Tag Archives: speaking

Relationships: A Multi-Skill Lesson Plan for C1 Students

I find it really hard to stick to the textbook every time the lesson is about Relationships. With any other lessons, about any other topics, it might be easier to be content with following the dictates of the textbook. But I think Relationships, and all sorts of ideas spring up. Not all of them are good, to be honest. But these, I have tried and tested in class. They work.

This lesson is divided into two chunks:

  1. The first part is dedicated to revising, reinforcing, and introducing new vocabulary.
  2. The second part is dedicated to honing students’ listening and speaking skills using different visual inputs: images, audio, video, and cards.

VOCABULARY

GUESSING THE TOPIC WITH A FRIENDLIER VERSION OF THE GAME HANGMAN

Students will need to guess what topic we will cover in class next, But…. There are rules to follow:

  • The class is divided into 2 teams. Each team names a spokesperson.
  • Let’s say Team 1 starts. Now, to get the chance to say a letter to solve the puzzle, they’ll have to answer a content review question.  For example: “what preposition collocates with the verb “depend”?”. After a quick discussion with the members of their group, the spokesperson will give an answer. If correct, they can suggest a letter. Whether it is a correct or incorrect guess, the turn will pass to Team B, who will get another content review question and the chance to guess a letter if the answer to the review question is correct.
  • Important: Teams can’t try to solve the puzzle until half the letters have been guessed(i.e. if the word has 14 letters, 7 must have been guessed) and only the Team playing will have this chance.
  • If they guess and fail, their turn will be skipped.

GAME: THE 15 SECONDS CROSSWORD GAME TO REVISE VOCABULARY
    • Divide the class into 2 teams.
    • Team A chooses a representative who chooses a number from the crossword puzzle, reads the description, and has 15 seconds to guess the answer with the help of their team.
    • If they guess the answer, they can continue playing until
    1. they can’t guess the word,
    2. they run out of time (remember 15 seconds) or
    3. they guess three answers in a row.

    If this happens, it is Team B’s turn.

    • The winner is the team that solves the last clue.

    In this case, the terms in the crossword were related to the “relationships”
    NOTE: (click on the top right-hand corner to enlarge the crossword)

INTRODUCING NEW VOCABULARY: PEER TEACHING AND PARTNER DISCUSSION.

More Vocabulary here. Give students some individual time to read through the vocabulary, underlining any new terms.

  • Building on the belief that ” to teach is to learn twice” (Whitman, 1998), ask students to get into groups of 4 and help each other with any vocabulary they haven’t been able to guess on their own.
  • Whole class: ask students in Group 1 which vocabulary items are still unfamiliar to them. Ask the other groups in the class to volunteer an explanation if they know. If nobody in the class knows, clarify the meaning. Continue in the same fashion with all the groups until all the vocabulary has been clarified.
  •   Work on pronunciation and then test students by giving a definition and asking them to quickly give you the term.

SPEAKING and LISTENING

MARRIAGE

SPEAKING.

Display this picture and ask students to comment on this picture. Ask:

Who do you feel more sorry for? The bride, the groom, or the mother-in-law?

 LISTENING. Why bother with marriage? Watch from 0:00- 0:34

Play the beginning of the video (0:00- 0:34) In pairs or small groups, comment on the following:

  1. What is the speaker’s view on marriage? Do you agree with his view?
  2. Are there more benefits or drawbacks to getting married in your country nowadays?
  3. What is the right age to get married in your country? And to have children?

FAMILIES: LISTENING and SPEAKING
    • Write NUCLEAR FAMILY on the board and ask students to explain what type of family a nuclear family is and what other different family types they know. Write them on the board. Ideally, they will come up with stepfamilies (also called blended families), cohabitation, extended family, lone parenting, DINKS (I know, unlikely!) and some others.
    • Time for listening.  First Listening: Play the audio once and ask students to jot down the different types of families that are mentioned (stepfamilies. Cohabitation, DINKS, lone parenting and people living alone). Write them on the board. You will probably need to add People living alone.  Second Listening: Note-taking. Form groups of 4 students and assign a different kind of family to each of them. Ask them to take notes, as their final task would be to retell the information they hear about their assigned family structure. NOTE: I have assigned cohabitation and DINKS to the same person.
    • Follow-up: ask students in their groups to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of each type of family structure

Transcript here

Types of Families de cristina.cabal

PARENTS AND THEIR OFFSPRING: SPEAKING AND LISTENING

1. LYING. Play this video where children confess the biggest lie they have told their mums, in front of their mums. Ask students to confess theirs.

