quarta-feira, 31 de março de 2010

A visit to a R$1,99 store!

One of these days I was passing by a R$ 1,99 store when I decided to go in and see if I could find something cheap, but at the same time interesting, to use in my classes. So I bought the three objects above because I thought they could be useful in my lessons.
1) A mirror (R$ 2.50) – Why not bring to class a mirror in order to teach Reflexive Pronouns? The teacher may look at the mirror and say: “I’m looking at MYSELF”. After that, it would be a student’s turn to look at the mirror and this time the teacher would say: “She/He is looking at HERSELF/HIMSELF” and so on.
2) A flute (R$ 1,99) – CAN you play the flute? This idea would be really nice for large groups. The teacher could give a student the flute and ask this volunteer to play the musical instrument. Probably this student wouldn’t be able to do so, and the teacher would have a great chance to teach CAN by saying something like: “Iiiiii..I guess João CAN´T play the flute...” and continue asking the other students: “CAN you play the flute?”, "Who CAN play the flute?"
3) An object we used in the past to learn how to count - (R$ 5.50)- Do you remember this?? I really don’t know its name even in Portuguese! A different idea to practice NUMBERS in the year 2010!! After presenting the numbers, ask your student to count using this object from the old days!

terça-feira, 30 de março de 2010

A Family Tree

Once students always learn faster when they deal with real situations, I think it would be a good idea to ask them to bring pictures of THEIR family in order to work with them during the corresponding lesson. So, in advance the teacher could ask the group (or even a private student, why not?) to bring a family photo to class. This would work really well not only to set the scene but also to present the “family members”. I’d start showing a picture of my family and at the same time I’d teach the vocabulary related to the content putting the words on the board so that the students could follow them. Then, it would be my student’s turn to talk about his/her family photo. I’d ask my student about the people in the picture with questions like: “Who’s he?”, “Who’s she?”, “Who are they?”, eliciting from him/her the vocabulary I've just presented. If you work with large groups you can model the exercise with a student and then divide them in pairs to do the same! See you tomorrow, colleague!

segunda-feira, 29 de março de 2010

domingo, 28 de março de 2010

Fast tip 6: Talk less, listen more

This tip is soooooo for me! I have to confess! During my classes I always have to stop and think if I’m talking more than my student (rs). Really. Sometimes I get so excited about the class, or a certain topic that I start speaking (in English, of course!) too much but then something makes me realize that “maybe” I'm speaking more than I should. After all, my student is the one who is there to practice the language. Not me. Summing up, in my opinion, teachers should listen more and talk less. There’s something else I always have to control in me. Once I’m kind of anxious, sometimes I ask my student a question and I don’t wait the time I should for him/her to answer. Instead of that, I start helping. Not that I give them the answer but I start giving clues...that’s not good, either. So after this confession, I promise myself I’m gonna be more patient next time and wait a little bit more for my student to answer the question without my help, and I also promise I’m gonna give my student a chance to speak much more than me in class. Have a great Sunday, my dear colleague!

sábado, 27 de março de 2010

Getting ready for Easter!

Easter is coming and I’m already preparing some activities for next week. I love working with printable worksheet, so I looked for something on the Net about the holiday and I found these great ones!! I've chosen three different activities so that I can give my teens two of them and a different one to adults (Cryptogram). These kind of exercises are nice because we have the chance to talk a little about the holiday and they work really well as a warm up or a wrap up! Students can also learn new vocabulary through those tasks and a good thing is that they don’t take too much time of our classes. You can even set a time limit for your students to do them and turn those worksheets into a very exciting competition! Thank you once again, www.dltk-holidays.com!!

sexta-feira, 26 de março de 2010

There is a cat under the table.

This afternoon I remembered this dictation I used to give my students. It’s been a long time since I don’t teach large groups so I haven’t been using this activity recently but I realized it’s possible to use it with my private students as well, and I really think they would like it! I got this idea from a book once and it’s really interesting. At the end of class or in the beginning of it, give your students a piece of paper and then tell them you’re going to dictate something but they should draw instead of write. Then, start dictating: THERE IS A TABLE. At this moment everybody’s supposed to draw it. THERE IS A RADIO ON THE TABLE. They draw it. BEHIND THE RADIO, THERE IS A VASE. IN THE VASE, THERE’S A FLOWER. THERE’S ALSO SOME WATER IN THE VASE. By this time, students are gonna be really surprised because they probably won’t find room for everything you want them to draw. No problem! That’s the funny thing about the task! You continue. UNDER THE TABLE, THERE IS A CAT. THERE’S ALSO A DOG UNDER THE TABLE. BETWEEN THE DOG AND THE CAT THERE’S A PLATE. And finally...THERE’S A FISH ON THE PLATE. Ufffffff!!! Have fun!!
PS: You may practice there is/there are and prepositions with this dynamic.

quinta-feira, 25 de março de 2010

Presenting/Consolidating "What's this?" with a challenging game!!

