What are you doing right now?

Imagine a picture. My Pre-Intermediate students are entering the classroom at 09-30 in the morning for a 1,5-hour lesson and in just 5 minutes they all are leaving the classroom with only a pen and a small sheet of paper in their hands. The whole office is surprised, let alone, even shocked, but no one is trying to predict what is happening. The whole office is silent watching my pre-intermediate students walk around the office and write something in their small sheets of paper. They are walking slowly and watching other people do something in the office. In 3 minutes they’re coming back to the classroom. It’s time to put the cards on the table. My Pre-Intermediate students are focusing on Present Continuous. Today I asked them to leave the room, watch and take notes on what other people were doing at the very moment. They came up with something like that:

Marianna is checking email; Alice and Dima are playing ping-pong. The small fish in the aquarium are swimming and enjoying themselves.

At first sight, it might seem a bit strange, let alone, vague and uninteresting, however, they shared their feelings with me just after the activity. They liked it very much. They wanted to try it out again. They wanted to make a difference the following day and suggesting producing sentences without revealing the names of people in order to let their partners guess them.

What I personally liked about the activity is that they left the classroom. Yep, exactly, this point. They left classroom to know how it feels to work (to speak) outside the classroom. I always tell my students they their English is not limited by the size of the room. Leave it and feel it.

That’s what I wanted to share today.

Thank you for stopping by!

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Guess the topic

Today I´m sharing an idea which I came up with last week.

If you asked me to describe myself during my first teaching years, I´d probably say ´spidergram addicted’. Or ‘associagram addicted’. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? 🙂 Hand on heart, my favourite activity to brainstorm students’ associations with a topic was a so called ‘spidergram’: a topic in a circle and words or phrases framing the circle. Frankly, my students took a shine in the activity, however, I believe, they always wanted me to introduce something more involving and engaging one day.

Last week I did not start one of the lessons with Intermediate students with a spidergram. Instead I had prepared a set of cards and asked them to play a guessing game in pairs. Take a card, don’t show it to you partner, explain the meaning, take turns.

The words were the following: Skype for business, social networks, message, post office, conference call, wireless connection, misunderstanding.

After each pair finished, I put all the cards on the table in front of my students’ eyes. Obviously, I asked them to guess the topic. Can you guess a topic?

Communications.

My students did it quite quickly. In the end of the lesson they mentioned that the activity was probably the most involving they had ever had in their lives. I believe, the activity gave them an opportunity to interact with each other and increase their fluency. Indisputably, they also became interested in the topic and this brought them a lot of fun and new impressions.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Present Perfect vs Past Simple. An activity.

Hello everyone!

It´s a pleasure to be back, and I´m about to be bombing you with new blog-posts. Here comes one more. And it’s going to be practical with description of an activity for finding out (and analyzing) the difference between Present Perfect and Past Simple.

My Intermediate students are currently studying topic “Leisure Time’, which obviously goes hand in hand with hobbies and interests. Moreover, from the grammar point of you, the coursebook suggests doing some exercise to find the difference between the above mentioned tenses. I did not find them engaging, so I accidentally came across a nice activity in the net (here), changed it a bit, then gave it to my students.

Here comes the outline.
First up, I wrote “Our Favourites” on the board after a short warmer (discussing interests and hobbies). Then I elicited a couple of things people consider their favourite ones (food, music, movies, countries / cities, holidays, sports, etc). In doing so I put ‘Food’ as a first favourite thing into the first column of the chart (which was about to consist of 3 columns). Then I elicited verbs which are likely to be used to help to talk about favourite food. Have, try, eat, enjoy – my students came up with quite a few, and we added buy and taste. I put all of them into the second column. Having elicited verbs, I asked to think about two forms of irregular verbs ‘eat – ate – eaten’. I wrote them down here, in the second column. The next step was to ask a question and put it into the third column.

Have you ever eaten really spicy food?

I wasn’t lucky the first time, the student answered ‘No’. I asked another student, he answered ‘Yes’ and then I asked

What did you eat? – I ate sushi. – When did you eat it? – Two days ago.

I tried out a couple of questions from ‘Food’ with different students (everyone had a chance to answer; if the answer was no, then I moved on the another student) and then we moved on to ‘Country’.

Have you ever visited Italy? – Yes, I have.
When did you go there? – I went there last summer.

Next I asked a couple of questions from ‘Country’. I put all my questions into the chart.
Later on I asked to analyze why Present Perfect was used the first time and why Past Simple with the second question. They were analyzing it in pairs and then we were discussing with the whole group.

The follow-up task was to come up with two more categories (Favourites), among which were Sports, Movie, Holiday. And the students were supposed to make up their own questions in Present Perfect with a follow-up one with Past Simple.

Here comes the snapshot of my whiteboard.

IMG_20160803_131922
My overall impression is as follows. Everyone was involved; we were having a lot of fun. It’s a nice idea to come up with something new apart from a boring coursebook.

Thanks for stopping by!

Have a wonderful day!

Four-square method (reflection of the previous English class)

Source: Four-square method (reflection of the previous English class)

I´m very happy, because once started my own reflective blog, I encouraged my students to write reflections in their own blogs and share with me and their partners. My student Jane is a very talented girl, she´s willing to learn every single day and absorb as much information as possible. So she sometimes reflects on our lessons and that´s really a kind of thing I really appreciate.

