pre-intermediate

Lesson idea: the youngest person ever…

We recently looked at an article in English in Mind about a child genius. She was the youngest black female ever to get a place at an American university. I created a few activities based on information in the text which went down ok, but it was the follow-up task that was really successful.

youngest ever

Before class I prepared 16 slips of paper, each with a ‘claim to fame’ written on it. Each started with ‘you were the youngest person ever…’, for example:

  • You were the youngest person ever to grow a beard longer than 2 metres, aged 15
  • You were the youngest person ever to sing with One Direction, aged 10
  • You were the youngest person ever to complete a solo skydive, when you were 5!
  • Etc.

My classes are normally organised into four different groups of four students.

I gave each student one slip of paper, and allowed a few minutes for them to make some notes, think of their story and the facts around it, etc. Then students had 10 minutes to mingle and listen to each other tell their crazy stories. They always started off by asking their partner:

‘So what’s your claim to fame?’ / ‘so what’s special about you’?

Students had to remember as much information as possible about each of their classmates’ stories. They returned to their groups and told the people on their table who had the most interesting story. I did a brief class feedback but didn’t want students to share too much information.

Then came the fun part! (more…)

Lesson idea: introducing dreams and ambitions

You really must check out these two sites: All at C and Vocabulary in Chunks. I’ve started to use a lot more videos in class and these have some great resources on them!

Sometimes I come across resources, especially videos, that make me think ‘this would be really useful for introducing a lesson on [INSERT TOPIC HERE]’. I often forget about them if the topic doesn’t come up in the textbook soon. I’m going to start storing these videos in my ‘lesson ideas’ section, so I can come back to them when needed! I hope you find some of them useful too! When I get enough videos I’ll put them all into one post.

First up, here’s one I found yesterday. It’s about a radio-controlled car who creates their own little adventure:

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Lesson idea: Introducing travel

The old ones are the best! Here’s a video of a guy travelling around the world and dancing. You’ve probably seen it. I’ve used it quite a few times to generate interest in the topic of travel/geography. Actually, I think it was the first ever video I used in class. There’s the clip along with some observation questions! There are plenty of other tasks you could do with this – I’ve also got students to write down as many places as they can remember seeing, then organise these by continent. Also, I’ve given students a list of travel related vocabulary before (monument, desert, town, village, beach, etc) and got them to add a tally mark to each word every time they see it. As always, share any interesting activities you try out in the comments, I’m always looking for new ideas. Enjoy!

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Lesson idea: The planets

Check out this great video – I came across it during the summer school at British Council HCMC. We did an activity where students described what was happening on each of the 12 planets. Then they created a 13th planet themselves, displayed their drawings and descriptions around the room and we voted for the best one. It would be a nice follow-up activity if you’re doing a lesson related to space or the solar system.

Video by Andy Martin

A big thanks to Neil Reith for finding the resource and planning a great lesson, it was my favourite activity of the summer.

Lesson idea: using sports commentaries in class

Have you ever heard of the ‘instantaneous present simple’? I hadn’t until a recent diploma module. Apparently it’s used to describe events or occurrences with some level of immediacy. You find it in newspaper headlines (like ‘Brad marries Angelina’), verbs of communication (‘your mother tells me that…’), and references to the future (‘the bus leaves at 6’). I didn’t really get what it was to be honest, until I considered the example of sports commentaries: (more…)

A fun lesson idea using Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking out loud’

How do you encourage a really shy class to express themselves? It’s a question I’ve been asking all week. My latest group of single nationality pre-intermediate teenagers are a lovely bunch, but they can be so timid. I haven’t found many activities that truly engage them – my usual repertoire has fallen short and despite their politeness, plus my attempts to try a few different approaches, it’s just not happening. Class discussion is almost non-existent, pair work rarely extends beyond the absolutely necessary, things feel wholly teacher-centred at the moment and I hate that.

Cue Ed Sheeran… (more…)

Using Google Doodles to revise dates

I read a great post from Svetlana Kandybovich yesterday on using Google games in the classroom. Her comments on Google matched my experience. I used to fight against technology and hated it when students always tapped away on their smart phones in class. After a while I realised that I was trying to stop the ocean waves with a sieve, so I embraced the technology at our disposal and started to make lessons around it. (more…)