25 September 2010

Englishcentral.com

Well, things have been a bit hectic over the last few weeks with starting the Distance DELTA and starting the new year.  I haven't had much time to keep up with my PLN and probably won't until December (after the exam!).  In the meantime, I'm going to refer back to an excellent website that I came across last year and has been written about all over the ELT blogosphere for the past year or so.  I've already mentioned it on this blog but as we're having a big push on pronunciation and speaking skills at my academy I thought I'd revisit it.

Englishcentral.com is a free site where learners can practice their pronunciation by watching a video and repeating the dialogue.  Students score points according to how accurate they imitate sounds and intonation, etc.  Although it's not 100 per cent perfect (I only scored 850 out of 1000 as a native speaker - perhaps it's my British accent!) it is a great way for students to get an idea of how good their pronunciation is - and it's fun!  There is a huge selection of videos now categorised by topic and level so there is something for everyone.  Teachers can set up groups and invite students by email then monitor progress.  No marking is required by the teacher as this is all done automatically.  At present there is no breakdown of strengths and weaknesses, but I understand there are plans for this in the future.

I would definitely recommend this site for adult learners who are concerned about their pronunciation and use it for occasional homework for teenagers.  It would not be very practical in a class full of teenagers except for demonstration purposes, but it might be possible to use it with an adult class.

Here is an introductory video to show you how to get started!

28 August 2010

BBC Bitesize

BBC Bitesize is a site for native English kids but some of the games and exercises could be used for English language learners.  Some of the games and activities can be embedded in a class blog or website too!  (See my Lesson Plans and Activities blog)

I only looked at a few activities but I really liked the KS1 punctuation game and the KS2 Word Types games which could be easily incorporated into an EFL class.

04 August 2010

Compare and Contrast Map

Another great writing tool - especially for discursive essays.  Compare and Contrast Map allows students to organise their content before writing an essay.

Biocube

Just stumbled across a great note taking site on Larry Ferlazzo's blog.  Biocube allows students to take notes online when writing a biography.  No registration required.  Students can then print out their notes and write the biography.

This is a great tool to use with writing skills classes to help students organise and plan their work.

22 June 2010

Twiducate

A couple of weeks ago the buzz on Twitter was about a new social media tool that is taking the world of education by storm. www.twiducate.com is fantastically simple to setup and an amazingly easy to manage social media platform created for teachers by teachers. It's a kind of a cross between a forum, a blog and Twitter.

What I like about Twiducate:
  1. To open an account, type in your email address, a password and a few details and you have a completely private classroom.
  2. Create additional private classrooms.
  3. Setup student accounts - type in a name and a password is automatically generated - no emails required!
  4. Post links to useful resources on the class page - dictionaries, websites, etc.
  5. See who is online
  6. Embed photos and videos easily
  7. Amend and delete posts and comments
  8. Minimum learner training to use.
It has almost everything you need for a private classroom social network.  There are a couple of things I'd like to see added:
  1. Tagging options - so that you can organise content by topic or another criteria. 
  2. The ability to upload content directly - to showcase student videos, photos, etc.  At the moment you can embed but that means you need to upload content elsewhere on the net. 
Twiducate is only about 6 months old so they are still adding new features.  Maybe these options will be added in the future.

I used this in class for the first time last week as an end of course activity. It was with a class of 8 to 10 year olds - they were not all my own students.  Because it was the end of the year, I invited another class to join us.  I had originally planned for my own students to add their own avatars and use their own names but because of the last minute I didn't have time to assign logons to other students joining the class.  Instead, this is what I did:

1.  Showed the students Twiducate on the whiteboard and elicited what it was.  Some knew about Messenger and thought it might be similar.
2.  After giving out logons and passwords and showing the kids how to log on, I typed a question and showed them how to type their reply as a comment.  At this stage I wasn't focusing on accuracy - the main focus was on learning how to use Twiducate.
3.  I showed them the home icon (to refresh).  I typed another question and asked them all to respond again.  This time I asked them to check their spelling, capital letters, etc.
4.  After a further question from me, I invited one student to type a question and asked the other students to comment in reply.
5.  Finally, all students typed questions and commented on each others questions in reply.

This was a very simple activity with minimal preparation (although I had already set up the classroom and created logins for students).  Within 30 minutes all the students were using Twiducate confidently and easily.  More importantly they were enjoying it and checking that their questions and responses where correct before posting them.  It wasn't long before some of the kids were experimenting with language they'd learned over the year and producing more complex language.

