Oxford’s teachhing methods of english language
Theory part The use of games
Practical part Grammar games
Spot the differences
Picture the past
Impersonating members of a set
One question behind
Sit down then
The world of take
A dictionary game
Listening to time
Guess my grammar
Word ordwer dictation
Grammar lessons taking notes
Context and meaning
Subject matter note taking
This course work presents two teaching methods widely approved in Oxfrord Universities grammar and vocabulary games and the variations of taking notes during the lesson.
Both of methods are embodied in the theory and practical part. As a theory part I give research works of professional lavguage teachers who studied the methods they considered as useful and effective and put their opinion and reseach works on the press. I’m very grateful to them for sharing their experiences with us. So this part of my work describes the method itself, gives tests proving its effectiveness and touches some problem spots of it. Next I offer practical part containing examples of taking these methods in the classroom.
None of these methods presented here is any brand new discovery for the language teacher. Every teacher used to practice them in his/her work, there’s only a try to add something new to well known and allegedebly usual techiques (like note-taking), to study them deeper and show more interesting and useful side of them. In short words some suggestions to make them work better.
The reason I’ve chosen this theme is the wish to know more about how to make the lesson more interesting and useful at the same time. I’ve benefitted much by collectiong and studing all this material I present here and hope you’ll find this work worth reviewing.
The Use of Games
For Vocabulary Presentation and Revision
by Agnieszka Uberman
Vocabulary acquisition is increasingly viewed as crucial to language acquisition. However, there is much disagreement as to the effectiveness of different approaches for presenting vocabulary items. Moreover, learning vocabulary is often perceived as a tedious and laborious process. In this article I would like to examine some traditional techniques and compare them with the use of language games for vocabulary presentation and revision, in order to determine whether they are more successful in presenting and revising vocabulary than other methods. From my teaching experience I have noticed how enthusiastic students are about practising language by means of games. I believe games are not only fun but help students learn without a conscious analysis or understanding of the learning process while they acquire communicative competence as second language users.
Vocabulary teaching techniques
There are numerous techniques concerned with vocabulary presentation. However, there are a few things that have to be remembered irrespective of the way new lexical items are presented. If teachers want students to remember new vocabulary, it needs to be learnt in context, practised, and then revised to prevent students from forgetting. We can tell the same about grammar.Teachers must make sure students have understood the new words, which will be remembered better if introduced in a memorable way». Bearing all this in mind, teachers have to remember to employ a variety of techniques for new vocabulary presentation and revision.
Gairns and Redman (1986) suggest the following types of vocabulary presentation techniques
Visual techniques. These pertain to visual memory, which is considered especially helpful with vocabulary retention. Learners remember better the material that has been presented by means of visual aids. Visual techniques lend themselves well to presenting concrete items of vocabulary-nouns; many are also helpful in conveying meanings of verbs and adjectives. They help students associate presented material in a meaningful way and incorporate it into their system of language values.
Verbal explanation. This pertains to the use of illustrative situations, synonymy, opposites, scales (Gairns and Redman ), definition (Nation) and categories (Allen and Valette ).
Use of dictionaries. Using a dictionary is another technique of finding out meanings of unfamiliar words and expressions. Students can make use of a variety of dictionaries bilingual, monolingual, pictorial, thesauri, and the like. As French Allen perceives them, dictionaries are «passports to independence,» and using them is one of the student-centered learning activities.
The advantages of using games. Many experienced textbook and methodology manuals writers have argued that games are not just time-filling activities but have a great educational value. W. R. Lee holds that most language games make learners use the language instead of thinking about learning the correct forms. He also says that games should be treated as central not peripheral to the foreign language teaching programme. A similar opinion is expressed by Richard-Amato, who believes games to be fun but warns against overlooking their pedagogical value, particularly in foreign language teaching. There are many advantages of using games. «Games can lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely» (Richard-Amato). They are highly motivating and entertaining, and they can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinions and feelings (Hansen). They also enable learners to acquire new experiences within a foreign language which are not always possible during a typical lesson. Furthermore, to quote Richard-Amato, they, «add diversion to the regular classroom activities,» break the ice, «[but also] they are used to introduce new ideas». In the easy, relaxed atmosphere which is created by using games, students remember things faster and better (Wierus and Wierus ). Further support comes from Zdybiewska, who believes games to be a good way of practising language, for they provide a model of what learners will use the language for in real life in the future.
Games encourage, entertain, teach, and promote fluency. If not for any of these reasons, they should be used just because they help students see beauty in a foreign language and not just problems .
Choosing appropriate games. There are many factors to consider while discussing games, one of which is appropriacy. Teachers should be very careful about choosing games if they want to make them profitable for the learning process. If games are to bring desired results, they must correspond to either the student’s level, or age, or to the material that is to be introduced or practised. Not all games are appropriate for all students irrespective of their age. Different age groups require various topics, materials, and modes of games. For example, children benefit most from games which require moving around, imitating a model, competing between groups and the like. Furthermore, structural games that practise or reinforce a certain grammatical aspect of language have to relate to students’ abilities and prior knowledge. Games become difficult when the task or the topic is unsuitable or outside the student’sexperience. Another factor influencing the choice of a game is its length and the time necessary for its completion. Many games have a time limit, but according to Siek-Piskozub, the teacher can either allocate more or less time depending on the students’ level, the number of people in a group, or the knowledge of the rules of a game etc.
When to use games. Games are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson. Yet, as Lee observes, a game «should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in odd moments when the teacher and class have nothing better to do». Games ought to be at the heart of teaching foreign languages. Rixon suggests that games be used at all stages of the lesson, provided that they are suitable and carefully chosen. At different stages of the lesson, the teacher’s aims connected with a game may vary
Presentation. Provide a good model making its meaning clear;
Controlled practise. Elicit good imitation of new language and appropriate responses;
Communicative prastice. Give students a chance to use the language .
Games also lend themselves well to revision exercises helping learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way. All authors referred to in this article agree that even if games resulted only in noise and entertained students, they are still worth paying attention to and implementing in the classroom since they motivate learners, promote communicative competence, and generate fluency. However, can they be more successful for presentation and revision than other techniques? The following part of this article is an attempt at finding the answer to this question.
The use of games for presenting and revising vocabulary
Vocabulary presentation. After the teacher chooses what items to teach, Haycraft suggests following certain guidelines. These include teaching the vocabulary «in spoken form first» to prevent students from pronouncing the words in the form they are written, placing the new items in context, and revising them..I shall now proceed to present practical examples of games I have used for vocabulary introduction and revision.
Description of the groups. For the purpose of vocabulary presentation, I chose two groups of third form students. With one of them I used a presentation game and with the other translation and context guessing. In both groups, students’ abilities varied-ranging from those whose command of English was very good, able to communicate easily using a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures, and those who found it difficult to communicate.
After covering the first conditional and time clauses in the textbook, I decided to present students with a set of idioms relating to bodily parts-mainly those connected with the head (taken from The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms ). The choice of these expressions was determined by students’ requests to learn colloquial expressions to describe people’s moods, behavior, etc. Moreover, in one of the exercises the authors of the textbook called for examples of expressions which contain parts of the body. For the purpose of the lesson I adapted Gear and Gear’s «Vocabulary Picture-Puzzle» from the English Teaching Forum (1988). Students were to work out the meanings of sixteen idiomatic expressions. All of them have Polish equivalents, which made it easier for students to remember them.
Description of vocabulary picture-puzzle
To prepare the puzzle, I cut two equal-sized pieces of cardboard paper into rectangles. The selected idioms were written onto the rectangles in the puzzle-pieces board and their definitions on the game board. On the reverse side of the puzzle-pieces board, I glued colorful photographs of landscapes and then cut the puzzle-pieces board into individual pieces, each with an idiom on it. The important thing was the distribution of the idioms and their definitions on the boards. The definitions were placed in the same horizontal row opposite to the idioms so that when put together face to face each idiom faced its definition.
