other

23 Ways to Use a Text in Your ESL Classes

Reading. One of the big four, along with elephants, lions and rhinos. Or is it listening, speaking and writing? Who knows. Either way, my question for you is: when was the last time your students were actively learning a new skill through reading, instead of just answering comprehension questions? There is so much that English language students can learn through a text, and we have a whole bag of ideas for you to use in your next class. Through these methods, you’ll learn how to squeeze a text for all its worth. As you’ll see, these tips don’t just help students become better readers. They’ll also help students develop better critical thinking skills, better vocabulary skills and better writing skills.

1. Make a prediction. This is a great skill for learners to use. Super simple – give students the title of a text and see if they can make some guesses about what the text will be about. You can also develop this as you go along. If you’re reading a story, make more predictions after reading each paragraph or chapter. How do they think the story will end? Students will learn how to pre-empt information and adjust their predictions as they go along.

2. Recognise text type or genre. One thing I like to do before a reading exercise is ask students what kind of text we seem to be looking at, and what kind of information therefore might be included. For example, they might identify that we’re going to read a personal email, and therefore it might include information about what this person and their family have been doing recently, some questions and maybe an invitation. This process enables students to improve their speed reading and prediction skills. What was that about speed reading?

3. Speed read. Adult students will often feel like they have to understand Every. Single. Word. In. The. Text. before they can breathe out. Speed reading can help students get to grips with a text in a matter of seconds. This works particularly well with essays and news articles. Ask students to read only the first and last sentence of each paragraph. They’ll see that the first sentence of a paragraph is often the ‘topic sentence’, which summaries the main point of the paragraph. Not only does this help them prepare for exam situations where they have to understand the outline of a text fast, it also helps them learn how to structure their own writing. (more…)

Free lessons on Onestopenglish

Onestopenglish is still free at the moment. This is a great opportunity to make the most of their awesome resources. There’s so much available on the site: lesson plans, articles related to methodology, resources created by the Onestopenglish community… they’ve also been teaming up with institutions like NILE recently to provide tips for teachers.

I’ve written a few resources for site over the past year which I hope you will find interesting and useful. Most of them are for the Everyday Life series. They’re print-and-go adult General English resources, complete with teacher notes and student worksheets. These are often task-led and typically suit 1 – 1.5 hour lessons.

Everyday Life Lesson Topics:

Exercise

Minor illnesses

Typical dishes

Fake news

Superstitions

Star signs

Getting to work

Describing your neighbourhood

Article /resource for the Online Education series:

Parents as Temporary Teachers

Lesson Share Winning Resource:

Instant Coffee, a Black Mirror inspired short story with resources (for approximately three hours of class time)

Feedback on any of these resources is most welcome! I hope they come in handy for your own lessons.

Hirameki with young learners (via Emily Bryson)

A very quick post to say thanks to Emily Bryson! She recently shared this interesting post on using the Japanese art of Hirameki as way to teach life skills and encourage creativity.

This worked a treat with my 6-year-olds! We are currently doing a module on animals and have just covered animal body parts. Emily’s activity was a great way to review/use this language. The learners turned their colourful splodges into animals and then labelled the various body parts. Simple, engaging, effective… and they were speaking in full sentences: ‘I think it looks like…’, ‘What can you see?’ Great to hear!

I can’t really share the learners’ own drawings on my blog, so the feature image is my own example (using one of Emily’s images).

Hey, that’s the great thing about reading other blogs! So much inspiration. Cheers Emily. Buying your book as a thank you, hopefully more inspiration in there!

Lesson idea: environmental issues

We did this activity a few weeks ago as an intro to our module on environmental problems/issues. It’s a context builder more than anything, and introduced some of the language that the learners needed for their final task (produce a leaflet describing an environmental problem and listing solutions). So, basically…

(Oh, sorry, learners were 10 years old, A2).

Step 1:  Learners list all the natural features of a beach they can think of: sand, sea, birds, cliff, etc.

Step 2: A4 paper, fold into quarters so there are four boxes.

In the top left-hand box (landscape) instruct learners to draw a beach. BUT they can only include natural features, nothing manmade.

Give them a time limit, like 3 minutes or something. I did a quick 30-second sketch on the IWB as an example. So… um… don’t laugh…

(more…)

Lesson idea: Celebrities, morals and ethics

This is a discussion task to introduce a sequence of lessons on fame and celebrities. One of the set reading texts in the sequence included some comments on celebrity ethics. I thought this was a good springboard, so after a brief chat/some questions about what learners consider to be ‘ethical’ behaviour in the context of celebrities, I gave them these three scenarios to discuss:

(more…)

Writing lesson: online dating profiles

This is a lesson based around authentic texts from the eHarmony website. It is aimed at adult pre-intermediate level plus, but these texts are full of rich language so it would ideally suit intermediate level students.

Aims: 

· Share personal experiences and attitudes towards online dating

· Identify key features of an online dating profile

· Create a short online dating profile for yourself or a friend

· Evaluate the effectiveness of other online profiles (more…)

Lesson idea: the ideal classroom

My secondary class (age 14+, B1) are exploring education in our latest module. We are building up to a ‘design your ideal school’ task. The first step was to consider what makes a good classroom/learning environment.

Step 1: General discussion questions as a lead-in, about what they think of their education system, their schools and learning environments, etc. Brief critique of our own learning environment.

Step 2: Brainstorm these concepts

A traditional classroom is / has… A non-traditional classroom is / has…
 

 

 
An inspiring classroom is / has… An uninspiring classroom is / has…
 

 

 

(more…)

Learning to read the world through other eyes

I’ve just come across this booklet as part of the reading on the PGCEi at the University of Nottingham. It’s a brilliant open access resource for exploring global citizenship. It offers a series of cross-cultural exercises, which help learners to…

  • develop understanding of different belief systems and values
  • explore how these values may impact of development agendas
  • examine western and indigenous interpretations of notions such as equality, education and poverty
  • consider ways to improve dialogue and mutual learning.

(more…)

Lesson idea: Great British Bake Off

It’s the penultimate week of term. State schools are on holiday, so the students have already requested something ‘fun’ and ‘light’ for lessons this week. The current topic is food. It’s lacked a creative task so far, and I don’t want to go over old ground (designing a themed restaurant, menus, crazy recipes, and so on). It’s time (I think) for the Bake Off…

Note: this lesson does not involve baking! (more…)

IELTS: identifying attitudes and opinions

Another ‘making things up as I go along’. This time in my IELTS Teens class.

Topic: Environment and the natural world

Context: We’d just done some vocabulary review / building activities. We’d also dipped into the book for some listening practice – a few activities on ‘identifying attitudes/opinions’. So, we had tonnes of new vocab, plus loads of phrases in a table like this…

Cue Teacher Pete’s random fluency practice, with the aim(s) of developing students’ ability to…

  • think on their feet
  • see things from different perspectives (whether they agree or not!)
  • justify opinions
  • wake up a bit after coursebook activities

(more…)