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The Interview Round

29 Feb

Job interviews are fun things to prepare learners for.  A colleague and I once prepared a student for a job interview as a hotel receptionist by sitting her in the director’s office and making spurious phone calls to her in a variety of comedy accents with demands ranging from the mundane (clean towels) to the ridiculous (arranging a private jet to pick the children up from school).  I never found out whether it helped her or not….

More recently, my FCE class did a module on the working world and to finish it off we did a job interview task.  It went really well.  They really enjoyed it, there was loads of great language and some truly brilliant questions which, given that they are teenagers with no experience of the job market, made me very happy.  So I thought I’d share it!

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay

I divided the class into two groups.  Group A were the interviewers and Group B the interviewees.

Group A worked collaboratively to decide which jobs they were interviewing for and what questions they would ask.  Each interviewer had to recruit for a different job, so we had John recruiting for an astrophysicist and Mary recruiting for a babysitter and Anne for a stage prompter.

Group B worked collaboratively to think of what kind of qualities and experience might help them to get different types of jobs and to think of questions to ask about the terms and conditions, working hours etc.

The key is that Group B doesn’t know what jobs they are interviewing for, so group A have to keep it a secret!

In the interview stage, group A were sat separately around the edges of the room and paired off with someone from group B.  Each pair had two or three minutes to interview / be interviewed and then the students from group B rotated to the next interviewer.

At the end of the activity, Group A got back together and decided which candidates they would hire for their job – and they had to hire someone, so there was a bit of additional negotiation going on there!  Group B had to work out which interviewer was interviewing for which job – piecing it together from clues obtained during the process.

Because of time constraints, I stopped the interview process about two thirds of the way through, so that everybody had only spoken to about four or five other people.  I think that also worked quite well because it added a bit more of a jigsaw element to working out the final task.  I also liked that the interviewees had more of a task to do than just compare questions, which is a problem I’ve come across in the past.

Try it out yourself and let me know how it goes – or if you have any variations on the theme?

 

Processes and Passives

18 Jan

This is a lesson I did with my advanced class the other day as part of a review of passive structures.  I’ve typed it all up into a full plan and procedure which you can download in pdf through this link:  teflgeek – A lesson on processes and passives

It is based around a short advert that I found on Larry Ferlazzo’s site from the company Target:

In the lesson, the learners listen to the video without watching it, and predict what they think is happening.

They then watch it and extract as much language out of it as they can, before using the vocabulary they collected to write up a description of the process.  As it is a process, there is a nice mixture of active and passive structures that can be used and the lesson also contains some input on using the passive.

They can then use these skills to describe other contraptions and processes for homework, such as the image below.

I used this mostly as a vehicle for working with the passive, but it should also work quite well as a lesson for teaching IELTS part one writing.

 

Professor_Lucifer_Butts

The WHY Game – for practicing clauses of reason and purpose

4 Feb

 

This is an activity I did with with an intermediate group of young learners – who absolutely loved it.  It led to what was easily the longest conversations they’d had in English all year.  It probably wouldn’t take much to adapt it to higher levels or older classes.

This came as a freer practice activity after we’d already dealt with the input – in this case we’d been working with:

  • to + infinitive
  • in order to + infinitive
  • so (that) + subject & clause

I asked the class to write down five things they’d done today and five places they’d been to recently (but not today).

I then asked them to build these out into sentences with time references.  e.g. “This morning I brushed my teeth.”  /  “Last weekend I went to the park.”

Once they had their sentences I picked one of the stronger students and asked him to tell me one of his sentences.  Our conversation went like this:

  • John, tell me one of your sentences.
  • Uh.  OK.  Last week I went to the theatre.
  • Why did you go to the theatre?
  • It was a school trip.  I had to.
  • Why did you have to?
  • Because the school made me,
  • Why did they make you?

…..  and so on.

You may have noticed this modelling didn’t lead to much production of the target language.  But at this point the rest of the class knew what was expected of them.  I drew their attention to the target language and told them to try and use it.  I also told them they would get one point as soon as their partner gave up, said “I don’t know” or told them to shut up (or similar).  I then put them into groups of three and off they went!

 

whyAs I said, the class loved it.  They really went for it and some die hards were still on their first sentence after about five minutes.  I noticed some students were using the target language, some weren’t, but they were all speaking English and were really on task and engaged.  I think in future I’d set a time limit per sentence of two or three minutes, after which the victim wins a point, to try and avoid one student over-dominating the group.

Clauses of reason and purpose and result come into a lot of exam books, so this could be a nice change of pace for some of those classes.

Enjoy, try it out and let me know what you think!

 

The zombie apocalypse and its role in the ELT classroom

6 Jan

From the always interesting yearinthelifeofanenglishteacher comes what is clearly the best blog post title of 2011:  “The zombie apocalypse and its role in the ELT classroom“.

I missed the original post in June, only picking up on it via Tyson Seburn’s 11 posts I wish I’d written  in December, but it is a truly inspired way of teaching speculative language – mainly focusing on conditional forms – through the medium of you tube “choose your own adventure” style videos.

