Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Category: Teacher Tips (Page 1 of 14)

How To Teach ‘Too’ and ‘Enough’

In this brief post / video, I share how I go about teaching the difference between ‘too’ and ‘enough’ with pre-intermediate or intermediate learners of English. These are some tips and feel free to either adapt or ignore this as what may work for me might not work for you.

1. Introduce Adjectives

The first step is to introduce common adjectives to learners with the use of flashcards. Print off some flashcards which represent common adjectives such as cold, hot, expensive, etc. and then elicit from students the language. While language is being elicited, board it up and check pronunciation by nominating students.

2. Students Predict Situations

Get students to think of particular situations with the selected adjectives, for example with the image of someone tired they could have worked for twelve hours. Give an example to all students with one flashcard and ask students to work together in pairs or small groups, noting down possible situations. Once students have written down some ideas, nominate groups to share their ideas, writing down them on the whiteboard.

3. Creative Dialogue

The next step is to get students to create a dialogue based on their predicted situations. Provide an example for all students to get them started: referring to the picture related tiredness:

  • Person A: Could you write the report for me by tomorrow morning?
  • Person B: Sorry, I am really tired!

Get students to work together in small groups or pairs, thinking of potential dialogue using the adjectives and scenarios as an idea. Give learners some time and then monitor them, helping where necessary. Check whether any learners have used the target language with ‘too’ or ‘enough’ so that you can nominate them for later. After ten minutes or so, ask students to read out their dialogue in pairs or small groups and share them with the rest of the class.

Make a note of any particular language such as the example dialogue above or the target language and write this up on the whiteboard for all students. If none of the students use the target language, you will have to present it to the class. For example, write the situation above and write the start of the sentence ‘I am too tired to … as I didn’t get enough sleep’ and get students to complete the sentence in small groups.

4. Using Target Language

Ask students to use the language ‘too’ and ‘enough’ with the images and situations, working together in small groups or pairs. After a short period, nominate groups to provide their example sentences using ‘too’ and ‘enough’. You could highlight the grammatical structure with the target language so students are aware of how to construct it.

The next step is for students to consolidate understanding and to review with the use of a gapfill exercise. Get students to complete this individually, and monitor or assist learners where necessary. Once students have completed this, get learners to compare answers in small groups or pairs. Here is an online gapfill activity which you could get students to complete.

5. Situational Complaints

The final task for students to undertake is for them to complain about certain situations using the target language. Hand out or board up some situations for students to share their complaints with others. Monitor learners and then provide feedback where necessary. I have included some topics in the Word document below which could be used with students.


I hope you found this grammar teaching post / video useful and that it gave you some ideas for teaching the language point, ‘too’ and ‘enough’. If you would like a future grammar teaching series to be included, kindly let me know in the comments.

Happy Teaching!

Returning to the Physical Classroom

I have returned to the physical classroom after two years of teaching remotely in the confines of my own home, and teaching face-to-face was, if I could be honest, a struggle. In this post (and corresponding video), I share some of the difficulties I encountered after returning to the physical classroom.

Returning to the physical classroom has not been easy

Challenge 1: Classroom Management

One of the initial challenges I encountered was classroom management. I am naturally not so good at remembering student names and it takes me a while for names to stick – thankfully I don’t forget my wife’s name! When returning to the classroom, I had to draw a classroom map and then write the names on this. I referred to this during lessons and it helped me remember student names. Within an online environment, remembering names is something which is not given much thought as many students have their name appearing next to their corresponding image on the screen, so I guess I became lazy and decided to rely on the image and the visual cue for student names.

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Teaching About British Food: Full Lesson Plan

Hello all and welcome to a brief post featuring a full lesson with materials and lesson structure which you could use for your class. This lesson is geared towards Intermediate to Advanced learners and should last 60 minutes.

1. Lesson Introduction

Start the lesson by asking students there favourite food in the home country, as well as what food they like from the UK. Write up some of the language on the whiteboard and scaffold vocabulary where necessary. Choose one food that is from the student’s country and ask them to explain it in English, write up language and correct where necessary.

