Tag Archives: adults

Global Population – 7 billion people and you

27 Oct

There’s a really nice app on the BBC website that lets you figure out where you come in the global population statistics – for example, when I was born I was the four billionth, 50 millionth, seven hundred and sixty four thousandth, one hundred and sixty first person alive on the planet.  It goes on to let you look at country population statistics and average life expectancy.  Check it out here:  BBC News – 7 billion people and you: Whats your number?.

The app is based (primarily) on data from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) , who have their own app at http://www.7billionandme.org/.  This asks you for more detailed information, not only your date of birth, but birth location, current location and such like, but it does then break down the data into a much wider spread of infographics that compare the situation back then, with the way things are now.  Anyone who’s helping learners work with describing trends and/or numbers (big numbers!) would find this a useful place to go to get some personalised data for the learners to work with.

Also on the web via UNFPA, is http://www.7billionactions.org which is hoping to inspire people to take positive actions in their communities and around the world.  One of the more powerful ways they hope to achieve this is by people sharing their stories:  7 billion stories.  There is a registration form to complete (the usual) and you need a picture to upload.  Participants also need to be 13 years old or over.  Then you write a 600 character “story” about yourself and how you hope to influence change, give it a title and go!

It seems like there’s a fairly obvious lesson plan there!  The kicker though, is that it is only 600 CHARACTERS – not words!  So learners will need to be concise!  It may also help learners to look at the existing stories to get a better idea of the type of content that’s expected of them.

Worth a look anyway!  At the time of writing, the world’s population stands at 6, 999, 175, 608.  So be quick if you want to get there in time for 7 billion!





Essential Criteria for Effective Learning?

10 Oct

This was the question posed the other week on my MA discussion boards:  “Based on your teaching experience, write down the criteria you think are essential for language learning.”  And it’s a good question.  In many respects the ultimate teaching question as it really gets down to the core elements of your pedagogical belief system – what do you know, or failing knowledge, what do you believe to be true?

So…  I had to think about that one for a bit…

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Teaching Resources: Steve Jobs

7 Oct

It’s not until someone goes that you realise the impact they had on your life – Steve Jobs was one of those public figures who inspired belief and achievement in others.

One of my classes was asking if we could talk about Steve Jobs and his life, and clearly he meant a lot to a lot of people – so here are some resources that you can use with your learners.

The Guardian has a reader tribute interactive here: “Dear Steve, your products changed my life.”  They also have a photo slideshow featuring reactions from around the world.

Also from the Guardian, this page “Steve Jobs: the 10 best tributes“.

The Lexical Press Blog from the American TESOL institute has a comemorative lesson plan available here: http://americantesol.com/blogger/?p=366

Cecilia Lemos at Box of Chocolates has an obituary style lesson plan available here: http://cecilialcoelho.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/hot-off-the-press-an-activity-about-steve-jobs/

@MrTESOL tweeted this link to an interactive online Steve Jobs quiz:  http://www.tutor2u.net/business/bizquiz/061011/quiz.html.

Eva Büyüksimkeşyan at A Journey in TEFL has a lesson idea here: http://evasimkesyan.edublogs.org/2011/10/06/a-lesson-idea/, she also mentions Sean Banville’s News English lesson: http://www.newsenglishlessons.com/1110/111006-steve_jobs.html.

Via A school at the end of the world – I just came across The New York Times’ Learning Network post: “Imaging Apple Without Steve Jobs”


Finally, you’ve probably seen it elsewhere on the web recently – but here’s Steve Jobs’ famous speech at Stanford university:


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).


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

First Lesson Aims: Dave Tucker Guest Post!

15 Sep

If you’ve had time to look at recent posts on this blog, you’ll have noticed a series of “first lesson” ideas and activities…  after all,  it’s September, we’ve all got “back-to-school-itis”!

Stepping back from the plethora of great teaching ideas to fill the class time, today our guest blogger, Dave Tucker, looks at some broader learning and teaching goals that we might want to think about before we start planning!

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Vocabulary Revision Game: Pointless

13 Sep

While visiting the UK over the summer, I was introduced to a relatively new BBC Game show – “Pointless“, in which contestants try to score as few points as possible.  Or as the BBC phrase it:  “Quiz in which contestants try to score as few points as possible by plumbing the depths of their general knowledge to come up with the answers no-one else can think of.”

