How to make people speak English with a clothes peg

The clothes peg

You know the problem, right? Your learners lapse back into their own language whenever you ask them to do pair- or groupwork, rather than the English they're supposed to be learning.

Here's a brilliant idea that Adriana left in a comment on a previous post on this same issue. Adriana suggests using a clothespeg and explains:

The first student to slip into L1 gets the clothes peg on
their clothes. Their only way of getting rid of the peg is to catch another student speaking in their L1, in which case they can stick the clothes peg on them!

We got some hilarious reactions with that — and it did the job amazingly well. You might want to do it with a class there is already a positive atmosphere in: you don't want to humiliate anyone!

What language were you speaking
Here's a second idea that works — though it's more an awareness-raising thing than anything else.

In class where you have this problem, hand out slips of paper just before starting an activity that should involve the learners speaking a lot of English. Let them get on with the activity, but stop them in the middle of it when you sense that the language being most spoken is not English.

What language were you speaking

At that point, ask them to write down what language they were speaking when you stopped them. Once they've done that, get someone to come out to the front and tally the results on the board.

I like to draw attention to the results but, while I certainly would encourage discussion of it, wouldn't make a lot of fuss about it: it's awareness-raising, as I say, not a line-up for punishment detail.

How to embed things on a blog

In our Celta Course session, Tuesday, we looked at the above video, from VideoJug.

I suggested that, before watching it, learners could brainstorm a list of things you should do if you want to be able to get your own way with another person. We then used those learner-generated lists as our "listening comprehension" questions, and ticked off those mentioned as we watched.

Why would you want to embed a video
You might want to "embed" such a video on your own class blog — "put" it there, if you prefer — as then you have greater control over what else your learners will see. Currently displaying on the same VideoJug page are videos relating to "how to get out of a car without showing your knickers" and "how to have sex in public without being caught", for example.

You probably don't want your young learners to see or watch those…!

If you want you learners to be able to post things on a class blog (and I would suggest that you do!), then teaching them how to embed things (nice things ,-)! is a way of giving them control over what they watch and talk about in class.

How do you embed a video

Copy that line of code!

To embed a video, you need first to copy the "embed" code, highlighted above. Ensure you copy all of it: if you right-click on it, you can then "select all" to make sure that you do.

Paste the code into right place!

All you then have to do is paste the code on your blog. Make sure that you paste it in the right place: if you are using, you will have to use the "Edit Html" tab, shown above.

Again, you want to make sure it starts with the code object… and ends …/object>. If it does, you should then be able to preview it, and find that it will play correctly.

Needless to say you don't need to understand what any of that code means… !

>> Another video: Dance moves: an emergency guide for men

Vista, Word 2007 tutorials

The ribbon: understanding it is vital to using Word 2007… See below for explanation

Some of the people I work with are finding it tough to get used to working with Word 2007. If you are similarly challenged, here are some tutorials you might find useful…

If even finding Word is challenging enough, it might be worth starting here, with the basics of Vista 2007.

Two things to start with

There are two important things you need to do to get started. One is to get the hang of using the ribbon.

You use the ribbon to navigate your different tools — it replaces the drop-down menus you were used to. You need to click the tabs to access the different groups of tools: in the image (above) we're currently in the home tab (red arrow); you need to click the other tabs (black arrows) to access other tools.

The second important thing is to realise that some of the things you want (like "save as") are hidden behind that button, "A" in the image below. Click that, and you do get a drop-down menu ("B"). That's got to be the FAQ I answer most often…

The button: Ah-hah! So that's where it's hidden!

If you'd rather have a text-based tutorial than video, here's one on getting started with Word 2007.

Look on Google and you'll find lots more tutorials

Somewhere else worth going — rather than Google — when you are trying to get your head round technology is YouTube, where you'll find some great tutorials. Here's a very simple one on using the Word 2007 ribbon

And TeacherTube is another place I'd go… Lots of Word 2007 video tutorials there too.

Go get yourself used to it
Word 2007 is not really that complicated, or so very different — once you get used to it.

I'd suggest that getting the hang of Word 2007 is a bit like driving a new car, or using a new digital camera: you've got to make just a little bit of effort yourself to get used to it. Get your head round "the ribbon", and you're away…

Finding technology tutorials
How did I find all of these things? See the first comment (below) for some search tips.

Setting up a blog with Blogger

You want a blog…? First of all you need a Google account!

Blogger is one of the best options for blogging. You first step, however, has to be to go to Gmail and set up an account (1, in the image above).

Next, go to…

Next you want to go to, where you could "Take a quick tour" (centre of image, above, if you're still not sure what blogging is). "Create your blog now" will start the set-up process, which really is as easy as they suggest.

Sign up for Blogger!

You've got your email (Gmail) address, now you want to give yourself a "display name" (2, in the image above). Your display name is what (automatically) appears where it says "Posted by…" at the foot of each post.

Your blog title and address…

Now you have to give your blog a title (3)… It's about your thoughts on life? Make that "My thoughts on life" (or whatever). The "blog address" (or URL) (4) is where it will actually be published on the web.

What do you want your blog to look like…?

Your "template" determines (automatically) what your blog will look like. Choose the least horrible looking for now, and come back and change it afterwards (when you will also get more options), if you want.

… and that's it!

Your blog has been created. Click "start posting" to do just that — it really is that simple.

Blogging… why it's just like email!

You are now ready to start posting on your blog. Virtually all the buttons there will be familiar to you from emailing.

While there's a bit more still to learn (how to personalise your template, upload images, create links and so on), blogging really isn't complicated.

If you can email, you can blog…