Tag Archives: writing

Revising and Consolidating Vocabulary: No-Prep Fun Strategies

Before we dive into the content of the post today, I’d like for you to know a surprising fact about me. I love traditional teaching. Yes, chalk and board. I say “surprising” because if you have been reading this blog for a while, you will have probably noticed how often I incorporate technology in my lessons. True. I love surprising my students with a new idea to revise, learn or consolidate learning using a digital tool, but I absolutely also adore surprising them with an exercise where the only help is their mind, their classmates and occasionally their teacher.

If I combine both traditional and digital learning, then it’s just my dream lesson. And this is what you’ll find on this post, the traditional Cristina and an updated version of myself. Which one do I love best? That, I still need to decide.

B2 students revising vocabulary

  • Aim: revise and consolidate vocabulary in a communicative way.
  • Levels. B1 upwards

Although the ideas below work better for a topic-based lesson- in my case it was used to revise food-related terms-, I think it might also work to revise random vocabulary as long as you specify which vocabulary you want to revise.

Step 1: Standing Up 

That’s probably one of my favourite ways to revise the vocabulary learnt the previous days.  My students already know me, so when I say: “please, stand up”, they already know what is coming and automatically, it brings a smile to their faces.

Instructions: students need to come up with a food-related term from the ones studied in the unit. They take it turns to say their word and I repeat it loud enough for all the class to hear it. This also gives me a good chance to repeat the word that might have been occasionally mispronounced.

A student sits down, ie. is eliminated,  if…

  • he cannot come up with a word
  • if another student has already said the word
  • if he cannot come up with a word in 10 seconds.

Big applause for the last person to remain standing and one of the sweets I keep in my candy box.

Step 2: Using Slips of Paper. Moving around the class.

Once terms and pronunciation have been revised, it’s time to work on meaning.

  1. Give students a slip of paper. I use old photocopies printed only on one side and cut them lengthwise. You should get two slips of paper per copy.
  2. Ask them to write two terms they would like to revise. Encourage them to write big enough to see the words from a distance (Note: this is unnecessary but I find the bigger their letters are, the easier it is to understand their handwriting). Once they have done so, ask them to make sure they know how to define them. Also, help with pronunciation.
  3. Ask students to stand up. The desks in my class form a U so I tell them to move to the centre of the class. Students choose a partner and they take it turns to define their words for the other student to guess/revise. Before they move on to find a new partner, they swap cards. This is a very important step as once they swap, they will need to define/revise other words.

After 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the number of students, students sit down, Ask them to keep the last slip of paper they have defined.

Step 3:  Asking Open-Ended questions. 

Now, this is the part where I use technology and one of my favourite tools to get feedback. But, let’s go step by step.

a. Writing the questions

Students sit down. Ask them to write down an open-ended question using one of the words on their slip of paper. Tell them some of the questions will be chosen to do a speaking activity. Encourage them to write questions related to the topic, in my case food.

Questions are difficult in English so walk around the room helping students.

b. Using  Mentimeter.com to get feedback

As I mentioned above, this tool is one of my favourites to get feedback.

It takes less than 30 seconds to set up the task.

  • Go to mentimeter.com
  • Choose the open-ended slide
  • Click on Present and  display the slide with the OHP
  • Ask students to take out their mobiles and go to menti.com
  • Give them the code
  • Ask them to write their questions and submit them

Once their questions are displayed, correct possible grammar mistakes and choose 6 or 8  to be discussed in pairs or in groups of 3.

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson.

Teach and have fun!

Lesson Plan: Save Mother Earth

Hey! How’s the new year treating you?

Question for you. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Or let me rephrase it, have you announced to friends and family that you are finally going to hit the gym, eat fewer carbs and give up smoking? Have you? Sorry to be the party pooper here. Statistics say that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. I am definitely part of the 92%. What about you?

However, I have made a New Year’s resolution. It’s the same I made last year. I am going to try to reuse single-use disposable plastic bags when I do my daily shopping. Last year,  I even went as far as putting a bunch of these bags in the boot of my car. There they are. Exactly in the same place. This year I am going to try again. I am really going to try. It’s not that I don’t want to. I really want to do my part. It’s just that I forget. So, I am considering moving the bags to the front seat. It might work. What do you think?

That’s what I’m eco-guilty of. What about you? What is your darkest eco-sin?

The lesson today is aimed at students with a language level of B2  (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to the environment and environmental issues through a variety of engaging activities which will help them learn vocabulary and  improve listening, speaking and writing.

Introducing the Topic: Playing Hangman. Vocabulary and Speaking

Aim: Introduce some common vocabulary and to work on pronunciation.

On the board, write the word “Environment” and drill pronunciation.

Divide the class into two or three groups, depending on the number of students in your class.

