Materials writing conversations #1: Pork

This is a completely imaginary conversation. No characters in the convo are based on real people – I’m just bored and imagining conversations I might have with editors…

Editor: I think your ideas for the ‘British food’ lesson are great. The listening works well. It’s just…

Me: Just…

Editor: …you mention a fried breakfast. I probably wouldn’t.

Me: Why? Oh… wait. The sausages, right?

Editor: Yeah. And the bacon…

Me: Right.

Editor: …and the black pudding.

Me: Okay… Can’t we just say sausages and bacon, but not mention they are pork? I mean, you can get chicken sausages, turkey bacon… there are veggie or vegan substitutes for both too. I’ve had them. (more…)

Game review: Play for the Planet (ELi Publishing)

Here’s another resource from the giant box I was sent from ELi publishing. I saved reviewing this one until I actually had a good reason to try it out. My teens are studying the natural world / the environment at the moment, so it’s perfect timing…

Play for the Planet is a ‘culture and CLIL’-focused board game. The language goal for the resource is to review and practice environment related vocabulary.

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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

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‘so’, ‘such a’, and cheap cocktails

Another one of my ‘making things up as I go along’ reflections. This time, something that actually worked!

The materials from one of our in-house, pre-int lessons the other day reviewed so/such (a) in the context of travel / holidays / hotels, that sort of thing.

The task was ‘describe a place you’ve visited or hotel you’ve stayed in, and shoehorn in some such a nice place/so lovely style phrases’. It was alright. Apart from that none of the students seemed that bothered about each other’s stories, none of them felt much like using a ‘so/such a’ phrase, and none of them really needed to either. But hey, that was the lesson aim, so I kind of had to run with it…

I spent some of the task time listening/assisting/etc, and the rest zoning out thinking ‘if I’m supposed to get learners using this language then I’m failing – so what other tasks have a got up my sleeve?’

I scribbled down (i.e. typed out on the IWB) a dialogue like this…

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Materials writing news and views, August 2019

It’s been a whole month since I’ve punned in a published resource! Crazy.

New releases

Tyson Seburn has a put together a sample unit of an ELT LGBTQIA2 inclusive coursebook unit, based on a normalisation approach. He’s done a great job of producing his own materials – as well as the inclusive approach to content, the overall design and flow of the resource is nice too. This is well worth reading about and hopefully will gain more recognition from publishers. See here for more details.

Express Publishing have released an interesting (?) new title – Brain Friendly Grammar. It’s written by Rachel Paling, a proponent of ‘Neurolanguage Coaching’. I initially thought this approach related to NLP but I’ve been informed otherwise. Anyway, this is a supplementary resource for grammar coaching, to be used alongside traditional grammar books. You can find out more about the book here, although there are no samples provided ☹

Update: I’ve been offered the chance to review this book so watch this space…

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Wordwall for ELT vocabulary games

Wordwall is a recent find for me. I heard about it during this webinar on gamifying learning, which was quite interesting. I’ve since mentioned it to various colleagues, and the typical response has been ‘oh yeah, Wordwall, that’s pretty good’. So I guess I’m behind the times!

Basically, Wordwall allows you to create interactive resources online for use in class or at home. Activities are often games, but you can use it to bring more standard coursebook activities to life such as matching tasks. It’s very straightforward to create a resource – there are a variety of templates available, most of which are intuitive and require no more than 10 minutes to set up.  You can create five activities with the free membership, then unlimited activities (including a multiplayer quiz) when you sign up (costs me 120 baht per month which isn’t bad). (more…)

Review: A-Z of ESOL (Emily Bryson)

This short review first appeared in IATEFL Voices magazine last month. Sharing here for general interest. This is a good resource: 4 stars from me.

A-Z of ESOL is a useful set of classroom-ready resources for TESOL contexts. Activities in the book are primarily aimed at equipping learners with the language (and life) skills they need to function communicatively in an English-speaking country. There are 26 activities in total, one for each letter of the alphabet (A = A school report, B = Building repairs, C = Covering letters, etc).

Activities in ‘A-Z…’ are based around social practices (related to education, employment, health, community, and so on), and expose learners to the functional language required in such real-life situations. The author states in a brief introduction that the resources follow a task-based approach. This is true in part. However, a weaker task-supported approach is used in some activities for lower-level learners (A1-A2), with more language input or structures introduced prior to students attempting the task. (more…)