lesson ideas

Poetry lesson: What do you hear?

Here’s a short poetry task that worked well with YLs and teens. It’s based on a poem from A Nest Full of Stars by James Berry.

Before you ask, no. I haven’t suddenly gone all NLP.  

Aims

  • Create a poem in the style of a famous poet
  • Review and practice adjectives to describe feelings
  • Practice mindfulness and ‘being present’

Optional lead-in, discuss poetry (might be dry for YLs but worked okay with the teens)

  • Do you like poetry? Why / Why not?
  • Do you know any famous poets from your country (or somewhere else)? If so, who?
  • Have you ever written a poem? If so, what was it about?
  • What are some typical features of poems?

More of a ‘hook’ lead-in for the YLS…

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EAL presentation tasks

I’ve been teaching an intensive English course this term. It works out (online) at about 8 hours per week, would have been a lot more had we not been back in lockdown. Seven students, Japanese, between 12 and 14 years old. All were supposed to be ‘low level’ (like, A2 or below I guess), although I’m sure you’re aware of the nature of these things. Once they got a bit of speaking and listening confidence, well, there’s far more language there than they’d realised.

To be honest, it’s been an absolute pleasure so far. There was a public holiday last week, and by lunchtime I was missing them! I just haven’t had students like this for a while. Awesome.

Every week, I set them a presentation task. I thought it would be quite challenging for them at first, but they seem to love it.

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Get published! Working with Peachey Publications

It’s about time I did more than just praise Nik Peachey on LinkedIn and in Twitter posts!

Another six months has passed, the royalties from ‘30 Role Plays for TEFL’ are in. They’ve covered a dentist bill, a crate of beer, and one month’s life insurance premium. Blimey, that last bit makes me feel old.

‘30 Role Plays…’ was great fun to write. See here for details of how it came about. It reminds me of some fun times at the British Council, when the crew at our tiny centre in Bangkok were alive with ideas!

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18 more ways to introduce your lesson topic

This term I’ve tried out a few different ways to introduce a lesson. These ones have worked well. They might be worth reading if you’ve exhausted my previous list!

  1. Song lyric gap fill

Example: 3rd conditional, regrets

Do a short gap fill on part of a song related to your topic. Mine was on some lines from Frank Sinatra’s My Way:

Regrets, I’ve had a few… (0.55 – 1.06)


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Twinkl in Action: Facts as a foundation

Year 9 Geography. The assessment task involves looking at the impact of tourism in Kenya. Some of my EAL learners are quite new to English, and their prior knowledge of Kenya is limited. They’re gonna need some support. I get two EAL lessons a week with these kids, and mainly use the time to help them access their learning in other subjects.

Before we get into the tourism side of things, we need to lay some foundations. We also need a fun activity – learning can be fun, right?

… Twinkl to the rescue!

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Lesson idea: Video games

Just a quick idea for a bit of video game chat. We did a 5-week module on the topic, this was my context builder. Took about an hour as the teens got into it.

Step 0: Lead-in questions if you want, like…

  • How often do you play video games?
  • Do you have a favourite game?
  • Do you think it’s harmful for teens to play too many video games?
  • Etc

Alternatively, maybe do a picture dictation of a video game image below to get students talking, then elicit lesson topic.

Step 1: Hand out loads of screen shots of video games or put them around the room. I chose these eight:

(Chuckie Egg, Space Invaders, Zelda, Frogger, Mortal Kombat, Worms, House of the Dead, Sensible Soccer)

Students look at images and discuss:

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Lesson idea: ‘used to’ for describing past appearance

I made this activity up in class and it worked well! Really creative, loads of interesting language, and also a good way to practice ‘used to’ for describing past appearance.

Procedure:

  • Students work in pairs
  • Everyone has some scrap paper (or the back of their handout). Tell students they have 1 minute to draw their partner. 1 minute only.
  • So, Student A has drawn student B, right? Now, Student As swap drawings with each other. Student Bs swap too. They have one minute to add loads of random features onto each drawing. Random things like strange tattoos, unicorn horns (!), I don’t know… anything they want. Then they give the sketch back to the original artist.
  • Pause for some laughter
  • So, Student A now has a distorted sketch of their partner, Student B. Tell them that this is what their partner looked like 10 years ago. Back then, Student A and Student B were old schoolmates… They haven’t seen each other in ages!
  • Board part of a dialogue, like this…

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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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General ideas for teaching pronunciation

(This is a follow-up to my post on phonology-based activities. I’m sharing it now because some of our teachers are about to begin training for the Trinity DipTESOL. Phonology/pronunciation features quite a bit on that course, so I want to offer our teachers an ideas bank to help them explore this area in class)

Here are a load of random pronunciation activities to try out in class. These activities have pretty worked well for me with students aged 9-16. This is a work in progress! I’ll add more to this list when I get more time or try new things. (more…)

10 useful websites for ELT

A self-development task during my diploma last year asked me to list all the websites I found useful in my ELT practice. The document I created spanned about 6 pages – it could easily have been longer.

I’m sure there’s a lot of common ground between us teachers, experienced or not. A majority of the sites I use were either found through a Google Search or passed on from colleagues. Nevertheless, I think it’s worth listing a few of my favourite sites as some serve rather specific purposes.

I hope you find at least one new website in the list below. If so, please tell others about it – sharing is caring! (more…)