Tell students that they are going to learn a little more about British food and the type of food that is either cooked at home or ordered at a British pub. See what English food they know and tell them that there is more to food than just fish and chips.

2. Picture Matching

Explain to students that the first task is to match the name of the food to the corresponding picture. Tell them not to use smartphones or tablets to search for the food online but to guess, and not to worry about mistakes. Hand out the first task to students, explain that they should complete this alone, and monitor where necessary.

Once students have finished matching, ask them to compare their answers with each other for a few minutes. Finally, elicit potential answers from students, writing up their ideas on the whiteboard, and correct where necessary.

3. Description to Name Matching

Tell students that they are now to match the description of food, and that they should try to match the name and picture to this. Use the first description as an example and read it out to students, get students to predict the name of the food. Once you receive the correct name, tell them that they must write the name in the right-hand column on the worksheet.

Tell students not to translate any language at this point but to try to understand it from context. Hand out the worksheet and monitor learners assisting where necessary. Once students have finished, mix the learners up in class and get them to compare each other’s answers, before eliciting and sharing the correct answers with each other.

4. Language Review

The next step is for students to review some of the language from the reading. Tell learners to highlight or underline any language that they struggled with but to not check a dictionary or translation tool yet. Once students have highlighted language from the reading, get them to check with each other first to see if their peers know the language and vice versa.

The next step is to highlight ‘-ed’ endings with some of the language and to review pronunciation (i.e. ‘mixed‘ /t/ ‘pickled‘ /d/ ‘roasted‘ /id/). Create a table on the whiteboard and get students to highlight words with ‘ed’ endings and to decide what their pronunciation is; /t/, /d/, or /id/. Review as a class and assist where necessary, drill and correct.

Finally, handout Exercise 3 to the class with the key language, with students needing to decide what the word form is (noun, verb, adjective, etc.). You can hand a monolingual English dictionary out to students and ask them to look for definitions or ask them to head over to Google and ask them to type ‘Define [word]’. Google will provide a brief explanation of the word as well as an example sentence.

Once students have found a definition, tell students to predict the possible translation in their L1 before they check the translation. This in itself develops learner confidence and usage in their L2. The more times learners are correct in predicting possible translations, the more confident they will become.

5. Review Vocabulary

You could review vocabulary by asking students to get into two groups in single files and playing a ‘broken telephones’ style game where learners whisper a word from above to the person in front and the student at the front of the class has to write the chosen word. An alternative to reviewing the vocabulary with this game is by playing ‘hangman’ or ‘pictionary’.


Lesson Material

The material for this lesson is available to download below. It is available in Word format and can be adapted to suit your teaching context.

If you do find this lesson useful or have feedback, please let me know in the comments. It would be great to know what you thought of it.

Using WordSift to Analyse Academic Articles and Essay Questions

I happened across a website called WordSift the other day, which offers teachers and learners the assistance to visualise vocabulary (and connected language) in a memorable and pleasing manner, and thought that this would be a useful tool for assisting students with their academic vocabulary development as well as offering teachers an additional resource. In this post, I shall share a few initial ideas that I have had about incorporating WordSift into possible future EAP and preparatory courses.

Analysing Academic Articles

The first thought that I had was for students to analyse the language within selected academic articles (related to potential student readings) that they have discovered from their initial research. In this example, I decided on an academic article, Assessing academic writing on a pre-sessional EAP course: Designing assessment which supports learning’ written by Seviour (2015).

I selected all text from the article, and then pasted this into WordSift, which provides an immediate review of all language in the form of a WordCloud. This WordCloud provides an instant visualisation of the most commonly used language within a given text. Each word can then be clicked upon to in the WordCloud and below connected lexis is given. For example, I clicked on the word ‘assessment’, which was used 47 times in the article, and a visualised thesaurus was offered.

