Can’t be bothered to read the post – Click here for the lesson on Writing Cards
Sending cards is an enourmous business in the UK and the USA with the average person spending way too much time and money on them. There’s also a lot of social pressure to send and receive them especially at Christmas time. Who hasn’t been presented with a card for someone who is leaving the office, sick or getting married, and thought ‘I don’t know what to write!’?
It’s also pretty difficult for ESOL/EFL and second language English learners to write them to. I used this lesson with a group of pre-intermediate learners.
Here are the lesson stages
1. Ask the students to tell you when they last recieved a card of any description. Write a list of the cards they tell you about on the board. It might look something like this. Anniversary, wedding, congratulations, birthday, valentines, get well soon, sorry, condolences…
2. Pass out the sheet and have the students correct the mistakes then match the card messages to the people they are for.
3. Now ask students to write their own messages in response to the prompts. You could ask them to work in pairs or alone and could check the answers by getting to write on the board.
4. There are some really good electronic greetings cards on the net. You might like to show these to your students if you have an interactive whiteboad or projector.
Hapland is a very frustrating flash game. http://foon.uk/farcade/hapland/
Read the instructions below to complete it.
If you like video games, walkthroughs are great way to practise reading. Following complex instructions to complete a task will give you some INTERESTING reading practice.
Basically the idea of the game is to get the little man to safety byclicking on different parts of the picture in the right order.
a) Open all the windows and turn the red arrow around.
b) Open the hatch on the right, click the yellow arrow to get a man out.
c) Click on the man to fire one round in the low position to drop the bridge down.
d) Click the cannon to move it up. Fire the second round up at the bell and click the spear thing so it goes the other way JUST after the round hits the bell
e) Fire the next two rounds at the bridge, but click the bridge to as they hit it to knock them in the air and explode without causing damage.
f) Click the light bulb a few times next to the man at the bottom to get him to smash it.
g) Fire the last round in the low position, and the bottom man will pick it up and open the door with it.
h) Now click the man by the machine so he gets in it, and click the yellow arrow to get another guy out, get him to fire the other man up at the bell.
i) The man by the bell will move the tower over if you click him. Then click the spear thing. Now keep clicking the bell till it falls. No more land mine.
j) Click the door in the bottom left so the man comes out and JUST as he goes in the door on the right, click the man at the bottom. A dog tries to chase him, but the falling concrete stops it.
k) You did it!
For more of the same check out Richard L King’s great book below
A brilliant athlete, entertainer and role-model, Muhammad Ali used his language skill to attack, humiliate and make fun of his opponents even before they stepped into the ring.
Here’s a warmer/ filler/ cooler lesson on his quotes and life. This should take about half and hour and would be good for intermediate EFL / ESOL or ESL students and above.
1. Click the picture below to download the worksheet. Feel free to change it anyway you like.
2. Have students look at the picture and quote about Ali. Ask them to explain what it means? Students should come up with something like – ‘it means he’s fast’. If that’s what Ali wanted to say, then why didn’t he just say ‘I’m really fast’? The quote is funny and contains lots of images, it shows you that Ali is intelligent and witty. Elicit from student the idea that the way you say something is often as, if not more, important than what is said.
3. Now get students to tell each other what they know about Ali’s life (if anything) before you play the short bio on him. I’ve pasted this below but the URL is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIxbhA4su0g
4. Now get students to read through the quotes in pair or small groups. Get them to match them to the more simple explanations. Here are the answers – 1.c 2.f 3.a 4.d 5.h 6.b 7.e 8.g
5. Follow up. Have students look for more quotes from famous sportsmen or famous people that they like. Get students to share their quotes with their partners of the whole class. You could even print them off and stick them on the wall.
The purposes of the activities listed below are to increase students’ exposure to natural English, their autonomy, and their motivation. This will be achieved by the innovative use of familiar and valued technology, encouraging effective study skills and good practice, and by providing fun, meaningful, achievable activities using authentic materials.
