Tag Archives: speaking

Housing Issues. A Lesson Plan for C1 students.

Is there a limit to how long you can spend teaching and talking about a topic? I wonder,¬† how many subtopics are there to talk about? It’s been one month since the course began and I am still doing lesson One. OMG! At this pace, I am never gonna reach the end of the textbook.

Here is a little something I did with my C1 students. Unit 1 was about cities, but how do we talk about cities and not about Housing? My thoughts exactly, we cannot.

  • Topic: Housing
  • Level: C1
  • Activities: Speaking, Listening, Mediation, Vocabulary. Board Game
  • PDF ( available at the end of the post) ūüôā
Optional lead-in:  Speaking

Students get into pairs and talk about these 2 questions.

  • It is said an average person lives in 11 homes in their lifetime. What is your number?
  • If money was not a problem, where would you live and what kind of house would you have?
Revising Vocabulary

It is always a good idea to give students some time to come up with vocabulary they already know. You can do it in different ways.

  1. The traditional way: give students a couple of minutes to come with as many words or expressions they can think of related to housing.  This can be done in pairs with one person writing down the answers. Get group feedback and write the most interesting words/chunks on the board.
  2. Using technology to create a word cloud on the board: you can use Answergarden, Mentimeter or Wooclap for this. (hover over the name of the tool and it will take you to the tool)

Fun extension: ask pairs to write a sentence using as many words as possible from the board. Score pairs a point per word and award a bonus point for the longest.

Introducing Vocabulary
  • affordable home
  • low-income housing
  • budget
  • low -income households
  • mortgage
  • tenants
  • landlords
  • overburdened with housing costs
  • homeowners
  • social housing
  • to make a down payment
  • disposable income
  • average price
  • to evict /eviction
  • homelessness
  • rising home prices
  • overcrowding and under occupations
  • real state bubble
  • subsidized
  • housing issues
  • cohousing
  • utility bills
  • to downsize
  • squatting/squatters
  • to rehabilitate /rehab, rehabilitation

 

Listening and Speaking. Video: Affordable Housing

Time to listen

Before watching the video, ask students to predict the answers to these questions. This will hopefully lead to some discussion where students will be encouraged to use some of the vocabulary above.

Play the video and ask students to check their predictions. Comment on the answers. Were their predictions accurate?

  • Making housing more accessible would help reduce‚Ķ
  • What share of a household budget do you think is spent on average on housing?
  • Why has the price of housing risen so dramatically in the last decade?
  • What share of a household budget is spent on housing in low-income households?
  • In many countries, a large share of young people is still living with their parents. Predict: is your country one of these countries? Justify your answer

Reading and speaking

Divide students into pairs  for this activity

STUDENT A: cohousing

Cohousing, which is a form of intentional community, originated in Denmark in the 1960s Intended to recreate an ‚Äúold-fashioned sense of neighbourhood‚ÄĚ through resident participation in the design and operation of their communities, this type of community model allows families and individuals to occupy private homes while at the same time contributing both time and money to common facilities that are owned and managed by the larger community.3¬†Community members pay monthly or yearly membership dues and often help with tasks such as cleaning and repairing shared resources. While residents contribute to the financial responsibilities of acquiring and maintaining common facilities and resources, each member maintains an independent economy and personal income.

Source: https://ala-apa.org/

Summarize what you have just read and give your opinion

STUDENT B: Squatting

Squatting has a long history in Spain, often fuelled by high rates of homelessness. But there is now a darker phenomenon too – squatters who demand a “ransom” before they will leave a property. And this has led to the rise of private eviction companies, some of which use threats to achieve their goal.

Source : https://www.bbc.com/

Summarize what you have just read and give your opinion

Speaking: Conversations questions+ Board game

Driven by my obsession to make students use new vocabulary, I am constantly thinking and trying different ways to “force” new vocabulary into my students’ speeches. In this case, I have created a board game here using the vocabulary above. A dice, some counters and some conversation questions and they are ready to go. Students throw the dice and try to use the word/chunk in the square they have landed on. They can also try to use the word/chunk in the previous and following square. If they do so, they can move forward one square.

  • Is giving homeless people homes more effective and sensible than making them stay in shelters or on the street?
  • How much is Airbnb affecting the housing market in cities where rent is on the rise?
  • What can be done about rising homelessness in big cities?
  • Does it make sense to encourage homeownership through tax policies?
  • Should housing policy be more balanced, supporting rental housing and homeownership on a more equal footing?

Source https://www.nytimes.com/

 

Exam-oriented task using vocabulary

.

In this case, I gave them this task and asked them to discuss the prompts in pairs. Needless to say, encouraging them to use the new vocabulary,

Exam-oriented: Oral Mediation Task

Here and Here

Here’s the PDF for the lesson.I hope you find this lesson useful.

An Outdoors QR-Codes Listening and Speaking lesson about Cities

I need to share this activity. It really has all the ingredients for a perfect lesson.

Things I want you to know about this lesson.

  • It is super engaging and gives your class a touch of modernity
  • It is collaborative
  • It deals with two basic skills, listening and speaking, but a lot of subskills are also at work.
  • It gives students and teachers a good excuse to stand up from their seats and even take the lesson outside, as I did.
  • It helps build rapport in the class, which is sooo important at the beginning of the course

I am not going to lie to you. It needs some initial preparation, but it pays off. Believe me! Besides, I find the whole process of preparing the activity very entertaining. Ok. I know. You don’t have time. The good news is that you can always use mine if you like my choice of cities.

