19 December 2009


One of my favourite websites for teen and adult students is http://www.realenglish.com/.  The founders of this site trawl the streets of English speaking countries interviewing ordinary people and focusing on a specific grammar structure.  Originally, only the videos were available but they have been very busy over the past year writing complete lessons for each video - so now it's possible for students to use it alone (although I think students might need some guidance on how to use the website as it's not very intuitive for language learners).  A great new feature is the ability for students to listen to the dialogues and record themselves repeating it. 

I've used this in class a few times with huge success - students are captivated by the repetition of the grammar point and the constantly changing people and situations - but most of all - that the speakers are REAL English people speaking REAL grammar structures that they're learning at that moment.

Click here for a link to lesson idea I've used in class.

16 December 2009

Second Conditional

1.  Start lesson with discussion "I need a holiday.  If I had 10,000 euros I'd go to X, etc.  What would you do? and ask individual students.  Class vote on most popular idea.
2.  Tell Ss going to watch a video and ask what is the most popular - is it the same?
3.  Handout gapfill transcript and ask Ss to complete
4.  Watch video again to check answers.
5.  Grammar explanation and practice.
6.  Optional - make similar video to put on class blog/wiki.

05 December 2009


Lost in Greece on Storybird

Get students writing with the Storybird website.

Storybird is a collaborative writing site where you and/or students can create stories online.  Click on the example above.

Some ideas for using it: 
1. Use with younger learners to tell short stories
2. Have students write their own stories - free writing
3. Start a story and ask students to finish it (see my example above).
3. Have exam level students use modals of speculation to describe the pictures.
4. Give students a list of vocabulary that they should use to write a story.
5. Teacher presents language through the story
6. Make a speaking activity - Students read two or more stories and compare and contrast and give their opinion (FCE Style)
7. Process writing - a class project is started at the beginning of the year and the students return to their story throughout the year to upgrade/improve/amend the story. Publish it at the end of the year.
8.  Have students choose two or three stories to read and compare them.
I like this site because it is simple to use. After registering and logging in you are presented with pictures and a word cloud of themes to choose from. The pictures bank is growing so every time there are more pictures to choose from. The story can be as long or short as you want and if you don´t finish the story in one sitting you can save it and go back to it later.

04 December 2009

TEFL Trends - Seville

A few weeks ago I attended an event held in Seville where some of the leading names in TEFL got together as a think tank to discuss the future of English language teaching.  Here is the link to the FECEI Youtube Channel where the videos of the final presentation to an invited public are uploaded . Some interesting ideas - especially Video 5 - the Google School!  http://www.youtube.com/user/FECEI#p/u

English Central

English Central is a great new site I came across on the Whiteboard Blog. Has great potential for homework and in class use with low, medium and high level students. With English Central students can practice their pronunciation by listening to a video clip, then repeating. The students score points on the activities they do relating to accuracy, level of difficulty, etc.

What I really like about this site is that teachers can create an account and invite students to join. Those students are linked to the teacher´s account and the teacher can monitor and check progress of the students. The teacher can also set objectives for the students.

In the future, the site plans to allow teachers to choose which video the students watch which will make it easier to monitor and assign appropriate tasks for the students.

This will be a great help to teachers when assessing student pronunciation. In a large class it is often difficult to hear each student individually and give them appropriate advice and further practice. With this tool, it will be possible for teachers to give more attention to specific aspects of students´ problems.

5 Card Story

Here´s another website to get your students writing.  I first saw this on Nik Peachey's website.  There are lots of ways to use this site, and the added bonus is that there is no need to log in and register to use it.  It's very simple to use - just click on the 5 card flickr button and a selection of photos will appear.  Choose one photo from each collection then start writing a short story based around the pictures.  Click here to see an example:


Some ideas for using it:

1.  Writing competition - students write a story or news report in groups.  Best story/report is the winner.
2.  Homework - students write at home alone and send you the link - writing can be analysed as a class.
3.  Have students read two or three stories then compare them and decide which they prefer and why (FCE style speaking task)
4.  Teacher uses the stories as an interesting way to introduce language.
5.  A lot of the stories are written by non-native speakers of English - have students analyse and identify the errors in stories.

Just a few ideas - I'm sure there are many more!

03 December 2009

Text Chat Without Computers

Here´s an idea I got from Larry Ferlazzo´s blog for using Mini Whiteboards. Create a "chat" conversation in the classroom without computers!

•Give each student a mini whiteboard
•Create a scenario - for example you are in a dangerous situation and shout "Help"
•Have students respond by writing a short phrase on the MWB
•Respond to one of the replies.
•Try to develop a "chat" conversation with short responses by continuing the conversation.
•Change scenarios if necessary.
•Keep the topics humourous so that it stays fun for the students.

Brilliant idea!