Fun warmer with 'would rather'

Coke vs Pepsi

Here's an idea [content in Spanish] which my colleague Xavi Mula published on our Spanish teacher training blog earlier this week.

Xavi's idea was to get the learners to produce their own 'would rather' cards and bring them to class for a fun warmer/revision activity.

If you need some examples, you'll find lots in the link I posted on Twitter about a month ago:

If you had an Edmodo group or something similar (for adults I'd recommend a private G+ community), it could be a fun, on-going thing.

If you were using a WhatsApp group, it would work great there, too. Try challenging your learners: who can come up with the best 'would rather" — i.e. the one that produces the most replies?

YouTube lesson plans for language teachers

Here's another wonderful clip and accompanying lesson plan recently posted on Kieran Donaghy's excellent Film English, one of the sites I always recommend trainees on CELTA courses at IH Barcelona.

I can also recommend two other similar video and lesson plan sites, LessonStream and Allatc (the latter particularly for more advanced learners) but what I particularly like about FilmEnglish is the choice of the clips: they so intrinsically interesting, as the materials for lessons really always ought to be.

And a couple more video sites: if you must turn everything, including YouTube material into grammar exercises, then Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals might be your thing, as might ESL Video, for creating your own exercises.

YouTube (not to mention other sites like Vimeo and Videojug) offers language teachers an amazing variety of materials but rather than immediately thinking "How can I turn this clip into an exercise?", think "How can I turn this into a lesson?" — particularly if it involves doing something more creative with YouTube.

The key question to getting the most from YouTube is probably to consider how active or passive the learners are going to be. If the clip gets them merely to check true/false boxes, they're passive; if it gets them to talk, then they're active.

Fun with conditionals

Here's an idea using Prezi, a fun alternative to PowerPoint, which makes minimal use of technology (a good thing), for practising conditionals, and would actually make for a fun piece of homework.

Here, I've taken an example produced on pieces of paper by learners on a recent technology training course, and I've created the presentation. Clearly, however, you want your learners to be doing the work. Who should use the technology, the teacher or the learners…? The latter, if you ask me — almost always.

It works great with teens!

Eyes right! A fun way to revise grammar

This is a fun way to revise grammar!

Loved this activity, by Jo Budden, which I got from my RSS feed for

You get all your learners to stand up, get themselves into a nice long line, and then dictate to them sentences which are either right or wrong.

If they think the sentence is "right", they take a "big step" to the right (though as you can see in the photo, I got my learners just to look right or left); if they think it's wrong, they step or look left. You could make it an elimination game, Jo suggests, until you've got a "winner" — or make it boys vs girls.

You know the grammar casino game? You could play it like that, with the sentences you dictate being right or wrong grammatically.

It's fun — and might be especially good as a break for your hyperactive teens…

Mobile phone pix

In the bar: "He was cutting a pineapple"

Here's one that came from the session on our CELTA course, July 24. I sent six of you out with your camera-equipped mobile phones to take pictures of people doing things. My instructions were to ensure that you asked politely for permission to take the photo, and thank the person for their assistance.

My assumptions were that you were teens; that you had such technology in your pockets; that we had been doing either the present or the past progressive; and that we had a class blog on which we could afterwards post the pictures with an appropriate caption (in the example, "He was cutting a pineapple…").

The point of the exercise was to raise the question of how much language would be learnt and/or practised and/or used relative to the amount of time invested in the activity. What is the return on investment, in other words, a question I would always ask myself with technology.

This isn't an idea that I've actually tried out with language learners, but I think I would: when are teens — or adults — more likely to learn: "doing" the language via a photocopied exercise or doing an activity in a way that is actually significant to them (and fun!)?