As far as discussion questions concerned, I hardly ever lack ideas for creating them, however, it does happen that the procedure of discussion often turns into an ordinary ‘question me’ task which might make my students bored, not to mention tired… Today I’m going to be sharing an activity I’ve tried out recently. It might be used as a lesson starter or a follow-up activity when you are in the process of revising vocabulary. With respect to my students, it worked well as a lead-in.
- Write on the board 5-6 phrases: laconic and short enough.
Monday is the best day of the week.
Brad Pitt is handsome.
The Internet is more harm than good.
Watching series is a complete waste of time.
Pizza is delicious.
2. Break students into pairs or small groups.
3. Demonstrate the following table:
|I agree 100 percent.
||I totally disagree.
||I’m not quite sure.
4. Students take notes if necessary (allocate 1-2 minutes) and later on they discuss the statements in pairs or groups. Tell them they need to explain their answer.
5. Change some words in the statements: write Friday instead of Monday, write TV instead of the Internet… Then let them discuss once again.
6. Reflect on the activity with the whole class (in other words, give feedback by asking some of the opinions of groups or pairs).
The activity doesn’t take more than 20 minutes and as I’ve already mentioned, it can be adapted to any stage of the lesson where discussion is involved. I’ve been using it with my pre-intermediate and intermediate students with variety of topics. I do believe, it’ll work best with thought-provoking quotes as well.
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Today I’m going to be sharing an activity which I have designed this week. Right now I’m up to some private classes with Elementary students and their English leaves much to be desired (bearing in mind the language barrier that does exist and a real shyness which prevents from breaking the ice). My collaboration with one of my students have just started and her knowledge is limited to verb “to be” and simple constructions of Present Tenses. Consequently, in order to provide her with more communicative tasks, I’ve designed this activity. The description is as follows.
Aim: during this activity students talk about people they know (acquaintances, friends, neighbours, etc.) This is achieved by using a range of words and expressions, forms of Present Simple and verb to be.
Time: around 1o minutes (it’s my firm conviction, the best way to have this activity is to have it in the beginning of the lesson as a warmer).
Level: Elementary. Can be adapted to stronger levels.
Outline: Handout small slips of paper where there’s a table with 6 squares, see below. Students write names of people (you might need to preteach ‘acquaintance’, ‘neighbour’ or ‘classmate’. Then they speak about one of them they like, or they might roll a dice to find out who to talk about. My student Darya who’s from Italy agreed to present her own table with names.
|It’s my acquaintance
|It’s my friend
|It’s my neighbour
|It’s my classmate
|It’s my boyfriend
|It’s my ex
It’s an activity which can be held perfectly at one-to-one classes when you don’t ask only about a friend (to drill verbs and form of the third person). As a result, students have more opportunities to talk about different people and drill grammar. If it is a class with more than one person, students can ask follow-up questions and make it more natural.
It’s all up to now.
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Today I´m sharing an idea which I came up with last week.
If you asked your humble servant to describe herself during my first teaching years, I´d probably say ´spidergram addict’. Or ‘associagram addict’. 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 used to take a liking to 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 the topic?
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 studying-english lives. I believe, the activity gave them an opportunity to interact with each other and increase their fluency. Indisputably, they also got interested in the topic and this brought them a lot of fun and new impressions.
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[See the first part here]
To tell the truth, I’m not really into subscribing to such websites as “Idiom of the day” or “Oneliners-and-proverbs”. Yep, on the one hand, they are fabulous in terms of new vocabulary being revealed and learnt or, at least, noticed, and you can find out something really appealing. But on the other hand, having a huge workload and being extremely busy, you just skip those emails with a new idiom every day and it so happens you never read them again. Or you do, in case you’re inspired, but sometimes your motivation just fades away… My today’s post is about trying “word of the day” with students in the classroom, which turned out to be fairly engaging. Without being subscribed to one of those sites.
Otline: Teacher chooses a word, or a multi-word chunk, a proverb or an idiom and writes it somewhere in a corner of the whiteboard and introduces it to students in the beginning of the lesson. She asks her students to explain the meaning, and if they don’t know, she explains it. Later on students should come up with examples where the word is found (in other words, to make up sentences). Students can share in pairs, also they can make up questions to turn this activity into a communicative task. During the lesson the teacher can pay attention to the word again, and in the end to ask again about the meaning and examples.
The first time I tried it out with my Upper-Intermediate students, I completely went crazy about it. Firstly, this is something new your students will probably never find themselves. With a communicative task or a straightforward make-up-sentences activity the teacher can be sure her students will memorize the word. Secondly, it’s a new vocabulary unit that comes every lesson just in the very beginning, and it can become a nice starter every time, and you never need to come up with a starter idea. And without a doubt, it’s what your students will definitely love about the lesson.
With my upper-intermediates I made up my mind to assign students with a task to find word of the day for the next lesson and to share with the partners. We already had 3 lessons afterwards, and I should admit, this is probably the part of the lesson my students were looking forward to. At least, they were inspired to find out something completely new.
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Recently I have been suggested trying out several activities for the upcoming webinar on Vocabulary Activities. Honestly, I was amazed by the book ‘Vocabulary Activities’ by Penny Ur aiming to encourage teachers to use new ideas for their lessons to make them more engaging, yet beneficial and effective. I was really inspired when I started trying out the activities and I wanted
The first one I’ve given a try, was ‘Pass it round’. It was a follow-up task with suffixes for parts of speech. Students had been given a worksheet to come up with nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs with particular suffixes. So, ‘Pass it round’ was a revision activity just the following lesson.
Outline: students should add new items to vocabulary lists as they are passed round the class. S/s are divided into groups of two and three, they are given a sheet of paper with suffixes -ship, – ment, -ance/ence, – tion and -ness (as an example). Students are allowed just a minute to fill in at least one variant. Then the sheets are passed to another group and it has to read all the variants and has to add their ideas. The process continues, and each sheet goes to the group that hadn’t seen it before. When the groups have contributed, they can leave their sheets on their desks and can move round the class to see the others.
That’s what we’ve got today:
The task turned out to be very engaging. To make it more competitive teacher can use a timer to have the exact time for filling in the sheet.
This task is great for revision, but also, it can be carried out for vocabulary expansion.
I’ll definitely try it out with other groups.
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The other day I was looking for a revision activity for Elementary group consisting of 2 students only. With topic ‘Technology’ and target language ‘technology collocations’ (insert a credit card, enter the code, touch the screen, etc). The very day I was going to have a lesson was pretty busy for me and there was no idea about the revision activity at all. Then something appealing came to my mind.
First, I drew a table where I wrote down nouns using a blue marker. Then I asked the students to come to the white board and write verbs coming along with those nouns (each student with his marker colour). Later on I rubbed out the second column (that with nouns) and asked them to come up with more ideas, verbs in this case.
I definitely love those activities when students are allowed to move, change their seats, work with their partners from another part of the classroom. This activity was exactly the one I am writing about, that´s why I was determined to share it with you.
Do you do such activities with your students? I will be happy if you share your experience.
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