Although it was clear that some students had very little experience of using a computer, and were perhaps a little bit more stressed than other students in the beginning, the feedback from the children was that they enjoyed the activity and would like to do it again.

Generally, the class was successful, but I do think it would have been more fun for them to have their own logon names and avatars to personalise it.  I also feel I should have added some pictures somewhere to make it more colourful.

I was very impressed with how easy Twiducate is to use for both the teacher and younger learners.  I think this will be a useful addition to classroom resources next year for younger students.

    07 June 2010

    Social Bookmarking

    Social bookmarking is brilliant!  At least I think it is - until I want to find something that is.  I've got over 500 bookmarks collected over the year and recently it's been quicker to Google something than look for it in my Delicious account.  Not that this is the fault of Delicious.  I just haven't been tagging properly.  The problem is though, I'm not sure of the best way to tag.  Do you add as many tags as possible to each item and end up with a list of tags for everything you've ever looked at but depending on what you were thinking about at the time depends on the tag? Or do you keep it simple and choose two, three or four well chosen tags?  Well, I've tried both which is why today I decided tackle my tags and Delicious account.

    It has taken hours to reorganise and retag, delete duplicate pages (yes!) and I'm still not finished.  So - the system I've decided on is to keep the tagging simple.  It's quicker and hopefully more efficient so I won't have to spend ages thinking of every use for a particular tool or website resource.

    I also took the opportunity to move over to Diigo - something I've been thinking about for a while.  I've got no complaints against Delicious, but  since I learned that Diigo has added features - highlight, comments and sticky notes so that you can annotate pages your bookmarked pages.  This is really useful for bookmarking pages with a specific idea in mind - later you can search your commented or highlighted pages and find it quickly - brilliant!

    Let's see if my new lean tagging machine is still working in 6 months time!

    04 June 2010

    The end of the year

    A few days ago I read a post on Jason Renshaw's blog showing an interview with Stephen Fry.  It was an amazing and inspiring video that got me thinking about this year.

    I'm now heading towards the final lap of the year and next week the end of course exams start and, apart from my younger learners, I doubt many students will come for the final two classes of June.  I'm in my fourth year of teaching and this has been the most difficult year for me.  I seriously considered giving up my teaching career and returning to the UK and a variation of my previous job, working in IT.  I'm not sure why I found this year so challenging, maybe it was the long, wet winter we had in Seville.  Maybe it was the fact that I have to supplement my income doing extra work to make ends meet every month or maybe it was because I felt I was still making the same errors I've been making since I first started teaching and I shouldn't be.

    On the positive side, I achieved everything I set out to achieve at the beginning of this year.  I have used ICT in new and interesting ways with my students setting up blogs and wikis and using online tools.  I've developed my personal learning network which has been an enormous help.  I've plucked up the courage to comment on other people's blogs and have even set up an account on Twitter - although I haven't really got my head around that yet and who any posts I send my messages to will go to as I don't know anybody who uses Twitter. 

    Whatever the reasons for my negative feelings, I learned a lot about myself, my students, my strengths and my weaknesses.  And, inspired by the Mr Fry interview, which basically says "stop moaning and get on with it" I've decided to do just that!  I've also decided to do the modular Distance DELTA.

    So, my aims for the next year are:
    • doing the DELTA
    • stay positive and enthusiastic!
    • continue to support and encourage colleagues who are not very confident with technology
    • continue trying to share my knowledge of Web 2.0 tools with those colleagues who are interested
    • widen my personal learning network (and make some friends on Twitter:))
    What are your aims for next year?

    26 May 2010

    Images

    If you are always struggling for copyright free images and clipart, try www.openclipart.org.  It's still in beta but there are thousands of what look like really good clipart images.  If you're an artist, you're invited to upload your own images.

    23 May 2010

    Google Search Stories

    Use Google SearchStories to create a short story video with music in less than 5 minutes. To create a video story,

     1. Type the key points of your story.
    2. Choose the type of search (map, news, blog, images, etc).
    3. Choose your music - there is a good selection of sound tracks.

    Here is one I created in about 3 minutes!



    How to use it in class?

    1. The video I've created will be used as a warmer to revise future forms with Upper Intermediate teenagers.

    2. Students can create their own using vocabulary and/or structures learned in a unit or section of the coursebook. The video would be a useful revision resource reminding students what they know (and have forgotten).

