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….

 

CAE Formal Letter of Complaint

It’s always great to find material out there for CAE, and even more so if it’s material for writing.

Tim's Free English Lesson Plans

complaint box

Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. We have released 5 episodes so far and you can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

https://soundcloud.com/2tspod


https://www.facebook.com/2tspodcast/

This is a lesson plan designed to prepare students to tackle formal letter of complaint tasks that can come up in both parts of the CAE writing paper.

Here is the link to the first handout which contains an example of a formal letter of complaint on page 2. Page 3 has the task the students will complete, which is referred to in the prezi.

Here is the link to the prezi, and here is the handout that…

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A war of words – Part II

Photo credit: Wikipedia

In my previous post, I focused on how poetry formed part of the propaganda offensive designed to encourage young men to join up to fight on the Western Front, using as an example Jessie Pope’s poem ‘Who’s for the game?’, and also how poetry was employed to bring the reality of the horrors of the front line to the people back home, as in Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’. In this post I present the third of the three two-hour sessions, in which we widen our focus to other areas of conflict within the First World War, namely the Dardanelles Campaign and Gallipoli, where Australian forces suffered horrific casualties. We will also examine how the dead are remembered, focusing on the ceremony at the Cenotaph which takes place every year on the Remembrance Sunday.

Lest we forget

The numbers of casualties in the First World War were staggering. Over the four years which the war lasted millions of people were killed or wounded. In  just one day, 1st July 1916 – the first day of the battle of the Somme – the British army alone suffered around 60000 casualties. By the end of the battle, on 18th November, there had been over a million casualties.

British trench near the Albert–Bapaume road at...

British trench near the Albert–Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To begin this session, write the following numbers on the board:

  • 5                  (number of months the battle lasted – 1 July to 18 November
  • 6                  (number of miles advanced – about 9,7 km)
  • 57470       (number of British casualties on 1 July
  • 1000000 (approximate number of casualties during the battle on all                            sides)

Ask the students to try to guess what these figures represent in relation to the First World War. After a few minutes, give them the answers, then show them the table of Casualty figures for the First World War as a whole.

- the grave in communal cemetery

– the grave in communal cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this section, we will examine Rupert Brooke’s poem, ‘The Soldier‘. This poem has become one of the most popular readings for remembrance services, reflecting the sacrifice that so many young men made for their country. If you have more time, the sentiment of this poem can be contrasted with Owen’s poem, ‘Futility‘, which focuses more on the senselessness of so many deaths, but this plan of work is designed for you to work on ‘The Soldier’ on its own.

The students should read the poem, then, working in pairs, they should write down the emotions which are expressed or suggested in the poem. Once they have done this, in their pairs they should take a moment to compare and contrast the emotions found in this poem with those found in ‘Dulce et decorum est…’, guided by the following questions:

  • How does the outlook of the two poems differ?
  • Can you think of any reasons for this?
  • Are the sentiments of ‘The Soldier’ closer in tone to ‘Dulce et decorum est’ or ‘Who’s for the game?’?
  • Why do you think this is?

… and the band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’

The last part of this session is based around the song, ‘The band played “Waltzing Matilda”‘, as performed in the following video. The photographs which accompany the song are useful to help the students get an idea of the situations which are being described by the lyrics.

Before showing the video and doing the lyrics exercise, ask the class which national anthems they know. You could perhaps play them clips from a series of anthems and have them identify the country in teams. Then ask them if they know any songs which are strongly associated with a country without being an official national anthem. Again, perhaps a collection of short clips may help make this point. Then play an instrumental version of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ask which country might be associated with it. If they do not come up with Australia, don’t worry, simply explain the association.

As a way into the song, use this lyrics worksheet. This should be quite a simple exercise, and the main objective is simply to get the students familiar with the words of the song. As it is quite a long song, I suggest breaking it down into three sections – first verse, with the chorus, which deals with life before the war, then the description of the battle, and finally the time in the hospital and the aftermath, up to the end of the song. The worksheet is divided into these sections.

The song uses a series of contrasts between before and after the battle to draw attention to how war changes a person. Ask the students to identify parts from the beginning of the song with parts from the immediate aftermmath of the battle. They should express what changes have happened and describe the emotions associated with these changes.

Another motif used to link the different moments in the song is the ‘soundtrack’ of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ – a song which is played at every important moment in the story. In groups, students could prepare a short paragraph about how the narrator might feel at one of the points in the story when he hears ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Different groups should address different moments in the story, and these paragraphs can be displayed on the wall so they can compare the feelings at each moment.

The last part of ‘The Band Played “Waltzing Matilda”‘ describes the parades which take place each year to commemorate ANZAC Day, and focuses on the lack of understanding of the younger generations. Previous to this, the narrator describes the reaction of the people when the troops returned from Gallipoli. Write on the board the lines

‘… and nobody cheered, they just stood and stared / then turned their faces away.’

Ask the students for their reactions to these lines. Then show them this video of Remembrance Sunday. Also, read this article from the Telegraph about how until recently people from a small town in Britain honoured the service personnel who had died in the conflict in Afghanistan.

