Friday, 29 April 2011

"When you educate a girl, you educate the whole world"

In January 2011, I posted a video showing how they were building a music school in  Kirina, Mali, from scratch. The school opened its doors in October 2010, and Playing for Change takes us into the school to see what teachers and the kids do...

Related posts:

Dogme still has its bone! The saga continues...

As titled in my previous post, dogme is indeed like a dog with a bone. The recent IATEFL 2011 Conference in Brighton seems to have started it off on a roller coaster ride once again. The weekly Twitter #ELTchat featured it for the second time, prompting a lively hour-long session, and with that in mind, Scott Thornbury decided to respond to five of the most common issues surrounding dogme.
  1. Dogme is nothing new - we've always been doing it. Scott's answer: It wasn't so much that dogme was an idea whose time had come, but more that it was an idea which needed labelling.
  2. It's OK for some, but it won't work in our context. Scott's answer: No single methodology is universally applicable, but comments from teachers applying dogme in a wide variety of situations suggest that it might be more elastic than some critics would have us believe.
  3. Dogme is prescriptive; it imposes its rule of conversation-driven, materials-light, and emergent language top-down. Scott's answer: It isn't so much prescriptive as descriptive.
  4. Dogme is evil! It's irresponsible and unprofessional. Scott's answer: We aren't suggesting that teachers go into the classroom without having a clue of what they are going to do and just hoping that something will just come up; we're actually suggesting that they go in with a very clear idea of how and where they want things to go, in relation to that particular class and the needs of that particular class.
  5. To end the video, Scott addresses some positive comments such as 'It's changed the way I feel about teaching', 'One of the reasons why I like dogme is because it fights conservatism and laziness', and 'we overestimate the value of branded materials and underestimate the potential of ordinary people'. Scott's answer: What has been extraordinarily encouraging has been the responses of teachers saying things like how dogme has changed their way of teaching, how it's made them feel good about teaching, how it's given them professional self-esteem, and how it's given them a boost and often at a time when they needed it most.
There is life left in DOGME!

Related posts:

To be like a dogme with a bone

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

To be like a dogme with a bone

If you haven't heard of dogme, you must have been hibernating in your shell for too long, and you'll have an awful lot of catching up to do. If you have heard of it, you'll know that if you were to mention the word to another teacher, you're likely to win a friend for life, or... you'd be left wondering if you had bad breath! I don't know what it was really like in Brighton, but from afar, I can't help but think that some teachers are like a dog with a bone on the subject of dogme, and it's contagious!

Whether you've heard of it or not, whether you're in favour of it or not, I'd suggest you watch these enlightening interviews with Luke Meddings and Anthony Gaughan at the recent IATEFL 2011 Conference in Brighton. Unfortunately, their presentations weren't recorded (I think). Also, don't miss Diarmuid's hilarious parody of the dogme saga after that! Click on the image and the video will open in a new tab/window.

Then, there are a couple of excellent blogs, whose links I've posted at the bottom, which are currently discussing dogme. Do visit them from time to time. Interesting reading indeed.

Dogme vs Coursebooks

Interesting thought-provoking discussions are going on at the moment here:

Diarmuid's Questions which dog me and
Gaughan's Every dogme has its day

Wiki, of course, has a page on Dogme language teaching, and more links can be seen there.

And, if you really want to know more about the subject, read Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings' Teaching Unplugged.

Of course, both Scott & Luke have their blogs, which, undoubtedly, will contain references to dogme from time to time.

Related posts:

Tweeting is for the birds
What is m-Learning?
Speaking using close-ups

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Macmillan's Pronunciation Application on Apple & Android

If you've got an Apple or Android phone, you might like this pronunciation application from Macmillan, based on Adrian Underhill's chart. I haven't got such a phone, I'm afraid, so I haven't been able to test it. If you have managed to test this application, please make your opinions known to us by commenting below.

Updated 26/04/2011: It has just been brought to my attention that the application is only available for iPhones at the moment. I suspect it's to judge the demand, so, the more people who download it, the quicker will it be made available for Android phones, too - that is my guess!

You can download it here:

Related posts:
Cockney Rhyming Slang
Pronunciation of regular simple past
Teaching and learning pronunciation
Transcribing text to IPA symbols

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Interview with Nicky Hockly on IATEFL 2011: Listening Comprehension

Note: Last updated on 24 April 2011 to add phrasal verbs and vocabulary questions to the quiz.

