Posted in Conversation Classes

What’s the best/worst thing about…?

 

Image credit: www.jamesfunda.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation activity designed to get teenagers and adults talking and practice the phrases:

The best/worst thing about… is…

Download the powerpoint below, project it and have students discuss their ideas in groups then share them in open class, board any emergent language and exploit any opportunities for debate and exponents of agreeing, disagreeing and expressing opinion.

Best Worst thing

Posted in Grammar Classes, Reading Classes

Mysteries of the Ancient World: Past Modals of Speculation

Image credit: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a grammar lesson on the theme of mysterious ancient monuments. I taught this class as my assessed lesson for the grammar assignment of my DELTA. Download the procedure, powerpoint and handouts below.

Let me know if the lesson procedure is clear enough as it’s written in Cambridge DELTA speak!

Lesson Procedure Past Speculation 3rd draft

The Mystery of Stonehenge 3rd draft – Students’ handout

The Mystery of Stonehenge Teacher’s copy with key – answers underlined

Mysteries of the ancient world 2nd draft – Powerpoint with pictures

The Mystery of Stonehenge – Students’ Handout

Thousands of years ago, an ancient civilization raised a circle of huge, roughly rectangular stones in a field in what is now Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge, as it would come to be called, has been a mystery ever since. Building began on the site around 3100 B.C. and continued in phases up until about 1600 B.C. No written records exist to explain how or why it was built.

How was Stonehenge built?

The biggest of Stonehenge’s stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons (22.6 metric tons) on average. Scientists believe that they must have been brought from Marlborough Downs, a distance of 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the north. Transporting the stones that distance can’t have been easy.

Smaller stones, referred to as “bluestones” (they have a bluish tinge when wet or freshly broken), weigh up to 4 tons and come from several different sites in western Wales, having been transported as far as 140 miles (225 km). It’s unknown how people in antiquity moved them that far. Scientists speculate that during the last ice age glaciers might have carried these bluestones closer to the Stonehenge area. An earlier theory was that the builders could have used rafts to transport the stones over the water. However, more recent research suggests that this method can’t have been used because of the weight of the stones.

  1. Where do scientists think the Sarsen stones came from?
  2. What does the writer say about transporting the Sarsen stones?
  3. Where did the blue stones come from?
  4. How do scientists think the blue stones were transported to the site?

What was Stonehenge?

There are a number of theories as to what the site was used for. Archaeologists agree that the site must have had a spiritual significance. It may have originally been a cemetery, according to a new study. After examining bones exhumed near the stones, scientists believe that the burials must have taken place at the same time as Stonehenge was built, suggesting that the stones could have been gravestones for religious or political elite.

  1. What are scientists certain about the significance of Stonehenge?
  2. Scientists are sure that Stonehenge was a cemetery T/F

Stonehenge may have been constructed with the sun in mind. One avenue connecting the monument with the nearby River Avon aligns with the sun on the winter solstice; archaeological evidence reveals that pigs were slaughtered at Stonehenge in December and January, suggesting that ancient pagan sun celebrations might have taken place there.

Steven Waller, a researcher in archaeoacoustics has revealed that before part of the ring collapsed it must have had excellent acoustics and speculates that it might have been an ancient concert hall or cathedral.

  1. Why do scientists think the builders chose the location for the stones?
  2. What other events possibly happened at Stonehenge?
  3. What does Steven Waller say about Stonehenge?

Wild theories about Stonehenge have persisted since the Middle Ages. Some say Merlin the wizard may have cast a spell to make the rocks as light as a feather to help with the construction. UFO enthusiasts believe that ancient aliens could have built Stonehenge as a spacecraft landing pad.

  1. What unscientific methods for Stonehenge’s construction have been suggested?

Form – Past modal verbs of speculation

Look at the sentences on the board and complete the table

Subject          + Modal           + _____________     + _____________
I

You

He/she/it

Etc.

Could

Might

May

Must

Can’t

 

 

_______

…………………

…………………

…………………

…………………

Etc.

Practice – Memory Test

Answer the questions with your partner using past modals.

  1. What did the text say about transporting the larger Sarsen stones?
  2. What did the text say about glaciers?
  3. What are scientists sure about the significance of Stonehenge?
  4. What did the researcher in archaeoacoustics say about Stonehenge?
  5. What were some of the more wild theories about its use?

Easter Island Heads

  1. Scientists are almost certain that the stones had a religious significance.

Scientists believe that the stones________________________________ a religious significance.

  1. Scientists think that it’s impossible that the stones came from a different island.

Scientists think that the stones _________________________________ from a different island.

  1. It’s possible that the stones were carved to resemble a famous leader of the tribe.

The stones _____________________________________ to resemble a famous leader of the tribe.

