Posts Tagged ‘ELT’

Recently Alex over at TEFLtastic has been pondering questions such as “Why are Advanced level textbooks so crap?” and “Do you need to be able to discuss globalization to be Advanced?”

Regarding that first one, various commenters at the post in question were quick to point  to factors such as 1) “weird grammar bits and obscure vocabulary”, 2) “trying to do and crowd in too much”, and 3) publishers “don’t care that much” about Advanced textbooks (being that they don’t sell as much as Elementary level books).

In the Advanced textbook I’m using now–like pretty much every textbook of any level ever produced by anyone ever (for adult learners at least)–there’s a unit on the Lottery.

In this case, it’s an excuse to review mixed conditionals, expressing regret (“I wish I had bought a ticket”, “If only I could win the Pick-6″, and so forth), you know, all that good stuff.  Being not so enthused about the listening and the ensuing”grammary”, “conditional-y” segment in the coursebook, I dove into the multimedia miasma that is Youtube in search of some at least nominally relevant video to show the class, and came up with this:

Psyched I was, being that the target language was right there waiting for them at the end.  (“My wife said she wished she’d torn the ticket up”, “Do you wish you’d never won?”).  Plus there was the perverse attraction of doing something different–something depressing.  I’m usually one to constantly play up everything for yuks, so this seemed like a nice change of pace from my “thuggish-cracker” sense of humor (Nick Jaworski dixit).

I made a little task sheet to go along with the video, which is here: “LOTTERY CURSE“.

Before showing the video, I would play the first minute or so with the sound off, introducing the “characters” (Jack, Brandi, and Jesse), and getting students to talk about them, what their relation is, and what they think will happen to the three of them.

Then distribute the handout, play it once all the way through and have them try to complete the sentences 1-10.  You may need to start it around 4:18 the second time around for students to get the last three sentences in.  Check the answers as a class, move on to part II of the worksheet and discuss.

Then in the last part, students write a sentence using the extremely skeletal prompt in part III.  This is meant to elicit a variety of conditionals–2nd, 3rd, mixed, whatever.  When they’ve finished, have some students come up to the board and write their sentences.  Then you can compare and contrast the forms, the meaning, etc., transitioning into whatever controlled practice activity floats your boat thereafter.


Read Full Post »

It’s been a while since I posted any songs up here–I got started “bloggifying” my blog (making it less about posting materials and more about posting about other’s people’s posts, and posting about posts about other people’s posts, etc.) while I was out of commission with the flu, and now I’m better and ready to contribute.

Level: intermediate

aims: present and practice used to and would, talk about monarchs in history, practice writing and listening

materials: VIVA LA VIDA task sheet

video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgZkm1xWPE


Read Full Post »

So I’ve just decided to start a series of articles on $4MT dedicated to the classics.  No, not Homer or Aristotle or none of them cats–I’m referring to classic English teaching activities that every teacher has probably used (or could probably use) and which in my own experience I’ve made use of time and time again.

The first one is in this series is that oldie but goodie: “I saw you…”

I first came across this activity in the classic 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova (MacMillan English).   Its purpose is mainly to practice using narrative tenses. (more…)

Read Full Post »

My god, it’s been ages since I posted anything here.  Almost a month.  Christ almighty, where is my motivation?

Well, I guess part of it can be chalked up to that seasonal syndrome of motivational dysfunction known as “spring fever”.  Maybe it’s really a physical, neurological/endocrinal phenomenon related to the change in season.   (Maybe one of you reading in this in the tropics or Southern Hemisphere can clear me up on this?  Do the months of May and June also correspond to this particular sort of malaise?) (more…)

Read Full Post »

Nothing really special to comment on here.

A couple of pairwork activities which may or may not be useful for certain classes of an elementary or pre-intermediate level.

One is a dice-game for making sentences with comparative adverbs.  I’d suggest filling in the boxes for people, verbs, and adverbs as a group and then distribute the dice and what not.  Click on the link below for the worksheet.


The other is for practicing superlatives.  Students fill in a chart and discuss their opinions on who is the most famous football player, which is the most beautiful city, etc. etc.  Then they create their own chart based on the first one and play a sort of “secret choice” game.


Gotta get back to work, hope this comes in handy for some of you.  Peace!

Read Full Post »

level: intermediate

aims: practice listening for detail, practice speaking, writing using 2nd conditional forms



(The Lesson Plan appears below.)

Those of us lucky enough to have students who fall into the demographic category now referred to as “tween” are always up for some song action in class. The students–out of either genuine interest or simply the lazy-minded perception that doing activities with songs is less “worky” than normal book work type things–clamor for them almost constantly.

Problem is, in recent years, we’ve been flooded by a lot of crap music.  I mean, straight garbage.  I mean, not to offend, maybe one of you out there reading this likes Black-Eyed Peas (I don’t), but you try finding a language point worth teaching in the lyrics of a song like, say, “My Humps”.  Or “Get Retarded”. And don’t even get me started on that High School Musical shite.  And Camp Rock, well, I’m not even trying to go there.

It is with great pleasure, then, that I present “If I Were a Boy” by Beyoncé, complete with idea for warm-up, two videos to use in class, two listening gap-fills, personalization, and a writing activity. (more…)

Read Full Post »

level: intermediate

aims: present and/or review going to/will distinction for plans/promises, listening practice



(The lesson plan appears below.)

Well, I have very few classes left before I knock off for the holiday.  That leaves me thinking already about the New Year and that New Year English teaching favorite that is “reviewing future forms”.

Hence, the second installment in my “Mr. Show for English Teaching” series.

We’re looking at going to for personal plans and intentions vs. will for future facts and promises. (I don’t know about other languages, but speakers with Spanish as their L1 tend to confuse these two functions, often using will to talk about their plans for this weekend or to talk about the weather tomorrow, for example.)

Also, I kind of prefer to leave will for offers out of the equation and deal with it separately, as well as present continuous and present simple with future meanings and all that.  If not, I find that having so many variables and explanations can be counterproductive for the purpose of noticing and practicing these specific uses.

Here’s the video.


Read Full Post »