Tag Archives: writing

Lesson Plan: Work

After a little bit of a crazy few months, we are finally heading for final exams. More craziness. I know. But, of a different kind.

My first time on Twitter was in December 2015. I was kind of “forced” to open a Twitter account as I was doing an online talk for the British Council on “How to Keep students Motivated” and the app we were using for the event required that I had a Twitter handle.  I didn’t know much about Twitter and even thought, in my ignorance,  it was something bound to disappear but I couldn’t be more mistaken. I love Twitter and have to say  I am kind of hooked on it.  What? You are not following me?  Hey! You’re missing out! This is my twitter handle @blogdecristina.   I hope to meet you all there.

Anyway, I got the idea for the first exercise in this lesson plan from Twitter.  Twitter users were tweeting about “five jobs I have had” and I was like “hmm, that’s a good idea to start a lesson about work!” and without further ado, I set out to write this post about work. Hope you find it useful.

Step 1. Writing and Speaking.Three Jobs I have Had.  

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.  On the board, write the following:

Before working as a teacher,

  • I worked as a waitress
  • I worked on a farm picking apples
  • I worked as a baby sitter

Briefly, explain your experiences working in the jobs you have chosen to share with them and then ask them to do the same. Once they have written their sentences, ask them to work in groups of 3 sharing their experiences in these jobs. They are gonna love this exercise!

Step 2. Writing. Choose a Job Game. Working with adjectives
  • Write on the board or give students a hand-out with adjectives used to describe positive character traits for the workplace. Check that they know the meanings.
ambitious confident conscientious easy-going hard-working
honest loyal methodical motivated reliable
punctual responsible dynamic cheerful charming
communicative flexible sociable creative resourceful
  • Display the collage below and ask students to identify the jobs in the collage.

  • Individually and without telling anybody, students choose one of the jobs in the collage and write three clues for the rest of the class/group to guess the job.
  • The first clue needs to necessarily include three character traits associated with the job. This clue is worth 3 points.
  • The second clue needs to be associated with either the workplace or the people you work with if you are doing this job. This clue is worth 2 points.
  • The third clue needs to be associated with something you are required to do in this job. This clue is worth 1 point.
  • Once they all have their clues, ask students to form groups of 4. Taking it in turns, they read Clue 1. If someone guesses the job after reading clue 1, they score 3 points; if clue number 2 has to be read, they will score 2 points …etc.
  • Rules: if a student in the group has a wrong guess for a job, he won’t be allowed to guess again for this job. This will prevent students from giving wild guesses.

Example:

  • In this job, you have to be hard-working, cheerful dynamic and sociable.
  • In this job, you have to work with young and old people
  • In this job, you have to take orders

Answer: waiter

Step 3: Introducing/Revising & Consolidating Vocabulary related to Work

 

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 work, excluding professions.
  • On the board, write a circle with the word Work 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.

I find it really important to tap into students’ prior knowledge, especially when teaching vocabulary. If they feel they know most of the words, they won’t feel overwhelmed and will be able to maintain a positive attitude.

PDF Vocabulary 

Step 4.Speaking. Playing Cards. A game to activate vocabulary

Aim: to activate vocabulary in a speaking activity

Give each student 10 pieces of paper, more or less the size of a card in a deck of cards. Ask them to write down vocabulary they can remember related to work. Encourage them to write chunks, for ex. “apply for” or “quit a job”.  They should write each chunk on a different piece of paper. Encourage legible clear handwriting. Once this is done:

  1. Ask students to form groups of three
  2. Ask them to place their cards face down on the table. They might want to shuffle them a bit. Each student is dealt two cards.
  3. Display the first question from the presentation below and ask students to discuss it trying to use the words in their cards. As soon as they use the chunk in a card, they discard it and take a new one, they should always have two cards in their hands.
  4. Allow 4 minutes per question and then display a new question for the students to discuss.
  5. Students continue in the same way using vocabulary, discarding and taking new cards until there are none left in the pile. At this point, they will count the number of cards they have managed to use. Each card is worth 1 point. Very quickly they decide who the winner is and shuffling the cards the game starts all over again until all the questions have been answered or you deem appropriate.

Work

Step 5. Oral and written Mediation

Yes. Mediation.  I know some of you hate it, and some of you don’t even know what it is. Mediation and I, I think we have clicked, and as  I am afraid it is here to stay, emotional intelligence should apply here if we want to keep the good vibes coming. I have decided to be smart and embrace mediation.

Below, you’ll find two examples of oral interlinguistic, also called cross-linguistic,  mediation and an example of written interlinguistic mediation

Interested in spicing up your lessons? I ran face-to-face workshops helping teachers integrate technology in their classes in an easy way, using free online digital tools. Practical tested ideas that combine traditional teaching with modern techniques. Fun and learning, a win-win!

From teacher to teacher. In English and in Spanish.

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.