Tag Archives: vocabulary

Oral Exams: Two Activities to Revise all the Topics in a Single Lesson

I know precisely what you are looking for because I guess,  we are all in the same boat: approaching finals, a plethora of topics to revise and juggling work and life. These two activities might come in handy now that you, like me, need to help students  1. revise the vocabulary for all of the topics covered during the course and 2. provide the means to use this vocabulary in spoken interactions or monologues. And this, in a single lesson. Granted it is a two-hour session, but still a feat.

What’s the aim?

  • to develop their communicative skills by asking and answering questions  about different topics
  • to compose a short speech on a topic of choice
  • to revise the specific vocabulary learnt for these topics

ACTIVITY ONE: Throwing the Dice. Revising Vocabulary. Asking the questions.

What you need:

  • slips of paper
  • sticky notes or, alternatively, scraps of paper and cellotape.
  • a dice or a virtual dice (here)

On the walls of the class, put up slips of paper with the various themes you wish to review: work, sports, education, leisure time activities…etc.

Step 1. Revising Vocabulary

  1. Put students into pairs or groups. You’ll need as many pairs/ groups as there are topics you’ll be revising.
  2. Assign each pair/group a topic and ask them to write down all the vocabulary/expressions…etc they have learnt related to their assigned topic. Have them name a secretary who will be in charge of writing the vocabulary on a clean sheet of paper and trying to write in legible handwriting.
  3. Give them some cellotape or blue-tack and instruct them to tape/stick the vocabulary on the wall,  next to the topic they have been assigned.

 

Step 2. Throwing the dice. Writing the questions

1. Assign to each number on the dice a wh-word and write it on the board. For ex:

  1. why
  2. where
  3. when
  4.  what
  5. how
  6. who

2. Now, roll the dice and ask pairs/groups to choose a topic and write a question beginning with the wh ( for example if the number is 4, they will need to write a question beginning with “what”) and related to the topic they have chosen. Make sure pairs/groups choose different topics. Encourage students to write interesting questions or questions that can generate conversation.

Ex: the topic is Crime and the number is 4; the question might be something like :

What are the most common crimes in your town?

3. Once they have written the question, ask them to post it next to the topic the topic it pertains to.

4. Throw the dice again and repeat procedure only, this time, groups must necessarily choose a different topic. Again, make sure all topics are covered. Hopefully, when you roll the dice, it will show a different number. If it is the same number( say number 4 as in the example), throw it again, you want a different Wh- question.

How many questions do I think would be more than enough for each topic? I would suggest 3 questions/topic

Step 3. Gallery Walk

Gallery walk: Once you have at least 2 or 3 questions per topic, ask students to stand up in their groups and stand next to a topic and together read the vocabulary for the topic they will next to it.  Then, have them read the questions and discuss them. Allow about 10 minutes per poster and then ask them to move clockwise to the next topic. Repeat procedure.

ACTIVITY TWO: Tearable topics. Beautiful template

It is not the first time I have used a tearable activity- if I may call it like this-, but it is the first time that I have used Meredithakers’s template. I saw her design and I thought ” I need to use it”. So cute. Have a look at her design here and if you don’t read her, I highly recommend it.

NOTE: This activity follows the first one where students have already had the opportunity to revise vocabulary. If you choose to do only this activity, give students some time to revise the vocabulary they will need to give a great speech.

Before the class: Edit a copy of my/her template and write your own content. My template here

Cut a line between words but don’t cut them all the way so that the slip of paper doesn’t detach. I guess a copy will be enough if you have a class of 24 students or less.

Divide the class into groups of 5-6 people. You can easily create 4 groups of 5-6 people as there are 24 tearable strips of paper. Topics might be repeated, just make sure they are not repeated within the group. In fact, for easier identification, you can divide the class into 4 groups and assign a colour to each group. They can only tear off a topic highlighted in their assigned colour.

