Tag Archives: methodology

7 Activities and Ideas to Practise B and V sounds

Let’s not beat about the bush.

Some of us are probably spending lots of time and energy teaching how to pronounce the schwa /ə/ or helping our students’ /ð/ sound just right, and while this is not a bad idea and something we obviously need to do, we might be overlooking a very subtle yet essential pronunciation distinction: the difference between the /b/ and /v/ sound.

If you are Spanish, it might be even more difficult for you as there’s no difference in the pronunciation of b and v.  In Spanish, despite differentiating in writing between “vaca” and “baca”, when it comes to pronouncing them,  the “v” sound is miraculously transformed into a /b/ sound. 

So, it is imperative that we teach our students that the “v” sound exists much like Teruel) and here are some exercises we can do to help our students with this elusive sound.

One. The obvious. Practise the sounds in isolation.  

Demonstrate how to pronounce the sounds /b/ and /v/ and ask students to imitate you. I can guarantee they will have no problem pronouncing the bilabial plosive /b/ sound but some fun and a bit of reluctance on their part are bound to happen when they attempt to pronounce the labiodental fricative /v/. 

Now, give them a minimal pair they can easily recognise like “boat/vote” to do some practice and help them while they struggle with the “v” sound.

Two. Guess the words. Lady Gaga and Beyonce's  video "Telephone"

Nope. We are not going to sing.

For this exercise -not necessarily done after  One above-, we are going to use a short clip (4:30-4.55)  from Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s video “Telephone”.

Play the video once without sound. Tell students they will need to guess Beyonce’s words. You might want to stop the video to elicit that Gaga is leaving prison. I can already warn you the first time you play it, students will look at you and tell you: “It’s impossible to guess“. Do not give up. Tell them it is a very short sentence containing “v” and “b” words. Play it a couple more times and listen to what they think Beyonce says. Play it with sound now. The important thing here is that they realize how the “v” sound is pronounced when emphasized.

Write the sentence on the board and play the video once again to pronounce along with Beyonce. If only Gaga was called Vivien, it would be perfect!!!!!!

You’ve been a very bad girl. A very very bad bad girl, Gaga!

Three. The Clever Parrot.

 1. On the board, write some minimal pairs and drill pronunciation.  If possible, listen to all the students individually pronouncing a set of minimal pairs.

 2.  Tell students you are going to point to one of the words on the board and pronounce it. They should only repeat after you only if they think the pronunciation is correct. If they think you are mispronouncing the word, i.e. pronouncing a /b/ when it should be a /v/, they should remain silent. Repeat and reinforce the correct pronunciation of all the words on the board.

Four. On their own now. Minimal Pairs Pyramids.

Lovely exercise from www.myhappyenglish.com/.   The instructions for the activity are on the second page. I have demonstrated the activity twice before asking them to pair up and do the activity. They liked it so much that most of them did it more than once. Then, ask some students to volunteer to do it for the rest of the class. A great success. They didn’t want to stop.

Five.  Fun. Tongue twisters.

Tongue twisters are a fun and challenging way to encourage confidence.

Tip: the only way, if there is one, to get your tongue twisters straight is to do it very slowly at the beginning and then increase the rhythm. And to be honest, it is very hard to get it right but this is not the point, is it?

Write tongue twister 1 and tongue twister 2 on the board and ask students to practice them in pairs. After a couple of minutes, write tongue twister 3 and ask for volunteers to read it.

Six. Getting Creative.Creating your own tongue twisters.

Ask students to write a list of 10 words containing either “b” or “v”. Encourage them to write nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs… etc.  Give them about 2 minutes for this task.

Now, you can do this activity in two ways: you can write their words on the board- I find this very time-consuming- or you can ask them to use  Wooclap or Mentimeter and effortlessly you will get a very nice word cloud in under 1 minute.

Once their words are displayed, ask students to write their own tongue twisters with some of the words on the word cloud. Give them 2-3 minutes and then ask them to write their sentence on a slip of paper. Collect all the slips and put them on the walls of the class; ask students to stand up and gallery walk in pairs trying to read their partner’s tongue twisters. Lots of fun guaranteed!

Ex: Bob’s beautiful vase has been visited by visitors vaccinated with available vaccines.

