Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Comic Strip to Practice Vocabulary

My students and I are discussing sports and related issues at the moment. The unit is almost over and I'd like to give them some creative space to practise active vocabulary. For this reason, I created a comic strip with the help of Bitstrips called "A Day in the Gym". The bubbles are all empty, so the students will have to speculate on what the characters might say. One of the requirements is to use active vocabulary.

I look forward to having lots of fun!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Useful Links for English Learners

Throughout this month I've been posting links for my students in one of the social networks that would help them develop their language skills. Today, I've brought them all together with the help of the Piktochart to hand out to my colleagues. Hope you'll find them useful too!

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Prestige Movie Worksheets

Today I'm sharing worksheets I've developed for the movie "The Prestige", which I adore for many reasons. First of all, it's the meticulously designed plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Next, it's the outstanding actors' performance, feelings and emotions that you easily can relate to. And finally, David Bowie as Nichola Tesla. That is the separate point for me. 

The worksheets include following tasks:
  •  identifying characters
  •  character description
  • movie quotes discussion
  • movie timeline
  • discussion questions
  • vocabulary focus

Hope you will enjoy using them as much as I did!

Friday, 16 May 2014

A Fun Video Activity

I used this activity with my students when we began the unit about communication to illustrate how stories get distorted as they are passed on from one person to another. However, there can be much more to this activity depending on your class goals and a video you will choose. Apart from any instructional goals, this activity is lots of fun for students.


First three volunteers are needed. Then the three of them leave the classroom. While they are outside you play a piece of video (preferably a small story or a "scketch" with many details). You and your students discuss the story, paying attention to the details.
Then you call one of the ones outside (A). Your students volunteerly tell A the story. A can't ask anything!! Call another student outside (B). A tells B all ths story, and for sure he will invent details or
give other information. Then you call the other student outside (C). Then B tells C the story. It's really fun seeing how stories can be changed!!!

Then C tells the class the whole story. At the end all of you see the video again and discuss the wrong information!

I chose this video for my class and we were bursting with laughter!

the idea for the task is taken from

English for Kiddos

Recently, I've been asked about links that could be used when teaching English vocabulary to children. So here's the list: - I particulary like this one as it provides both interactive activities and printable worksheets. The range of grammar and vocabulary topics perfectly suit children's level. Besides, it's fun! - this site enables you to create vocabulary worksheets on a range of topics while providing and opportunity to vary the set of words for the worksheets. Together with a great choice of formats of tasks this makes this site one of my favourites. - this site provides resources, both interactives and printables, for different levels of learners. Extremely easy to use and versatile. - a very colourful and fun resource from British Council, lots of flash games, stories and crafts. - a collection of interactive spelling games. Other than that, there's a whole bunch of games for different subjects. - a great collection of games for learning vocabulary arranged by topic. - a treasure chest of interactive games, classroom activities, printable worksheets and much more.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Video on Travel

Here's a video on the topic "Travel and Tourism" I used with my students a couple of times. The video is made by a British filmmaker and adventurer Graham Hughes. For more of his videos and etra information you might want to check out his YouTube channel or his blog.

Before watching a video, I write down a list of words and expressions that I would like students to use later.

The Wordlist:

to travel on the cheap/ on a shoestring
to travel light
to take a load of stuff
to be mugged
to be ripped off
counter-intuitive (decision)
a godsend
it's a must
to save a bundle
this is a no-brainer
to blag a students card
to overland it
to sneak in
to have something up your sleeve
for buttons
to haggle

Elicit the meanings, otherwise have them use the vocabulary.

The Video "How to Travel on the Cheap":

The Follow-Up.

1. Ask students which points they found most useful/funny/unusual etc (encourage to use the words from the wordlist!)
2. Have the students write a paragraph summing up the most interesting points.
3. Discussion time. Looking back at students' travelling experiences and what tips they give to people who want to travel to the same destinations.

More to add to your class:

Find ideas for discussion questions here.
Find idioms related to travel here.
Find infographics on travel here

Videos on Education

Here are some great videos I used in the classroom with my students when we were discussing different aspects of education.