ELT ESL EFL CLIL TEFL games, resources, activities: Listening comprehension based on IATEFL 2011 Brighton Interview with Nicky Hockly

Watch this interview with Nicky Hockly during the IATEFL 2011 Brighton conference. First, just watch and listen. Then, click on the image above, and review all the questions. Watch the video again, but, this time, attempt to answer all the questions.

Teachers: if you would like to use this activity for your students, you can ask them to enter your email address. This way, all their results will be sent to you, and you can evaluate them.

Tweeting is for the birds: Hockly vs Waters, IATEFL 2011 Brighton

This, along with the PechaKucha night, must have been the highlights of the IATEFL 2011 Brighton conference. The motion for the ELT Debate was 'Tweeting is for the birds, not for language learning', with Alan Waters speaking for the motion, and Nicky Hockly, against.

Here is an opportunity for those who haven't had the chance of watching a live debate in action to do so. The format of the debate differs slightly from the system I have been advocating for use in the classroom, but the essence remains the same.

Listen out for key points in debating:
  • Language style
  • Rebuttal
  • Support (quotes, statistics, analogies, case studies, etc.)
  • Clarity & logic
  • Organisation
  • Expression & delivery
So, watch this entertaining debate, and I hope it will inspire you to hold one of your own in your class/school. Please read the following:

Related posts

Speaking lesson using close-up images

This lesson has been inspired by Ceri Jones' presentation in IATEFL Brighton 2011, or rather her interview, as I wasn't present in the conference, and her session wasn't recorded. For those of you who would like to watch the recorded interviews or sessions, they are available here:

Ceri's idea is basically to start off with a close-up. Speak about this, and gradually, extend the conversation away from the close-up, as though you're zooming out of the image. Ask questions based on the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste. I would recommend that you look at her blog to read about her ideas of using images in the classroom.

Although Ceri's idea is just to use the close-up, and that may be sufficient if you have a participative class, you may have to feed your class with parts of the wider image if imagination is lacking in an uninspired group. If you use a high-resolution image, you can start off by zooming in to the section you would like to start off with. Prepare this beforehand since it is better if no-one knows what the 'bigger' picture is to keep the element of surprise alive.

In any case, you should always run through your images before a lesson. I, personally, prefer shots which are slightly underexposed, but these may appear too dark in the class or some pictures may appear too bright. So, be prepared to make minor adjustments to adapt the images to each class.

Here, then, is a close-up image.

Ask them what the picture is. They may or may not be able to guess. If no-one is able to guess, show them the following image, or perhaps, give a few hints.

When they've guessed that it's an eye, here are some examples of questions you could ask:

Is it real?
Is it a photo or a painting?
Is it of a man, woman, or an animal?
What kind of animal? / Is the man handsome? /Is the woman pretty? (Here, you can elicit descriptive adjectives - height, weight, type of hair, complexion, etc).

The idea is to remain flexible; the goal is to get all the students to speak. If they are on a roll, don't stop them. You don't have to show the zoomed-out images.

Are they painted by a male or a female? Age? Are the subjects real of imaginary? Are the paintings side by side? Are they of a male or female? Imagine their hair, their mouths...

At this point, they are likely to have guessed that these are graffiti.


Are they a valid art form? Do you like them? Should they be controlled? Where should they be allowed/not allowed? How should offenders be punished? What type of people paint them?

You can branch out to general art. Do you like art? What kind? Do you draw/paint well? Who draws well? Have they got any work of their own to show the class?

So, are the two girls drawn side by side? What about the old lady (well, maybe it isn't an old lady; anyway, I'm referring to the figure in the background)? Are they all drawn by the same person? What makes you think so? Where do you think these graffiti are? Why do you think so?

If they haven't guessed already, now they should know that this is a skate park. At this point, whether you've arrived here just by using the first shot, or you've needed to use all the zoomed-out shots, you can start to discuss sports in general, and skateboarding, in particular.

What sports do you practise? How often? Who with? How many? Where? How long? What type of clothes do you wear? Do you have a break? How long? What do you do? What do you do after? Do you chill out somewhere with your friends? Where? What do you talk about?