Give them about 5 minutes to prepare their monologue encouraging the use of vocabulary and grammar.

Isn’t it a beautiful template? I told you! Thanks @meredith

Lesson Plan: The Hunt for News

It’s been years since  I last discussed the media and its role in our society in my classes. I don’t really think much has changed since the last time I explored this topic in class.

  • I feel we are still being manipulated by the media
  • I still feel we are, in most cases, misinformed
  • I still feel that the press is controlled by the same networks of people that run everything else
  • I still feel the information we receive is biased and based on speculation rather than hard facts.

But this lesson is meant to be focused on the paparazzi and their work chasing celebrities or famous people. We will discuss the very serious damage that the paparazzi and tabloid media can cause when they constantly invade people’s privacy. We will discuss whether the paparazzi are to blame for some unfortunate events and whether stricter laws should be enforced. We will study vocabulary relevant to this topic and read real examples where the right to have a private life will be discussed. Are you ready?

Step 1: a stirrer.
  1. Ask students: Have you ever met someone famous?

Telling an anecdote about yourself never fails to engage students. It’s only fair that if you are asking them to talk about themselves, you do the same.

2. On the board, write the question below and ask students to briefly comment on this.

 Want fame? Kiss your privacy goodbye! 

Step 2 . Introducing vocabulary

Every time I revise or introduce vocabulary in my classes, I make a point of reminding my students that they need to study the vocabulary in chunks. There is no point in studying the verb “apply” if they don’t know the preposition it collocates with.  The next activity is a good one to remind students of this necessity.

  • Give students two minutes to write all the vocabulary they know related to The media.
  • On the board, write a circle with the word The Media inside. Do a mind-map with all the vocabulary students provide.
  • Drill pronunciation and then do a quick translation exercise to consolidate meaning and pronunciation.

Introduce new vocabulary.

  • To follow a lead
  • paparazzo/paparazzi/amateur paps
  • revulsion/respect for their profession
  • a tip-off/to tip off the paparazzi
  • to gather news
  • to spot a celebrity
  • agency/ˈeɪ.dʒən.si/
  • news outlets
  • news coverage
  • exclusive /ɪkˈskluː.sɪv/
  • a major scoop
  • click-bait story
  • photojournalism
  • tabloid journalism and sensasionalism /senˈseɪ.ʃən.əl.ɪ.zəm/
  • to censor/impose strict censorship /ˈsen.sə.ʃɪp/
  • Celebrity scandals
  • sensational news
  • To harass foreign journalists UK /ˈhær.əs/ AmE /həˈræs/
  • to stalk a celebrity /stɔːk/
  • to pursue or chase celebrities /pəˈsjuː/
  • to catch up on the news
  • to leak to the press
  • to tackle misinformation
  • invasion of privacy /ɪnˈveɪ.ʒən/ /ˈprɪv.ə.si/
  • untrustworthy/reliable sources /ʌnˈtrʌstˌwɜː.ði/
  • accuracy of the reports
  • unverified information
  • biased/unbiased
  • to be in the limelight
  • to be highly sought-after /ˈsɔːt ˌɑːf.tər/

You can follow the rest of the lesson plan using the presentation below. I hope you enjoy it!

The Hunt for News

In case you are looking for debatable or persuasive topics about the media, here you have some.

A Vocabulary Bingo Game with a Touch of Tech

Honestly,  not sure if there is anything more fun than turning a classic bingo into a language bingo. Ok, ok, rereading the sentence it is fair to question my fun scale. But I can assure you that it is going to keep your students engaged. That much I can promise.

Playing bingo in my classes is a classic. Not only the usual grid with numbers. The grid can contain pretty much everything and be used to revise almost all skills.

But today, it is going to be a vocabulary bingo with a touch of tech

This activity has two steps:

  1. Building the Word Cloud ( traditionally on the board or, in my case, using the free app Wooclap) https://www.wooclap.com/
  2. Playing Bingo
STEP 1.  Building the wordcloud.