First off, students get to know what the videos are going to be about.

Video #1 - Peculiarities of education in Finland (BBC News)
Video #2 - College trap (ABC News report on students' debts)
Video #3 - Learning English with Obama's speeches (CNN Student News)

Pre-watching tasks:

1. In pairs, students write 2-3 questions  about what they expect to find out from each video.
2. Students are asked to note down 2-3 words and expressions from each video that they want to use.


Video 1.

Video 2.

Video 3.

Post-watching tasks (after each video).

1. Students share their questions and answer them. A teacher may ask other questions to make sure that students comprehended every aspect of information.

2. Compilation of a wordlist from the words and expressions that students noted down. As a follow-up task, students may be asked to write a paragraph to sum up the main points of the videos using words and expressions from the compiled wordlist.

2. Discussion time.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek, a slovenian philosopher, is a well-known and controversial personality and often referred to as "Elvis of cultural theory". He starred in films like "The Pervert's Guide to Cinema" and "The Pervert's Guide to Ideology". Here's the video from which my acquaintance with this eccentric communist began:


Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A great post on Open Culture on Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

Role Play Cards (Relationships)

Today I'm adding another set of role play cards on the topic "Relationships". They are aimed at developing students' speaking skills and enhancing active vocabulary usage. I like to use such activities in two different ways:

1. Instant speaking. This makes the conversation sound more natural and straightforward. Although it might be too challenging for some students, if practiced regularly, this type of activity can be quite beneficial and help them overcome inconfidence and fear to speak.

2. Home assignment. By giving the students time to prepare the dialogs at home and present them in the class I expect a higher level of vocabulary usage and structural coherence. Also, students often want to show off their acting skills, which is an extra bonus for the "audience". 

                                 ROLE PLAY CARDS. TOPIC: RELATIONSHIPS

Card 1.
Student A
You have fallen out with you best friend because you don’t see eye to eye on some principal issues. You feel stressed and seek some advice. You decide to talk to your mother about what to do.
Card 1
Student B
Your daughter/son wants some advice after falling out with her/his best friend. Help him/her understand the reasons and causes of what happened and provide some tips based on your life experience.
Card 2
Student A
You’re going out with a person who used to date one of your friends. You know that your friend doesn’t like this and is spreading rumours behind your back. Tell him/her how you fell about this.
Card 2
Student B
One of your friends is going out with your ex. You feel depressed because of this and seek support from people around you. Your friend thinks you’re spreading gossips. Explain your position and tell him/her how you feel.
Card 3
Student A
You’re staying at your aunt’s during your summer holidays. Her daughter/son seems annoying to you and you don’t get on with her/him very well. Discuss with her/him what could be done to improve the situation.
Card 3
Student B
Your cousin is staying with your family during the summer holidays. You think he/she is too superficial in talking to everybody and so you don’t get on very well. Discuss with her/him what could be done to improve the situation.
Card 4
Student A
You’re the only child in the family. Your friend is the oldest among three children in his family. Discuss pros and cons of each situation.
Card 4
Student B
You’re the oldest child in your family with two more siblings. Your friend is the only child in the family. Discuss pros and cons of each situation.
Card 5
Student A
Your friend is addicted to her/his mobile phone. She/he keeps texting and calling even when you’re together. Tell her/him how you feel and try to convince her/him to use the mobile phone not so often.
Card 5
Student B
You’re a very sociable person and try to keep in touch with all your friends and touch base with them regularly. One of your friends feels annoyed because of you texting or calling when you’re together. Explain your attitude.

Big Fish (movie worksheets)

More film worksheets are coming!

Today I'm sharing my worksheets based on a great Tim Burton's film called "Big Fish". As all his movies it's full of symbolism, metaphor and special "darkish" atmosphere. However, themes like love and friendship are the cornerstones in this story having everything else revolve around them.

The sections in the worksheets are as follows:
1. Identifying the main characters.
2. Character development.
3. Places highlighted in the film and their significance.
4. Tales (identifying truths and exaggerations).
5. A father and a son (looking into a complicated realtionship).