As well as a visualised thesaurus, or what the website calls ‘WordNet Visualization’, related language is available to view with an ‘in context’ view. Such language includes ‘appraisal’, ‘judgement’, or ‘classification’. However, what I am more interested in are the chunks of language that allow teachers (and students) to analyse such lexis. Patterns are recognised promptly, with so much potential being offered. From a brief minute of analysing the word ‘assessment’, I discovered the following language chunks:

  • assessment activities
  • formative assessment
  • summative assessment
  • a particular assessment task
  • feedback on assessment
  • various assessment criteria

So how could this help learners? Well my thought is that EAP students could import particular reading related to a provided essay title which would allow them to discover the most common academic language by marking vocabulary from the Academic Word List, with such language being highlighted in blue.

Students could then analyse the most common academic language within context and build up their awareness of lexical chunks. This in turn would aid the academic writing process with students now using the most common lexical chunks that would be most natural within an academic essay.

Using Essay Titles

The final thought about WordSift is that students could use this to analyse essay titles to help them develop synonyms and other lexical connections to key words. Such language could then be used to search for suitable and related academic articles. I chose an essay title from a previous EAP course to see how this would fit with this process, this being related to national education and the aid of international agencies.

I copied and pasted the essay title/question into WordSift. This very brief analysis (of only 21 words), provided some insight into even the most common Academic Language, with 4 words being picked up from the Academic Word List. Such language highlighted from the visualised thesaurus provided potential synonyms which could then be used within an academic article search by students. It was an interesting exercise and I would very much like to incorporate WordSift into future EAP courses, and to see how student uptake is regarding this tool.

It would be interesting to see what other EAP practitioners think about WordSift and whether it has any potential in an EAP context. Share your thoughts and practical ideas of using this tool in the classroom in the comments – it would be good to hear what others would have to say.

How To Complete IELTS Task 1: Bar Charts

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 can be rather complicated for students but as we know, there are a variety of graphs or data that needs to be reported – one of which are bar charts. In this post, we shall look at the elements required for completing IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 and reporting Bar Charts.

Despite a video tutorial being available to complement this post, I will also refer to the following bar chart below regarding Coffee Consumption Habits in Italy during 2019.


There is a recommended outline for writing IELTS Task 1 regardless the data, and this includes the following.

General Statement

I always recommend all my IELTS students to write a General Statement to guide the reader into the topic. If your data is to report on coffee consumption, it is best to write a brief sentence introducing the topic; i.e. ‘Coffee is now widely consumed by many people around the world.’

Introduction

In the introduction, you need to explain to the examiner what you will include in your written report; i.e. ‘In this brief report, I will look at how regularly coffee is consumed between males and females in Italy during 2019’.

Overview

Within the overview, it is recommended to write briefly about possible patterns or trends that you notice in the chart. For example, you could write ‘From the chart above, you may notice that the vast majority of male and females consumers of coffee purchase two or three times a day, while the least frequently are more than five times per day.’

Detailed Paragraph 1 and 2

This is where the candidate provides more information about the data and compares or contrasts information offered, so you could write ‘Despite those least frequently purchasing coffee for both male and female consumers, that being 5% and 6% respectively, there is minimal change for those that never purchase coffee with each being 8% and 9% respectively. Women typically consume more coffee compared to the male counterparts with those purchasing coffee either 2-3 times (53% to 48%) or more than five times per day (6% to 5%). However, most male consumers typically purchase coffee more than women once (18% to 17%) or 4-5 times per day. (21% to 15%).’

Final Points and Complete Writing

There are just a couple of points to remember. Try to write within the limit that is set. Normally, during the IELTS Task 1 Writing examination, candidates are expected to write no less than 150 words. It is important that you 150 words or more, but how much is too much? I would suggest that if you are writing more than 250 words, then it is too much. Here is the complete writing as suggested following the aforementioned structure below, with a total of 155 words.

Coffee is now widely consumed by many people around the world. In this brief report, I will look at how regularly coffee is consumed between males and females in Italy during 2019.

From the chart above, you may notice that the vast majority of male and females consumers of coffee purchase two or three times a day, while the least frequently are more than five times per day.

