Summary of past or recent events

Introduction:

This is a speaking activity which allows students to describe the most important things that happened to them in 2016, over the holidays, the last school year etc.

Objectives:

  1. To describe past events using past tenses or recent events using present perfect tenses.
  2. To practise asking wh-questions in authentic communication.

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to write down ten important or memorable things that happened to them in the chosen time period. Make sure they know the events will be discussed in class and are not too personal. You can decrease or increase that number depending on how talkative your class is (I found teenagers usually struggle with ten).
  2. Put students in pairs (student A and student B) or groups of three.
  3. Student A briefly describes the first event on the list. Once student A has finished student B asks additional questions starting with who, whose, what, when, where, why, which, how, how long and how many.
  4. Encourage students to show pictures of the events, if they have any on their phones, to make the activity more relevant.
  5. Students continue until they have each described all the events from their lists.

Alternative ideas:

  1. You could also ask students to come up with a recent summary of events in politics, art, science, etc.
  2. You could use it as a getting- to- know- you activity with students writing a list of “Ten things to know about me “.

 

 

Ir(regular) Xmas

INTRODUCTION:

This is a fun activity which allows students to recycle regular and irregular verbs and practise writing short summaries . The video reminds me of my dad, who like the main character in the advert is also called Robert, and whose level of English is quite basic but he keeps learning and trying his best.

OBJECTIVES:

1. To practise regular and irregular verbs in context
2. To encourage pair work
3. To correctly use linking expressions

PROCEDURE:

1. In pairs, the students discuss what activities they do at Christmas, e.g. I spend a lot of time with my family , I eat out a lot with my friends etc. Ask if they ever spent Christmas separated from their family and, if not, how do they think it might make them feel.

2. Tell students you are going to show them a short Christmas advert.

3. Play the video (A Christmas advertisement for Polish auction website Allegro):

4. Ask students what they thought of the advert and what emotions it evoked in them.

5. Put students in pairs or groups of three; give them 2 minutes to brainstorm verbs from the advert, and as they call them out, write them on the board. You don’t need to write all their suggestions, but ensure you have the verbs below. If you are introducing the verbs, make sure the students know their meaning.

• Arrive
• Greet
• Hug
• Improve
• Introduce
• Learn
• Leave
• Listen
• Memorise
• Pack
• Practise
• Read
• Receive
• Remember
• Repeat
• See
• Speak
• Spend
• Study
• Take
• Try
• Visit
• Watch
• Write

6. Ask the students to brainstorm, and then one from each group to write the past simple form of each verb on the board next to its infinitive. Make any corrections as necessary.

7. Students write affirmative sentences about what happened in the story using the verbs in past simple e.g. The man in the advert practised his English every single day. He watched TV in English every night. When the students are finished they put the sentences in chronological order.

Alternative idea for the production of sentences: ask the students to write the verbs on Post It notes. Put students into pairs, or groups of three, and give each student 12 Post It notes if they work in a pair, or 8 if they work in a group of three. The students’ task is to get rid of their Post It notes as soon as possible by producing correct sentences. Once the group is finished, they put the sentences they produced in chronological order.

8. When the students are finished, elicit the following connecting words e.g. afterwards, as soon as, at first, at last, before long, in the meantime, later, next, soon, then, etc.

9. Students write a short summary (140 words ) of the advert using the sentences they wrote previously as a guide. For example, An older man received a dictionary. At last he was able to start learning. Before long his house was covered in post-it notes he used to memorise and study new vocabulary.

P.S. Merry Christmas

Soap Opera

OBJECTIVES:

  1. To increase speaking fluency
  2. To practise past tenses and descriptions of people
  3. To structure and sequence a story using appropriate expressions
  4. To develop writing skills

PROCEDURE :

• Before the lesson, cut several A4 sheets into 8 squares of paper. The number of squares you need in total is 6 x the number of students in your class. So, if you have 11 students, you need 66 pieces of paper.

• Introduce the topic of TV. In groups, ask them to discuss their favourite TV programmes. Write any new vocabulary you hear on the board.

Ask students :What is a soap opera? What examples can they give? A soap opera is made up of episodes normally shown daily or several times a week, and continues to run throughout the year. Elicit ‘cliffhanger’ and ‘flashback’ / ‘flash-forward;

• Divide the class into six groups and give each group one of the topics below – suggest the examples but do not control their creativity.

1) event, such as funeral, wedding, coronation, etc.
2) place, such as New York, library, on a boat, etc.
3) job, such as architect, builder, astronaut, etc.
4) name & age, such as Vera 43, Tom 17, etc.
5) verb, such as laugh, write, misunderstand, etc.
6) object, such as knife, pencil, cup, etc.

• Give each group the same number of pieces of paper as you have students. So if you have 11 students, give each group 11 pieces of paper. They must write one example of their topic on each square of paper.

• One person from each group must hand out one of their squares to each student, so each student ends up with six pieces of paper, one for every topic.

• Put them into groups of three or four and explain that they are going to create a soap opera: they must work together to invent one episode each which must contain each of their six topics, and these episodes must fit together to produce a soap opera.

• Each student must write their own episode – this prevents one student taking over the group.

• They present their soap operas at the end of the lesson and the winner is decided by a vote of hands.

• Homework: inventing the following episode ,which students can later compare with each other.

ADDITIONAL IDEAS:

• Ss could also prepare comic strips and illustrate the most important event in their story or you could prepare the strips and ask the ss to write down the dialogue
• You can include additional topics, such as linkers, or encourage use of a recent grammar point
• Bring pictures of people to class as it helps to visualise the characters
• Ss could vote for the soap opera, present the other teams with only the first episode and the rest could predict what happens next (language of prediction)
• The teacher could act as a TV producer and ss have to convince you their soap opera is the best to invest in
• Ss could also briefly present their pilot episode to the rest and others could suggest five things they would like to see more of if the show were to be successful
• Later other groups could write a review of the pilot episodes
P.S.Big thanks to my lovely friend Alex for her constant encouragement and feedback.