Puzzle Pieces Board
The idioms and their definitions were the following (all taken from The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms p.77)
to be soft in the head foolish, not very intelligent;
to have one’s hair stand on end to be terrified;
to be two-faced to agree with a person to his face but disagree with him behind his back;
to make a face to make a grimace which may express disgust, anger;
to be all eyes to be very attentive;
to be an eye-opener to be a revelation;
to be nosy to be inquisitive, to ask too many questions;
to be led by the nose to be completely dominated by, totally influenced by;
long ears an inquisitive person who is always asking too many questions;
to be all ears to listen very attentively;
to be wet behind the ears to be naive, inexperienced;
a loose mouth an indiscrete person;
one’s lips are sealed to be obliged to keep a secret;
to have a sweet tooth to have a liking for sweet food, sugar, honey, ice cream, etc.;
to grind one’s teeth to express one’s fury;
to hold one’s tongue to say nothing, to be discrete;
The task for students. Work out the puzzle by matching the idioms and their definitions. First, put puzzle-pieces on the desk with the word facing up. Take one and match the idiom to the definition. Having done that, place the puzzle-piece, word-side-up, in the chosen rectangle. When you have used up all the pieces, turn them over. If they form a picture of a landscape, the choices are correct. If not, rearrange the picture and check the idiom-definition correspondences.
The game objectives. To work out the puzzle, students had to match idioms with their definitions. The objective of the game was for each pair to cooperate in completing the activity successfully in order to expand their vocabulary with, in this case, colloquial expressions.
All students were active and enjoyed the activity. Some of their comments were as follows «Very interesting and motivating» «Learning can be a lot of fun» etc.
Students also had to find the appropriate matches in the shortest time possible to beat other participating groups. The element of competition among the groups made them concentrate and think intensively.
Translation activity. The other group of students had to work out the meanings of the idioms by means of translation. Unlike the previously described group, they did not know the definitions. The expressions were listed on the board, and students tried to guess their proper meanings giving different options. My role was to direct them to those that were appropriate. Students translated the idioms into Polish and endeavored to find similar or corresponding expressions in their mother tongue. Unlike the game used for the purpose of idiom introduction, this activity did not require the preparation of any aids. Fewer learners participated actively or enthusiastically in this lesson and most did not show great interest in the activity.
Administering the test. In order to find out which group acquired new vocabulary better, I designed a short test, for both groups containing a translation into English and a game. This allowed learners to activate their memory with the type of activity they had been exposed to in the presentation.
The test checking the acquisition of newly-introduced reading vocabulary
I. Match the definitions of the idioms with the pictures and write which idiom is depicted and described
to be inexperienced
to listen very attentively
to be terrified
to be dominated by someone
to be attentive
to be insincere, dishonest
The proper answers are the following
d ., to be wet behind the ears
a ., to be all ears
e ., to have one’s hair stand on end
f ., to be led by the nose
b ., to be all eyes
c ., to be two-faced.
II. Translate into English (the translated sentences should be the following)
He is soft in the head.
She is two-faced, always criticizes me behind my back.
Mark has a sweet tooth, so he is not too slim.
Will you hold your tongue if I tell you something?
Why are you such a loose mouth?
Don’t be nosy! This is none of your business.
Analysis of the results. Group I received an average mark of 3.9 as compared to 3.4 obtained by group II. In other words, the group which had learned vocabulary through games performed significantly better. However, it is especially interesting and surprising that group II also received high scores for the game. Even though learners in group I had the material presented by means of translation, most students got better marks for the game.
Summing up. Even though the results of one activity can hardly lead to informative conclusions, I believe that the results suggest that the use of games for presentation of new vocabulary is very effective and enjoyable for students. Despite the fact that the preparation of a game may be time-consuming and suitable material may be hard to find, teachers should try to use them to add diversion to presentational techniques.
Many sources referred to in this article emphasise the importance of vocabulary revision. This process aims at helping students acquire active, productive vocabularies. Students need to practise regularly what they have learnt; otherwise, the material will fade away. Teachers can resort to many techniques for vocabulary consolidation and revision. To begin with, a choice of graphs and grids can be used. Students may give a definition of a given item to be found by other students. Multiple choice and gap filling exercises will activate the vocabulary while students select the appropriate response. Teachers can use lists of synonyms or antonyms to be matched, sentences to be paraphrased, or just some words or expressions in context to be substituted by synonymous expressions. Doing cloze tests will show students’ understanding of a passage, its organisation, and determine the choice of lexical items. Visual aids can be of great help with revision. Pictures, photographs, or drawings can facilitate the consolidation of both individual words as well as idioms, phrases and structures. There is also a large variety of word games that are «useful for practising and revising vocabulary after it has been introduced» (Haycraft). Numerous puzzles, word squares, crosswords, etc., are useful especially for pair or group work.
I shall now present the games I have used for vocabulary revision.
Description of the group. I gave teachers a questionnaire to determine their view of using games for vocabulary teaching. In response to the questionnaire, many teachers said they often used games for vocabulary revision. Some claimed they were successful and usually more effective than other methods. To see if this is really true, I decided to use a crossword puzzle with a group of first year students.
The crossword puzzle. After completing a unit about Van Gogh, students wanted to expand their vocabulary with words connected with art. The students compiled lists of words, which they had learnt. In order to revise the vocabulary, one of the groups had to work out the crossword puzzle.
Students worked in pairs. One person in each pair was provided with part A of the crossword puzzle and the other with part B. The students’ task was to fill in their part of the puzzle with the missing words known to their partner. To complete the activity, learners had to ask each other for the explanations, definitions, or examples to arrive at the appropriate answers. Only after getting the answer right could they put it down in the suitable place of their part of the crossword. Having completed the puzzle, students were supposed to find out what word was formed from the letters found in the shaded squares.
Students enjoyed the activity very much and did not resort to translation at any point. They used various strategies to successfully convey the meanings of the words in question-e.g., definitions, association techniques, and examples. When everyone was ready, the answers were checked and students were asked to give examples of definitions, explanations, etc., they had used to get the missing words.
The other group performed a similar task. Students were to define as follows
I. Define the following words shade, icon, marker, fresco, perspective, hue, daub, sculptor, still life, watercolor, palette, background.
II. Find the words these definitions describe
a public show of objects
a variety of a colour
a wooden frame to hold a picture while it is being painted
a pale or a delicate shade of a colour
a picture of a wide view of country scenery
an instrument for painting made of sticks, stiff hair, nylon
a painting, drawing, or a photograph of a real person
a piece of work, especially art which is the best of its type or the best a person has made
painting, music, sculpture, and others chiefly concerned with producing beautiful rather than useful things
a line showing the shape (of something)
a person who is painted, drawn, photographed by an artist
a picture made with a pen, pencil, etc.
Analysis of results. The results show that the crossword puzzle, though seemingly more difficult since it required the knowledge of words and their definitions and not mere recognition and matching, was easier for 27.4% of the learners and granted them more points for this part of the test. For the majority of the students (nearly 60%) both activities proved equally easy and out of the group of thirteen, eleven students had the highest possible score.
These numbers suggest that games are effective activities as a technique for vocabulary revision. Students also prefer games and puzzles to other activities. Games motivate and entertain students but also help them learn in a way which aids the retention and retrieval of the material (This is what the learners stated themselves). However, the numbers also show that not everyone feels comfortable with games and puzzles and not everyone obtains better results.
Although one cannot overgeneralise from one game, student feedback indicates that many students may benefit from games in revision of vocabulary.
Recently, using games has become a popular technique exercised by many educators in the classrooms and recommended by methodologists. Many sources, including the ones quoted in this work, list the advantages of the use of games in foreign language classrooms. Yet, nowhere have I found any empirical evidence for their usefulness in vocabulary presentation and consolidation.
