Tag Archives: students

Teaching Students the Technique to Ace a Cloze Listening Exercise

Engaging, challenging and highly effective activity to teach students how to do a  Listening Cloze Exercise! This is a must-do activity to help students learn the technique for a fill-in-the-blanks exercise.

If I have to name the activity most of my older students find highly frustrating, it is probably doing a listening comprehension activity and not being able to understand anything. At least, that’s what they tell me. I suspect they are stretching it a tiny bit and they have managed to get the gist of what is being said but, already in a black mood when the audio finishes, they just feel they will never get better. The truth is that getting the gist is not enough when you are unable to answer the questions posed, especially when tested in an exam. That, we both know.

Though I always tell them that they need to work on this and promise that if they make a habit out of listening every single day, they will eventually get it and blah, blah, blah…, the truth is that we, as teachers, also need to find the time to explain how to do this kind of listening exercises.  Because although it doesn’t work magic, there is a technique… and it can help them.

It seems to me the beginning of a course is the right time to do it and so, this past week,  I set out to explain this technique.

But, you know me. With a game. Playing.

Step 1- Choose a Cloze Listening Exercise.

Step 2: Form Groups

Give all students the exercise on paper and ask them to form groups of 3ish people.

Step 3. Explain the Task

Explain that prediction in this kind of listening exercises is key. Stress the importance of trying to predict two things:

  1. The grammatical category of the word(s) that will fit in the gap: is it a noun, a verb…etc?
  2. The challenging part: ask students in their groups to try to guess the word (s) that they think will fill the gap. Ask students to name a secretary in the group that will be in charge of writing down their guesses.

For example in Number 1, one group might write “their teachers” but another group might decide “parents”  is the best option.

Give students some individual time to read the text and start thinking about the options. Then ask them to join their groups and decide on one option for each gap.

Step 4. The Whiteboard

Divide the whiteboard in as many columns as groups- see the picture- and ask the secretaries of each group to come up to the whiteboard and write their options. Comment on any coincidences to build suspense- in the picture, have a look at question Nº 2, they all wrote “culture”-.  Remember you are teaching them the technique, but it is also a game.

Step 5: the Listening

Play the audio (2 or 3 times). At this point, ask students to focus on their exercises and forget about their guesses.

Step 6: The Winners

Correct the listening exercise. Write the correct answers on the board and give 1 point for every coincidence. You know who the winner is, don’t you?

Note: In one class, one group got as many as 4 correct answers without even listening to the audio. Amazing, isn’t it?

Do you want to try? Follow all the steps and then listen to the audio. Check. How many wild guesses did you get right? Surely, you can’t expect to wild guess the exact number for gaps 3,5 and 6 but you know that it is a number and that, is saying a lot. Answers here. 

 

 

Brainstorming, Introducing and Revising Vocabulary Related to Work for C1 Students

Undeniable. This course is proving to be quite challenging. Having your students sitting in rows, stuck on their seats and only being able to talk to the person on their right or on their left has me racking my brains trying to find attractive alternatives to some of the successful dynamics I used in the past.

With teaching online on the rise, more than ever I have been juggling different tools to make sure the work my students do at home is relevant, effective and motivating. I think Genial.ly, the tool I have used in this lesson, is a must-have in any teachers’ toolbox.

In this lesson, you will find:

  • Activating prior knowledge:  handout
  • Introducing new vocabulary: handout
  • Speaking activity
  • Engaging game to revise Vocabulary

Step 1. Activating Students’ Prior Knowledge. Brainstorming

Before introducing new vocabulary, it is crucial to help them activate prior knowledge so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by how much they need to learn. Learning expands gradually from previous knowledge and we cannot and should not neglect this important step.

To brainstorm vocabulary, I gave them 2 minutes to write down on their notebooks, words or expressions related to “work”. On the board, I wrote Work and then wrote their suggestions, exemplifying, clarifying and drilling pronunciation.

When appropriate and relevant, I also started introducing new terms, like the minimum wage as represented in the picture below.   Some  other vocabulary they came up with is here

Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary

PDF here

Individual Work: I gave them this photocopy and a couple of minutes to underline any new words/expressions.

Whole class: Then,  I instructed them to ask the question. Does anyone know what the meaning of…. is?  Only when no one in the class could come up with a clear explanation, did I offer it.  Until then, it is all about asking students to tap into their previous knowledge.

Step 3: Firts attempt at introducing some new vocabulary in a speaking activity

I divided the class into As and Bs and asked As to choose three new words they wanted to use in their speech. I wrote them on the board under the headings A’s words/ B’s words.

I gave As this statement to discuss: Unpaid internships should be banned and I gave B’s Retirement age: higher or lower? I let them have some thinking time and asked them to do the speaking task.

Step 4: Revising Vocabulary with a Game

This proved to be an engaging game to revise vocabulary. You will find the instructions in the second slide, but watch the video with my students doing the activity if you want a sneak peek of how much fun we had.

And here’s the game. I have made the template editable in case you want to add your own pictures. To reveal the hidden word, you’ll need to hover the mouse pointer over the picture.

Guess my Age: a Fun Game to Practise Modal Verbs of Possibility and Certainty

Have you ever seen the contest  “El Concurso del Año” on TV? It is on Channel 4. I had never seen it before and I don’t think I am going to see it again any time soon. I found it incredibly boring and uninteresting. But dull as it was, I realized it had great potential to teach modal verbs. Yep. That sad! I am watching TV and  I can only think of teaching. So guess what, I am about to make this contest your new favourite thing to teach modals of possibility and certainty.

