Posted in Recommended Websites

Cool teaching website I’ve just discovered

http://moviesegmentstoassessgrammargoals.blogspot.com.es/

A great website using short movie clips to introduce and reinforce specific grammar points.

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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 1

persepolis pic

This is the first of a series of posts based around the graphic novel “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. They are suitable for a wide range of levels (A2 – C2). You will need a copy of the book (or a cheeky pdf).

Each week you set the students a chapter of the book as homework. Each chapter consists of approximately 9 pages and the graphic style makes them easy and quick to read. In graphic novels students are presented with direct speech rather than prose, this helps them to pick up more natural language of expression. Also graphic novels are easier to follow than more traditional stories as much of the story is conveyed by the pictures. This means students are less likely to get lost and give up.

The first 15-20 minutes of the following class will be dedicated to vocabulary issues from the chapter and group discussions based on the themes that arise therein.

First ask students for clarification of any new vocabulary and encourage them to share new vocabulary they have learned at home relating to the chapter.

Chapter 1 discussion questions:

  1. What happened in chapter one?
  2. How did the chapter make you feel?
  3. How would you describe Marji? (Head-strong? Precocious? imaginative?
  4. What themes and issues are introduced?
  5. What are your views on single sex schools?
  6. What are you views on compulsory uniforms of any kind?
  7. Have you ever taken part in a demonstration? When? Where? What was it for / against?
  8. Do you think that public demonstrations and protests work?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes, Pronunciation Classes

Parallel Universe: 3rd Conditional Conversation Practice

Parallel_Universe_Desktop_by_VisionGfx

Introduction

This is a class for higher levels (B2+) to help students feel more comfortable and stumble less over complex past conditionals.

Here is a link to the printable handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!313&authkey=!ADsjHXyBVtx-H1Y

As the title suggests the focus is on using the conditionals in conversation so start out by telling the class that you don’t want them to write anything down except the bare conditional structure for reference.

Tell them they are going to explore parallel universes in which they made different choices in their lives.

The exercise presents the students with different topics designed to generate past conditional sentences but also conversation. Explain that you don’t just want them to form 1 past conditional sentence from each point, they should explore each point fully in small groups and try to use the structure in a variety of ways: affirmative /negative / interrogative.

Example:

“If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend because she was only in town for one night.”

“Do you think you would have had the chance to meet her again?”

“It’s possible, but maybe I would have met someone else.”

Note on pronunciation

For higher levels depending on how well they use the structure you can encourage them to use the weak forms:

Woulda / would’ve / wouldn’t ‘ve

If they have trouble with this start out with the contracted “had” in the if clause and slowly introduce the other forms.

 Establishing grammar

If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend. (past result)

Maybe we wouldn’t be together now. (present result)

If I hadn’t studied drama, I probably would have studied literature.

If I had studied business, I would have got a job in an insurance company

I could have

Explain difference between would have and could have

would have = what definitely happened in this parallel universe

could have = what possibilities were available in the parallel universe

If + had/n’t + past participle + would / could + have + past participle.

Conversation Questions

What did you study at school / university? What other options did you have? Explain them to your group.

Do you remember the interview for your job? What would have happened if you hadn’t got it?

If you have a partner how did you meet? How could things have happened differently?

Think of an important exam you passed or failed in the past, how could things have happened differently?

What would you have done this week if you’d had more time? Why?

What would you have done last year if you’d had more money?

Think of a time when someone helped you with something, what would you have done without their help?

Think of a time when you helped someone, what would they have done without your help?

Think of a time when you had an accident, how could things have happened differently?

Think of a time when you or someone you know was in danger, how could things have happened differently?

Think of big decisions you have made in your life related to work / studying / family, how could things have happened differently? How could things be different now?

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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 2: Solid Objects by Virginia Woolf

Iron_Lump

This is the second part of a series of posts based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A.S Byatt. This particular class is based on “Solid Objects” by Virginia Woolf, pages 205-209.

As before set the story as reading homework for the week before.

If you don’t have a copy of the book someone has helpfully uploaded it in pdf here:

http://inkandblotter.com/catalog/pdfiction/SOLID%20OBJECTS,%20Virginia%20Woolf.pdf

This analytical essay by Sam Mitchell about the works of Virginia Woolf may prove useful. It’s a little heavy as it’s an honours thesis but has some useful insights into the story.

https://dspace.lasrworks.org/bitstream/handle/10349/958/2011ENG-MitchellSam.pdf?sequence=1

Lesson Plan:

Start by asking the students for vocabulary problems. Woolf’s style can be confusing so some sections could require a little explanation. Some vocabulary that might cause problems is listed below:

lunging – to lunge, to move towards in a swift movement

tweed – woven material used to make clothes

to fling – to throw without care

to be to hand – to be within reach

to slash – to cut or mark something

to skim – to touch the surface of something lightly

slate – material used to make rooves

to hitch up a sleeve – to roll up or move higher to protect

moat – water around a castle

mantelpiece – surface above a fireplace where objects are kept

on the brink – on the edge

trifling – unimportant

to be cast down – to be depressed

matted – tangled into a lump

Lots of the vocabulary in the story can be used in various contexts, be sure to explore these fully. For example: fling – to have a fling (short sexual relationship)

Once you have cleared up any vocab issues hand out the following discussion questions:

1. Can you describe the characters?

2. What happens in the story?

3. What was your initial reaction to the story?

4. Did you feel sorry for John? Or bemused?

5. What strikes you about the introduction?

6. How can you explain John’s behaviour?

7. What do the objects represent?

8. Do you have any lucky charms? Did you have any when you were a child?

9. Do you collect anything?

10. Did you collect things when you were a child?

Either put the students into small groups to discuss the questionsand then feedback or have an open class discussion.

