As we are confined in our homes trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus, we must try and make the most of this situation. Nobody could have predicted, back in September when we started the course, that talking about viruses and fear and panic and death was going to be one of our topics this course. Despite our growing concern for what lays ahead of us, I cannot and will not give my students a lesson that will cause them more pain and sadness. Yes. I want them to understand and use the vocabulary related to the situation we are living nowadays, but I also want to do my bit and help brighten up their day. I hope nobody takes offence.
We all know it’s bad out there but fear and worry over the coronavirus have prompted a crop of funny videos that I hope help me put a smile on your face. We need to be worried and we need to have a sense of common responsibility. That’s undeniable. But a little levity now and then is surely appreciated. I don’t need science to know that in times of crisis, laughter is the best medicine we have.
In this lesson, you will find
useful language to talk about the situation we are living now due to the coronavirus
a bit of listening practice
funny videos featuring situations or attitudes prompted by the pandemic
some conversation questions following the videos
Note: it goes without saying this speaking lesson will be done online. I have shared this lesson with my students in advance and asked them to see the videos and have a look at the vocabulary.
After a little bit of a crazy few months, we are finally heading for final exams. More craziness. I know. But, of a different kind.
My first time on Twitter was in December 2015. I was kind of “forced” to open a Twitter account as I was doing an online talk for the British Council on “How to Keep students Motivated” and the app we were using for the event required that I had a Twitter handle. I didn’t know much about Twitter and even thought, in my ignorance, it was something bound to disappear but I couldn’t be more mistaken. I love Twitter and have to say I am kind of hooked on it. What? You are not following me? Hey! You’re missing out! This is my twitter handle @blogdecristina. I hope to meet you all there.
Anyway, I got the idea for the first exercise in this lesson plan from Twitter. Twitter users were tweeting about “five jobs I have had” and I was like “hmm, that’s a good idea to start a lesson about work!” and without further ado, I set out to write this post about work. Hope you find it useful.
Step 1. Writing and Speaking.Three Jobs I have Had.
Telling an anecdote about yourself never fails to engage students. It’s only fair that if you are asking them to talk about themselves, you do the same. On the board, write the following:
Before working as a teacher,
I worked as a waitress
I worked on a farm picking apples
I worked as a baby sitter
Briefly, explain your experiences working in the jobs you have chosen to share with them and then ask them to do the same. Once they have written their sentences, ask them to work in groups of 3 sharing their experiences in these jobs. They are gonna love this exercise!
Step 2. Writing. Choose a Job Game. Working with adjectives
Write on the board or give students a hand-out with adjectives used to describe positive character traits for the workplace. Check that they know the meanings.
Display the collage below and ask students to identify the jobs in the collage.
Individually and without telling anybody, students choose one of the jobs in the collage and write three clues for the rest of the class/group to guess the job.
The first clue needs to necessarily include three character traits associated with the job. This clue is worth 3 points.
The second clue needs to be associated with either the workplace or the people you work with if you are doing this job. This clue is worth 2 points.
The third clue needs to be associated with something you are required to do in this job. This clue is worth 1 point.
Once they all have their clues, ask students to form groups of 4. Taking it in turns, they read Clue 1. If someone guesses the job after reading clue 1, they score 3 points; if clue number 2 has to be read, they will score 2 points …etc.
Rules: if a student in the group has a wrong guess for a job, he won’t be allowed to guess again for this job. This will prevent students from giving wild guesses.
In this job, you have to be hard-working, cheerful dynamic and sociable.
In this job, you have to work with young and old people
In this job, you have to take orders
Step 3: Introducing/Revising & Consolidating Vocabulary related to Work
Every time I revise or introduce vocabulary in my classes, I make a point of reminding my students that they need to study the vocabulary in chunks. There is no point in studying the verb “apply” if they don’t know the preposition it collocates with. The next activity is a good one to remind students of this necessity.
Give students two minutes to write all the vocabulary they know related to work, excluding professions.
On the board, write a circle with the word Work inside. Do a mind-map with all the vocabulary students provide.
Drill pronunciation and then do a quick translation exercise to consolidate meaning and pronunciation.
Introduce new vocabulary.
I find it really important to tap into students’ prior knowledge, especially when teaching vocabulary. If they feel they know most of the words, they won’t feel overwhelmed and will be able to maintain a positive attitude.