Ask the students to reflect on one of the following questions in writing:

  • Is this the proper way to receive people who have fought for their country?
  • Should we commemorate people who have died in wars?
  • Should commemoration be a state affair, or private?

Related articles

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

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 ‘Who’s for the game?‘ by Jessie Pope.

As a way of introducing the theme, use the following video, which presents some of the propaganda posters used to encourage men to volunteer for the armed forces.

Once you have watched the video, have the students choose one of the posters which they have seen and prepare a presentation on the persuasive elements which they find in it – not just in the use of language, but also in the images. Ask them to decide if the persuasion relies on rational arguments or on emotional reactions. You can find a wide range of propaganda posters from the First World War here.3g03858u-1566 (1)

Then draw attention to the role played by women in the posters – some posters address women directly, urging them to convince their husbands and boyfriends to join up. This will provide the link to the poem for today, written by a woman but addressed to young men.

Give the students a copy of the poem and allow them to read it, helping with vocabulary if necessary. Once they have finished, in pairs get them to complete a T-chart with sports terms on one side and references to the war on the other. In reality, there are few direct references to the war. Most of the images are related to something which the young men of the time would be very familiar with – the sports’ field. At this point, it is a good idea to focus on any students who are particularly sporty in the class, and ask them for their reactions to what Pope is saying. Would you really want to be left on the sidelines? Have you ever suffered an injury as a result of your sport? What was your reaction?

Finally, examine the language itself, focusing on the elements which can be considered persuasive. Here it is important to focus on the direct address used throughout the poem by Pope, which echoes the language and images of many of the posters seen earlier – notably the image of Kitchener pointing out of the poster at ‘YOU’ reproduced above. The informal register of the poem is also important, addressing the ‘lads’ as peers, creating the illusion of peer pressure. To work on these elements of language, you can use this worksheet.

To finish the session, watch the first part of the video which will be used to start Session two, up to the point where the soldiers are on parade (0:16).

Session 2 – The reality of war

This second session focuses on the reality of the war which the recruits found when they arrived at the front line. We will read a brief biography of Wilfred Owen and we will focus on his poem, ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori‘.

To begin the session, we return to the video which closed session 1, but this time the students should watch to the end. Ask students to give their impressions of the differences between the ideal which Pope was selling to the young men and the reality they faced on the Western Front.

After a brief discussion, it is time to give the students more details about life in the trenches. The following video by Dan Snow examines the conditions that the soldiers faced in the trenches.

Wilfred Owen

The presentation of the biography of Wilfred Owen can be done in various ways. The students can be asked to research his life as homework after the first session, or they can be asked to research in class if they have access to internet or reference material. Alternatively, you can use this worksheet and have them read it in class, or adapt it as a jigsaw reading activity / running dictation. They should receive the following key information:

English: Portrait of Wilfred Owen, found in a ...

Portrait of Wilfred Owen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

• D.O.B – 18th of March 1893
• Became a teacher of English in 1913
• Enlisted in Artists’ Rifles on 21/10/15;14 months training in England
• Total war experience was short: four months, only 5 weeks on front line
• After experiencing war first hand, Owen became strongly anti-war. People at home had no idea of what war was like & wanted to persuade them against it.
• Owen was killed in war on 4th Nov 1918
• War ended 11th November 1918 at 11 o’clock. Owen’s family received the telegram informing them of his death as the church bells of the village rang to celebrate the end of the war.

The Poem

Give the students the first part of the poem – up to ‘Of gas shells dropping softly behind’:

‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.’

Work on any vocabulary the students need. In pairs, have the students work on a mindmap around the concept ‘Emotions’. How do the soldiers feel at this point in the poem? Once the students have worked on their mindmaps, have them change pairs and compare their ideas. Then give them the rest of the poem and have them add to their mindmaps:

‘Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.’

Share the ideas from the pairs in class.

Focus on the change of address in the last stanza. Here, just as in the poem by Pope, the poet addresses a reader directly. But who? Who is ‘My friend’? Allow the students to express their ideas. If they need help, remind them of Owen’s biography – he volunteered in 1915, inspired by the propaganda of the time. The original dedication of this poem was ‘To a certain poetess’ – this is Owen’s answer to Pope and her ‘Who’s for the game?’

As a final exercise, have the students compare the emotions expressed in ‘Who’s for the game?’ with those expressed by Owen in ‘Dulce et decorum est…’ Also have them look back at the propaganda posters they worked on in the first session, and include the emotions expressed there.How does the reality measure up to the propaganda?

In the next post, I will present the final session in this scheme of work – ‘Lest we forget’, and possible ideas for extension.

25 BBC Podcasts for Advanced English Learners

See on Scoop.itDavid Bradshaw ESOL

When my high-level students tell me they want to improve their listening skills, I always tell them to listen to PODCASTS! Podcasts are a fantastic way to improve your understanding of spoken English.

David Bradshaw‘s insight:

For high-level students it is vital that they have access to authentic English texts, both written and spoken, so this is great for them.