Despite those least frequently purchasing coffee for both male and female consumers, that being 5% and 6% respectively, there is minimal change for those that never purchase coffee with each being 8% and 9% respectively. Women typically consume more coffee compared to the male counterparts with those purchasing coffee either 2-3 times (53% to 48%) or more than five times per day (6% to 5%). However, most male consumers typically purchase coffee more than women once (18% to 17%) or 4-5 times per day. (21% to 15%).


As you can see above, there is a specific structure to IELTS writing regardless what you are reporting. Nevertheless, there is also a suggested video that demonstrates how I respond to a possible IELTS Academic Task 1 question related to bar charts below. This will offer a little more information regarding how to structure and include the aforementioned points into IELTS academic writing tasks.

I hope the post helps either students or those English teachers that wish to learn a little more about how best to prepare students for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. If this did indeed help, don’t forget to let me know in the comments as this would be greatly appreciated.

Ask Lingua: Website Review

I hope you have had a good week with all your teaching. It has been a while since I have reviewed a website for teaching or potential learning opportunities for students. Funnily enough, I was asked to review one website which is aimed for language learners which is similar to the game that I used to play as a child called ‘Guess Who’. The website in question is Ask Lingua.

You are greeted on the first screen whether you wish to choose American English, British English, or Spanish. Some guidance is provided but I feel that a brief video on repeat detailing this information would be better. Nevertheless, if you have played ‘Guess Who’, then the main principle is intuitive.

You compete against the computer, with both you and the website selecting an individual character. During the game, you must ask controlled questions such as ‘Does the person have green eyes?’, ‘Does he/she have long hair?’ or ‘Does he/she wear a hat?’. The computer or yourself, answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and over a short while, characters are removed. The aim of the game is to decide which character the computer has chosen, and vice versa. The winner is to successfully determine who the chosen individual is.

I played the game twice: the first time I managed to win within five minutes, while the second time I lost. What I found beneficial for potential students is the fact that learners can reinforce question formation structure and asking questions: ‘Does he/she have …?’, ‘Is he/she …?’, etc. There are a variety of tasks to aid learners with question structure – similar to DuoLingo in a way: word ordering, typing, and multiple choice question selection.

Students are able to create question forms using a variety of tasks such as the word ordering activity above

The website is accessible on both laptop and mobile devices – I tried both. The game is fun and engaging, particularly with young learners, and it reinforces potential language focus: question formation and describing people. Personally, it would be a fun website to be used in the class with an interactive whiteboard, encouraging learners to compete against the computer. It would certainly be more interactive if learners were able to compete against each other with a person-to-person function. However, it is a great little application which you could get online learners to use as part of you lessons.

The overall score regarding this website is four out of five. It has great potential for both the physical and online classroom, but there are possibilities for it being made more interactive and connected in both virtual and physical classrooms. Nevertheless, one website to bookmark and use with students.

Overall Score: 4/5

Developing Materials for Online Lessons

Welcome to another daily blog post where I look at another aspect of online lessons, and today I am look at develop materials for remote purposes. In this post, I’ll be sharing personal thoughts that I have regarding the creation of materials more suitable for online lessons.

One of the biggest challenges faced by tutors moving from a physical classroom to a remote environment, or possibly newly certified English language teachers, is the development of materials for potential online lessons. Essentially, teaching material should be engaging, memorable, and accessible, which helps supplement the overall aims and strategies of the lesson.

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Six Months Later with Preply: Suggestions & Statistics

As some of you may know, during this precarious environment I have taken to teaching on Preply. For those that unaware, Preply is an online platform whereby it matches potential students with teachers. I have now been teaching freelance via Preply for over six months now and I thought it would be worthwhile to share possible suggestions for improving the platform as well as share my statistics (how many lessons I have delivered, overall rating, etc.). I believe this post (and the corresponding video) would benefit those that are attempting to find alternative English teaching platforms to find possible students, as well as supplement their income to make ends meet.

If you could Subscribe and Like the video, it would be great!