Some time ago I went to a stationary and I bought this very simple game (and pretty cheap, by the way) because I thought it would be nice for my English private classes. The game contains lots of pictures made of cardboard and there is also something to cover one’s eyes so the blindfolded volunteer cannot look at the object (an umbrella, a bicycle, a butterfly, etc) he/she has in hand. So yesterday afternoon I was teaching the mentioned content to two students, who are teens, and we played the game as a "warm up". It was great! They had fun, especially because it was kind of difficult for them to find out the objects. It became a very challenging game! If you work with large groups, ask for a volunteer!! It’s nice!! And if you can’t find a similar game, you can make one yourself...or even use real objects to play with your students!! Don’t forget to start presenting the grammar you’re about to teach (if you use this activity as a "warm up") asking the volunteer: “What’s this?” If students don’t know the vocabulary in English, no problem!! They can say the word in Portuguese and you can give them the corresponding noun in English. They'll be learning anyway!!Have a nice and challenging class, colleague!

quarta-feira, 24 de março de 2010


Colleagues, next time you have some free time, take a look at www.eslteachersboard.com. The site has a huuuuuge variety of games and activities. Some of them are already known but there are other activities which are new and interesting as well. One of the dynamics that caught my attention was the following:the teacher puts some cards/pictures on the desk and asks students to memorize their details during a certain time. After that, one of the cards/pictures should be taken out, and of course students are not allowed to see that because their “mission” is to say which card/picture has "disappeared" and also describe it. Hmmm...a wonderful idea for my next class!

terça-feira, 23 de março de 2010

Practice Second Conditional listening to Beyoncé!

Yeeeeeessss!!! I finally got to find a song ("If I were a boy") that really fits the grammar point I have to teach my student in a few days, which is “Second Conditional”, and I’m really anxious about it ‘cause I guess it’ll be a very nice way for her to consolidate the content. This time I’m going to work on the song before playing the CD. I intend to type the lyrics and ask my student to fill out with the conditional. Nice, isn’t it?

segunda-feira, 22 de março de 2010

Talking about clothes

I have to confess that in my mini school I’ve got a huge folder with pictures divided in categories: famous people, furniture, occupations, clothes...and I always make use of them when I want to teach my students. But this time I’m not going to write about pictures. Instead, I’m gonna give you a good idea for a “wrap up” (as I was writing about their importance two days ago). This activity is great for those last five minutes of class, after you’ve presented and practiced the theme “clothes” with your students. Teacher should bring to class a handkerchief that can be used to blindfold a student. So in the end of your lesson ask if there’s a volunteer and place a desk in front of the class. The volunteer should sit down and, blindfolded, answer the following question: “What’s João (or any other classmate) wearing today?”. The volunteer is supposed to answer the question using the vocabulary learned, like: “He’s wearing a white T-shirt, a pair of jeans, and blue sneakers”. You can also practice short answers asking, for example, "Is Maria wearing a pair of white socks today?". Remember to give that brave student a reward for participating, and have fun!

domingo, 21 de março de 2010

Fast Tip 5: Celebrate your student's achievement!

I could also say...praise your students! Everybody likes to be praised and we, teachers, gotta keep in mind that praising is a motivational factor to our students. But of course this must be sincere. Yesterday (Remember? I still teach on Saturdays) something like this happened to me. My student was supposed to make up a question, and even though her idea was great (it really was!), she made a grammar mistake. I corrected her in nice way and emphasized her creativity.“Wow! Your question was really creative!I loved your idea!” She immediately gave me a smile.It's so nice when a student answers something correctely or reads a text in the right way...it means he/she LEARNED and that makes me feel really happy, but it also means I achieved my goal and that's another reason for me to celebrate, as well.I show that through gestures (a smile is a great idea!) and words like “VERY GOOD!!”, “EXCELLENT!!”, “YOU’VE MADE IT”, “SEE? YOU CAN!!”, ETC. A simple supportive gesture, an enthusiastic word and a sincere smile can make wonders. Try and see by yourself!! Have a happy Sunday, collegue!

