ask their classmates. For example: ” Do you speak any other languages?”, “Where do you live?” or “How long have you been studying English?”.

Give students slips of paper containing the beginning of an indirect question and ask them to make sure they know how to ask their question beginning with the phrase on their card. Cards here. (template downloaded from Teknologic). For example : “Can I ask ¬†you where you live?” or “Would you mind telling me how long you have been studying English?”.¬†

STEP 3. Explaining the concentric circle technique.

This technique is a kind of mingle. Although mingles can be a bit noisy¬† and a bit disorganised, most students love it.The distinctive feature of a mingle activity is that all the students work simultaneously and switch from one classmate to another while speaking. Mingles allow constant repetition and this raises students’ confidence in their use of English.

Students arrange themselves so that they are facing each other in two circles. The inner circle faces out, the outer circle faces in, so that each participant has a partner that they are facing (Note: If the group has an uneven number of people, the teacher should participate in the circles). Each student from the outside circle, after speaking with the person facing him or her, moves one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle. I would suggest asking students to switch partners every four minutes for this activity. This concentric circle technique can very well be adapted to talk about any given topic of discussion. Encourage students to elaborate on their answers and use targeted language structure.

STEP 5. Speaking.

Students introduce themselves to the person they are facing and then ask their indirect questions making conversation with their partner. After four minutes, call time and rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership.

The conversation might go something like this:

Student A: Hi, I’m (student’s name)

Student B: Hello, my name’s¬† (student’s name)

Student A: Can you tell me how long you have been studying English?

Student B : (answers the question giving as many details as possible)

Student B : Can I ask you a question now? Would you mind telling me why you are studying English?

Student A: Answers

Teacher¬† says :” ¬†Rotate” and students from the outside circle move one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle.

Model an example of a conversation with a student.

Stop the activity when they have had a chance to speak to most students.

 

 

 

Four Icebreakers to Get to Know your Students

that require no preparation ūüėČ

♣The one I like best is Personal Star ,for many reasons but mainly because it requires no preparation  and students always  enjoy a bit of gossip  about their new teacher.

I draw a star on the board and inside it  6  answers to questions about me. (My answers are black , London, December 9, tennis, Terry, English , and meat.)

Tell students that the star contains information about you. Ask them to try to guess¬†the information behind the words by asking questions.If they don‚Äôt get the idea give an example. Tell them ‚ÄúMy favourite colour is black. What question do you need to ask to find out this information?‚ÄĚ Elicit from them, ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs your favourite colour?‚ÄĚ and cross out the word ‚Äėblack‚Äô from the star.

Then , put the students in pairs. Ask them to draw their own personal star and put 6 pieces of information about themselves inside. In pairs they can ask each other questions to find out about their partner. When they have all finished, ask them as a group to tell the others what they have found out about their partner.

 

♥Interviewing your partner: Tell students they are going to interview four or five people they don’t know in the class. Ask them to write three or four questions to ask these people. Once it is done, students get up and walk around the classroom

‚ô•Find someone who. .. (bingo)

This is a good icebreaker to practise questions and to get students moving.

Ask students to draw a grid (4 squares across and 4 down) . Now, ask them to fill in the squares with prompts such as : speaks French, likes mice, plays golf…etc.

Make sure students know how to play bingo- this is quite ¬†important , as you can guess. Students get up and walk around asking questions to everybody in the class but they have to have a different name for each grid. So if a student asks a question to a student and this student says ‚Äúyes‚ÄĚ , he should write the name of that student in the grid and move on; if the student says ‚Äúno‚ÄĚ , he can then ask this same student a new question. The first person to get a line down or across shouts ‚ÄúLINE‚ÄĚ and the first person to fill in all the boxes with a name shouts ¬†BINGO.

I would , most definitely, encourage follow-up questions  when checking,  with  the students providing the questions- of course.

♥Five Questions. Divide the class in five groups and ask each group to write a question they would like to ask you. In turns , one member of each group comes up to the board and writes the question. The students decide if the question is correct in terms of tenses, spelling …etc. Finally , the student asks the question. Before you tell them  , give the students the chance to guess your answer.

Hope you find them useful and have tons of fun with your students!

 

First Day : getting to know my students

I’ve been teaching for a long, loooong time and one might expect I don’t have to suffer from first-class stress . But I’ve come to terms with myself and admitted ¬†that no matter how long I’ve been in the business, it is always going ¬†to feel like ¬†having a bull ( past the butterfly feeling) in my stomach. So again, I’m hunting books ,posts, and the Internet for ideas to use on the first day ¬†to get to know my students and to give them the first chance to use the language. These are the ones I’m considering ¬†– in case you want to use them.

