domingo, 28 de fevereiro de 2010

Fast Tip 2: Call your students by their names

Once I took a course which was called "Dale Carnegie". It was nothing about English specifically but about how to develop our abilities to speak in public, make friends, etc. They taught us maaaaaany things and the course was really interesting. But there was something in particular that the teacher said which I always remember when I'm with my was something like this: "Our names are the most precious thing we have". And I could "live" that in my classes. I know that depending on the case we've got so many students that it's impossible to remember everybody's name, and I myself had moments when I looked at a student and I wanted to remember his/her name but I just couldn't! So I'd say: "You..." I felt terrible! Things happen completely different when we call students by their names 'cause this was they can feel they are important to us as we know they are. See ya!

sábado, 27 de fevereiro de 2010

My dear diary

I remember when I was in the States in 1999 and I had a great Reading/Writing teacher. So all the students who were taking her classes got a small copybook in the first day of class and we were supposed to write every day in it as if it were a diary. Lynn (that was her name) used to read our diaries and write us very nice and friendly things about them. What a great writing exercise!! Years later I tried to use her idea with some of my groups but it didn't work very well 'cause not every student can realize the importance of writing, and the exercise ended up being done by only some of them. Now I'm thinking about giving my private student this suggestion! Another good idea is to write comments when correcting compositions. I don't mean only commenting on the mistakes but especially on the story that student wanted to tell. It's very nice to feel that your teacher really read what you wrote, and not only read but also wrote something back about it! That's pure motivation! Have a great weekend!

sexta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2010

Piece of cake!

It's very common to find an intermediate or even an advanced student who doesn't remember how to read numbers in English. I've got two students who feel a little insecure when they find in the middle of a text numbers which they're supposed to read. I needed to prepare an exercise (a VERY simple one, by the way) that wouldn't take too much time of my class and also worked well as a review so that my students could feel more confident when facing numbers.So I typed and printed lots of numbers like 156,2010, 357,289, 1915, 1500, for them to read out loud in the last 5 minutes of our class. As it is an extremely simple task, I could never imagine my students would even enjoy doing it, but they did! It was even kind of funny because by the end of the activity they were struggling not to make mistakes and having fun with that! If you teach big groups it would be even interesting to promote a "reading numbers competition". You and your class could set a date for that event with special prizes and so on. I'm sure that would be great and your students could have a great opportunity to review the content and have fun at the same time! One thousand hugs! See you tomorrow!

quinta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2010

Working all abilities at once!

For this activity you need to teach groups or at least two private students at the same time. Before class, prepare two diferent paragraphs which involves the content they've been studying and take as many copies you need. So you're going to give Student A a paragraph and Student B a different one. Place their desks or chairs like the picture above and be sure they cannot see each other's paragraph. Explain that Student A has to dictate Student B his/her paragraph and vice versa. If you teach big groups it can be a very nice competition!The ones who finish first and write everything correctly are the winners! With this exercise they're gonna be practicing all abilities: reading, listening, speaking and writing!! Have a wonderful class, colleague!

quarta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2010

Consolidating Wish Clauses with a Picture-Match up!

After presenting Wish Clauses a nice way to check if your students really understood the content is to give them a "Picture-Match up!". You can prepare everything easily with only an old magazine, scissors, paper, glue (or a tape) and a colored pen.You just need to look for some pictures of people and then create some sayings for all of them, like: "I cant' quit smoking", for example. Then in strips of paper write the corresponding Wish Clause for each statement, which would be in this case "I wish I could stop smoking".Notice that you don't even need a computer for that! So after explaining the grammar, students are supposed to, individually or in pairs, match the pictures with the appropriate Wish Clause. Two good ideas in one! Simple as that!

terça-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2010

A surprising warm up!

This activity is simply great and you can do it with kids,teens and even adults! In advance, the teacher has to prepare some paper strips with questions related to the topic that has been taught. Brief reviews are very important and they can be wonderful warm ups! Before your students come in, use a tape to put a question under each desk or only under some if you prefer, and make sure they cannot see the "surprise". So as soon as your students sit down tell them to look under their desks 'cause there is something for them - a question which they're supposed to read out loud and then answer to the whole group. Wow!

segunda-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2010

Next lesson: "What's this?"

Real life. Bringing real objects to class. Students tend to learn easier this way because the class becomes much more interesting for them. So I've got this new student, who is a beginner, and next class I have to teach her the names of certain objects and of course the corresponding question "What's this?".I was preparing my lesson when I looked at the book and saw a picture of a bag with some objects that supposedly were in it, so I thought about bringing that bag to real life. I started looking for some old stuff at home...a bag, an old mobile phone, a lipstick, a pair of sunglasses...ready! I had what I needed in real life to show my student instead of that "obvious" bag from the book. Now I just need to type and print the names of those objects and after presenting the content I'll ask my student to label each of them. Yes!!

domingo, 21 de fevereiro de 2010

Fast tip 1: Stand up!