  • Team A starts saying one letter. Whether they guess right or wrong, the turn goes now to Team B who will say another letter.
  • To try to guess the hidden word, a member of the team will need to stand up and say. “We know!”. If they guess right, they score 1 point. If they don’t, the other team can say up to two letters before anybody tries to guess again.
  • Note: they can only attempt to guess the word once half the letters have been guessed. For this, before each game, you will have to count the number of gaps. For example, if the word contains 8 letters, they can only guess when 4 letters have been filled.

There are four words and expressions to be learnt or revised with this exercise. After they have guessed the words, ask them a question where the target word is used in context. You might need to introduce some new vocabulary at this stage.

  1. Environment: What do you do to help the environment?
  2. Global warming: How do you feel when you hear about global warming?
  3. Recycle: Do you recycle? What kind of things do you recycle?
  4. Renewable energies: Do you know what renewable energies are? Do you use any of them? Why? Why not?
Leaning Vocabulary
  • Drill pronunciation as you teach the words and then flip the cards to see how they are used in context. Do this exercise twice.
  • Reinforcement: there are 24 terms here. Ask students in pairs to write in two minutes as many as they can remember.

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Listening. School Strike for Climate Change

In this inspiring thought-provoking talk, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses the world leaders demanding they act against climate change.

Ask students to take down notes from Greta’s talk and then in pairs talk about the most important ideas in her speech.

Encourage the use of vocabulary.

Three Speaking  Activities
  1. Gallery Walk. Thought-provoking Posters with a Humorous Twist. Giving a Monologue.

Posters here

  • Put the posters containing environmental issues up on the walls of the class.
  • Ask students to stand up, tour the gallery and choose a poster they would like to talk about for about 4 minutes.
  • Ask students to stand next to the poster they would like to talk about.
  • Arrange students in groups of three, being careful to mix students doing different posters.
  • Ask students to sit down and give them 3 minutes to prepare their speeches. Encourage the use of specific vocabulary.
  • Students, in their groups, gallery walk stopping next to the posters they have chosen and delivering their speeches.

 

2. Speaking: Pictures with prompts. Monologues.

Pair students up. Give each of them a speaking task. Allow them 2 minutes to prepare their monologue and ask them to speak for about four minutes.

Student A

Student B

Oral and Written Mediation

Oral Mediation

PDF 1  PDF 2

Context: A friend of yours from New Zealand, who until two weeks ago lived for 20 years in a monastery in Bhutan, has decided to pay you a visit. He doesn’t speak the language and besides, knows nothing of the real world we live in.

Student A. He shows you this infographic but needs help to understand it.  Choose two or three ideas and explain what they mean.

Student B. He sees this cartoon in a newspaper and doesn’t understand it. Explain it to him.

Written Mediation

See the Task  here

Hope you have enjoyed the lesson!

Lesson Plan: Online Shopping and Traditional Shopping

So, who doesn’t like shopping???

I know, I know, I can see some of you raising an eyebrow and thinking… “well, I must be weird then, if I don’t like shopping”. Of course, you are not, it’s just that I love it so much that now that I don’t have as much spare time as I used to have, I miss it like crazy.

But I know, not everyone is a shopper, not everyone is a consumer. However, we all need to buy, whether it’s clothes, food or any other stuff. So, this lesson might come in handy whenever you decide to set your foot in a shop.

Hold on! Shop? Did I just say, “set your foot in a shop”? Like in a physical shop? It seems to me that right now, the online shopping experience has become so incredibly diverse and sophisticated that no matter what you need, it is simply a click away from you. You don’t even need to physically go to a shop. You can get yourself the latest craze from anywhere in the world without actually moving from your sofa. Kind of awesome!  Yeahhh, awesome but boring!!!

Anyway, in this lesson aimed at B2 students, we will be focusing on the topic of shopping and we ’ll be comparing online shopping to traditional shopping.

 

ONE: Lead-in Activities

A. Types of shops

Although students have a B2 level, I find they always welcome an opportunity to review vocabulary and maybe learn the names for some less common shops.

  • Play the video once without stopping and at the end of it, ask students in pairs to write down as many different kinds of shops as they can remember from the video. Write the words on the board for correct spelling and drill pronunciation.
  •  Divide the class into As and Bs. Ask As to face the board and Bs to face away from it.   Play the video, display the first picture and ask As to quickly describe the kind of shop they see on the board. As describes half the pictures and then they change roles with Bs doing the description and As guessing the shop.

Note: The slides contain music. Turn down the volume if you do not want it.

You’ll find the list with all the shops featured in this video at the end of the post.

 

B.  Speaking. 

Click on each of the pictures below to enlarge them and ask students in pairs to comment on them briefly. Ask for feedback.