Suggestions for Preply

1. Student Learning History

The first suggestion that I have for this platform is for Preply to update is to offer tutors the chance to view potential student history. Whenever I have a new student start, it is difficult to find any information about the student other than the predicted level, the number of hours this student has booked, location they are based, as well as the language that they are studying. What I would prefer to know is how many teachers a student has had on the platform: am I their first teacher or have they had a number of tutors before on Preply? It would help all teachers be aware and prepare for trial classes (which is the first class where student and teacher meet) with their potential new students. This in itself could help aid me understanding why a student is moving from one tutor to another so that I would not make the same mistake as their previous teacher.

2. Confirmation of Lessons

The next suggestion which I hope Preply address or consider is the overall process on how lessons are confirmed. Without both the student and teacher confirming that they have been present for the lesson, Preply would not release payment for those classes unless automatic confirmation has been organised. There is the possibility (despite the risk being incredibly low) that a lesson could be challenged by the student and the tutor is not being remunerated.

What I would suggest Preply consider incorporating is to allow confirmation to be within the lesson, so that both the tutor and student are present allowing payment is delivered promptly with minimal risk of it being disrupted – much like a register. This is crucial with trial lessons, particularly as they are unpaid, and this could hold back future lessons or reduce the profile of the tutor for other students or being promoted for other committed students. I suppose both students and tutors do not wish to divert their time and energy into other managerial elements of being freelance with the platform such as confirming that a lesson has indeed been delivered and received successfully.

3. Offer a Donation Button

One aspect of teaching that I thoroughly enjoy is the ability to support learners achieve their English learning goals, whether it is allowing students to achieve a particular grade in an examination or improving their fluency. Occasionally, private students do share their achievements by rewarding their teacher with a coffee or something more personal. It would therefore make sense to make the opportunity for students to reward their teachers with a small donation.

This donation would motivate teachers, particularly in such a difficult time, that they are doing what they do best for their students. It would also make sense for students to reward their favourite tutors, with no commission taken by Preply. At the moment Preply take a percentage from a tutor’s rate for each individual lesson delivered depending on the number of lessons taught through the platform, and it would be rather cruel if Preply take a percentage of the donation from the student. Nevertheless, I know this donation tool could be quite popular amongst Preply tutors and offer a chance for students to reward their most valued teachers.

4. Update Teaching Material

Improving lesson material is one suggestion

Tutors using the Preply platform have varying degrees of experience of teaching online. Currently, Preply offer teaching material to support those teachers with less experience and need that aid, which is better than nothing. One of the biggest stresses facing teachers is delivering a quality lesson that students appreciate. Based on my experience, qualifications, and area of expertise (i.e. exam and academic preparation studies), I have to charge a rate which is commensurate. For less experienced teachers, I can understand their reliance on Preply material. Personally, I prepare all my lessons ahead of time and source material which would makes me feel more comfortable and confident. The material on Preply is varied with most in-class activities revolving round conversation prompts and most self-study activities including grammar, vocabulary, and reading tasks. I have dabbled with the Preply material once with a student and the lesson did not go as well as a lesson with self-prepared activities.

In order to improve current material would be to make it more adaptable for potential lessons. One aspect of online teaching and learning is the remoteness included with this. In order to reduce this, it would make sense for tutors within this platform be able to sharing material with each other – much like a physical staffroom. I would also like to see more suitable courses being developed, as currently there appears to be some sort of disjointness between all lessons as a whole. If teachers were able to upload and share PowerPoints, Word documents or other tasks within the platform, would help less experienced tutors prepare and deliver quality lessons to students

5. Update Trial Lesson Commission

The next area whereby Preply could improve is the aspect of trial lessons and the lack of remuneration. Currently, Preply take 100% the cost of the trial lesson from the student with nothing being paid to the tutor, regardless whether the trial lesson was successful with the student booking more hours or not. Therefore, at the moment, all Preply trial lessons are unpaid and it can cause some resentment among language teachers, as I have witnessed on the various Preply Facebook Groups.

