Tag Archives: grammar

Modern Taboo with a Twist

Is there anything students love more than a good game? The Taboo Game is an oldie but goodie and I have yet to find a student who does not like it.  Playing and learning? It’s always a win-win.

Playing games in class is something that I often do. Well, not this year. I have been on sick leave for 2 weeks and it is taking its toll on my lessons. I feel like I am always in a  hurry trying to make up for lost time. It might be working. I might be finally catching up with the syllabus but I am not having as much fun this year as in the previous ones. And this needs to stop. Right now.

So, to give my students a much-needed respite, we have revised the relative sentences using the Taboo game.

GUIDED PRACTICE: RELATIVE SENTENCES
  1. Before playing, I wrote the beginning of a sentence and asked students to provide the relative pronoun. This is the best time to correct potential mistakes.
  • It’s a person… WHO/THAT
  • It’s something … WHICH/THAT
  • It’s  a place … WHERE
  • It’s a time … WHEN

2. I wrote the word  DOG on the board and asked students to define it using the correct relative pronoun. (for ex, it is an animal that barks).

3. Then, I wrote TEACHER in capitals and under the word TEACHER, I wrote 4 taboo words they were not allowed to use in their description of the word. For example: teach, students, subjects, school. Their definition could be something like ” it is a person whose job involves using the board a lot and helping people learn  English or maths”.

Tip: if it’s a B1 class, I would use only 3 taboo words instead of the 4 you have in this game

SEMI-GUIDED PRACTICE: MODERN TABOO

Once again, to create this game I have used the flexible multipurpose Spark Adobe ( honestly, I cannot go without it).

Procedure:

  1. Divide the class into two teams and ask a representative from each team to come to the front of the class and face away from the board. Decide which team is going to start.
  2.  Player A faces their team A.  Display the presentation below. Team A describes the word at the top of the slide, without using any of the words below it (taboo words). If they use any of the taboo words, they will lose 1 point for their team and a new slide will be displayed. When Player A guesses a word, the team gets 1 point and a new slide is displayed.
  3. Team A continues to describe words for Player A for 1 minute. The game continues with teams and players taking it in turns to describe and guess words. The team with the highest score at the end of the game are the winners.

NOTE: Make sure you don’t use all the words on the presentation below. You will need at least 4 for a variation od the Taboo Game you can do at the end of the game to practise questions.

Taboo

FREE PRACTICE

Once each team has had their turn, I have put them in groups of 4 and given them paper cards to continue playing. This time, Player A describes the word to their Team. One player from Team B is allowed to see the card to make sure none of the words on the card are used. You can get plenty of Taboo cards on IslCollective. Bear in mind, you will need to register to download content.

You can also download the traditional Taboo Cards here (B1-B2)  and here (A1-A2)

THE TWIST: ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

To wrap up the activity, ask a representative from Team A and Team B to come to the front of the class. Ask them to face their team and away from the board.  Display a word. The team will have to ask questions so that Student A guesses the word; again, they cannot use any of the Taboo words in their questions.

Remember our example?TEACHER? This could go like this…

Team A to Student A

  • Who helps you learn English?  Who is standing right next to you? Who writes your school report?

I hope you have enjoyed the activity! Have fun teaching, have fun learning!

Guess my Age: a Fun Game to Practise Modal Verbs of Possibility and Certainty

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Agony Aunts: a No-Prep Activity to Practise Giving and Receiving Advice

Are you gearing up for the first classes of the new year?  I  am. And I want to give my students a back-to-the-grind activity which would get them into the right mood, namely, engaged, learning and having fun.

Have you ever heard about “agony aunts” or“agony uncles”? I am sure you have! In case you have no clue about what I am talking about, this is the definition the Cambridge dictionary gives.

an agony aunt is a person, usually a woman, who gives  advice to people with personal problems, especially in a regular magazine or newspaper article

I bet you all have a famous Agony Aunt in your country.

Inspired by this well-known figure, I have designed this effective activity with two aims

  • To practice writing skills
  • To give students the opportunity to practise the language used to ask and give advice
  • To provide speaking practice interacting with different students

Materials: a piece of paper with “Thank you”  written on it for every student in the class. You can easily ask them to do it before the activity begins.

Step 1: Writing

1. Reading a model.

  • Ask students to discuss, in pairs, who is better at giving advice, men or women.  Ask for feedback.
  • Using the OHP, display the picture below and read it with your students.I hope nobody takes offence, it is just meant for fun!

