Have you heard of Canva? I am sure you have. Canva is free but, did you know that as a teacher, you have access to all premium features? If you haven’t applied yet, you can do it here. We will need the premium account for what I am about to explain here.
You and your students love role-plays. It allows them to practise specific vocabulary, work collaboratively, improve their pronunciation and their social skills. There are so many possibilities: job interviews, presenting the news, ordering food at a restaurant, buying a house, …etc.
They are working so hard and doing so well that you’d like to record their performances. But… the background for their videos is always the same… the walls of the classroom. And… you don’t have the money or the expertise to set up a green screen, the famous chroma key.
What if I told you that there is an easy way to change the background in their videos without placing a green screen behind the students, i.e., without having to set up a chroma key?
Here’s how to do it
Let’s assume you have already recorded your students’ performances.
Go to canva.com and click Create a Design. Choose Video.
Choose a background or upload one.
Upload your students’ video
Remove the video background
Not clear enough? I have also recorded this step-by-step video (2:37)
Step 3. Now, on the board, write the question: “ Is it ethical to choose the sex of your baby?” and ask students to, individually, list some reasons to defend their position. Put them in pairs to discuss their opinions and then do a whole-class debate.
Note: You will also find this question (slightly modified) in the exercise below.
Speaking: Activating vocabulary
Display the first question and have students, as a whole class, come up with the word that best fits in the gap.
To activate the vocabulary above, ask students to choose 3 words or expressions from the list. Write them on the board and encourage students to use this vocabulary when answering the question in pairs. Repeat procedure for question Number 2.
This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. Some people collect coins or postcards and I… I collect digital tools. 🙄 Well, I also like watching tutorials. OMG! Come to think of it, do I qualify as a freak? The irony is that though I use tools to curate and organize my findings: Pinterest, Sites, Wakelet, Pearltress… you name it, the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.
And, much to my chagrin, it appears that I have been adding tools to this list in a fairly haphazard manner with the result that I have so many of them that I’ve opted to include just a few and may create a Part 2 if you find this post useful.
What is mind-blowing about them is that:
They are free
They are online
You don’t need to register
I have tried to organize them into categories and add a bit of everything. For better or for worse, some of them are multifunctional and don’t fall into just one category.
Removing a person/object from a picture. You needCleanup Pictures: Upload the photo, choose the brush size, paint the area you want to remove and download your new photo. In some cases, you might need to paint the area twice. The 0:20 video below shows how to do it.
Removing the background of an image. Go to Remove.bg. As easy as choosing the photo and uploading it. You don’t even have to click any buttons.
StorySet is an amazing site for your projects. Choose an illustration and now…
change the colour of the illustration
animate one or all the elements in the illustration
download it as a GIF or MP4
TypeStudio is just awesome. It is a new approach to editing a video, text-based. That means you edit your video by just editing the transcribed text. You can also add subtitles automatically, turn the video into a blog article and everything runs online in your browser. How to go about it:
upload the video
the screen will be split into two parts. On the left, you will see the transcript for the video and on the right, your video.
Now, you will be able to edit the transcript by deleting a word or words from the video. It is like magic! Imagine the possibilities for language learning.
Removing or changing the background from a video clip. Go to Unscreen.com. The 0:40 video below shows how to do it.
Facebook is blocked in your school? Then, you need Snapsave. Just copy the link of a video that you wish to download, then paste the link in SnapSave and select the video quality that you want to download.
Automatically or manually adding subtitles to a video, go to Veed. Veed is a free editing video tool with lots of possibilities.
Downloading the audio from a Youtube Video, go to YT5s and paste the link. Downside: it has some annoying ads and you will probably need to close some pop-ups and probably a window. Other than that 😉 it works fine
Free downloadable video clips, sound effects and images for your projects on MixKit
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.
Activities: Speaking, Listening, Mediation, Vocabulary. Board Game
PDF ( available at the end of the post) 🙂
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?
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.
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.
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.
low -income households
overburdened with housing costs
to make a down payment
to evict /eviction
rising home prices
overcrowding and under occupations
real state bubble
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…
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 “old-fashioned sense of neighbourhood” 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.
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.
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?
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,
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.
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.
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/.
Once you have the videos, you need to upload them to, for example, Google Drive.
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!! 🙄
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!!