By the way, these are the ones I used last year if you want to have a look https://www.cristinacabal.com/?p=2694

‚ô•Interviewing your partner: Tell students they are going to interview four or five people they don’t know in the class. Ask them to write three or four questions to ask these people. Once it is done, students get up and walk around the classroom.

‚ô•Get to Know you Bingo: this one requires a bit of preparation but it’s not like you are already loaded with exams, is it? Let’s play bingo, then! Now, the first thing you need to do is prepare a bingo sheet with some questions ( a grid of ¬†4×4 , for example). Make sure students know how to play bingo- this is quite ¬†important, as you can guess. Students get up and walk around asking questions to everybody in the class but they have to have a different name for each grid. So if a student asks a question to a student and this student says “yes”, he should write the name of that student in the grid and move on; if the student says “no”, he can then ask this same student a new question. The first person to get a line down or across shouts “LINE” and the first person to fill in all the boxes with a name shouts ¬†BINGO.

I would , of course, encourage follow-up questions  when checking,  with  the students providing the questions- of course.

♥Who Am I..? I love this game to introduce myself to my students. It is played in teams and there is a winner. If you have been reading me for some time you know I am very competitive; that must be the reason why I am definitely going to use this one this year. The game was written by Paul Adams  and here is the link

‚ô•Five Questions. Divide the class in five groups and ask each group to write a question they would like to ask you. In turns, one member of each group comes up to the board and writes the question. The students decide if the question is correct in terms of tenses, spelling …etc. Finally, the student asks the question. Before you tell them, give the students the chance to guess your answer.

‚ô•Writing SampleI’m thinking it might be a good idea to use this warm-up after doing some oral practice. The idea is to ask students ¬†to write a bit about themselves ¬†to ¬†get an idea of how advanced they are. Some ideas might be : Why are you learning English and why are you taking this course? or What’s your favourite hobby ?

Hope you can use some of these ideas!!!

Back to School ! Part II : Icebreakers to get to know my students

So much for writing about going back to school but… my classes haven’t started yet.The big day is going to be¬†Monday and I am still deciding which ice-breakers will work better ¬†with my new students.

Let me show you some of the ones I’m considering and you might want to drop a line if you know of any others that work well. The good things about these ones is that they require “No Preparation“.

♣The one I like best is Personal Star for many reasons, but mainly because it requires no preparation  and students always  enjoy a bit of gossip  about their new teacher.

I draw a star on the board and inside it  6  answers to questions about me. (My answers are black , London, December 9, tennis, Terry, English , and meat.)

Tell students that the star contains information about you. Ask them to try to guess¬†the information behind the words by asking questions.If they don’t get the idea give an example. Tell them “My favourite colour is black. What question do you need to ask to find out this information?” Elicit from them, “What’s your favourite colour?” and cross out the word ‚Äėblack’ from the star.

Then, put the students in pairs. Ask them to draw their own personal star and put 6 pieces of information about themselves inside. In pairs they can ask each other questions to find out about their partner. When they have all finished, ask them as a group to tell the others what they have found out about their partner.

‚ô£ Who has never told a white lie?? This is another very traditional way of getting to know your students. The Game could be called True or False? or any other name you fancy.

Write on the board  3 statements about yourself :, 2 must be  true ones and 1 must be false.  Grade the statements depending on the level of the class. For beginners, use the present simple.

 

‚ô•I go to the gym four times a week
‚ô•I like football
‚ô•My favourite singer is Justin Bieber

For a more advanced level, a mixture of tenses would be great:
‚ô•I have been to Israel in July
‚ô•I once did a bungee jump
‚ô•I don’t like hoovering

Students will have to  guess which one is false. Then, ask the students to do the same and write 3 sentences about themselves. In small groups they read out their sentences and the others guess the false one.

‚ô£Add an adjective
The aim of this activity is to try to learn their names. Introduce yourself by saying, “my name’s¬†Cristina and I’m calm”. (Replace¬†Cristina with your name and¬†“calm” with an adjective which has the same first letter) Emphasise the fact that your adjective starts with same letter as your name. Invite the students to introduce themselves in the same¬†way.

♣Hot Seat: Preparation: some vocabulary for revision. Split the  class into two teams. Take two chairs and place them at the front of the class. One member from each team sit in the chairs so they are facing their teams and with their backs to the board.
Now, write one of the words you want to revise and write it on the board. The aim of the game is for the students in the teams to describe that word, using synonyms, antonyms, definitions etc. to their team mate who is in the hot seat – that person can’t see the word! The student in the hot seat listens to their team mates and tries to guess the word.
The first hot seat student to say the word wins a point for their team.
Then change the students over, with a new member of each team taking their place in their team’s hot seat.
Then write the next word…

Source: straight from http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/language-assistant