Posted in Guest Posts

To summer camp, or not to summer camp?

josh post

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio + @2tspod

This is another guest post from Josh Widdows to all English teachers looking for summer work.

Thinking about what to do this summer?  Want to earn some good cash doing a job that will further your teaching career and put you in a better position next September?  Then being an English Teacher at a reputable and renowned summer school is the way forward!

Download all the info below:

To summer camp, or not to summer camp?

Is that the question? Well, it doesn’t need to be any more – the answer is YES!

Every teacher has heard horror stories of being stuck in a summer camp teaching groups twice the size of that the job spec promised. Over-worked and underpaid are just some of the negative words that spring to mind. Being contracted to work 12 ‘sessions’ a week, but ending up working every hour God sends and basically babysitting the little darlings. But, don’t be deterred. Thames Valley Summer Schools offer teachers the chance to work for a reputable, long-standing and thoroughly rewarding summer camp, dispelling the myths of hardship and exhaustion. At TVSS being a team-player and ensuring you get what you want out of a summer school is at the heart of what they do.

So, you’ve done the hard bit, the CELTA or the CertTESOL and you’ve got at least an academic year’s experience under your belt.  Your ´year-long´ academy, (in some far-flung sunny destination), doesn’t provide you with work over the summer, and you’re wondering what to do with three months off. If you’re looking for the opportunity to get more experience working with young learners, develop your skills and stand yourself in good stead for a better-paid job back in the EFL world come September, then Thames Valley is the one for you.

Earning a competitive weekly salary, eating healthy, well-prepared food on-site, sleeping in your own bedroom, and being closely-located to London, (except Rugby, albeit only a 2-hour train ride away), you’ll barely spend a penny. What better way to save up some good cash for your summer adventures?

You still have just a few questions, right? Of course you do, you’re an inquisitive teacher looking for summer work that you’ll enjoy and get a lot out of.  Remember, you’re going to be teaching in a multi-lingual context, away from the dramas of your mono-lingual teaching environment of bickering Italian or Korean teens. TVSS has a team of supportive and experienced management and academic staff who will guide you in your planning and teaching to deliver fun and engaging lessons.

Being a residential camp, you’ll still have your work cut out. But, you can rest assured that at TVSS you will only teach about 17 hours a week and work a maximum of 11 sessions, (which is much less than other schools).  That works out at about 55 hours a week – not that bad right?  You’ll have some free time to plan lessons, chill out in your room or in the grounds, or get away from it all and go to London.  And a mega ´plus´ is that most schools are only a maximum of 3-4 weeks, so burn-out isn’t an issue.

There are more questions, aren’t there?  Will I be involved in recreation and social activities?  You´re at a residential summer school, so naturally, you’ll be participating in them, but there´s no need to worry.  This school goes above and beyond to make sure you’re placed where your skills and talents lie.  If you’re good at volleyball and rugby, don’t be shy to put yourself forward.  If you see yourself as a calmer, creative type, then arts and crafts will be your station.  Whatever tickles your fancy, being a team-player is central to the role, so be ready to get involved with whatever is going on at any given moment.

You still undeniably have some queries, so go to:

https://www.thamesvalleysummer.com/work-for-us-faq.aspx for more information.

Still think you’re up for a challenging, yet fun and rewarding chance to further your teaching experience and have lots of laughs while you’re at it?

Thames Valley is waiting for your application. Don’t forget to put: ‘Recommendation & Tim’s Free Lesson Plans’ in the ‘Where did you hear about us’ field on your form: https://www.thamesvalleysummer.com/work-for-us.aspx .

Feel free to email me, should you have any other questions: Josh Widdows TVSS Director of Studies at St John’s: joshwiddows@hotmail.com

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Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Writing Classes

Guest Post – Chasing the Cheese: Writing an FCE Article

Image result for cheese chasing uk

Image credit: Daily Mail

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is the third in a series of guest posts by my friend and colleague Josh Widdows, an English teacher and teacher trainer at International House Barcelona.

Getting FCE students to write an informative and descriptive article can be challenging. This entertaining 2.5/3-hour writing lesson encourages learners to source expressions from authentic texts, be inspired by video input and to annotate a model in order to effectively plan and draft their own article based around the idea of festivals.