Though the main objectives of the games were to acquaint students with new words or phrases and help them consolidate lexical items, they also helped develop the students’ communicative competence.
From the observations, I noticed that those groups of students who practised vocabulary activity with games felt more motivated and interested in what they were doing. However, the time they spent working on the words was usually slightly longer than when other techniques were used with different groups. This may suggest that more time devoted to activities leads to better results. The marks students received suggested that the fun and relaxed atmosphere accompanying the activities facilitated students’ learning. But this is not the only possible explanation of such an outcome. The use of games during the lessons might have motivated students to work more on the vocabulary items on their own, so the game might have only been a good stimulus for extra work.
Although, it cannot be said that games are always better and easier to cope with for everyone, an overwhelming majority of pupils find games relaxing and motivating. Games should be an integral part of a lesson, providing the possibility of intensive practise while at the same time immensely enjoyable for both students and teachers. My research has produced some evidence which shows that games are useful and more successful than other methods of vocabulary presentation and revision. Having such evidence at hand, I wish to recommend the wide use of games with vocabulary work as a successful way of acquiring language competence.
A Useful Device
by Clara Perez Fajardo
Has it ever happened that you read or listen to something, and shortly afterwards when you want to recall it, you can only remember a small part? Have you ever thought of how many interesting ideas you have missed, just because you have not taken a few seconds to note them down as they occurred to you? Everyday happenings pass through time and can never be recalled again if they are not recorded either on a tape or with a video camera. But, not many of us have these devices always handy. What we do have available is a simple sheet of paper, a pencil, and our five senses. Taking notes on what takes place not only permits us to remember but also facilitates our oral and written communication.
Regardless of their age or level, students tend to rely too much on their memory, instead of taking notes. For this reason, I began devising different tasks which demand the recall of facts that the students would have only if they had taken notes. The results have motivated me to do further research on the topic through interviews, reading, and analysis-all the time noting down the information I was obtaining.
The note-taking process
In order to reconstruct a complete account of what one perceives through listening, reading, observing, discussing, or thinking, it is necessary to take notes either simultaneously with the act of perception or after an interval of just a few seconds. We cannot expect to remember everything we perceive, and despite the advantages of training our memory, it is better to have notes taken at the moment things happen.
Language educators have approached note-taking from different perspectives. McKeating (1981) sees note-taking as a complex activity which combines reading and listening with selecting, summarizing, and writing. Grellet (1986) advises helping students to establish the structure of a text so they can pull out the key ideas and leave out nonessential information. Nwokoreze (1990) believes that «it is during the note-taking stage that students reach the highest level of comprehension.»
Two main aspects concerning note-taking
It involves the combination of different skills, i.e.; listening or reading, selecting, summarizing, and writing.
It requires the selection of relevant information from the nonessential.
Moreover, most authors see note-taking as a complex activity which must be approached gradually. When teaching the skill, Raimes suggests that elementary-level students can be given a skeleton outline to work with when they take notes, so that their listening is more directed. Advanced students can listen to longer passages and make notes as they listen.
Murray refers to a «rehearsal for writing,» which begins as an unwritten dialogue within the writer’s mind what the writer hears in his/her head evolves into notes. This may be simple brainstorming-the jotting down of random bits of information which may connect themselves into a pattern later on.
Note-taking involves putting onto paper the data received through any of our senses. These data could range from simple figures, letters, symbols, isolated words, or brief phrases to complete sentences and whole ideas.
Most teachers instruct students to take notes while perceiving . However, Nwokoreze insists on the need for first listening long enough to make sure the essence of the information is perceived before taking notes. The decision on whether the notes are to be taken at the moment of perception or shortly afterwards depends on the complexity of the task and the ability of the note-taker. Consequently, if we are to take notes with figures, letters, or single words to fill in a pre-designed skeleton, we can do it at the same time we receive the information; whereas notes which require selection, summarizing, and organization ought to be taken later.
As teachers, we must decide what sort of help our students need for every task we assign. The guidance we give for taking notes will depend on various aspects. One of them is language level. Raimes suggests providing beginners with a skeleton outline to fill in or expand to make their listening more directed. She also proposes letting the advanced students listen to longer passages and make notes as they listen.
Guidance provided will depend on the degree of difficulty of the task involved. The reasons for taking notes and the follow-up activities are also important. If the students only take notes of simple figures, letters, or single words as the basis for a discussion to take place immediately, they will not need much guidance. But if they are supposed to take notes of a higher complexity to use in writing a report for homework, they will need more preparation.
Using note-taking in our classes
Assuming an extreme position when defining the concept of note-taking, we can say that even checking or ticking items on a list is a form of note-taking, as long as what students have to «tick» represents the content of the reading or listening passage. If we give students a multiple-choice exercise, a list, or Yes/No questions, and ask them only to tick the correct answer, they will be taking notes. This could be considered the most basic form of note-taking. Nevertheless, if we analyze the task in detail, we find it is not as simple as it seems. To answer accurately, the students will first have to understand the statements and determine whether their choices are correct or not. Furthermore, they have to predict and speculate about what they are going to perceive.
When revising any topic we may practice it and use this technique giving students a skeleton to fill in while listening. Example
Instructions Listen to the interview with the patient and tick (v) the correct answer
high blood pressure headache
pain in the back
chills and fever
Any other information?
With this last question, we are prompting the students to note down other information, not limiting them only to what the chart asks for. Not all the students will be able to take further notes, but the most skilled will not get bored while their classmates are engaged at a more elementary level.
Another instance that calls for note-taking is reporting on medical cases. To do this, the class may be divided into teams of three or four students. Each team prepares a case for the others to analyze. One variant would be having each team first brainstorm, then prepare a skeleton outline with the sort of information they need the other team to provide in order to write a full case report. Once ready, they exchange skeletons, brainstorm again, and note down the information the skeleton forms ask for. The teams should give neither the diagnosis nor the treatment. As soon as they finish, they swap these «problem-cases,» analyze them, and confer on the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of the patient. Next, they write a full case report that everyone reads and discusses. The class then moves around, reads, and comments on them. Finally, they decide which of the skeleton forms are better and which reports are the most coherent and faithful to the information provided.
A simpler variant would be having each team ask for the information orally from one another, take notes on it and then report on the case orally or in writing.
In teaching Medically Speaking , I suggest taking notes while listening to the dialogues or reading the case studies given in the text. Instead of having the students take down all the information, teams are formed to take notes on specific parts.
Instructions for preparing and presenting a case report
First think of an interesting case you would like to report on and discuss with your classmates. Consult your professors, look for information about your case and associated diseases or cases in magazines, books, journals, etc. Note down this information. Then make an outline of the elements you need in order to report on a case
1. Patient’s characteristics
2. Main symptom
8. Physical findings
3. Other symptoms
9. Diagnostic procedure
4. Past history
10. Differential and definitive diagnosis
5. Family history
11. Therapeutic procedures
6. (Toxic) habits
12. Possible complications
Before presenting your case orally, copy the outline on the board, ask your classmates to also copy it in their notebooks. You will all follow this order for the presentation and discussion of your case. Your classmates will ask you for the data they need to complete their outlines and discuss the case. Once the discussion is over, they will use their notes to write a report on the case you presented.
