terça-feira, 31 de agosto de 2010


That's the name of a card game I bought this morning. It has eight different ways to be played, and I thought it would be a good idea to adapt some and use in my classes! Eureka!

segunda-feira, 30 de agosto de 2010

Making an impression.

That was the topic of today's unit. Is the first impression important? Are your first impressions usually right? So as an introductory activity I decided to look for pictures in an old magazine beforehand. The book brought some adjectives then I could search for faces that could fit them, so that my student could actually see what those qualities mean and have fun trying to match them to the pictures. So I set a time limit for him to do the task and think about reasons for those choices. Afterwards he had to explain me why certain picture got that specific adjetive, for example: "I think this man is boring because he looks too serious..." or "This woman looks creative because of the different clothes she's wearing...".Well,that was nice! Have a great day, colleague!
PS: Material needed: an old magazine and paper to write or type the adjectives you need to work with your group/private student. Have fun!

domingo, 29 de agosto de 2010

Problems we face 4 (Students with difficulties in learning the language)

In these 16 years of teaching I've already seen students who had lots of difficulties in learning English. Some had more like pronunciation problems and others had difficulties in speaking, for example. This is a fact. We'll always have students who doesn't seem to have the same facilities as other students we may have, and we should pay special attention to them. So I searched on the Net about the problem and check what I could find. I hope it may help you, too.

According to Nina Makofsky (http://www.ehow.com/about_5394295_problem-learning-english.html),learning problems happen due to the language's diverse roots, large amount of irregular verbs and profound regional variations. She also mentions that almost all English learners encounter at least three types of problems: challenges with pronunciation (some people are never able to master certain sounds), issues with vocabulary (most people can add to their English vocabulary with study and practice), and grammar. Then she gives some tips in order to minimize the problem. Here they are:
a) Encouraging errors - If a student feels intimidated, it can inhibit his/her ability to absorb new information and produce English;
b) Use of different techniques - Learning English requires different techniques for different types of learners. Some people require more time to reflect on concepts bofore working with dialogues or presentations.Others need to speak to reinforce new information. Music, rhymes, chants, poems and games provide additional reinforcement;
c) Whenever possible, students should listen to native speakers engaging in conversation or teaching concepts.

Practically speaking, if you work with large groups it's a good idea to talk to this special learner privately and suggest different ways to study and practice at home, So if the student has difficulties in pronunciation, he/she should listen to the CD or try to wacth TV shows in English. Another great idea is to have his/her voice recorded reading in English,for example,so that he/she may be able to recognize certain pronunciation mistakes, practice more and consequently improve. If the problem is the written part, the instructor can assign some more homework in order to work even more on that ability. Some English schools are used to offer those students some extra minutes with the teacher so that they can reinforce what's being studied. If you have a private student, things become easier because a private teacher can handle the lessons according to student's improvement. So once you don't have to follow a strict schedule you can spend more time working on the ability you feel is being dealt with more difficulty by the student. We just should never forget to be patient. Pacience is the key word in those special cases. See you tomorrow, colleague!

sábado, 28 de agosto de 2010

sexta-feira, 27 de agosto de 2010

My mural in September.

As I started teaching at my mini school in September 2009, I decided to prepare my mural for next moth in order to kind of "celebrate" this date which is really important for me. So this afternoon I got the chance to organize everything and the result I'm gonna show you next week!! Getting your students envolved with a special date at your school is a nice idea to get closer to them so that they can participate somehow and feel as special as they really are! I wish you a wonderful weekend, colleague!

quinta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2010

Talking about the past...

Today, at the end of one of my private lessons, I applied that activity in which students are supposed to continue a story by adding sentences to it. In large groups it's really nice because there's a bunch of stories being written at the same time. I've already made use of this activity and I also posted something about it some time ago. But this was the very first time that I used this exercise during my private lessons, which means, with only one student. As we've been reviewing the past I thought it would be a good idea to do this different exercise using the verbs in the past. So I wrote two sentences using verbs in the past on the top of two pieces of paper and I was playing the game with my student. He had to add a sentence to mine and then it was my turn to do it,so we kept exchanging those two pieces of paper until we had completed a "different" story. If you're a private English teacher, just like me, don't hesitate! Try to adapt as many activities as you can so that you can bring to your classes something new! Really cool! See you, colleague!

quarta-feira, 25 de agosto de 2010

"It wasn't me!" (Practicing irregular verbs in the past)

This afternoon a student of mine needed to practice some irregular verbs in the past so I decided to make use of my “blue” English Grammar (Understanding and Using English Grammar – Betty Schrampfer) for it. This Grammar brings such nice oral exercises which can be great to use in our lessons. I chose one of them and the result was wonderful. It’s really simple. The teacher should say a sentence like: “Did you speak to Anna yesterday?” and the student is supposed to answer: “No, someone else SPOKE to Anna”, or “Did you go to the beach yesterday?” and then “No, someone else WENT to the beach”, etc. Really nice, fast and useful! Have great classes, colleague!

terça-feira, 24 de agosto de 2010

In parentheses.

Last week I bought this cute cushion to decorate my reception area. I loved the sayings and its price as well (R$ 16,99) at Americanas store. See you tomorrow, colleague!

segunda-feira, 23 de agosto de 2010

About gossiping!

Another subject that may be interesting to use in a conversation class! Last week I had to introduce a new unit with one of my students and the theme was “gossip”. I started my class showing a part of a film which I had already used in other lessons - “The Devil wears Prada”. There’s a scene in which Gisele Bundchen shows up gossiping about the main character of the movie and it’s nice to see when the students realize it’s the Brazilian top model who’s speaking English in an American movie. Great way to present the topic of the new unit and also to come up with questions for them to answer and discuss. If you work with a large group this subject can even lead to topics such as: celebrities’ life, tabloids, etc. Have nice classes today, colleague! See you!

domingo, 22 de agosto de 2010

Problems we face 3 (Lack of participation)

Why don’t our students participate as much as we would like them to? According to www.goarticles.com, students don’t participate because they’re not prepared for a class discussion or due to shyness. They say students should know that can be called on at any time so that they don’t necessarily have to raise their hands even though this could be a stressful situation for a shy student. The article suggests the instructor to gently re-assure students that giving a wrong answer is okay and that mistakes can be learned from whenever they suspect that a student is holding back from participation due to lack of confidence. Another nice idea they give in order to increase students’ confidence is to allow them discuss their answers before being called on. Positive feedback is another great way to help our students feel more confident. No matter how the answer was given, first say something positive about it and then add constructive criticism if you need to. The site www.usp.edu/teaching.tips/spal.html#participate also brings some practical ideas of how we can solve this problem. Here there are some of them: give your students a clue regarding the kind of response you’re expecting, give your group a minute to write their thoughts before anyone is called, arrive early to class and chat with students informally, sit close to your students, move around the room or sit in different locations may help, too. I know it’s the kind of a problem which is more often faced by large group teachers, but even as a private teacher I’ve already felt I'd like my students to participate more and I’m gonna try to make use of those ideas in my lessons. Well, that's it for today,colleague! Have a great day!

sábado, 21 de agosto de 2010

The sweetest thing!

Last week two of my students told me they were going to draw me. Imagine...at first I was a little scared because I didn’t know what they would come up with. Anyway, I took the risk. I just said “ok” and they started drawing. One of them drew on the board and the other one used a paper for it. At the end, I was surprised. There were such cute drawings and the sweetest sayings! I’m pretty sure you had already received special gifts like those ones I got, and I really think this is one of the most important things about teaching. Having your job recognized by a student makes you feel special somehow and brings you even more motivation to go on. There are things money (or Mastercard) just cannot buy, and this is one of those. Have a beutiful day, colleague!

sexta-feira, 20 de agosto de 2010

World Word!

Cartoons are really nice! Today I was watching with my son another one of his favorite cartoons and I got a nice idea from it to use in class - a great way to practice vocabulary with high intermediate or advanced students! In this activity students are supposed to rhyme words in English. For example: a student would say "house" and the other ones would have to find a word to rhyme with that one, for example, "mouse", etc. That might be fun! Have a great weekend, colleagues!
PS: By the way, this cartoon is really cute!

quinta-feira, 19 de agosto de 2010

Consolidating Job Vocabulary with a bingo!

A bingo is always a bingo! This one I applied today with two students who study together and I participated, as well. We were practicing job vocabulary and it was a great way to finish our class. See you tomorrow, colleague!

quarta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2010


If you're preparing your classes and it happens that you haven't got your dictionary around, try http://www.macmillandictionary.com. I myself didn't know they had this free online dictionary and it can be really useful! See you tomorrow, colleague!

terça-feira, 17 de agosto de 2010

Do you remember the puppets?

Some time ago I wrote about using puppets to teach children. I remember I had read an article on the Net about this great teaching tool and afterwards I bought two for my mini-school. Now that I’m really focused on improving my lessons to kids, I thought about a way to use them in class. Well, my intention next class is to review the structures which were taught last week: “What’s your name?”, “Hi. My name is Bell.”, “How are you?” “I’m fine, thanks.” My idea is to start by playing with the puppet. My puppet would ask them those questions and they’d answer it, so they’ll be able to easily understand what I expect them to do. Because then, it would be their turn to create names for the puppets and practice all the structures we studied in our last class,,so that one puppet would “ask” the questions to the other one and vice versa. This could be great for them to have fun and practice the content without asking each other, once we did it several times previously. I really think it can work! Have wonderful classes today, colleague!

segunda-feira, 16 de agosto de 2010

Teaching kids Possessive Pronouns (Her/His)

This week I’m going to teach two of my students, who are children, the possessive pronouns “his” and “her”. With adults, as I’ve already written here, I really like using pictures of famous people and then have them practicing the structures “What’s HER/HIS name?” and also “HER/HIS name is...”. So with my students I decided I’d use the same “method”, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to use the same pictures I use with the grown-ups. This is why I got some images of celebrities from Google that I thought could be easily recognized by the youngers. Simple as that! Thanks for passing by, colleague!
PS: Before presenting the new grammar point (her/his) I "labeled" myself (I glued a piece of paper with my name on my shirt) and I said: "My name is Bianca". They did the same and then I introduced the pictures I got from Google by saying "Her name is Angélica", and so on. That was a good way to start the activity with the pictures.

domingo, 15 de agosto de 2010

Problems we face 2 (Boring Material)

One of my students is 13 and we’ve just started a book which I think that in the future has a great chance to become kind of boring for him. I’m already worried about it because it’s always complicated to find a complete material and I really like the structure this one has. The point is that certain units bring subjects in which he might not be interested in because of his age. In these cases, we have to use our imagination and creativity even more and try to solve the problem. A few tips:
a) After preparing a class, try to think about some extra activities you can apply based on the book. For example: a long questionnaire can be easily replaced by a nice match up. Just copy the questions in pieces of paper and write the answers as well. Then, ask your student(s) to match the questions with their correct answers;
b) Adapt everything you can in a way you think your student might feel interested in. For example, if the topic of the conversation is about “books” but you know your teen student is really into music, adapt the questions to this subject. Instead of asking him “What’s your favorite book?”, ask: “What’s your favorite song?”;
C) Pay special attention to your students and then focus on what can be interesting for them. I know we cannot skip most of the activities from the book but it’s not a big deal to emphasize certain tasks instead of others. So, if your student is having a great time talking about Internet, there’s no need to ask him to talk about politics which is a subject he doesn’t seem to be interested at all;
D) When you have a chance, bring some extra material to class. Most of the themes those books bring can be illustrated by magazines, newspapers, songs and even movies!
E) Show interest about what you’re teaching. Maybe that exercise from the book you’re working on is a little boring, but you don’t have to transmit it to your student. Try to make the task interesting and catch your student’s attention. As I’ve already mentioned in another post even the tone of your voice can make things different!

Good luck, colleague!

sábado, 14 de agosto de 2010

sexta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2010

What's the question?

English learners usually have difficulties when they have to create a question, more than when they have to answer one. I’m always applying my students lots of exercises in which they have to write the proper questions to certain answers. But one of these days I found on the Net a nice game that can be used in class instead of those kind of “boring” exercises. If you work with a large group it’s even better, but this activity can be simply adapted to smaller groups and even private students. The teacher divides the class in teams or in pais, and start calling out an answer, for example, “Lynn”. The students, on the other hand, have to write the correct question to that answer, in this case, “What’s your middle name?” and so on. I’m definitely going to adapt this game to use in my classes! Have a nice weekend, colleague!

quinta-feira, 12 de agosto de 2010

When you don't know what to do.

It happens to all of us.Sometimes we just don’t feel inspired at all, even though we really feel like doing something different in our lesson. We’re motivated, but not inspired. For those moments, I’ll give you a suggestion of what you can do. First of all, keep in mind that ANYTHING different you do in class is gonna provide your lesson a new “look” and your students will notice that and also like it. OK. So, imagine you’re about to start teaching and that wonderful idea just didn’t come. Calm down. Take a look at the lesson you’re supposed to teach and focus on its theme. In a piece of paper write as many questions you can about the subject and then think about the best way to have your students asnwering those questions before you start your class (as a warm up exercise) ora t the end of it. We’ve got a variety of ways to do that: if you work with large groups, you can divide them in smaller ones and have them discussing those questions for a few minutes, or you can have pairs asking and answering those questions, and if you work with a small group you can all have a group discussion using the questionnaire you’ve prepared for it. You can write those questions on the board, have them written (Yes! Simply written!) in pieces of paper or typed. See? Small things can also do wonders to our classes! Let’s keep motivated even when inspiration doesn’t come. Have a beautiful day, colleague!

quarta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2010

Mixing it all!

Yesterday I thought about doing a different warm up activity with a student, but unfortunately we didn’t have time. It would be a mixture of two other nice games which we can easily use in class. I thought about starting by saying something like “she”, for example, and she’d have to continue using any word she would like to, for example, “was”, and I’d say “at the movies”, then she could say “when”, etc, etc. So instead of writing sentences to make up a story (I’ve already posted something about this other great exercise), we could create a crazy one by only saying free words. That could be funny! I guess. See you, colleague!
PS: Today I had the chance to play this game with another student at the end of his class and it was awesome! Really funny!

terça-feira, 10 de agosto de 2010

Hunting for letters!

Some time ago I went to a store where stuff for birthday parties are sold and then I bought a pack of letters! By the way, it was really cheap. So I kept them in my mini school and waited for the chance to use those letters in class. Tomorrow I’m starting with two kids (they’re siblings, one is 8 and the other one is 10) and I’d like to do something different during our lesson. As it would be our first class and they're children, I thought about preparing a dynamic activity for them to memorize the alphabet, after presenting it. So my intention is to place all the letters around my reception area without them looking, and then explain that we’re going hunting for the alphabet letters in the room, but they can only pick the letters up and score the corresponding point (1 point) if they pronounciate the letter correctly. If they don’t, their oponent would keep that letter and score the point, instead. I hope it works! See you tomorrow, colleague!

segunda-feira, 9 de agosto de 2010

Using a Brazilian magazine in class!

We all know that using an American magazine in class is awesome! I’ve already had the chance to post something about “Speak Up” and it’s really a useful tool to teach English. But is there a ay we can make use of Brazilian magazines in class? Yes! Actually there are many, but today I’m gonna write something about na idea I had to use this week. So, on Tuesday I’m teaching this student whose book is Intermediate and the lessons all about “trips”. The lead in exercise would be the following: the student would have to think about a place he/she’d like to go and then there was this list of questions related to the topic just like, “Who would you go with?” or “How do you feel?”, etc. Then I thought about taking a Brazilian magazine which is all about trips to class and ask my student beforehand to take a look at it and choose a place he’d really like to visit. Then, I would start asking those questions from the book. Mmm, I guess it might be interesting. Have a great Monday, colleague!

domingo, 8 de agosto de 2010

Problems we face 1 (Students who don't do homework)

This a problem we all have gone through. I’m pretty sure you have, too. So I dounf on the Net this very interesting article about it (http://www.usingenglish.com / written by Alex Cale) about the subject. And what really caught my attention is that the writer doesn’t only mention lots of possible reasonss for the problem, but also points out ways to solve the problem. When you have time, it's a great idea to take a look at the website! Anyway, I’ll summarize some of them for you to have an idea. According to the article, among many other reasons, students don’t do homework because:
a) It’s boring – teacher can use other ways of homework such as artistic activities, logic puzzles, competition, etc.
b) They don’t understand what they have to do – write instructions on the board, do one example of each exercise in class, pre-teach the language that is used in the workbook, do a similar exercise at the end of class, etc.
c) It’s too difficult – give them hints or where they can go for help, give mixed up answers.

You can check on many other reasons and ways to make your students start doing their homework by taking a look at www.usingenglish.com. There, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to identify lots of situations we face in class and get to know how to deal with each of them. Really cool! See you tomorrow, colleague!

sábado, 7 de agosto de 2010

sexta-feira, 6 de agosto de 2010

Some movie activities ready to go!

I found some ready lesson plans about movies at http://bogglesworldesl.com/lessons/MovieLesson.htm. There you can find activities such as movie surveys, synopsis reading, movie crossword, etc. Actually it’s a lesson plan divided in two hours to get students talking about movies. So if you have some extra time and if you are looking for something different to work with your group, that could be a good idea! Have a nice weekend, colleague!

quinta-feira, 5 de agosto de 2010

Teaching Object Pronouns.

I don’t know if it happens to you but every time I have to teach object pronouns I feel my students get a little confused. The book brings a good way to introduce the grammar point which is “leaving telephone messages”, but, in my opinion, there aren’t enough exercises. That’s why I thought about creating something extra in order to have my students really confident about those pronouns. Once I really couldn’t think about any better way to make my students understand the usage of the new structures, I went on with this “message” idea, but instead of writing or simply reading a conversation, my students would have to role play the situation with only some clues I’d give them. So I wrote (I didn’t even use the computer this time!) “Mr Jones/meet at the Chinese restaurant/9 pm”. So Student A should pretend to be calling student B and he/she should ask for “Mr Jones” and leave the given message. This way they would have to use the proper object pronoun and I’d be able to know if they really got the grammar lesson. If you work with large groups a nice idea would be to use real telephones (those ones that don’t work and some English schools usually have for that purpose) so the group, divided in pairs or smaller teams, could role play the situation and have a lot of fun at the same time! Meet you here tomorrow, colleague! Have a nice day!

quarta-feira, 4 de agosto de 2010

A surprise box!

Why not start our class with a great surprise? I thought about a beautiful “surprise box” with lots of interesting questions inside. At the beginning of the class, instead of starting it as usual we could walk around the class with the box and have our students picking a question up without looking at it, of course! Then, each of them should read the question out loud and asnwer it. In order to make the activity even nicer, the rest of the group has the possibility to ask follow up questions if they want to. Nice! I’m definitely gonna get my surprise box! Here are some suggestions of questions I got from the Net once:
a) What one thing would you like to change about yourself? Why?
b) If you were the President of the United States, what would you do on your first day of office?
c) Describe the perfect day. What would you do? What would you see?
d) You can invite three people from history for dinner. Who are they? Why do you invite those three?If you could give your best friend any gift, what would it be? Why?
e) When are you most creative? In the morning? In the afternoon? At night?
f) What movie have you seen that best describes your life?
g) What one thing would you like to change about yourself? Why?
h) If you were the President of the United States, what would you do on your first day of office?

terça-feira, 3 de agosto de 2010

Two in one!

A simple way to make a listening a little different is to type the conversation which is gonna be worked in class and cut it in pieces. So before listening to the CD, the students are supposed to try to put the dialogue in order. This is afun reading and listening exercise!Great!

segunda-feira, 2 de agosto de 2010

A game from the good old days!

I remember when I was fourteen or fifteen and we used to travel to my grandmother’s house on the beach. Unfortunately, a great part of our vacation was spent indoors because it used to rain a lot down there, so we had to play games while we waited for the sun to get back. I don’t know why I thought about this game to use in class as a great way to break the ice, especially in the first day. The teacher has to prepare in advance as many pieces of paper as the number of students in class. One is gonna be the “detective”, the other one the “thief” and the rest of the group “victims”. Have your group sit in a circle and tell them this is a silent game. The student who’s got the paper with “thief” written on it, has to look at someone from the group and blink twice. This student is out of the game and should say so to the rest of the class. The detective is supposd to find out who the thief is by looking carefully to everybody. The coolest thing is that the thief can be caught if he blinks to the detective...Great option to play on the beach using cards when it’s raining. Wonderful alternative to adapt in class with our students! Have a great day!

domingo, 1 de agosto de 2010

Top 10 Banana Printables!

1 - WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? - This exercise is great for practicing Genitive Case. You can find it at www.englishbanana.com if you go to "Intermediate Worksheets". The exercise is pretty simple and nice: There's a picture with something written on it and students have to find out what's wrong about it. The instructor can even turn this activity into a very challenging competition! Think about it!