    After the video has been created you upload it to the Youtube searchstories channel - from there you can embed it in a blog, share it on Facebook, email it to friends or share it in some other way. You will need a Google account to do this.

    16 May 2010

    Prezi.com

    I've been playing around with a free online presentation tool that I came across last week.   www.prezi.com has been around for about a year now and has made big waves in the world of presentations.  I've seen it around but only just got round to giving it a go myself over the past week.

    It works on the principal that you use size to emphasise and after years of using Powerpoint this was the most difficult thing to to get used to.  The application itself is simple and easy to use - much easier to learn than Powerpoint.  Well....this is my first presentation, and there aren't enough images and too many zooms no doubt, but I'll definitely be using this again.  I'm sure it'll get easier and I think it will be much easier to use in the classroom - and should grab the students attention (or make them motion sick!).  The zooming effect is certainly very powerful when using a projector.


    08 May 2010

    English Attack!

    www.englishattack.com is another new video website just starting out - it looks like it's going to be very interesting.  Students learn English from video clips - something especially engaging for students.  The site gives full instructions on how to use it.  There are also plans for a teacher's area in the future - I imagine where you can register your students and monitor their progress.  Great for homework tasks!

    The student watches the video, goes through a series of exercises including comprehension, vocabulary, expresssions and grammar, then play games to consolidate new language learned. Looks pretty good so far.

    Apart from giving students homework tasks - how would I use it in the classroom?

    1.  I'd show the video and do the comprehension questions as a team quiz.

    2.  Copy and paste other questions into a Word document and create a normal listening gapfill, quiz, etc.

    3.  Have students consolidate their learning at home for homework by playing games.

    As already mentioned, it is still a very new site and some areas will no doubt be improved as time goes on.  The main problem is speed.  Another suggestion I would have for the builders of this website is that students can skip a step.  At the moment, you have to go through all 7 stages - I guess this is to ensure that students have learned something, but there are always times when you are interrupted and want to pick up where you left off (or as a teacher you might want to quickly look through all the activities without actually doing them!).

    Best EFL Teaching Videos

    David Deubelbeiss, the found of EFL2 Classroom has compiled a video list of the Top 100 videos to use in the EFL classroom. Some of them I've used (with positive results) and others are new ideas. A good place to start if you're looking for an inspiring video for your lesson.

    To view the playlist, hover your mouse over the top right corner of the video and click on the right down button. The video list appears. Scroll down to view the list and click on the video you want to watch.

    06 May 2010

    05 May 2010

    Life of an EFL Teacher - Intermediate Reading

    www.readableblog.com is a blog written by an English teacher in simple "readable" English for Intermediate and above students.  Possibly an additional resource for authentic materials - or extra reading practice at home for students?

    03 May 2010

    Guide to Creating Videos Online

    www.freetech4teachers.com has produced this video making guide - no need to purchase expensive video or editing equipment! Here is a summary of some of the best online video making tools, as well as things to consider when making a video using images from the web.


    Making Videos on the Web - A Guide for Teachers

    Youtube Worksheets

    With Vidinotes.com  you can create a worksheet from a Youtube video. This is another free website where there's no need to register.  To create a worksheet following these steps:

    1.  Find Youtube video.
    2.  Go to Vidinote website and download video in flv format using KeepVid (follow instructions on website)
    3.  Upload the flv format video to vidinotes.com (this may take a couple of minutes).
    4.  Play the video.  Click on the "capture" button for the scenes you want to capture.
    5.  You can give the images titles if you want.
    6.  You can capture up to 30 frames of the video.

    Once you have all the images you want, you can either print directly to your printer or create a PDF with it.

    I think this would be a great way to create storyboards of videoclips for students - get the students to write the story.

    Thanks to Nik Peachey for spotting this tool.

    02 May 2010

    Conjugating English Verbs

    www.conjugation.com is another new website for students of English.  They type in the word and get the conjugation tables for that verb.  Another good use would be for verb structures - ed and gerund structures.  One feature I like is that you can submit your own examples.

    How would I use it?  Well...apart from letting students know the site exists to help them with homework and writing, a nice activity would be to get students to write an example of the use of a verb and submit it to be posted on the site.

    Free Technology for Teachers.