  • Now, what is the goal of the game? to guess the exact age of 6 celebrities. 
  • What’s the target language?  modal verbs of certainty and possibility in both their simple and perfect forms.
  • What skills are we working with? speaking and writing.

Materials: you will need blank slips of  paper  (a good opportunity to recycle the back of some old photocopies)

These are the basic rules of the game, which I have slightly modified to meet my students’ needs but hey, the ingredients in this game are just really appealing: celebrities, music, interaction, fun, new technologies…etc and lots of learning.

  1. The class is divided into teams. The aim of the game is to find out the exact age of some famous people while using the target language. In this case, modal verbs.
  2. Teams will be offered a clue to help them guess the exact age.

There are 3 types of clues:

  • the SONG ( one song released on the year of birth of the famous person)
  • the EVENT (an important event of the year the celebrity was born)
  • the CELEBRITY ( another famous person born in the same year)

To see how to play, and to play this fun game, open the interactive presentation below.

Personal experience: students really enjoyed the game and in their excitement, they tended to say just the age or slip into Spanish. Remind them to use the target modal verbs and English.

Note: To enlarge this beautiful interactive presentation created with Genial.ly, click on 3 dots and then on the arrows.

Create your Own Board Game to Practise Speaking and Activate Vocabulary

It is true that there is so much material out there for our English classes that most of the times, we just need to type some keywords on the internet and voîla, we have it. But, think about it, has it ever happened to you to come across some great material but not just exactly what you are looking for?  To me. All the time. And that’s probably why I am always on the lookout for new sites to help me create my own content.

This happened to me last week. I wanted to give my students a board game with conversation questions about sports and at the same time, use a little game to activate the vocabulary we had been studying.  I was lucky, from my files, I rescued an old board game that I had used a long time ago. But although it served the purpose, I was not entirely happy and therefore I set out to trawl the internet looking for an editable board game where I could write the questions I wanted my students to discuss.

And as Jeremiah the prophet said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Well, I must have put all my heart into it ‘cause I found it. The design is not perfect but hey! it’s free. 

 Tools for educators is a nice little site which offers online editable templates. You just choose the template and write your own content. 

In my case, I have used the board game, but you can explore the other templates it offers. I am dying to try the dice generator. I don’t know how I am going to use it yet, but use it I know I will. 

So, this is what it looks like. You will need to fill in the 21 squares. If you don’t, it will still print the board but with some blank squares. Options when you have run out of questions?  Move ahead one space, move back two spaces… Once you have written your content, just print it.

Activating vocabulary

This is a great way to review any subject that needs a little jazzing up

  • Give students 5 pieces of paper. I normally reuse discarded printed with a blank side, which I cut into approx 10×5 cm pieces.
  • Instruct them to write on each piece a word or expression they have learnt about, in this case, sports. Ex: face danger, overcome your fears, adventurous. I encourage them to write not just the word but also the collocation as we have learned it.
  • Ask students to form groups of three or four people.
  • Ask them to put together all their cards, shuffle them a bit and place them face down in the middle
  • Give students counters and a die. The youngest in the group starts playing and then players will continue playing clockwise.
  • When Player A lands on a square, he reads the question and then picks up a card containing an expression which he will have to use when answering the question. They will have one minute to answer the question. If they manage to squeeze the expression, they can keep the card. If not, the card is returned to the pile.

Enjoy teaching! Enjoy learning!

Messy Words: a Vocabulary, Writing and Speaking Activity

It is October and autumn has officially hit. I am just beginning to come to terms with the fact that days are getting shorter and warm days are saying their goodbyes. Well, welcome autumn! I am all here for you!

Let’s kick it off this new season with a vocabulary revision activity that aims at reinforcing vocabulary while at the same time providing an opportunity for students to stretch their legs and interact with other students in the classroom. Gallery-walks, my favourite!

Aim: 

  • to reinforce the vocabulary of the lesson
  •  Use the vocabulary in context by
  1. writing an open-ended question containing the target word/expression
  2. answering the question by using the gallery-walk class dynamics

Procedure:

Before the class

  • Choose a few words you want to revise. I suggest 8-10 words. 
  • Fold a regular sheet of paper horizontally and cut it in half. You will get two slips of paper. This is a good opportunity to recycle the back of spare photocopies from other courses.
  • Write the letters of each word/expression you want to revise in random order. Number each of the slips of paper for easier reference.

During the class:

Step 1. Slips of paper on the walls

Put up the slips of paper on the walls of the class and ask students in pairs or in threes to stand up and work out what the hidden word on each slip of paper is. Ask them to number them as displayed on the walls. The first pair to have all the words, rings the bell (needless to say, there should be one on my table) and the rest of the class has one extra minute to finish this part.

Ask students to sit down.

Step 2. Writing open-ended questions

  • Students continue working in their pairs. Assign the pairs two of the words/expressions on the walls and ask them to write two open-ended questions –one per term related to “education” (this is the topic this week) containing the word or expression. 

For example, one of the words was “state-funded school” and one of the questions was “Would you send your children to a state-funded school? Why (not)?”

  • Give them small cards to write their questions and, using sellotape, place them next to the term the question refers to.  Ask them to write their names at the back of the card so that you know who has written the question and to give feedback.
  • Quickly correct the questions on the walls, and if there is more than one per word, choose the best one, which will remain displayed together with the slip containing the word in random order. Give the discarded questions back to their owners and allow them some time to focus on their possible mistakes.

Step 3. Speaking. Gallery walks

With the words and the questions displayed on the walls, ask students in pairs to stand up and choose a station (slip+card).

Instruct them to answer the question elaborating on the answer. Allow 5 minutes/station and then ask them to move clockwise to the next station. Repeat procedure.

Until next post! 🙂