Seven. Speaking Activity with the same Word Cloud

Ask students to write a question to ask someone in the class using at least a word containing a “b” sound and a “v” sound. Needless to say, I encouraged them to be creative and, as long as the sentence had sense and could be answered, use as many words as possible containing /b/ or /v/.

The sentence should start with… When did you last…?

Allow 2-3 minutes for this task.

Whole class: ask a student to ask his/her question to another student. The answer should start with the same words used in the question to further practise these two sounds?

Example:

A: Peter, when did you last watch a beautiful music video? Peter: I last watched a beautiful video last month. It was Telephone by Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

I hope you have enjoyed the activities. If you have, please share this article!

 

2 Activities to Activate Health Vocabulary in a C1 Class

Are you teaching vocabulary? Silly question. Who isn’t?

On the flip side, perhaps the chunk “teaching vocabulary” might sound a bit weird to you; and yes, controversial opinion alert… can vocabulary be taught? I don’t know. I think you can teach form, pronunciation and meaning but arguably, this is not teaching vocabulary; this is more like presenting vocabulary. Vocabulary needs to be used to be learned and that’s my ambitious aim in every single lesson.

And yes… I feel you dear fellow teacher, whose life is as crazy as mine right now, who has a hard time finding the time to prepare the lesson, who knows his students are beginning to feel tired after so many months struggling to understand their classmates when talking through their facemasks and who stares at the book thinking… what can I do today that will bring a spark to my lessons and engage my students?

I see you. I feel you.

So since I see you and understand you because I am just like you in these feelings, today I am sharing with you two ideas to activate vocabulary. I hope it helps you and makes tomorrow’s lesson planning easier.

Vocabulary. First things first: the vocabulary we are going to work with. Get the PDF here

Activity one: Choose a quote

In this activity, which has two parts, students are presented with 4 quotes and asked to choose one.

Quotes:

  1. Health is the greatest possession” Lao Tzu
  2. “A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite” Leo Tolstoy.
  3. “Your body hears everything your mind says” Naomi Judd
  4. ” Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” Albert Schweitzer.
Part 1: students in pairs
  • Put students in pairs and ask them to make sure they do not talk about the same quote.
  • Give students 4 minutes to prepare a 2-minute speech sharing what the quote means and whether or not they agree with it. In their speeches, they should include at least 10 of the words in the vocabulary list.
  • Students get into their pairs and listen to each other. While Student B listens to Student A, he needs to mentally keep track of the number of expressions/ collocations used.
Part 2: whole class
  • Divide the class into two teams. Team A chooses a representative to give his speech to the rest of the class. While Student A is talking, members of Team B listen and write down the words from the list Student A has used. Then, it’s Team B’s turn to choose a representative to try to beat Team A.
Activity Two:  Chain Talking

In this activity, we are going to use a random wheel, which is fed with the target vocabulary. My absolute favourite is random wheel is wheeldecide.com.

  • Pair students up.  Explain you are going to pose some questions related to health and each student in the pair, and in turns, will have 45 seconds to talk about the question. For each question, students will have two opportunities to speak. This means student A talks for about 45 seconds, then Student B for 45 seconds, then back to Student A and then, Student B again.
  • Tell them you are going to use a stopwatch and every 45 seconds, you will ring a bell.
  • Display the wheel using the OHP and tell students that, in their conversations, they will have to use the word on display in the wheel. Every time a student talks, a new word will be displayed.
  • On the board, write controversial statements or questions and let’s the show begin!
  1. ” Modern lifestyles can seriously endanger our health”
  2.  Countries should make vaccination compulsory
  3. Do you think the numbers of vegetarians and vegans will continue to grow? If so, what explains their continued popularity?
  4. How do you feel about surgery? Would you consider having surgery that isn’t completely necessary, like plastic surgery?
  5. Lifespans are getting longer. How long do you think the Millennials Generation (1980-1994) will live on average?

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)

Dry Erase Boards to Help Fix Grammar and Spelling Mistakes from Essays

Happy February everyone! Finally January is over, and we can start dreaming with the spring.  And that reminds me that I need to start thinking about losing some weight. Well, every cloud has its silver lining! I know, I know, we are still in the thick of winter. One can only dream…

The second term is upon us and it’s now the time to give students the results of their tests. I am never super excited about it. While it’s nice to see how some students are making the most of the course and will pass with flying colours, some others aren’t that lucky and, believe me when I tell you that even after almost 3o years teaching, it still saddens me to see their disappointment. Some of them are smart enough to admit they have not studied enough but for some of them, it is not a question of how much effort they put into it.