sábado, 20 de março de 2010

English class X Exercise class

Yesterday while I was giving my student a song in the end of our class – by the way, one of Mariah Carey’s: “I wanna know what love is” – I felt like I was about to finish an exercise class. You know, if we stop to think we’ll get to the conclusion that an English class is very similar to an exercise class. We start with a “warm up” in order to get students ready to start, then we have the class itself which must be really lively and dynamic (can you imagine a physical education teacher that looks demotivated and gives a boring class?), and finally we have the last part of the class with a game, a song,a reading task, etc.(mmm..a wonderful topic for a next future!). Wrap ups provide students some time to unwind and practice English as well. We can make use of different ways to finish our classes, depending only on the time we have, on the group, on the day...anyway, wrap ups are also great because they make us feel like “Ok! Mission accomplished! The class was great!". Well, that's it for today! See you, collegue!

sexta-feira, 19 de março de 2010

Practice Whose/Genitive Case with an extra material made by you!!

This is an exercise that almost every book brings but once almost every student enjoys "taking a break" from the book ,I thought about preparing my own "hand made" activity and reach the same result, but in a nicest way! And you can also do that using a computer and paper. If you can't use a computer, no problem! You can use only colored pens and paper! I simply chose two pictures from the Net (Google Images), one of a girl and the other one of a boy and created names for them. Then, I typed lots of objects like "a pink wallet", "a pair of male sunglasses",etc. So my student is supposed to place these objects under their "owners", just like a match up! After that, the teacher can practice questions like "Whose wallet is this?" and elicit from the student the corresponding answer "It's Jen's", for example. Wow! It's Friday again! Have a nice weekend, collegue!

quinta-feira, 18 de março de 2010

Two dictionary games!

Usually when a teacher comes into the classroom with a dictionary, students get almost "terrified". Looking for meanings in a dictionary is boring for them. But with these games (which are great to be used with Intermediate or Advanced Students) you'll be able to work on their vocabulary and let them have fun in class, too! You need only a dictionary, paper and pencils and it's a good idea to divide your group in teams or in pairs. In advance, choose some words from the dictionary and prepare three definitions for each of them. One should be correct and the others false. Students are supposed to guess which definition is the correct one. But there is also another way to play a game with a dictionary. Give your students a word and this time THEY're supposed to write a definition for it (individually or in pairs), and that's the funniest part because they probably don't know the word so they have to use their imagination to write a definition for it. Remind them not to write their names on the paper and after two minutes, collect the papers and read them out loud. Students, then, vote on the definition they think is the correct one. Points to the ones who vote on the correct definition or on the one that gets closer to the correct meaning.The coolest part: the ones who wrote a false definition and got most of the votes from the others score points, too!

quarta-feira, 17 de março de 2010

My mural this month.

So to celebrate St Patrick's Day I'm gonna show you,collegues, my mini school mural and also the activities I'm giving to some of my students this week at the end of their class. See you tomorrow!!

terça-feira, 16 de março de 2010

A super cute site!

Yesterday I found this cute site with songs for children! The nice thing is that you can get the lyrics and listen to them as well. There is a huge variety of songs divided in themes like "animals", "action and movement songs", "days of the week", etc. Really nice! www.songsforteaching.com

segunda-feira, 15 de março de 2010

Present Perfect Continuos with...pictures!

Present Perfect Continuos can also be practiced with pictures taken from old magazines. The teacher should choose those ones showing people in action (reading a newspaper, talking on the phone, etc) and then label each of them in a way the students have to make the sentences by themselves. So for example: a picture of someone watching TV. The label could be: WATCH TV / TWO HOURS and the student is supposed to say "She has been watching TV for two hours". Variations are possible. You can ask your students, for example, "Has she been watching TV for three hours?" and elicit from them the answer "No, she hasn't. She has been watching TV for two hours." If you work with groups, a good idea is to divide them in pairs or in small groups so that they can keep practicing with the pictures. How long have I been working with pictures? I've been working with pictures for a long time and I simply love it!

domingo, 14 de março de 2010

Fast Tip 4: Show interest in what you're teaching

I mean not only in what we're teaching but in everything we do in class. For example: while a student is doing a listening exercise, if I stop and listen to the CD as well, he/she gets even more concentrated during the task but if I use that time (I know, sometimes we need it!) to do something else about the class, like getting some pictures I'm about to use, it doesn't help his/her concentration and can even make that student think "humm..the teacher is not so interested in class...why should I be?". When we present the content or introduce a new exercise with a bright look in our eyes and enthusiasm, it instantly reflects in our class' environment and that person who is there ready to learn becomes more excited about the whole thing. Give it a try!

sábado, 13 de março de 2010

Test your student's memory with "The Simpsons"

