ACEnglishteacher

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


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Christmas activities to keep students engaged and learning

Christmas is just around the corner, exams have finished but classes still go on… Make the most of the class time left with a Christmas activity or two…

Activity 1

I adapted the following activity from a blog post I read a couple of years ago on elt sparks.  The activity is based on a Christmas ad for H&M by the director Wes Anderson. My students were really struggling with the past tenses (past simple, past continuous and past perfect) and needed more practice.  I decided to use a narrative (the advert) to facilitate understanding and provide further practice. 

The advert tells the story of some passengers who are stuck on a train after bad weather and mechanical difficulties cause the train to be delayed.  This delay means they will miss Christmas with their families. The conductor and his assistant decide to organise a Christmas brunch in the cafeteria for all their passengers to make them feel better and they have an ingenious idea to execute their plan… Continue reading


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3 activities to promote storytelling in the language classroom

Stories are all around us, be it in oral or written form. Some entertain, some educate, some explain and many transmit our feelings, beliefs and values. Every day, every year, every meal, holiday, encounter, memory… tells a story.  We think in narratives all day long, making up stories in our heads for every action and conversation. It’s how we understand the world.

Telling stories is nothing new, we’ve been doing it since ancient times and the power of a story is undeniable, but what makes stories so engaging?

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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!


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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