    If you are interested in knowing more about free web 2.0 tools on the internet, subscribe to www.freetechnology4teachers.com.  The blog is not dedicated to EFL so not everything is useful for the EFL teacher. Take a look - you'll be amazed at what is available!

    Create a comic strip!

    www.chogger.com is a new quick and easy to use comic strip creator.  To use you need to register (very quick and simple).  You can either upload photos/pictures from your computer, take photos of yourself with your computer webcam or draw the pictures directly on the storyboard (you can use Paint to do this).

    01 May 2010

    Online Jeopardy Template.

     www.jeopardylabs.com is a website where you can create an online jeopardy game without any technical knowledge.  After a quick registration process, click on create a template and you're ready to go.  All you need is the questions ready.   After you have finished the game, remember to either email it yourself, bookmark it or post it to your blog so you can use it again. Here is a template I created.    My Jeopardy Template

    Make a Beast!

    The Beasthttp://bit.ly/bFpOmP
    Create a beast on this website.  No need to register or login - all you need is an email address to send the postcard.  Students create their beast (very good body vocabulary revision) and send it to their friends after writing a short message.  Get your students writing - and having fun in the process!

    17 April 2010

    Wallwisher Online Notice Board

    Here is an interesting idea. WallWisher is an online notice board. After creating an account, you can create a wall and invite people to post their comments. See my wall below. How would you use it with your students? Leave a message. Click here then double click anywhere on the page to create a "sticker" and leave your ideas.

    16 April 2010

    Do you Blog?

    If you are interested in creating a blog like this one in Blogger, here is a link to Russell Stannard's videos about Blogger.  The list includes most of the basic functions you will need to get you started. 

    Don't forget, if you want to ask me any questions, just get in touch either here or by email.
    Good luck with your new blogs!

    http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/blogger/index.html

    How to transform a class....(forever I hope!)

    Friday classes are always the most difficult here in Seville because most of the students don't want to be there.  Things are even worse in the weeks between Semana Santa and Feria and attendance can be a bit sporadic to say the least.  Today, when only 4 of 9 students turned up I decided to use the computers.  Not having anything planned for low level, badly behaved and boisterous teen/pre-teen boys I knew that more than 20 minutes doing grammar and vocabulary exercises on the computer would be too much.  I thought of bookr and this is what I did:

    1.  Distributed the netbooks (and got them hooked up to the network which always takes time!)
    2.  Got them on our school website and a couple of grammar exercises
    3.  While they were doing that, I went into www.pimpampum.net/bookr and started creating a book about Feria.
    4.  Slowly they started looking up and watching with interest.  They asked me a few questions, I showed them what to do.
    5.  They eagerly typed in the URL and started creating their booklets - they wanted to choose their own topics.  No problems there - they all had very clear ideas about what they wanted to create!
    6.  When they had done a couple of pages, they published their books and emailed them to me.
    7.  Here is the end result http://kidsefl2stuff.blogspot.com/2010/04/our-online-books.html

    This lesson, totally unplanned, was one of the biggest successes I've had with this class.  They created these books in less than 30 minutes - two of the boys had to restart from scratch because of loss of internet connection - and were completely engaged and focused on their work.  The language is simple, but they had a lot of things to contend with because of technical issues, as well as time constraints, but I would say WELL DONE BOYS!!!

    14 April 2010

    Create Videos for your Classes!



    There are a number of FREE online and offline applications to create videos that you can use as warmers, grammar presentations, listening activities and just a bit of fun in the class.  They are simple and intuitive to use and you can create a short video in as little as 5 minutes longer than it would have taken you to create the activity on paper!

    I usually find the online applications the simplest.  They have been designed for people with no special technical skills and are quick and easy to use.  You usually have to register with the company first, although with some online apps you don't even have to do that. They are not designed to create feature length films, but short movie clips of about 1 to 3 minutes long is usually the limit for ELLs anyway. 

    Installable programs usually have a lot more flexibility and features, and you can make longer videos, but can be more complicated to use.  Again, the free versions are designed to be simple and easy to use with no expert technical knowledge required. 

    See this slideshow produced by Richard Byrne of some of the favourite FREE applications used by educators around the world.  There is also some guidance on copyright and where to get those amazing pictures to illustrate your videos for free!

    Engage your students and increase your own skills in the process.

    09 April 2010

    Lyrics Training

    If you teach teenagers or you're learning a modern European language www.lyricstraining.com is a really interesting site to practice listening skills in a number of modern European languages, especially English.

