giovedì 26 dicembre 2013

My 5 best posts of 2013

As 2013 is coming to an end I'd like to wish you a fantastic 2014 full of joy and peace.

In my humble opinion, these are my 5 best posts of 2013

1. The Power of Post-it Notes

2. Facebook and the Internet to Inspire Teens

3. Do You Want To Learn? Teach!

4. What the British Do Not Say: A Lesson Plan

5. Homework Is... Fun

Happy New Year!

giovedì 19 dicembre 2013

Christmas Crackers: Useful Links

Christmas is one of the most popular and celebrated holidays all over the world. I do love having  lessons about Christmas with my students to show them the traditions of the country(ies) whose language they are studying.

This year I taught my young teenagers the story of the Christmas Cracker and we even made our own Christmas Crackers! 

I'd like to share with you the online resources I used in my class.

1) The story of the Christmas Cracker
TIP: pre-teach vocabulary and prepare questions for reading comprehension.

2) Make your own Christmas Crackers

2a Watch the video 
TIP: don't forget to get everything you need ready in your classroom. 

As you could see in the video, inside the Christmas Cracker there are a small present (such as a chocolate), a joke and a paper hat/crown. 

2b You can copy your joke from this 50 Christmas cracker joke list:

2c You can see how to make your own paper hat/crown in this video (always from TESCO Life Style)

I hope you will enjoy making your own Christmas Crackers with your students. 

giovedì 12 dicembre 2013

Metro UK: Get the best out of a free newspaper

Are you one of those teachers who:

1) is teaching in a non-English-speaking country?
2) is looking for new ideas to create or adapt authentic materials?
3)  is fed up with course books?
4) is training their students for a Cambridge exam?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, keep on reading this post!

When I lived in London I used to take the tube almost everyday. Before getting on the train I used to grab a copy of a free paper: METRO. I flicked through it during my journey, reading some headlines here and there. When I was about to come back to Italy I decided to pack some copies up. When I was here I realized I could use it to create or adapt materials even to train my students in several parts of some Cambridge Examinations. Plus, checking on the internet I found out its PDF edition so my materials are always brand new and up-to-date!

I collected here some ways to use METRO UK in your classes:

1. To teach vocabulary - There are lots of colorful picture. 

2. To warm up - If you want to introduce the topic of the lesson in a fun way you can use its comic strips. Find out more in this previous post:

3. To have a debate or a conversation class - Intermediate and upper-intermediate students sometimes are stuck with the same vocabulary. Pre-teaching new vocabulary, reading a newspaper article, having a talk are three easy steps which will make your students more interested in your lesson. Don't forget: feel free to adapt the text in order to meet your students' needs and levels.

4. KET: speaking test - In the second part of the speaking test there are two candidates. The examiner gives them a sheet with a picture and some information. Candidates ask and answer questions in turns about the information on the sheet. Questions are usually introduced by questions words such as who, when, which, what, where, etc. For this part of the test you can use the ads.

Possible questions:
a. Where do you get 25% off?
b. What time do the stores close?
c. How much do you have to spend to get free delivery?

Possible questions:
a. What is Jamie magazine about?
b. What can I do to get a free copy?
c. Who writes in this magazine?

5. FCE: Writing test - One of the genres of the writing test is the report. It is the most formal piece of writing because it is full of data and impersonal expressions. How can your students get data to build up their report? Use the infographics from the section IN FOCUS. Here you an example about the graduate and non-graduate jobs in the UK currently.

I hope that these prompts will be useful for you and if you have any other ideas, please share them with me!
(All the pictures are screenshots of the PDF edition)

giovedì 5 dicembre 2013

Do you want to learn? Teach!

Yesterday during my break between two classes I was checking my Facebook when I ran into this picture:
The more you teach the more you learn! So I thought it would be a great idea to make my teen students be teachers for a lesson!
I knew it was an experiment and it could have been either a success or a flop but I decided to try. 
I wondered what role the teacher played in this context and what materials students could use in order to teach. Thus, I put together two different teaching methods:

1) Silent way teaching
The Silent way is a teaching method developed by Caleb Gattegno in 1960s based on the belief that students should learn independently of the teacher. Gattegno proposed that students would learn better if they worked together and they were more responsible for their own learning. Students are introduced to new materials by using Cuisinare rods and a series of wall charts.

2) Realia
All your possessions (and your students') can be used in your class to bring it to life.


1. I drew two columns on the board and I wrote COUNTABLE NOUNS & UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS.
2. I didn't use Cuisinare rods but real things. I showed my students two apples, two cups of tea and two tea bags. I wrote under the UNCOUNTABLE COLUMN:
A cup of TEA
Two cups of TEA
A TEA bag
Two TEA bags

Notice: We are considering the words TEA (uncountable) and APPLES (countable) not cups or bags.

I underlined the s of the plural and I made them notice there was no S in the word tea.

2. I asked my students to come to the board in turn. I gave them the cups of tea, the tea bags the apples and other food and drink. Then I mimed an interrogative expression to make them explain the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. Good explanations were given the thumbs up.

--> NOTICE <--
- The Silent Way has some drawbacks. You have to be really good at miming. Plus, some students may need more teacher input than what is provided through this method. Thus, the student-teaching part of the lesson should last not more than 30 minutes.

- Get real object ready in your classroom or use pictures/flashcards.