Download the Lesson Procedure, PowerPoint and Handouts below:

And check out this video of crazy cheese chasers!

Lesson Procedure: FCE – Writing an article (2.5/3-hour class)

Go straight to No. 6 if you have less time and/or do not have authentic material.
1. (Optional Warmer)- source some authentic magazines, [Metropolitan is a great one for Barcelona], and board ‘Grab a mag’ and have students flick through and find an article that appeals to them. Tell them they will have to summarise the article to their partners.
2. Give Ss a minute to flick and find an article they find appealing. Make sure Ss don’t choose a review or an advert.
3. Ss have a further 2 minutes to scan read the text. Board prompts for them to think about.
a. What attracted you to this article?
b. Why does it have that title?
c. What did you like/ not like about the article?
d. Circle 5 new expressions.
e. Were you entertained? How?
4. Have Ss summarise articles in their own words. In 2s or 3s they ‘present and explain’ their article, using the prompts above.
5. Board up the article titles and have Ss think about why they have these ‘catchy’ titles. These examples are from Metropolitan Barcelona October 2017.
‘ACTUAL’ TITLES ‘BORING TITLES’
eg; – The writing on the wall – Graffiti again
– Clowning around – Theatre group in town
– The Brink of Extinction – The end of the world
Then get Ss to think up the ‘boring’ title for each one and think why that is less appealing. Obviously, these will depend on what material you bring to class.
6. (Warmer) – Show slide 1- ‘Chasing the cheese’ and ask Ss to guess what they think the article is about.
7. Gather ideas and then show slide 2: steep hill/ record crowds/ superhero costumes/ injured racers/ perilous event and predict article’s content.
8. Watch YouTube clip: Gloucester Cheese Rolling 2012 Official;
to see if predictions were correct. Simultaneously think about these questions?

a. What’s the aim of the event?
b. How do the participants achieve this objective?
c. Would you like to get involved in this event? Why/ why not?
9. Compare notes.
10. Read the article handout, (not filling the gaps yet!), and tell each other what else they found out about the event.
11. Ask students whether they’d like to go.
12. Ask Ss what the purpose of the text is- (to entertain and inform).
13. Individually complete open-cloze activity and check in pairs and then with original text.
14. Discuss gaps and reasons for some language items, (ie, fixed expression- you’ll never forget! /linker of contrast- although, etc.)
15. Invite Ss to underline all the synonyms used to mean participant. (4 – Why? As to not repeat and show a range of vocabulary). See handout for answers.
16. Ss underline useful expressions-(What do you get if….?) and strong adverbial phrases- (perilous event).
17. Dictate all the ‘normal adjectives’ (tired through to interested) from the Useful Language and Strong Expressions handout.
18. Ss compare spelling and then board to double check spelling.
19. Get Ss to think of the strong adjective for each, (ie. tired – exhausted/ knackered).
20. Give handout and replace the words in italics.
ANSWERS: 1. Exhausted, 2. Furious, 3. Freezing, 4. Fantastic, 5. Terrified, 6. Enormous, 7. Filthy, 8. Awful, 9. Essential, 10. Fascinated.
21. Show the penultimate slide and have Ss think about the purpose of each paragraph and top tips they would give a fellow student writing an Article for the first time.
22. Check ideas with slide.
23. Ss now complete Writing Articles: Top Tips! handout.
ANSWERS: informative, attractive, title, topic, reader, question, clearly, clearly, consistent, rhetorical, descriptive, consistent.
24. Brainstorm local and/or national events, ie. in Spain: La Merce, La Tomatina, San Fermin, Sant Joan.
25. Get ss to think of ‘catchy’ titles for each one. Examples could be: Run for your life, Las Ketchupped, Burnt to a cinder, Going crackers.
26. Give Ss Article Task and Plan Sheet handout and have Ss plan and draft their articles.

27. Ss complete their articles at home.

28. FOLLOW-UP TASK- having marked their texts, at the start of next class, board their titles and have Ss guess what the events are from the titles. Then Ss read each other’s texts and decide whose is the best. Then they read and edit according to the teacher’s comments.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Guest Posts, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: Long time, no see! – Adjacency Pairs

Image result for long time no see

Image credit: Language Boat – WordPress.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is the second in a series of guest posts by my friend and colleague Josh Widdows, an English teacher and teacher trainer at International House Barcelona.

