giovedì 31 ottobre 2013

Kick Off Or Sum Up? Find A Treasure!

As a teacher I would like my students to achieve their goals when they learn English. However, the learning process is long and complex so I've been looking for new strategies to make it pleasant, engaging and above all effective.
Learning is a treasure. So why don't we review or introduce a new topic with a treasure hunt?

A treasure hunt is an excellent way to make your students:
- work together,
- teach each other,
- feel motivated,
- practice listening and speaking skills.

Here you are two examples of my personal experience:

Case 1
I used a Treasure Hunt at the end of a course in order to review the grammar and the vocabulary we studied. The hint cards were divided in two parts. As you can see, at the top there are questions and at the bottom there are hints to find the next question.

The treasure my students found was a British flag neckerchief.

Case 2
Last October 4th I started a new course with 6 adult intermediate students. In order to introduce three different general topics
1. Pronunciation (minimal pairs, tongue twisters, homophones)
2. Spelling
3. British English vs American English
we were going to deal with during the course I used this treasure hunt*.This time there was not any material treasure but a special sentence students had to find out by taking a letter from each hint. I was impressed because working in pairs allowed all of them to succeed in finding the treasure.
What is the sentence? Why don't you try to find the treasure? Write a comment with the sentence and I'll let you know if you are right!

*Tips for teachers: (The activity lasts 60-65 minutes/ every round takes 4 minutes)
1. Cut out the cards.
2. In pairs Ss get a card and they have 4 minutes to write the hint on a paper.
3. T monitors and interacts with Ss when there are LISTENING cards.
4. At the end of the 4 minutes T tells the pairs if they can get another card or keep sorting out the previous one.
5. When Ss have all the hints, they try to find out the treasured sentence in 4 minutes.

giovedì 24 ottobre 2013

To Listen Or Not To Listen To Real English, This is The Problem

If you teach English in any English speaking country your students are more likely to hear native people talking. If you teach English in any other place (such as in Italy) what happens when your students run into the real English language? 
Most of my students - especially adults - think listening is a pain in the neck. They are able to do exercises with tapes from course books but when it comes to listening to mother tongue people talking at their normal speed they get clearly puzzled. 
In my classes I always prefer using real materials rather than course books, but I have always been torn between graded tapes and normal-speed recordings when I have to teach listening skills. So if a real recording is difficult why don't we grade the activities? Here there are a few ideas I used with my students last week.
A movie trailer
For the International Chocolate Week I decided to teach listening skills to my pre-teen students by using the trailer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

1. Students watched video with the audio off to get an idea about the topic.

2. Students were taught some useful vocabulary.

3. Students watched the video and answered multiple choice questions. 

They all got their answers right.

A speech
My teen students have been studying the reported speech. In their last lesson they played the role of journalists who had to report about one of Steve Jobs' speeches. 
1.They watched the video with subtitles.
2. They repeated some of his statements (improving their pronunciation as well).
3. Every one reported a statement while they others had to agree if the reported form was correct.
4. Students were filmed while reporting the news.

A real conversation with mother tongue people
I recorded mother tongue people asking and answering random questions.
1. Students were given the context and situation for each question.
2. Students listened to the questions (only).
3. Students wrote the possible answer on a piece of paper.
4. Students compared their answers.
5. Finally they listened to the answers.

I hope these ideas will be useful for your lessons!

Have a lovely day

giovedì 17 ottobre 2013

The Power Of Post-it Notes

Here we go with a new post! Yesterday I had three mini group classes: PRE-TEENS, TEENS and ADULTS (intermediate). At the end of the day while I was tidying up I realized I had used post-it notes in every lesson. I think post-it notes are practical, handy and we can use them in several situations. Here you are three different ways to use post-it notes.

Present Simple: Question Form
Many students think the question form is as clear as mud. Some students forget to use the auxiliary do,others use do instead of does.
I took some post-it notes and wrote down a word (or two) on each of them. All together they make a question. Then I messed them up and I stick them up on the board. The students had to rearrange the words  in order to make a question. Everytime the students made a mistake I put an alarming sound so they knew they were wrong and they changed the position of the post-it notes. These are just two questions they made. The colour of the post-it notes helped them create the right question.

My teen students started reading a graded reader book yesterday. It is about a teenager who plays video games. They brainstormed vocabulary about videogames and then I gave them two sets of post-it notes. On the light blue notes there were words and on the orange notes their definitions. In pairs the students had to match them in three minutes. 

Adult students love studying functional language (requests, complains, invitations) because they use it in their daily life. After listening to short dialogues and noticing the new language about giving suggestions the students were divided in pairs and were asked to look around the classroom so they could notice post-it notes on the walls. There were three types of post-it notes: 1) Suggestions 2) Replying positively 3) Replying negatively. Each pair was given a type to find out and stick up on the board. The board looked like this midway through the activity.

When and why do you use post-it notes? Please share your answers with me.
I hope this post was useful and you might use these activities in your lessons.

Have a lovely day


giovedì 10 ottobre 2013

Facebook and the Internet to inspire teens

I always look for new ideas to engage my teenager students. For their first class of the new course I thought about the Internet and Facebook. I'd like to share my ideas with you because they were successful!

Idea n.1
A FB profile of Elizabeth I
Students created a FB profile of Elizabeth I using some information about her I gave them such as this short biography I found while I was walking along the SouthBank when I was in London.
They worked in pairs, they read the biography and then they chose the information they could use in the FB page and this is what came out.

This activity helped my students reriew past simple (they read a biography) and they developed their comprehension by chosing which information introduce in the FB page.

Ideas n.2
Gallery walking questions about the Internet
I got this idea because I wanted my students to speak. A skill they don't usually improve because they are scared of speaking another language they are not comfortable with.
I gave each of them a question with a missing word on a strip. The missing words were on the walls of the classroom and they had to find the right one to complete their question. 
They had to compare their questions and the words they chose because they were all different. 
When all of them had their questions done, they sat down and started asking each other the questions. 
The topic engaged them, they learnt vocabulary about the Internet and they talk!
These are my strips!
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have other ideas to add to the topic, please share them with me!

martedì 1 ottobre 2013


Per tutti gli studenti e le studentesse di scuola media e superiore:


Write 60-80 words about how you will use the English language in the future.
The best ideas will be published on my blog and the students will get a 10% discount on group classes!

Inviaci la tua idea all'indirizzo email  entro e non oltre domenica 6 ottobre 2013!