Note: the slides contain music. I didn’t want it, but I did not have an option. It’s Mozart. Turn down the volume now if you prefer not to be distracted by the music.

TWO. Brainstorm and introduce new vocabulary

Give students two minutes to write down as many words as they know related to shopping. When the two minutes are over, ask them to stop.  After a quick round to see who has written the highest number of words ask students to tell you their words, writing on the board only the ones that are a bit more challenging.

For example, words such as “deal” or “goods” will be written on the board while “shop” or “money” will not.

More useful vocabulary:

  • A good deal: if something is a good deal, you pay a low price. You can say that a store has some great deals, for example
  • A bargain: the same as above
  • 20% off : the price is now 20% less than the original price
  • Overpriced: if sth is overpriced, it costs much more than you think it should
  • To order: when you order something that you are going to pay for, you ask for it to be brought to you, sent to you, or obtained for you. “to order things online”
  • Order number
  • To place an order
  • If you have a discount on the retail price, you pay less price than the price normally charged
  • Goods: things made to be sold
  • To be scheduled for delivery (tomorrow)
  • Online form
  • A secure payment page
  • To enter your card details
  • Get a refund
  • You can pay “Cash on Delivery”
  • To exchange a product
  • To track your package
  • Shipping rates

Ready to test your knowledge?  Fill in the blanks with some of the words above.

THREE. Listening. Video Activity: Singles’ Day

Lead-in: Ask students if they know anything about Singles’ Day. Info, here

  • Play the video once without giving students any tasks.
  • Give students the gapped text and ask them to complete it with the words they hear. Play the video.
  • Play it again, if necessary

See the activity here. You can check the answers by activating the subtitles in the video.

FOUR. Speaking: Online Shopping versus Traditional Shopping

Divide the class into two groups: those preferring online shopping and those preferring traditional shopping. Ideally, you would pair up students in this way, but more often than not, you’ll have to persuade some students to take a different view for the sake of the exercise.

Give each student their corresponding handout and ask them to read the information on it. Their aim, when pairing up with a student holding an opposing view, will be to try to convince their partner to change their mind.

  • Handouts  for student A and B here
  • Functional language to be used here

FIVE: Oral mediation

NOTE: These activities will be in Spanish. Students will need to act as mediators in an oral interlinguistic mediation activity.

This is the first time I am going to do an interlinguistic oral mediation activity with my students. My students are going to take the role of mediators and use a source text in Spanish and relay the selected information to an English speaker, who does not understand Spanish.

What is a mediator and what does he do?

The mediator acts as a facilitator in a social event during which two or more parties interacting are experiencing a communication breakdown or when there is a communication gap between them.

Watch the video and find out a bit more about mediation.

These are the first two tasks I have prepared for my students. More would be coming!

Task 1   〉    Task 2

SIX. Discursive writing. A pros and cons essay.

Write an essay of about 200 words on the advantages and disadvantages of buying in local shops.

Tips and example here

Shops featured in the video:

clothes shop, chemist’s, fishmonger’s greengrocer’s, baker’s, bookshop, shoe shop, butcher’s, record shop, haberdashery, florist’s, barber, optician’s, newsagent’s, petrol station, pet shop, toy shop, stationer’s, chain store, charity shop, corner shop, tobacconist’s, sports shop, travel agent’s,  jeweller’s,

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”- Playing with Baamboozle

Ohhh! The power of a game! I don’t know anybody who does not welcome a bit of fun while learning/teaching. Playing a game transforms everyone’s mood. It is magical to see what having a little break from routine tasks, can do for students who have been working hard.

I teach two-hour lessons and trust me when I tell you that even people who do not typically like games go out of their way to beat the other teams.

If, to the thrill of playing competitively among teams, you add movement, give them the opportunity to stretch by asking them to stand up and also offer them the chance to change partners frequently, smiles and good vibes are guaranteed.

For this game, I have used the free website baamboozle.com/, which is super easy to use and allows me or my students to create and play games.

  • If you do not want to register, you can still click on Featured games and choose from the large bank of games saved on the website.
  • If you register, you can create your own games.

You can use Baamboozle in 2 ways:

  • On your own, choosing the study mode option
  • In class, in teams, choosing a number, doing the task and getting the points

The game shown below has several goals in mind.

  • Provide students with the opportunity to revise some common collocations associated with Health and Illnesses
  • Provide students with some conversation questions about health and illness
  • Have a break from the textbook and have a bit of fun.

