domenica 26 novembre 2017

Teaching For Exams? Have fun! Word Formation... Bingo!

This blog post has been shortlisted for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award 💖🥇

Hi  again my fellow EFL teachers!
Are you in trouble with training your students for English language exams? Don't worry! Here I am with a new, fun game you can play with your students!

This time I'm focusing on:

Cambridge First Certificate
Reading and Use of English part 3
This task is called word formation and it focuses on candidates' knowledge of how prefixes, suffixes, internal changes and compounds are used in forming words.

So many affixes, which don't always follow a rule, drive my students nuts. Thus, I created this simple, but fun game!

What you need:
a 3x3 grid [students can make their own grids during the lesson]
What you have to do:

If you make copies beforehand, write a suffix (e.g. -ist) or prefix (e.g. ir-) on the top of each box and write a grammar category (e.g. person noun), whether the word is negative/plural at the bottom of each box. Otherwise, you can write the affixes and the other information about the word formation on the board and ask students to copy them on their papers.

Rules of the game:
1) Once all the students have their grids,

the teacher says a word
E.g. football
2) The teacher says a grammar category
E.g. noun person
3) The learner writes the noun person for football in the right box. --> Footballer 

4) When the learner has completed all the boxes, s/he shouts out BINGO!

The list of words for the grid above are:
- football (person noun)
- society (adjective)
- survey (person noun)
- polite (abstract noun)
- maintain (abstract noun)
- relevant (negative adjective)
- journal (person noun/plural)
- patience (negative adjective)
- happy (manner adverb)

5) To make it more challenging add a few more words to the list which don't fit in the grid. Students need to realise that they must not write anything when the teacher calls out that word + grammar category. Remember to tell them before you start playing!
- kindness (negative adjective --> UNKIND)
- politics (person noun --> POLITICIAN)


mercoledì 18 ottobre 2017

Egg-straordinary phrasal verbs

Hi everyone!

Here I am to introduce a new game I've been playing with my intermediate and upper-intermediate teen learners.

The focus is on phrasal verbs. What are phrasal verbs? Take a look at this blogpost! Phrasal Verbs at a glance

Activity: Egg-straordinary phrasal verbs

Aim: Practise phrasal verbs in context

Age group: Teenagers and adults

Materials: an egg carton, disk-shaped tokens, timer, paint, paper, pens (pencils)
*Students work in groups of 3-4 so you may need more egg cartons and copies of the disk-shaped tokens.

Before the class:

1) Paint four random sections of an egg carton any colour.
2) Print and cut out the tokens. There are two types of tokens, the blue ones are the particles (prepositions and adverbs) and the purple ones are the verbs.

During the class:
1) Put all the tokens in the top of the egg carton, close the lid, shake the carton, and flip it over. (You can ask a student to do this for you).
2) You can't shake the box after the flip is done!
3) Give students paper and pens (pencils)
4) Once the cover is lifted, players can remove the tokens that are in the painted sections and spread them out on the desk.
5) Set a timer (I had 5-minute sessions) and each player write as many sentences as possible using just the tokens on the desk. They decide how to match the verbs with the particles.

6) When the timer runs out, learners have to stop writing. Ask them to draw a line across the paper at the end of their sentences (so they can't add more while you get feedback).
7) Ask students to read out their sentences and board phrasal verbs which other students don't know or don't remember.
8) Give 1 point for each correct sentence and 2 points if learners use a two-particle phrasal verb (E.g. I was driving when I ran out of fuel.)

Why I like this game:
It helps students' autonomy and make them feel aware of what they know and what they don't know. Plus, taking into account the statement "If you don't use it, you lose it", you can have a five-minute session at the beginning or at the end of every class.

martedì 23 maggio 2017

Teaching for Exams? Have fun! - Key-word transformations with a twist

One of the most tricky and challenging parts of the Cambridge First Exam is Use of English part 4. Students always complain about how difficult it is and prefer to skip it rather than taking the bull by the horns.
If you don't know about this part of the exam, here you are the description from the Cambridge English website.

KEY WORD TRANSFORMATION: Each question consists of a sentence followed by a ‘key’ word and a second sentence with a gap in the middle. You have to use this key word to complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence.

I do think that students need to learn to face their weaknesses and practice makes perfect. On the other hand, in their shoes, I understand that training for an exam must be boring so I decided to match a fun game with this exercise.

What do you need? Worksheet(s) of Key word transformations 
A spinner board (optional)
A Finger Twister board

KEY OF THE COLOURS (for those who don't have a spinner board)

1) Students work in pairs
2) Students in turns rotate the spinner board. The arrow indicates a finger and colored circle. OR Students in turns call out a colour and number.

3) The teacher boards the corresponding transformation.

