Tag Archives: video

Learning Languages: my Fave Videos to Spark Discussion

Hello March!

Kicking off the month with one of my favourite topics of conversation: languages learning. This is a lesson I feel I could entirely teach based on videos from the internet and conversation questions.

I always like to introduce a new topic with some visual aid that either sparks discussion or puts a smile on my students’ faces. This time, I might have gone too far and used not one but four videos. Ohh, but they are so good!

These are the videos I have been using over the years and that have never failed me!

TO PUT A SMILE ON THEIR FACES

I normally play this video at the very beginning of the lesson and ask them to guess our next topic.  Believe it or not, although I have seen it a thousand times, I still laugh my head off.

Useful Vocabulary:

  • translator, interpreter, to translate from Spanish into English, native speaker,  to be fluent, to speak a language fluently, to be proficient in (English); to speak like a native speaker, to be bilingual, lingua franca.

Discussion Questions

  • How many languages do you speak?
  • What is the most difficult language to learn in your opinion?
  • Have you ever tried to learn a language and given up because it was very difficult?
  • Do you think that in the future there will be just one language in the world?
  • Nowadays English is the lingua franca; do you think this is going to change any time soon?
TO BOOST THEIR MOTIVATION

Before playing the video, ask students:

Why are you learning English?

Useful Vocabulary:

to do a course, have a chat, standard English, slang, take a message,  widely spoken, mother tongue, make mistakes, pronunciation issues, to make an effort, to sign up for a course, to learn a language online, a complete beginner.

Discussion Questions

  1. How old were you when you started learning English? Do you think it is a good age?
  2. What motivated you to start learning English?
  3. What are the advantages of learning a foreign language?
  4. Are there any similarities between English and Spanish? Does Spanish have many loan words from English?
  5. When you are speaking in English, do you try to be accurate or do you just talk and not worry about making mistakes? Which way do you think is better?
TO HELP THEM GET BETTER AT ENGLISH

 

Useful Vocabulary:  to switch between two languages, to put into practice, to feel frustrated,   a conversation partner, to memorize vocabulary, to improve your grammar, speaking skills, to have a good range of vocabulary.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think it is possible for a non-native speaker to speak the language like a native?
  • What do you find most difficult to learn in English?  Why do you think is that?
  • What is the best way to speak a language?
  • What do you do on your own to improve your English?
  • What techniques do you use to learn new vocabulary?
TO SPARK DISCUSSION

 

Useful Vocabulary:

translator, interpreter,  context, translation fails, to come in handy, accurate translation,  basic conversation, translation app, a translation device.

Controversial Statements

On the board, write these two statements and ask students to choose the one they agree with.  Form two groups depending on their choice. Allow them to discuss their reasons to support the statement and then pair up students from different groups to try to convince each other to change sides.

The statements:

  • There is no point in learning a foreign language when Google Translator can do it for you”
  • “Translation technology is good but should not replace learning languages”

You,  as a teacher,  want to agree with the second statement. Here are some reasons against the use of translation apps and in support of the second statement  I have found to convince my students to keep on learning English. Do you think I’ll manage to convince them? Translation apps:

  • They cannot understand context or  translate pronouns correctly
  • Cultural references are lost
  • They don’t produce high-quality translations
  • Accuracy depends on your accent  or on background noise
  • You cannot use it for long  and involved conversations
  • It is not good at recognising proper names and names of cities
  • Your data is not safe

Do you Have One Minute? Four sites to Learn English in One Minute

Do you have a minute? This is all you need for these four highly recommended sites I am going to share with you today.

1. English in a Minute 

If you have never watched English in a Minute, I think it’s time!

Centered on confusing vocabulary or grammar points, this ever-growing collection of video clips has been nominated for the ELTons Awards (English Language Teaching Innovation Awards given annually by the British Council)

Why do I recommend these short videos?

  • They focus on real confusing terms.
  • They are clear, short ( 1 minute) and to the point.
  • Transcript for every video is available, so you can also practise pronunciation if you decide to read along.
  • Most of them have a grammar reference
  • Most of them have  a quiz to test your knowledge

Here you can learn about the difference between:

  • Story and History
  • Stop to do and stop doing
  • Person and people

Click on the picture or here

2. BBC News in One-Minute.

Targeting more advanced students, here you can watch the latest news summary from BBC World News updated 24 hours a day. In one minute. As promised.

Click on the picture or here

One-Minute English

Hugh Dellar from Lexical lab is the star in these videos. I love his videos because they teach you real English, the English you might not find in dictionaries but which is essential if you want to understand native speakers. The videos are easy to follow as he speaks slowly and repeats the target word or chunk several times during the recording.

