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

Wanted

Introduction : this is a fun activity which allows students to recycle and learn new vocabulary related to clothes and appearance

OBJECTIVES:

1. To increase speaking fluency and accuracy
2. To practise descriptions of appearance and / or clothes
3. To develop writing skills

PROCEDURE :

1. Put students into groups and ask them to brainstorm adjectives describing appearance.

2. Feedback: add new adjectives to students’ lists e.g. chubby, curvy, muscular , plump, presentable , scruffy, etc.

3. Introduce the idea of reliable memory.Ask students if they think memory is reliable, if they remember what they were wearing last week, what someone new they had recently been introduced to looked like. Tell them to shut their eyes and ask them questions about other people in the class: what colour is Sara’s coat, what is the pattern on Jacob’s jumper, etc.

4. Divide the class into two groups – police officers (A) and witnesses (B).

5. Give the witnesses a picture of a person in a detailed background location. For example, a picture of a woman in a bank. It could be a picture cut out from a magazine or a picture of a family member or even the teacher. They have 1 minute to look at the picture and memorise it.

6. Put police officers and witnesses into pairs and tell the witnesses they have witnessed a crime and they saw the suspect. They must try and describe the suspect as accurately as possible to the police officer in front of them. The police officers’ job is to write down the details given by the witnesses.

7. Allow three to four minutes for the interview and then ask the witnesses to move to another police officer and repeat the statement. Once the police officers are finished they compare their notes on the suspect’s appearance with the original photo. If there are few differences the suspect will be brought to justice.

8. The students swap roles and repeat with a different image.

HOMEWORK IDEAS:

• Students design ‘Wanted’ posters and write a detailed description of the suspect based on the notes they made during the interview.They bring their descriptions to class and ask the “witness” to read the statement and confirm that the information is true and correct ( it allows students to recycle the vocabulary yet again whilst role playing )

• Students could also compare the two suspects and write sentences e.g. Suspect 1 is not as chubby as suspect 2

• Encourage students to watch a fascinating Ted talk about the fiction of memory http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory

P.S. A quick thank you note to my friend Alex. Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to offer feedback and share your ideas.

The search is on (preposition game)

INTRODUCTION:

This game works well if you have a big place available to you. I have done it in a TV company I work in and the summer school I go to every year. This also works within the classroom if you are not able to use a larger space.

OBJECTIVES:

1. To revise / introduce prepositions of place
2. To provide students with an opportunity to practise a grammar point in an entertaining way
3. To encourage pair and group work
4. To encourage peer correction

PROCEDURE:

• Preparation: Before the class put various objects in different areas of the building or classroom where they can be easily seen e.g. a pen on the sofa in the reception area, a folder under the chair next to the main door. To make it more obvious, you could choose items which are all the same colour, or begin with the same letter, or are related to a certain topic.

• In the class, revise prepositions of place e.g. in, at, on, under, above, next to, in front of, behind, opposite.

• Explain to the students that as a group they will be doing a ‘treasure hunt’ of objects around the school and that they must find and correctly describe the location of the object in order to win a point. You can offer guidance by taking them to the vicinity of the items. You could take pictures of the objects you want students to find and show them before you all leave the classroom.

• After you have found all the objects and their locations have been correctly described , return to the classroom and put students in small groups.

• Give each group ( maximum 3 students per group) 10 post- it notes on which they write their team name and number them 1-10.

• Students go and stick the post –it notes in various places throughout the building writing down the exact position of the note on a sheet of paper e.g. Post-it note1 is under the small blue table on the first floor (I encourage the weaker students to write and the stronger to correct and supervise).

• When the groups come back correct any errors in spelling or grammar and the groups swap sheets.

• Now the groups have to find the other teams’ post-it notes as quickly as possible following the instructions written by the other team.

FEEDBACK:

Identify why/if some of the post-it notes couldn’t be located, and correct the sentences with the students.

I find the students become very competitive, engaged, active and on their feet which is a nice change from the typical lesson. They also receive immediate feedback on their work – if their instructions are unclear, the other teams are unable to find the post-it notes.

Agony Aunt with a twist

OBJECTIVE:

To practise giving suggestions and advice, to revise reported speech

PROCEDURE:
1. In pairs ask students to brainstorm expressions to offer advice and suggestion e.g. I (don’t) think you should…, you could try…

2. Go through the expressions together and when the students run out of ideas add expressions of your own

3. Individually ask students to think of a problem they or their friends are struggling with and write down a very brief description of it. Let them know they shouldn’t think of anything too personal as they will be sharing the information with each other. Alternatively you can ask them to think of a problem they’ve had and solved but tell them to keep the solution to themselves at this stage. Discourage students from inventing the problem as then their investment in the activity won’t be the same.

4. Students switch papers and write down a piece of advice for the first student using ONE of the expressions they thought of or learnt at the beginning of the class. Tell students to underline the expressions to make them more visible e.g. I don’t think you should date Jack. He makes you so unhappy.

5. Students then pass the paper to the next student who offers a new piece of advice and uses a new expression e.g. How about seeing a marriage counselor? I’m sure he could help you both.

6. Students continue passing their pieces of paper or notebooks round until each person in the class has given each student a piece of advice. Tell students they are not allowed to repeat expressions and suggestions which forces them to read what has been written and constantly exposes them to expressions they might still be unfamiliar with or uncomfortable using.

7. At the end of the activity students choose the most adequate piece of advice they have been given or if their problem has already been solved they compare their own solution to the suggestions of other students and comment on it in their pair/group.
HOMEWORK :

Students rewrite the suggestions into reporting statements e.g. Maria suggested breaking up with Jack. Maria recommended that I should see a therapist.