Procedure:

  • Divide students into two or more teams. You can have up to 4 teams.
  • Ask each team to choose a competitive name for their team. The team will also need to name a spokesperson.
  • On the board, display the game.
  • Team A starts by choosing a box. Once I click on the box the points assigned to this answer are displayed.
  • Team A will have 15 seconds to decide on the correct answer. They can have a brief discussion but when the time is up, the spokesperson will need to give an answer.
  • Click on Check and if it is correct, click the Okay! button and the points will be added to their team. If it is incorrect, click the Oops! button and no points will be added.
  • Ask students in pairs to answer the question and repeat procedure for team B.

Ready to play?

Follow-up:

  • Revising: give students the link to the game and ask them at home to revise using the Study Mode.
  • Writing: ask students to choose one of the questions and write about it for about 15 minutes paying attention to their grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. During the class, the next day, choose a box, tell students to quickly provide the collocation and ask a student who has written about it to summarise his ideas for the rest of the class.

Lesson Plan: Good Manners, Customs and Strange Traditions

I know, I know, there is more than one blog post about unusual traditions here, but there are so many of them and they are so much fun to listen to.  Who doesn’t like being told about a totally surprising or creepy custom? It’s like when you were a little child and liked being told stories about far-away places filled with strange characters doing the most extraordinary things.

Well, this is how I feel when people tell me about unusual customs around the world.

So, whenever in the textbook I am following there is a slight reference to unusual traditions, I jump at the opportunity to do something with it.

In this lesson aimed at B2 students, you’ll find:

  •  Two texts about unusual customs
  •  A video about unusual customs with Ellen Degeneres telling the story. By the way, one of them a surprising Spanish custom I didn’t know about.
  •  The quiz : What nationality are your manners?
  •  How I use Google slides for collaborative projects

In this lesson, students will have to:

  • Read a text about an unusual custom and retell their partner – (aimed at improving reading and speaking abilities)
  • Answer a few questions or summarize the traditions heard in the video (aimed at improving listening abilities)
  •  Learn vocabulary and comment on different manners around the world by doing the personality quiz “What nationality are your manners?”
  • Use technology in a collaborative project (aimed at improving students’ digital competency)
  • Give a speech of about 3 minutes about an unusual custom around the world (aimed at improving students’ speaking skills)

Lead-In : Speaking

Display the picture below and ask students in pairs to comment on it. After a couple of minutes, get feedback.

There is always someone who has read or knows a bit about this custom, mainly because every single time a member of the British Royal family goes to New Zealand this is the most popular picture to take. In case they know nothing about it, you can tell them this is the Maori way of greeting people, called Hongi. It is used at important ceremonies. Through the exchange of this greeting, one is no longer considered a visitor.

Have a brief conversation about the etiquette of kissing in your country

Listening: Odd Traditions Around the World (0:00-2:06)

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I’m a big fan of Ellen Degeneres. Write her name on the board and ask students if they know who she is. Tell students they are going to listen to a short extract from Ellen Degeneres show about Odd Traditions around the world.

Note: I have only used the first two traditions (0:00- 2:06 ), the third one is way too weird for my taste.

  1. Write Groundhog Day on the board. Tell students this tradition will be mentioned in the video, but they will learn more about it in the next activity.
  2. There are no questions here. The first time you play the video, students will be required to write down the names of the two festivals. The second time, they will have to explain everything they have learned about the two festivals.

Reading about Two Unusual Traditions. Retelling.
  • Ask students “Have you heard about any unusual traditions in your country or around the world? Ask students to talk in pairs and get feedback
  • Ask students to work in pairs. Student A will get a copy of Groundhog Day (American tradition) and Student B, a copy of Guy Fawkes Day (British tradition).
  • Give them some minutes to read it a couple of times and then,  in pairs, ask them to tell their partner about their tradition in as much detail as possible.

Guy Fawkes PDF , Groundhog Day PDF

Speaking: Giving a short speech about an unusual celebration.

The only thing probably worth mentioning here is the fact that we have used Google Slides to work collaboratively.

I am a very visual person. I do not want to imply that listening to my students’ speeches is boring, but I cannot deny that it is much more pleasant to look at some pictures of the tradition being described, while listening to the students’ performances.

Problem? Every student will bring their own flash drive, we will need to Insert the flash drive into the USB port on the computer, run a virus scan …. etc and this takes time. A lot of time.

Solution? I created a Google Slides Presentation, used the first two slides to give instructions and then wrote the names of my students on the slides. One slide per student. I shared the URL with Edit permissions and asked them to, instead of their name, write the name of their festival and then insert a picture below it.  Problem solved.

 

A speaking Activity Using the Quiz: What nationality are your manners?

This fun quiz contains some very interesting questions which can spark a lot of discussion in the class.

Do the quiz with the whole class.  Display question number 1 and ask a student at random to choose the answer that is true for him.  Ask the whole class to discuss some of the other options.

Find the quiz here

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson!

