giovedì 30 gennaio 2014

Karen Saxby's seminar about Cambridge English Young Learners

Yesterday I attended a fantastic seminar by Karen Saxby. She was a teacher and she has been producing materials for young learners. Karen is the author of the books Fun for series for Starters, Movers and Flyers, the Story Fun series and KET for Schools Trainer.

I don't usually have the chance to attend seminars in my hometown or nearby so yesterday I was extremely excited to have this opportunity and Karen didn't let me down.

The seminar focused on Young Learners and it deals mainly about the following topics:
- intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
- creativity and critical thinking
- learners' success and self-confidence

Karen's presentation was bright, amusing and effective. She was able to involve all the audience. She expressed her ideas by using Realia and giving us effective practical examples. I absolutely agreed with her when she said that without caring and creativity instructions and directions are worthless to learners.

Even though the seminar focused on children and how making them feel important as individuals, I think creativity, motivation and fun are the keys for a successful learning process at any age.
In Karen's words, "you choose, you have the power". Only if we make our students feel indipendent and wonderfully different they will do their best.

Finally, two messages have stuck in my mind:
1) Our students will be much more motivated if we care about their well-being.
2) If your students are afraid of making mistakes, they will not feel confident about speaking or writing in English.  Tell them that British children make mistakes too! They say things like, I wented to school. Those mens on television are funny. Making mistakes and learning how to  correct them is part of the natural process of language learning. So tell your students not to be afraid to try using new words or new structures. They'll get them right if they practice... ! AND HAVE FUN in your classrooms. 

Thank you, Karen.

domenica 26 gennaio 2014

Love English Awards 2013: if you like my blog, vote for it!

To my extreme surprise, I got nominated for the Macmillan Love English Awards 2013. If you like my blog, you can vote for it through this link. Thank you for following me!

giovedì 23 gennaio 2014

My first post for the Teaching English British Council blog

This is my first  post for the Teaching English British Council blog. I am so grateful for having this chance. It means a lot to me. I will learn a lot from the other illustrious associates and I will share my experience with other teachers from all over the world.

This post is about teenagers and five tips to teach them successfully. I do hope you enjoy it! If you use any of the strategies mentioned, please let me know your feedback!

giovedì 16 gennaio 2014

Social networks help teenagers improve their speaking skills

Italian parents always complain about the time their teenage children waste in front of a computer screen or on their smartphones. They say their children do not talk anymore, they just text.
Instead of blaming my teenage students I prefer using their "bad habit" to make them improve their English, especially their speaking skills.
A few months ago I published a post about how to use the Internet and Facebook to engage teenage students, today I'd like to share with you a lesson plan which might useful if your students are fond of social networking apps.

Students: Teenagers
Level: A2

Lesson plan
1) Warm-up: Write the following questions on the board
- Do you have a smartphone, PC, I-pod, I-pad?
- What social networks do you know?
- What do you use social networks or apps for?
Students ask and answer the questions in pairs.
TIP: Monitor students to check they are on the task and at the end of the activity ask some students randomly what their partner have told them. (It's a chance to practice the"s" of the third person singular)
ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITY: If you have a small ball like this
Students throw the ball and choose a question to ask to each other.

2) Show students this logotype
and ask them if they know which social network it stands for.
If they know it you can go to step 3 if they don't you can play the hangman like this
3) Prediction: Before showing students this infographic about Anomo (I took it from, 
write down these numbers on the board (I chose them to practice their pronunciation). In groups of 3 students predict in which way they refer to Anomo.
9 out of 10
Then hand out the infographic and ask them to check whether their predictions were correct or not.

4) Now focus students' attention on the expressions:
from the infographic, elicit their meaning and then show them this picture

5) Students write 5 "get-to-know"questions on 5 different pieces of paper.
Then they fold and put them in a plastic bag. Now shake the bag and ask a student to pick up a paper. S/he will answer a question and decide who will be the next one to reply.

At the end of the lesson students  will have:
- practiced the question forms,
- improved their speaking skill,
- enhanced their rapport with each other.

If you try this lesson plan, please let me know your feedback.

mercoledì 8 gennaio 2014

7 ways to use INFOGRAPHICS in the English classroom

This is my first post of 2014 and I'd like to kick off the new year by writing about the latest popular phenomenon on the web: INFOGRAPHICS.

What is an infographic?
An Infographic (information graphic)  is a visual representation of a data set or instructive material. It takes a large amount of information in text or numerical form and then condenses it into a combination of images and text, allowing viewers to quickly grasp the essential insights the data contains.

Can infographics be used in the English classroom?
Yes, of course. These are 7 ways to use INFOGRAPHICS in the English classroom.

1. TO TEACH (OR REVIEW) NUMBERS - Let's face the truth: students do not like numbers. Maybe because it's the first thing they learn when they study a foreign language, (sometimes even before the alphabet). In infographics you can find very long numbers and your students can practice their pronunciation.
Tip: When a student does not know (or does not remember) the pronunciation of a number I usually ask to the class randomly until someone pronounces it correctly. Afterwards we drill it chorally.

2. TO TEACH NEW VOCABULARY - Each infographic is an incredible source of new vocabulary. You can find infographics about music, religion, education, cinema, jobs, social networks etc. Here you are some examples from the free newspaper (e-edition).

3. TO MAKE PREDICTIONS  - In my humble opinion this is the funniest way you can use infographics for. I usually copy only some numbers and the topic on the board and let my students guess what those numbers are related to. My students usually come up with many "contrasting" ideas which lead to li(o)vely debates.
Tip: Students'minds may go blank when they see all those numbers, give examples/ideas.

4. TO RETRIEVE INFORMATION - This activity usually comes after making predictions. Students have to check whether their suppositions were true or false by reading the infographic.
Tip: For lower levels you can simply prepare a set of questions and ask your students to answer them.

5. TO PRACTICE BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS - I'm sure that among your students there is a business person always in troubles with their presentations at the workplace. Well, infographics can be used as PPT slides while the students rehearse for their speech.
Tip: Keep the infographics on the PC and let your students use a pencil while they are talking, it will make them feel more confident.

6. TO ELABORATE - We always ask our students to sum up texts. Why don't we try to do the opposite? Why don't we ask them to elaborate short pieces of information into something detailed? Give your students an infographic and ask them to write an article starting from the information they have. It is an excellent exercise to practice their writing skills.

7. TO COLLECT USEFUL INFORMATION - We can use infographics but we can also create them! and are two free websites your students can use to make their own infographics. My students and I usually create them at the of the year to review what we have studied or to concentrate useful information for the exams. Eventually, we print the infographics out and stick them on the walls.

Do you use infographics in your English classes? How? Please, share your experience with me!