domenica 19 giugno 2016

From the TV to the classroom: Games to assess students' progress

Last week I gave a workshop at the ELT Forum in Bratislava. It was such an invaluable experience.
I'd like to share with you my presentation slides.

From the TV to the classroom: Games to assess students' progress


domenica 1 maggio 2016

Cambridge FCE/FCE for Schools: Speaking Paper Tips

Some of my students are going to take the Cambridge FCE exam at the end of the month so I created for them this handy visual graphic with some tips to follow during the exam. I hope you and your students will find it useful!


You can also find a PDF printable version here.

giovedì 17 marzo 2016

Household stuff: Great tools for teaching... grammar! Part 3

Hi everyone!
Welcome back to my series about using household stuff for teaching English as a foreign language!

Today's item is

 DRINKING STRAWS €1 (100 pcs)

PURPOSE: I used drinking straws to check my students' comprehension of COUNTABLE and UNCOUNTABLE "FOOD & DRINKS" NOUNS.

WHAT I DID BEFORE CLASS: - I printed out this template and I wrote down a food noun in each glass, then I cut each glass out. 
- I stuck two sheets of paper on the desk: 
1) COUNTABLE "FOOD & DRINKS" NOUNS
2) UNCOUNTABLE "FOOD & DRINKS" NOUNS

STUDENTS: (3-6) PRE-TEENS/TEENS/YOUNG ADULTS (A2 LEVEL)

WHAT I DID IN CLASS: After teaching a bunch of  COUNTABLE and UNCOUNTABLE "FOOD & DRINKS" NOUNS I told my students they were going to play a game and I showed them the drinking straws. I placed the "paper" glasses at a certain distance from the sheets. 

WHAT MY STUDENTS DID: All students stood up around the table and I told them the rules of the game.
Students took turns to blow into their drinking straw in order to make the "paper" glasses move towards/onto the right sheet.
They got one point for each right word and lost one point for each wrong one.



It was a very funny game and I felt especially satisfied with their positive results.
Watch the video: Drinking Straws - EFL game
Until the next item ;-)



mercoledì 9 marzo 2016

Household stuff: Great tools for teaching... exam classes! Part 2

Hi everyone!

Today's item is... 
ICE CREAM STICK
€1,50 (100 pcs)

PURPOSE: I used ice cream sticks to teach an exam-focused class. Students were trained to practise Cambridge FCE Reading and Use of English PART 4.   
[This part of the exam is called 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.]

WHAT I DID BEFORE CLASS: I wrote some sentences on the ice cream sticks using present perfect simple/continuous and past simple. I wrote some sentences with the same meaning - using different tenses - and some "distractors'" which were wrong. 
E.g. Stick 1 --> My nephew began to play tennis in 2010.
Stick 2--> My nephew has been playing tennis since 2010.
Stick 3 --> My nephew has been played tennis since 2010.
The first two sentences have a similar meaning while the third one is wrong.

STUDENTS: (4-6) Teenagers

WHAT I DID IN CLASS: I told my students we were going to play a game to revise the use of PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS and PAST SIMPLE and I showed them the ice cream sticks in a clear plastic bag.
Afterwards, much to their surprise, I dumped the sticks on the desk. I said they had to pick up two sticks with the same meaning without moving the others. (See the rules of the game MIKADO)

WHAT MY STUDENTS DID: 
When they picked up two right sentences without moving the other sticks, they got 2 points.
When they picked up two right sentences moving one or more sticks, they got 1 point.
When they picked up a wrong sentence, they got no points.
They had a lot of fun!

Until the next item ;-)


mercoledì 2 marzo 2016

Household stuff: Great tools for teaching! Part 1

LOOK OUT! Even though this blogpost seems to be addressed to women only I'm sure male teachers will find it useful! 

WARNING: This is a very personal blogpost.

As you know (or if it's the first time you drop by, let me introduce myself) I teach English as a Foreign Language to children, teenagers and adults in a small seaside town (between Rome and Naples) where I was born. I'm in my early thirties (everyone says I look younger, though) and I'm not married.  "You should get married soon, or you'll be too old to have children" (Apparently everyone has watched/read Bridget Jones' Diary!)
Being unmarried at my age, especially in a small town, makes me feel like a suspicious person.
I spend most time teaching and when I'm off I love planning lessons and finding new teaching methods. This seems to be my greatest fault.  Ok... I plead guilty, Sir. 
"Well, what should I do?" I wondered. Showing more interest in household chores and cooking may help, I thought. So, a few weeks ago I tiptoed into a Houseware&Household shop near my language studio and I explored it. Unfortunately, once again I couldn't help but thinking of my lessons... 
I hope my ideas will appeal to you!