Three Activities to Do on a Spooky Gloomy Halloween Day

You see, Halloween and me, we are not on friendly terms. I don’t really get good vibes off this holiday.  Gory and scary … just scares me. But, that’s ok. I don’t have to like every single holiday. However, I have students and teaching a language is not only about words, it’s also about the culture and traditions of the country you are trying to teach. Halloween is important in Anglo-Saxon countries so this year I have made a point of trying to give it some real attention. I’ll even attend a small Halloween party, where I’ll be wearing a knife-through-head prop and some Halloween skeleton tights. Organising the party? Let’s start small! This year, the party will be hosted by my enthusiastic colleague Marta Dominguez, who has also provided me with some of the activities you’ll see below.

Activity 1.  Video Activity. The Ten Steps (2004)

This activity aims at

  • learning vocabulary: adjectives to describe houses
  • improving their listening skills

This is a great short film (less than 9 minutes and worth every second) that sets the right atmosphere. Draw the curtains and turn off the lights.

I would like to just for one day forget I’m an English teacher and just play the film, but I can’t.  So, we are going to work a bit on vocabulary before the film starts and we are going to focus on some questions to answer in pairs after watching the film.

Before playing the video, show them the picture below or alternatively pause the video. Do the vocabulary exercise with them ( handout)

PDF here

The Ten Steps

 

Activity 2. Writing and Story-Telling

This activity aims at

  • developing creative writing
  • using their stories to develop oral fluency

Remember the lights should be off and the curtains drawn. Lighting a candle might be a good idea for two reasons: it helps create a mysterious atmosphere and prevents students from reading from their essays.

The New York Times has a site where, every day, they publish a picture prompt to inspire students writing. Days prior to the great Halloween Day, I have shown my students this picture and asked them to write a scary story about this house. They should bring their stories on the day of the party.

The idea is to put students in groups of four and tell (not read) their stories. Each group will decide on the best and the whole class will listen to the best stories from each group and then vote on the best one.

It’s also a good idea if you share a story of your own and yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ll still need to correct their stories.

Activity 3.  A bit of fun with Kahoot.

This activity aims at:

  • teaching about traditions
  • developing digital abilities
  • having fun 🙂

I would just not feel fine if, after all the spooky storytelling, my students went home and couldn’t sleep that night, so a Kahoot is in order.

Again, I have not created it. My colleague Marta has just chosen one from the enormous bank of Halloween quizzes Kahoot has and we have adapted it to our needs.

Happy Halloween! Let’s enjoy the holiday break!

Learning or Teaching Reporting Verbs? 5 Low-Tech and High-Tech Activities

And finally, it’s springtime. “Here comes the sun da-da-da-da”. After, like two months raining non-stop and cold spells whimsically coming and going, I was beginning to flirt with the idea of leaving “sunny” Spain. But, fortunately, it seems spring is here to stay. And this means light. Don’t you feel more energetic when you wake up in the morning, and there is this beautiful sunny day waiting for you outside? I do.

It seems to me that even explaining reported speech introductory verbs is a lighter task.

Here you can read some of the activities I did with my students to introduce, revise and consolidate reporting verbs. I have used a variety of online free tools. Free tools, as usual.

  • Aim: to introduce, revise and consolidate reporting verbs other than “say” “ask” and “tell”
  • Level: B2

AN INFOGRAPHIC TO CONSOLIDATE THE GRAMMAR STRUCTURE OF SOME REPORTING VERBS

I like infographics. They are colourful and can be displayed on the walls of the class for students to refer back to if they, God forbid, forget the grammar of these verbs. Honestly? I like creating them. I like playing with the fonts, icons, lines and anything the site has to offer to create them.

reporting verbs by cristina.cabal    I have created this infographic with Canva.

Direct link here


A "HALF-A-CROSSWORD" GAME TO HELP THEM REMEMBER THE MOST COMMON REPORTING VERBS.

This kind of exercise gives students a nice opportunity to use a variety of skills.

I have used a free website with a very complicated name, which I am not even going to attempt to write. Here’s the link. The only thing you need to do is write the terms in the box provided and then print the outcome. It’s magic.


A GALLERY QUIZ: A MATCHING EXERCISE WITH SOME REPORTING VERBS

This exercise takes students a step further as they will have to associate the meaning of a sentence in direct speech with the corresponding reporting verb.

This is a visual exercise you can do more than once to consolidate knowledge.


A STUDY-SET OF FLASHCARDS

Students should be ready to get into more demanding exercises as are the ones I suggest below.

In this exercise, students orally provide the reporting sentence.  The exercise has been created with quizlet, a well-known free tool I highly recommend as study sets are very easy to create and it’s great for rote learning. Although it offers a premium version, the free one is quite generous.
Depending on how confident your students feel, you can set this task to be done as an individual written exercise or orally as a whole class exercise.

