Posted in Conversation Classes, Games

The Interpreter: Game to practice direct / indirect questions and reported speech.

interpreter

Before you use these materials, why not check out our new podcast for learners and teachers alike? It’s called 2Ts in a Pod, have a listen here:

This is a game for upper intermediate students and upwards. The main focus is the differences in structure between direct and indirect questions, something even the highest level English speakers struggle with.

Arrange students into groups of 3. In each group you have 1 interviewer, 1 celebrity and 1 interpreter. Tell students that the interviewer and the celebrity don’t speak the same language (in fact they do, everyone must speak English during the exercise). The interviewer asks a question to the celebrity but for the celebrity to understand the question it must be “translated” into an indirect question by the interpreter. The celebrity can then answer the question but the interpreter must report his / her answer back to the interviewer in reported speech. It can get a little complicated, and careful monitoring is required but students tend to enjoy focusing on the specific grammar point in use. Here is an example of a typical exchange:

Interviewer: Where did you go to school?

Interpreter: He would like to know where you went to school.

Celebrity: I went to school in a big boarding school in the English countryside.

Interpreter: He says that he went to a big boarding school in the English countryside. OR He said that he had been to a big boarding school in the English countryside.

For lower levels encourage the interpreters to report in the present tense to make it easier. There is a lot of pressure on the interpreter, they’re basically doing all the hard grammar work, so make sure you switch roles often.

Other indirect question beginnings could be:

Could you tell us…………….

He /she is interested to know……………..

He / she was wondering……………

Remember the form for yes / no questions:

Direct: Did you like your school?

Indirect: She was wondering if you liked your school.

If students need subjects to ask and answer questions about you can use some of the following:

  1. your favourite film
  2. your first day at school
  3. what you did last weekend
  4. your favourite place in the whole world
  5. the best / worst thing about living where you live

The celebrity students can give true answers about themselves or they can invent fantastical lives for their celebrity persona.

Let me know how it goes in the comments.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 4, Persepolis

persepolis pic

This is the fourth in a series of lesson plans based around the graphic novel “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi.

Vocabulary

Here is some of the vocabulary that students had difficulty with from this chapter.

to be ashamed – to feel regret or embarrassment

to take in – strange choice of verb in the text as it is used in the context of Marji’s grandmother taking in sewing. Here is means to start doing an activity. I advised my students to use “take up” instead.

sewing – students had problems with pronunciation, stress that the verb “to sew” is pronounced the same as “so”.

verbs that collocate with “a promise” – make a promise, break a promise, keep a promise.

“the population couldn’t have cared less” – useful, common expression meaning not to care.

cemetery – place where dead people are buried.

stretcher – equipment to carry an injured person.

widow – wife of a dead man.

Discussion Questions

  1. What happens in this chapter?
  2. What new information do we learn?
  3. How did it make you feel?
  4. How does the chapter end?
  5. Why is Marji confused?
  6. In this chapter we see Marji asking her grandmother to tell her stories of her life. What stories did your grandparents / parents tell you about their lives?
  7. In this chapter Marji’s grandmother talks about politicians who don’t keep their promises. Do the politicians in your country keep theirs? Can you think of any examples of promises they have kept and broken?
  8. Marji’s Dad bravely tries to take photos of the demonstrations. How important is this kind of action?
  9. Can you think of any famous war correspondents? Or famous war photography?
  10. How do people document demonstrations and revolutions nowadays?
  11. How has this activity changed since the time Persepolis was written?

Next week chapter 5: The Letter

 

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes

Cyprus Conversation Class

Cyprus bank queue

This is short conversation class based on the ongoing financial problems in Cyprus.

First show students the photo above and try to elicit the news story.

You may want to pre-teach the following vocabulary:

bank bailout / rescue package – a big loan to stop the collapse of a country’s banks

a run on a bank – when everybody panics and tries to withdraw all their money

The IMF – the International Monetary Fund (they probably have the initials in another order)

Give out the following questions and have students discuss them in small groups:

  1. What’s been happening in Cyprus this week? Share your knowledge with your group.
  2. What’s your opinion on the situation there?
  3. What do you think of the original proposal to pay for the bank bailout? (taking money from people’s savings)
  4. What do you think would happen if they made a similar proposal here?
  5. How do stories like this make you feel? Scared? Frustrated?

Here are 2 headlines from sensationalist UK newspaper “The Daily Mail”:

“The Germans are trying to take our lives and our money” say angry Cypriots.

“If Cyprus falls into Putin’s hands we will have lost the first battle of the new cold war.”

What do you think of these two headlines?

