speaking

12 conversation strategies worth teaching

One thing my CELTA course skimmed over was how to develop learners’ conversation strategies.

There seems to be a good amount of focus on conversation strategies in recent coursebooks. However, at times I find these can be problematic. Models of effective convo strategies/techniques can be naff sometimes. Where there are no models, and instead there are tip boxes for maybe using a convo strategy during a task, these can lack detail. They require the teacher to elaborate quite a bit. While the teacher notes can help, you might find (as I do on occasions) that there’s a bit of a mismatch. I.e. the language that is anticipated to come up during the task isn’t actually needed/is needed but is already known/needs to be built on. (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:

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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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Lesson idea: multiple intelligence

The theory of multiple intelligences came up in English in Mind this week. I knew it would really interest my students, so I decided to

explore it a bit more. Here’s another idea to get your teens talking, and reflecting on their own skills/abilities.

Lead in:

I did a quick ‘unscramble the letters to make words’ task

LEVECR = clever                MARTS = smart                 ITELGINTLEN = intelligent

Then I asked the students to complete the sentence:

‘Intelligence is…’

They came up with some pretty good definitions. I put a simplified dictionary definition of intelligence, and then the students discussed a few questions:

Do you think you’re intelligent? If so, how?

What about your friends? Do you have any really smart mates?

Do you have to be good at every school subject to be ‘intelligent’?

etc.

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