  • Topic: Cities
  • Level: C1
  • Main skills: listening and speaking
  • Time: 50-60 minutes
  • Materials: here
Before the session
  1. Before the session, look for a video that can easily be divided into parts. In my case, we were learning about cities and their problems so I decided on this one 10 of the most overrated cities,  from one of my favourite channels on Youtube. I chose only 4 cities to form groups of 4 students.
  2. I used Camtasia to make 4 new videos, one for each city: Rome. London, New York and Río de Janeiro. If you don’t have Camtasia, don’t let this put you off, you can easily use the free online https://online-video-cutter.com/es/.
  3. Once you have the videos, you need to upload them to, for example, Google Drive.
  4. Once online, you need to copy the URL and create a QR Code. I create mine here. The Gif below shows how to do it once the video is uploaded to Google drive.

5. Now, you need to print the  4 QR Codes on separate pieces of paper.

6. Before the class, you will also need to tell students to download- I bet they already have it- a QR Code reader (I use QR Scanner) to their mobile phones and bring some earbuds for the next class.

Done!!! See? No big deal!! Now, everything is ready. Ready for the fun part!! ūüôĄ

Tell the students this class will be done outside. Yay!! It could be the aisle or any other place on the premises that has enough room for the students to move. In my case, I used the schoolyard and pasted the QR Codes on the walls, well, not exactly walls as you can see from the picture.

Part 1.Listening and  Retelling
  • Ask students to form groups of 4. Each of them should choose a different city
  • Ask students to scan the code for their city and take notes.
  • Explain they will need to share as many details as they can about the city of their choice with their group. Apart from the main specifics of the city, they will need to explain why the city is overrated.
  • Allow 15 minutes for this part as students will need to watch their video several times to write down as many details as possible.
  • Next, students get back to their groups and start sharing the information gathered about their cities.
Part 2:  Speaking. Critical Thinking

 

In their groups, students talk about the issues the city in their videos has and together they debate whether the city where they live faces these same problems. Ask them to elaborate on their answers and offer possible solutions to tackle the problem.

Hope you have enjoyed my lesson and decide to give it a try!!

Catwalk Controversies: Questions about Fashion to Spark off Debate

Favourite tools to create a lesson plan, in order:

  • Spark Page
  • Spark Page
  • Spark Page

In my professional life, I give bonus points to any tool that is super easy to navigate and gives me, in a matter of minutes, a very visual professional-looking design.¬† And more bonus points if it is free, easily shared and reliable. And that’s Spark Adobe Page. I have been using it since 2017 and no other tool has been able to supersede it. I really cannot say enough how much I love this tool. Well, I think I just have!! ūüėÜ

This time, I have created a beautiful speaking lesson for my C1 students. These food-for-thought questions are likely to spark off some controversy and heavily engage your students- in fact, my students spent an hour talking about the first two questions.

Hope you enjoy the lesson and starting today, it also becomes a must-go tool for you, too.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I only write about what I like and works for me.

Catwalk Controversies

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‚Ķ 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 Environment: Do we Really Care?

This month many of us, teachers and students alike,¬† are celebrating the anniversary of all kinds of things we had no idea would define the year ahead of us.¬† I distinctly remember the day when only two or three students turned up for class and¬† myself saying things like: “this soon will pass” and “I will see you in a fortnight! before going into confinement.

With human activity slowing down due to the strict restrictions, March will probably also mark the month when our planet could breathe some fresh air for the first time in decades.  Reversing decades of destruction is, of course, not possible in such a short time, but at least, we could have a glimpse of what the earth would feel like without fossil fuels.

The lesson I am sharing with you today is, as you have probably guessed, explores the theme of the environment and is meant for C1 students.

I have designed the lesson using my favourite tool ever, Spark Adobe Page, but in the presentation, you will find links to other websites that will help my students work on vocabulary relevant to talk about this topic, enhance their listening skills by watching videos and discuss questions to boost their speaking abilities. Also, at the end of the post, you can have a look at a writing collaborative activity using Google Slides.

Before you jump right into the lesson in Spark Adobe, perhaps you would like to explore some vocabulary related to the environment.¬† I have used the awesome tool Flippity. I cannot embed the activity but click on the image to have a good look at all the possibilities it offers for introducing, revising and reinforcing.¬† As you can see, I have created an activity with a template, but then I can reuse it in a number of different ways. That’s what I call, a real time-saver!


Ready to explore the lesson? This is what you will find in this visual session

  • Natural Disasters: Vocabulary¬† and exercises
  • Natural disasters: Conversation questions
  • National Geographic repository of videos explaining natural disasters
  • Man-made disaster Video activity with a pronunciation game
  • Environment: vocabulary and games
  • Speaking: conversation questions to¬† use vocabulary¬† in context

The Environment. Do we really care?

To round up the lesson, I gave students a writing activity using Google slides in editing mode.  This beautiful template has been designed by Paula from Slides Mania. Thanks; Paula, I think I can call myself a Slides Maniac.


By the way, if you want students As and Bs to work on their questions at the same time, it might be a good idea to use a Chrome extension to split the screen into two. I use Tab Resizer. But, if you do not want to install an extension on the Chrome bar, you can always do it manually.

  1. Depress the left mouse button and ‚Äúgrab‚ÄĚ the window.
  2. Keep the mouse button depressed and drag the window all the way¬†over¬†to the RIGHT of your¬†screen. …
  3. Now you should be able to see the other open window, behind the half window that’s to the right

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson