grammar

Lesson idea: present perfect time markers

activity from Gateway (Macmillan)

Here are a few fun activities for practising time markers used with the present perfect. There’s a review of these markers in a B1 level teen coursebook we’re using (Gateway, Macmillan). I found the meaning/rule activity in the book useful, but the practice tasks following it were a bit boring so I made up a few more.

Time markers practised: already, for, just, never, since, yet

BEEP game

  1. Students write one sentence for each time marker. They should personalise this.

e.g.

I’ve never been to Laos

I haven’t done my homework yet

Etc

  1. Students self-correct / peer-correct sentences with a partner. You could draw attention to possible errors (e.g. are the time markers in the right place?) or typical errors you know your learners make (e.g. *I’ve never been yet), just for a bit of direction
  2. Students change partners. They keep their sentences a secret. They read each sentence to their partner, but replace the time expression with the sound ‘BEEP’. Their partner guesses the missing word by repeating the complete sentence, like this….

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Lesson ideas: football and conditionals

Looking for a way to teach/review conditionals? A former colleague at LTC Eastbourne (cheers Angel) told me that football was his ‘go to’ topic for conditional structures…

Show the students a league table (or part of it):

Use actual upcoming fixtures, or make them up to suit the part of the table you’ve chosen:

Chelsea v Man City (Saturday)

Arsenal v Tottenham (Sunday)

Etc…

Model some conditional sentences based on the information:

e.g.

1st conditional: If Man City beat Chelsea on Saturday they’ll move up to 2nd place.

 

You could provide scenarios for students to write about, or sentences for them to complete:

If Arsenal beat Spurs… (highly likely)

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Present perfect game

I’m on good form! It’s been a fun weekend of classes.

Today I tried out a new task for practising the present perfect (life experiences). Well, it wasn’t exactly new, just a variation on a few well-known tasks. Still, it worked well – lots of practice and lots of smiles!

Preparation

  • Put a few topics on the board:

Travel, sport, studying English, animals, food

  • Elicit a few verbs (past participle form) related to each topic:

Travel: been, seen, travelled…

Studying English: studied, passed…

Animals: owned, fed…

Etc.

These will help students with ideas.

  • Give students 5 slips of card each. They write one sentence on each card (one for each of the topics). The sentence should be about their life experiences. Rules are…
  1. The sentences must be true (that narrows things down a bit!)
  2. They can’t be too easy to guess
  3. You must keep your sentences a secret

Easy to guess for Thai students: I’ve been to Chiang Mai (most of the students have)

Harder to guess: I’ve walked along the Great Wall of China (quite specific)

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Lesson idea: should and shouldn’t…

A repeat of the must/mustn’t game I mentioned a while back. I used this for should/shouldn’t the other day, in the context of illness.

should

Choose an illness, or some kind of problem related to your context. Prepare three pieces of advice, keep them hidden. Students work in pairs/groups and write down as much advice as they can using ‘you should/shouldn’t’. Allow a few minutes. Reveal your answers. If students’ ideas match the advice on the board (or it’s close enough) they get points.

shouldnt

Always seems to be fun and engaging. Let me know if it works for you.

A fun way to drill

A bit of repetition never hurt anyone! It might not be the most riveting stuff, but sometimes I come across these ‘listen and repeat’ drills in our materials or in books. They’re ok. I used to like substitution drills myself. You know, teacher models sentence, students repeat, teacher changes a word or phrase, students repeat again, etc. The British Council explain it better than me.

Anyway, I’ve taken to adding flipchart slides like this into my lessons when a bit of drilling is needed:

1709k

(image rights: credit.com, sweetpics.site, traceylind.wordpress.com, corrupteddevelopment.com)

I got the idea from JB, Senior Teacher at British Council Vietnam. The text at the top is a hint to the target language – in this case it was ‘Can you… Could you… Would you be able to…’, phrases for making requests. Then there are some pictures for things to request, then the YES/NO symbols.

Procedure:

Get yourself one of these

1709l

(image from cleaningshop.com.au)

  • First, do a bit of practice. Say the name of a student. Quickly slap the phrase (e.g. CY) then the picture with the fly swatter. The student says the full phrase – ‘Can you pass me the salt?’
  • Repeat this a few times, quickly so students have to think fast. You could do it in pairs, groups if you want, up to you.
  • Bring in the ‘YES/NO’ button. Just say a student’s name and slap the tick or cross. The student says one of the target phrases you’ve taught for agreeing to undertake the request (e.g ‘sure, no problem’) or refusing (e.g. ‘sorry, I can’t’). Practise a bit.
  • Put these together. Say two students names, then slap the phrase, a picture then YES or NO. The first student you say must make the request, the second student must respond.

What’s good about it?

My adult classes find the fly swatter funny. They like the quick fire nature of this, and it leads to some lively collaboration and correction. Only giving clues for the phrases keeps them guessing. You can get students to take over the swatting if you want. It only takes a few minutes to make a few different flipchart slides like this. It’s a nice 5 minute activity leading in to more controlled practice and it livens up a sometimes boring activity.

The feature image for this post is another example (in the future, eventually, one day, at some point)

Give it a go. Let me know what you think. Any other tips for drilling new structures?

Grammar review using drawings

This was a good idea I came across Bucksmore summer school. A review for various tenses/structures.

Give students a piece of paper. Get them to split it into 4 squares.

In each of the squares they draw one of the following:

  • Something you’ve done
  • Something you were doing this time last year
  • Something you will have done by the year 2050
  • What you will be doing in the year 2050

They choose the squares for each drawing at random.

Go over the structures if you need to…

You’ve + V3

This time last year you were  + Ving

By 2050 you will have + V3

In 2050 you’ll be + Ving

Students look at each other’s pictures and use the phrases to guess what each drawing shows.

Tweak the above examples to include structures you want to review.

Good fun. The drawing bit doesn’t have to take too long, I mean look how bad mine are!

Level? This activity was used at Upper-Int level. It was actually a warmer just to review these structures. Copyright Bucksmore I guess!

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.

Disappearing dialogues, colour-coded support

On the CELTA YL course I did a story retelling task. The students had watched a Shaun the Sheep video, and I’d pre-taught some of the tough vocab. After the video I wanted them to retell the story, but they needed a bit of scaffolding.

I gave them a set of sentence parts all chopped up. I modelled structuring one sentence, which showed them that the sentence order was colour coded (i.e. they knew each sentence would start with a blue part, have red in the middle and green at the end):

dialogues

This helped them construct the sentences – they had some picture prompts too. They had to make sure the sentences were in the correct order (following the story). Then…

  • I asked them to read through the sentences together to practise retelling the story
  • I asked them to do it again, but this time include sequencing language (First, next, then, etc) and try to connect shorter sentences with conjunctions
  • All the sentence parts are individual bits of paper, so I told them to remove 5 blue parts. They told the story again, remembering the info they’d removed
  • I told them to remove X amount of green parts…
  • Etc, until they could retell the story without support

What would make the activity better?

The segmentation of the sentence parts here is a bit random. You could get some better learning from it by colour coding with more purpose (noun phrases, verbs, etc). Mine’s a bit loose but I hope it gives some people an idea for scaffolding.

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.