This is a speaking lesson for strong intermediate/upper-intermediate students aimed at helping our learners to respond more appropriately to each other´s utterances. It highlights the importance of listening carefully and how to reply with better intonation and stress in a natural way. An enjoyable speaking lesson that gives students fun controlled and freer speaking opportunities in a ´mingling´ activity.

Download the PowerPoint, lesson procedure, audio and handout below. There are two different version, one for adults and one for teenagers:

Tapescript

 

Complete the gaps with 1 or 2 words:

 

Conversation 1

 

A:     Good evening.

B:      Hi.

A:     Is anyone sitting here?

B:      No.

A:     Would you _____­­­­__ if I joined you?

B:      Not _____­­­­__ . That would be lovely.

A:     Can I get you a drink?

B:      That’s very _____­­­­__ . I’d love one.

 

Conversation 2

 

A:     It was lovely to see you again, Sue. We really enjoyed ourselves.

Thank you so _____­­­­__  for having us to stay.

B:      Not at all. It’s _____­­­­__ .

A:     But it was really kind of you to put up with all of us, and the animals.

B:      It’s no problem at all. You must come again soon.

A:     Thanks for the offer. We’ll do that. See you again soon, then!

B:      Yes. Have a good trip.

 

Conversation 3

 

A:     I passed!

B:      Oh, well done…at last! Congratulations! We’ll have to celebrate.

A:     Yes. How _____­­­­__ opening a bottle of champagne?

B:      Brilliant _____­­­­__ .

 

Conversation 4

 

A:     Do you fancy _____­­­­__ with us to the

theatre to see Murder in the Garden?

B:      I _____­­­­__ , but you’ll never _____­­­­__ what. My sister saw it yesterday.

A:     Really?

B:      Yes, and I’m afraid she said it wasn’t very good.

 

 

Now listen and check.

 

 

 

Look at the 6 underlined pairs of phrases in the dialogues.

What is their function?

 

Conversation 1

 

A:       Good evening.

B:       Hi.

A:       Is anyone sitting here?

B:       No.

A:       Would you mind if I joined you?

A     B:       Not at all. That would be lovely.

A:       Can I get you a drink?

B     B:       That’s very kind. I’d love one.

 

Conversation 2

 

A:       It was lovely to see you again, Sue. We really enjoyed ourselves.

Thank you so much for having us to stay.

C     B:       Not at all. It’s a pleasure.

A:       But it was really kind of you to put up with all of us and the animals.

B:       It’s no problem at all. You must come again soon.

A:       Thanks for the offer. We’ll do that. See you again soon, then!

B:       Yes. Have a good trip.

 

Conversation 3

 

A:       I passed!

D     B:       Oh, well done…at last! Congratulations! We’ll have to celebrate.

A:       Yes. How about opening a bottle of champagne?

E     B:       Brilliant idea.

 

Conversation 4

 

A:       Do you fancy coming with us to the

theatre to see Murder in the Garden?

F     B:       I would, but you’ll never guess what. My sister saw it yesterday.

A:       Really?

B:       Yes, and I’m afraid she said it wasn’t very good.

 

Match the function to the sentences:

                                                                                Letter

  1. Saying thanks/responding to thanks ______
  2. Giving good news/responding to good news ______
  3. Asking permission/giving permission ______
  4. Inviting/declining an invitation ______
  5. Making a suggestion/responding to a suggestion ______
  6. Making an offer/accepting an offer ______

 

Now think about the sentence stress and connected speech:

 

 

Posted in Guest Posts, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: Meet the Parents – Expressions with “Take”

Image result for meeting parents for the first time

Image credit: Neatorama

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is the first in a series of guest posts by my friend and colleague Josh Widdows, an English teacher and teacher trainer at International House Barcelona.

This is a vocabulary lesson plan for strong intermediate/upper-intermediate students based on the idea of meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. It highlights the importance of strong collocations that are rich in the English language, using ‘take’ expressions. A fun and discussion based lesson that allows students to create their own ‘guide’ for meeting the parents for the first time.