Thanks Jane! You´re awesome!!!

Also, I´d like to thank Svetlana for providing this material and sharing.

Thanks for stopping by!

The next speaking game

little bird

Photo: http://40.media.tumblr.com/4a1731f197a50aad5d763feda88a2300/tumblr_mijhsfw5PR1qzya49o1_1280.jpg

Hi everyone!

I found a nice idea of asking my students for the feedback. Jane is the only student who I teach online (by skype) and she keeps on posting her ideas and reflections on many interesting topics. One of the them is reflection on our English classes. So, it’s great, I suppose! Jane, thanks for inspiration and God bless you in your striving for excellence in your learning process.

Here goes: The next speaking game.

Thanks for reading!

What motivates me in my job?

    motivation

Source: http://bodiesthatwork.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/motivation.jpg

Having classes with my Upper-Intermediate students, I can be sure each lesson turns out to be thought-provoking and demanding. The same with topics. Our next unit is called ‘Motivation’ and it is strictly important for them. First of all, as you may know, I’m a Business English Teacher, so my students are highly interested in an appropriate English level because many things depend on their skills. Secondly, as they told me during our analysis stage, topic ‘Motivation’ is definitely necessary for them to talk about it during their annual Assessments. These Assessments are supposed to provide employees with the opportunity to get promoted, to increase their salary and to achieve their personal goals.

One of the assignments for this topis is to write an essay (or just an answer to the question) ‘What motivates me in my job?’. I decided to write an answer myself, but not as an example of how to do it. It is rather for me to have one more chance to reflect about my job and occupation and about things that make me happy.

So… What really motives me in my job?

I’m ready to answer honestly: an opportunity to communicate. I believe, it is more than that, it is my own happiness and joy to speak to people in Russian, in English, in Spanish, whatever. I’m so lucky, because I have lots of chances to communicate at work. I speak during our classes, I speak in the morning with a cup of tea in my hands, I speak during ‘funny lunches’ as we call them, because so many people get together in the working kitchen and we chat, tell anecdotes and funny stories. I’m a chatter-box, that’s true, but people around me are happy to talk to me, too, and that’s the point.

A foreign language teacher must strive for excellence, and that’s why self-development is a thing that is really wholesome. I believe, at work I have lots of possibilities to develop as a teacher, as a successful teacher whose students increase their level from year to year and they master their English skills. It definitely motivates me! Also I should say something about my blogging experience, it is absolutely awesome in terms of self-development and it is like you kill two birds with one stone. “I write my teaching reflections” means I develop as a teacher. Writing is my thing!

Colleagues also motivate me. I have got plenty of people surrounding me who are talented and gifted and who inspire me. Talking about my students, they are also my colleagues, and taking my teaching into consideration, they are people who bring me opportunities to develop as a teacher. My blog’s name is Enséñame, I have written about the reasons here, and the main idea of that post is to tell my followers and readers that I´m also a learner and a person who is somehow “greedy” in the framework of learning. Teaching is learning, an everlasting process for me, I´m happy to have realized that.

What have I forgotten?

Work-life balance. I’m a part-time teacher, although I find time to read professional literature at home in the evening when I’m alone and no one is watching me. When you have a family and children, a part of your thoughts are devoted to them, but another part is with your students. Several years ago it was difficult for me to balance work and private life, even though at that time there were no people who I had to take care of. Now with my 5-year-old son it is possible to spend half a day at work and another half with him, sometimes providing him with the opportunity to watch an English video on youtube or recite an English nursery rhyme together. I guess, I’ve found an ideal balance, and I’m happy with that.

Many things can motivate. I’m really happy to be here as an English teacher who has got a great amount of things that makes her happy.

Looking back, I should admit this post has turned out to be very sincere and openhearted. I invite my followers to share their thoughts about motivation at work. What motivates you? What makes you happy?

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you!

And… thanks for reading!

Continue doing activities from #FlashMobELT…

flashmobSource: http://trinityaos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/logo.gif

Hi there!

Today my short post is about Peter O’Connor’s activity suggested for #FlashMobELT (my first experience is posted here).

Start / stop reading.

 I like doing this activity as it kind of uses the ‘whole’ student. Reading, speaking, listening, and paying attention are the main elements applied. Break the students into pairs and have them sit facing each other. One student holds the text book so that the other student cannot see. When the teacher says ‘start’ the student holding the text starts reading. When the teacher says ‘stop’ the student stops reading and hands the book to the other student. No pointing or prompting. When the teacher says ‘start’ again, the other students pick up from where the last student finished. This continues until the text is finished.

 Peter O’Connor

I was looking for an activity to help my Intermediate students to revise the previous vocabulary taken from the small text. Seek and ye shall find! I broke students into pairs and let them read the text one by one according to the instruction. After the whole text was finished they easily could remember all necessary vocabulary for further lesson goals. It was a nice lesson starter, rather modest, non-striking and very logical.

I was lucky to have the most memorable feedback. Students noticed that it was the first time in our classroom, it was intriguing at first sight and as a result successful in the framework of revising of material.

Many thanks go to Peter O’Connor and Anna Loseva for such an attractive resource with entirely useful activities.

Thanks for reading! Hope to hear from you soon!