ACEnglishteacher

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


Leave a comment

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!

R is for relevant


5 Comments

R is for relevant!

Recently, I spent all Sunday morning helping my 13 year old daughter study for an exam.  

Now don’t get me wrong I am more then happy to sacrifice a Sunday morning to help my daughter study… However, nothing makes my blood boil more than sacrificing a Sunday morning (or any morning) to help her study:

  1. Something she doesn’t understand because it hasn’t been explained to her (and what’s more is told she doesn’t need to understand it only memorise it)
  2. Something which is totally beyond her and irrelevant to her at this stage in her education and possibly forever depending on what career path she takes…
  3. Something that by her own admission she will have forgotten by next week (as she neither understands it nor the reason for learning it)

So what was it exactly that she had to study?
Continue reading

people speaking


4 Comments

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…  

Continue reading


1 Comment

Developing digital competence

digital-competenceThis is my first in a series of posts, related to 21st century skills.  In my post  21st century skills-how competent are your students?, I explained how the recently amended Spanish education law (LOMCE) specifies 7 key competencies students need to develop.  These key competences are closely related to 21st century skills, life skills or soft skills (depending on the terminology you prefer.)  The first competence up is digital competence

We live in an increasingly digital world which is changing the way we work, learn, communicate, and participate in society.  As educators we have an obligation to ensure our students have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be successful in a modern, digital society.  

Being digitally competent is more than being able to use the latest smart phone or computer software — it is about being able to use such digital technologies in a critical, collaborative and creative way. (The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens)

In this post I will look at the key areas related to digital competence, identified by the European framework and then look at some activities/tools we can use to help our learners become competent in these areas. Continue reading


1 Comment

21st century skills-how competent are your students?

competenciesI read an interesting article recently on www.eltplanning.com about lesson plans and what to include 12 tiny tips for writing lesson plans. It made me reflect upon my own lesson planning and gave me an idea for this and subsequent posts. It was interesting to see the inclusion of tip 8 “developing the whole child”.  In Spain, where I teach EFL in a secondary school, the recently amended education law (LOMCE) defines the following 7 Key Competencies to be be developed, based on a European Commission document on 21st century competencies: Continue reading


1 Comment

Learning and teaching with a wiki

 

After watching a great session from the British Council “Teaching for Success” conference presented by my good friend and former colleague Jo Budden, Helping learners survive – and thrive – in the digital world, it got me thinking about how I help my students to survive and thrive in this digital world.  At my school, ICT resources are quite limited. There is one computer room with, at best, a slow internet connection and a laptop and projector in each classroom, with dubious internet connection. There are no formal ICT classes and mobile devices are banned!  Faced with this situation and a determination to ensure my students leave school capable digital citizens, I needed a solution. The solution was a wiki… Continue reading


2 Comments

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.

Continue reading