  1. Some people believe that there’s a possibility that the stones came from another planet. Some people believe that the stones _______________________________________from another planet.

Lesson Procedure

Stage Time Focus Procedure Aim
Pre-reading 5 mins OC

 

 

 

In pairs

Show picture of Stonehenge. Ask if anyone has been there. Share information with class.

 

Sts speculate. How old is it? How was it built? What was it?

Introduce topic. To allow sts to apply top-down knowledge
Reading 1 2 mins Pairs Give out handout. Sts read intro. Report back to open class. How old is Stonehenge? To confirm speculation and generate interest.
Reading 2 + language focus (meaning) 20 mins Pairs

 

 

 

 

 

OC

Instruct sts to read next section quickly then read questions and answer in pairs.

 

 

 

Check answers – nominate – check across class.

 

Board first 5 sentences that answer questions with modal verbs.

Ask questions: “How certain are the scientists?” to develop understanding of meaning.

Board paraphrases: “could have” = “it’s possible” “must have” = “almost certain” etc.

Repeat for sections 3,4,5.

While sts read, board phonemics for sentences on board:

/mʌstəv/

/ka:ntəv/

/meɪəv/

/kʊdəv/

/maɪtəv/

To confirm speculation. To test sts ability to understand past modals.

 

 

 

 

To develop understanding of meaning of target sentences.

Language focus 5 mins Pairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sts look at 5 boarded sentences, analyse structures and complete substitution table on handout:

 

Board formula: modal + perfect infinitive (have + past part.)

 

Focus on pronunciation, sts use phonemics on board to practice target sentences.

To develop form of structures.

 

 

 

 

 

To develop pronunciation of past modals.

Speaking – controlled practice 5 mins pairs Sts answer questions about text on handout in pairs, trying to use the target language. To practice and become more familiar with the structures.
Writing – controlled practice 5 mins pairs Show picture of Easter Island Heads with scientific theories. Sts complete sentence transformations on handout using past modals.

 

Check answers across class.

To practice written form and meaning.

 

 

 

To check answers and practice pronunciation.

Speaking – controlled practice 10-15 mins Pairs

 

 

 

OC

 

Pairs/groups of 4.

Sts speculate about the Easter Island heads in pairs. Monitor, board corrections.

 

Share ideas in open class.

 

Repeat with pictures of Magura Cave, Great Pyramids, Uffington White Horse.

 

Sts make speculations in pairs about new pictures then speak to pair next to them and share ideas.

To practice and become more familiar with the structures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To come to a consensus about speculations.

Posted in Listening Classes

Listening: I got double-scammed!

Image Credit: blogs.thisismoney.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a listening lesson for high B1+. I designed this lesson for my DELTA receptive skills assessed class. It’s based around a listening text from Speak Out Upper-Intermediate (Pearson), in which a woman describes how she had her bag stolen while sitting in a café. I chose this text because this type of crime is an extremely common occurence here in Barcelona.

Below you can download the lesson procedure, students’ and teachers’ handout, an annotated version of the transcript and the listening file.

Lesson Procedure 

Lisas bad day student handout 

Lisas bad day Teacher’s copy

Audio file

annotated transcript lisa0001

The most important thing to bear in mind is that this is a class which focuses on developing students’ listening skills rather than simply testing their comprehension of a text so feel free to replay sections of the text as many times as it takes for them to get the message.

It’s important to follow the steps as laid out in the procedure. The pre-listening tasks, in which students make predictions about what will happen next, aid students in their comprehension as they are given the opportunity to apply their own knowledge and experience to the text.

After listening the language focus section on connected speech will help students to identify and decipher fast connetced speech, for example, the pronunciation of past modals “can’t/must/might have”. I’m currently working on my grammar assessment class in which I will come back to past modals of speculation. It should make a good follow-up class to this one so watch this space.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Uncategorized

Invention Presentations

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Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

This is a lesson plan for pre-intermediate (A2) upwards. Students think of an invention and present it to the class. Download the powerpoint here:

present-an-invention1

Put students into groups of 2-3 and show them the powerpoint. Tell them to think of an invention, there are some pictures in the first slide to give them some inspiration. Then give them 10 minutes to write and practice a presentation using the language on slide 2 and any other language they can think of. They must also think of a brand name and slogan.

Students then present their inventions to the rest of the class, who can decide, Dragon’s Den style, if they want to invest or not.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Reading: The Very Latest Inventions

Image Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a reading and conversation lesson plan based on an article from the guardian about some of the latest inventions. Download the text below or read the full article here:

The latest inventions

Basically students need to identify the inventions by reading the first section of each text in which the inventor describes them. They will then reread in order to answer detail questions in pairs and respond to the text by answering discussion questions.

