I’ve just got back from my first IATEFL Conference, in Harrogate, still feeling elated from the buzz that such big conferences always produce. It’s been great to meet up with so many people I’ve only seen online before, and make new friends. It’s also been great to attend so many fantastic talks and workshops.
I’d like to thank everyone who came along to my session on exploiting video in the classroom. As promised, here is the link to the powerpoint of my presentation. The video clips used are in the same folder, just in case the links in the presentation don’t work. I hope you find it useful.
Write-ups for some of the activities included in the session can be found in the following posts:
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:
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)
I have been confirmed as a speaker at the TESOL Madrid Regional Mini-conference, which takes place at the International Institute, c/ Miguel Ángel 7, Madrid on 14th February (very romantic). There will be two sessions of talks, one at 18:00 and another at 19:15, all given by speakers from Madrid who will be presenting at the National Convention in March here in Madrid. My talk will be at 19:15. The other confirmed speakers are Teresa Fleta, Catherine Morley, Katherine Holloway, Jo Steel, Shawn Redwood, Andrea Littlewood and Rebecca Pegg. There’s a wide range of topics to choose from, so all in all it should be a very interesting evening.
The event is open to TESOL Spain members. Hope to see some of you there.
I’ve just got back from Rome where I attended the 38th National TESOL Italy Conference. This was my first time in this conference, and I am very grateful to the organisers for allowing me to take part.
I didn’t mention this in the presentation, but with younger students I use ‘The Curse of the Were-rabbit’ rather than the clip we saw from ‘Love Actually’. Students are asked to identify references to rabbits or to vegetables.
A big thank you to everyone who attended this talk (including to my youngest ever participant – thanks for your impeccable behaviour!). I hope you found the ideas useful.
Although in recent years Guy Fawkes Night has been somewhat eclipsed by Hallowe’en, it is still an important date on the calendar for many British people. Here are some activities for this festival, courtesy of the British Council.
I came across this on You Tube this afternoon, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you all. It is always a pleasure to listen to David Crystal discussing language, and his views on what is happening in English are sharp and refreshing. Enjoy!
In this post, Tyson Seburn explains how to make students more aware of the limitations of Google Translate, while at the same time giving us an idea of how to use the theme songs of popular TV series in class. Great fun for the new term.
Earlier this week I was working as an interpreter at a conference about new approaches to education which was being held at my school. The main theme of the conference was the development of critical thinking skills in our students, shifting the focus of the class from simply acquiring knowledge to learning how to process the vast quantity of knowledge which our students are exposed to today. This shift requires us as teachers to move away from the idea that we are the primary knowedge bearer in the classroom, and although this may seem difficult for many of us, in reality it frees us up to work on higher level thinking skills as our students learn to process, filter and apply the information which they acquire outside the classroom.
It also gives us the opportunity to focus on developing the social skills our students will need in their future professional lives. The fact is that with the ever increasing pace of change today, the best way to prepare our students for their futures is not by giving them specific knowledge, since many will probably work in professions which have not yet been developed. Faced with change, it is better to equip our students with the skills they need to be adaptable enough to take full advantage of what the future has in store for them. This is the chalenge for educators in the 21st Century.
As part of the conference, we were shown a version of this extremely thought-provoking video, which I decided I would share here.
In this article from the English Teaching professional blog by Chia Suan Chong we can find various ideas for exploiting viral videos from YouTube in the language classroom. She begins by giving examples of videos which have gone viral recently, then explains the phenomenon in more detail before giving some excellent ideas for things to do with these videos in class. A great way of engaging particularly teenage students.
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