Last week I used another DVD but in a different way. I've got a student who is 13 and, just like most teenagers, he loves watching "The Simpsons. So once he's a beginner, I prepared a very simple activity related to the cartoon, and used it as a "wrap up"! Well, I decided to prepare an exercise that would give my student a chance to read in English after listening to it, and at the same time would test his "memory" (more like a way to keep him paying attention to the scene). So I wrote things like: "There was a pink box on the table" and "Homer liked his wife's idea", and so on. After watching the scene he was supposed to answer some questions and then mark true or false. He liked the activity a lot and the most important is that he got to the conclusion that it's possible to understand the idea of a cartoon or a movie in English!! See you tomorrow!

sexta-feira, 12 de março de 2010

A great warm up for Mondays

How about including a simple and nice warm up to use with your students on Monday? Or on Tuesday? I explain. I got this idea from a book I've already mentioned here ("Inglês é Teen") and I had the chance to use in on Monday with a student. The activity worked really well! All you need is a pencil and paper. Ask your student to write 4 sentences about his/her last weekend, but one of them should be false. If you work with a group divide it in pairs, if you are a private teacher as I am, you should also write sentences about your last weekend and work as your student's partner (that's what I always do!). So Student A reads his/her sentences to Student B and this one has to guess which of them is false and vice versa. Simple as that!! I wish you a very happy weekend, collegues!

quinta-feira, 11 de março de 2010

Find someone who

This is a perfect acitivity for large groups and I used to do it a lot with my students when I taught at English courses. The teacher should prepare in advance some statements like: "someone who likes chocolate", "someone who goes to bed after 11 pm", or "someone who eats fast food once a week", and type them. Take as many photocopies you need so that each student has one. Explain that they're supposed to walk around the classroom and keep asking their classmates questions, for example, "Do you like chocolate?", "Do you go to bed after 11 pm?" or "Do you eat fast food once a week/How often do you eat fast food?". When a classmate answers "yes" they should write his/her name next to the corresponding statement. After some time, ask all of them to sit down and then elicit answers "Class, who eats fast food once a week?" and so on. Great exercise and it also gives you the chance to practice different subjects:Simple Present, Simple Past (using statements in the past "Who went to a restaurant yesterday"), Present Perfect and etc. Have a wonderful class!

quarta-feira, 10 de março de 2010

A very happy PS!!!

Board games are definitely amazing!!! I've just got from a class with two new students and it worked reaaaaaallyyyyy well as an ice breaker!!!

Board games are simply the best!

I always loved board games! And so did my students. When I worked with large groups, and when it was possible, I used to divide them in trios and have them playing those games in the last fifteen minutes of our class. Of course we were practicing the content we had studied and they had lots of fun! So yesterday I found something wonderful on the Net: a site with printable board games!!!!! I myself printed some related to the topic of my lessons and I'm anxious to use all of them with my private students. If you have large groups you can take photocopies and play with them, too!!! A great thing is that you can make the board game yourself choosing among a big variety of topics and also choosing the vocabulary you'd like to work with your students. Really nice!!! Take a look: www.toolsforeducators.com

terça-feira, 9 de março de 2010

Consolidating Prices

Next time you go to the supermarket get one of those catalogs and don't throw them away. They can be wonderful material to have your students practicing prices in English!! After presenting the content you may ask them to read each of the prices, and you can also practice the corresponding questions like: "How much is this?" or "How much are these?". If you work with large groups a good idea is to divide them in pairs or in trios, take photocopies of the catalogs so that they can keep asking and answering questions to each other. Vocabulary can also be presented with this simple material. You can teach them words like "coffee", "a bottle of milk", "cookies", etc. Colleagues, we can get wonderful material everywhere!!! Have a great day!

segunda-feira, 8 de março de 2010

Picture Dictation

Another very nice idea is the "Picture Dictation". At first you may think it may only be applied to children or teens but I've already done this activity with grown-ups and everybody had lots of fun! First of all you have to choose some words from the vocabulary you've been teaching and as a "warm up" or as a "wrap up" you can tell your students that you're going to dictate them some words but instead of writing them they should only draw. This way you can check if they really got the vocabulary and at the same time they'll be practicing their listening.If you want to make this activity even funnier, after finishing the dictation, collect all drawings and have students vote for the most beautiful, the funniest, etc. but notice that this competition may not be a good idea if you work with children. Have a nice class!

domingo, 7 de março de 2010

Fast Tip 3: Be careful when correcting a student

Correcting students is complicated. At the same time we have the obligation to show a certain student the right way of saying or writing something we gotta be very careful on the way we do it, otherwise that English learner can feel bad about the whole thing and even get DEmotivated...and of course that's the last thing we all, teachers,want. Motivation is something precious when we're talking about learning a second language and a "small tiny little thing" can affect it. So here are some ways I've been using in class during these 16 years that may help you, and I'm opened for suggestions!!