2. Writing. Individually, ask students to write about a problem they might have. They can also invent it. Walk around the class helping them with grammar and vocabulary.

Step 2 Revising vocabulary to give and ask for advice

Write two columns on the board; one with the heading Giving Advice and the other one with the heading Asking for Advice and ask students to contribute to both. It could look like this

Giving Advice

  • if I were you, I’d…
  • I think you should…
  • In my opinion, you shouldn’t
  • Why don’t you…?
  • I would advise you to
  • You might try….

Asking for Advice

  • What should I do ( about)…?
  • What do you think I should…?
  • Can/ could you give me some advice about…?
  • Do you have any advice on—?
  • Could you recommend…?
  • What do you suggest I do?
  • What ought I to do?

 

STEP 3. Speaking

Divide the class into two groups: Agony aunts and Advice seekers. Using the speed chatting technique, the two groups sit facing each other; there should be an agony aunt for each advice seeker. If you have an odd number of students, consider participating yourself.

The idea is that each problem seeker will tell the agony aunt their problem and the agony aunt after considering the problem, should offer a piece of advice. After two minutes, a bell rings and the advice seekers should move one position to talk to the next aunt agony.

Once they have talked to all the agony aunts, they will need to choose the best piece of advice given for their problem. They will thank the Agony Aunt by giving him/her a card with the words Thank you. The student who gets more Thank you cards  is named Agony Aunt of the Day year and gets a big applause from the class

Now, they change roles and the Agony Aunts become advice seekers and vice-versa.

Some Help with the Terrible “Another, Other, Others”

Look at these big words other and another. Talking about these two is always a good idea.  If you are wondering why, it is maybe because you are not a teacher ‘cause if you are in the teaching business, you know well why they are so big.

If you are a student and you don’t recognize the problem these two words might cause, it is mainly for one of these three reasons

  1. You are aware these two cause problems, but you do not make this mistake, in which case you can stop reading here.
  2. You are making this mistake and don’t know how to fix it, in which case this post can really help you.
  3. You don’t really know what the fuss is about, which means you are nor even aware that you are making this mistake. Well, dearest, it is you I had you in mind when I decided to write this post.

Let’s see if together we can fix it once and for all.

First, let’s have a look at the grammar. Below you’ll find the PDF, but I have always liked teaching and then revising and then reinforcing and because it kind of feels repetitive, I feel the necessity to do it in different ways. I don’t want my students to die of boredom.

So, I have designed this nice presentation using the interactive tool Genial.ly to support the rather dull but effective PDF file.

Another, other, others PDF

Note: to enlarge the presentation, click on the 3 dots

 

  1. A drag and drop exercise

2. An interactive quiz
And then the fun part. By the way, I had to resist adding more questions. I am kind of addicted to making quizzes. But I refrained 😊 . Only 15 items here. Enjoy!

Do you Have One Minute? Four sites to Learn English in One Minute

Do you have a minute? This is all you need for these four highly recommended sites I am going to share with you today.

1. English in a Minute 

If you have never watched English in a Minute, I think it’s time!

Centered on confusing vocabulary or grammar points, this ever-growing collection of video clips has been nominated for the ELTons Awards (English Language Teaching Innovation Awards given annually by the British Council)

Why do I recommend these short videos?

  • They focus on real confusing terms.
  • They are clear, short ( 1 minute) and to the point.
  • Transcript for every video is available, so you can also practise pronunciation if you decide to read along.
  • Most of them have a grammar reference
  • Most of them have  a quiz to test your knowledge

Here you can learn about the difference between:

  • Story and History
  • Stop to do and stop doing
  • Person and people

Click on the picture or here

2. BBC News in One-Minute.

Targeting more advanced students, here you can watch the latest news summary from BBC World News updated 24 hours a day. In one minute. As promised.

Click on the picture or here

One-Minute English

Hugh Dellar from Lexical lab is the star in these videos. I love his videos because they teach you real English, the English you might not find in dictionaries but which is essential if you want to understand native speakers. The videos are easy to follow as he speaks slowly and repeats the target word or chunk several times during the recording.

For example: Do you know what the words “sarnie” or “samey” mean?

Click on the picture or here

English in a minute 

And finally, this is another worth-sharing site. If the site above featured British English, this one run by VOA Learning English (Voice of America) explains expressions used in American English although, in most cases obviously, the expressions on the videos are used both in British and in American English.

Again, click on the picture or here

So, here you are, four awesome sites to learn something every day! Enjoy English! Enjoy learning!