    It's a fairly new site so there isn't a huge selection of songs yet, but there's enough to get you started.  Find a song, play it, and complete the gapfill as you listen.  If you can't keep up with the song, the video stops.  Hit the backspace key and the video replays the line you are waiting on.  It's as easy as that.  No login, sign in, membership or anything else to do.  And it's a nice change to listening to the news!

    The songs are organised according to difficulty (easy, medium, hard) and each song has three levels of difficulty for the gapfil - beginner, intermediate, expert -  There is a simultaneous translation option and a points scoring system.

    If you decide to create an account, you can create your own lyrics training videos.  Choose a song, find the video on Youtube, find the lyrics and away you go.  OK - well... you have to synchronise the lyrics with the video but they've even made that easy.  After copying and pasting the lyrics, play the video and press CTRL + RETURN on each line of the lyrics when you hear the words to synchronise them.  It's as easy as that.  Click the HELP button on the website to get full details.

    Ideas for use in small classes:

    1.   Last 5 minutes of class, play a song and students can either shout out the word, write the word on mini whiteboards or paper, or have one student typing on a classroom computer.

    2.  If student computers are available, students can do alone or in pairs.  Have a competition to see gets the most points.

    3.  Assign students songs to listen to for homework.  Although there isn't any monitoring facility you can always test who has done it by asking them the key words in the next class!

    This is a new site so it is still being tried and tested.  But I've been using it to practice my Spanish listening skills - click here to try it out.

    05 March 2010

    Movieclips Revisited

    movieclips.com has been around a while but was only available in the United States until a couple of months ago.  I have to say I think it is a great site!  There are hundreds of movie clips organised by genre, mood, action, etc.  It could really cut down on the time spent hunting for an appropriate video to use in your lesson.

    01 March 2010

    Bookr



    Bookr is another one of those really useful free online applications where there is no need to register. It uses Flickr images to create booklets. All you do is type in your text to accompany the images.

    I've used it in class (and with ELI Online stuff) to present stories or information in a more interesting way (and to keep students engaged).  It is very quick and easy to use - if you want to use images it's a lot quicker than Word or Powerpoint (providing the images you're looking for are the types of things you can easily find in a photo from Flickr).  Why not give it a go?

    For students it's also a fun way to present a biography of their favourite person, or any other project and to get them writing!

    Word Formation in English

    A very in depth look at word formation in English - not for students. Good reference for teachers.

    Wordle.net and Word Clouds

    ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com
    If you've used Wordle you'll know what a great application it is to use in the classroom. Wordle has been having some legal problems and went offline for a (very) short while, but in the process there was a lot of activity getting together a few alternative sites. None of them have the simplicity of Wordle but here are a few.

    I created the word cloud here at Word Mosaic. It doesn't have the flexibility of Wordle but you can create shapes, and embed in blogs and websites.

    ABCYa is another site where the word clouds are almost the same as Wordle.  Advantages here are that you can save and print the word clouds easily.  There are some limited editing options too and no registration is required.

    Wordsift.com is another site that I've used in class with higher level students as well as for personal use.  You just type in your text and the cloud is created.  However, this site is more than just a word cloud creator - there is a visual thesaurus and pictures.  When you click on a word in the cloud a visual thesaurus displays related words, pictures related to the word and a list of related videos.  There are some other features, such as sorting into categories, that I haven't explored yet.  Although the cloud isn't very interesting, you can drag the words around, add the images to the cloud and sort the words in the cloud in various ways.  One of the drawbacks is that it isn't easy to save but if you can always take a screenshot (press the print screen button on your computer to save it as an image) or if you have Windows Vista or 7, use the built in snapshot feature to save it.  This site was created by Stanford University to aid the teaching of English.

    Tagcrowd is a very basic wordcloud that looks similar to Wordsift but without the extra features.  There is no control over output but you can embed in blogs and save it.  No registration required.

    Tagul is a word cloud with a difference. I played around with this some time ago and you really need to spend some time to get it right.  If you have the time and patience, the end result is pretty good because you have a lot of control over output.  As well as that, you can add links to the words (a bit like a blog tag cloud) .  I ended up using Glogster to do what I wanted to do with Tagul as it was more straightforward but it could be a useful tool.  One drawback is that you can only have 10 word clouds, but registration is free.

