ACEnglishteacher

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


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BOT: Why every teacher should have one!

It’s the start of a new school year here in Spain and I’m busy sorting through my bag of tricks…

What is a bag of tricks?

A bag of tricks (BOT) is a combination of items that could be used to help out in a sticky situation, solve a problem or respond to a need” (my personal definition.) 

I’m a firm believer in a BOT for all occasions.  Hence my “everyday BOT” (baby wipes, plasters, tweezers, hair band, glasses cleaning wipes, mosquito bite cream, lip balm…) my “camping BOT” (sellotape, matches, glue, puncture repair kit, corkscrew…) and of course my “classroom BOT” which I am never without, just in case…  

What’s in my bag of tricks?

items in bag of tricks

When do I use my bag of tricks?

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penalty shootout cards


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Team revision, team correction and football fever…

The last week of May, that can only mean one thing, end of year tests and the World Cup are just around the corner…

Here are two penalty shootout activities to encourage team revision/correction and get into the World Cup spirit at the same time 😉

penaly shootout cards

Activity 1: Team revision

  1. Students get a set time to revise target language in class or they revise at home in preparation for class
  2. Students are organised into pairs or small groups. Each pair/group receives a set of penalty shootout cards (you don’t need to use the cards, students can simply mark their goals and misses in their notebooks)
  3. Students test each other on the target language (I have a set of example questions to help students formulate questions)
  4. If they are correct they score a goal if not they miss the penalty.

Putting students into pairs/teams encourages negotiation skills, collaboration and communication.  Weaker students also get support from peers. Students can change pairs/groups or opponents for a new penalty shootout depending on class dynamics/time.  After several penalty shootouts, students may feel confident enough to go it alone.

This activity provides plenty of opportunities for revisiting and recycling language.

To really get into the World Cup spirit students can choose a country out of the hat; the country that they will “play for” in the penalty shoot out.

penalty shoot out example

I also use this activity after a vocabulary or grammar test.  

Activity 2: Team correction

  1. First students look at the answers they have incorrect and do their corrections in teams while I monitor, guide and check. (To avoid students simply copying each other’s correct answers, they are not allowed to exchange tests and they must follow the protocol DDD (discuss, decide, do) for every question. In this way nobody can race ahead and students are either teaching or learning the correct forms.
  2.  Then the team divides into two smaller teams or pairs and exchange tests.
  3. Looking at the other team’s tests and using the example questions, they focus on the vocabulary/grammar structures the other team didn’t get right and have just corrected.
  4. If they remember the correction they score a goal, if not they miss the penalty.

I encourage students to provide explanations and repeat missed questions to encourage mastery.  This activity gets students to really focus on their corrections and not only their mark.

Revising/correcting in teams has lots of benefits for students and teachers.  It provides ample opportunities for peer teaching and learning and especially in larger classes allows the teacher to check that all students understand the target language as they are free to walk around class and monitor students.  It promotes teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, communication, negotiation, problem solving skills…

An important consideration when doing an activity like this, however, is student grouping.  Is it better that students are grouped homogeneously or heterogeneously for an activity like this?  Quite often this will depend on group dynamics. It is important that students feel comfortable with their teammates as they will be sharing their tests with each other in order to correct and “test.” My students usually do these activities in the cooperative learning groups that we establish each term, as, by the middle of term groups have usually established a good working rapport (but not always!)

For many, the summer holidays will soon be upon us and revision, tests and correcting will be but a distant memory (for a while anyway…)  However, until then, give your students all the opportunities they need to revise, revisit and recycle language until it truly becomes theirs.

And, if you’re a footy fan, enjoy the World Cup 😉

Penalty shootout cards

Revision questions

 


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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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