If they go somewhere to eat/drink - what do you eat/drink? If this subject comes up, you can start to talk about food (remember the five senses). Examples: What's your favourite food? Describe it: colour, texture, taste, smell. Why do you like it? How often do you eat it?

What's your favourite meal time? Do you cook? Who cooks at home? Do you eat healthily? What is healthy food?

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Games, Resources, Activities: Using close-up images for speaking in the classroom

Why is there a fence covering the park? What is beyond the park? What is on this side? What's to the left/right? What time of day is it? How do you know? Do you think it gets busy?

Is this picture taken at the same time as the previous? Is this skate park in a city or in a village? What's the weather like?

As you can see, there are endless questions you can ask, and endless topics you can get the students to talk about. If there are too many students in the class, you can split them into groups and have them ask each other questions. Go around monitoring and helping.

Do visit Ceri's blog for more ideas on using images. For sources of image, look at my Useful Resources page, under Images. You can, of course, use our very own ELTpics in Flickr. There, you'll find photos taken by teachers for teachers under the Creative Commons licence. You can also join in the fun by contributing your own photos: tweet the link with the hash tag #eltpics.

Photos are invited for a new topic each week (normally on Sunday). If you don't know the topic, just ask the question with the hash tag, and someone will tell you. You can also contribute photos to older topics - just look at the sets page.

Related topics

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

When do you use 'a', 'an' and 'one'? Are they interchangeable?

ELT eltpics EFL ESL TEFL CLIL: When do you use a and an

When do you use 'one', and when do you use 'a'? Are they interchangeable?

I get asked this quite often, unsurprisingly, so I'll try to explain it in words here.

'A' is used before numbers and measurements to mean 'one' and is more common in an informal style. However, in more formal language, or when we want to be precise, we use 'one':

   A hundred people came to the conference.
   One hundred people came to the conference.

Both are correct.

   I'd like a coke, please.
   I'd like one coke, please.

Although both are grammatically correct, the former sounds more natural, unless we are trying to be precise: I want just one coke, not two.

   This tablet weighs only a hundred grams!
   This tablet weights only one hundred grams!

The latter carries a stress on 'one' to indicate the lightness of the tablet.

For hundreds and thousands, we usually use 'a' at the beginning, but not in the middle:

   159      a hundred and fifty-nine / one hundred and fifty-nine
   5159    five thousand, a hundred and fifty-nine
              five thousand, one hundred and fifty-nine

However, see these:

   1000    a thousand / one thousand
   1001    a thousand and one / one thousand and one
   1159    a thousand a hundred and fifty-nine
               a thousand, one hundred and fifty-nine
               one thousand, one hundred and fifty-nine

In other words, when it is a thousand and some hundreds, we say 'one thousand', not a thousand.

While I'm on the subject of 'a', let me touch on 'an', too.

Be careful not to make the mistake of using 'an' before all vowels. 'A' is used before a word that begins with a consonant sound, while 'an' is used before a word that begins with a vowel sound.

ELT eltpics EFL ESL TEFL CLIL: When do you use a and an

In the above image (click it to see an enlarged version), you can see how vowel sounds are represented. When in doubt, consult a dictionary. Here are some examples of possibly confusing words:

an MP3 /ˌem piː ˈθriː/ player
a university /ˌjuːnɪˈvɜː(r)səti/
an HIV /ˌeɪtʃ aɪ ˈviː/
a hi-fi /ˈhaɪˌfaɪ/ system
an hour /ˈaʊə(r)/
a hotel /həʊˈtel/
a one-man show /wʌn/

If you are still unclear, post a comment, and I will try to help.

Related posts:

Teaching & Learning Pronunciation
Mobile Pronunciation Application
What is your English?
Pronunciation website
Pronunciation of regular past simple

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Jackson Browne on Ted Talks: If I Could Be Anywhere

Ted Talks has a speaker with a difference - he isn't going to speak!

Don't worry - it isn't a silent video, lol.

Jackson Browne is one of my favourite singer-songwriters, and he has written many powerful songs in his long career, this one here being no exception. What I would like you to do first is to watch and listen to the song, and try to understand as much as possible.

Then, watch it a second time; this time, scroll further down and follow the lyrics.

When you've finished, think about the message Jackson Browne is trying to put across. Comment below by clicking on the pencil icon.