Here’s the key:

  1. The selfie-stick
  2. Emojis
  3. The cronut (a doughnut crossed with a croissant)

Read this inventor describing his invention and see if you can guess what it is.

I’ve been fascinated with photography since I was a kid. I used to develop my own prints and experimented with Polaroids and early video cameras.

In 2002 I took my daughter on holiday to Italy. I wanted photos of us together but if you take it yourself you always end up with a head off centre. In the end, we’d wait for a passer-by who looked savvy enough to use my digital camera, then explain what we wanted usually without a common language. Then we had to deal with people walking in front of us while the photo was being taken. I just thought: “There has to be an easier way.”

It took about 100 prototypes to get it right. Every pin, spring, lever and gear had to be up to the job. I wanted each one to last 20 years and be able to withstand use under the sea or in the heat of the Sahara.

  1. Why did he invent it?
  2. Why do you think they became so popular?
  3. What problems do you think the inventor has encountered since the product has taken off?

It wasn’t the first time someone had come up with the idea of sticking a camera on the end of a pole – the BBC claims to have unearthed a picture showing a couple using a selfie stick in the 1920s. Originally, I called it The Quik Pod Extendable Monopod – we only started using the term “selfie stick” when it became part of the lexicon. The first take-up happened in the extreme sport community – it was really popular with skiers, paragliders and divers.

Sales have grown every year since launch but one of the problems I’ve encountered is cheap, rip-off selfie sticks – it’s too time-consuming to go after any but the most blatant copycats.

But money was never my main motivation. I’m far more interested in creating a world where families have good pictures in which everyone is present. In earlier decades, one of the parents tended to be the “designated photographer” and was often all but invisible in their photo albums. Now, for the first time, everyone can always be present. CB

  1. What do you think of the invention?
  2. Do you agree with his justification?

Read the first paragraph, can you guess what the invention is?

It was the 1990s, and we were designing a new online language to use in text messages. Before mobile phones in Japan, we used to have pagers called Pocket Bells. They were cheap and really popular among young people, partly because they had a heart symbol. I knew that symbols absolutely had to be part of any texting service.

  1. How many do you think there are now?

The original emoji were black and white and very simple.
I drew inspiration from symbols used in weather forecasts. At first there were 200, for things like food, drink and feelings – including the heart, of course. Now there are over 1,000.

I didn’t think emoji would spread and become so popular internationally. When I’m introduced as the man who invented emoji, people are taken aback. Emoji is incredibly useful because it transcends language – sometimes a single emoji can say more than words.

  1. Where did he get the inspiration from?
  2. What do you think of the invention?

Read the first section. Can you guess the invention?

I started in kitchens when I was barely 16. My parents didn’t have much money but I found a cookery school. I spent some time in the military and then I worked for the French bakery Fauchon, and Daniel Bouloud in New York, before I opened my own bakery in Soho in 2011.

Someone pointed out that we didn’t have any kind of donut on the menu. I said OK, let’s try it. But I’m French, I don’t know about donuts. Let me work with a texture I grew up with – the croissant.

How do you think they became so popular?

The dough itself is not croissant dough, there’s a different ratio of ingredients. I wanted it to be light but I didn’t want to change the flavour. When I finally found the right balance, it had the perfect texture – the crunch on the outside, the flaky layers within. The team always tastes new recipes together. They said: “Yeah, it’s good. It should go on the menu.”

After that everything happened really fast. By chance, a blogger for Grub Street (New York magazine’s restaurant blog) came into the shop and tried the Cronut. He put it on the blog. Then he called me – overnight, there had been more than 140,000 links to his blog post. He said: “I think you should make a few more.”

The first day I made 30. The next, 45. By the third day we had more than 100 people queuing and the craze began. The line stretched back over four blocks. The enthusiasm is still as strong. Most days we have a line of between 100-180 people, no matter the weather. We serve them hot chocolate while they’re queuing.

I don’t take this success for granted. We have auctioned Cronuts to raise thousands for food banks and food charities here in New York.

I believe in creativity and in innovation. We’re always thinking about how we can impress, how we can touch people with food, so we never stop inventing. I get inspired by all kinds of things – by art, by painting. Recently I was looking at nail art on Instagram. The details, the colour, the mix of techniques are fascinating. Maybe someday I will glaze a cake and be reminded of those details.

Baking’s still pretty much the same wherever you go: bakeries are mostly French, Italian or German. It’s not like cooking, where you have chefs from all kinds of backgrounds fusing different foods. So this is just the beginning. There’s plenty of room to grow. RI

  1. How does he feel about his success?
  2. What other things inspire him?
  3. Are you a baker?
  4. Have you ever tried a cronut?
Posted in Conversation Classes

Speaking Topic: Could you…?

