It was a surprise to receive Hall’s most recent publication to review, “101 EFL Activities for Teaching University Students”, during the summer, and I was keen to share my thoughts and ideas. However, it has taken a while to write out and create a video, but I appreciate Hall Houston’s patience in the meantime. Nevertheless, I hope I do this review justice.
When I first opened this book on my computer, I was surprised how many different activities were included within the publication. Of course there are 101 activities, but it is sometimes hard to visualise the number of tasks within the contents page. The contents page covers three pages in length and the book is split into three key components: ‘Getting Off to a Good Start’, ‘Maintaining Motivation and Interest’, and ‘Ending the Semester Gracefully’.
The intention is obvious with the book offering ideas for the beginning, middle, or end of the course or term. There are a number of activities which are within each of these three components:
Getting Off to a Good Start: 38 activities
Maintaining Motivation and Interest: 38 activities
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.
Hello. This is a short blog post to provide an update with regards to my what has been happening recently and to thank all those that have subscribed to my YouTube Channel.
Over the past month, I have been rather quiet and took a short break from producing video content for my YouTube Channel – there has been quite a bit on my mind and I have had to process much. I shall share this in the future but for now I am happier and more content. One reason for this was being asked to teach a short week course for a group of Spanish teenagers for a local language school – you can read more about it in this blog post. This really got me out the house and put me back where I enjoy – the classroom!
Anyhow, there is a video below where I provide a bit of an update. I am planning to release more content on YouTube in the coming weeks and it would be wonderful if you could subscribe (if you haven’t already).
I told you this was a short blog post! Anyhow, that is it for me today and I hope you have a good rest of the week. Stay safe and happy teaching all!
The past couple of years have really caused havoc for the English language sector in the UK, with many language schools closing completely down over the past two years. Only recently, in the UK, have we started to feel a sense of normalcy returning with some schools private English language schools opening up to international students once again. Only the past few weeks, have I noticed more students locally, wandering around my hometown – something which was once considered the norm a few years ago. On a personal level, I know a handful of people who have travelled from abroad to the UK with nominal checks before and after arriving. So in terms of English language teaching, the UK is open for business with international students having the opportunity to visit and experience what was lost the past few years, so much so that I was asked to teach a small group of teenage Spanish learners over the Easter break, for a week.
I popped into the school the week before to reacquaint myself with the various material available and to pencil down a possible weekly plan. It took a few hours to get everything together but I was quite happy and then I was asked to cover an adult class for an hour while my ex-Director of Studies undertook some tutorials with his students. It was quite an interesting lesson and I thought about focusing on pronunciation and vowel sounds as this would help these Elementary / Pre-Intermediate adult learners develop their skills with listening and generating appropriate awareness of British pronunciation. It included a listening task with some comprehension questions and the students done a good work picking out all the necessary answers from the listening. Personally, it was a good chance to be lowered softly into the private English teaching industry post-pandemic.
Before I knew it, the lesson was over and I was registering as an employee for the school for the week ahead. All was submitted and I was out the door, returning to the school to teach a new group of young Spanish teenagers, and this was when the butterflies and nerves started to grip. I guess some experienced teachers and tutors not mention the amount gravity of such apprehension when dealing with new students. First lessons always provide a healthy balance of nerves and keen me on my toes. Anyhow, I had a few days to relax before returning to the school to teach a full week with new students.
The weekend seemed to whizz by, and I was back in the school around 8am to get my material photocopied in preparation for the 9am start of class. I met all students, who were divided into three classes. I took my students into their classroom, where I decided to start what had been the usual get to know you activities with the true and false statements, with students having to predict which were true or false, but this ended up finishing far too quickly. I then realised that the students were not provided with any books or pens, so I had to incorporate some engaging yet ‘material light’ activities in class for the 45 minutes. I then rushed to the DoS’s room to collect said pens and materials for the students. I returned to class and most of the week, I attempted to connect both the morning lessons with the students social activities in the afternoon. I even used LinguaHouse’s material which was received adequately with the students. Interestingly, I have only used LinguaHouse’s material within an online environment and the students seemed appreciative of the tasks – one advantage of this material is it is topic-based and hopefully more engaging for students. The only time that I decided to focus on my own source of material was when I was introducing the learners to the phonemic chart and British pronunciation – I discovered early on that the Spanish group of learners had difficulty with ‘-ed’ verb endings, often mixing up the pronunciation from /t/ to /id/.
One thing the students reminded me to use in class was Kahoot! I had used this with face-to-face course in the past and it was so refreshing to use this application again in the last ten minutes of class. It engaged the learners and they were the ones requesting that we use it in class.
Before I knew it, I was now on Friday, having taught the students for the week. I asked the school if I were to be paid time and a half due it being Good Friday, but I was told this wasn’t the case. I was slightly miffed by this as another adult teacher was contracted to be paid time and a half, so my feathers were a little ruffled, which prompted me to share a poll on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of participants indicated that being paid time and a half should be the case.
However, I should mention that there is no UK law in place where employees should be entitled to time and a half when working on public holidays. One thing that I used to do a few years ago was to work public holidays and then take the time off in lieu and combining with holiday entitlement, usually with a holiday to Korea or elsewhere. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to teach a group of young learners as it had been over three years – even before the pandemic – since I had last taught a closed group. Naturally, I was nervous to begin with but over the coming days, I rediscovered my passion for teaching, particularly face-to-face, and regained my confidence once again.
