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.

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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!

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Passives for getting updates

Hi everyone! This blog has been quite for a while, it´s high time I continued blogging about my teaching practice. I was off for my vacation and it was really amazing to spend a fortnight in the forest with no Internet, no social networks, no ridiculous messages from strangers… I´m absolutely delighted to be here with my fellow-teachers.

My idea of a blog-post today is to tell you about the idea I’ve recently come up with. I was looking for warmers or lessons starters with a grammar flavor and I hit the mark, I managed to come across some teachers who constantly use Grammar warmers to make their classes more engaging, on the one hand, and useful, on the other hand. I should admit, I don’t spend a lot of time with my Upper-Intermediate students getting them to revise Grammar. So how could I do it? Provide them with Grammar warmer.

The first idea I came up with was using Passives to get updates.
I was off for two weeks, and it was quite awkward to come back after a long time of silence from the office, and I wanted to get updates about the current situation. So I asked my students to make up sentences with:

It is said that…
It is discussed… It is believed that…

In giving this short exercise to my students, I’m killing two birds with one stone. Firstly, I’m becoming more aware of the current situation in the office. For instance, today I had a chance to know, our office is gonna participate in Summer Party and we all are invited! That means, we´ll be lucky enough to be entertained in a country-based hotel with lots of fun! Yikes! Secondly, while using these particular structures, students are becoming more aware of the Passive Voice, and what´s more is that the task is personalized.

Tomorrow I´m gonna try a bunch of new Grammar warmers, namely, ask students about their typical working week and this particular week (making use of Present Simple and Present Continuous correspondingly).

I’m happy to be back. Thanks for stopping by!

Yours,

Anna

Warm up your Elementaries

Hello everyone!

Today I want to share a last-minute activity which came to my mind just several seconds before my lesson with Elementaries started. I was on vacation last week, and the students had around 10 days without classes, so it was no use rushing into coursebook materials right away. I wanted to give them some time to talk to their partners instead of answering my questions about their last working week and challenging projects they all are involved in. In ‘Speaking Games’ by Jason Anderson there’s a nice game called ‘A thing about cleft sentences’, where students speculate about the diversity of topics using phrases like ‘The most surprising thing about (Facebook) is that…. ‘ or ‘What annoys me most about (credit cards) is… ‘. With a bunch of topics and a tremendous lot of sentence beginnings it was quite a challenging task for my Upper-Intermediates (I used to have it as a warmer for a while).

Moving on to the task itself, I asked my students to choose from a set of topic cards the one they are most interested in (shopping, the Internet, Hollywood movies, restaurants, fashion, the environment, pop music, children and others). The task was to create 5 questions (including 4 special, or wh-questions, i.e. one of them should obviously be a general question). The idea was tempting and they started with encouragement. After the questions was ready, I asked the students to work with a partner and ask those questions. I loved the activity and so did my students for many reasons. The topics were interesting to discuss, the questions were different and they had a chance to talk to each other in the beginning of the class, so it could be considered a classical warmer.

That’s why I had enough courage to give my blog-post a name ‘Warm up your Elementaries’, because I do believe, this task works best for this purpose. I also believe, this warmer could be adapted for stronger levels. Let your students give you a hint.

Share if you want to try it out and please, share with me.

Thank you for reading!

Ice-breakers are awesome

Last week I started a new group with Intermediate students. There were 6 of them and this fact really makes me feel happy about the group in general. When it was a Pre-Intermediate group, there were 4 of them and they used to miss classes sometimes, and the progress was not transparent for both parties, I mean for me as a teacher and for students themselves. Now with 6 of them (we added 2 more students) it’s great to have lessons full of joy and as a result, to have a sense of achievement, because, it seems they are really enjoying lessons (though we’ve had only 2 so far).

My today post is one of the ice-breakers I gave a try to with this group. Before the very first lesson I had a short chat with my curriculum manager Lena, who gave a piece of precious advice for me, related to ice-breakers. And here comes the short outline of how I managed to have it at the lesson.

Outline: I gave my students small square sheets of paper and asked to write 6 sentences standing for 6 facts they know about their partners in the group, including me. I also took my sheet of paper and wrote down 6 facts about my students (I should say, it was great to be in my students’ shoes, for it was quite difficult to write facts about some of them). Thinking and writing took us about 6 minutes. Later on I nominated a person and everybody shared his facts with the whole group. It was so interesting to learn more about my students, and also to learn how they see me.