Patient’s characteristics Age 22
Race white Sex M
Weight 70 kg.
pain in the right lower quadrant (sporadic and colicky in nature)
*began in epigastrium two days ago
*moved to periumbilical region and right lower quadrant
fever, vomits (3), anorexia, constipation for two days (no bowel movement). No diarrhea
-patient well oriented as to time, place and person
-extreme tenderness to palpation mainly over McBurney’s point
-guarding, muscle rigidity, rebound tenderness
-difference axillary & rectal temperature
-bowel sounds absent
Definitive diagnosis acute appendicitis
Therapeutic procedures appendectomy Possible complications perforation, necrosis, peritonitis Prognosis Anceps
Today we discussed the case of a 22-year-old white man who was in good health prior to two days ago, when he began to have an abdominal pain. This pain was sporadic and colicky in nature. It began in the epigastrium and has since migrated to the right lower quadrant. The patient has had three episodes of vomiting associated with the pain. He has been anorectic and feverish. He has had no bowel movements for two days. He reported no diarrhea, coughing with expectoration or shortness of breath. He has no past history or family history of abdominal pain or any other disease. The pertinent physical findings are related to the abdomen. There is extreme tenderness to palpation, especially over McBurney’s point. Guarding, muscle rigidity and rebound tenderness are all present. Bowel sounds are absent. There is a difference between the axillary and the rectal temperature. His urinalysis, hemoglobin and hematocrit are within normal limits. Nevertheless, both white blood count and red rate are elevated. His chest film is clear, but in the abdominal film we observed the psoas line is absent. Finally, we decided the definitive diagnosis is acute appendicitis. Among the possible complications to consider are perforation, necrosis and peritonitis. Therefore, the prognosis is anceps. The only possible treatment is surgical appendectomy.
As we have seen, there are numerous opportunities to help students develop the skill of note-taking. Note-taking assists the listener, reader, or observer in achieving a better understanding of what is presented, and it facilitates recall of facts as well as oral and written expression. The student’s language level and the purpose which the notes are to serve will determine the type of guidance the teacher must provide to help them to take notes in class and later on the job.
Collocations with wide, narrow, and broad.
Intermediate to advanced
Three cards, with wide on one, narrow on the second and broad on the third
Prepare three large cards with wide on one, narrow on the second and broad on the third.
1. Clear as much space as you can in your classroom so that students have access to all the walls and ask two students to act as secretaries at the board. Steak each of your card on one of the other three walls of the room. Ask the rest of the students to gather in the middle of the space.
2. Tell the students that you’re going to read out sentences with a word missing. If they think that the right word for that sentence is wide they should rush over and touch the wide card. If they think the word should be narrow or broad they touch the respective card instead. Tell them that in some cases there are two right answers (they choose either).
3. Tell the secretaries at the board to write down the correct versions of the sentences in full as the game progresses.
4. Read out the first gapped sentence and have the students rush to what they think is the appropriate wall. Give the correct versions and make sure it goes up in the board. Continue with the second sentence etc.
5. At the end of the strenuous part ask the students to tale down the sentences in their books. A relief from running! ( If the students want a challenge they should get a partner and together write down as many sentences as they remember with their backs to the board before turning round to complete their notes. Or else have their partner to dictate the sentences with a gap for them to try to complete.)
Sentences to read out
They used a … angled lens
He looked at her with a … smile
The socialists won by a …. Margin
She is very … minded
He speaks the language with a … London accent
You were wrong what you said was … of the mark
You had a … escape
Of course they’re … open to criticism
They went down the canal in a … boat
She opened her eyes …
The news was broadcast nation …
The path was three meters …
The light was so bright that she … her eyes
You can play this game with many sets of grammar exponents
— Forms of the article; a, the and zero article
Spot the differences
This activity can be adapted for use with all levels
One copy of Late-comer A and Late-comer B for each student
1. Pair the students and give them the two texts. Ask them to spot all the differences they can between them. Tell them that there may be more than one pair of differences per pair of parallel sentences. Tell them one item in each pair of alternatives is correct.
2. They are to choose the correct form from each pair.
This women was often very late
This woman was often very late
She was late for meetings
She was late for meeting
She were late for dinners
She was late for dinners
She was late when she went to the cinema
She was late as she went to the cinema
One day she arrive for a meeting half an hour early
One day she arrived for meeting half ah hour early
Nobody could understand because she was early
Nobody couldn’t understand why she was early
‘Of course,’ someone said, ‘clocks put back last night.’
‘Of course,’ someone say, ‘the clocks were put back last night.’
3. Ask them to dictate the correct text to you at the board. Write down exactly what they say so students have a chance to correct each other both in terms of grammar and in terms of their pronunciation. If a student pronounces ‘dis voman’ for ‘this woman’ then write up the wrong version. Only write it correctly when the student pronounces it right. Your task in this exercise is to allow the students to try out their hypotheses about sound and grammar without putting them right too soon and so reducing their energy and blocking their learning. Being too kind can be cognitively unkind.
To make this exercise more oral, pair the students and ask them to sit facing each other. Give Later-comer A to one student and Late-comer B to the other in each pair. They then have to do very detailed listening to each other’s texts.
Feeling and grammar
Question formation-varied interrogatives
Beginner to elementary
1. Ask the students to draw a quick sketch of a four-year-old they know well. Give them these typical questions such a person may ask, e.g. ‘Mummy, does the moon go for a wee-wee?’ ‘Where did I come from?’. Ask each student to write half a dozen questions such a person might ask, writing them in speech bubbles on the drawing. Go round and help with the grammar.
2. Get the students to fill the board with their most interesting four-year-old questions.
This can be used with various question situations. The following examples work well
— Ask the students to imagine a court room-the prosecution barrister is questioning a defense witness. Tell the students to write a dozen questions the prosecution might ask.
— What kind of questions might a woman going to a foreign country want to ask a woman friend living in this country about the man or the woman in the country? And what might a man want to ask a man?
— What kind of questions are you shocked to be asked in an English-speaking country and what questions are you surprised not to be asked?
By+time-phrases Past perfect
This activity also works well with present perfect+yet, like doing, like having done, and modals
Set of prepared sentences
1. Think of your achievements in the period of your life that corresponds to the average age of your class. If you’re teaching seventeen-year-olds, pick your first seventeen years. Also think of a few of the times when you were slow to achieve. Write the sentences about yourself like these
By the age of six I had learnt to read.
I still hadn’t learnt to ride a bike by then.
I had got over my fear of water by the time I was eight.
By the time I was nine I had got the hang of riding a bike.
By thirteen I had read a mass of books.
I’d got over my fear of the dark by around ten.
2. Write ten to twelve sentences using the patterns above. If you’re working in a culture that is anti-boasting then pick achievements that do not make you stand out.
3. Your class will relate well to sentences that tell them something new about you, as much as you feel comfortable telling them. Communication works best when it’s for real.
1. Ask the students to have two different colored pens ready. Tell them you’re going to dictate sentences about yourself. They’re to take down the sentences that are also true for them in one color and the sentences that are not true about them in another color.
2. Put the students in fours to explain to each other which of your sentences were also true of their lives.
3. Run a quick question and answer session round the groups e.g. ‘At what age had you learnt to ski/dance/sing/ play table tennis etc by?’ ‘I’d learnt to ski by seven.’
4. Ask each students to write a couple of fresh sentences about things achieved by a certain date/time and come up and write them on a board. Wait till the board is full, without correcting what they’re putting up. Now point silently at problem sentences and get the students to correct them.
You can use the above activity for any area of grammar you want ti personalize. You might write sentences about
— Things you haven’t got round to doing (present perfect + yet)
— Things you like having done for you versus things you like doing for yourself
— Things you ought to do and feel you can’t do (the whole modal area is easily treated within this frame)
Modals and modals reported
Elementary to intermadiate
1. Divide your class into two groups ‘problem people’ and ‘advice-givers’.
2. Ask the ‘problem people’ to each think up a minor problem they have and are willing to talk about.
3. Arm the ‘advice-givers’ with these suggestion forms
You might as well…
You ought to…
You might try…ing…
4. Get the class moving round the room. Tell each ‘problem person’ to pair off with an ‘advice-giver’. The ‘problem person’ explains her problem and the other person gives two bits of advice using the grammar suggested. Each ‘problem person’ now moves to another ‘advice-giver’. The ‘problem people’ get advice from five or six ‘advice-givers’
5. Call class back into the plenary. Ask some of the ‘problem people’ to state their problem and report to the whole group the best and the worst piece of advice they were offered, naming the advice-giver e.g. ‘Juan was telling me I should give her up.’ ‘ Jane suggested I ought to get a girlfriend of hers to talk to her for me.’