For example: Do you know what the words “sarnie” or “samey” mean?

Click on the picture or here

English in a minute 

And finally, this is another worth-sharing site. If the site above featured British English, this one run by VOA Learning English (Voice of America) explains expressions used in American English although, in most cases obviously, the expressions on the videos are used both in British and in American English.

Again, click on the picture or here

So, here you are, four awesome sites to learn something every day! Enjoy English! Enjoy learning!

Lesson Plan: Crime and Punishment

Yay! It’s March! One of my fav seasons! I’m basically ticking off the days in my calendar until March 31 when we turn the clocks ahead and get more hours of daylight. In case you haven’t figured yet, I’m a sucker for bright sunny days.

This lesson plan about Crime and Punishment has been on my to-make list for a long time. And since I’m also ticking off the days before finals, I have decided to finally write it.  “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today” or so they say.

This lesson plan is intended to fill a four-hour lesson or maybe a bit more. My classes are 110 minutes long so my intention is to dedicate two classes to talking about this topic. You can skip some of the tasks – don’t you dare!- if you don’t want to spend four hours talking about crime and punishment.

Day 1

Day One is a bit more boring than Day 2. Be warned!

Step 1: Lead-in.

1. Revising vocabulary. At this level, students know some common vocabulary related to crime and it’s always a good idea to tap into students’ prior knowledge. You want them to feel they are learning, but you probably don’t want them to feel overwhelmed by the amount of vocabulary they have to study.

Write Crime on the board and ask students in pairs to write down as many different crimes as they can think of.

Ask for feedback and write them on the board. It might be a good idea to introduce at this point the names for the criminals and the action verbs for each crime.

Example: they write kidnapping, and they also get kidnapper and to kidnap

2. Speaking: Point to some of the crimes on the board and ask simple questions such as

Do you know anyone who has been burgled/ mugged/kidnapped/ stopped by the police while drunk-driving? What happened?

Step 2: Introducing New Vocabulary.

1. A Game with FlipCards. As I wrote in another post, Quizlet and I have made up, it’s not that we had fallen out, it’s just that I found other flip card apps more visually appealing.  I still think they could update their app but the truth is that now I find myself using Quizlet more and more often. I am planning to use Quizlet in two ways. The one below- Flashcards mode-on Day 1 and Quizlet Live on Day 2 ( I warned you, Day 2 is more fun!)

Procedure: Divide the class into Team A and Team B.  They should name a spokesperson for each team. Flip a virtual coin to decide who starts the game. Let’s say Team A starts the game. Display the first definition and ask Team A to guess the crime. Allow a maximum of 10 seconds and ask the spokesperson to tell you the crime. They can continue playing until they make a mistake or cannot come up with the crime matching the definition. At this point,  the turn goes to Team B who can try to guess the crime.  If they can’t, they will still continue trying to guess crimes until again they make a mistake or cannot provide the crime for the definition on display. Every correct guess scores 1 point. It goes without saying the winner is the team who has scored the most points.

The idea is to facilitate learning, so after the game do the exercise again with the whole class, this time trying to focus only on the pictures and quickly saying the crime. A third time at the end of the class? Why not!

Introduce the term “white-collar crimes”  also called “corporate crime”. Explain that white-collar crimes are those financially motivated, nonviolent crimes committed by business and government professionals. Ask students to name some white-collar crimes and ask:

Do you think white-collar criminals should do time in jail?

Want to go the extra mile? For a more extensive list, click here

2. Vocabulary related to Crime and Punishment.

We have the crimes and the criminals. Now, what else? To talk about crimes and punishment we need vocabulary. Find the PDF here

3. Confusing words: steal, rob and burgle

This post about the difference between these three verbs published some time ago, comes in handy. Check it out

Step 3: Speaking. 

Time: 2 minutes per question

Ask students to work in groups of three.  Name them Student A, B and C. Give each of them a scrap of paper and ask them to write 4 words they remember related to crimes. Display the first question from the presentation below and ask student As in the group to answer the question trying to use the words in their scraps of paper.  Display the second question and ask student Bs to do the same. Repeat procedure for student Cs.

Ask students to swap scraps of paper within the members of their group and then ask all the student As in the groups to move to another group. Repeat the procedure above.

Note: Ask students to keep their scraps of paper as they will be used on Day 2.

Step 4: Listening and Speaking. Note-taking

Play the following videos. The task for each of them is the same.