This is a retrieval practice activity where students, using their mobile phones, revise vocabulary taught in previous lessons. In my case, I am teaching The Media and we played bingo with vocabulary from the newspapers and the media.

How to set the activity on Wooclap. Very easy!

  1. Go to Wooclap and register.
  2. Click on Create new event.
  3. Choose WordCloud and click Start Now.
  4. Share the link, the code or the QR Code with your students and Bob’s your uncle.

This video might help you follow these steps

Once the wordcloud is built, revise again pronunciation, form and meaning

And just because I like to play with tools, I have designed my own word cloud on a different tool just because I like the way words are highlighted. Click on the image to see it in action.

Step 2. Playing Bingo

Here we go!!!

One. Have students draw a grid on their notebooks: 3×2 ( 6 words) will work just fine. There should be significantly more words than squares in the bingo card. Ask them to choose any six words from the cloud and fill in the bingo squares.

The idea is to randomly give definitions for the words in the cloud. As students match definitions and words in their bingo, they cross them off. Bingo is shouted when all the squares have been crossed.

Note: Although you might think that everyone knows how to play bingo, trust me when I say several of my students had no idea how to play. So, explain that their goal is to cross all the squares in their grid before anyone else.

Two. How to play

This can be done in two different ways. One requires no preparation, the other one requires a little preparation. If you know me, I am sure you have guessed the one that I favour.

No preparation: randomly define the words in the cloud. I’d suggest keeping a record of the ones you have already done so as not to repeat the same definition twice. It can happen. Trust me.

Preparation: More fun. More drama. More everything.

  1. Write the words in the cloud on small strips of paper.
  2. Search your house for a  suitable bag and put the strips of paper in it. Draw a strip of paper at a time and give a definition for the word. You might need to repeat the definition twice. As students listen to the definition, they have a look at their grids. If they have a word matching the definition, they cross it off. The game continues until someone shouts bingo.
  3. Don’t forget to build suspense. It adds to the game.

A simple but very effective game.

Follow-up: 

  1. Ask a question or several and give students a strip of paper or several. When answering the question, they should try to use the word(s) on their strips.

How do you get the news in your country? Has the way of keeping up to date changed over the years?

Repeat procedure with as many questions as you want students to answer. Ask them to swap their words so that they get new ones.

2. In the next class, I am planning to play bingo again. Same steps but with a twist. This time, the students will draw the slips of paper from the bag and they will be asked to provide the definition.

Inspired by Serena’s blog choice of words.  Here you can revise taking her quiz.

 

 

 

A Short Descriptive Writing Activity with a Touch of Pasta

Hello February! What? Already almost mid-February?

It took me most of the second half of January to assess my students in the five skills required to certify their level but now I welcome February with open arms and with the aim of letting loose a bit and doing activities that are a little bit more fun than assessing students. It shouldn’t be too difficult LOL.

Also, I have to confess, and from what I gathered from their marks in exams,  I might not be doing enough writing. So, I have started February with the aim of planning some time in my classes to give my students some short writing activities.

Here we go with one of them and….. you are going to need PASTA.

  • Topic: Describing scenery
  • Level: C1
  • Skills and subskills: vocabulary and writing
  • Aim:
  • Learning vocabulary
  • Writing a short descriptive paragraph
  • Peer correction
  • Having fun ( I can feel your scepticism right through my computer screen LOL but be assured I will never lie to you)
Introducing Vocabulary

Step 1: Brainstorming

Put students in pairs and ask them to write in 1 minute all the words they can think of related to landscape and scenery.

Get feedback and give enthusiastic applause to the pair who has written the most items. At this point, it does not really matter if the words are below the advanced level. Let them have some fun but, on the board, write only the ones that are a bit more advanced ( for ex: I wouldn’t write the word “tree” but I would write the word “ridge”).