Do you usually teach sitting or standing? Well, when I was teaching big groups I didn't use the chair much. Really. I was standing 99,5% of my class. And I used to do that because I could feel that this way my students were paying much more attention and the lesson had a live and dynamic environment. In the past teachers used to teach sitting and I myself had some great teachers who used to be like that all the time. I could see that some of my classmates were sleepy, others were "flying away", and I was thinking about how boring that class was. Now that I'm giving private lessons it's a bit different. I don't stand as much as I used to, but I do stand up in certain moments in order not to leave my class "die". You'll be amazed when you realize how a student's behavior is influenced by our mood and position in class!! See you tomorrow!

sexta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2010

In parentheses

Hi, colleagues! I'd like to say that due to the holiday I won't be able to post anything new until next Saturday. But from February 21 on I start posting lots of new things again!! Have a wonderful holiday!

quinta-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2010

Match up! (Practicing Passive Voice, etc.)

A "match up" is always a good idea when we think about consolidating a grammar content which we've been working on. I taught Passive Voice to one of my private students two days ago and tomorrow I'd like to make a brief review before starting our class. So a "match up" came to my mind! It was late at night but let me tell didn't take more than 15 minutes to prepare everything! I typed some sentences like "Monalisa...was painted my Leonardo da Vinci", or "Beautiful Stranger...was sung by Madonna", printed and then cut them in pieces so that the student is supposed to find the other part of the sentence. After I learned how to "deal" with "contact paper" (I have to confess I checked this word out in an online dictionary. I'm really not sure if that's the correct word for that) I got to the conclusion that it does wonders! Notice that you can practice lots of things using a simple "match up". Besides, it doesn't take much time from your class, the students like it because it's not a "common" exercise (I mean, from the book which is sometimes boring)and you get to great results!!

quarta-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2010

"The Word Soup"

This is an activity that can be done as a warm up or even as a wrap up when there's some time left. In advance, teacher should prepare many words in separated paper and put all of them in a bag. Students have to pick three words from the bag and then make a sentence including those words. Some very funny and nonsense sentences come up! Funny and easy activity that can be done with different levels and very good for practicing the vocabulary that has been studied. You should try it!

terça-feira, 9 de fevereiro de 2010

Listen and clap your hands!

Another fun and simple way to do a listening exercise with your private student/group is to, in advance, pick some words from the text or the conversation which is going to be given and write them on the board. Tell your student(s) to keep their books closed and explain that they're going to listen to the CD and pay attention to those particular words. As soon as they hear one of them they're supposed to clap their hands only once. Notice that a certain word can be heard more than once and they should clap hands every time they listen to it. Nice!

segunda-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2010

Celebrate a holiday with a song!

I've already written here that I like to teach my students a little about American holidays. That's why I try to decorate my minischool's mural with things related to them. Once the next holiday is gonna be Valentine's which is celebrated on February 14, I've chosen a romantic song and this week I'm gonna give my students at the end of the class. I've got the DVD as well, and I also prepared an activity related to the song for them to do before watching and listening to it. The activity is simple: I typed the song but I put in a box certain words which they're supposed to use in order to fill the lyrics out BEFORE listening to it. You can also change the task and ask them to fill them out WHILE listening to the CD/DVD. This way my students are going to be able to memorize the holiday and especially what it is about doing something they really like. Cool!

domingo, 7 de fevereiro de 2010

Do you know DISAL?

When I started giving private lessons I didn't know hot to get the material I'd work with my students, then a friend told me about Disal. Have you ever heard of it? Well, they have a great site with a huge variety of language books and you can even buy from it. As I don't like buying products from the net I prefer to call them in São Paulo and order my books. So I choose the books I want in their site and order them by phone. Simple as that! They send the material to me in a couple of days and I've never had any kind of problems. Simple as that! And besides all this, we, teachers, get 20% discount of discount! Don't forget:

sábado, 6 de fevereiro de 2010

Setting the scene with a little bit of me

When I start a new unit with my students I always like to set the scene. But what does it mean practically speaking? Setting the scene according to what I live in my lessons is to give the next unit an introduction. It means to show something related to the topic of the next unit so that the student can think about what is going to be worked in class, the issues we're going to talk about and the most important: feel interested in what we're going to see. Yesterday I used a part of a movie which I've already mentioned here ("The Devil wears Prada")after eliciting from my student some advantages and disadvantages of being famous. The topic of our next unit is gonna be "Who needs fame?". So my pupil already knows what the topic of the new unit is about and I'm pretty sure he already has ideas and opinions about it. Today (yes, I teach on Saturdays!)I'm going to do something different.The lesson I have to present brings the theme "When I was 18 I used to think I'd do this and that, but that's what I really do now that I'm 28..." something like that. Well, in order to set the scene I'm going to show my student some pictures of me when I was nineteen and I'm also gonna tell her about what I thought I'd be doing in the future and finally compare with my life today. After that she'll be ready to talk about her experience. Bringing a little of our lives (I'm talking about us, teachers) to class is something very interesting for the students because they're usually very curious about us and we can make a good use of it! You should try once! Have a great class!