Download the PowerPoint, lesson procedure and handout below.

Meet The Parents Presentation

Meet The Parents Task Sheet

Meet The Parents Lesson Procedure

Meet The Parents Lesson Procedure

 

 

Stage Time Focus Procedure Aim
 

Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0-5

 

 

O/C

 

 

 

 

Individ.

 

O/C

 

(Slide 1): Film poster of ‘Meet The Parents’. Ask:  Have you seen it?

        What’s it about?

        Why can this be a difficult situation?

 

Ss read the article and decide on best ‘tip’.

 

Ss compare and debate which ‘tip’ is the best. Facilitate and direct conversation.

Answer any questions about other lexis.

 

Topicalise lesson and activate schemata about the first meeting of your partner’s parents.

 

Reason to read and gather ideas.

Allow them to share ideas and debate the items.

 

Vocabulary

Focus 1

 

 

5-20

 

Pairs

 

 

 

 

Individ.

 

 

 

Pairs

 

 

Individ.

 

 

 

O/C

 

 

 

 

 

Highlight the first tip’s take expression and get them to underline the other 9. Encourage noticing of whole lexical chunk.

Monitor and mediate.

 

Project article (Slide 2) with underlined expressions. Ss check and notice full form of the expressions.

 

Ss discuss the meaning of each identified item. Model first in o/c.

 

(Slide 3); Ss match the ‘take’ expressions to their meaning. Do first one in o/c and then encourage autonomy.

 

Write up answers and check. Notice the ones they have difficulties with and clarify any misunderstandings.

 

 

 

Allows ss to notice the multiple expressions in the text.

 

 

Notice all particles of the expressions.

 

 

They work out meaning from context.

 

Notice their ‘meaning gap’ and leads them to understanding the true meaning.

Allow ss to check their understanding and question any uncertainties.

 

Vocabulary

Focus 2

 

 

 

20-30

 

Pairs

 

 

 

 

O/C

 

 

 

 

 

Pairs

 

 

Pairs

 

Focus ss on the form of the first ‘take’ expression and discuss form together, eg. take+prep+noun. They then highlight and discuss the forms of the others: NB Poss. Adjs

 

(Slide 4): Project form table, focusing on ‘singular nouns’ and other patterns.

Elicit the meta-language from ss. Talk about plurals and ask queries.

 

 

Notice which phoneme areas they struggle with and highlight weak forms.

 

Ss mumble practice the phrases. Notice any problem areas and then top-up in o/c.

 

 

Model: Give definition of one expression in o/c and elicit the take expression: ‘Which take expression means “to participate”?’

 

One student has the definition table and the other folds theirs in half. The one with open paper, gives the definition, the other gives the take expression. Monitor pronunciation.

 

 

Get them to identify and notice the different forms of the expressions.

 

Allows them to notice that some of the expressions are fixed that some particles cannot be changed.

 

Highlight the connected speech and word stress.

 

Lets ss practice the expressions and notice problem areas.

 

Reinforce form and recycle/practise meaning.

 

Testing encourages more clarity and cognitive depth.

 

Vocabulary Practice

 

30-40

 

Individ.

 

SS complete 10 sentences with the noun extracted.

 

(Slide 5) Project up the full sentences and ss check. Discuss any uncertainties or queries.

 

 

Draw attention to the lexical value and evaluate the form.

Clarify answers.

 

Personal-ised

Practice

 

 

 

40-55

 

3s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O/C

 

In small groups students discuss and share their own ideas and experiences about ‘How to Survive Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for The First Time and ss decide on best tips.

 

Monitor and ensure ss are using the target language appropriately. Feed in and shape any extra language.

 

 

Ss decide on best tip(s) and then feedback in open class. T reformulates language and ss debate their ideas.

 

 

Feedback to whole group and discuss best tips and personalised ideas that have come up.

 

Top-up on learning and answer any queries.

 

 

Ss gain cognitive depth through personalised answers and practice.

 

 

Allows T to check ss are using the items correctly and reinforce confidence in the ss.

 

Further cognitive depth by learning others’ use of the expressions.

 

 

Shared learning opportunities expands knowledge.