2. OVERPROTECTING PARENTS.

Ask these questions

  • What is considered overprotective parenting?
  • What can overparenting do to a child?

FAMILY TRACKING APPS. Display with the OHP this article from the BBC about family tracking apps and ask them to read the first 3 paragraphs. Ask students to talk about the advantages and drawbacks for both parents and children.

SPEAKING CARDS: FINDING THE MATCHING PAIR.

Put students into groups of 3 or 4. Give each group a set of cards and ask them to place them face upon the table.  Student A begins by taking the beginning of the question (in blue) and finding the matching pair (in orange).

Student A has two minutes to express his/her opinion. Then, it is Student B’s turn.

PDF here

Relationships. Conversation questions de cristina.cabal

I know, a long lesson. But, you know, it’s better to have too much than too little.

Comparisons are Odious, Are they Not?

I am sure this super engaging activity about comparatives is just what you need this week.  I am very pleased to have on the blog this week a guest post by colleague  Ángeles Jimenez, from EOI Oviedo, who from time to time, saves my a** by sending me some of her creative activities. This is one of them. I hope you like it as much as I did.

Thanks, Ángeles, the floor is all yours!

 

“Comparisons are odious” says the old proverb, but the truth is that the more you practise, the faster your English will improve.

Every time there was a new grammar point to teach, my B2 students rolled up their eyes in desperation when I handed out another worksheet.

I began to look for new ways which would help me revise the comparative structures at a more advanced level, activating my students’ imagination at the same time. Although I had planned for it to be a brief and fast-paced revision, it turned out to be one of the most effective and engaging grammar lessons in a while – some students got very creative!

WHY PLAY IT.

Although this activity may not be quick, it will surely get your students thinking. It’s suitable for both creative and less creative students.  They can come up with short or long explanations; they are also responsible for the content and the grammar, which means they will have to be attentive and spot their classmates’ mistakes.

WARM-UP

I started by asking my students to place their mobiles on their desks and posing some questions like:

  • What do you mainly use it for?
  • Does it make your life easier or more stressful?
  • Is there anything you don’t like about it?
  • When you need to get another phone, what type will you get?

Now, this question will automatically make students use a comparative structure:

“a better one”, “a more expensive one”, “a lighter one”…

Most of the times, they come up with basic adjectives, nothing to worry about at this stage.

I tell them I have a super expensive mobile phone I got as a Christmas present, adding that I’m in love with it because it’s innovative, powerful, and stylish.

And this is the moment I show them my state-of-the-art mobile phone, which looks something like this:

 

Hopefully, this will make them smile!

NEXT STEP

Involve your students by asking them questions. This will guide them into recognizing the pattern.

  • Do you think your phone is more powerful and efficient than mine?
  • Is it more stylish and better-looking? Does it have a better design?
  • Is it more comfortable to hold?
  • Does the battery last longer?

Inevitably, your students will end up comparing each other’s phones, and this will trigger the use of more adjectives.

To guide the activity in the direction you want it to go, ask them to think of more adjectives, positive and negative, that can be used to describe mobile phones. Write them on the board as they say them, or show them a list on the screen –it will probably include most of the ones they came up with.

Here are some examples:

AFFORDABLE,   APPEALING,   BAD,    BASIC,   CHEAP,    CONVENTIONAL,   DURABLE,   EFFICIENT, EXPENSIVE,   FAST,   HEAVY,   GOOD,   INDISPENSABLE,    INNOVATIVE,   LARGE,    LIGHT,   MODERN

OBSOLETE,    OLD-FASHIONED,    OUTDATED,   POPULAR,    POWERFUL,   RELIABLE,    REVOLUTIONARY

SIMPLE,    SLOW,    SOPHISTICATED,    STYLISH,    SUITABLE,   TIME-CONSUMING,   TOUGH, UNRELIABLE

I usually try to arrange new vocab in alphabetical order. It’s an organized and easy-to-follow format when learning new vocab. And when I forget to include a word when making a list, I can always add it later on.