In theory, a new tutor attempting to find their feet and become established on this platform could find themselves having to deliver a variety of trial lessons (all unpaid), with minimal paid bookings. It would be suggested that Preply review this by supporting those successful first lessons by rewarding teachers with say 50% of the cost of the lesson. Remember students are paying the cost of the lesson regardless, but this does not go toward the teacher. I know I am motivated when a new student joins, but I would be pleased to be rewarded and acknowledged by Preply with this updated trial lesson commission rate.

6. Offer Group Lessons

All my lessons revolve around individual lessons, with each student paying $30 per 60 minutes of class. This can be quite a lot of money for some students, but one way to make lessons more accessible would be to offer group lessons for a discounted rate. Imagine that I am able to market a group rate at $6 for six students, I would still earn more than my individual rate. Some students who are unable to afford the individual rate would still get a chance to have lessons at a more affordable rate. This is the final suggestion that I would recommend Preply to consider incorporating group lessons for particular courses, such as exam preparation or speaking lessons.

Preply Statistics

In this part of the post, I will be sharing my personal Preply statistics so that it helps you inform of the potential to discover more private students or to make a living through other aspects of freelance teaching.

As you can see in the first part of my statistics, I have had over 20,000 views on my Preply profile, with my current hourly rate being $30. With those 20,000 views, I have had a conversion rate of 0.22% with 45 students booking trial lessons with me. The current profile score (which is calculated by your profile picture, description, etc.) is at 100%, with my profile position being 120, but this position continues to change every day. In terms of new students, I have converted just over 62% of those 45 trials into regular lessons. The average number of hours booked by students is 5.7 hours.

In relation to the earnings, I have managed to earn around $3,400 in over the six months that I have been using the Preply platform. If you divide the number of tutoring hours by my net earnings, it does not equate to my hourly rate (actually . This is due to the trial lessons being included as well as my initial rate being $20 per hour. I increased this rate in increments of $5 in the past few months, finally agreeing the $30 hourly rate. In the following months, I am reported to have earned:

  • April 2021: $26.80
  • May 2021: $393.20
  • June 2021: $452.70
  • July 2021: $206.25
  • August 2021: $262.50
  • September 2021: $455.63
  • October 2021: $495.00
  • November 2021: $793.35
  • December 2021 to date: $380.25
The current commission rates applied by Preply if you tutor online via their platform

Remember, that earnings include both unpaid trial lessons as well as those that students have attended before Preply take their commission from your earnings. What may appear to be quite a good month so far ($380.25) is far below what I have earned due to trial lessons being booked and Preply taking 22% out of my hourly rate as commission.

Final Reflections About Preply

Preply is a good platform which enables students to find suitable tutors, but as can be witnessed above, the opportunity to improve earnings takes a while until you are an established tutor. Once you have established yourself as a professional teacher, you will start to find your earnings increase but it takes time. It is important to find alternative sources of income, particularly in this rather precarious environment so it is best to juggle your online teaching with private students, other teacher and student platforms as you may find yourself struggling to make a liveable salary.

There are some great benefits of teaching with Preply (you are capable of deciding on the best rate to charge potential students, gaining online teaching experience, seeing students develop, etc.) and this is not to be disregarded, but the overall ‘gig economy’ and precarious nature of language education causes much stress for those involved. As a self-employed tutor (whether it is with Preply or elsewhere) offers no security in terms of earnings, pension contributions, etc. and you are liable for all your income tax. Essentially, a third of your earnings could be liable for tax if you earn above the taxable threshold (which I think is around £12,000 in the UK), but I doubt this would be achievable in the near future based on my earnings with Preply.

Anyhow, I do hope you enjoyed this post and if you recommend that I try other online teaching platforms, then it would be great to hear your suggestions in the comments.

Three Games for your Online Lessons

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching online is maintaining learner engagement and interest. Within a physical classroom, teachers achieve this by incorporating a variety of games and activities throughout the lesson. However, this is much harder in a remote environment. In this post, I will be sharing three games that you could use with your online lessons immediately, which require little to no preparation, to boost student engagement and interest.