If you have a classroom with space that allows it, form the students into two concentric circles, the outer one facing in and the inner one facing out. All the inner circle students are ‘advice-givers’ and all the outer circle students are ‘problem people’. After each round, the outer circle people move round three places. This is much more cohesive than the above.
Picture the past
Past simple, past perfect, future in the past
1. Ask three students to come out and help you demonstrate the exercise. Draw a picture on the board of something interesting you have done. Do not speak about it. Student A then writes a past simple sentence about it. Student B write about what had already happened before the picture action and student C about something that was going to happen, using the appropriate grammar.
I got up at eight a.m.
I’ve just got off the bus
I’m going to work today
2. Put the students in fours. Each draws a picture of a real past action of theirs. They pass their picture silently to a neighbor in the foursome who adds a past tense sentence. Pass the picture again and each adds a past perfect sentence. They pass again and each adds a was going to sentence. All this is done in silence with you going round helping and correcting.
Impersonating members of a set
Present and past simple-active and passive
Elementary to intermediate
1. Ask people to brainstorm all the things they can think of that give off light
2. Choose one of this yourself and become the thing chosen. Describe yourself in around five to six sentences, e.g.
I am a candle
I start very big and end up as nothig
My head is lit and I produce a flame
I burn down slowly
In some countries I am put on Christmas tree
I am old-fashioned and very fashionable
3. Ask a couple of other students to choose other light sourses and do the same as you have just done. Help them with language. It could be ‘I am a light bulb-I was invented by Edison.’
4. Group the students in sixes. Give them a new category. Ask them to work silently, writing four or six forst-person sentences in role. Go round and help especially with the formation of the present simple passive (when this help is needed).
5. In their groups the students read out their sentences.
6. Ask each group to choose their six interesting sentences and then read out to the whole group.
The exercise is sometimes more excitingif done with fairly abstract sets, e.g. numbers between 50 and 149, musical notes, distances, weights. The abstract nature of the set makes people concretise interestingly, e.g.
I am a kilometre.
My son is a metre and my baby is centimetre.
On the motorway I am driven in 30 seconds. (120 kms. per hour)
We have also used these sets types of stone/countries/items of clothing (e.g.socks, skirts, jackets/times of day/smells/family roles (e.g.son, mother etc.)/types of weather.
The sentences students produce in this exercise are nor repeat runs of things they have already thought and said in mother tongue. New standpoints, new thoughts, new language. The English is fresh because the thought is.
Listening to people
Reported speech after past reporting verb
Elementary to lower intermediate
1. Pair the students. Ask one person in each pair to prepare to speak for two minutes about a pleasurable future event. Give them a minute to prepare.
2. Ask the listener in each pair to prepare to give their whole attention to the speaker. They are not to take notes. Ask the speaker in each pair to get going. You time two minutes.
3. Pair the pairs. The two listeners now report on what they heard using this kind of form
She was telling me she’s going to Thailand for her holiday and she added that she’ll be going by plane.
The speakers have the right to fill in things the listeners have left out but only after the listeners have finished speaking.
4. The students go back into their original pairs and repeat the above but this time with the other one as speaker, so everybody has been able to share their future event thoughts.
1. Tell the students a bit about yourself by comparing yourself to some people you know
I’m more … than my husband.
I’m not as…as my eldest boy.
I reckon my uncle is … than me
Write six or seven of these sentences up on the board as a grammar pattern input.
2. Tell the students to work in threes. Two of the three listen very closely while the third compares herself to people she knows. The speakers speak without interruption for 90 seconds and you time them.
3. The two listeners in each group feedback to the speaker exactly what they had heard. If they miss things the speaker will want to prompt them.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 so that everybody in the group has had a go at producing a comparative self-portrait.
One question behind
Assorted interrogative forms
You can adapt this by preparing your own question sets for different interrogative structures
Beginner to intermediate
One question set for each pair of students
1. Demonstrate the exercise to your students. Get one of them to ask you the question of a set. You answer ‘Mmmm’, with closed lips. The student asks you the second question – you give the answer that would have been right for the first question. The student asks the third question and you reply with the answer to the second question, and so on. The wrong combination of question and answer can be quite funny.
2. Pair the students and give each pair a question set. One student fires the questions and the other gives delayed-by-one replies. The activity is competitive. The first pair to finish a question set is the winner.
Question set A
Where do you sleep? (the other says nothing)
Where do you eat? (the other answers the first question)
Where do you go swimming?
Where do you wash your clothes?
Where do you read?
Where do you cook?
Where do you listen to music?
Where do you get angry?
Where do you do your shopping?
Where do you sometimes drive to?
Question set B
What do you eat your soup with?
What do you cut your meat with?
What do you write on?
What do you wipe your mouth with?
What do you blow your nose with?
What do you brush your hair with?
What do you sleep on?
What do you write with?
What do you wear in bed?
What do you wear in restaurant?
Question set C
Can you tell me something you ate last week?
Tell me something you saw last week?
Is there something you have come to appreciate recently?
What about something you really want to do next week?
Where have you spent most of this last week?
Where would you have you liked to spend this last week?
Where are you thinking of going on holiday?
Which is the best holiday place you have ever been to?
Have students devise their own sets of questions to then be used as above.
Group the students in fours one acts as a ‘time-keeper’, one as a ‘question master’ and person 3 and 4 are the ‘players’.
The ‘question master’ fires five rapid questions at player A which she has to answer falsely. The ‘time-keeper’ notes the time questioning takes. The ‘question master’ fires five similar questions at B, who answers truthfully. The quickest answerer wins. (The problem lies in choosing the right wrong answer fast enough.)
How old are you?
Where do you live?
Which color do you like best?
What time is it?
How did you get here?
What time did you get up today?
What did you have for breakfast?
Where does your best friend live?
What sort of music do you dislike?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Movement and grammar
Sit down then
Who + simple past interrogative/Telling the time
Beginner to elementary
1. Ask everybody to stand up. Tell them you’re going to shout out bedtimes. When they hear the time they went to bed yesterday, they shout ‘I did’ and sit down. You start like this
Who went to bed at two a.m.?
Who went to bed at quarter to two?
Who went to bed at ten to two?
Who went to bed at half past one?
2. Continue until all the students have sat down.
3. Get people back on their feet. Ask one of the better students to come out and run the same exercise but this time about when people got up, e.g.
Who woke up at four thirty this morning?
Who woke up at twenty to five?
4. Repeat with a new question master but asking about shopping, e.g.
Who went shopping yesterday?
Who went shopping on…(day of the week)
Polite requests, -ing participle Only if + target verb structure of your choice
1. Make or find as much space in your room as possible and ask the class to stand at one end of it.
2. Explain that their end is one river bank and the opposite end of the room is the other bank. Between is the ‘golden river’ and you’re the ‘keeper’ of the golden river. Before crossing the river the students have to say the following sentence
Can we cross your golden river sitting on your golden boat?
3. They need to be able to say this sentence reasonably fluently.
4. Get the students to say the sentence. You answer
Only if you’re wearing…
Only if you’ve got…
Only if you’ve got … on you
5. Supposing you say ‘Only if you’re wearing trousers’. All the students who wear trousers can ‘boat’ across the river without hindrance. The others have to try to sneak across without being tagged by you. The first person who is tagged, changes places with you and becomes ‘it’ (the keeper who tags the others in the next round).