Sliding through the shimmering surface between two worlds
Standing at the centre of time as it uncurls
Cutting through a veil of illusion
Moving beyond past conclusions
Wondering if all my doubt and confusion will clear

If I could be anywhere,
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere right now, I would want to be here

Searching for the future among the things we're throwing away
Trying to see the world through the junk we produce every day
They say nothing lasts forever,
But all the plastic ever made is still here
No amount of closing our eyes will make it disappear

If I could be anywhere,
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere in history, I would want to be here

The Romans, the Spanish, the British, the Dutch
American exceptionalism, so out of touch
The folly of empire, repeating its course
Imposing its will and ruling by force
On and on through time

But the world can’t take it, very much longer
We're not gonna make it, unless we're smarter and stronger
The world is gonna shake itself free of our greed somehow

If I could be anywhere,
If I could be anywhere in time
If I could be anywhere and change things, it would have to be now.

They say nothing lasts forever,
but all the plastic ever made is still here
No amount of closing our eyes will make it disappear

And the world can’t take it, very much longer
It's not gonna make it, ‘less we're smarter and stronger
The world is gonna shake itself free of our greed somehow

And the world can’t take it, that you can see
If the oceans don’t make it, neither will we
The world is gonna shake itself all the way free somehow

If I could be anywhere, If I could be anywhere in time
If I could be anywhere and change the outcome, it would have to be now.

Related posts:
We are the champions - Ideas for using songs in the classroom
A day in the life (The Beatles)
Conditional Type II with Norah Jones
Conditional Type II - Comparing countries
Conditional Type III with Keith Whitley

Friday, 15 April 2011

Banana and Walnut Cake Recipe

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Resources, Games, Activities: Banana & Walnut Cake Recipe

It's been quite some time since the last recipe; so, taking into account this, plus thousands have gone to the IATEFL event in Brighton, plus I had been given more bananas than I could eat, I came up with this recipe.


250g flour
100g walnuts
5g baking soda
pinch of salt
125g butter
100g brown sugar
2 large eggs
5-6 bananas (about 300g)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 175ºC.
  2. Ground walnuts coarsely.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, walnuts, baking soda and salt.
  4. Soften the butter (a few seconds in the microwave will be sufficient or, if you prefer, do it au bain-marie.
  5. Add the sugar and mix with a whisk.
  6. Add the eggs, and carry on whisking.
  7. Add the bananas. If they are firm, mash them prior to adding; if they're ripe, you can mash them with the whisk. Mix well.
  8. Add a little flour to this mix, and stir well. Carry on this process until all the flour has been added.
  9. Now, add the dry ingredients. Mix again.
  10. Pour the mixture onto a greased baking tin (I like to use the rectangular one for this recipe).
  11. Bake at 175ºC for about 45 minutes. As usual, baking time much depends on your oven. It's ready when you poke a cake tester through the centre of it, and it comes out clean.
  12. Remove and leave to cool.
  13. Eat and enjoy with a nice cuppa!

Related posts:

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Second Conditional Activities: Comparing Countries

We have already seen an activity for second conditional with Norah Jones, and I'd also touched on the subject of countries prior to this. However, from my experience, the concept of conditionals isn't too hard to grasp, but it could be used as a springboard for speaking activities. Please see my post on The Best Countries as well.

With that in mind, I introduce to you this interesting website, If It Were My Home. I'll have to admit that I first heard of it from Nik Peachey. Andy Lintner and Annette Calabrese first started the page in 2010 to highlight the magnitude of the BP Oil Spill disaster, but have since expanded it to include interesting information on many countries.

If you click on 'Country Comparison', if I remember correctly, it will ask you permission to access your IP address to know where your home country is. This happens only once. If you do this, it will assume you wish to compare your home country with another. Click on another name further down the page.

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Resources, Games, Activities: second conditional, countries

When you've done that, something like this will be what you get:

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Resources, Games, Activities: second conditional, countries

Here, we're comparing Spain to Australia. On the map, you can see the difference in size of the two countries. It also lists a few comparisons between the them, e.g.

  "If Australia were your home instead of Spain, you would have 68.51% more chance of being employed."