1) FLY SWATTER (€0,80 each) --> a plastic tool with a handle, used to swat (= hit) insects (www.oxfordlearnersdictionary.com)

1.1 Right or Wrong?
Materials: 2 fly swatters 
                 right/wrong sentences on sheets of paper
                (about) 8 magnets

Procedure: - I sticked on the board two sentences, one right and the other wrong.
                  - In pairs students came to the board and swatted the wrong sentence.
Comment: My teenager students practised the use of Contrasting Linkers (even though, despite, however, etc.)

1.2 Say... Swat it right!
Materials: 2 fly swatters
                 words about "the house" (any topic you want)
                 (about) 20 magnets
Procedure: - I sticked on the board five words about "the house".
                   - In pairs students came to the board.
              - I said a word in Italian (my students' native language") and students swatted the right word.              
Comments: It was a great way to revise vocabulary for lower-levels.

P.S. Be careful! Students might swat each other. Warn them beforehand that if they do so you will stop the game!
Until the next household item ;-)
                 

domenica 14 febbraio 2016

Valentine's Day: LOVE collocations and QR codes

Here it comes Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate all types of love! Why don't teach/learn some LOVE collocations?

1) Print out the worksheet with the collocations.

2) Print and cut out the QR codes and stick them up around the classroom.

3) Students use a QR scanner app to read the definitions and then they copy them below the collocation (on the envelopes). 

4) Have fun and lots of love ;)


lunedì 1 febbraio 2016

Teaching for exam? Touch your students' hearts

Lately this video https://vimeo.com/152985022 has gone viral on social networks. I was so moved when I watched it for the first time that I decided to introduce it in my exam-oriented classes. Today I'd like to share with you the lesson plan I used for my Cambridge FCE (B2 level) which focuses mainly on developing speaking skills.

STUDENTS: Teenagers (b2)
TIME: 1h30
AIM: Learning vocabulary about free time activities
Developing speaking skills for the exam.

1) WARM-UP ACTIVITY: Write on the board The Present and ask your students:
What’s the best present you have ever received?
(Spice-it-up version: Show a present box and tell your students you just got a present. Let them predict what's in the box)
2) VIDEO ACTIVITY: WATCH, PREDICT, ANSWER
Tell your students you are going to watch a video whose title is The Present

Start watching the video. Stop it at 00:50, ask them:
What do you think is in the box?

Start the video again up to 1:10, ask them:
Why doesn’t he like the dog?

Continue up to 1:25, ask them:
What does the dog want to do?
How does the boy react?

Continue up to 2:00, ask them:
Does the dog find it easy to play with the ball?
Does it give up or keep on trying to catch it?

Continue up to 2:40, ask them:
Choose three adjectives to describe the dog in the video.
CUTE - SAVAGE - DETERMINED - DANGEROUS - SWEET - WILD - FRIENDLY

Continue up to 3:00, ask them:
What does the boy decide to do?

2a) FOCUS ON LISTENING
Watch the video again and answer the following questions:

What language function do these statements express?
“Hey sweety, sorry I got home so late.”
__________________________________________________________

“Why don’t you stop playing and open the present I got for you?”
___________________________________________________________

“Mom, we’ll be outside.”
____________________________________________________________

3) Teach VOCABULARY

- Pair/group up students and give them the set of paper strips below. (Cut them out before giving them)
- Give them two labelled plastic bags 1) indoor activities 2) outdoor activities and ask them to put the strips into the right bag. The activities which can be done in either places will be left outside the bags.

- Have feedback and explain new vocabulary.

4) SPEAK UP!

Show these two pictures and ask students to do the task above.

or SPICE IT UP: Put students in pairs and make them sitting back to back. Give each one of them a picture and this grid. Students take turn to speak about their picture and tick off the words/phrases from the grid used by their partner. In this way they will practise the skills mentioned above.

4a) SPEAK UP AGAIN...

PASS THE TENNIS BALL GAME
- Get a tennis ball or a small ball.
- Make the students sit in a circle.
- Tell them you are going to ask them some questions.
- Pass the ball to the first student and ask one of the questions below. The student, then, will choose another student to pass the ball to. The second student will say if they agree or disagree with the previous student and why.
- Let 4-5 students express their opinion for each question.

People say “ A trouble shared is a trouble halved”. Do you agree?
Have you ever helped a friend in trouble? What did you do?
Are dogs really man’s best friends?
In what ways are dogs helpful to humans?
Do you think some owners care too much for their dogs and not enough for other people?

6) Homework is fun!
There are some people who become unfriendly because they have a physical disability or a problem. Prepare an encouragement quote using
www.quotescover.com (WEB)
InstaQuote (iOS) - Kwote (Android)