  1. Who do you think is most responsible for the crisis?
  2. What do you think of Iceland’s response to it? (jailing bankers and refusing to pay back loans)
  3. Many people who live in Cyprus are retired ex-pats, have you ever thought of moving to another country when you retire? If so where would you like to live? Where are the most typical places to retire to?
Posted in Conversation Classes

Easter Conversation Class

Easter-Eggs-1

This is a short conversation activity about Easter. Put students in small groups and give out the following questions:

  1. What are your plans for Easter week this year? Do you have to work?
  2. How do you usually feel at this time of year?
  3. Do you have any family Easter traditions?
  4. What are the traditional Easter traditions in your country? Maundy Thursday / Good Friday / Easter Sunday / Easter Monday traditions.
  5. Are there any traditional foods / drinks for Easter?
  6. Do you normally go on holiday at Easter?
  7. Do you go to church at Easter?
  8. What did you used to do at Easter when you were a child?
  9. How have Easter celebrations changed during your lifetime?
  10. Have they been influenced by other cultures?
  11. Do you give Easter eggs?
  12. Do / did you organize egg hunts for your children?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: Nuns at Luncheon by Aldous Huxley

eating nuns

 

This a series of posts for proficiency level students based around short stories taken from “The Oxford Book of Short Stories” edited by A.S Byatt.

This lesson plan is based on “Nuns at Luncheon” by Aldous Huxley. Start by addressing any vocabulary issues the students might have.There is a lot of new vocabulary in this story so try to keep this section as brief as possible to leave time for the discussion. Here is a brief run down of some things that might need explaining.

a hare – a kind of  large rabbit

a mixed grill – a plate of assorted types of grilled meat

gaudy / gaudily – tasteless, lots of bright colours

to wriggle out of st – to escape from a responsibility – my students try to wriggle out of doing their homework

to talk shop – to talk about your job / studies during free time

gallows – the place where people are hanged (see also gallows humour)

the plot thickens – expression meaning that something becomes more complicated or interesting

to harness – to capture and use the power of something – windmills harness the power of the wind

folly – stupidity

the coast is clear – expression meaning nobody is watching

to rule with an iron rod – to be very strict

chaste – pure / innocent

to shuffle off this mortal coil – expression from Shakespeare’s Hamlet meaning to die.

to wallow – to immerse yourself in something, usually in something bad – pigs and hippos wallow in mud, people sometimes wallow in self-pity.

to savour something – to enjoy something and try and make it last longer

the Norns – Nordic goddesses of destiny

sullen – moody, sad

to gloat – to show a lot of self-satisfaction about something, usually at someone else’s expense.

to trudge / to tramp – to walk with heavy feet as if you are tired

dingy – badly lit, dirty

Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the story about?
  2. How did it make you feel?
  3. The story uses a framing device (a story within a story), what effect does this have?
  4. What happens in the story of the nun?
  5. Why does the nun run away with the man? For love? Or to save his soul?
  6. What does the story say about our fascination with tragedy?
  7. In English we have the expression “car crash TV /cinema” what do you think it means? (shows or films that deliberately show disturbing material to get a reaction or higher viewing figures.)
  8. Do you think the media exploits other people’s tragedies for higher viewing figures? Can you think of any examples? (Oscar Pistorius trial)
  9. Based on the events in the story and the repeated scandals involving priests do you think that celibacy is realistic in today’s society?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 3, The Water Cell

persepolis pic

This is the third in a series of posts based around the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I am reading through the book with several groups of ESL students. Each week we go over new vocabulary that arises and have a short discussion based on any issues that come up.

Vocabulary

There are several vocab points that came up from this chapter:

a putsch = a coup

to overthrow = to remove a government from power

proof = noun from verb “to prove”

westerner = person from the west, also northerner, southerner, easterner.

illiterate = someone who cannot read or write

vast = very big

nevertheless = 1 use as a contrast linker like “however” or another use is as a synonym of “anyway”

entourage = group of people who accompany and support a person

the rabble = a disorganised group of people, here referring to the workers

to rule = to govern

to be sidetracked = to be distracted or prevented from doing something

wrinkled = with fold lines

Discussion Questions

  1. What happened in this chapter?
  2. What was your reaction to it?
  3. What new information do we learn in this chapter?
  4. How aware were people of British involvement in regime change at the time?
  5. Were your country’s government involved in anything similar?
  6. Do you think this type of interference still happens today?
  7. How have the tactics and strategies changed?
  8. On the opening page we see the police’s heavy-handed response to the demonstrations, are the police heavy-handed in your country? What was the governments reaction to the last big demonstration in your country?

Next week chapter 4: Persepolis

Posted in Conversation Classes

The University of Life

univesitylife

This is a conversation class for adults (B1-C2) based around the idea of valuable life experiences.

You will need these life experiences flashcards:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!334&authkey=!AGxRdJiqzLdNvCI

First put “The University of Life” on the board and ask the students what they think it means. Have the flashcards cut up. Put students in small groups (3-4) and give them the flashcards one at a time. Encourage them to discuss the following for each card:

What have you learnt from this life experience? If you haven’t had this experience, speculate about what you could learn from it.

Once they have discussed all the flashcards tell students to think of 2 more life experiences that have taught them a lot. They should then share them with the rest of the class.

Tell students to try and put the life experiences in order to value in terms of experience and self improvement gained.

Now tell students to think about the ways in which each of the life experiences are viewed by potential employers. Encourage them to think of both good and bad interpretations. For example with travelling a potential employer could think that you are more open-minded and have a better understanding of different cultures. On the other hand, they might think that you only want the job to save money for another trip.