sexta-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2010

Probably an interesting book

Having a look at this book I could see that it can be really useful to work with those students who are attending English classes because of the big test they have to take before going to college (our "vestibular"). So, besides doing old tests as a way to practice and get used to the kind of questions they're going to face, maybe it's a good idea to use "Grand Slam Combo" as a support. This book emphasizes the reading part which is really important for those specific students,bringing very nice tips, grammar and lots of exercises. Two more good things about it: it's a Longman's product and it costs only R$ 29,00.

quinta-feira, 4 de fevereiro de 2010

Welcome back!

Teachers and students are usually very worried at this time of the year when all of us have to start again. The first day of class used to be difficult for me and I can imagine my students always felt the same. Now, even though I'm giving private lessons I can feel that it's not so different. The first day is always the first day! So I picked some ideas for you and your students to break the ice and have a very nice class with no stress at all! Take a look!

1)"My hypothetical Summer" - We're used to that old question teachers ask students on the first day: "How was your vacation?" or they say: "Let's write about our Summer vacation". "My hypothetical Summer" is interesting because students have to write and then read to class what they WISHED they could have done and not what they did. (

2) "Two truths and a lie" - students have to tell the class their names, two truths and one lie for the others to find out with information is false. (http://

3) "The ball game" - teacher brings a ball to class and when the ball is rolled to a certain student, he/she has to say his/her name, something he/she likes, his/her favorite color and so on. (

4) "Firts day pictures" - this idea is not very practical but it's soooo cute! I think it should work better with kids. Teacher take a photo of each student in front of the classroom door. Click! (

5) The following ideas are to be used with adults. The first one you gotta show the class a picture of a deserted island and they have to say who they'd bring with and why. The last idea though you can also use with teens because students have only to walk around the classroom and spend 2 minutes talking to a certain collegue. When the time is up they have to move to the next and so on. Very nice idea! Don't you think? (

Good luck on your first day class!

quarta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2010

Ideas to practice Present Continuos!

I remember when an old friend that used to teach at the same English course I used to told me what she had done to practice the Present Continuos with her group. She used to teach children at that time so she invited them for a walk (of course she had already talked to the parents about it) and they stopped to have an ice cream nearby. It was not a big group so she could sit with them and look around. She asked them to tell her what people were doING at that moment. Great idea, isn't it? Well, I myself have never tried such a thing but I confess I'd love to! If you have the chance, I think it's a wonderful way to consolidate the content. Another idea is to use pictures. Ah!Pictures again! But what can I do if they work so well in class? Showing the students pictures of people doING something like watching TV, reading a book, eating a sandwich...students can practice afirmative, negative and interrogative forms through them. But if you're looking for a really simple way to practice the Continuos form why not mention the mime? Easy and practical but also very helpful when we want to teach our group/private student Present Continuos. Ask the student(s) to mime an action and the others have to guess using the structure: "You're dancing." or make them ask yes/no questions like: "Are you sleeping?" and so on. It can turn into a very exciting competition if you choose the actions which they have to act to their teams in order to make them guess what they're doing. Well, I guess that's all for today! Have a wonderful class!

terça-feira, 2 de fevereiro de 2010

Presenting Personality Traits

Last week I taught one of my private students "personality traits", and before I started our class yesterday I gave her a brief review of the content we've seen. I always like to start my lessons with a review of what I taught the class before so that the student can "refresh" his/her mind and we're ready to focus on the following lesson. Well, as a picture "lover" I searched for some different people in an old magazine and I also typed the personality traits I'd like to review with my student. In class I placed all the pictures on the desk and my student was supposed to choose a person for each personality trait we've studied. Afterwards she had to explain me why she had chosen a certain person for a specific trait. That's the funniest part because the student has to create an explanation for that..."Ah, I think this girl looks serious so she might be strict...", or "This boy is disorganized because he is a teenager and teens are ususally messy...". The result was great! We saw the content again in a different way and my student was ready to learn something new! Fantastic!

segunda-feira, 1 de fevereiro de 2010

Teaching "What time does it start? What channel is it on?"

When there's a lesson in which I have to teach my student(s) how to talk about TV shows I bring to class real things, so that they can practice using true information, being able to talk about the shows that are usually watched by them and because of that the content is consolidated in a much easier and nicer way. The last time I had to show my students how to ask about the time a certain TV show would start and also the channel on which the program would be shown I brought to class copies of a page from a cable TV magazine. If you work with big groups don't worry 'cause it's not necessary to take a xerox copy for all of them. You can divide them in pairs and they can use the same photocopy for the activity. After presenting the content leave the sentences on the board so that the students are able to follow them during the task asking and answering questions using the name, the time and the channel of a TV show they have chosen. Simple as that!