Reported speech – report the mime

BIG-BANG-RAJ_320

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.

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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….

 

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).

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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Resources for Christmas!

Santa Claus is coming to town

(Photo credit: pablofalv)

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat … and we teachers have to pull one more festive activity out of our hat! So here are a few resources which might help make these last few days of term easier.

Christmas webquests

My first offering is a webquest from Macmillan English, designed to explore Christmas traditions around the world. Students are given a worksheet and directed to the website www.santas.net/aroundtheworld.htm, where they can find the answers to the questions.

Christmas in the post-War United States

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another webquest, from Luke Vyner on www.onestopenglish.com, delves into the origins of Santa Claus and early Christmas traditions. Students work in pairs to complete the worksheets, answering questions about Pre-Christian mid-winter festivals, the Roman festival of Saturnalia, the outlawing of Christmas under Cromwell and the Puritans, and the story of St. Nicholas. They then work on Christmas around the world. You can find the lesson plan and download the worksheets here.

Christmas Crafts

Here is a simple paper craft for Primary students, which gives them a spelling game to play in class. Students are challenged to spell items of Christmas vocabulary and awarded points.

And here is a lesson plan from the British Council’s Teaching English website, for 7 to 8 year olds, which includes a craft activity as well as a Christmas song and story. You will need to register on the page to download the material, but registration is free.

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t make a Christmas card, so here’s another lesson plan from Teaching English for 3 to 6 year olds which has flashcards for learning Christmas vocabulary and includes making a Christmas card. Again, you need to be registered to access the flashcards, but it is well worth registering for this site.

I hope you find these activities useful. I will be trying out the webquests next week in Secondary. Merry Christmas!

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For an amazing selection of Christmas resources, try this page: http://www.michellehenry.fr/christmas2.htm

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?

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