Created with quizlet


USING GRASS SKIRTS: A TRANSLATION EXERCISE

This is game from the archives. I highly recommend you do it with your students. Lots of learning and lots of fun too. Your students are going to adore you.

Before the class: Decide on 8 sentences using a variety of reporting verbs you’d like your students to translate. You can use Tekhnologic’s template or create your own. Write the sentences in the spaces provided. Print as many copies as you need and cut along the dotted lines. Each group of three or four students will be assigned a copy. A good idea would be to use a different coloured paper for each group, but this is entirely optional. Put them on the walls of the class.

Now, you are ready to start.

Procedure:

Ask students to work in groups of three or four. Draw students’ attention to the walls of the class and assign each group a poster with the 8 sentences.

Tell students that the aim of the game would be to translate all the sentences on their assigned poster on the wall. To do so, they must nominate a runner who is the one who must run to the wall, tear off the sentence, run back to his group and then together translate the sentence.

Once it’s done, the runner must go to the teacher and show him their translated sentence. If it’s correct, the runner can tear off the second sentence. If it’s incorrect, he must return to his group and correct the mistake(s). The teacher can help a bit by underlining where the mistake is. Only if the teacher has marked the sentence with a tick, it is considered correct.

Rules.

  • The runner cannot tear off a new sentence until the previous one has been shown to the teacher and marked with a tick.
  • The runner cannot correct the sentence at the teacher’s desk. He must return to his group and there, correct the sentence.
  • Groups can only tear off sentences from their assigned posters.
  • The first group to have a tick in all 8 sentences is the winner.

Follow-up: Whole class. Read out the sentences from the poster and ask students to, orally, translate them.  Focus on any common problems you might have noticed.


THE FRUIT MACHINE: A MORE DEMANDING EXERCISE ALLEVIATED WITH A BIT OF FUN

This activity is probably the most challenging in this compilation.

How to go about it:

  • Divide the class into two teams, Team A and Team B. Ask a representative of each team to come to the front of the class facing away from the board where the fruit machine is displayed. Let’s call them Captain A and Captain B.
  • Set a timer for 90 seconds.

The activity has two parts:

Part 1.  Team A starts playing. Spin the fruit machine and a reporting verb will be randomly chosen.

For example: Suggest

Team A  needs to, using direct speech, come up with a sentence to exemplify “suggest”

For example: “Why don’t we go to the cinema?”

Captain A needs to guess the reporting verb associated with the sentence. If he does his team scores 1 point.

Part 2. Ask team members to repeat their sentence and have Captain A report the sentence using the reporting verb in indirect speech. If he does, his team scores an extra point.

Teams have a maximum of 90 seconds to do part 1 and 2.

Now, it is Team B’s turn to play.

I have created this activity with classtools.net. Click on the image to see the fruit machine in action. Warning: you might want to turn down the volume in your computer.

6 Steps to Getting a Job: How to write a Cover Letter Applying for a Job and a Résumé

When applying for a job, there are some things you might have to do:

  • Send a résumé or a CV ( Curriculum Vitae)
  • Fill in an application form
  • Write a letter applying for a job

 

In this post, I’ll guide you step by step to help you write a good cover letter and a résumé

  • Step 1. The difference between a résumé and a CV
  • Step 2. Writing a CV or a résumé. Templates
  • Step 3. Writing a cover letter. Some tips. 
  • Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.
  • Step 5. Sending your cover letter via email.
  • Step 6. Some tips on how to answer a job interview.

Let’s start.

Step 1. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV?

It’s more or less the same. The CV is longer than the résumé. The résumé includes a summary of your education, experience, and skills and it’s usually one page long whereas the CV is two or three pages long and includes more details like research, awards, presentations, publications …etc. It’s ideal for academics.

Some tips:

  • Keep it simple. It shouldn’t be longer than two pages.
  • The content should be  easy to read
  • Use reverse chronological order. You should put your most recent job first and then write the other jobs going back in time.
  • You don’t have to write full sentences. Ex: “Developed a social media strategy…”
  • Skip personal information such “Divorced and with 2 kids”.

 

Step 2. Writing a CV or résumé. Templates.

 

Here are two links to templates to write your CV or résumé. (Please note that this is not a sponsored post)

  • Canva: you will need to register. Find the templates in the Documents section. Make sure you use a free template
  • Uptowork: provides guided free templates to build your résumé or CV.

 

Step 3: Writing a cover letter. Some tips

A job application letter, also known as cover letter normally accompanies a résumé or CV. Nowadays, unless you are specifically required to send a letter by snail mail, cover letters are normally sent by email or attached as a file in online application systems.

Sending an email instead of a letter makes little difference. It’s only the layout that varies slightly.

Now here are some tips:

  • Use formal language.
  • Don’t use contractions and punctuation such as dashes and exclamation marks.
  • Don’t use personal or emotional language.
  • If you are replying to an advertisement, relate to all the points asked for and give additional information.
  • Mention your skills and experience and give supporting details.
  • Have spaces between paragraphs
  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • Use a professional email address; kittylou@gmail.com might not be appropriate or very professional.
  • Remember to check that you have used the appropriate style for the person you are writing to.
  • Check your email carefully for spelling, grammar mistakes, and punctuation
  • Make sure you sign your cover letter.
  • If you are sending your CV or résumé, put “Enclosed: CV/résumé” at the end of
    your cover letter

 

Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.

Presentation

 

On the Right

  • Your address: on the right-hand side of the page (without your name)
  • Date: below your address. Leave a blank line in between.

On the left

  • Position/name of the person you are writing to. Start one line below the date.
  • Address of the person or company you are writing to.

Greeting:

Use an appropriate formal greeting. Use a comma after the greeting or nothing.

If you know the name of the person you are writing to:

  •  Dear Mrs/Miss/ Ms + surname if you are writing to a woman
  • Dear  Mr+ surname if you are writing to a man.

If you don’t know their names, use

  • Dear Sir or Madam or Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Human Resource Manager
  • Alternatively, you can use To whom it may concern

Note that all the salutations start with Dear.

Follow the salutation with a comma.

Opening Paragraph:  Always start by stating what the purpose of your letter is. Here you should mention the position you are applying for and where you learn of the vacancy. This section should be short and to the point. It’s the most important part of your letter. Here, either you grab the reader’s attention or you can bore him and decide not to continue reading.

Some useful expressions:

  • I am writing in response to your advertisement for…
  • I am writing to express my interest in the …. position listed on …(name of the website)
  • I am writing with reference to your advertisement…
  • I would like to apply for the …. position advertised in /on……

Main Body:  It can be divided into several paragraphs. Organise your content into the different paragraphs.

Here you need to expand on your experience and qualifications showing how you are relevant to this job.  Give clear details and examples. You don’t need to repeat all the information on your résumé but highlight what is relevant to this position. Emphasize your strengths.

Emphasize also your interest in the job and why you think you are suitable for the job. Remember that your goal is to get a job interview.

If you have attached a copy of your résumé or completed an application form, mention it.

Useful expressions:

  • I think I am the right person for the job because…
  • I feel I am well qualified for the position
  • I think I have the knowledge and experience that is needed for…
  • I have some/ a lot of experience working with…
  • With regard to your requirements, I believe that I am a suitable candidate for this post as
  • I believe I would be good at…
  • I believe I would make a good …. because I am…
  • I am very reliable and I get on well with people…
  • I have always had an interest in…
  • I think I would be suitable for the job / a good choice ( to be a/ an…) because...

Closing Paragraph: 

Explain why you think your application should be taken into consideration. If relevant, mention that you enclose a CV/ reference. State that you are willing to attend an interview and thank the reader.

Useful expressions:

  • A résumé/CV giving details of my qualifications and experience is attached
  • As requested, I am enclosing my CV and two references and my completed job application
  • I hope you will consider me for the position.
  • I would be able to start immediately
  • I would be happy to attend an interview any time convenient to you.

Signing  off

  • Using  I look forward to hearing from you   or Thank you for your time and consideration  are good ways to end a formal letter
  • End with Yours faithfully if you begin with Dear Sir/Madam
  • End with Yours sincerely if you begin with Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms + surname

In American English, Yours truly and Yours sincerely are commonly used in both cases.

If in the greeting you have followed the salutation with a comma, write a comma also after Yours faithfully/sincerely.


Some words commonly used in job applications

Nouns such as preference, qualifications, company, reference, information, opportunity, experience, position, vacancy, ability, advertisement, employment, résumé, details, interview…etc

Verbs such as  apply, reply, advertise…etc

Adjectives such as  convenient, excellent, qualified, enthusiastic, necessary, energetic, suitable, available, attached, experienced, interested, responsible, possible, friendly…etc

Adverbs such as immediately, recently, extremely, sincerely…etc


Get some practice writing cover letters here

Step 5.  Sending your cover letter via email
  •  In the subject line of the message, write your name and the job you are applying for.
  • Don’t write the date or the employer’s contact information. Start your email with the salutation
  • Don’t forget to write all your contact details after you sign off.

Practice:

Write a cover letter/email applying for one of these two jobs.