LET’S GO TO THE FUN PART!

  • Decide on a category of objects with varied items. I chose technology because I wanted to kill two birds with one stone: students learn technology-related vocab or revise it if they have already dealt with it in class.
  • Create a set of noun cards with common objects on them. These can be simply a noun or an image to represent the noun.
  • Students sit in groups around a pile of cards placed face-down. The first student picks up the top card from the pile while the others wait and listen. The students should say why they need to change/buy the object on the card using a comparative structure.

EXAMPLE: I need a less basic, more efficient, and durable smartwatch. The one I’m using can’t keep track of my sleep, and it isn’t waterproof.

  • If the student does it in a convincing and grammatically correct way, they keep the card. But if they make a grammar mistake when using the adjective or give an unconvincing reason, the card goes back to the pile. The game finishes when all the cards have been used.

PDF here

Comparisons are Odious de cristina.cabal

GOING THE EXTRA MILE.

I noticed that when they made mistakes like saying “MORE FASTER”, they were in fact trying to say“ A LOT FASTER”

Go back to some of the examples they used. They probably came up with something like: “I need to get an iPhone because it’s more efficient”. Ask them if it’s A LOT MORE or SLIGHTLY MORE efficient.

Show them a few examples of how to modify the sentence to say how different the object was.

To emphasize that a characteristic is either greater than the typical level, write these on the board:

  • MUCH MORE / ER THAN
  • FAR MORE / ER THAN
  • WAY MORE / ER THAN
  • A LOT MORE / ER THAN

To emphasize that a characteristic is either smaller than the typical level, write these on the board:

  • A BIT MORE / ER THAN
  • SLIGHTLY MORE / ER THAN

Before you carry on with this speaking part, ask them whether they think public transport is far more convenient than moving around by car. Hopefully, students will have different opinions as they have to take into account parking spaces, money spent on petrol, car maintenance…

Hand them out a sheet of paper with discussion prompts. These can be arranged as pair work/group work, so you can ask them to change pairs/groups when they finish and listen to more points of view.

This will help them gain confidence and their motivation increases since they correct their previous mistakes and learn new words.

To provide as much speaking as possible, ask them to produce at least 2 sentences using the ideas on the card + modifiers.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Phone / Face-to-face communication.
  2. Dancing / Doing yoga.
  3. Changing the driving age to 21 or not.
  4. Sharing a flat / Living with your parents

Click here to see more

Retrieval Practice Activity Using Cards for Any Level

And I am back. Yeahhhh!  Hopefully, I’ll have more time to write about all the activities that have worked wonders in my class. Hopefully.

But, before you continue I have an important announcement: I love retrieval practice activities! And this activity is all about pulling vocabulary out. Are you ready?

 

Whether you have just stumbled upon this blog or are a long-time visitor, you have to know that, first and foremost in my mind before I give my students a writing or speaking activity, is retrieval practice. We need to bring to the front of their minds the language we want them to use. If we don’t do it, what inevitably happens is that students will keep on using what they already feel comfortable using. And that won’t work. We are aiming at improving their level of English.

So, let me summarize this simple, highly-adaptable  idea.

  • Part 1: students, in groups,  revise key vocabulary using cards that contain the definition for the target language.
  • Part 2: students use these cards in a speaking activity.

NOTE: I am sharing with you the card template, but you can easily simplify the activity by just typing the definitions on a slip of paper. Me? I love visuals. I think they make a difference.

Now, that you are interested, let’s explain in detail:

PREPARATION
  • Vocabulary.Choose some vocabulary you want your students to use and revise. It shouldn’t be new vocabulary.Remember this is a retrieval practice activity. Type (if digital) or write the definition. Print and cut the cards. You will need a set of cards per group. As explained above, I love using visually appealing stuff, but you can easily simplify this part  using scraps of paper.
  • Conversation Questions. Prepare some conversation questions related to the topic.

Here’s the template in Canva I have used. You will need to create a free account to download it.

ACTIVITY 1. RETRIEVAL PRACTICE

STEP 1: Arrange students into groups of 3 and give each group a set of cards. Working together, they read the definition and try to come up with the word/expression that matches the definition. Ask them to use a pencil as they might not get all the answers right.

