Mystery photos – modal verbs for speculation and deduction

mystery3_lg

Here’s a quick exercise to introduce the topic of using modal verbs to express speculation and deduction. The key objective is to activate previous knowledge, which may or may not have been formally taught.

At the beginning of the session, show the students the picture above, and give them a couple of minutes to think of sentences about it in pairs. Then have the students share their sentences with the rest of the class. You should write their sentences on the board, reformulating if necessary.

mystery photo

Organise their answers so that factual statements are on the left-hand side of the board, and any speculative sentences are on the right, but at this stage don’t explain this division. If your students run out of ideas for this picture, show them others, such as the one on the right. You can find other pictures here.

Once you have a good selection of sentences on the board, ask the class why you have organised their answers on the board as you have. Depending on the previou knowledge of the class, you may have some sentences which use modal verbs correctly, and you can use these as a base for reviewing the necessary structures. In any case, you have sentences which have been created by the students to serve as model sentences, which makes the lesson more personal and so more significant for them.

As a follow-up exercise, I ask students to find and bring to class photos of interesting-looking people . I mount these on cards on the wall, then students write speculative sentences on post-its or on slips of paper and stick them around each photo. For this activity, it’s best to avoid photos of famous people. Adverts in magazines can be a good source of pictures. Here’s one which would work well (although it’s not a photo).

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An interview with Jeffrey Doonan & Julia Alivertis

An interview with Jeffrey Doonan & Julia Alivertis

TESOL Greece Blog

2014-02-20_13321. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your teaching background? (50 to 100 words)

JA: I come from Greece, where I live and work. I have worked both as a private and a stateschool ELT teacher for about 25 years teaching mainly teenagers. I have also worked as a part-time teacher trainer for state school teachers. I believe in education as a dynamic force and I have a passion for learning as well as teaching. In my opinion, learning as a lifelong process can be achieved in unlimited ways, inside and outside of a classroom; I really enjoy teaching and being taught by my students and my colleagues, either through observation, or interaction and collaboration. I find attending and presenting at conferences a wonderful opportunity to learn, reflect and share ideas, especially if you have the chance to present together with a colleague.

JD: I have been a teacher of English and the Social Sciences…

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An interview with Marisa Constantinides

An interview with Marisa Constantinides

TESOL Greece Blog

2014-02-12_1002 1.   Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your teaching background? (50 to 100 words)

I am an experienced teacher, teacher educator and conference presenter and run  CELT Athens, a teacher development centre based in Athens and online that trains teachers from around the world. You can read all about me here and here and in all sorts of other places but here is my chance to say that I am even more passionate about my job now than when I started and I truly love to watch teachers develop and reach their true potential. These days, I do lot more work online, both training and presenting and I am very active in social networks where I volunteer a lot of my time for many ELT teachers’ free continuous professional development, both on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

2.   Tell us a bit about your session…

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Valentine’s Day – Resources for class

Once more, St. Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, which means it’s time to break out the hearts and flowers as our thoughts – and lesson plans – turn to love. Here are a few ideas for class activities which bring St. Valentine’s Day into the classroom.

Information gap: The origins of St. Valentine

This is a simple activity which can be adapted to any theme quite easily. Take a reading text of an appropriate level for your students and select perhaps ten pieces of information which can be changed. Create two versions of the text with five changes in each one, labelling one Text A and the other Text B (click here for a ready prepared set on The Origins of St. Valentine). Give out Text A to half the class, and Text B to the other half.

First, the students need to think what information may have been changed, and to prepare questions to ask a partner with the other text using appropriate interrogative pronouns. Then get the class to stand up and mingle, pairing up with someone who has the other text. Once everyone has a partner, they should sit together and take turns to ask their questions, continuing until they have identified the ten differences between the texts. Once they have done that, they should decide which is the correct version for each of the differences, and prepare a justification for their answers.

You can round off the activity by correcting the text as a class, or you can have them join up in groups of four to compare their answers before correcting, depending on how much disagreement you notice as you are monitoring.

A nice way to finish off the lesson is to show them this video from You Tube of a flash mob marriage proposal:

Love poetry

One of the most popular themes in poetry is love, in all its many different forms, so why not have a look at the topic of love poetry for St. Valentine’s Day. This activity would be suitable for a C1 class.

Before the class, have half the class watch the video ‘Carpe Diem’ from Dead Poets’ Society and read the poem, while the other half watch ‘Stop all the clocks’ from Four Weddings and a Funeral and read the poem. (You can give the students the link directly, or you can simply give them a copy of the poem.) Ask them to think what aspects of love are expressed in their poem. Once in class, group the students who watched the same video in pairs or in fours and have them compare their ideas. As they work, check if they had any comprehension problems.

Once the students have shared their ideas, put two students who watched the Carpe Diem video with two students who watched ‘Stop all the clocks’. Ask them to explain what aspects of love are shown in each video, and then to decide which poem better expresses true love. They should be prepared to defend their definition of ‘true love’ in the class discussion afterwards.

After they have debated, have each group report their conclusions to the class. Allow them to compare their definitions of true love.

To round up, show the two videos, so that all the students have seen both.

Carpe diem (‘Come gather ye rosebuds while ye may’ – Dead Poets’ Society)

Stop all the clocks… (‘Funeral Blues’- Four Weddings and a Funeral)

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It was a dark and stormy night …

Gunpowder, treason and plot

Introducing Charles Alderson, plenary speaker

TESOL Greece Blog

Diagnosing strengths and weaknesses in reading in a foreign language

The ability to read in a second or foreign language (SFL) is increasingly important in the modern world and therefore diagnostic language testing is potentially an important area of language test development and research. However, relatively little attention has been paid in language testing to the need to diagnose strengths and weaknesses in these important skills. Proficiency tests dominate the testing world, and although attempts have been made to derive useful diagnostic information from proficiency tests, tests like TOEFL or IELTS are not designed to provide detailed, usable information for teaching.

This presentation is in two parts: first I explore how diagnosis is carried out in other fields in order to learn lessons from other professions and to derive principles and implications for diagnosis in second and foreign language learning. The second part reports on the design and results of a four-year (2010-2013) research project into the diagnosis of SFL…

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Introducing Bob Obee, plenary speaker

TESOL Greece Blog

Webs of Words: Issues in vocabulary learning and teaching and mapping lexis to CEFR levels.

Webs of Words: Issues in vocabulary learning and teaching and mappinglexis to CEFR levels. This presentation will highlight some of the key issues identified in recent research and projects such as Cambridge English Profile relating to best practice in vocabulary teaching learning and testing. It will explore the notion of what it means to ‘know a word’ and consider practical implications of this notion for teachers in preparing a wholesome and balanced lexical diet for their charges and for learners in developing well- grounded lexical manners and a keen sense of lexical repartee to bring to table.

Bob Obee was formerly the Director of Studies of the British Council teaching centres in Athens and Kuala Lumpur. His publications with Express Publishing and Cambridge University Press include Upstream Upper-Intermediate (Express Publishing) and the Grammar Activity Book (CUP). He currently works as a Professional Support Leader for Cambridge English Language…

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