Thought-provoking statements

Hello everyone!

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.

  1. 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.

Thanks for stopping by!

My ex, my neighbour and my friend

Hi everyone!

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

Diego

It’s my neighbour 

Irina

It’s my classmate

Veronica

It’s my boyfriend 

Dario

It’s my ex

Sasha

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.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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 took liking to it very much. They wanted to try it out again. They wanted to make it different the following day and suggesting producing sentences without revealing the names of people in order to let their partners guess them.

What I personally found involving about the activity is that the students 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!

Guess the topic

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?

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 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.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Celebrities at your service

Today I’m going to be blogging about an activity that I had a chance to share with the whole team of EPAM language instructors yesterday. Also my fellow-teachers were sharing their activities and one day I would be happy to share them too. Some are just amazing and worth trying out just after reading. Here we go now.

Yours truly is starting the overview with the activity she shared.

It was a lesson with my Upper-Intermediates, and we were focusing on speaking about social plans with key expressions like ‘Have you got anything planned for the weekend? Or what are you gonna do tonight? Anything nice planned for the weekend? And things like that.

Firstly, I asked students to work with a partner and share their plans. Secondly, I handed out cards with celebrities, some of the them you can see on the slide, and asked them to play a role of a person on the card and perform on behalf of this celebrity. My students had to talk about plans for the weekend for Angelina Jolie and Homer Simpson and this activity turned out to be extremely engaging. Students had to imagine things they  had never had a chance to talk about in the classroom before.

The next time I tried this activity out with my Pre-Intermediate students and asked them to share how they spent their weekend. Again, they had to play a role of a person from the card. It was fun!

Could you share in comments, have you ever used such an idea to use cards with celebrities in your English classroom? Thank you 🙂

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!

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!

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!