6. Continue with students saying ‘Can we cross your golden river, sitting on your golden boat?’ ‘It’ might say, ‘Only if you’re wearing ear-rings.’ etc.
To make this game more lively, instead of having just one keeper, everyone is tagged becomes keeper. Repeat until everyone has been tagged.
Meaning and translation
Upper intermediate to advanced
One Mixed-up verb sheet per pair of students. The Jumbled sentences on a large separate piece of card
1. Pair the students and ask them to match the verbs on the mixed-up verb sheet you give them. Tell them to use dictionaries and to call you over. Be everywhere at once.
Mixed-up verb sheet
Please match words from column 1 with words from column 2to form correct compound verbs.
Key to first group of verbs
To back-comb/to cross-reference/to ghost-write/to soft-soap/to blow-dry/to double-cross/to ill-treat/to spin-dry
Key to the second group of verbs
To cold-shoulder/to double-glaze/to pooh-pooh/to spoon-feed/to court-martial/to dry-clean/to proof-read/to stage-manage
Key to third group of verbs
To frog-match/to wrong-foot/to toilet-train/to tape-record/to short-change/to rubber-stamp/to force-feed/to field-test/to cross-question/to cross-examine/to cross-check
2. Ask them to take a clean sheet of paper and a pen or pencil suitable for drawing. Tell them you’re going to give them a few phrases to illustrate. They’re to draw a situation that brings out the meaning of the phrases. Here are the phrases – do not give them more than 30 seconds per drawing (they will groan)
To toilet-train a child
To soft-soap a superior
To force-feed an anorexic
To court-martial a soldier
To back-comb a person’s hair
To cross-examine a witness
To spin-dry your clothes
To cold-shoulder a friend
3. Give them time to compare their drawings. The drawings often make misunderstanding manifest.
4. Split the class into teams of four. Tell them you’re going to show them Jumbled sentences (see below) and their task will be to shout out the unjumbled sentence. The first team to shout out a correct sentence gets a point.
Will still can you and it it dry retain its spin shape
You can spin-dry it and it will still retain its shape
Cold him we shouldered first at
At first we cold-shouldered him
Our ill ancestors treated they
They ill-treated our ancestors
Clean it don’t dry
Don’t dry-clean it
Black frog they Maria to the marched him
They frog-marched him to the Black Maria
Double your windows glaze to like we’d
We’d like to double-glaze your windows
Pooh just his poohed offer they
They just pooh-poohed his offer
Don’t soap me you soft dare
Don’t you dare soft-soap me!
The world of take
Some basic meanings of the verb take
Intermediate to advanced
Set of sentences below (for dictation)
1. Put the students in small groups to brainstorm all the uses of the verb take they can think of.
2. Ask each group to send a messenger to the next group to pass on their ideas.
3. Dictate the sentences below which they are to write down in their mother tongue. Tell them only to write in mother tongue, not English. Be ready to help explain any sentences that students do not understand.
The new president took over in January.
The man took the woman’s anger seriously.
‘You haven’t done the washing up, I take it,’ his wife said to him.
The little boy took the old watch apart to see how it worked.
‘I think we ought to take the car,’ he said to her.
This bloke always takes his problems to his mother.
‘We took the village without a shot being fired,’ she told him.
‘Take care’ the woman said, as she left home that morning.
He took charge of the planning team.
The woman asked what size shoes he took.
‘Yes I really take your point’ he told her.
‘If we go to a movie,’ she told her boyfriend, ‘it’ll really take you out of yourself.’
The news the boy brought really took the woman aback.
The chair asked him to take the minutes of the meeting.
‘You can take it from me, it’s worse than you think’
4. Ask the students to work in threes and compare their translations. Go round helping and checking.
5. Check that they’re clear about the usual direct translation of take into their language. Now ask them to mark all the translations where take is not rendered by its direct equivalent.
A dictionary game
Comparatives, it (referring back)
Elementary (or as a review at higher levels)
This activity provides good skills practice in scan reading a dictionary
One dictionary per two students
On the board write the following
It’s got more letters than…
It’s got fewer letters than…
It’s the same length as….
It’s earlier in the dictionary than…
It’s later in the dictionary than…
It’s further on…
Back a bit.
The first letter’s right
The first two/three/four letters are right
(or you could dictate this to the students if you want a quiet settling in period at the start of the class)
1. Explain to the students that you’re going out of the room for a short time and they’re to select one word for you to guess when you come back. They find the word in their dictionaries.
2. Go back in and have a first wild guess at the class’s word. The students should tell you whether their word is longer, shorter or the same length as your guess and whether it’s earlier or later in the dictionary. Here is an example (teachers can correct pronunciation as they go along )
It’s shorter. And it’s later in the dictionary.
It’s Earlier. It’s Got The Same Number Of Letters.
It’s Later. It’s Got The Same Number Of Letters.
It’s Longer.The First Letter Is Right. It’s Later In The Dictionary.
The First Two Letters Are Right. It’s Later.
The First Four Letters Are Right. You’re Really Warm Now. It’s A Bit Further On.
3. You can write the words you guess and notes of the students’ answers on the board as you go along, to help you to remember where you are. At the beginning, you can prompt the students by asking questions such as ‘Is it shorter, longer or the same length as my word? Is it earlier or later in the dictionary?’ etc.
4. When the students have got the idea of the game, reverse the process; you think of a word (one from a recent lesson works well) and students guess. You give them information as to length, place in dictionary and any letters they’ve guessed right.
5. Now hand over the exercise to the students. They should scan their notes, textbooks and /or minds (but not dictionaries) and create a short wordlist. Then in pairs or small groups they can repeat the activity.
This is a good game for teaching scan reading and alphabetical order when using dictionaries. The revision or introduction of the grammatical structures in a meaningful context is disguised since the students usually see this is vocabulary game. Because it has a pretty tight structure and build-up, it’s a good exercise for establishing the principle of group/pairwork with a class that does not take readily to working in different formats.
With some classes we have asked the students to analyze their own guessing processes. Some students have written interesting short compositions on the best guessing strategies.
Lower to upper intermediate
1. Ask a student to draw a head in profile on the board. Ask the student to add eyes in the back of his head.
2. Give the students this sentence beginning on the board and ask them to complete it using a grammar suggested
If people had eyes in the back of their heads, then they … would/might/could/would have to … (+ infinitive)
‘If people had eyes on the back of their heads they could read two books at once’ (so two pairs of eyes).
3. Tell the students to write the above sentence stem at the top of their paper and then complete it with fifteen separate ideas. Encourage the use of dictionaries. Help students all you can with vocabulary and go round checking and correcting.
4. Once students have all written a good number of sentences (at least ten) ask them to form teams of four. In the fours they read each other’s sentences and pick the four most interesting ones.
5. Each team puts their four best sentences on the board.
6. The students come up to the board and tick the two sentences they find the most interesting. The team that gets the most ticks wins.
Students come up with a good range of social, medical and other hypotheses. Here are some examples
… then they would not need driving mirrors.
… they would make really good traffic wardens.
… then you could kiss someone while looking away!
Modals and present simple
Elementary to intermediate
One large sheet of paper per student
1. Ask a student to draw a picture on the board of a person holding an umbrella. The umbrella looks like this.
2. Explain to the class that this ‘tulip-like’ umbrella design is a new, experimental one.
3. Ask the students to work in small groups and brainstorm all the advantages and disadvantages of a new design. Ask them to use these sentence stems
It/you + present simple…
It/you may/may not…
4. For example ‘It is easy to control in a high wind’, ‘You can see where you’re going with this umbrella’
5. Give the students large sheets of paper and ask them to list the advantages and disadvantages in two columns.
6. Ask the students to move around the room and read each other’s papers. Individually they mark each idea as ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘intriguing’.
7. Ask the student how many advantages they came up with and how many disadvantages. Ask the students to divide up into three groups according to which statement applies to them
I thought mainly of advantages.
