grammar

Twist on a classic: Harry the Hippo

A nod to TESOLTOOLBOX here…

Harry the Hippo is a fun guessing game to use in the class. It can be adapted for practicing various grammar structures. I can’t remember where I first played the game or who taught it to me, but I’m sure it’s well-known by many TEFLers!

In its simplest form…

Practice language: love/like/dislike/hate

Find a good pic of a hippo. I used this one from a Google Image search. Explain to the learners:

Harry the Hippo likes a lot of things. Can you guess what they are? Ask me the question:

Does Harry like…?

Listen to the answers carefully. Make a note of anything Harry likes/dislikes. Do you notice any patterns?

(Answer: the clue is in the name ‘Harry the Hippo’. Harry likes any word that includes the same letter twice in a row, e.g. battery, butter, sheep, screen, apple, etc. Students guess items…)

Student: Does Harry like dogs?

Teacher: Not really

Student: Does Harry like fruit?

Teacher: (gives a sneaky clue) Well, he doesn’t like fruit, but he DOES like pineapples

Student: Huh?

Teacher: I know. Strange isn’t it?

Student: So, he doesn’t like bananas?

Teacher: No

Student: but he likes pineapples?

Teacher: Yes… and strawberries

Student: Huh? Does he like oranges?

Teacher: No

Students: Cherries?

Teacher: Yes, he likes cherries…

Etc (more…)

Past continuous: sporting experiences

More football! Give me more football!

I heard it’s less than a month until the start of the Premier League season. Here’s more football related content for the post-World Cup/pre-PL football hungry students.

I wrote this to support materials on British Council Premier Skills English. It goes along with the content from a recent podcast which focused on using the past continuous.

You can find my basic resource here.

In an ideal world, this would be a listening, not a reading. If only there was another football mad teacher at my centre to help me bring these resources to life… (not so subtle hint to Rich McCully….!).

Topic: Describing sporting experiences

Language: past continuous

Level: B1 ish, but there’s some footie specific terms

Procedure

Get them chatting, access prior knowledge and all that…

A few gist questions for the reading. Answers in the resource. I wish this was a listening, would be much better. Still, it’s ok… (click to enlarge) (more…)

Teaching functional language

A newly-qualified CELTA teacher has asked me for advice about how to deal with functional language. So… this is one of my approaches to teaching functional language! The example is from a lesson I did last weekend about the World Cup. The target language was phrases for making suggestions/giving advice, along with agreeing and disagreeing with the advice.

Disclaimer: This type of thing works for me. If you’re fresh off the CELTA and looking for a route into dealing with functional language then it might be worth trying, but I am speaking only from experience, not from authority…

Step 1: Find out what language the learners already know…

After a general World Cup chat, do a short roleplay task…

Post-task feedback, board any target language that learners already use…

Step 2: Task model

Students listen to a real example of the convo they just tried. I say ‘real’ – it’s normally a recording I’ve made with another teacher! We try not to grade things too much or make things too contrived, but you know how these things can go in practice…

Do a few gist/detail comprehension tasks. Stuff like: Did they offer the same advice as you? Did they give good advice? Maybe some True/False questions….

(extract from the listening I did)

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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.