‘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!

Ideas I have recently used

At work I usually write my teaching reflections in Reflective Diary, where I try to put all the new ideas and tips from other teachers that I used in my classroom. With this post I would like to share ideas which I have recently used.
1.    Lesson starter “So you said…”. Students are divided into pairs, and they are indicated student A and student B. I often try this starter on Monday to let students talk about their week-end. The task is the following. Student A takes about a minute or a bit more to talk about his weekend. Student B is supposed to listen attentively, but he is not allowed to take notes, he is to listen and to memorize. When student A finishes his speech, student B says: so you said… and he tries to recall student A’s story. Then they change roles. Feedback: ask students to share how this activity went for them. I usually ask which words they used, their own or words of their partners.
2.    Regrouping students. I remember my teaching practice days when I was sure that something new is always better than repeating and recalling the same things. I have changed my philosophy and now from time to time I regroup students (in general, they  talk in pairs) and make them do the same activity, but with another partner. Feedback: today I asked my B1 students about this practice of regrouping, they told me that it was a good practice to talk again, and to watch their words floating and make not so many mistakes as during the first time.
3.    Idioms and proverbs as a lesson starter. I love idioms very much! Students and colleagues who I work with and members of my family as well know how I like to introduce my feelings and thoughts using set-expressions in Russian. As for idioms in the ESL classroom, I believe we need to create helpful and appropriate materials to drill them and to make students use them in their everyday speech. Last week I used proverbs: a) Time is money. b) Love is blind. c) Ignorance is bliss. d) Better late than never. e) Easy come, easy go. f) Haste makes waste. I wrote these proverbs with gaps and elicited possible endings from students. After that I asked to explain each proverb into ‘understandable English’. Then students worked on their own and created a short story to explain and to introduce a proverb they liked most. Feedback: students’ feedback turned out to be positive, though I believe that using proverbs in everyday English is a matter of scientific exploration, and not every student is eager to use idioms, just because there is sometimes no appropriate atmosphere for that.
4.    Evaluation worksheets. In particular, upon completion of the unit, I create evaluation worksheet and use it with students to help them to reflect on new vocabulary, grammar structures and key expressions for communication skills. This time I created my own evaluation worksheet with A1-A2 students on topic “Schedule” (Business Result, Oxford). What do I usually include in these worksheets? In general, the worksheets consist of tasks from the unit, I simply can change them a little. The idea is the following. You handout them to students, it takes them from 7 to 10 minutes to fulfill all the tasks, then students work in pairs and check their answers in pairs. After that I usually give them feedback and correct mistakes if necessary. This task helps them to be ready for a progress test or for a revision game. Feedback: students are always positive about this worksheet just because it is helpful and useful. I ask them to collect these worksheets, because they become nice visuals.

When and how do you usually reflect on new ideas and tips? Please, share in comments.

Thank you for reading!