I thought of some of both.
I thought mainly of disadvantages.
8. Ask the three groups to come up with five to ten adjectives to describe their group state of mind and put these up n the board.
9. Round off the exercise by telling the class that when de Bono asked different groups of people to do this kind of exercise, it turned out that primary school children mostly saw advantages, business people had plenty of both while groups of teachers were the most negative.
Advantages the students offered
In a hot country you can collect rain water.
It won’t drip round the edges.
You can use it for carrying shopping.
It’s not dangerous in a crowd.
It’s an optimistic umbrella.
It’s easy to hold if two people are walking together.
With this umbrella you’ll look special.
It’ll take less floor space to dry.
This umbrella makes people communicate. They can see each other.
You can paint this umbrella to look like a flower.
You’ll get a free supply of ice if it hails.
Listening to time
You can use this idea to practice a variety of different structures-see variations bellow for some examples
Upper intermediate to very advanced
Invite a native speaker to your class, preferably not a language teacher as they sometimes distort their speech. Ask the person to speak about a topic that has them move through time. This could be his country history. The talk should last around twenty minutes. Explain to the speaker that the students will be paying close attention not only to the content but to the language form, too.
1. Before the speaker arrives, explain to the students that they are to jot down all the words and phrases they hear that express time. They don’t need to note all the words!
2. Welcome the speaker and introduce the topic.
3. The speaker takes the floor for fifteen to twenty minutes and you join the students in taking language notes. If there are questions from the students, make sure people continue to take notes during the questioning.
4. Put the students in threes to compare their time-phrase notes. Suggest the speaker joins one of the groups. Some natives are delighted to look in a ‘speech mirror’.
5. Share your own notes with the class. Round off the lesson by picking out other useful and normal bits of language the speaker used that are not yet part of your student’s idiolects.
One speaker mentioned above produced these time words only about ten years/there was a gap of nine years/ at roughly the same time/over the next few hundred years/from 1910 until the present day/it’s been way back/ within eighteen month there will be/until three years ago/when I was back in September
Choose the speaker who is about to go off on an important trip. In speaking about this, some of the verbs used will be in a variety of forms used to talk about the future.
Invite someone to speak about the life and habits of someone significant to them, but two lives separately from them, say a grandparent. This topic is likely to evoke a rich mixture of present simple, present continuos, will used to describe habitual events, ‘ll be –ing etc.
To invite the learners to pick specific grammar features out of a stream of live speech is a powerful form of grammar presentation. In this technique the students ‘present’ the grammar to themselves. They go through a process of realization which is lot stronger than what often happens in their minds during the type of ‘grammar presentation’ required of trainees on many teacher training courses. During the realization process, they are usually not asleep.
Guess my grammar
Elementary to intermediate
1. Choose a grammar area the students need to review. In the example below there are adjectives, adverbs and relative pronouns.
2. Ask each student to work alone and write a sentence of 12-16 words (the exact length is not too important). Each sentence should contain an adjective, and adverb and a relative pronoun, or whatever grammar you’ve chosen to practise. For example ‘She sat quietly by the golden river that stretched to the sea’.
3. Now ask the students to rewrite their sentences on a separate piece of paper, leaving in the target grammar and any punctuation, but leaving the rest as blanks, one dash for each letter. The sentence above would look like this
— — quietly — — golden —— that ——— — — —.
While they are doing this ask any students who are not sure of the correctness of their sentence to check with you.
4. Now ask the students to draw a picture or pictures which illustrate as much of the meaning of the sentence as possible.
5. As students finish drawing, put them into groups of three. One person shows the blanked sentence and the drawing, reserving their original sentence for their own reference. The other should guess ‘ Is the first word the?’ or ask questions ‘Is the second word a verb?’ etc. The student should only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. As they guess the words, they fill in the blanks.
6. They continue until all the blanks are filled and then they do the other two person’s sentences.
Groups tend to finish this activity at widely different speeds. If a couple of groups finish early, pair them across the groups, ask them to rub out the completed blanked out sentences and try them on a new partner.
Ian Jasper originated this exercise. He’s a co-author of Teacher Development One group’s experience, edited by Janie Rees Miller.
Simple present and simple past interrogative forms
Puzzle story (to be written on the board)
Ask a couple of students from an advanced class to come to your beginners group. Explain that they will have some interesting interpreting to do.
1. Introduce the interpreters to your class and welcome them.
2. Write this puzzle story on the board in English. Leave good spaces between the lines
There were three people in the room.
A man spoke.
There was a short pause.
The second man spoke.
The woman jumped up and slapped the first man in the face.
3. Ask one of the beginners to come to the board and underline the words they know. Ask others to come and underline the ones they know. Tell the group the words none of them know. Ask one of the interpreters to write a translation into mother tongue. The translation should come under the respective line of English.
4. Tell the students their task is to find out why the woman slapped the first man. They are to ask questions that you can answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Tell them they can try and make questions directly in English, or they can call the interpreter and ask the questions in their mother tongue. The interpreter will whisper the English in their ear and they then ask you in English.
5. Erase the mother tongue translation of the story from the board.
6. One of the interpreters moves round the room interpreting questions while the other stays at the board and writes up the questions in both English and mother tongue.
7. You should aim to let the class ask about 15-25 questions, more will overload them linguistically. To speed the process up you should give them clues.
8. Finally, have the students copy all the questions written on the board into their books. You now have a presentation of the main interrogative forms of the simple present and past.
9. After the lesson go through any problems the interpreters had-offer them plenty of parallel translation.
The second man was an interpreter.
Do you know the one about the seven-year-old who went to the baker’s? His Mum had told him to get three loaves. He went in, bought two and came home. He put them on the kitchen table. He ran back to the backer’s and bought a third. He rushed in and put the third one on the kitchen table. The question Why? Solution he had a speech defect and couldn’t say ‘th’.
Word order dictation
Word order at sentence level The grammar you decide to input in this example reflexive phrases, e.g. to myself/by myself/in myself
Jumbled extracts (for dictation) One copy of Extract from Sarah’s letter per pair of students
1. Pair the students and ask one person in each pair to prepare to write on a loose sheet of paper.
2. Dictate the first sentence from the Jumbled extracts. One person in each pair takes it down.
3. Ask the pairs to rewrite the jumbled words into a meaningful sentence, using all the words and putting in necessary punctuation.
4. Tell the pairs to pass their papers to the right. The pairs receiving their neighbours’ sentences check out grammar and spelling, correcting where necessary.
5. Dictate the second jumbled sentence.
6. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
7. When you’ve dictated all the sentences this way give out the original, unjumbled Extract from Sarah’s letter and ask the students to compare with the sentences they’ve got in front of them. They may sometimes have created excellent, viable alternative sentences.
1. Myself in absorbed more and more becoming am I find I
2. When mix I do other people me inside a confusion have I I find
3. David John and Nick as though I am me I do not feel when I walk through the park with
4. Strange seems it and a role acting am I like feel I
5. Walk park myself talk aloud myself to I by the through I when
6. Completely feel content I
Extract from Sarah’s letter
I find I am becoming more and more absorbed in myself.
When I do mix with other people I find I have a confusion inside me.
When I walk through the park with David, John and Nick, I do not feel as though I am me.
I feel like I am acting a role and it seems strange.
When I walk through the park by myself I talk aloud to myself.
I feel completely content.
Grammar lessons Taking notes
During the lecture ask the students to note cases when we use passive
In more formal contexts than active sentences. For example Your attention is drawn to Paragraph 6. (But note that using got, usually makes the sentence less formal, for example We got beaten.They got married.)
when the agent is not clear. For example Their office was burgled.
or not important For example This cake was made from carrots.
or obvious For example They were all arrested.
to give emphasis to the passive subject and add weight to the message. For example A state of emergency has been declared.
to make our message more impersonal. For example, as in a letter saying No police action will be taken.
