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Six Word Stories

How I see it now

In this post, I’d like to share a project we worked on earlier today. I’d like to point out that it was not a single lesson but a block of four 45-minute lessons, in which a group of ten teenagers (12-15 year-olds, 8 girls and 2 boys) worked on their Six Word Stories.

Here’s what we did.

20160323_081226Portraits (icebreaker): First, I asked students to make pairs (some of them didn’t know each other very well, which was to the good). I gave each student a large piece of paper and I asked them to draw a portrait of their partner. When drawing, they faced each other and they were about 2 meters apart so that they couldn’t see each other’s pictures very clearly. When they finished, I asked them to walk over to their partners, show each other the portraits and talk about them for a few minutes. I…

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Posted in Grammar Classes

Regrets, I’ve had a few…

Image result for spiderman

Image credit: marvel.com

This a lesson plan for B2+ students to teach language of regret. It uses a clip from The Amazing Spiderman and texts about historic regrettable decisions. Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:

Regrets teachers notes

Regrets student handout

Lead-in

Show students a picture of Spiderman and ask them: Why did Peter Parker decide to become Spiderman? They will probably say “because he was bitten by a radioactive spider”, but that’s not why, that’s how. Show them the video clip: Uncle Ben’s Death until 2:25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp5m4g7pZ9s

So he became Spiderman because it was his responsibility to stop innocent people like Uncle Ben from getting hurt. Ask students these questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. How does Peter Parker feel?
  3. What could have been different?

Check students’ answers, they will probably try to express Peter’s regret at not saving Uncle Ben. Give out the hand-out and draw their attention to the language of regret at the top.

Language of Regret

Look at the example sentences, what are the formulas for each structure?

  • Peter regrets not stopping the robber.
  • He should have done
  • Uncle Ben shouldn’t have tried to pick up the gun.
  • If Peter had stopped the guy, he wouldn’t have killed Uncle Ben.
  • If Uncle Ben hadn’t tried to pick up the gun, the guy wouldn’t have shot him.

Historical Regrets

Read the texts about regrettable events from the past and make sentences using the structures.

Image result for lance armstrong Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs before winning seven Tour de France titles. A whistle-blower revealed information about his doping to the press but he denied it for years. Eventually the evidence was too much and he confessed to his crimes live on Oprah Winfrey’s chat show.

Image result for the beatles Decca Records & The Beatles

In 1962, Dick Rowe, an executive at Decca Records, thought guitar groups were falling out of favour. On New Year’s Day that year, The Beatles auditioned to be signed to the record label. Rowe rejected their audition and decided not to sign them. The Beatles went on to become the biggest selling band in history.

Image result for napoleon Napoleon

In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with his grand army of 680,000 soldiers. Instead of fighting the French, the Russian army retreated further into Russia burning the farms and supplies as they went. After winning some minor victories the French were forced to retreat because of the freezing Russian winter. Only 27,000 soldiers from the original army survived.

Possible Answers:

  1. Lance Armstrong regrets taking banned substances. He shouldn’t have taken performance enhancing drugs. If he hadn’t taken the drugs, he wouldn’t have won 7 titles.
  2. Dick Rowe regrets not signing the Beatles. He should have signed them. If he had signed them, he would have been rich.
  3. Napoleon regretted invading Russia. He shouldn’t have invaded Russia in winter. If he hadn’t invaded Russia, he might have conquered the whole of Europe.

My Biggest Regret

Students might be reticent to discuss this topic, if so try to encourage them to talk about a friend or family member’s regrets, often a bit of distance can help students open up and express themselves. It could also help if you shared some of your regrets with the class first.

  • Do you have any regrets? What about your family and friends?
  • Have you ever had an accident that was your fault? What happened?
  • If you could relive any part of your life, what would you change?
  • How would your life be different?
Posted in Grammar Classes

Narrative Tenses: Where were you when…?

Image result for michael jackson dancing

Image credit: www.biography.com

This is a lesson plan designed to help students practice past narrative tenses. The topic is remembering where you were when big events happened. Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:

Where were you when student handout

Where were you when Teachers notes

Lead-in

Show image of MJ. Sts in pairs: Where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson had died? T makes note of language sts use: use of narrative tenses, errors etc.

