Tag Archives: activities

ESL Week Contest Turns Groans into Creative Fun!

Image source: bigstockphoto.com
Image source: bigstockphoto.com

ESL Week makes me think about a particular student. Her first day is still crystal clear in my memory. Nervous, shy and just plain scared, she chose to say, “No English” mostly with gestures. I must have been blind as I did not see the butterfly about to emerge from that cocoon in a few months’ time. About six months later, one day, I made an announcement in class about the ESL week contest. Collectively, the class groaned, “No!”

In my experience, a yes becomes so much better when it begins as a no.   🙂

We then started playing with the contest idea.  A scaffolded version of the ESL week guidelines became a reading comprehension task. We brainstormed ideas through a speaking lesson on the topic. She came up with a few different movie (video) concepts. The voice inside my head nervously said, “How are you going to help her? Do you know ANYTHING about editing?” But I did not interrupt her vision. We moved on to writing the story board for her idea. In the days that followed, she Continue reading

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 An Active Start to the Academic Year

 

team with arms together in cooperation to look for success - isolated over a white background
Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Another school year is just around the corner. Teachers (me included) are bound to be planning for that first week where we set the mood of how learning will happen in and out of our classrooms. Last year, I wrote about ‘get-to-know activities’[1], but these are just some of the many introductory activities we could introduce. For example, it makes sense to plan for student-centred lessons right from the first day of classes by introducing active learning activities, which give students the opportunity to learn while doing –and which many students are not accustomed to[2]. This can help our students transition smoothly to learning by discovery and collaboration. Smart, right?  Below are two of my favourite active learning activities. (I hope you will share yours too!). Continue reading

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Breaking News English: Integrate Current Events into your Classes

News Breaking
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I have spent the past few years working in learning object and course development. In August, I am returning to the classroom to teach EFL. Putting on my teacher hat, I remember that it is important to have an emergency kit of prepared learning events in a variety of media. Worksheets, bookmarked web activities, flash cards, board games, videos, audio clips and technology such as a digital camera will contribute to future icebreakers, Friday afternoon fillers, motivation boosting sessions or the odd substitution call. Continue reading

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Have Fun With It!

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

A common piece of advice I give my students is

“don’t read the newspaper.”

Their hearts are in the right place – they want reading practice – but most of them have zero interest in the news and end up getting very little from their daily ritual of reading Metro on the subway.

If students are looking for extra work, it’s important that it’s something fun and interesting for them. My students are upper-intermediate/advanced. For the most part, their English is very good – most of the errors they make are small, basic errors like prepositions and collocations -so they just need practice rather than pouring over grammar rules.

What I tell them instead of reading the newspaper, is

“It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it’s in English!”

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Create Learning Objects Quickly with Quizlet

The Hook

image used with permission from Quizlet
image used with permission from Quizlet

Quizlet allows instructors to create or borrow flashcards, tests, and study games that can improve learning engagement and allow students to access materials at school, at home, or anywhere on their mobile devices. Quizlet learning opportunities are easily embedded into web pages, learning management system (LMS) courses, or social media offerings such as Facebook.   Continue reading

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Live Poets Society

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

It had been a total failure. I had tried to introduce poetry to my class and have them write some, but they were reluctant and bored. However, something inside told me to give it another shot a few months later. I had been introduced to the concept at a TESL London workshop. The presenter was a convincing person and very nice, so

I had to try again.

I looked at ways I could do things differently. Since I teach levels 6 to 8, there were several resources I could draw on.

First, I asked them what they thought poetry was. You know what? I didn’t get much of a response. Things didn’t look too good – again.

So I went to phase two with a clip from Dead Poets’ Society.

I asked the question again,

“What is poetry?”

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Facebook Club!

Like button with mouse cursor
image source: www.bigstock.com

In May 2014, while volunteering at the TESL Toronto spring conference, I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Chris Harwood and Tracy Manning about their experiences implementing a Facebook-based Book Club in their EAP program.

Inspired by their talk, I decided to try this out with my students. It took some weeks of planning, and some trial and error with different books, but in the end it’s become a successful and popular part of my course!

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Get Your Head in the Clouds!

bigstock-POSITIVE-THINKING--wordcloud--48033302
image source: www.bigstock.com

It all started with Lynn Hainer. She’s a local councillor in St. Marys and a good friend. She’s also a bit of a techie. During her recent campaign, she asked friends to provide adjectives to describe her. I provided a few. The result was a word cloud full of positive attributes. I wondered if I could take this idea and use it in my ESL classroom. I decided to try it.

First, I asked my class to put adjectives on a white board that they could use to describe a person, both positive and negative. They came up with many. I added a few. We used them in sentences
to help define the meanings. For example, we discussed different ways to say that somebody was thin, such as slender and skinny, and that using slender was much more polite than using skinny.

Second, I gave them recipe cards. The students put their names on the top. The cards were Continue reading

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