A war of words – poetry and propaganda in World War I

David Bradshaw:

As we prepare to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, I thought I would revive this post which has ideas for lessons based around the poetry which grew from the horrors of war.

Originally posted on David's ESOL Blog:

Poppy Field

Poppy Field (Photo credit: Neilhooting)

95 years ago, the guns fell silent across the Western Front, as the Armistice took effect, leaving behind four years of destruction on a previously unimaginable scale. This conflict marked the lives of a generation of poets, who are studied in English literature classes in the United Kingdom. Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, and in honour of this day, here is a lesson plan designed around one of my favourite poems from the First World War, ‘Dulce et decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen.

This lesson plan is designed to last for three two- hour sessions, and is suitable for advanced students, from B2+ to C2.

Session 1 – Who’s for the game?

This session focuses on the early propaganda aimed at convincing the young men of Britain to join up to fight for their country as the war began.  The poem we will examine is ‘

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What can you do with an iPad in the classroom?

Originally posted on Learning and Innovation:

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It’s a tool, it’s a tool, it’s a tool.

The iPad is not going to replace teachers or ‘fix’ education. There is a cost implication that must be taken into account and only an educator will know if it is right for their students. Indeed the cost-benefit analysis for an establishment must take into account a host of factors when considering iPad use in the classroom. However, if there are iPads in the classroom, there are a number of applications that can enhance learning and assist the educator in developing student skills. In fact, the iPad allows educators to build on existing styles and increase flexibility in their classroom whilst personalising learning.

Assessment for Learning

The most valuable weapon in an educators arsenal is feedback. The principles of assessment against a backdrop of grading have been discussed at length for many, many years. Regardless of the conclusion you come to, the…

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Rethinking the visual: first lesson

David Bradshaw:

I’d like to share here Sandy Millin’s thought-provoking post on teaching a blind student.

Originally posted on Sandy Millin:

On Thursday I had my first lesson with M, a very enthusiastic ten-year-old girl. She was a pleasure to speak to, and knows a lot of English. She’s also completely blind.

I’d met M a couple of days previously when she came to the school for a placement test. I knew she was coming, but wasn’t really sure how to test her, since she couldn’t do our traditional written placement test or access any of the visuals that most young learner testing relies on. I opted for asking her various questions to try and gauge her level, and concluded that she was high elementary, possibly pre-int. She spoke quite fluently and was very excited about using her English.

Before our first lesson, she and her mum took me to their house. During the five-minute walk I realised that I’d misjudged her level, and she was actually much better: quite a confident pre-intermediate…

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Reported speech – report the mime

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I have to admit to being a great fan of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, watching the endless reruns on Spanish cable TV and still laughing at the gags. So I linked this love with a post I read recently by TEFLgeek about practising reported speech and hit upon this variant for practising reported speech.

The exercise hinges on the fact that one of the characters in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Raj, is completely incapable of speaking with women. Whenever he wants to speak to a woman, he whispers what he wants to say into his friend, Howard’s ear. Interesting, Howard rarely reports what Raj actually says, often answering Raj or commenting on what he has said instead. At other times, he says nothing, or makes a strange whining noise.

The exercise has two parts. In the first part, students are shown clips of Raj attempting to communicate with women. In pairs, they then decide what Raj actually wanted to say, and report it to the class, using the reported speech structures they know. Here is an example clip that you can use.

 

After they have practised with a few clips, move on to the second phase of the exercise. Here, students prepare a statement or question which they want to express, and in pairs either mime what they want to say or have one whisper to his / her partner and the partner react as Howard reacts. Other teams then have to guess what the pair want to say and reproduce it in reported speech.

I hope you have a lot of fun with this activity in class.

Related articles:

Speaking activities (page)

Speaking activity: Mission Impossible!

Speaking activity: Would I lie to you?

Speaking activity: Jigsaw dictations

Dear Student, You’re going to fail.

David Bradshaw:

How many times have you had a student who insisted on taking an exam for which they were not fully prepared? Here’s an open leter from TEFLGEEK which addresses the impending failure of one such student, and suggests some of the things which could lead to this situation.

Originally posted on teflgeek:

Dear Student,

You probably know why I’m writing this letter.  You probably know, deep down, what I’m about to tell you.  But I’m going to tell you anyway and that’s why I’m writing.

You are going to fail your exam.  Sorry.

I mean I hope I’m wrong.  I hope that on the day, the gods of language learning smile upon you and every word you need arrives at the front of your brain with the minimum of effort.  Or that the invigilator accidentally gives you a PET paper instead of and FCE paper and nobody notices.  Or that you have a great day and all that preparation and training pays off.  Or that a falling star dips past your window the night before the exam and that you make the right wish.

But in all honesty?  I can’t see any other way that you are going to pass.

And this…

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Cambridge Advanced writing – learning to answer the question

David Bradshaw:

One of major problems that our students have when they write for a high stakes exam is keeping their answer relevant, sticking to the question. In this post from David Petrie we find some ideas on how to help our students to keep to the question.

Originally posted on teflgeek:

Keeping writing relevant to the question is something that learners often have difficulty with.  Sometimes this is because they mis-identify the key content points, sometimes it’s because they write their answer for the wrong purpose.

This is the outline of a lesson I did with my CAE class the other day – I used tasks from the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 1 practice test book – but this would be adaptable to other levels and your own materials.

The aims are:

  • to familiarize learners with the language and style of exam writing questions
  • to provide learners with a strategy to access key question content

Lead in:

A quick discussion among the learners – which writing tasks they like, which ones they don’t and why.

Presentation:

Give the learners a sample Writing Part 2 question (either question 2, 3 or 4) and ask them to work in pairs to identify…

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The Best Sites For Grammar Practice | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

Here’s a great post from Larry Ferlazzo on online grammar practice resources for students.

The Best Sites For Grammar Practice | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day….