Armstrong and Miller, RAF Pilots

This activity is one of those I described in my post ‘How to … exploit video in class’.

The objective is to get the students to produce a possible alternative script for this video clip. Play the video with the sound turned off, and ask the students to describe the situation which they see. If necessary play the video twice. Ask them where the men are, what their job is, and why the film is in black and white. Fill in cultural details as you consider necessary.

In pairs, the students should discuss what the men might be talking about, and what they have just heard on the radio. After sharing this in class, the students work in their pairs to write a possible dialogue which fits in with the changes of speaker on the video as closely as possible. Be prepared to play the video several times while they work so that they can check how well their script synchronises with the film.

Once the students have prepared and rehearsed their scripts, they perform them in time with the film in turn. I usually give them two attempts at this. It can be a nice touch to record them as they speak, then play back the recording in time with the film, so they can see how their words fit more clearly.

When all of the pairs have performed their scripts, the class watches the original version of the video with sound.

Margaret Thatcher ESOL / Critical Thinking Activity: Lesson plan

margaret-thatcher-photoLEVEL: Upper-Intermediate – Advanced (B2 – C2)

TYPES OF ACTIVITY: Speaking; Debate; Compare and Contrast; Essay writing.

OBJECTIVES: The principal objective of this lesson is to help students to develop critical thinking skills while comparing and contrasting two important world leaders. The activity models a structured approach to developing ideas for a writing task or for a class debate

To begin the class, write the following statement on the board:

‘For a leader, it is more important to be strong than to be liked’

Allow the students a couple of minutes’ thinking time, then have them discuss this statement in pairs, focusing on the personal qualities which they consider a leader should have. Once they have done this, join the pairs into groups of four and have them share their ideas. Then each group should report to the class, and an opportunity given to respond and comment. Possible lines of discussion to explore could be the difference between totalitarian and elected leaders, or the difference between being admired and being liked.

Tell the students they are going to read a short biography of a famous leader, and they have to make notes on the main points of the person’s life and decide what qualities they had as a leader. Give half of the class Worksheet A: Margaret Thatcher, and the other half of the class Worksheet B: Mahatma Gandhi. (Here is a link to the worksheets.)

Allow the students to compare their notes with another student working on the same worksheet. Then place the students in pairs with someone who worked on the other worksheet.

First, each student explains the main points of the biography of their leader, and suggests which personal qualities that leader had. Then the students work together to find differences and similarities between the two leaders, recording their answers on a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram. They should focus on the personal qualities that make each leader different and which personal qualities they have in common, as well as the differences and similarities in their political and social situations.

Once the differences and similarities have been identified, each pair of students must decide which of these can be considered significant in the development of the leader, and draw conclusions about leadership from these significant similarities and differences.

There are different possibilities for a final task to this activity. One possibility would be to ask the students to write an opinion essay with the title ‘What makes a leader great?’ The students would use their notes and ideas from the discussion phase to illustrate their ideas, and to inform their analysis of different leadership styles.

Another possibility is for each pair of students to prepare an oral presentation on the two leaders, focusing on the similarities and differences in their personal qualities. For the presentations, the students should be encouraged to find further information about the personalities and political and social contexts of the two leaders, including recordings of them speaking about their ideas and policies.

Speaking Activity: Mission Impossible!

English: A mechanical kitchen timer

This speaking activity is designed to help your students to revise their written work and improve their critical reading. It is quite a flexible activity, and can be used as a warmer or as a prize at the end of a lesson, or it can form the basis of a lesson in itself.

  • Explain to the students that they are going to create a story as a class, but that the exercise is timed. (I like to play the music from ‘Mission Impossible’ to introduce the lesson – this introduces a sense of urgency.) The time limit depends on the level of the group. I usually use five minutes to begin, then reduce the time as they become more familiar with the game.

  • The timing can be done with a stopwatch on a computer, if possible projected so they can all see the time, or with an egg-timer, preferably one with a loud tick. In any case, they students should have some object which they can pass to indicate whose turn it is, representing the bomb – if they are not passing an egg-timer, a ball will do, but they should pass it carefully, not throw it!

  • The first student is handed the bomb and is told to be very careful! Their task is to dictate the first sentence of a story to the teacher, who will write it on the board. Write what the student says, without judgement, but do not put the full stop until you are satisfied that the sentence is correct. You should not tell the student where the errors are – they must find them and correct them with the help of the rest of the class. Once the sentence is correct, the student can pass the ‘bomb’ to the next student, who has to continue the story with the next sentence.

  • The students each take a turn to add a sentence to the story being created, until the time runs out (the egg-timer rings, or the timer on the board / computer sounds – try to chose a fairly strident sound if possible). The student who is working on his / her sentence when the time finishes is eliminated.

  • If you play several rounds of this game, it is a good idea to make the final round a ‘Zombie’ round, in which only the people eliminated take part. This brngs them back into the lesson, and gives them a second opportunity. I find that they are normally much more careful when revising their work than the first time around.