    VocabGrabber is similar to Wordsift and acts like a thesaurus as well as a word cloud so it is useful for higher level learners.  You can click on the words in the word cloud and the words pop up in a visual thesaurus with related words, there's a dictionary definition and a list of quotes or references using the word.  A very neat tool, again, I've used with my students with a positive effect.  If you want to pay, (about 3 dollars a month or 20 dollars a year) you can subscribe to a host of other  useful features.

    27 February 2010

    Glogster

    Glogster is the buzz word on the block at the moment and not being one to be left behind I've had a quick look at it.  Glogster is an "online poster" applications - in other words, instead of cutting up pictures from magazines and bits of card to stick on the wall, you collect pictures and words and stick them on an electronic "poster".  The great thing about it being electronic is that you can add links to other websites, videos, music, etc.  I can see how this would engage students.

    There are two Glogster sites so be sure to register with http://www.edu.glogster.com/.  The difference between the two is you have more control over privacy, students will be protected from inappropriate content and you can create student accounts.  Registration is free and until 28 February, you get 200 free student accounts with it.  After that, you get 100 free student accounts unless you sign up for the premium account which, of course, costs money.

    Have a look at the Glogsters available for public view to help you with ideas.  My immediate ideas are for students:
    • Obvious but effective - create a personal Glogster with links to favourite photos, videos and other personal information.
    • Create a Glogster of links to exam practice - at the end of each unit get students to create activities and upload to class blog or wiki creating a Glogster for an index.
    • Create a biography of a famous person
    • Any project based work from the coursebook could be done using Glogster
    For teachers to use:
    • Instead of writing lists of contents, create a Glogster to link to different things (see my useful links page) a very simple but effective Glogster.
    • Grammar/vocabulary based Glogsters.  Each object links to another example of use of the grammar/vocabulary point - a variety of texts, speaking, video and grammar practice activities - put it on the class blog and the student has an instant revision package.  Where possible get students to contribute.
    • And, something I'll be doing to introduce myself to new classes in future, a personal Glogster of me with interesting (and not so interesting) facts about my life.
    Whether I will be able to have my students use it, I'm not sure, but time permitting I will definitely be giving it a go.

    ESLBits.net

    http://www.esl-bits.net/ has lots of interesting stuff, especially for PET practice.  There are interactive exam style exercises for students to practice listening and reading skills for the exam.  I'd probably avoid the advanced listening section - although you never know, there might be students out there who'd like to read and listen for up to an hour! 

    I've only used the exam practice activities as team games in class or for homework.  See this homework activity on 10 Minute English.

    23 February 2010

    The Big Challenge

    A colleague mentioned http://www.thebigchallenge.com/ website today as his students (who have obviously been using this website at school with their new netbooks) had told him that there were some excellent games here.  After having a quick look at the website it isn't just for games (in fact there seems to be only one quiz of four different levels) it's a competition website for schools in England, France Germany and Spain.  Teachers and students can partner with students in the countries of the languages they are learning, find penpals and do a host of other things.  It was also interesting to note that 8 of the 10 most recent classes that have registered, and looking for English speaking penpals, were from Spain, and most of them were from places very close to where I'm based.

    It occurred to me that (certainly here in Spain) the language learning is being taken a lot more seriously and even in the three and a bit years I've been here I can see an improvement.  It makes me wonder just how much longer language academies in Spain have got.  Last year I was thinking 10 years.  I'm beginning to wonder if it'll be a lot less time before we start seeing student enrollment drop off for kids as the school English language teaching gets digital and students are able to connect digitally with native (and non-native)speakers of English....

    21 February 2010

    Indirect Questions Quizzes

    In this post are a couple of online Indirect Questions quizzes that can be used to practice the grammar or as warmers and fillers in subsequent classes.

    Click here for a multiple choice quiz.  I split my class into two teams, give them squeaky balls and the team with the most points wins.

    Click here for a writing quiz.  I put my students in small groups or pairs, with mini whiteboards and get them to write the sentences

    20 February 2010

    Quizlet - Online Flashcards

    This is a great online flashcard maker site that allows teachers and/or students to create word or picture (from Flickr) flashcards. There are then five activities that the student goes through to learn the vocabulary, including a couple of neat games to make vocabulary learning a little bit more interesting.

    If you´re a teacher, you can create a group and invite students to the group. Students can then make their own flashcard sets or the teacher can make them for the students, then show them on screen in class. If you've got a class blog, you can embed it in the blog and the students can study from home too. There's a really good FAQ section that answers just about all the questions you might want to ask when using Quizlet.

