Posted in Recommended Websites

New Tools and Websites

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Here are links to a few new tools and websites I’ve discovered or been introduced to over the past few days.

Kahoot:

https://getkahoot.com/

Kahoot is a great site where teacher’s can design quizzes and surveys that students can play on their mobile devices in class. It makes for fast, frantic and fun classes with competitive, engaged students. I’m definitely going to be putting this one to the test this term.

http://readlang.com/

Readlang

A great site offering texts in a number of different languages with instant translations, simply click on the word you don’t understand and the translation appears above it. The site then generates a flashcard set based on the words you’ve clicked on.

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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Ageism and Retirement: CAE/CPE Lesson Plan

Student Onno Selbach does activities with two of our inhabitants. Photo courtesy of Humanitas.

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Photo credit: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/dutch-retirement-home-offers-rent-free-housing-students-one-condition/

This is a conversation activity for adults (B2+) based around an article about a Dutch retirement home where university students can live rent free in exchange for spending time with the senior residents. It also includes  Cambridge exam style open cloze and word formation exercises.

Lesson Plan:Dutch nursing home lesson plan

Article:Dutch nursing home offers rent

Open Cloze: Dutch nursing home open cloze

Word Formation: Dutch nursing home word formation

Key:

You can either split the class into groups to discuss the questions or conduct the discussion as a class. Warmer questions:

  • What is ageism?
  • Have you ever experienced it or seen an example of it?
  • In what ways/situations are people discriminated against because of their age?
  • Do you think older people are treated well in your society?
  • What type of problems do elderly people face in modern society?
  • How could this be improved?
  • Do you think the way in which older people are treated has got better or worse in your lifetime?
  • Are young and elderly people well integrated in modern society? If not how can we improve this?

Give out article and have students read it, clear up any vocabulary issues. Then give out the open cloze and word formation exercises.

Discussion questions:

  • What do you think of the program?
  • What are the potential advantages and disadvantages?
  • Why would this program appeal to the students?
  • Why would this program appeal to the elderly people?
  • What would the students get out of the program?
  • What would the elderly people get out of the program?
  • Would you have liked/like to spend your university years living in a retirement home?
  • Would you like to live in a home like this when you retire?

Follow up activity: Students write a CAE style essay, report or proposal on the topic of ageism and the retirement home program outlining pros and cons or highlighting advantages and disadvantages for the students and the elderly people.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Reading Classes

The Spanish Timetable: Reading and Speaking Activity

siesta

 

This is a reading and speaking activity based around an article from the New York Times about possible changes to the Spanish working say timetable. The original article is quite long so I have edited it down a bit, it should be suitable for B2/FCE upwards. Here is a link to the edited version and the discussion questions:

Spain time article

Start by asking students to tell the class about their average day with specific focus on the times at which they get up, eat, go to work, go to bed etc. Ask them if they follow the typical Spanish timetable outlined in the introduction to the article. Do they eat late? Do they have a siesta?

Once they have shared their different schedules set the class a time limit depending on their level to quickly read the article and underline any unfamiliar vocabulary. This could include:

To hunker down – to meet up/get together

a boon – a bonus

a lag – a delay

Go over the new vocabulary on the board, then either split the class into small groups and give out the discussion questions or hold a whole-class discussion. Below are the discussion questions from the hand out:

What’s your initial reaction to the article?

Do you agree with any of the opinions stated? Which ones?

Describe your daily routine; does it follow the “Spanish” timetable?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of both the Spanish and the “European” timetable?

How difficult would you find it to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think changing the timetable would affect the country’s culture?

Do you think most people would find it easy of difficult to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think the current system helps people be efficient?