The original post features the Zombie Apocalypse (courtesy of a New Zealand pizza company ad campaign);  the time travelling adventures of office-bound Chad, Matt and Rob; and a UK anti-knife crime campaign.  This last features incredibly authentic North London dialect – while making the choices will be accessible to all levels – the language from the participants will not!  Also worth watching it all the way through (as with all the videos) to check for suitability!

That last point is also worth making of all these type adventures, it’s not always necessary for learners to understand everything the characters in the videos say – unless you specifically want to work on listening skills – the choices, as you see from the picture above, are quite clear and these should prompt the discussion, which will in turn probably clarify any areas of confusion relating to the events on screen.

Finally – it’s also worth reading through the comments section below the post – some great ideas and further links from the commenters.

 

 

Online Teaching Resource: Idioms Videos

29 Sep

I just came across, during a further exploration of the Pearson ELT Community site, their idioms discussions space.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of discussion, but they have posted a set of mini-videos which purport to explain English idioms and expressions.  The videos are very short (about a minute) and are followed with a dictionary definition.  One of the tasks they give is “Can you guess the idiom before the definition comes up?”  If you had learners in teams with different coloured board pens, and they raced to write the expression on the board before it came up, it could work….

The videos are also available via the Pearson You Tube channel (I’ve tried to embed one of them below, but don’t think it’s worked – so click the link instead).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHo5DXDFGyo

Here’s the original page again:  ELTCommunity.com: Space: Idioms Discussions.

Tea, Coffee and Comparisons

14 Jul

Just a quick lesson overview rather than a full plan etc today:  this is an idea for helping learners with comparisons / comparatives.

Basically it starts out with the activity “Tea or Coffee”, follows up with the language input stage, invites comparisons between learners’ home country and the UK / USA etc and finishes off with an oppostion debate based around the initial “Tea or Coffee” activity.  It’s materials light – in fact there aren’t any!

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First Lesson Ideas / Warmers

10 Jul

For many teachers, though the school year might have just ended – the joy of summer school classes is about to start.  Or may have already, but I think lessons at my habitual summer haunt are due to begin on Monday morning – I’m not there this year, so not sure.

In any event this post contains a collection of getting to know you type activities / ice-breakers or first lesson warmers for you to choose from.  If you started teaching summer school last week – sorry about the delay – but you can probably use these or adapt these as warmer or lead in type activities – so it might still be useful!

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The disabled access friendly world blog challenge: Creature Discomforts

29 Jun

Following on from the recent blog challenge on raising awareness of disability access issues, I came across the Leonard Cheshire Disability campaign whilst watching Shaun the Sheep dvds with my daughter.

The campaign is called “Creature Discomforts” and has very similar aims to the blog challenge – namely to get people to think about the way they see disability.

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Zip Zap Boing (I think?)

24 May

I blame that Simon Thomas over at efl-resource.  It’s all his fault.  And I’m still not sure whether it’s “zip zap zop” or “zig zag zog” or something else entirely!

I’ve inherited a class, which Simon once taught back in the misty dawn of time, of 12-year-old pre-intermediate students.  When I walked in the classroom the other day, they were all so keen and motivated to begin the lesson that they roundly rejected my fun warmer and started going on about this bizarre pointing game.  With some careful misunderstandings on my part, it took them ten minutes to explain the rules to me, all of which they did in extremely fluent English (which only goes to show if the motivation is there, the language will follow).

As far as I can work out, everyone stands in a circle.  Someone starts things off and the game runs as follows:  if you point (in a sort of two handed gun gesture) to the person on your immediate left or right you say ZIP,  to anyone else in the circle you say ZAP.  To deflect someone’s pointing at you back at them, you hold both hands up (as if in surrender) and say “BOING”.

It’s meant to be a fast paced, rapid fire game and if you get it wrong you’re out (though I’m not sure how you then declare a winner?).

To give this a larger linguistic focus or to work with higher levels, you could do this with parts of speech:  Nouns to the left, verbs to the right and adjectives down the middle!  A colleague, Alexis, also does this with vocabulary categories:  learners have to precede their ZIP/ZAP/BOING with a vocabulary item linked to the target category.

A nice way to start the lesson – or a fun way to finish it!

Habitat for Humanity: Lesson Plans

13 May

I’ll be honest, I don’t really know much about Habitat for Humanity.  I’m mentioning them here because they posted a comment under one of the blog posts and I just went and took a quick look at their site.

They have quite a wealth of lessons (detailed plans, learning outcomes, materials etc), categorised by age ranges.  The bad news is that these lesson plans are not aimed at foreign language learners.  So the stuff in the 5-8 category might be a bit beyond the non-native speakers, though there are a couple of colouring tasks which might work?

I think adaptation is going to be the name of the game here.  I think there’s quite a lot of stuff here that is likely to be of interest to learners and some things that might make some nice end of year/term projects.  It should appeal to the cross-curricular / CLIL crowd….

Habitat for Humanity operates in a large number of countries around the world, so the chances are you’ll be able to find a local office, which might make things a bit more relevant to the learners?

Habitat for Humanity lessons — Habitat for Humanity Int’l.