Obviously, this game has great teaching possibilities….!

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September 11th Teaching Resources

11 Sep

Inspired by a recent feature on The Guardian website, which invites readers to share their memories of where they were and what they were doing (click here for more detail), I was thinking about collating teaching resources on the topic and presenting them here.

Turns out Larry Ferlazzo‘s beaten me to it…

His latest post:  “Even more 9/11 resources” has materials from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – as well as from the US Department of Education.

But honestly, his post “The Best Sites to Help Teach About 9/11”  has links to just about every 9/11 related teaching resource that’s out there.  If you’re planning to use this topic area with your classes – make it your starting point.

There’s also a really interesting piece on the OUP blog by Mary Dudziak on the impact September 11th has made on the classroom – read more at “How 9/11 made history“.  Thanks for @OUPAcademic for tweeting the link.


First Lesson or First Week Ideas

9 Sep

Back in July I posted a selections of 20 ideas and activities that might be worth trying out as you get to know your new classes this school year – and since then there’ve been a couple of additional ideas to throw into the mix:

Recently, the 24th Edition of EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival : A Journey in TEFL got posted on Eva Buyuksimkesyan’s “A Journey in TEFL” blog.  I strongly recommend taking a look here if you’re in need of inspiration – Eva’s collated over 40 (I lost count) posts from different contributors.
The Lesson Plans Page also has a wide range of back to school resources and materials, though these are aimed more at native speaker young learner classes than a language learner class – and I’ve not tried any of them, so can’t vouch for them personally!

First Lesson: I don’t know what you did last summer!

5 Sep

A very quick alternative to the standard composition task “What I did on my Summer holidays”.

Essentially, you ask the learners to write the composition (100 words? I guess length will be age & level dependent) about somebody else in the class.

I think I’ve blogged a similar activity at some point before, but not sure when.  Anyway, the key to the activity, is that if John is writing about Amy’s holidays, John can’t talk directly to Amy.  John has to ask the other learners in the class, Frank, Marta and so forth to ask Amy the questions that John wants to know the answers to.

Thus through a constant process of questions and answers John eventually gets enough information to write Amy’s composition for her.  Of course, Amy will be writing Marta’s, Marta Frank’s and Frank John’s, so it all evens out eventually.

This is intended as an alternative for classes where learners do know each other – but it also works really well as the final part of a lesson with a class where nobody knows each other, as John will constantly be explaining to his classmates WHO Amy is, thus meaning everyone should have a much better idea of who everybody else in the class is by the end of it!

Having gathered together all the information during the lesson – the actual writing up of the composition can either be done in class or as a homework task.  What can then be interesting is for the writer and the subject to check how close to the truth the composition is.  The subject can then feedback and edit both the content and language of the composition for later revision – though this would be an optional stage depending on the abilities of the class.

First Lesson: Find Nobody Who…

1 Sep

This is an alternative approach to the inevitable “what did you do on your holidays” conversation.   Many first lesson activities and ideas are based on the premise that nobody knows anybody else but often the students in your classes have come up through the levels together and the only new person in the group is you…

It should also combat those conversations with teenage classes that go:  T: “Hey, how was your summer?”  S: “Alright.”   T:  “What did you do?” S: “Nothing.”

The basic objective is that the learners have to find stuff they did over the holidays that NOBODY else did.

So a simple procedure might be:

Ask the learners if they had a nice summer and lead into a REALLY boring description of what you did over the summer.  e.g.  I watched TV and I played computer games and I did some laundry and stuff.  Ask the learners if they did anything similar.  Establish that pretty much everybody in the class watched TV and played computer games.  Then tell the learners about something slightly more interesting and less usual – for example taking a plane trip – and find out how many people did the same.  Finally, describe something really interesting that you did – or alternatively make something up (e.g. rented a Ferrari and drove up the West coast of the USA).  Find out whether anyone else did the same.

Thus having established the exclusivity principle, ask learners to find something that they did over the summer that nobody else did.  Check that they understand they need to talk to ALL the other learners in the class.

Feedback:  Find out from the learners what interesting and relatively exclusive things they did over the summer.  You could also do some reformulation of any language areas that came up during their mingle activity.