a) The first thing I do when a student say something wrong is immediately repeat what he/she said in the right way. So that the student doesn't feel he/she's being corrected. For example: A student say "I GO to the beach yesterday". I repeat saying: "Oh, really? You WENT to the beach yesterday...how nice!" Most of the times, the student say: "Oh, yeah..I WENT to the beach yesterday."

b) I always avoid the word "no". When I'm correcting a student I try not to use this word. I use the "technique" above or I say: See, when we're trying to say this we should use that word because...";

c) I always tell my students that this is the time to make mistakes once he/she is there to learn and I also say that it's pretty normal to pronounce/say/write something wrong (it really is!);

d) Pay attention to your body language! Giving that student a smile can make him/her feel better. Nobody likes making mistakes and it's very hard for them to deal with it, especially in large groups when they feel really embarrassed because of the others;

e) When I'm correcting their workbooks or compositions I use a pencil;

f) My students get very disappointed when they can't understand a listening exercise very well. So I give them chances to understand it better and if they still can't I help them with the answer but all the time I emphasize the words they COULD listen to.

Bye, my dear collegues! See you tomorrow!

sexta-feira, 5 de março de 2010

Speak up is really awesome!

Believe it or not, this was the first time I bought the magazine (R$ 16,00) and I simply loved it! I had already heard of it many times but this was the very first time I got the chance to sit down and check it out. I'm always looking for new material to use in my classes and Speak up will be great to improve my students' reading. Once reading is something English learners usually don't like doing, I'm pretty sure they'd get much more interested in reading if it were about a subject they are really interested in. And we, as teachers, have to think about alternative ways to keep them practicing. My idea is to link an article from Speak Up with the unit I have to teach. So for example, a lesson about American cities. I'd give my student as an extra activity an article about a certain city(plus a Listening practice because a CD comes with the magazine!)and to implement even more I could show a scene or two from a DVD which is related to the topic! I guess it would be nice! Have a wonderful weekend!

quinta-feira, 4 de março de 2010

Teaching Prepositions

After my son's birthday party I noticed that a few boxes, which I had used to put some candies inside, were left. They were so nice that I didn't think about throwing them away,so I decided to keep them even though I didn't know what I could use them for. A good idea was to bring them to my mini school and maybe find a way to give those boxes a useful end. Yesterday I was teaching prepositions to one of my private students when I remembered I still had that cute red box! I immediately got use of it and also grabbed some of my keys that I had in my purse. Great! I didn't have to use the book to present her the meanings of each preposition and she could understand the content by simply placing the keys in, on, in front of, next to, behind and under that red box!

quarta-feira, 3 de março de 2010

I've got a new book!

This book caught my attention because of its title and also because of the price (only R$ 26,00). I didn't have enough time to read so I just took a look at it last night because I was really curious! Well, summing up: the author uses a very nice language and brings some ideas that we can use in class, but I confess I'd only use three of them. The first one refers to proverbs on which students can make comments; the second good idea (but I had already heard of it) was the activity in which we have a word and we ask the students to create others from that first one and the last option was creating funny ads for something. Then I thought about asking my students to look for something in a magazine and create a good advertisiment for it. That's all for today, colleague!! See you tomorrow!

terça-feira, 2 de março de 2010

Presenting foods

Interchange Intro lesson 9. A nice way to present the vocabulary which this unit brings is using images, their corresponding names and small plastic bags. So in my class, instead of following the book I placed everything on the desk and asked my student to first match the images with their names and finally organize them into the correct plastic bags. It was great!! My student didn't feel bored (notice that he's 13 and teenagers get usually tired of following the book) and at the same time he had the chance to learn the new vocabulary by dealing with its images and names. Now about the preparation: it took me some time because of the "contact paper" I decided to use but it was really not necessary. The images were taken from the Net (Google images!! I love it!) and the words were simply typed and printed which is not so important as you can even write them with a colored pen and have the same result. The plastic bags? Those ones who are used for freezing stuff and we can buy at any supermarket. Good activity! Fast and great result!

segunda-feira, 1 de março de 2010

www.dltk-holidays.com is great!

Yesterday I was thinking about my mural decoration for this month. I had already decided the theme: St Patrick's!! So I got lots of pictures from the Net but I'd like to find some printable activities to give my students so that they could learn something about the holiday and I found some great activities on www.dltk-holidays.com!!!