Tag Archives: speaking

A Speaking Board Game about Work with some Props

A digital or analogue board game? Which do you fancy? For me, variety is key. So I tend to alternate between both types of exercises to keep things interesting. In this post, you will find both versions. Cheers to diversity!  But just so that you know, I am going to focus more on the analogue version where I can use props.

Who doesn’t love props? Using props in the classroom can be an effective tool for teaching. Props can help to engage students and bring an element of fun and creativity to a lesson. And right in the middle of winter ,when days are short and dark, I feel the need to add some extra spark to my lessons. Don’t you?

Board games have been around for a long, long time but, have you tried to design one? It is not easy. I have tried and failed. They looked awful. This time I have not wasted any time, and used Genial.ly’s Monopoly board game, which I have adapted to suit my content.

 

First, I made an online version (reusable in case you want to change something), which turned out great, but I decided to go oldschool and print out the board, get a huge foam dice, and use some coloured counters. Not surprisingly, rolling a big red foam dice and having students use little markers to claim their spots really made a difference. 

Here’s the downloadable version if I have managed to persuade you to use the printed version of the board game.

TEACHER-GUIDED: HOW TO PLAY
  • Arrange students into groups of 3–4 students and give each group a board.
  • Each player in the group must choose a colour: blue, green, yellow, or red.  They will then receive a token to mark their position and 10 coloured counters (preferably, the same colour as their token) to indicate the questions they have answered correctly throughout the game. 
  • Each player should take their token and place it on the starting square. Write down the starting order of the students on the board, like this: blue first, then green, then yellow, and lastly red. To start playing, the teacher rolls the huge die and Blues move their token to the corresponding square.
  • If Blues can talk about the question non-stop for 2 minutes, they earn the right to place one of their blue counters on that square. That square is now officially theirs!
  • If another player lands on a square that is already occupied by a coloured counter, they will have to answer the question, but they will not claim the square.
  • Special squares: squares with icons contain penalties, such as “The player pays light taxes: loses 2 of his coloured counters.” (you can read the penalties in the digital version)
  • The player with the most coloured counters on the board, once all squares are occupied, will win the game.

I hope you enjoy the game!

Flowers by Miley Cyrus in my Class

I can’t. I couldn’t resist the temptation of using this song in class. I know you have heard it everywhere, as it has become a global hit in just a few days. And as it turns out, it is also in my English class.

How can I incorporate the song into my lesson plan in a way that goes beyond just a fill-in-the-blank exercise?  Easy. We are going to do an activity that combines some of my favourite ingredients:

  • A touch of technology
  • A game-like speaking activity
  • Singing? if not singing, lip-syncing.

STEP 1. Before the game: working on form
  • Show students the lyrics with the gaps and ask them to predict the lexical category or part of speech that could fit each of the 10 gaps in the song: 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)

STEP 2:  Defining and Guessing

  • Hide the gapped text. To begin the activity, the text will be hidden from the students’ view.
  • Students will work in pairs. Student A will face the board. Student B will face away and write on his/her notebook numbers 1 -10 (there are 10 gaps/words to be guessed)
  • Tell students you’ll write the missing words on the board in random order, but each of the words will be identified with a number.
  • Write the first of the missing words in the cloze 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 “1. wrote”, Student A might say, “number 1 is a verb in the past, and you use a pen or a pencil to do it”. If Student B guesses the word, he will write in his notebook, next to number 1 wrote. If he cannot guess the word in the allotted time, he will write 1-___.
  • Tell students you’ll write a new word every 30 seconds.
  • Continue in the same way until you have written all the missing words on the board. Remember that the words should be written in random order.

STEP 3:  Fill-in the Gaps Race.

  • Once they have all the words, Students A and B will work together to complete the gapped test.
  • Place a bell on your table. The first pair to complete the task ( i.e. putting the words in the right order to complete the lyrics of the song) rushes to the teacher’s desk. The teacher checks that the exercise is correct and if it is, they ring the bell on your table (well, if you have a bell to ring). From that moment, the rest of the class will have one minute to finish the exercise.

STEP 3:  Singing or lip-syncing

Yes. If some students need a pit of persuading, tell them it is a very good exercise to improve pronunciation.

STEP 4: Conversation questions. We talk a bit now.

  • Can you describe a time when you experienced a heartbreak?
  • How did you cope with the feelings of heartbreak?
  • Have you ever helped a friend through a heartbreak? How did you support them?

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. And here’s my version of this beautiful template created by Görkem Arbak Bilek.

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 in 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 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.