STEP 2. Whole class. Check answers. Clarify. Work on pronunciation.  You know the drill!

ACTIVITY 2. SPEAKING

STEP 1: Students in the same groups.Ask students to put the cards on a pile face down on the table.

STEP 2: Tell students they are going to do some speaking practice and the first student to start speaking, for example,  will be the youngest and then, the activity will continue clockwise. Let’s call him Student A.

Ask the first question and Student A will pick up a card and show it to the other students in his/her group. Student A will have about 90 seconds to answer the question trying to use the word/expression on the card. If he manages to use it, he can keep the card.; if not, it will be returned to the pile.

I forgot to mention you would need a timer. You can easily find one on Classroomscreen

Repeat procedure for Students B and C and repeat until all the cards have been used or you run out of questions.

How many cards?  A multiple of three works well since we are working with groups of three students. Thus, 6, 9, or 12 will work fine.  If you revise 12 words and only give them 6 questions, that should be fine too. They don’t have to use all of them. As an alternative, you can instruct students to choose two words rather than just one and keep the one(s) they have managed to use.

Note: I have used this activity in C1. The topic was Relationships and the answers are as follow:

1.the main breadwinner 2. black sheep 3. the spitting image 4. to fall out 5. to take after (phrasal verb) 6. to see eye to eye 7. to keep an eye on someone 8. sibling 9. to be under age 10. To come of age 11. to get on/along with somebody 12. to make up

AND AGAIN. Yes. Again

Whole class now.

  1. Gather all of the cards and review the target vocabulary again while providing definitions.
  2. Give each student a card. Have them read the definition aloud and give this card to the first student who answers correctly and manages to give a sentence using the word/expression. I guess you know who the winner of this little game is. A round of applause for the winner is a good prize. We are poor teachers, here.

I hope you have liked this simple game. If you put it into practice, please let me know how it goes.

Oral Exams: Two Activities to Revise all the Topics in a Single Lesson

I know precisely what you are looking for because I guess,  we are all in the same boat: approaching finals, a plethora of topics to revise and juggling work and life. These two activities might come in handy now that you, like me, need to help students  1. revise the vocabulary for all of the topics covered during the course and 2. provide the means to use this vocabulary in spoken interactions or monologues. And this, in a single lesson. Granted it is a two-hour session, but still a feat.

What’s the aim?

  • to develop their communicative skills by asking and answering questions  about different topics
  • to compose a short speech on a topic of choice
  • to revise the specific vocabulary learnt for these topics

ACTIVITY ONE: Throwing the Dice. Revising Vocabulary. Asking the questions.

What you need:

  • slips of paper
  • sticky notes or, alternatively, scraps of paper and cellotape.
  • a dice or a virtual dice (here)

On the walls of the class, put up slips of paper with the various themes you wish to review: work, sports, education, leisure time activities…etc.

Step 1. Revising Vocabulary

  1. Put students into pairs or groups. You’ll need as many pairs/ groups as there are topics you’ll be revising.
  2. Assign each pair/group a topic and ask them to write down all the vocabulary/expressions…etc they have learnt related to their assigned topic. Have them name a secretary who will be in charge of writing the vocabulary on a clean sheet of paper and trying to write in legible handwriting.
  3. Give them some cellotape or blue-tack and instruct them to tape/stick the vocabulary on the wall,  next to the topic they have been assigned.

 

Step 2. Throwing the dice. Writing the questions

1. Assign to each number on the dice a wh-word and write it on the board. For ex:

  1. why
  2. where
  3. when
  4.  what
  5. how
  6. who

2. Now, roll the dice and ask pairs/groups to choose a topic and write a question beginning with the wh ( for example if the number is 4, they will need to write a question beginning with “what”) and related to the topic they have chosen. Make sure pairs/groups choose different topics. Encourage students to write interesting questions or questions that can generate conversation.

Ex: the topic is Crime and the number is 4; the question might be something like :

What are the most common crimes in your town?

3. Once they have written the question, ask them to post it next to the topic the topic it pertains to.

4. Throw the dice again and repeat procedure only, this time, groups must necessarily choose a different topic. Again, make sure all topics are covered. Hopefully, when you roll the dice, it will show a different number. If it is the same number( say number 4 as in the example), throw it again, you want a different Wh- question.

How many questions do I think would be more than enough for each topic? I would suggest 3 questions/topic

Step 3. Gallery Walk

Gallery walk: Once you have at least 2 or 3 questions per topic, ask students to stand up in their groups and stand next to a topic and together read the vocabulary for the topic they will next to it.  Then, have them read the questions and discuss them. Allow about 10 minutes per poster and then ask them to move clockwise to the next topic. Repeat procedure.

ACTIVITY TWO: Tearable topics. Beautiful template

It is not the first time I have used a tearable activity- if I may call it like this-, but it is the first time that I have used Meredithakers’s template. I saw her design and I thought ” I need to use it”. So cute. Have a look at her design here and if you don’t read her, I highly recommend it.

NOTE: This activity follows the first one where students have already had the opportunity to revise vocabulary. If you choose to do only this activity, give students some time to revise the vocabulary they will need to give a great speech.

Before the class: Edit a copy of my/her template and write your own content. My template here

Cut a line between words but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach. I guess a copy will be enough if you have a class of 24 students or less.

Divide the class into groups of 5-6 people. You can easily create 4 groups of 5-6 people as there are 24 tearable strips of paper. Topics might be repeated, just make sure they are not repeated within the group. In fact, for easier identification, you can divide the class into 4 groups and assign a colour to each group. They can only tear off a topic highlighted in their assigned colour.

Give them about 5 minutes to prepare their monologue encouraging the use of vocabulary and grammar.

Isn’t it a beautiful template? I told you! Thanks @meredith

Lesson Plan: The Hunt for News

It’s been years since  I last discussed the media and its role in our society in my classes. I don’t really think much has changed since the last time I explored this topic in class.

  • I feel we are still being manipulated by the media
  • I still feel we are, in most cases, misinformed
  • I still feel that the press is controlled by the same networks of people that run everything else
  • I still feel the information we receive is biased and based on speculation rather than hard facts.

But this lesson is meant to be focused on the paparazzi and their work chasing celebrities or famous people. We will discuss the very serious damage that the paparazzi and tabloid media can cause when they constantly invade people’s privacy. We will discuss whether the paparazzi are to blame for some unfortunate events and whether stricter laws should be enforced. We will study vocabulary relevant to this topic and read real examples where the right to have a private life will be discussed. Are you ready?

Step 1: a stirrer.
  1. Ask students: Have you ever met someone famous?

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.

2. On the board, write the question below and ask students to briefly comment on this.

 Want fame? Kiss your privacy goodbye! 

Step 2 . Introducing vocabulary

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 The media.
  • On the board, write a circle with the word The Media 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.

  • To follow a lead
  • paparazzo/paparazzi/amateur paps
  • revulsion/respect for their profession
  • a tip-off/to tip off the paparazzi
  • to gather news
  • to spot a celebrity
  • agency/ˈeɪ.dʒən.si/
  • news outlets
  • news coverage
  • exclusive /ɪkˈskluː.sɪv/
  • a major scoop
  • click-bait story
  • photojournalism
  • tabloid journalism and sensasionalism /senˈseɪ.ʃən.əl.ɪ.zəm/
  • to censor/impose strict censorship /ˈsen.sə.ʃɪp/
  • Celebrity scandals
  • sensational news
  • To harass foreign journalists UK /ˈhær.əs/ AmE /həˈræs/
  • to stalk a celebrity /stɔːk/
  • to pursue or chase celebrities /pəˈsjuː/
  • to catch up on the news
  • to leak to the press
  • to tackle misinformation
  • invasion of privacy /ɪnˈveɪ.ʒən/ /ˈprɪv.ə.si/
  • untrustworthy/reliable sources /ʌnˈtrʌstˌwɜː.ði/
  • accuracy of the reports
  • unverified information
  • biased/unbiased
  • to be in the limelight
  • to be highly sought-after /ˈsɔːt ˌɑːf.tər/

You can follow the rest of the lesson plan using the presentation below. I hope you enjoy it!

The Hunt for News

In case you are looking for debatable or persuasive topics about the media, here you have some.