Step 6: Some tips on how to answer a job interview
  • When they ask you to describe yourself in three words, they are asking you about your professional persona and how you would fit in the company. Talk about what makes you stand out. Talk about accomplishments and skills that you know are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Do some research on the company and show it in your answers.
  • Don’t give them personal details. They are not really interested in your life or your problems.
  • It’s Ok to ask the interviewer questions about the job. You also want to make sure this is the right job for you and at the same time show the interviewer you are interested in the job. Prepare them beforehand  and try not to ask yes/no questions:
  • Can you tell me about the responsibilities of this job?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Avoid questions about salary, holidays, etc

Hope this post helps you get the best job 🙂

PDF for this lesson here

Special thanks to Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat from English with a Twist for answering some of my questions.

Here’s a funny sketch where former President Obama tries to sharpen his skills to pass a job interview. Don’t miss it!

Reporting verbs: A Translation Exercise Using Grass Skirts

Do you like translation exercises?

If you think they are boring, perhaps I might succeed in changing your mind once you read about this activity.

Writing is always on my mind (like Joe Manganiello 😀  ).  It ‘s true that I should probably dedicate more time to writing tasks in class, but writing takes a lot of time and time is a luxury I cannot always afford. For this reason, I try to do small writing activities that take less time but have proven very effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been reading my blog for some time you have probably guessed a thing or two about me:  I am a huge fan of competitions and anything that brings fun and a relaxed atmosphere – and probably a little bit of noise- into the classroom.

I think the exercise I’m about to describe combines perfectly well the two above. I have used it to revise reported speech (indirect speech) and more specifically reporting verbs, but it can be easily adapted to any other point of grammar you need to revise.

In case you are wondering, below is a picture of the grass skirt I have used for this activity. You can also call them tearable sentences, but I like grass skirts better.  You can make your own template o download the one Tekhnologic very kindly offers on his website. I have used his.

 


The activity


Before the class: Decide on 8 sentences using a variety of reporting verbs you’d like your students to translate. You can use Tekhnologic’s template or create your own. Write the sentences in the spaces provided. Print as many copies as you need and cut along the dotted lines. Each group of three or four students will be assigned a copy. A good idea would be to use a different coloured paper for each group, but this is entirely optional. Put them on the walls of the class.

Now, you are ready to start.

Procedure:

Ask students to work in groups of three or four. Draw students’ attention to the walls of the class and assign each group a poster with the 8 sentences.

Tell students that the aim of the game would be to translate all the sentences on their assigned poster on the wall. To do so, they must nominate a runner who is the one who must run to the wall, tear off the sentence, run back to his group and then together translate the sentence.

Once it’s done, the runner must go to the teacher and show him their translated sentence. If it’s correct, the runner can tear off the second sentence. If it’s incorrect, he must return to his group and correct the mistake(s). The teacher can help a bit by underlining where the mistake is. Only if the teacher has marked the sentence with a tick, it is considered correct.

Rules.

  • The runner cannot tear off a new sentence until the previous one has been shown to the teacher and marked with a tick.
  • The runner cannot correct the sentence at the teacher’s desk. He must return to his group and there, correct the sentence.
  • Groups can only tear off sentences from their assigned posters.
  • The first group to have a tick in all 8 sentences is the winner.

Follow-up: Whole class. Read out the sentences from the poster and ask students to, orally, translate them.  Focus on any common problems you might have noticed.

Give runners a round of well-deserved applause and maybe something to drink  😆 

Top Website to Help you with Writing

I’m not a native speaker. I work in English, write, read and watch TV in English. In short, I breathe English. But I’m not a native and I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes, especially when correcting written work, I have this feeling that a collocation is just not right but I cannot I come up with the correct one straight away.

Has it ever happened to you?

I could rely on my instinct, I could certainly do it, but sometimes I just can’t without making sure I’m doing the right thing. Problem is that a dictionary would be no help here as we are dealing with more complex issues. We are not talking about grammar or vocabulary meanings, we are dealing with how words collocate with some words, but not with others and this is just something that if you are not a native, you will have a hard time deciding whether it is correct or a bad translation from your native language. The problem, of course, is that to your non-native ears it might sound perfect.

For example, let’s take this simple sentence

Global warming is produced by…

Does it sound Ok to you?

For a Spanish speaker, this sounds just right.  But is it a natural collocation in English?

Doesn’t Global warming is caused by… sounds better?

When I am in doubt, I  have a bunch of useful websites I use, but my favourite for this kind of problem is Netspeak. Please check my post Six amazing Websites that Make your Writing Stronger to read about this “bunch”  I was referring to.

So, when I am not sure if “xxxx ” is correct, this is what I do.

What else can you do on Netspeak?Among other things:

  1. If you have forgotten a specific word, type ?   Ex:  ? for granted
  2. If you need to find many words, type   Ex …granted
  3. If you are not sure about two words or want to compare them [] Ex It sounds [good well.

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