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Posts Tagged ‘English Teaching’

Very quickly, before things get really ugly this week (“‘Tis the season to grade papers, fa lala lala, lala la la”), I thought I’d honor a timeworn tradition here at $4MT for the non-denominational holiday season, i.e. “Xmas crap!”  Besides, I haven’t posted anything even remotely useful for a while, and it is better to give than to receive, or so they say, so…

Here’s a link to last year’s version, with the annual link to Alex Case’s Xmas grammar goodies and my own Run DMC “Christmas in Hollis” gapfill worksheets.  Yupi!

Then there’s also my links to other Christmas stuff, a decent Mr. Bean active viewing thing, and a writing exercise from ol’ Boggle’s World.

Right, now then, without further ado, I give you this year’s model, featuring once again my favorite Brad Neely creation the Professor Brothers.  “This IS Christmas music!”

As you will find below, I’ve got this little thingy here if that’s your cup of tea–You know, a little prediction task with some stills from the video and some thought bubbles…then a little listening gapfill.  Then you know you can, like, talk about, like Christmas stuff or Kwanzaa or what have you.

Ah, I should add that the gapfill is meant to focus on the construction I wish/(s)he wishes + past/past perfect.

Prisoner pictures (the pictures)

PRISONER CHRISTMAS (the gapfill)

Merry Christmas!

(Ah, and if you like the Professor Brothers and think you have some students might as well, have a look at this other lesson–talking about the future, nice for New Year, you know…)

Ah, and I forgot to mention, Hall Houston recently put up a nice list of links to holiday stuff over at his blog. So for those of you scouring desperately for something other than yule-log wordsearches or whatever, get on that.

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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.

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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…)

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Want to spice up a dull food-and/or-restaurant-related unit with your Intermediate/Upper-Intermediate students?  Or you want to set up a unit related to language for making complaints?  Or perhaps you just want to give your tourist-industry class a quick laugh and have a little discussion.

If any of the above are true in your case, then I heartily welcome you to the Burgundy Loaf:

(more…)

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As promised last time, another song.

(Note: I do not like the Killers.  They are definitely not my thing.  Apart from the fact that $4MT has had a strong hip-hop/R&B bias in its musical slant, I should note that the Killers for me are well on their way to dethroning U2 for the post of Most Overrated Rock Band.

But I had another special request from a student who said it was his favorite song.  He just wanted to know what the words were.  Luckily, I was able to extrapolate a slightly more relevant teaching point than just “What’s he sayin’?”, being that there’s a ton of little phrasal verbs and what not to be picked apart.)

There’s two parts basically to this worksheet.  You may or may not want to fold it neatly in half before giving it to the students.

Mr. Brightside song activity (MS Word doc, 22 KB)

 1. Start with the words from the first part on two columns on the board and elicit combinations.  They don’t have to correspond to the ones used in the song.  Get students to give you example sentences for each combination.  Do a little mime game if you want.  All that good stuff.

2. Then students listen to the song and fill in the blanks.  Then after that you can ask them what the hell this guy is talking about.  For example, what the hell is “turning saints into the sea” supposed to mean?  (Personally, I can’t stand this sort of pretentious fake-poetry rock lyrics.  Another example from a Killers song, “Are we human or are we dancers?”–um, you’re probably both, idiot.  But I digress.)

After you’ve got at least one or two possible ideas, show them the video.

Elicit what they think the situation is–how are the singer and the girl in the video related, etc., etc.

As a writing exercise, have Ss choose to be either the singer or the girl in the video.  They must write a diary entry about what happened to them in the song, starting like this: “Last night, I went to a party and…”

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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…)

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Wow!  Look!  There’s a new post on $4MT that doesn’t make reference to any sort of controversial subject matter whatsoever!  My lord!

No, nothing too revolutionary, but this was just something that occurred to me out of the blue in the middle of a First Certificate class I do.

I had on hand my bag of phrasal verb cards which I use to play phrasal verb reversi, and I realized that, out of luck, a few of the sentences I’d pulled from the bag could conceivably be part of the same story.

” It turned out that Bill and Mary had met before…”

“…She offered to drop him off at the station…”

“…He was so tired that he dropped off for half an hour on the train.”

So, on a lark, I gave the students the sentences, spaced out so as to imply “gaps” in the story.  Then I told them to complete the story, working together to fill in the gaps in the narrative.

In addition to providing a context to review and reinforce the meanings and forms of the phrasal verbs in question, it’s also decent practice of narrative tenses, etc.

All told, a quite easy collaborative speaking exercise that allows for review of phrasal verbs and can be extended with a writing exercise for homework.

Other possibilities for the phrasal verb story outlines:

“I came across an interesting article on the internet the other day…”

“…The police are looking into the matter…”

“…The president has promised to bring about a change…” (good ones for “newsy”, “current-events” type lessons)

Or:

“Some people find it difficult to face up to their fears in life…”

“…He came up with a solution to the problem…”

“…They carried on with the meeting as usual.”

Or:

“I bumped into Jill the other day at random in the street.”

“…I didn’t want to bring up such a sensitive subject…”

“…but he didn’t let the bad news get him down.

If you get the notion, you can suggest some other possibilities in the ol’ Comments section.  (It helps to have maybe a proper name (ie “Tina”, “James”) and then some loose pronouns in the others.)

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