So, I should admit, I would love to repeat this activity with other groups (when I start new ones). It was amazing to have such a wonderful lesson and I love sharing it with you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Enjoy spring!

How my students once surprised me…

        Since I started my own ELT blog last year, a tremendous lot of inspiring heartbreaking ideas came to my teaching practice and most of them changed my own teaching style, and I’m really grateful to those who accidentally did it with me. Talking about the ideas, one of them was to create a group blog where students could  share their thoughts with each other, leave comments, complete written assignments and share funny pics and memes. I wanted to make this rule obligatory for every group I was teaching and I almost succeeded. In fact, all my groups DO have their group blogs, but tastes differ: some of the students are not at all interested in social networks (in this case, a group blog IS considered as a social network), and they are not at all excited about sharing anything or leaving comments. I would say, with some of the groups the group blogs work well, the students are quite active there and they are inspired to share and to collaborate using it. With some not, but it’s not a problem, we’re trying to find different options to make the process more engaging for everybody.

      But seems I was not too confident in my students (and it’s one of my weaknesses, really). When I started teaching Elementary group back in December 2015, I created a group blog in vk.com (Russian network) and introduced it to my students, they were extremely engaged, because all of them seem to be active PC users. I was surprised last week when they told they had created private community in the net consisting only of members of the group, where they (!) shared photos of the whiteboard and documents, along with tables and schemes, pictures and vocabulary and functional language lists. Truth be told, I was pleasantly shocked. The group works and lives its own life. The students are sharing music, they are chatting there and discussing stuff, which is an incredibly useful action for Elementaries. Of course, I asked a permission to join and now I see how they perform. I’m trying to be an observer, because I’m quite active as a teacher in our ‘official’ group and now I let them do what they want. I hope my participation will never confuse them and never make them less confident.

Do you have group blogs with your students? If yes, could you share, how successful they are? What do you share? What do they share? Or probably it is a completely different format? I would love to see your comments.

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy spring!

 

Yummy Revision

    I love ideas that simply come out of nowhere. My colleagues sometimes share their ideas and teaching tips that are extremely handy and appealing. That’s why I try to find a chance to use them as soon as possible. Today I was thrilled to have massive revision with my Intermediate students, following the idea of one of my colleagues Darya. I would call it Yummy Revision, and soon you’ll find out why it is so.

The idea is fairly simple. You should get a pack of M&M’s or any other brand of coloured candy. They serve like teaching aids for creating tasks for end-of-course revision.

Outline:

Step 1. Check the colours of M&Ms you have and cut out paper circles (one for each colour).
Assign each colour a category/topic for revision (e.g. Green: Decision­ making, Yellow: time-
management etc.) Stick  the circles on the whiteboard.

Step 2.  Divide your group into mini­groups. Pour M&Ms or any other multicolour candy into
3 bowls (I had 3 mini groups). Make sure the number of candies is equal in each, say, 9.

Step 3. And here we go­ Explain students that each group should come up with as many
tasks/exercises on a topic as they have candies of the same colour.

E.g. There are 3 green candies in their bowl (Green: Decision­making), so they think of 3
different exercises/tasks/activities on the topic. ( Make sure you elicit types of possible  tasks before –explanation, correcting mistakes, using the right preposition, gap­filling, providing synonymous phrases etc.)

As a result ­all your students are engaged, they revise target vocabulary, collaborate. After the class ask each group to send what they come up with to you by email, so that you
could check if everything in their tasks is fine.

Next class? It’s up to you­ have a competition using those activities, or pick the best ones, or
have them exchange their tasks etc.

And, of course, let them eat the candies at the end of the class­ they’re really well­ deserved.

I’m posting this large quote,  it’s how my colleague explained the activity.
So, today I was having the funniest class ever. It was fantastic to help students to create their tasks, to support lower ones and to ask the stronger to support the lower too. And yep, we ate those candies just after the lesson, sitting together on the sofa in the middle of the office and sharing our smiles and laughs.
And here comes a photo:

IMG_20160329_111425

I would love to thank Darya for this amazing experience!
This really made my day and I’m happy to share with you.

Thanks for reading!

‘Word of the day’ (Part 2)

[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.

Thanks for reading!