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!



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!

News activity as a lesson starter



Hi there!

Today I´m going to share an idea my students find challenging but attractive enough to be realized. It is an idea of a lesson starter when you meet with your students after a weekend or it’s just your first class after the weekend, when students are open to a new series of classes and they need to be warmed up and made to speak.

Preparation: before the weekend ask your students to use any news portal known to them to prepare a short 1-minute informative exchange including news they had a chance to face during the weekend. It can be news from everywhere and about any of aspects of life: culture, science, work, politics, ecology, traveling, etc. Just things they are personally excited about. I suggest doing it at the weekend to provide students with enough time for observing news portals.

How it works: break students into pairs and let them talk about news they want to share. Each talk should not be more than 1 minute. Then change partners or let them choose new partners again and repeat the activity. If possible it would be better to let each student to talk once to every member of the class. Also it’s possible to work in groups of three and four.

As a follow-up students can classify all news in accordance with its aspects given above. As a feedback they can answer the question whose news are more surprising (interesting, boring, memorable, etc).

I always do this activity with my Intermediates and Upper-Intermediates, on Monday morning it is vitally important to begin classes with something making you speak at once.

How do you find this idea? Would you like to try it with your students? Why? Why not?

Thanks for stopping by!

Continue doing activities from #FlashMobELT…


Hi there!

Today my short post is about Peter O’Connor’s activity suggested for #FlashMobELT (my first experience is posted here).

Start / stop reading.

 I like doing this activity as it kind of uses the ‘whole’ student. Reading, speaking, listening, and paying attention are the main elements applied. Break the students into pairs and have them sit facing each other. One student holds the text book so that the other student cannot see. When the teacher says ‘start’ the student holding the text starts reading. When the teacher says ‘stop’ the student stops reading and hands the book to the other student. No pointing or prompting. When the teacher says ‘start’ again, the other students pick up from where the last student finished. This continues until the text is finished.

 Peter O’Connor

I was looking for an activity to help my Intermediate students to revise the previous vocabulary taken from the small text. Seek and ye shall find! I broke students into pairs and let them read the text one by one according to the instruction. After the whole text was finished they easily could remember all necessary vocabulary for further lesson goals. It was a nice lesson starter, rather modest, non-striking and very logical.

I was lucky to have the most memorable feedback. Students noticed that it was the first time in our classroom, it was intriguing at first sight and as a result successful in the framework of revising of material.

Many thanks go to Peter O’Connor and Anna Loseva for such an attractive resource with entirely useful activities.

Thanks for reading! Hope to hear from you soon!

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!