    Click on the link below to see the flashcard set I made for my ICTCourse.

    ICT Terms

    18 February 2010

    Podcasts

    One of the biggest complaints from students, especially FCE students, is that they can't get enough exam style listening practice.  Browsing the Internet, I've come across two very good websites for creating listening exercises.  The BBC (of course) and Podfeed.net, which has a range of podcasts covering lots of different topics.  Here are the links, but now the challenge is to find time to make it into an exercise....maƱana:)

    BBC
    Podfeed.net

    Relative Clauses Practice

    Click here for a Relative Clauses Quiz. 

    Suggestions.  If computers aren't available, use miniwhiteboards - students score points for getting answers correct.

    Relative Clauses Ideas

    Alex Case has come up with a nice list of games to practice Defining and non-Defining Relative Clauses.  Click here to view.

    15 February 2010

    Blockbusters - Bugs 6 Units 1 and 2

    Click here to play Blockbusters.  Corresponds to vocabulary in Units 1 and 2 of the Bugs 6 Students Book.

    Or, make your own;)

    Movies as conversation starters

    Here is a good website using movie clips to focus on speaking and listening skills.  Ready made lesson plans that you can use for a whole class or to introduce/end a topic.  Click here to try it http://www.warmupsfollowups.blogspot.com/.

    14 February 2010

    ESL-lab.com

    ESL-lab.com is another great listening website with plenty of activities for all levels of students.  There are hundreds of short conversations about a huge variety of topics with listening comprehension exercises and transcripts organised by level.  Click here to see an activity I've directed my students to.


    11 February 2010

    Neat Chat

    Neat Chat is another chat application where there is no need to sign in or create logins.  Just click on the home page and create a group and invite people to your group.

    A couple of ideas for using it are:

    • Invite a mystery guest - students ask questions to find out who it is
    • Discuss opinions about a topic with another class.
    • Or simply a bit of fun for a post exam or "Friday" class.

    07 February 2010

    Voki


    Create a speaking Avatar. Use Voki to get students writing or speaking using this free tool on the Internet. It's quick and easy to use.  Teachers - use your avatar to give students instructions - they'll love it!

    27 January 2010

    Sean Banville's Websites

    Sean Banville, the creator of the excellent website http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/ and its sister websites

    http://www.newsenglishlessons.com/
    http://www.famouspeoplelessons.com/
    http://www.eslholidaylessons.com/
    http://www.esldiscussions.com/

    has now also created a listening website http://www.listenaminute.com/ containing short listening activities for students.  This is another great website and excellent resource to point students to for homework activities. 

    I often use Sean Banville's websites for ideas for lessons, even if I don't always use his lessons.  However, I think his lesson plans are very good with something for everyone. If you haven't come across his websites yet, I highly recommend you take a look.  You'll probably find something

    21 January 2010

    ESLJokes.net

    http://www.esljokes.net/ is a site I´ve just come across that contains jokes based on grammar points in English. Each joke is followed by a grammar explanation and exercises on the grammar and key vocabulary from the jokes. It's still under construction and only jokes for Beginner and Pre-Intermediate levels are available but the higher levels will be available soon.

    05 January 2010

    Harry Potter´s Emma Watson is All Grown Up

    Use Yappr.com to teach listening skills to students. 

    1.  Handout vocabulary worksheet.  Students look up words in a dictionary.  Download here.

    2.  Students watch video without transcript.  Number the words in the order they hear them.

    3.  Watch video again with transcript and check their answers on worksheet.

    4.  Watch video again with Spanish translation (if necessary/required).

    For higher levels an optional exercise is to get the students to translate the transcript then compare it with the online version.  They can then decide if they agree or disagree with the translation.

    02 January 2010

    Yappr

    It's been some time since I visited Yappr but in my quest for online listening that's easy for learners of different levels I've recently rediscovered it.

    Things have changed a bit.  Although there is still a free section they're now charging for access to the majority of the videos - no doubt the most interesting too.  The subscription is 99 Dollars for a year (which seems a bit pricey to me) but they have a special offer for 33 Dollars at this time.  They've included a pronunciation section and games which looks like great fun but, of course, membership is required for full functionality.  I wonder how much time is involved in creating your own Yappr videos......

    See a short activity I did with one of my classes here.