Tag Archives: fun

Breaking the Mould: a Speaking and Listening Lesson on Success

…and there I go again. Up to my eyes in work this week and yet, I cannot resist the temptation of stepping outside the book and giving my students a taste of fun and the opportunity to listen to a piece of audio that is not staged and academic and still relevant to the lesson. I think I have managed to accomplish both. Some might say it is a sacrilege to spend more time than necessary planning lessons and that this time should be devoted to socialising, but, … in Spain, no chance of doing that in the near future, so here we are glued to the computer and virtually socialising.

I am working with Language Leader Advanced and the lesson focuses on success and successful people. I have to admit I was greatly surprised that the three people chosen as representatives of this success were all women; one of them was Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo and a woman known for her communication skills and leadership. I loved it when I read she had grown up playing the game What would you do if you were the president of…? It kind of rubbed off on her, don’t you think?

This smallish lesson has two parts and is meant to be used as a side dish and part of a larger lesson on the topic of success.

Game: speaking and learning vocabulary

1.Ask students to write the most defining  5 traits successful people share, in their opinion.

Introduce qualities such as willingness to learn, discipline, humble nature, sociability, integrity, passion, patience, willpower, self-confidence, commitment, consistency, the ability to embrace change…etc.

2. Tell students you are going to display the pictures of remarkably successful people. On one side of the flashcard, they will see their picture and on the other side, they will see some facts about their lives.  Put students into pairs and ask student A to face away from the board. Student B will briefly have a look at the picture and then use some of the facts on the back of the flashcard to help student A guess the person on display. Warn students it is very important not to give specific details in order to make their partner sweat a bit, ie, if you are showing Mark Zukerberg, you cannot mention Facebook.  Encourage them to use the facts on the back of the flipcard, but also the adjectives brainstormed in Exercise 1

There are 4 people on the flashcards and students take it in turns to talk about them.  Do not forget to go through any new vocabulary before displaying a new name.

Listening Comprehension

A word: The audio is not very good in the sense that it is very low in volume, but my class is about 50 square meters, there are 20 students in it and they have all managed to do it. Just instruct them not make any noise.

Ready? Here we go!!

First time listening

Listen to Indra Nooyi talking about what she calls her list of essential skills for leaders “ the five C’s” and cross out the words/expressions as you hear them. There are some distractors. I won’t tell you how many. You are a C1 student.

  1. The go-person
  2. Stand out from the pack
  3. Abreast
  4. True innovator
  5. Overinvest
  6. Mobilize the troops
  7. Graduate
  8. Flunked
  9. True innovator
  10. Sync
  11. Key elements
  12. Second-guessing
  13. Crashing down
Second time listening

Can you identify the five C’s?

Third time Listening

Make notes of what she says about each of them

Get the PDF here

 

Vocabulary Revision from the Video

The Shopping List: a Vocabulary Revision Game

Raise your hand if you find it hard to learn new vocabulary!  Make that two hands if you find it even harder to use it when you speak! For those of you who have raised a hand or two, I have created this exercise. A modern version of a shopping list, only this time we will be buying words. Words are worth points.

Pre-game: This is a retrieval practice kind of game. For those of you not familiar with the strategy, broadly speaking, retrieval practice is a strategy used to pull information out of the student. This strategy has proved to be a more effective way of learning as it challenges the mind to recall this information; but obviously, first, before bringing any information to mind, we need to push it in. Information= vocabulary

So, for this game, we have already taught students some new vocabulary. Time to pull it out to help them remember.

Setting the context

Tell students we are going to revise and use, in a speaking activity, newly-acquired vocabulary in a game called The Shopping List.

Step 1

Open the two editable lists and with the help of the whole class, fill in the two lists with the same number of words/expressions. You don’t have to fill in the 10 spaces, but you need to make sure the two lists are balanced in difficulty ie, if there is a phrasal verb on List A, there should be another on List B.

To see both lists displayed at the same time, I use the Google Extension Tab Resize. I have been using it for ages and it works great.

Step 2

Again, with the help of your students, assign points to the words on the list. I would give 1 point to the easiest and 2 points to the most difficult. To do this, you can easily project the lists on the board and write on the image.

Step 3

Divide the class into pairs A and B, and assign students their corresponding list.

Step 4

Give Student A  a question to discuss. Depending on the level, they will have to talk for about X minutes. While student A answers the question, student B jots down the words from the list he or she has used. When Students A finishes, he adds up the number of points according to the words used. Now, it’s Student B’s turn. Ask a new question and repeat procedure.

Note: Students can use the same list a number of times. In fact, the more they use the words, the more confident they will get. However, in my case, I will use the same list only 3 times and then ask them to swap lists so that new words are used.

Get the template for the lists here. Student A’s list and Student B’s list ( it will create a copy of the document on you Drive)

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

 

Stand Up , Please !

Aka my new favourite vocabulary game.  Seriously, this little game is about to be your favourite vocabulary revision game. Why? Because it’s both fun and effective and requires almost no preparation. Your whole class is going to love it! I promise!

How does it work?

  1. In advance, write a list of the vocabulary you want to revise.
  2. Divide the class into two, or maybe three teams, with the same number of students in each team. Well, more or less; it doesn’t have to be the exact same number. To be honest, it is easier with only two teams.
  3. Ask a representative from each team to stand up.
  4. Now, define one of the words on your list. You can also give a synonym or an antonym. Whatever helps them guess the word.
  5. The first person to guess the word remains standing and the person from the other team who couldn’t guess or guessed second sits down. The student sitting down is quickly replaced by another person from this same team.
  6. Call out all the words you want to revise.
  7. The winner will be the team whose members had to sit down less often.

Follow up:  ask students to write a list of all the words they can remember from the game and revise them once again, this time focusing on pronunciation. If you have time, you can ask them to provide a sentence including the target word or chunk.

Enjoy learning, enjoy teaching!!

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 month?
  • 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.