A recent poll of my first year Japanese university classes revealed that just under ninety per cent of them use smart phones. According to Google, this number is set to increase throughout the world as smartphones become the most common method of accessing the internet (Google, 2011). I recently purchased a smartphone, too and was amazed by its user-friendliness, versatility and processing power (less so it’s battery life!). After a few weeks spent getting to know my new toy, I started to wonder if and how it could be used by my students to learn English.
After consulting with my students, sharing app recommendations, and hints and tips, I came to the conclusion that although the use of phones in class is prohibited in many institutions (Shepherd, 2011), if teachers fail to at least acknowledge their existence, we will miss valuable educational opportunities. This becomes clear when we consider that smartphones are essentially high powered mini computers with broadband-speed internet access. Furthermore, many students are never without their smartphones: they eat with them, sleep with them, study with them and even take them into the bathroom. Smartphones are some university students’ most prized possessions; their owners are both extremely adept in their use and extremely interested in using them.
I am confident that institutional policies prohibiting smartphone use in class will disappear as administrators realize that students are willingly buying and maintaining their own state-of-the-art computing hardware at their own expense, and always bringing it to class. As such, smartphones are more than an inviting resource; as some groups have realised (DEB, 2011), they offer a golden opportunity to enrich students’ education at no cost to the institutions.
At present however, using smartphones in whole-class activities is not possible for many teachers and learners. For this reason I advocate encouraging students to use their smartphones outside the class to encounter natural English in meaningful – and even better, fun – ways. I hope your students enjoy the activities and resources recommended in the handout below, and that when they return with more ideas you will share them with me too.
10 great ideas for using your smartphone to learn and practice English.
- 1. Install Kotoba! dictionary.
Lets you input words using all the standard methods (including drawing characters with your finger) and has example sentences to give context to the definitions. You can save the words you look up in specific list, or just look back through the history at all the words you have checked. (Review new words using Flashcards +, below). Does not require an internet connection after the initial download.
- 2. Install Google Translate.
This will give you another source of information about new words and phrases. You can enter longer blocks of text to get the general meaning (do NOT rely on the translation to be 100% accurate). It has an audio function to help you with pronunciation, and a “large font” button that is very useful if you are showing someone else the translation. (Review new words using Flashcards +, below). Requires an internet connection.
- 3. Install Flashcards+
This lets you create your own flashcards to review on the train etc. This is a very time-efficient method of learning new vocabulary. You can also download thousands of flashcard sets on many subjects from quizlet.com. Try searching for your English textbook and see what you find! Requires an internet connection.
When you find any new words doing activities 4-9 below, make sure you check their meaning and review them regularly using 1-3 above.
- 4. Set your default language in the OS and apps you use the most to English.
It can be quite difficult to use the more advanced settings on your phone like this, so remember how to change them back!
- 5. Buy graded readers from iTunes.
Several publishers now offer their graded readers as ebooks. Oxford Bookworms include a glossary, audio files and quizzes and are slightly cheaper than the paper versions. To find which level of reader you should read, go to a bookshop, open some graded readers at random and read a page. If there are more than two words that you don’t know per page, that level is too difficult for you. Choose a level which has only one or two new words on each page, then buy e-books from that level from your app store. Does not require an internet connection after the initial download.
- 6. Join a Photo a Day Challenge for a month.
Go to http://fatmumslim.com.au/ and download the Photo A Day list, which shows one word for every day of the month. Your challenge is to take a picture each day that represents that word and post them on your Facebook or Instagram page. This can be a lot of fun if you and some friends (or your whole class) do it together. Requires an internet connection.
- 7. Follow foreign celebrities / sports people on Twitter.
With just 140 characters, most messages on Twitter are very simple. You can learn new abbreviations and slang this way, too. Requires an internet connection.
- 8. Install Just Sayin’
This is similar to twitter, but focuses on audio. You can listen to native speakers’ messages and leave your own too. Try listening to a short message and trying to write it down word for word. If it is too fast or difficult, swipe across the track right to left to slow it down (swipe the other way to speed it up). Requires an internet connection.
- 9. Install Draw Something
This is a fun game that you can play with strangers or friends. It will give you lots of vocabulary and dictionary practice, and drawing and looking at pictures will help you remember new words. (you can also add pictures to your flashcards). Requires an internet connection.
