Friday, 27 February 2015

A Speaking Activity on Advertising

The following speaking activity can be held in a format of a chat show, which requires one of students to play the part of the show host. 

Advertising: Plague or Blessing?

A Host
Group 1 – Supporters of Advertising
Group 2 – Opponents of Advertising

Role Play Task Cards

Group 1.

Group 2.

You can download a DOC worksheet with the description of the cards.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness in the classroom

In this post, I'd like to share some activities I did with my students when we were discussing the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness".

1. A quote walkabout. Before the class, I printed out the quotes about persistance and positive attitude to life's challanges and put them on the walls in the classroom. As the class began I asked the students to walk around and read the quotes to find one (or more) that they think illustrates the main message of the film. After they'd studied all the quotes and got back to their seats they explained their choice.

2. Useful vocabulary. Before the discussion, I presented some expressions taken from one of the film reviews. These expressions help students talk about main events and concepts shown in the film. 

3. A Question Marathon. Students answer the questions, agree or disagree with their classmates, share their ideas and feelings. Questions are mainly taken from this blog.

1. What happens in Chris Gardner’s life to make him and his son become homeless?  
2. Did the events appear to you to be the result of someone’s fault, poor decisions, or just a sequence of events?
3. What would be different for Chris in this same situation if he didn’t have his son, Christopher, to care for?
4. What appears to be the most difficult aspect for Chris and his son as they use emergency shelters?
5. What do you think keeps Chris going when he hits ‘bottom’ in the despair of his situation?
6. What do you think would have happened to Chris and his son if he had not been the intern selected for the job?  
7. Explain how Chris felt at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
8. Select parts of the story that were the funniest, saddest, happiest, and most unbelievable.
9. Select an action of one of the characters that was exactly the same as something you would have done.
10. Take a look at the picture. What scene from the film is this quote connected with? How can you interpret it?

Taken from:

4. Small Group Discussions. In groups of 3-4, students discuss the task presented to them on a paper slip (around 10 mins) and then present their asnwers.


Team 1. Does Chris achieve his result in the end due to his intelligence, effort, or just luck? Explain the role of each component (a mind map).

Team 2. What work traits and ethics helped Chris be successful? Make a list.

Team 3. What can you learn from Chris about taking risks even after failure? Use examples from the film to illustrate your points.

5. A Pair Work Activity. Students work in pairs to write a summary of the film using expressions presented at the beginning of the class and later share it.

6. A follow-up quesion (in case you have some time left). 

Do you believe happiness is something that can only be pursued or can it be captured?  How does he pursue happiness?  How do you pursue happiness?

Other posts with movie worksheets: Big Fish, The Prestige, The Last Mimzy

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A class with vocabulary web-tools

In my previous post, I shared a task I had designed for my students to have them use web-tools for exploring and learning vocabulary. However, I believe it would be incomplete without sharing the outline of the class I'd had with them prior to giving them the assignment. This outline was published in our class blog, so at the beginning of the class my students would open it to follow the instructions.


Online dictionaries

Open these links to online dictionaries and look up the meaning of the same word using both of them:

        What do these dictionaries have in common?
        What are distinguishing features of each of them?
        Which dictionary do you think you are more likely to use? Why?

Visualising vocabulary

Open the site

        pick up a word from the list: access, challenge, address, language (or any other from your vocabulary notebook)
        paste it on the given page
        observe the wordmap:
o       How many related concepts are there?
o       How many verbs/nouns/adjective are there?
o       How many different meaning fields can you see?
o       Click on one of the related words. What happens?
What is your impression of this site?
In which situations are you likely to use it?

Collocations Quest

        What are some opportunities does this site give?
        Try each of the options.
        What feedback would you give after using this site?
        How useful may it be to you as a language learner?

        Choose a word to input from the list: language, speak, contact.
        What types of collocations can you see?
        How many of them are familiar to you?
        What happens when you click on a collocation?
        What happens when you click on “View as a wordle” button?
        What is your opinion of this tool? Would you use it regularly

It’s all about context

        Choose a collocation from the previous exercise and enter it on this page
        What opportunities does this site give you?
        What additional options can you find in the left side menu?
        Go to the source of one of the sentences. What is the article about?
        What is your impression of this tool? How may it be useful for a language learner?

Practice makes perfect

Click on this link:
        What method of learning and revising vocabulary is this site based on?
        What options for studying vocabulary can you find on this site?

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Student Blogging: Vocabulary Sci-Fi

When I was to design a vocabulary course I decided I would take advantage of web-technologies and the opportunities they provide for language learning. In some of my posts (here and here), I was trying to put together a list of approaches and tools that appealed to me. Now, that I've covered half of the way, I feel like sharing some practices I've applied, especially that they proved to be working for my students. Therefore, I'm going to present the tasks they had to accomplish in their blogs. 

Blog Assignment:

In your post “Vocabulary Sci-Fi”, you will be addressing your peers from the past (20-30 years ago) explaining to them what opportunities you have today to learn English. 

Apart from that you will have to incorporate these elements in your story:

- choose a word (from Unit 1 in Upstream) to make a word map (graphwords.comand insert the picture in your blogpost.

- Use another word to look up the collocations in “just the word”, create a word cloud (wordle.netand insert the picture in your blogpost.

- Choose one expression to find example sentences in, limit your search to the topic of “Education”. Choose one sentence to see the source article and copy one paragraph. In this paragraph, highlight several collocations that you found interesting. 

- Choose 10 words/expressions from the text “The theatre for the deaf” (p. 14-15.) to create a flashcard set in Quizlet ( Paste the link in your post.

Here are some posts by my students with the task described above:


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Grammar Links

Earlier today,  a former student of mine asked me if I could recommend some sites where her teenage friend could practice grammar. As a result of "digging" my pages I came up with quite a comprehensive list. So, here you go!

Grammar rules, interactive exercises, videos, infographics.

Video lessons, grammar and vocabulary exercises, tips, common mistakes.

Grammar and vocabulary exercises, study tips, tests and much more. Plus Business English section.

Collection of grammar rules, interactive exercises and games. 

A comprehensive collection of grammar rules, exercises (online and downloadable) and many useful tools.

An impressive grammar guide with exercises.

A great grammar reference with lots and lots of activities.

An amazing resourse full of grammar exercises (online practice and downloadable worksheets).

A grammar directory where you can choose exercises according to levels and topics.

A wonderful collection of grammar exercises of different types.

Grammar rules and interactive exercises.

Lots of interactive exercises PLUS activities for young learners.

An absolutely fascinating collection of grammar and vocabulary activies for different levels.