Step 4.Speaking. Playing Cards. A game to activate vocabulary
Aim: to activate vocabulary in a speaking activity
Give each student 10 pieces of paper, more or less the size of a card in a deck of cards. Ask them to write down vocabulary they can remember related to work. Encourage them to write chunks, for ex. “apply for” or “quit a job”. They should write each chunk on a different piece of paper. Encourage legible clear handwriting. Once this is done:
Ask students to form groups of three
Ask them to place their cards face down on the table. They might want to shuffle them a bit. Each student is dealt two cards.
Display the first question from the presentation below and ask students to discuss it trying to use the words in their cards. As soon as they use the chunk in a card, they discard it and take a new one, they should always have two cards in their hands.
Allow 4 minutes per question and then display a new question for the students to discuss.
Students continue in the same way using vocabulary, discarding and taking new cards until there are none left in the pile. At this point, they will count the number of cards they have managed to use. Each card is worth 1 point. Very quickly they decide who the winner is and shuffling the cards the game starts all over again until all the questions have been answered or you deem appropriate.
Step 5. Oral and written Mediation
Yes. Mediation. I know some of you hate it, and some of you don’t even know what it is. Mediation and I, I think we have clicked, and as I am afraid it is here to stay, emotional intelligence should apply here if we want to keep the good vibes coming. I have decided to be smart and embrace mediation.
Below, you’ll find two examples of oral interlinguistic, also called cross-linguistic, mediation and an example of written interlinguistic mediation
Interested in spicing up your lessons? I ran face-to-face workshops helping teachers integrate technology in their classes in an easy way, using free online digital tools. Practical tested ideas that combine traditional teaching with modern techniques. Fun and learning, a win-win!
From teacher to teacher. In English and in Spanish.
Yay! It’s March! One of my fav seasons! I’m basically ticking off the days in my calendar until March 31 when we turn the clocks ahead and get more hours of daylight. In case you haven’t figured yet, I’m a sucker for bright sunny days.
This lesson plan about Crime and Punishment has been on my to-make list for a long time. And since I’m also ticking off the days before finals, I have decided to finally write it. “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today” or so they say.
This lesson plan is intended to fill a four-hour lesson or maybe a bit more. My classes are 110 minutes long so my intention is to dedicate two classes to talking about this topic. You can skip some of the tasks – don’t you dare!- if you don’t want to spend four hours talking about crime and punishment.
Day One is a bit more boring than Day 2. Be warned!
Step 1: Lead-in.
1. Revising vocabulary. At this level, students know some common vocabulary related to crime and it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ prior knowledge. You want them to feel they are learning, but you probably don’t want them to feel overwhelmed by the amount of vocabulary they have to study.
Write Crime on the board and ask students in pairs to write down as many different crimes as they can think of.
Ask for feedback and write them on the board. It might be a good idea to introduce at this point the names for the criminals and the action verbs for each crime.
Example: they write kidnapping, and they also get kidnapper and to kidnap
2. Speaking: Point to some of the crimes on the board and ask simple questions such as
Do you know anyone who has been burgled/ mugged/kidnapped/ stopped by the police while drunk-driving? What happened?
Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary.
1. A Game with FlipCards. As I wrote in another post, Quizlet and I have made up, it’s not that we had fallen out, it’s just that I found other flip card apps more visually appealing. I still think they could update their app but the truth is that now I find myself using Quizlet more and more often. I am planning to use Quizlet in two ways. The one below- Flashcards mode-on Day 1 and Quizlet Live on Day 2 ( I warned you, Day 2 is more fun!)
Procedure: Divide the class into Team A and Team B. They should name a spokesperson for each team. Flip a virtual cointo decide who starts the game. Let’s say Team A starts the game. Display the first definition and ask Team A to guess the crime. Allow a maximum of 10 seconds and ask the spokesperson to tell you the crime. They can continue playing until they make a mistake or cannot come up with the crime matching the definition. At this point, the turn goes to Team B who can try to guess the crime. If they can’t, they will still continue trying to guess crimes until again they make a mistake or cannot provide the crime for the definition on display. Every correct guess scores 1 point. It goes without saying the winner is the team who has scored the most points.
The idea is to facilitate learning, so after the game do the exercise again with the whole class, this time trying to focus only on the pictures and quickly saying the crime. A third time at the end of the class? Why not!