If you wish to compare your home country (Spain) to a different country, select another from the drop-down list by clicking on the arrowhead, then on 'compare'. However, if you want to compare the chosen country (Australia) to another, you select the following button, where it says 'Compare (Australia) to other countries'. When you click this, a list of countries will be displayed. Select one.

In this way, you can compare any two countries you wish. Below, you can see a comparison between the two most digital countries in the world, according to a recent survey.

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Resources, Games, Activities: second conditional, countries

Notice that the statistics are highlighted in three different colours. Red is negative (e.g. would consume 5.1 times more oil), green is positive (e.g. ...have 87.74% more chance of being employed), and blue is for babies! At least I haven't seen any other statistics highlighted in blue.

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Resources, Games, Activities: second conditional, countries

If you want to see additional information on a particular statistic, just click on the arrowhead to its right, and more information will appear.

ELT ESL EFL TEFL CLIL Resources, Games, Activities: second conditional, countries

Further down, you'll see a thumbs up and a thumbs down sign. These are for you to vote. Below this, you'll see more information on the country you're comparing to.

If you scroll even further below, you are allowed to enter your comments, and read those of others (if there are any) of the compared country.

So, as you can see, there's ample material for students to come up with second conditional sentences. Conversation shouldn't be restricted to this grammar structure; students should be encouraged to speak about any of the statistics they see or even the comments. For more ways of using the site, I'd recommend your reading Nik's post.

Related posts:

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A Day In The Life: One Song, Countless Activities: Simple Past Cloze, Phrasal verbs, Vocabulary, etc.

ELT EFL ESL CLIL TEFL Resources, Games, Activities: Simple Past gap-fill activity

In We Are The Champions, I wrote about several ideas you could do with songs in the classroom, so if you'd missed it, you ought to take a look now.


Play the video, freeze it when Paul McCartney can be seen. Ask if anyone knows him, what they know: the group he belonged to, the instrument he plays, the period the song was written, etc.


Play the video once, asking them to listen and, at the same time, watch the images carefully. Then, ask them what images they remember seeing, and if the images suggested anything to them.

Before playing a second time, get them to try the gap-fill activity, without asking for help. Remind them that each time they ask for help (?) or a hint, they lose points.

Phrasal Verbs

Once the gap-fill activity has been successfully completed, explain these phrasal verbs to them (after asking them to guess first):

blow out
turn away
turn on
wake up
get out
look up

As most phrasal verbs have multiple meanings, it's best to stick to what they mean in the context of the song, in order not to overly confuse the students.

blow out: the 'blow' here means to break into pieces and the 'out' gives a sense of outward direction.

   The gas explosion blew out all the windows of the house.

There may be no need to draw attention to the graphic imagery of 'he blew his mind out', but you could perhaps ask how he could have done this (answer: by shooting himself). However, if you want to go deeper, John could have been cheeky with his typical double entendre, and meant that the driver was stoned out of his head!

turn away: although 'turn away' is a phrasal verb meaning to refuse to allow someone into a place, here it isn't used as a phrasal verb as such. 'Away' is used as an adverb meaning towards a different direction.

'A crowd of people turned away' meaning if they were looking at the screen, they stopped looking at it by looking at a different direction.

turn on: mmm...this is a tricky one as one of the meanings has a sexual connotation, even a drug-related one perhaps. What was John thinking of when he wrote it? Depending on the age group of your students, you may wish to explain that it means 'getting someone interested in something'.

wake up: wake or wake up means to stop sleeping.

get out: to get out of bed is to leave the bed, especially after sleeping.

look up: As in 'turn away', the 'up' is used as an adverb to mean towards a higher direction.

'And looking up, I noticed I was late': remembering that he's gone downstairs to have a cup (of tea, probably) (you could also ask them about rooms in the house - he'd obviously went down to the kitchen from his bedroom upstairs), he could be looking back up the stairs, but more likely, he was looking up at a clock on the wall, and saw that he was late.

Analysis and interpretation

One could write a doctorate on this song, really! There are many aspects that can be discussed depending on the level and the age group of your students. You can analyse each line and draw multitudes of hidden layers behind John's irony and sarcasm. You can talk about subjects such as urban life, suicide, drug abuse, fame, politics, and so on. Whether he meant it intentionally or not, there is so much to be read behind John's words (and you could guess which were John's words and which were Paul's).