Dictogloss

Procedure:

  1. Ask sts: How did Michael Jackson die? (aim: to preteach “take an overdose”)
  2. Tell sts you are going to tell them someone’s story of them finding out MJ had died. Tell them that after you’ve finished you want them to make a note of key words or phrases from the story. While you are reading they should just focus on listening and not write anything.
  3. Read the text at a normal speed pausing at punctuation in a natural way.
  4. Give sts 30 secs to write down key words, then compare and share with a partner.
  5. Tell sts that you’re going to read the text again and you want them to write down any more key words and phrases they hear.
  6. Now instruct sts to try to recreate the text in pairs, tell them not to worry if their version is different.

I was at a festival when I heard that Michael Jackson had died. It was about 3 in the morning and we were sitting in one of the big tents listening to music, drinking and chatting. Suddenly we overheard a guy sitting next to us saying that Michael Jackson had taken an overdose and had died. We thought it couldn’t possibly be true and carried on as before, but then the DJ played Beat it by Michael Jackson, then Billy Jean and then more and more of his songs, we all looked at each other, everyone in the tent realised that it must be true and we all stood up and danced.

Guided Questions:

  1. There are three different past tenses in the text, can you identify them?
  2. Which tense do we use to give a description of a scenario or scene at a specific time?
  3. Which tense do we use to say that an action happened before another action?
  4. Which tense do we use to describe short actions often in sequence?
  5. How do we form the past continuous? Subject + __________ + ___________
  6. How do we form the past perfect? Subject + __________ + ___________
  7. This is a contracted sentence: “Michael Jackson’d taken an overdose.” What is the complete version?

 

  1. Project/hand out the original text and ask sts to compare their version to it. They MUSTN’T CHANGE their version but just make a note of the differences.
  2. In open class go over some of the differences, do their versions still make sense? Are their versions grammatically correct?
  3. Have sts complete the guided questions. Clear up any doubts in open class.
  4. Give out the gapped text about 9/11 and have sts complete it in pairs.
  5. Check their answers using the complete text.

The Day the Towers Came Down.

I was at school when I ______(hear) that terrorists __________(attack) the World Trade Centre. I _________ (stand) outside the school gates ________ (wait) for the school bus and ________(chat) to my friends when suddenly one of the teachers __________(run) out of the school and ________(tell) us that something terrible ____________(happen) in New York. Two planes _________(crash) into the twin towers in New York, when I _________(get) home I __________(watch) the towers collapse on the news with my parents. I’ll never forget where I was that day.

I was at school when I heard that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Centre. I was standing outside the school gates waiting for the school bus and chatting to my friends when suddenly one of the teachers ran out of the school and told us that something terrible had happened/was happening in New York. Two planes had crashed into the twin towers in New York, when I got home I watched the towers collapse on the news with my parents. I’ll never forget where I was that day.

  1. Show sts the pictures of important world events, have them choose one and write a short text about what they were doing when they heard about the news.
  2. Have sts read out their texts and share their own experiences in open class.
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Practical activities for listening decoding skills – a collection of links

ELT stories

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (the recording of a webinar on Practical activities for teaching listening decoding skills, which was part of last year’s Electronic Village Online session on teaching listening), here are some links to activities that I collected for the session participants. These were meant as highly practical resources that could help the session participants to try out listening decoding in class. There are three sections:

  • activities that could be adapted to a wide range of listening texts
  • video extracts from lessons
  • materials and excerpts from published books that you could try out.

practical activitiesSECTION A: activities that could be adapted to a wide range of listening texts

1. Fast speech frustrations by Olya Sergeeva (ET professional issue 112, September 2017)

Olya Sergeeva describes the lesson procedure that she uses in her Authentic listening courses with learners at B1 level and higher. The procedure could be used…

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Why I gave up on ‘fast finisher activities’

TESOL TOOLBOX

So I was delivering a short training session for teachers about lesson planning a few of weeks ago. One of the things that came up was ‘fast finisher activities’. We didn’t have time to go into it in the session, but I think it’s possibly one of the most misleading terms in TESOL.

The idea – as far as I can tell – is that you have an extra piece of material for any bright sparks who finish their classwork before others. I assume it’s a concept that has come from mainstream education (primary in particular). It’s often cited as a way to reduce ‘off-task behaviour’ and further challenge stronger learners in mixed-ability classes. Pinterest is full of colourful, fun-looking ‘fast finisher activities’, like these ones I collected:

So what have I got against them? Well…

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