4) The student needs to answer the question.
4a If the student answers correctly, they don't put any fingers on the board.
4b If the student makes a mistake, they have to put their finger on the corresponding circle according to the spinner/ the number and color they have previously called out.
4c The teacher gives the chance to another student to answer correctly. If they can answer correctly, they take off one of their fingers from the finger twister board.

5) The winner is the student with fewer fingers on the board, that is, the one who has made fewer mistakes.

My students have never had such fun doing this exercise. :)

martedì 11 aprile 2017

The dice game: a fun, low-prep speaking game

UPDATE: This blog post has been awarded the 'Blog Award for Innovative Teaching Ideas' by Teaching English British Council for the month of April 2017.

A fun game to revise the question form of past simple and of course... to speak 🇬🇧!!!

Level: elementary

Age of students: Children, teenagers, adults

Aim of the game: Practising past simple forms

What you need: a dice each 3 students

*You can adapt easily this game to meet your students' needs. For example, it can also be used to practise present simple and frequency adverbs.

Rules of the game
1) Think of 6 actions you did yesterday.
2) Write them down.
3) Work in groups of 3.
4) In turn, roll the dice and read out the sentence that corresponds to the number you got.
E.g. I roll the dice and I get 1. I read out the sentence "I ate fish and chips".
5) The other two learners in the group need to make up a suitable question for my answer.
E.g. Question by Maria: " What did you eat for lunch yesterday?"
Question by Francesco: "What did you eat for dinner yesterday?"
6) The student who rolled the dice decides which question is the most suitable for their answer. 
7) The learner(s) who guessed the correct question get(s) as many points as the spots on the face of the dice)
E.g. In this case Maria got 1 point because I had fish and chips for lunch.

Some feedback
My students and I loved this game because:
- it was a good way to drill the question form of past simple;
- they practiced irregular verbs;
- and finally, they got some points to become the best student of the month 😜

lunedì 10 aprile 2017

The Best Blog Posts about IATEFL Glasgow 2017 Online

A very interesting talk about motivation based on new book Motivational Teaching by Nicholas Thorner

A Wonderful session by Rachael Harris, focusing on activities that enhance our students' and our own well-being.

A very interesting session, full of ideas on how to actually become a teacherpreneur by Marina Kladova

An excellent session and one that has really made me think about the discrepency between what learners believe they have learned from a lesson and what teachers believe they have thought by Mark Heffernan (Queen Mary University of London) and David Byrne (EC London)

Empathy may be one of the qualities which distinguishes an average teacher from an excellent teacher in the eyes of the student. In this session, Kieran Donaghy (Film English) examines the importance of empathy in language education and proposes practical activities to encourage teachers, teacher trainers and students to be more empathetic.

This post is based on the IATEFL opening plenary Connecting minds: language learner and teacher psychologies by Sarah Mercer (Day 2 of IATEFL 2017 in Glasgow).

Here is an infographic summary of Brian Tomlinson's presentation on Let's Listen to the Learners, some of the resources he referred to on how to involve the learners in their learning

The interviews with Andy Hockley 1 and Marek Kiczkowiak 2 discuss the issue of native speakerism

martedì 6 dicembre 2016

Have you ever...? Christmassy Questions

Hi Teachers!

At the moment I'm teaching present perfect simple in order to express personal experiences. Since Christmas is coming I thought that my students could practise the target language focusing on their own experiences about the best time of the year!

I made up a set of cards with "Have you ever...?" questions about Christmas.


Just cut out the cards and put them face down on the desk.

Each student turns a card and read the question. Then decide who they want to ask the question to.

Or you can give each student 3 cards (I played with 5 students) and if the person they ask the question answers "Yes, I have" they can get rid of their card by putting it on the desk. But if the person they ask the question, answers "No, I haven't", they have to keep the card. The person who gives away all their cards first, wins! Of course students need to give explanation for their answers if they don't want to pick up their classmates' cards!

I hope you will have fun with your students!

sabato 12 novembre 2016

Teaching for Exams? Have Fun! UNO Card Game

UPDATE: This blog post has been shortlisted for the 'Blog Award for Innovative Teaching Ideas' by Teaching English British Council.

Hello EFL teachers,

I am back with a new post for the "Teaching for Exams? Have Fun!" series!

I wanted my students to revise the following target language for their Cambridge First for Schools exam:
- phrasal verbs,
- collocations,
- grammar,
- idioms.
I didn't want to make them feel bored, though.

What did I come up with, then?

A card game, yes a card game!

Do you know UNO? If you don't, have a look here .

If you do, keep reading!

The rules of the game are the same as those of UNO except for the following additional rule: students need to make up a sentence using the target language on the card they are about to place.

If your students are training for the Cambridge First for Schools you can download my own deck of cards from this link or if you wish, edit them according to your needs (link)!

P.S. I played this game with a class of 6 students, if your class is larger you can divide them into small groups.  For example, for a 20 student class you can make up 2 groups of 10 so you only need to print out two decks of cards.