Step 2: Introducing Vocabulary

Hopefully, in the brainstorming activity above, students would have come up with some of the words in this exercise.

  1. Introducing. Do the exercise a couple of times, change templates, and give students the time to write down the words.


2. Clarifying. Some words might cause confusion; these are the ones I have clarified.

Same, Same, But Different Worksheet by cristina.cabal

3. Reinforcing. Silently assign a word to every student in the class and ask them to write a definition for the word and then have them read it aloud for the class to guess.

The Writing Activity

On the board write some verbs they might want to use: scramble down (the cliff), stray from(the path), stick to (the path),  (the road) wind along, ( a road/ridge) lead up or any other you feel they might need.

Step 1: Writing. Individual work

Ask students to choose one of the photos above and write a short descriptive paragraph on a separate piece of paper. Encourage them to use the target vocabulary ( but don’t let them know at this point that they will be rewarded for their choice of words). Allow 12-15 minutes for this task.

Step 1: Peer assessment. Using the pasta as a reward

  1. Once they have all finished writing, ask students to swap descriptions with the student sitting next to them.
  2. Place a bowl of pasta on the table. A bowl for every two students works fine. Say nothing about it. Students will surely ask you but say nothing. Not yet.
  3. Tell students to read their partner’s writing underlining the target words they have used: it could be nouns, adjectives or adverbs.
  4. Tell the students to circle words spelt incorrectly.
  5. How do you use the pasta? The pasta is used as a reward. For every new word used correctly, the student assessing the writing takes a piece of pasta  (misspelt words get no pasta).  With as much drama as possible, perform the award ceremony where students give and receive as many pieces of pasta as words they have used correctly.
  6. Ask the three students who got the most pieces to read out their descriptions.

Science and Research: Vocabulary, Listening and Conversation Questions for C1 students

Back to the grind with an engaging lesson on Science and Research.

  • Topic: Science
  • Level: C1
  • Skill and subskills: Vocabulary, Speaking, listening

Warm-up: Scientists and their discoveries and inventions

1. In pairs: In 1 minute, write as many scientists as you can think of together. Do you recall what they are known for?

2. Whole class. Display the exercise and do it as a whole class.  Students should rank the 3 most important discoveries or inventions in pairs, giving reasons for their choices.

Vocabulary. The words you need.
    • a major breakthrough in the fight against
    • to address the underlying cause of autism
    • to extract DNA from
    • to undertake/carry out a survey
    • to test animals in labs
    • to do experiments on sheep
    • the experiment was flawed
    • to do /carry out research
    • the findings show/ the findings highlight the importance…
    • to pave the way for …
    • lack of funding / get funding
    • genetic disorders
    • genetic engineering
    • gene manipulation
    • to invest in space studies
    • cutting-edge technology
    • to benefit or to harm people
    • to be more prevalent than
    • to clone
    • to devise a way to …
    • to carry out examinations
    • to successfully transplant
    • scientific theories 
    • to provide conclusive evidence
    • to be sceptical (UK)/skeptical (US) about…
    • to have growing concerns about
    • to go beyond the edge of ethics
    • a drugs trial
    • unethical research

Listening:Many Clinics Use Genetic Diagnosis to Choose Sex

Step 1. Pre-Listening:

Read the beginning of the news and ask students to discuss what the news is about

Prenatal genetic testing: A growing number of doctors are pushing the ethical limits of the procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

Some say doctors are going beyond the edge of ethics. Some doctors analyze an embryo’s DNA so parents…

Step 2. Listening Comprension.

TRUE or FALSE?

  1. There is not a 100%  guarantee of success when choosing the sex of your baby.
  2. The American Society of Reproduction Medicine approves of this technique.
  3. The Indian couple is afraid of stigmatization.
  4. In Indian culture, having girls is less desirable than having boys.
  5. According to Dr Potter, the desired sex in most cases is male.

Source and transcript: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6654619&t=1641299618264

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.