Here is a list of the life experiences:

  1. Moving out of your parent’s house.
  2. Going to university
  3. Travelling
  4. Supporting yourself financially
  5. Getting married
  6. Living with your partner
  7. Having children
  8. Having teenage children
  9. Being seriously ill
  10. Being your own boss

The role-play from my class on jobs and career paths also works well with this topic.

A possible homework assignment based around this topic could be a short composition in which students explain what they have learnt from one of the life experiences in the list.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes

Horse Meat Scandal Conversation Class

horse

Yum! Horse Lasagne

This is a conversation class for adults or mature teens based around the horse meat scandal currently rocking Europe. To download the handout click here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!333&authkey=!ADTef9TDO926cuw

For higher levels here is a section of an article from the Guardian about how the scandal has changed people’s shopping habits:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!341&authkey=!ACFKTje39yjAdBg

Split the class into small groups (3-4) and give out the handout. Students discuss the questions and then feed back to the rest of the class. Some vocabulary might need to be pre-taught, for example “a nanny-state”. Here are the questions from the handout.

What do you know about the horse meat scandal? Share your knowledge with your group.

Do you think it has affected you? Have you eaten any ready meals recently? Or Ikea meat balls?

Does the story surprise you?

How long do you think it has been going on?

“In France horse is a delicacy, I don’t understand all the fuss.” What do you think of this statement?

Are there any types of food you avoid because you are worried about the quality of the ingredients? Sausages, hamburgers, kebabs etc.

How closely do you monitor the food you eat? Do you read the ingredients on the packets? Do you count calories?

Do you think ingredients should be displayed in a different way? A traffic light system for example.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that scandals like this don’t happen?

“I don’t care what’s in it as long as it tastes good.” How far do you agree with this statement? Do you think most people agree or disagree with this statement?

Do you think that your country has a “nanny state”? (a government that interferes too much in the way you live your life)

What elements of people’s lifestyle should be controlled by the state? If any.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

CPE Speaking Long Turn Practice Class

speaking exam

This class will focus on ways to prepare students for the long turn part of the proficiency speaking exam.

Here you can download my class handout for the long turn:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!330&authkey=!AAo9zXade0WcDyw

Here you can download a powerpoint of example long turn questions:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!329&authkey=!ACkj6f61lAOrNls

In this part students are required to speak for 2 minutes about a given subject. They will be given a card with a question and 3 bullet points of suggested areas to focus on. Students are required to stay on topic for the 2 minutes but they DO NOT have to cover the bullet points, they are just a guide.

There are 10 examples of genuine long turn questions taken from various handbooks and passed papers on the powerpoint above. What I like to do is set “ambush” long turns; have the powerpoint set up and after finishing a different class activity suddenly put up a question and instruct students to begin talking immediately.

For these practices you should have students sit in pairs. Each pair should have a timer of some kind. Remind students that they need to talk for 2 minutes without interruptions. Ensure that the student who is not taking their long turn hides the timer from the view of the speaking student; in the exam they will not know how long they’ve been speaking for and they must get used to structuring their turn to last the allotted time.

Before starting the practices go through the class handout. The handout is just a guide with some ideas about how to structure a long turn. My main focus in writing the handout was to encourage my students to personalise the question and also to link it to current affairs. After each practice turn encourage students to share the ways in which they personalised each question and any links to current affairs they found.

Here is the handout:

Speaking Long Turn

Talk for 2 minutes without interruption about a subject with 3 pointers to guide you.

How important is sport in today’s society?

  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Different stages of life

Tips

You will only have a few seconds to gather your thoughts before you start talking. Try to think of your turn as introduction, body, and conclusion.

Start with a time buyer:

  • It’s funny you should ask that…………..
  • That’s weird I was just talking about this the other day…………….
  • Hhhmmmm that’s a tough one………….
  • That’s an interesting question………………
  • Now let me see…………………..

Immediately personalise the topic

Generally people find it easiest to talk about themselves and their own experiences rather than speak objectively about something. Speaking about personal experience is also more engaging for the listener.

  • For me personally sport isn’t that important.
  • As far as I’m concerned sport is a big part of my life.
  • Speaking from personal experience I’d say

Using your experience as a starting point you can then link into more general discussion of the topic. Think of it like the exciting first paragraph of an article.

Link the topic to current affairs

Normally there’s a link between the topic and something happening in the world at the current time.

  • Take Barça for example, the loss to Madrid clearly affected the whole city.
  • We only have to look at the doping scandals involving Lance Armstrong……

Wrap up

Try and recap everything you’ve said and tie it all together

  • So as I was saying……
  • To sum up……..

freeenglishlessonplans.com

 

Posted in Recommended Websites

English Learning Dos and Don’ts

Dos-and-Donts-at-an-Indian-Wedding

A quick post to draw your attention to a great idea from our friend’s at “A year in the Life”. The idea is to have the students come up with a list of dos and don’ts for learning English, then throughout the course they can be used as a reference and guide to studying. This gives the students more of a sense of ownership over their course and hopefully if they’ve made the rules, they’re more likely to stick to them.

Also, be sure to check out some of the beautiful photography, especially some beautiful shots of the Irish countryside.

freeenglishlessonplans.com