Introduce the term “white-collar crimes” also called “corporate crime”. Explain that white-collar crimes are those financially motivated, nonviolent crimes committed by business and government professionals. Ask students to name some white-collar crimes and ask:
Do you think white-collar criminals should do time in jail?
Want to go the extra mile? For a more extensive list, click here
2. Vocabulary related to Crime and Punishment.
We have the crimes and the criminals. Now, what else? To talk about crimes and punishment we need vocabulary. Find the PDF here
3. Confusing words: steal, rob and burgle
This post about the difference between these three verbs published some time ago, comes in handy. Check it out
Step 3: Speaking.
Time: 2 minutes per question
Ask students to work in groups of three. Name them Student A, B and C. Give each of them a scrap of paper and ask them to write 4 words they remember related to crimes. Display the first question from the presentation below and ask student As in the group to answer the question trying to use the words in their scraps of paper. Display the second question and ask student Bs to do the same. Repeat procedure for student Cs.
Ask students to swap scraps of paper within the members of their group and then ask all the student As in the groups to move to another group. Repeat the procedure above.
Note: Ask students to keep their scraps of paper as they will be used on Day 2.
Step 4: Listening and Speaking. Note-taking
Play the following videos. The task for each of them is the same.
Ask students to take notes and summarize the information
Ask: Does the punishment fit the crime?
Five teens charged for murder for throwing rocks
I know, I know... I said two hours... maybe a bit more :)
Day 2 is all about reinforcing vocabulary, playing and speaking. Check it out!
Number 1. Display the collage below and ask students whether they know any of these people. Ask them in pairs to discuss what they have in common.
Ask for feedback. Hopefully, they will tell you what you want to hear from them; that they are all very successful people.
The people below are Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Amancio Ortega and Jeff Bezos. Just in case 🙂
Number 2. On the board, write the words ” success” and “failure”. You might want to drill pronunciation /səkˈses/ and /ˈfeɪljə(r)/. Ask: what are the verbs? What are the adjectives?
Teach the adjectives successful and failed and the verbs succeed in/ at and fail in.
He is a successful writer/ He is a failed writer.
He has succeeded in life/ he has succeeded at work/ He has failed in his attempt to win the race
Number 3. Ask students in pairs to brainstorm vocabulary they associate to success and failure. You might want to teach some more advanced vocabulary. Ask students to write three columns on their notebooks ( words related to Success/ words related to failure/ related to both ). Write the words down, one at a time, on the board and ask students to tell you whether they are related to success or failure or both.
to accomplish / accomplishment
to achieve/( remarkable) achievement
to take risks / a risk taker
to take a chance
to make a fortune
a half-baked idea
to chew over an idea
to be the main breadwinner
to save for a rainy day
to bring out the best in people
to be doomed to failure
to blow it
to be quite a feat
to suffer a setback
to do something as a last resort
Ask students in pairs to discuss the following questions. Encourage the use of vocabulary
Talk about a successful person you know
Is success important to you?
What is your biggest success in life?
Share with your partner a time when you failed at something. What happened? How did you feel?
Step 2: Listening: Cloze Test
Tell them they are going to see Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech at Oscars 2019 for best original song.
Display this gapped text with the OHP or print it. Don’t play the video yet.
Ask students 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 students to work in pairs. 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 9 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.
The missing words from Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech are: 1. sister 2. sung 3. hard 4. winning 5. fight 6. passion 7. fall 8. stand 9. brave.
Don’t forget to write the board in random order.
Play Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech and ask students in pairs to comment on it and give you feedback.
Step 3: Speaking. Quotes.
Ask students in groups of three to discuss the following quotes. Display the first quote and allow them to discuss it for about 4 or 5 minutes and then get feedback. Display the second one and repeat procedure.
February is a short month. First round of exams is over and I need to concentrate on preparing my students to take standardized exams. I am beginning to feel the pressure. OMG! It’s only February and I am already a bit stressed out. Will I make it to the end of the course with all my wits about me? Highly unlikely!
So, next topic on my list is Food and Nutrition and all the subtopics around it, which are …like a lot.
What you will see in this post is an example of how I prepare my students to take oral exams.
Revision and introduction of vocabulary-related terms
Listening Comprehension Activity: Food waste
Pronunciation Activity: Organic Food No More Nutritious
Speaking Activity through Reading passages with Follow-up Questions