To put it in a nutshell, discuss the lyrics in class. Ask them for their personal interpretation (or work in groups). Compare interpretations. As homework, set a group webquest - ask them to find out interesting things about the song and prepare a presentation (leave the choice to them: could be PowerPoint, Prezi, Glogster, Vocaroo, Wallwisher, well, whatever tickles their fancy!)

You can also ask them to add another verse based on a piece of news they have read in the newspapers or heard on the TV.

I have also prepared a short quiz, testing rhymes, synonyms, antonyms and phrasal verbs. If you ask your students to enter your email, their results will be sent to you. Alternatively, if you make sure they enter valid references (such as class/school), ask me, and I'll forward their attempts to you.

ELT EFL ESL CLIL TEFL Resources, Games, Activities: Simple Past gap-fill activity

Related posts:

Index of all Material by Category
We are the champions: Present Perfect activities
Conditional Type II with Norah Jones
Conditional Type III with Keith Whitley

Monday, 11 April 2011

One World - is it such an impossible dream?

"The next thing we knew the music started playing, children gathered for their own personal concert, and we all transcended to a place with no time, no fear, and no difference between us." And so, we watched, mesmerised by Mali's Tinariwen's desert blues, reminiscent of the late great Ali Farka Touré.

Boy, do I love this music. These are the roots of American blues, which, in turn, are the roots of most forms of popular music today.

So, just chill out, watch, listen, dig out some Ali Farka, and dream of achieving the objective of Playing for Change: peace through music. Dream of One World.

View Larger Map

Related posts:

Building a school from the ground up

Idioms Part 22 (Food - Nuts) Interactive Game

CLIL EFL ESL ELL ELT ESOL TEFL Resources, Games & Activities: Nuts Idioms
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

While in the last part of this series on Idioms, we drove you bananas, on this one, we'll drive you nuts! However, there's no sense in getting panicky. Let's take a closer look at some of these nutty idioms!

the nuts and bolts

This refers to the basic detailed practical information on how something works: Be patient. Jane will explain the nuts and bolts of the system to you.

for peanuts

When you buy something for peanuts, you buy it for very little money: My brother bought a new camera, so he sold his old one to me for peanuts.

hard (or tough) nut to crack

You use this expression to talk about someone or something that is difficult to deal with: I've been looking at this problem for days - it sure is one tough nut to crack!

in a nutshell

You say this when you want to sum something up, or you want to express something in a brief and direct way: Well, I won't go into all the details, but to put it in a nutshell, I lost my job.

drive someone nuts

To drive someone nuts is to really annoy someone:  Luigi is driving Samantha nuts, pestering her to go out to dinner with him.

go nuts

To go nuts is to go crazy, wild, excited, etc:
   When Lionel scored the winning goal in the last second of the match, the crowd simply went nuts!
   If we don't do something about those kids out there, we'll go nuts.

nuts about/over

When you're nuts about someone or something, you're very attracted to him or her or extremely enthusiastic about it:
   I listen to opera every now and then, but I don't go nuts over it.
   Edurne is nuts over the new guy in the office.

take/use a sledgehammer to crack a nut

If you imagine using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, you can imagine the situation. It means to use unnecessary force or energy: C'mon, you don't need to call an electrician to change a light bulb! It's like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut!

Now that you've learned all these nutty idioms, you're ready to put your memory to the test. Click on the image above to begin the game. Although it isn't necessary, registration at Purpose Games will allow you to keep track of your scores. Have fun!

Be sure to check out the rest in this series. Go to the index file and search (ctrl F) for 'Idioms'.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Teaching Speaking Videos: Techniques, Feedback & Monitoring

Teacher trainer John Kay expounds on his tips on teaching speaking on this set of videos for the British Council. They aren't new, but even if you think you know it all, have a listen - it may refresh some of the stagnant cells! It did mine! ;-)

I first read about these videos in Barb Sakamoto's Starter-PLN Daily.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

How to create and embed Classtools games into your website

As promised, here's a brief tutorial on creating games using Classtools. Well, actually, not quite ;-P. I just remembered that Teacher Tube has a video tutorial, and it may well save me the effort. I'll embed it here, and if you still have problems, just post a comment and I'll try to help.

One thing worth mentioning, however, is that Classtools host the games in their own server. You cannot download your creation and host them yourself. Whether you use the embed option or the html file, it leads you back to the game in their server.

