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 (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.


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:


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!

‘Pass it round’ (Part 1)

Hi everyone!
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.

Thanks for reading!

Last-minute activity with collocations

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.

Thanks for reading!

Newcomers give food for thought…

Yesterday one of new employees joined Intermediate group of students. This can happen quite often, when in the middle of an academic year somebody starts a course. So, yesterday I was quite interested in having a lesson, in showing our internal rules and traditions (I mean, inside the class). But I did not do it myself, I asked my students to help me and to introduce themselves in an alluring manner.

So, I used one of ice-breakers I was really into, when you introduce yourself using a model:

I’m Anna, I’m ‘A’, I’m awesome.

I’m Paul, I am ‘P’, I’m polite.

This time along with the initial model I added a question “Why are you in the group?”, so it made my students introduce themselves and, thus, they told about their goals and ways of learning English there. I personally loved the way they accepted the activity, because it somehow showed their ability to support the new guy and give him awareness of how classes are conducted. It goes without saying, the newcomer and me introduced ourselves as well, and though my speech was different a bit, it helped me to realize how I participate in the group, not only in a role of the teacher, but also as a person who’s ready to give any necessary support and be helpful whenever they need it.

Thanks for reading!