Read the following newspaper article and ask the students to
— note down the six verbs that are in the passive
— suggest a possible reason for the use of the passive in this article.
ORCHESTRA’S SCHOOLS BOOST Schools and community groups will be the winners if the world famous Philharmonia comes to town. Negotiations are still under way to make Bedford the orchestra’s first British residency outside London beginning in 1995, it has been confirmed. What is being talked about is a strong educational emphasis on the deal, which would see members of the orchestra travelling into the community doing workshops with school and other local groups in the borough. School children will be invited in to the Corn Exchange for afternoon rehearsals of the main concerts to be staged. Massive alterations to the Corn Exchange are being planned in tandem so that the orchestra, which was formed in 1945, and the audiences watching them, will enjoy superior back and frontstage facilities including new sloped seating going from the stage to the present balcony and a new auditorium.
1. The six verbs in the passive are
a. it has been confirmed
b. What is being talked about
c. School children will be invited
d. the main concerts to be staged
e. Massive alterations to the Corn Exchange are being planned
f. which was formed.
(Notice that there are five different forms of the verb be in these sentences.)
2. The reason for so much use of the passive here could be that the events which have occurred and those which are planned are more important than the people behind them. It is also an informative article in a newspaper so that some formality is more appropriate than it would be in a friendly letter or in conversation.
Context and meaning
Lecture We’ll turn now from context and grammar to the importance of context for meaning. One aspect of meaning is the extent of meaning that a word has. Imagine you are asked the meaning of the word chair. What do you say? ‘It’s something you sit on’, perhaps.What we need to know are the boundaries of its use. Can you say chair for what you sit on in a train? In a car? When milking? On a bike? In church? Suddenly all sorts of judgements have to be made about whether you are going to introduce related words like bench, stool, pew, seat, armchair.
So a simple question about a simple object leads into questions about its use, and also what it must look like. Must a chair have a back? Legs? Arms? This is important because although you may be able to translate chair, its full range of meaning will never overlap 100% with its equivalent in another language.
Now close your eyes and think white. If that’s all I say, you are likely to think of the colour white, perhaps on a wall or a shirt or paper. But if I say white wine, you’ll think of a yellow colour, or white people, a pinkish colour, or a white lie, no colour at all. Clearly then, the meaning of words often depends on the context.
In what different contexts could the speaker encountere these words? See if you can find at least two different contexts for each. wings right-winger term rate bar
Some of the possible contexts for these words are
wings theatre, bird or car right-winger football or politics term language, school or maths rate currency exchange, tax on housing, or speed of increase/decrease bar law, music or drinking.
You have just been thinking about different areas of meaning for the same word. Sometimes these different areas depend on shared cultural assumptions and usage. An example of this is a British Rail poster advertising their Family Railcard, depicting a jungle with some monkeys playing in the trees. The text under this poster reads
Grown-ups get 25% off rail fares. Your little monkeys go for only Ј1.00. Don’t drag your feet (or your knuckles). A family Railcard only costs 20 for a year swing by and pick up a leaflet from any main British Rail Station.
Note different meanings of the words used here and their sense.
You would first need to establish that the usual meaning of all the words was understood and then explain that monkeys can be used to refer to children in English, that it carries the idea of naughtiness but that it’s used affectionately. To explain knuckles, you would have to refer to (or demonstrate) how monkeys move, using their knuckles, and explain that knuckles is substituting for the word feet in the phrase ‘drag your feet’. You would need to take the same approach to ‘swing by’. It might be wise to point out that the use of this sort of language can change quite quickly and could become unfashionable in, say, ten years’ time.
2. AAn advertisement for Remy Martin Champagne Cognac uses three sentences suggesting that the consumers of the product are very special. I have changed one word in each to produce unusual collocations. Identify the word and replace it with a word that collocates better. Ask another person and see if they agree with you. HAVE YOU EVER CREWED A YACHT BEYOND THE VISION OF LAND? HAVE YOU EVER THROWN A BARBECUE THAT FRIENDS STILL TALK ABOUT? HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED STANDING APPLAUSE?
2. You should have suggested
a. vision sight (vision doesn’t collocate with land)
b. barbecue party (barbecue doesn’t collocate with throw)
c. applause a (standing) ovation (applause doesn’t collocate with standing)
(Note that we need to add the indefinite article a, because ovation is a count noun whereas applause is not.)
Bottom of Form 1
Subject matter lessons Taking notes
ü The learners are watching a recorded university lecture on acid rain. They are taking notes and will write a summary of the content, using dictionaries (bilingual and monolingual as appropriate). Earlier the teacher had elicited from them some of the key words used in the lecture, their meaning and usage, and listed them on the board.
ü Small groups of learners are trying to match some cut-out newspaper headlines with the relevant articles. The teacher is going round monitoring each group. Earlier they listened to, discussed and noted some news items on the radio which introduced some of the vocabulary they are encountering.
ü Individual learners are scattered about outside the classroom asking people pre-prepared questions about their opinions on a new sports centre that is proposed in the area. They are talking in the interviewees’ mother tongue, and will then report their findings to the rest of the class in English with the rest of the students taking notes on the matter they present.
ü Half the class are reading about the early life of a writer they have chosen to study. The other half are reading about the same writer’s later life. They make notes of what they had learnt about unknown part of writer’s life.In pairs they’ll tell each other what they have found out and then they’ll each write an obituary.
ü In small groups, the learners are looking at examples of different types of text. Their aim is to identify what they are and note any differences in style, formality, length, print-size, comprehensibility, grammar patterns, etc. The examples include a recipe, a newspaper article, computer instructions, diary entries, an extract from a novel, a letter to some English friends.
Each of the two methods has its own advantages and disadvantages and their aims are quite different, that’s why I included them both in this single work. Games help students to relax, entertain and encourage them and help to develop their communicative competence, while note-taking is a very serious work demanding an amount of concentration and developing and writing practice. Both of them are to be used in a write time and in a write place. For some students games are a bit unserious while the other part of students may find note-taking too fatiguing so the teacher must take into account all these points. All in all with all these spots to think over I find them necessary in teacher’s work. While some of the methods are let be omitted by the teacher (like silent way, synthetic or analytic (every teacher choose his own way to work with students)) the two of these in my opinion must be included in the learning process. They act like general concepts giving you a full lenth of technics to apply within one method. They don’t give strict directions of how to apply them but a wide space for creative work.
French Allen, V. 1983. Techniques in teaching vocabulary. Oxford Oxford University Press.
Gear, J. and R. Gear. 1988. Incongruous visuals for the EFL classroom. English Teaching Forum, 26, 2. pp.43.
Vocabulary picture puzzle. English Teaching Forum, 23, 4, pp. 41-42. Gulland, D. M. and D. Hinds-Howell. 1986. The penguin dictionary of English idioms. London Penguin Books Ltd.
Haycraft, J. 1978. An introduction to English language teaching. Harlow Longman.
Hubbard, P., H. Jones, B. Thornton, and R. Wheeler. 1983. A training course for TEFL. Oxford Oxford University Press.
Lee, W. R. 1979. Language teaching games and contests. Oxford Oxford University Press.
Rixon, S. 1981. How to use games in language teaching. London Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Mario Rinvolucri and Paul Davis.1992. More grammar games. Cambridge University Press.
Abbott, G., D. McKeating, J. Greenwood, and P. Wingard. 1981. The teaching of English as an international language. A practical guide. London Collins.
Raimes, A. 1983. Techniques in teaching writing. New York Oxford University Press.
Games, Games, Games ( a Woodcraft Folk handbook sold in Oxfam shops in UK)
Berer, Marge and Frank, Christine and Rinvolucri, Mario. Challenge to think. Oxford University Press, 1982.