I've used their games quite a bit. Here are 2 examples:

Related posts:

Index of all material by category
How to create Content Generator games
How to embed or link games in your website
How to force links to open in a new window
How to take a screen shot

How to create and embed Content Generator games into your website

I've had some requests for a tutorial on creating games using Classtools and Content Generator, so here it is - a very quick guide to get you up and running. If you still have problems, let me know and I'll try to help. In this post, I'll explain Content Generator; Classtools will appear in a separate tutorial.

To create games on Content Generator, you will have to download the game creator. They offer 4 free generators: match up, multiple choice, fling the teacher and grade or no grade. To download, go here, click on the one you're interested in, and follow instructions.

I'll show you an example using the Match-up generator. When you start up the program, this is the first screen you'll see:

How to create and embed Content Generator games into your website

Choose the first option if you want to create a new quiz. You'll then be invited to input the title of your quiz and your name. When you've done that, click Continue, and here's what you'll get:

How to create and embed Content Generator games into your website

Key in your matching pairs. Hint: you can use the tab button to move from box to box.

How to create and embed Content Generator games into your website

How to create and embed Content Generator games into your website

How to create and embed Content Generator games into your website

And, there you have it! The generator creates both a .htm file and a .swf file. You'd need only one. The choice is yours, but bear in mind that some hosting sites do not permit .htm files.

Related posts:

Index of all material by category
How to embed or link games in your website
How to force links to open in a new window
How to take a screen shot

We Are The Champions: One Song, Countless Activities: Present Perfect Cloze, Idioms, Vocabulary, etc.

A lot of teachers who use songs for ELT restrict themselves to a gap-fill activity plus a singalong, but there are, however, many other activities you could do besides those, some of which I've set out below, and I also created a quiz incorporating some of them.

Due to copyright problems, I'm not allowed to embed the video here, but click on the video image, and then, again, where it says 'Watch on YouTube", and it will bring you to the video in YouTube.
(Note: I just tried it again, and it played the video here without any problem. I won't remove the above warning just in case you get the copyright message.)

Watch the video once. Then, click on the second image to start the interactive cloze activity. Play the video a second time, and while it's playing, try to fill in the missing gaps.

When you've completed that, have a go at the quiz - just click on the third image below to start. Only the email is obligatory, but if you don't wish to enter yours, just give a fictitious one, e.g.

If you provide an email, the quiz robot automatically sends you your results, along with the correct answers.

We are the champions interactive cloze activity present perfect songs

EFL ESL TEFL CLIL Music Activities, Present Perfect songs, We are the champions, Idioms

Ideas for using songs in the classroom for teachers:

Speaking: Play the first few seconds of the song (without the video image). This is a famous song, so chances are that a fair few of the students will know it. Ask them. Ask them what they know: the group, the names of the band members, the song title, how often they have heard the song, where they have heard it, what it means to them, what they think the writer was writing about, etc.

Depending on the level of your students, this song could lead to all sorts of interesting discussions, such as AIDS, struggling artistes, bullying, sports in general, football in particular, success and failure, etc.

Fill-in-the-gap: If you're doing this as an offline activity, have them guess the missing words before they listen to the song.

Jumbled sentences: Cut up the lyrics into strips of phrases, and ask them to put them in the right sequence. Or, you can jumble the words of a bar and they correct them. You can just write the words on the board, or you can prepare a word cloud. Click here to see an example.

Synonyms/Opposites: Ask the meaning and/or opposites for: pay, do, bad, made, come, end, loser, bring, fortune, go, pleasure.

Idioms: This song is great for idioms:

pay one's dues: to earn a given right or position through hard work, long-term experience, or suffering
kick sand in someone's face: to be mean, to insult, to criticise, to bully
take a bow: to say of someone after they have achieved something special
not a bed of roses (usually negative): not easy, not pleasant or good, rough

Rhyming words: Select a word, e.g., 'call', and ask them to think of words which rhyme with it. You can set up a group competition, if you want.

As an extension of the above activity, ask them to invent another verse to add to the song.

Related posts:

Index of all Material by Category
Jumbled Sentences: Present Perfect
Cockney Rhyming Slang
Rhyming Words
Word Clouds - 101 Ways of Using Wordle in the Classroom