May 16

Nora

Thanks again to Jane Arnold – I first heard her read this story years ago at a TESOL-SPAIN event and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Part 1

Nora was a little old lady who lived in a remote part of Scotland. She had lived alone for many years since her husband died and to pass the time on lonely nights, she would do jigsaw puzzles.

Part 2

One stormy night, Nora was doing a puzzle when suddenly, she heard a knock at the door. She was more than a little surprised.

“Who can be calling at this late hour?” she thought to herself as she walked down the hallway and opened the door.

May 15

InnovateELT

I had a truly amazing time at the InnovateELT conference this weekend. I’ve wanted to go since it first started four years ago and am so happy that I finally got my act together, submitted a proposal and went.

As a huge fan of professional development, and especially conferences, I generally have a good time whenever I’m off TEFLing – meeting other ELT professionals, sharing ideas, confirming and questioning beliefs – I get a real buzz out of it. But Innovate felt especially special…

Firstly, it was incredible to finally meet lots of people who I follow and admire on social media, namely Twitter – Amy Blanchard, Sarah Priestly, Zhenya Polosatova, Melody Philip and more – and professional contacts who I’ve only conversed with via email – Dan Shepherd, Karen Spiller, Nicola Meldrum, Fran Austin and others.

Secondly, I got the sensation that everyone who was there was genuinely engaged and involved. So often attending conferences can feel like a teacher’s CPD obligation for the year but it was clear from the levels of enthusiasm for ELT that this isn’t the case with InnovateELT attendees.

I’ll admit the promise of craft beer was also a decisive factor in my applying for InnovateELT and the social atmosphere surrounding the conference didn’t disappoint. With the beautiful backdrop of the OxfordTEFL garden, the Espiga flowed, as did the conversation.

Congratulations to the InnovateELT team, eltjam and OxfordTEFL for such an incredible conference and thank you as well to everyone who came to my session on Guided Visualisations – I’ll post up all the ideas from the session over the next few days.

March 20

Phrasal Verb Jeopardy

This is a really easy game to play to practise phrasal verbs with B2+ learners. You can use Powerpoint to create a board and then use the fill option to highlight when a team wins a square or alternatively, just draw the table on the board and use different coloured pens to show which team wins a square.

Here’s the one I played with my group – I gave them the list of particles to help.

LOOK TAKE GET PUT GO GIVE after

aside

away

for

forward to

into

like

off

on

out

over

up

100 100 100 100 100 100
200 200 200 200 200 200
500 500 500 500 500 500
1000 1000 1000 1000 1000 1000

And here are the clues for each square.

LOOK TAKE GET PUT GO GIVE
forward to

be excited about a future event

up

start a new hobby

up

get out of bed in the morning

on

get dressed

off

explode

out

distribute paper or other materials

like

be similar in appearance

after

be similar in personality

away

escape, e.g. after a bank robbery

off

delay doing something

for

choose from different options

up

stop doing something

after

take care of

away

buy a meal to eat at home

over

recover from an illness or shock

up

erect a building or tent

off

become old and inedible

off

produce a sound, smell or aura

into

investigate

out

remove or invite someone on a date

into

become involved in a book or film

aside

save something for later

on

continue doing something

up

surrender

To play, divide the class into teams – for this activity you can just have two teams – and ask a learner to choose a verb and an amount. Read out the definition and the team has to give you the correct phrasal verb to win that amount of money. If they get it incorrect, play simply passes to the next team.

February 27

Spot the difference

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the FECEI conference in Madrid and held a workshop called Engaging Exam Exercises.  The first activity we practised was a picture description with a twist.  I started doing this activity in my class for two reasons:

  1. to give learners a reason to listen to their partner’s description, which is a great opportunity for them to pick up new lexis and structures from peers
  2. to provide a model in the early stages so that learners were able to describe a picture well for a minute, without becoming repetitive

Tell learners to close their eyes and describe a picture to them, but make some changes.  If you check out the slides in this post, see if you can spot the differences with the first picture.

I can see a girl who looks about 50. She’s wearing a black, long sleeved T-shirt and she’s got short, brown hair. She looks really happy and she’s holding a piece of paper that says, “4 intense weeks”. She’s in a building and I can see a plant behind her. There are also some pictures on the wall next to the plant and to the right there’s a big window. It’s daytime and it’s a really sunny day – you can see the sun coming in through the windows. I imagine she’s in a house and that she’s having a good time.

After you’ve modelled the task, put learners into pairs, A and B. A closes their eyes whilst B describes a picture; then A looks at the picture and tells B about the differences. In the next slide, you can see a model of the task with the sentence stems to help learners and on the third slide, instead of stems, there are the questions they should think about when describing the picture – giving them more autonomy and removing some of the scaffolding.

February 15

Engaging Exam Exercises

Here are the slides from the talk I gave at the FECEI annual conference, held in Madrid last weekend. If there are any questions about any of the activities, leave a message in the comments below or feel free to email me.

Engaging Exam Exercises from verybouncyperson
***UPDATED***
Thanks to the wonderful Sandy Millin for reminding me that I was going to post links to the activities from the slides:
Spot the difference
Ask the Experts
Phrasal Verb Jeopardy
Dice Games – these can be downloaded from my Activities page
Word formation 4-in-a-row
You can find an explanation of SPRE in this blogpost  and there’s a bit about using guided visualisations in this blogpost. The idea of the final activity was to helo learners with creative writing – by doing a guided visualisation and using the SPRE format for story-writing, we can help our learners become more effective writers, especially when they’re trying to do so in the pressure of an exam