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.

Interactive reading class

INTRODUCTION:  

The following lesson plan works well with all levels and topics and students could be given as much autonomy as the teacher wishes them to have. Also there are plenty of opportunities for input and feedback. I love the fact this activity involves every single student. I encourage you all to give it a try.

PROCEDURE:

  • Choose an exam text you want students to read. In my class last week I chose a text about a scientific approach to modern art (CAE 1 Use of English and Reading, part 7)
  • Ask students to read the text quietly and ignore the questions for the time being
  • Time students while they are reading, but not to put pressure on them but rather to give them an idea of how much time they need (give students 10 minutes to read the text, most students are ready after 8 minutes though)
  • Put students in pairs. Ask them to compare their view of modern art with the ideas expressed in the text
  • In the same pairs, ask students to tell each other which text they didn’t understand (students often choose different texts which results in them explaining the texts to each other)
  • In the same pairs students decide which out of four texts would be the easiest to summarize and consequently summarize it to each other
  • Get feedback
  • In their pairs, ask them to write 4 comprehension questions (one per text) for the other teams. Make sure the students come up with the questions together, which forces them to negotiate the meaning of the text yet again and facilitate understanding
  • Make sure they each have a copy of the questions as they will be moving around
  • The pairs now split and form new pairs
  • In their new pairs, they must answer/ask each other’s questions
  • Students return to their original pairs and now individually answer the questions in the test book
  • Students compare in pairs, in threes and then as a whole class
  • Do not provide correct answers until they are able to provide you with one set of answers. By this point the students are usually so involved in the text they are hardly ever willing to give up
  • Check answers and get feedback

 

HOMEWORK: students choose 8 verb phrases from the text that they would like to incorporate into their vocabulary and prepare questions for an interview with a modern artist of their choice (it forces them to use the words in a new context). Next class: journalist (student A) and an artist (student B) work together and both get an opportunity to recycle vocabulary form the previous class.

Lollypop debate

INTRODUCTION:

The following debate works well with most levels and offers plenty of opportunities for input and feedback. I have followed this structure with a business class, PET, FCE and CAE classes and it worked well. I love the fact that this activity involves every single student.
OBJECTIVES:

To develop debating skills, to use agreeing expressions, disagreeing expressions, expressions to interrupt politely and expressions to express an opinion.

NUMBER OF STUDENTS FOR THIS ACTIVITY: 6 or 8 (It could easily be adapted though)
PROCEDURE:
➢ Divide the class into groups/pairs and hand out the lists of expressions you prepare before the class. Each group must choose six expressions from ONE of the categories: agreeing expressions, disagreeing expressions, expressions to interrupt politely and expressions to express an opinion. Encourage them to choose either new expressions or ones they know but require more practice to correctly incorporate them into their language. Then the students write the expression on each of the six lollipop sticks

➢ Put the students into pairs and ask them to choose two topics they want to debate

✓ TIP: prepare some topics in advance to save time and maintain the pace
✓ TIP: think of topics based on previous units to revise vocabulary

➢ Using the new expressions to agree and disagree, put two pairs together to eliminate two topics from their common list of four. It gives students an opportunity to practise the expressions before the actual debate starts
➢ As a whole class and using the given expressions, students reduce their list of topics to final two
➢ Pair students up for the debate. I made it more interactive by asking them to find their partner.I wrote down famous Spanish couples on individual pieces of paper and handed them out. The students had to ask each other three questions before they decided who their spouse is e.g. What do you do, Where do you live, are you Penelope Cruz? etc.

✓ TIP: make sure all students know the celebrities you chose.

➢ Students sit with their “spouses “
➢ The judge and their secretary (one couple) must come up with the rules and decide on the structure of the debate (monitor this and offer suggestions if necessary)
➢ The remaining two teams have 5 to 10 minutes to prepare three arguments

✓ TIP: ask fast finishers to anticipate the arguments of the other team

➢ Before the judge begins the debate take three expressions from each category and place them in front of each team on the table (now each team should have 12 expressions /lollypop sticks in front of them)

➢ As a team, each student introduces an argument which is passed to an opposing team member for discussion, who then introduces counter argument which is passed back to the first team for discussion, etc. Once the students have successfully introduced their expressions into an argument, the stick is taken away

✓ Make sure every expression is followed by a logical argument as often students will simply read the expression itself and consider that a contribution
✓ Students lose points if there are lollipop sticks left on the table at the end of the debate

➢ The final student provides a short summary of the main points. Allow up to 2 minutes for this part per team

✓ TIP: Encourage each team to provide each other with feedback
✓ TIP: Ask the judge to analyze the debate based on rules the teams were told to follow rather than the strength of the arguments, because if the students are friends with their classmates they often feel uncomfortable and put on the spot when they are asked to decide who the winner is

➢ Feedback and correction

➢ After the first debate the secretary switches with one of the members of team A and the judge replaces a member from team B. The remaining members of team A and B switch the expressions to make sure they use new expressions in the next debate
OTHER IDEAS:
➢ Teams could get an extra point for each new/original argument
➢ The secretary makes notes during the debate which could later be used to write a formal letter to a boss (e.g. meetings are a waste of time) and students describe what was said at the “meeting”/debate
➢ The introduction of arguments should be short, to give students as much time as possible for the actual interaction which could be extended to 5 minutes. Depending on the length of the class and the number of debates you’ve planned, I would suggest shorter debates to make sure the judge and the secretary also get to participate)
➢ Maybe one student could be asked to introduce the arguments and another to close, in order to equally engage all students