 

When you have finished the questions you could organise a class debate for/against the idea of changing the Spanish timetable to be more in line with the rest of Europe. Sometimes when organising debate teams it’s a good idea to force your students to argue for a point that they don’t actually agree with. Debate structure should be as follows:

  • Each team presents their argument (3 uninterrupted minutes per team)  – the other team must remain silent but can take notes for the rebuttals later
  • Rebuttals (10 minutes) – Teams can attack the opposition’s arguments based on statements made in the presentation of their argument.
  • Result – Teacher can decide which team has the most coherent argument.

You may find my activity on language of agreement/disagreement useful for the debate.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Reading Classes

CAE Reading Part 7: Exam Technique (Update)

exam student

This is a lesson plan designed to help students complete the CAE reading paper part 7 gapped text task. Many students struggle with this part so I have designed this power point to try to help them find the “anchors” that will help them rebuild the text.

Below is the reading task, print out 1 copy for each student: readingcae0001

Here is the power point:

cae-reading-part-7-1

Key:

7-g

8-f

9-b

10-e

11-c

12-a

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 1: The Destructors by Graham Greene

short stories

This is the first in a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around short stories from the book:

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories edited by A. S. Byatt.

Short stories are perfect for the ESL classroom because as the name suggests they are short. They are also an excellent way to introduce students to a wide range of authors and literature. This particular collection contains works from some of the greatest English writers. Including Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf and the author with which I’m going to start this series Graham Greene.

The hope is that by introducing students to these authors in this short format (some of the stories run to only 4 or 5 pages) their interest will be piqued and they will go on to attempt the longer, more well-know works. Even if they don’t these stories are a fantastic way to introduce vocabulary and stir discussion.

Class structure

This series works, as the title suggests, like a typical book club: Each week you set a different story for homework to discuss the following week. The majority of the stories can easily be read in under half an hour

The Destructors

If you haven’t bought the book don’t worry because somebody has helpfully posted  a pdf of the story:

http://100mudcats.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/destructors.pdf

I chose to start with Graham Greene’s “The Destructors” for the simple reason that he is one of my favourite authors. It is also a story which stirs a lot of opinions. The main theme is the mental scars left on the survivors of the the London blitz during the second world war.

A good analytical essay of the story can be found here:

http://www.helium.com/items/1389999-analysis-of-graham-greenes-the-destructors

The essay: “The effects of war in The Destructors, by Graham Greene” by Holly Huffstutler gives a good analysis of the socio-political background of the story. Here is a link to a copy with some key parts underlined:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!284&authkey=!ANvo-Ct70jFmtb0

Lesson Plan

The students will have read the story for homework so start the class by asking for any queries on vocabulary. Some examples of things that might come up are listed below:

  • (pg 311) Ignoble
  • (pg312) crippled, lav – toilet, to pinch – to steal, to be in a bleeding funk – to be stressed or angry)
  • (pg 313) bribe, to draw lots.

Then put the students into groups and give out the following discussion questions:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!285&authkey=!AD2MBt2sCAB27pQ

  • What was your initial reaction to the story?
  • What’s the story about? What happens?
  • Describe the different characters.
  • Where and when does the story take place?
  • What are your feelings about the boys at the end of the story?
  • What good qualities do the delinquents have?
  • Explain Blackie’s motivations for re-joining the gang after losing the leadership.
  • What does Mr. Thomas (Old Misery) represent in the story?
  • Why are the boys suspicious of Mr. Thomas’ generosity with the smarties?
  • What are Trevor’s reasons for wanting to destroy Mr. Thomas’ house?
  • How do you explain the burning of the money and the way they treat Mr. Thomas?
  • What is the importance in the ending of “The Destructors”?
  • Does “The Destructors” portray a world without hope?
  • In what ways are the boys in “The Destructors” by Graham Greene isolated?
  • Is destruction a form of creation?

After the discussion have a feedback session so students can share their opinions. You may want to explain a little about the London Blitz:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blitz

You might like to point out that the story features in the film “Donnie Darko” in one of the first English class scenes. You could show a clip of the scene to the students and see if they agree with the main character’s assessment of the story.

Next week: Solid Objects by Virginia Woolf