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Game 1: Pictionary

One popular game with learners of any age is Pictionary. If you are unfamiliar with this activity, it involves sharing a word to a student that has been taught in a previous lesson or has just been taught. The student then has to draw a picture on the physical whiteboard – no words or numbers can be used – and other students have to guess the word that has been drawn. It encourages students to be creative and spontaneous. To add a bit of a competitive edge to the game, you could place students into two groups, add a time limit, and the first group to guess the correct word gains a point. The group with the most amount of points wins the game. But how can this be achieved in an online environment?

With remote classes, teachers could either allow students to use the online whiteboard (if using Zoom) or a shared whiteboard such as Web Whiteboard. Send an individual student a private message with the word that they must draw, start a countdown time (if you wish), and then get the student to share their screen with their whiteboard and other students must use the Chat function in Zoom to send their nominated word. The first student to write the correct word gains a point. An alternative to this is getting students to use a pen and paper to draw and share on their webcam.

Game 2: Odd One Out

This task requires a little more preparation prior to lessons but nothing too different to the classroom activity. You could either prepare a Word document as a worksheet with a range of words or use a PowerPoint with each slide sharing these words (about four to five on each row or slide). An alternative is to use images instead of words. Anyhow, students must work together in small groups to decide on the odd word or image out of all others. Once learners have completed the activity (perhaps with a time limit), then they must describe why certain words or images are the odd one out. Each acceptable description by a group is awarded a point and the group with the most amount of points are the winners.

This activity is a wonderful opportunity for learners to review verbs, lexical sets (fruit, jobs, etc.) or pronunciation patterns. It is best to have this activity at the end of the lesson – the last 20 minutes of an online lesson – while students start to switch off. It will maintain interest and motivation with the class particularly at the end of the lesson, and ensure that learners end their online lesson with a positive.

Game 3: Sentence Maker

The final game that online teachers could incorporate with their online lessons is a familiar for those teachers who wish to review a range of vocabulary from previous lessons. This activity requires just a little preparation from the teacher but if you have been teaching from a coursebook, preparation would be minimal. Choose a range of vocabulary (around fifteen to twenty words) to use and they must have a range of functions (i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). Try to create a worksheet which could be shared with learners, so that they can write down their group sentences.

Tell students that they will be placed into groups of three or fours for five minutes and they must use the vocabulary to create a variety of grammatically correct sentences – possibly demonstrate to learners beforehand so that they know what is expected. Share the worksheet with all learners, place them into breakout rooms, and then wait for all to return. Students share their worksheet with the teacher via the Chat and the teachers provides a point for each sentence which is grammatically correct. You could give an extra point to the sentence which contains the grammar form that was taught during the past few lessons. For example, if you had taught the second conditional and a group created a suitable sentence with the grammar form, then a point could be awarded for the sentence and another for the grammar form included – a total of two points. The group with the most points are the winners.


Those are three possible games that you could incorporate with your future online lessons which require minimal preparation. What games have you used in your online lessons? Have you adapted a tried and tested physical game for the online environment? How did it go? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Online Teaching Tip: Conversation Questions

Getting students to communicate and practise speaking in English remotely can be quite a challenge. Here is a quick idea for getting students speaking and using questions as prompts.

Step 1: Create the prompts

Go to the website Wheel of Names and type in some questions which could be used as prompts.

You could use some prompts to get students speaking

Step 2: Share the questions

Share the question prompts with your students using the shareable function on the website, and place students into breakout rooms on Zoom. Tell students that they have a ten minutes to discuss the questions and report back when they return to the main room.

Sharing the question prompts is pretty simple

Step 3: Review questions and scaffold

Nominate students to summarise their discussions and possibly select students to share the questions that they asked. It would be a good idea to review question formation and scaffold language where required.

Elicit possible full question forms from students and scaffold language where necessary

I hope that this blog post was useful for your online classes and gives you some idea for future conversation prompts for your students. If you have ideas that you would like to suggest, please share in the comments.

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