And talking about exams, isn’t it true that students tend to always make the same mistakes? I am talking here about grammar and spelling mistakes. Now, how many of you have corrected the spelling of “writing” or a “people goes”. See? It shouldn’t be that difficult to correct if, when we teach what we know is bound to become a mistake, we teach, revise, reinforce and emphasize the correct form. If only it were that easy… I can hear you say!

Anyway, these are some of the most easy-to-fix mistakes my B2 students have made in their essays. Problem is that if I give them their exams with the mistakes underlined and corrected, they are going to say “oh yes, silly me, I know the grammar for this, teacher!” and after a brief glimpse at the mistake, they are just going to forget it. What? Over my dead body!

On the blog, there are a lot of games and strategies to help students analyze and fix their written mistakes. This is just a new one! Fun, but also hopefully, effective!

For this activity, I have used a template that won my heart as soon as I spotted it on Genial.ly and some dry erase boards, which you can easily substitute by a regular A4 sheet of paper. You can, but it is more fun if you use a dry board. Don’t know why, but it is. Trust me.

Dry Erase Boards to Help Fix Grammar and Spelling Mistakes from Essays

You need

  • Grammar and spelling mistakes  from students’ essays.
  • Dry Erase Boards and whiteboard markers  (alternatively regular A4 sheets of paper).

Note: click on the 3 dots to enlarge the presentation. Notice the Push here button  to advance through the slides.

 

Procedure:

  • Divide the class into teams of three and give each team a dry erase board and a whiteboard marker.  Tell teams to quickly come up with a creative name for its team. Write the names of the teams in a list on one side of the board.
  • Display the first mistake and give students 45 seconds to discuss the mistake and try to fix it. You can use a timer from www.online-stopwatch.com or from classroom screen.
  • When the time is up, a representative from each team needs to raise the board with their guess at correcting the mistake.
  • Ask them to comment and discuss the mistake as a whole class.
  • If it’s correct, they score 1 point.
  • The team with the most points at the end wins.

At the end of the exercise, students do the exercises again but this time orally. This retrieval practice is what is going to help students remember the correct structure or spelling.

The next day, I would suggest asking students to discuss in pairs the mistakes and their correction, to fix knowledge.

Fun and effective! Enjoy teaching!

Spice Up your Class and Maximize Learning with Traditional Games

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say traditional games? Bingos, crosswords, board games? This website has them all. Free. Customizable. Yay!

Let me start by saying that tomorrow is Monday. Monday, and January. Not my fave month, to be honest. I know it has always been there, in between December and February but I find January dull, boring, lifeless and one of the darkest months of the year.  If I were talking about food in this blog, I would say a Monday in January requires comfort food. But this blog is not about yummy recipes, it’s about ideas, ramblings, tools, teaching and learning. So, let’s talk not about comfort food but about comfort digital tools. Tools that can make a Monday feel like a Friday.  Is it possible? It is!! Just have a look at this website.  It has all the right ingredients:

  • It’s free and fun
  • Membership is free but you do not have to register unless you want to save content.
  • You can download the content you create.
  • It has lots of different fun templates you can edit to create exercises relevant for your classes.

It is called Half a Crossword, but don’t let the name deceive you. It is much more than a web to create crosswords. You can create a variety of games but what is most valuable for me are the ideas it provides to make the exercises come alive.

What kind of materials can you create?

  • Half a crossword
  • Sentence correction
  • Sentence Unscramble
  • Number Bingo
  • Board Game
  • Word Bingo
  • and some more….

HOW TO CREATE AN ACTIVITY

  • Choose the activity you would like to create
  • There are 3 steps you will need to follow
  • Number 1. Depending on the activity, enter the word, sentence or question in the space provided.
  • Number 2. Have a look at the maximum of words or characters…etc specified for each activity
  • Number 3. Preview it and print it. You can also save it if you have registered
  • Have a look at the label named HOW, where you can read how to use the activity with your students

Let’s kick off this week with, for example, half a crossword to revise the vocabulary taught the previous week. How does it sound to you?