- 10. Find programmes and materials to use on your phone.
Try entering the following keywords in your app store and see what you find: EFL, ESL, English Conversation. (You could try the British Council’s Learn English to get you started).
Dave Clayton is originally from England but has been teaching English in Japan for many years. He is currently a university lecturer and corporate trainer. His interests include vocabulary acquisition, bilingualism, teaching listening, Extensive Reading and English for Academic Purposes
Google, 2011, Mobile Internet & Smartphone Adoption, http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/Final_Mobile_Internet_Smartphone_Adoption_Insights_2011v3.pdf
Nation, I.S.P., 2009, Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking, Routledge, London p.133-137.
Shepherd, J. 2011, Smartphones and handheld computers: the new battleground in UK schools. Guardian.co.uk
DEB, 2011, Smartphones for schools. Digital Education Brighton.
An anecdote (to quote OALD) is a ‘a short, interesting or amusing story about a real person or event’. They are a great way of learning English, they are fun, entertaining and whether you are listeing to them or telling them, they offer a real chance to practise language.
There are loads of ways you can use them in your class. First you need a good source of stories you can use. Everybody has their own life stories and funny things that have happened to them, but, as a teacher you might not like to share what happened to you when you were fifteen or that blunder you made at a friend’s wedding.
I’ve pasted a nice one at the bottom of this blog post which I took from the fabulous ELC study zone. Here are three good places to get your anecdotes:
1. The local library. You’ll find something if you look!
3. Get yourself a nice anecdote book from Amazon. I’ve pasted a few examples below
How to use anecdotes in the classroom.
1. Anecdote homework. Tell students a good, long anecdote (like the carpet fitter below) in your own words and explain to students that for homework, they have to find an anecdote to share with their partner in the next session. Explain that students won’t have to tell the whole class (but they can if they want to) and will only have to tell their story to a partner. Also, remind them that anecdotes don’t have to be true.
2. Anecdote reading and telling. Find two good anecdotes and print them out. Put your students into pairs and pass one the first story and the second to the other. Ask the students to read the anecdotes and understand what they mean. When both students have finished, ask them to turn over their anecdotes so they can’t read them. Now students have to tell the anecdotes to each other from memory.
3. Finish the anecdote. Find a nice story and cut off the ending. You could use the one at the bottom of the blog. Get your students to read it and guess the ending.
Eddie the Carpet fitter (taken from ELC study zone )
Eddie was a carpet fitter, and he hated it. For ten years he had spent his days sitting, squatting, kneeling or crawling on floors, in houses, offices, shops, factories and restaurants. Ten years of his life, cutting and fitting carpets for other people to walk on, without even seeing them. When his work was done, no-one ever appreciated it. No- one ever said “Oh, that’s a beautiful job, the carpet fits so neatly.” They just walked all over it. Eddie was sick of it.
He was especially sick of it on this hot, humid day in August, as he worked to put the finishing touches to today’s job. He was just cutting and fixing the last edge on a huge red carpet which he had fitted in the living room of Mrs. Vanbrugh’s house. Rich Mrs. Vanbrugh, who changed her carpets every year, and always bought the best. Rich Mrs. Vanbrugh, who had never even given him a cup of tea all day, and who made him go outside when he wanted to smoke. Ah well, it was four o’clock and he had nearly finished. At least he would be able to get home early today. He began to day-dream about the weekend, about the Saturday football game he always played for the local team, where he was known as “Ed the Head” for his skill in heading goals from corner kicks.
Eddie sat back and sighed. The job was done, and it was time for a last cigarette. He began tapping the pockets of his overalls, looking for the new packet of Marlboro he had bought that morning. They were not there.
It was as he swung around to look in his toolbox for the cigarettes that Eddie saw the lump. Right in the middle of the brand new bright red carpet, there was a lump. A very visible lump. A lump the size of — the size of a packet of cigarettes.
“Blast!” said Eddie angrily. “I’ve done it again! I’ve left the cigarettes under the blasted carpet!”