Here are some ideas and themes that could help fuel discussion:

Story written in 1918 towards the end of World War one. The idea of objects lasting longer than men, so many people died in the war and all that came back were objects: letters, belongings, clothes etc.

The idea of the permanance of objects and the transcience of people. The desire for permanance, ever lasting life.

The simplicity of the objects as pure pieces of different materials and also the mystery surrounding what they used to be.

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Posted in Conversation Classes

Lance Armstrong: Cheating conversation plan

ap_lance_armstrong_interview_ll_130117_wg

This is a conversation lesson plan for B1 upwards based around disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and the topic of cheating.

Download the powerpoint here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!303&authkey=!ALG8a95Emk_-Qk4

Lesson plan:

Show slide 2, put the students in groups and have them tell Lance’s story, encourage them to use all the vocabulary on the screen.

Show slide 3, here you have lots of different quotes on the subject of cheating, have the students discuss each one in pairs. Here are the quotes:

•“If everyone else is cheating, it’s stupid not to.”
•“When you cheat, the only person you’re cheating is yourself.”
•“Winning is all that matters.”
•“It’s the taking part that counts.”
•“All cheats deserve lifetime bans.”
•“If there were no controls or punishments, everyone would cheat.”
•“You aren’t sorry you cheated, you’re sorry you got caught.”
•“Cheats never prosper.”
•“All performance enhancing drugs should be legalised, then we could see what the human body is really capable of.”
•“Being a good cheat is a positive quality in today’s society.”
•“ If you cheat in an exam you should receive a zero.”
•“Cheating is human nature.”
•“Some of the most influential people in today’s society cheated and robbed their way to the top.”
•“Cheating is a growing problem in sport.”
Encourage them to use different language of agreement and disagreement. Download my handout on this language here:
Show slide 3. This slide conatins a series of “what if” situations, have the students discuss them in groups saying what they would do.
Situations:
1.You are playing football. It is the 90th minute of the match. Your team win a corner, the ball comes in, you try to head it but it hits your head and then your hand and flies into the goal. Nobody sees that it hit your hand, your teammates run over to congratulate you.
2.2 days before your final exam a classmate comes to you with a copy of the exam paper. He offers it to you for €50. He says that all of your other classmates have bought a copy except one.
3.You go to a charity event to raise money for food for hungry children in Africa. At the event they have a raffle. You bump into someone by accident and you both drop your tickets on the floor. The tickets are accidently swapped. You win a 5 star Caribbean holiday in the raffle but on your way to collect your prize you realise that it is not your ticket.
4.You are a professional cyclist. Last year you finished 10th in the tour de France, the year before 11th and the year before that 15th. A doctor comes to your gym one day saying that he has developed a new performance enhancing drug that cannot be detected by any type of doping test. He wants 50% of any future prize money you make in exchange for the drug.
5.You are a tennis player. 2 weeks before a big match at the US open you get a call from an umpire. He says that he is going to be the umpire for your match, he insinuates that if you pay him a bribe he will “help” you during the match.
Feedback session with whole class based on their responses to the situations.
Wrap up:
Who was the most honest / dishonest in your group?
Who was the biggest cheat?
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Posted in Writing Classes

Follow up: Homework composition about travelling

travelwriter

This is a homework activity written to follow my previous lesson plan about holidays and traveling here is the link to the original lesson plan:

https://freeenglishlessonplans.com/2013/01/30/holidays-and-travelling-conversation-class/

Here is a link to download the handout for homework:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!300&authkey=!AMJLj8z2NbQgFFI

A travel magazine is running a competition for travel articles about different types of holidays / ways to travel for young people.

Choose 1 type of holiday / way to travel from the class handout and write an article about why it’s good for young people. Include:

  • An interesting introduction to catch the reader’s attention. Include direct questions.
  • Pros and cons of your chosen subject.
  • Reasons why you recommend it to other young people.
  • You can include (invented) anecdotes.

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Posted in Conversation Classes

Ice breaking activity: My life star

star

Thanks to my Spanish teacher Montse for this activity.

This is a good activity for the first class of a course to break the ice. The students learn a bit about their teacher and then about each other.

It is suitable for levels A2 – C2.

You will need this handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!297&authkey=!AOyUfMWbXMGz2Uw

Preparation:

Draw or project the star from the handout on to the board. Write a different word or phrase related to your life at each point of the star. For example, you could write your partner’s name, your pet’s name, your favourite band etc.

Lesson plan:

Tell the students that each point represents something important from your life. Put them in small groups, they then have to discuss what each word or phrase represents. Encourage them to use modal verbs of deduction:

“Fido” could / might be his dog’s name. It can’t be his wife’s name.

When they have finish have them put forward their ideas, tell them if they are right or wrong and explain a little about each subject.

Put the students in pairs or threes and give out the handout. Give them 5 minutes to write something at each point. Students then ask and answer questions about each others lives and share information to get to know each other. Tell them to try and remember as much information as possible.

Students change partners or groups. They must then tell their new group as much information about their old groups as the can remember. This is a good way for the students (and the teacher) to use and remember all the other students names.

Wrap up:

At the end of the class have the students recall as much of the information they learned about you as possible. Put them in groups, give them a star they have to remember all your points.

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