  • Ask students to take notes and summarize the information
  • Ask: Does the punishment fit the crime?

Five teens charged for murder for throwing rocks

Animal abuse

Drunk driving

I know, I know... I said  two hours... maybe a bit more :)

Day 2

Day 2 is all about reinforcing vocabulary, playing and speaking. Check it out!

Continue reading Lesson Plan: Crime and Punishment

A Word On Grammar: Would Rather

I love grammar, don’t you? But I’m not going to lie, sometimes I struggle with making grammar interesting. A lot of times it’s just plain boring grammar. However, when I am feeling inspired, using technology can change everything. Technology is great at showing content, you just need to grab the content from your course book and combine different tools to make a great lesson.

Step 1. The boring part. Teaching grammar.

I am not going to give you the spiel about how important grammar is. I guess if you are reading this blog, it’s because we are all on the same page here.

Feeling lazy myself today, I am going to give my students the grammar from this website: Cambridge English Dictionary. Who would know better?

Step 2.  Revising grammar with an animated video.

I am going to use the first 0:50 seconds and save the grammar for prefer and would prefer for a better occasion. You might need to play twice. The second time, I normally pause the video and ask students to give me their own sentences.

 

Step 3: The exercises.

This is a challenging exercise as all the sentences are different exemplifying different structures with would rather.

How to do it, or rather, how I do it:

  1. First time: I display the sentence and ask students to write down their answers. Allow about 1 minute for this task and then ask students to give you the answer, flip the card and correct.                                                                                                                                  Note: some students will prefer to do the exercise orally and you’ll see a bunch of them staring at the screen waiting for you to ask for the right answer. It’s important to insist that, in this part, they’ll need to write their answers down as it is the first time they will see a variety of different examples of the use of would rather and it might be challenging.
  2. Second time:  Class as a whole. Orally do the exercise.
  3. Third time: at the end of the class or maybe the next day, I do it again, asking individual students to provide the correct answer.

I have used Quizlet to create the study set and I have shared the link with my students so that they can revise at home.

Flip the card to see the answer.


Note: there is nothing like technology to revise again and again without students getting bored. You just need to change the approach.

Step 4: Speaking. Digital Gallery Walk

An engaging activity using a more engaging tool to present it. Ask students to stand up- remember this is a gallery walk- and choose a partner to talk about the first question. Ask them to stop, find a new partner and display question number 2. Allow 3 or 4 minutes per question and encourage students to use the target grammar in their answers.

If you want more oral practice, you’ll find lots of would you rather questions here. Some of them really give me the creeps and would rather not use them. But this is up to you!   🙂Powered by emaze

 

Top 3 Amazing Video Lesson Websites with Downloadable Worksheets

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel up to creating material from scratch for my classes. The reasons vary from feeling too tired to even open my laptop to an absolute lack of inspiration.
Thank goodness, there are always people out there making our lives as teachers so much easier and generously giving away their work for free. Just for the taking.
In this post, I want to share with you three of my favourite sites for working with video clips and I also want, and need, to thank the people behind these three awesome sites that not only handpick the best video clips and sort them out according to level and topic, but also offer free worksheets that make my life as a teacher so much simpler.

These three are keepers. Don’t forget to bookmark them.

 

ESL Brains

Owned by a couple of teachers from Poland, this amazing website offers video-based lessons for level B1, B2 and C1 for free. Right now, they are looking for financial help and offer extra material if you support them by becoming a “patron”.
For my next lesson on Housing with B2 students, I am going to use this video lesson, which comes complete with the downloadable student’s version, teacher’s version and even an extra warm-up exercise.

TedEd

It’s not the first time I have written about TedEd, owned by the popular platform TED.

TedEd is a collection of original animated videos lessons. You can choose by subject and view the video in class or assign it as homework. Every video is accompanied by a lesson with multiple choice questions that check your general comprehension. If your answers are wrong, you can always check with the video hint. There is also a Think section with questions that further explore the topic.

For teachers, one of the most powerful features is the Customize your Lesson area, where you can customize the lesson by editing the title, giving your own instructions, selecting or deselecting multiple choice questions…etc.

This is a lesson I have customized for my students. I have used the video clip Questions No One Knows the Answer To to give my students some practice using Reported Speech Questions. You can see my lesson here

Lessonstream

Last, but not least, is the fabulous site Jamie Keddie owns and runs with an amazing collection of video activities. On this website, you can choose by level, topic, time and many other options which help the teacher or the student find the perfect lesson in two shakes.

A downloadable worksheet is offered with every lesson. Again, for free.