He had done this once before, and taking up and refitting the carpet had taken him two hours. Eddie was determined that he was not going to spend another two hours in this house. He decided to get rid of the lump another way. It would mean wasting a good packet of cigarettes, nearly full, but anything was better than taking up the whole carpet and fitting it again. He turned to his toolbox for a large hammer.
Holding the hammer, Eddie approached the lump in the carpet. He didn’t want to damage the carpet itself, so he took a block of wood and placed it on top of the lump. Then he began to beat the block of wood as hard as he could. He kept beating, hoping Mrs. Vanbrugh wouldn’t hear the noise and come to see what he was doing. It would be difficult to explain why he was hammering the middle of her beautiful new carpet.
After three or four minutes, the lump was beginning to flatten out. Eddie imagined the cigarette box breaking up, and the crushed cigarettes spreading out under the carpet. Soon, he judged that the lump was almost invisible. Clearing up his tools, he began to move the furniture back into the living room, and he was careful to place one of the coffee tables over the place where the lump had been, just to make sure that no-one would see the spot where his cigarettes had been lost. Finally, the job was finished, and he called Mrs. Vanbrugh from the dining room to inspect his work.
“Young man,” she began, as he climbed into the cab of his van, laying his toolbox on the passenger seat beside him, “while you were working today, you didn’t by any chance see any sign of Armand, did you? Armand is my parakeet. A beautiful bird, just beautiful, such colors in his feathers… I let him out of his cage, you see, this morning, and he’s disappeared. He likes to walk around the house, and he’s so good, he usually just comes back to his cage after an hour or so and gets right in. Only today he didn’t come back. He’s never done such a thing before, it’s most peculiar…”
“No, madam, I haven’t seen him anywhere,” said Eddie, as he reached to start the van.
And saw his packet of Marlboro cigarettes on the dashboard, where he had left it at lunchtime….
And remembered the lump in the carpet….
And realised what the lump was….
And remembered the hammering….
And began to feel rather sick….
MDH 1994 — from a common urban legend
I’ve just found these old riddles on my hard drive and thought I’d share them. Oh and Nik Kershaw’s The Riddle is a class eighties tune – especially if played loud!
Click here for the PowerPoint show https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/riddles-for-the-english-classroom.ppt
They’ll provide a quick bit of speaking practice for pre-intermediate to intermediate EFL, ESOL or ESL students and you’ll need to have an Interactive whiteboard or a projector to show the PPT show.
Put your students into pairs and ask them to discuss the riddles one by one before you reveal the answers. You might also find that students have their own riddles they would like to share with you and the rest of the class.
I can’t remember where I found all of these, but three of them (numbers 3,7 and 8) come from the amazing and seminal English teaching book ‘Challenge to Think’ by Christine Frank, Mario Rinvolucri and Marge Berer’ first published in 1982.
Here’s the ppt file again https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/riddles-for-the-english-classroom.ppt
for more of the same visit
Language students routinely turn to the web to do their translating and there’s not much better than Google Translate. It effortlessly handless data and will translate into different scripts like Arabic and Russian, it can even translate some idiomatic phrases. It’s still a long way from being perfect, however and it gets a lot wrong.
I wanted to see if my human students could do better that the automated, super fast machine that is Google Translate. Here’s what I did.
1. I found a simple story, wrote it out in English and then pasted it into Google translate. I then translated it into the languages that my ESOL students can speak, Swahili, Arabic, Polish, Russian, Latvian, Hungarian and French.
2. In class, I handed students a copy of the story in their language and asked them to try and translate it into English. If there were two students, I asked them to team up and try to translate the story together. I told them where I got the translations and that there might be some mistakes in, but they should try to translate it the best they can. Also, before they started I pre-taught the word ‘worth’ and gave them some example sentences, this word is the key to the whole story.
3. As a group, I now asked them to shout out their translations, sentence by sentence before I showed them a copy of the real story in English.
Here’s the story I used and a link at the bottom to the translations from Google Translate.
Joe and the rich man
Here’s the link to the translated versions: https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/the-google-translate-challenge.doc