How do I feel moving on with teaching face-to-face? Well, I feel more comfortable and happy to teach groups of learners, whether adults or young learners. I am also aware that I hold a great deal of flexibility when it comes down to teaching either for a University, a local language school or independently as a freelance online tutor. As students regain their confidence to return to learning in-class or on-campus, I feel more confidence with my employability. It has certainly, without a doubt, been a challenging few years with many suffering from economically from the pandemic. I know some great EFL teachers who have moved on to other more stable forms of income, with some working within the NHS or within different industries. Personally, I am fascinated by languages, cultures, and travelling, with the opportunities to be exposed to varied cultures and individuals continues my fascination so it is unimaginable to think that I side-step General, Academic English teaching or exam preparation such as IELTS.
I hope you found my ramblings of some use and that it struck a chord. Here’s to a better 2022 for the English teaching industry.
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’.
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.
For the past month, I have been supplementing my English teaching income by working as a Teaching Assistant within the mainstream education system in the UK, especially with those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Having spent this time developing an awareness of the issues surrounding SEND and the all encompassing yet broad stroke applied to any students having difficulty with learning in an educational setting, I thought it would be nice to share my experiences and strategies that I have incorporated to deal with SEND students, particularly for those English language teachers finding themselves having to supplement their earnings who have minimal experience within this area of employment.
Before continuing the reading of this post, I would highly recommend the following TED Talk to give you an idea about living with autism.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s blog follows on eight hours of online lessons over the course of a day – probably one of the longest stretches of teaching remotely – so apologies for the lack of readability or stating the obvious. Anyhow, in this post, I thought that it would be best to focus on the aspects of feedback provision within an online environment, after previous posts on dealing with first lessons with private students and another with online activities to get students speaking.
When one is not within the constraints of a physical classroom, an English teacher may find the online distance further enhances the separation to provide feedback in a prompt and candid manner. Most students that book private lessons, explain that they have received little feedback from previous teachers, and the main reason for finding another tutor is due to this. Thus, it is crucial for all online private tutors to provide a level of feedback that is expected by students.
Teaching individual students can be a challenge to be honest, especially when learners expect their teachers to contribute more during online lessons. After teaching privately to individual students, especially for those that are preparing for IELTS, I wanted to share some of my favourite speaking activities that I tend to incorporate during online lessons to get my students speaking and communicating more.
Activity 1: Wheel of Words
Wheel of Words is a great tool which I tend to use for a variety of purposes – one of which is to randomise conversation questions. Essentially, you write in your conversation questions or copy and paste them into the text box on the right of the website.
I tend to share my screen when spinning the wheel, and once a question is chosen, confetti shoots up and the question is displayed fully. Students find this rather engaging and entertaining, then proceed to answer their question. The best thing about this is you can save questions in Word and then import them into Wheel of Words, or refer to the Internet TESL Journal website for inspiration on questions to ask on particular topics. Otherwise, you can choose a variety of common questions which may arise on certain topics within the IELTS exam and randomise the choice of them by using this website.
Activity 2: Tell Me Why / Give Three Reasons
A huge thanks to David Sweetham for sharing this activity with me on Twitter (refer to his Tweet below), but I have found this a joy to incorporate into most of my conversational lessons.
Based on the activity that was shared, you choose one card for student(s) to talk about for a few minutes. As David mentioned, you can attempt intentionally wacky topics or ideas to get students thinking outside the box. It takes minimal preparation – always a bonus for me based on my Dogme-esque approach – which can then be used effectively with online IELTS conversational lessons. Here are some example conversational prompts to give you an idea of how this task runs.
Give three reasons why everyone should learn another language.
Tell me why rabbits make better pets than hamsters.
Present three reasons in favour for national service.
Give three reasons outlining why social media is harmful.
As you can see, being as creative and wacky as possible is a bonus. Students are forced to reason or justify their thoughts. This will help students gain greater confidence with dealing those challenging questions in the IELTS exam.
Activity 3: Odd One Out
A popular speaking activity in the physical classroom is getting students to reason why a particular object or word is the odd one out compared to the others. There is not a correct answer, as long as the reason is valid. I used to incorporate this activity in lessons and students found this task engaging and motivating, often allowing learners to develop their fluency.
You can either provide each group of words one at a time, by using Wheel of Words or by some other tool, or all at once as a document. Whatever approach you decide, you can give your individual student a short while to prepare and then allow students a short time to explain their reasoning. This task is engaging and motivating, and can be adapted for groups of students if needed. It is also a suitable activity for those learners preparing for the IELTS examination.
Activity 4: Picture This
The final activity that I enjoy incorporating into my individual IELTS preparation online lessons is getting students to respond to pictures on similar topics. It is very quick to prepare a selection of images within PowerPoint, Word or Jamboard, and then share the screen to students asking them to talk between 2 to 3 minutes explaining the similarities or differences about the pictures.
It is a task which naturally focuses on the use of comparative forms but getting students to draw similarities will require a bit of practice and creativity, especially once you have sourced rather random images for the activity. Again, it is a task which lends itself well in preparing students for speaking in English, as well as developing their confidence in communicating and expressing ideas or opinions.
What are your favourite individual speaking activities to get your online learners developing their fluency? Have you tried any of the activities shared in this post? If so, how did learners respond to them? As ever, please share in the comments.