ACEnglishteacher

All things EFL… A collection of practical ideas, resources for the classroom and thoughts on EFL today


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Creating dialogues using a cooperative learning strategy

Although dialogues in textbooks often include lots of good functional language to practise, the way to practise it can be uninspiring and predictable. cooperative learning strategyUsually students listen to a model dialogue (maybe after completing the gaps with target vocabulary), practise it and then create their own using prompts provided in the text book.

Although my students often found these activities quite dull,  I wanted them to learn the useful functional language, so I started to look for ways to make practising dialogues a bit more meaningful and engaging.  Round about the same time I got seduced by cooperative learning… Continue reading


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Why flipped learning has got me excited

I’ve been pretty busy lately working on projects and doing courses.   Sometimes (especially when I arrive home from a hard day at school, exhausted and still have 25 essays to correct…) I wonder why I do this to myself, but then I do a course like EVO flipped learning 2017 and remember why.  Somehow, despite the extra hours and lack of sleep, I feel rejuvenated!flipped learning

Every year, there’s always something which interests me in the EVO sessions and it’s often hard to choose.  The flipped learning sessions have caught my eye before but it wasn’t until this year I opted for them.  

Even though, due to other commitments which arose during the course, I couldn’t participate as fully as I would have liked, this course has been a complete game-changer for me.

The terms “flipped classroom” and “flipped learning” have been on my radar for a while now and I’ve always thought it sounded an interesting concept. However, I haven’t known quite enough about it to consider implementing it in class and when I started the course, I soon realised that what I thought I knew wasn’t the whole truth…   

What I thought I knew…

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Christmas…time for a song!

merry-christmas-isolatedThe classic, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” provides lots of opportunities for language work,  investigation and discussion.  I have used this song with different levels for different learning outcomes.  This particular lesson is aimed at upper elementary/intermediate teens to:

  • revise/extend christmas vocabulary
  • identify and practise previously taught diphthongs (although they could be introduced at this stage too)
  • research information
  • discuss the message of the song
  • consider some wider global issues

How many sessions you dedicate to this will depend on where students do their research (in class or at home), how you organise the discussion stage (whole class, pairs, groups…) and how much time you want to spend on it, if any.  Depending on your students you may want to make it a bit more light-hearted and not delve into the wider global issues too much.

I tried to make make it more relevant to my students (teens) by incorporating the 30th anniversary version, sung by more recent artists.  However, they did enjoy the original version,  laughing at the fashion and hairstyles and trying to guess the year…

Click on the link below to get the PowerPoint (lesson plan)

Do-they-know-its-christmas

Merry Christmas!

people speaking


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Big classes and speaking activities that work

Setting up and managing a speaking activity can be a tricky business – even more so with a big class.  The problem doesn’t seem to be with reproduction or monologue style activities, this kind of speaking practise is relatively easy to set up and manage even with a big class.  Unfortunately, however, speaking practise is sometimes limited to these kinds of activities (practise/change the information and practise the dialogue with your partner… ) The problem arises when we want our students to interact with each other to develop fluency.  Pair work in the form of ask and answer the following questions, might be apparent in some classrooms, but anything more is often considered impossible with large classes or not even considered.  I know because I’ve been that teacher…  

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First day of class? 3-2-1 go…

Since I started this blog in May, until a few weeks ago,  I have been pretty good at sticking to my schedule and posting something every couple of weeks.  The past few weeks however I’ve been neglectful as it’s that time again…back to school time!  I’ve been rummaging in bags flung in a corner in June, not to be opened till “nearly back to school time” and taking out folders that were gathering dust while I’ve been getting high on summer, trying to remember just what that new education reform was all about, how many students had resits, and where on earth my pencil case was… In short, I’ve been trying to get my head around going back to school.

The other day I started to plan the first week of class and started looking through my folder called “first day activities.”  I came across one that I have used a few times since learning about it from Shelley Terrell on an EVO session3-2-1.

If you read my last post about using Powtoon to enhance teaching and learning, you might remember it.

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Happy song, happy students, happy teacher!

Stick man dancingI recently completed a great course with Katherine Bilsborough on  iTDi about materials design. One of the assignments was to create materials based on an authentic text. I chose a song, an old feel-good favourite of mine Dancing in the Moonlight Toploader, and modified an activity I had already used in class. Although I used this activity originally with teens, I have since used it with adults with equally positive results.

In this activity, students practise listening for specific vocabulary whilst revising the phoneme /ai/.  Students also recall and practise using common homophones. Follow up activities are intended to develop digital literacy (see demo Padlet canvas), foster respect and tolerance and give students a voice (sharing opinions about what makes us happy), contributing to a positive classroom atmosphere.
Please use, adapt or share if you like this activity.

Teacher notes

Slides

Slides (make a copy)

Vocabulary cut ups

Vocabulary cut ups pdf

 


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Games your EFL learners will love

Pile of gamesIt’s been a very busy 3 weeks at school here in Spain! Exams have finished now though and things have finally calmed down.  We’re into the last week of the school year and, as usual, I’ve been raiding my kids’ games cupboard…

I’ll be taking some of my old favourites again to class and a couple of new ones that Santa brought this year.  All the games are widely available, however, if money’s tight at school (as it often is!) homemade versions can be easily created. Students could even do the creating themselves.

If you’re looking for games to play with your students here are some sure fire winners:

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