Image credit: www.popsci.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a speaking topic designed for teenagers that could also be used with adults. It consists of hypothetical questions with “could you…?” for example: “could you live without your mobile?”

Put students in small groups (3/4) or you could make it an open class discussion. Download the powerpoint below.

Could you

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Reading Classes

Reading: Steak Causes Cancer – Argentina Reacts

Image credit: www.groupon.co.in

Credit to Jonathan Watts at the Guardian for the article.

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This is a reading and speaking lesson plan based around an article about the WHO’s recent revelation linking consumption of red meat to cancer for B2+. Download the student’s and teacher’s copy of the article below:

Argentines meat cancer article TEACHERS COPY

Argentines meat cancer article STUDENT’S COPY

Influenced by my wonderful DELTA tutors I’ve split the text up into sections. Before reading each section students make a prediction about what they’re about to read and then read to confirm their predictions. They then read again and complete comprehension questions that go into more detail.

Lesson structure:

  • Predict/speculate about section 1
  • Read to confirm
  • Read section 1 again and answer comprehension questions
  • Predict/speculate about section 2
  • Read to confirm
  • Read again, answer comprehension questions
  • Repeat

Give students ample time between sections and after finishing the article to respond and interact with the text.

  • Who do they agree with?
  • What’s their reaction to the text?
  • How important is meat in their culture?

The article:

Argentinians react to report linking meat to cancer.

  1. How do you think Argentinians reacted to the news?

As he prepared to order lunch in one of Buenos Aires’ many steak restaurants, Jorge Bacaloni declared himself unlikely to change his beef-centred diet despite the World Health Organisation’s conclusion that red meats are more carcinogenic than previously thought.

In a report published on Monday, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

But in Argentina, which has one of the highest levels of meat consumption in the world, the study was met with scepticism.

“I’m aware of the health risks, but it’s part of our culture,” said Bacaloni, who estimates that he eats between a kilogram and 1.5kgs of meat each week.

  1. Do you think Jorge will change his ways because of the news?

Most of that is from cattle, putting Bacaloni around the average in Argentina, where consumption per capita was 59.4kg of beef in 2014.

As well as the pure pleasure of home grills and estraña dishes in beef houses, the lawyer said that it was a custom. “This is part of our history. Part of our life,” he says. “And at least cows in Argentina are raised on pastures rather than in sheds. It’s more natural.”

But he was more concerned for his family that the World Health Organisation had classified processed meat in the same cancer-risk category as cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos.

“I have a three-year-old son. We’ve been giving him sausage, but I’ll stop that,” he said. He too is adjusting his diet, though for different reasons. “I’ll have chicken today, but only because I’m on a diet.”

  1. What changes will he make?
  2. What reasons does he give for his scepticism?
  3. Why does he think Argentine beef is better than in other countries?

 

  1. Why do you think Argentines eat so much meat?

Fashion designer Marcela Duhalde laughs when she explains how often she eats steak. “l hate cooking so when I have to make food I always choose a T-bone steak and tomatoes because it’s easy and delicious. I have it maybe four or five times a week,” she says. “I ought to be huge.”

Raised on a farm, she says eating meat is a custom. “My family was very carnivorous. If we didn’t have meat, we didn’t consider it a meal.”

This is a common refrain. The first cattle were introduced by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century and they soon became a feature on the pampas – the vast grasslands that stretch across much of the country – while their meat was an integral part of the gaucho “cowboy” culture.

  1. Why does Marcela eat meat so often?
  2. How often does she eat steak?
  3. Is this too often?

 

  1. Why do some people say that they could never be vegetarian?
  2. What effect do you think the WHO’s decision will have on people’s habits?

Duhalde says she is concerned about the agrochemicals, antibiotics, tainted cattle feed and the generally poor conditions that many cattle are kept in, but vegetarianism is not option. Nor it seems is cutting back.

“Everything I like is unhealthy – steak, alcohol, drugs and other things. I’d rather die than give it all up. I don’t have the energy to be happy without them.”

She didn’t expect the WHO decision to make much of an impact on Argentina’s love of steaks in the short term, but she thought it could make a difference in the distant future if the evidence mounted up and led to the same sort of health campaigns that are now common with tobacco.

“This makes us start thinking about the risks, but there is a big distance between thinking about things and actually changing our habits.”

  1. What things worry Marcela about meat production?
  2. Why could she never be a vegetarian?
  3. What’s her conclusion?
  4. What’s your opinion?

Follow up

Students write an essay examining the importance of meat in their culture and the effect they think the announcement will have.