April 24

Making more of a running dictation

I managed to squeeze in some extra prepositions and classroom vocabulary  practice today – completely unplanned but I was in a rush between classes!  I was late leaving one classroom and had to pick up some students for their lesson and I didn’t have time to stick up the sentences for the running picture dictation.  So instead I asked the students to do it by giving each a sentence and an instruction – there are some great places to stick sentences around the room…

Above the bin

Under the table

Next to the bookcase

On the floor

On the teacher’s back (!)


As well, if there are posters around the room, you can turn it into more of a game by asking them to stick the sentence next to the bus or on the goldfish – they’ll look at you as if you’re crazy at first (“Next to the bus?”) and then it’ll click.

April 11

Old MacDonald had a giraffe?

As I wrote before, I’m doing more songs with my YLs this year and thoroughly enjoying myself as I lead them in a few verses of “If you’re happy and you know it”.  However, the original songs can be somewhat restrictive in the language they expose our students to and I’m always on the look out for ways to incorporate a wider range of vocabulary into the lessons.  Fortunately, a town close to us has a zoo which the majority of students go to at some point on a school trip.  So the lyrics of Old MacDonald have now begun,

In Jerez there is a zoo


And in the zoo there is a…

Before starting the song I ask students to think of a number of animals they can see at the zoo and write them on the board, making the song more personal for them as well.  The trouble is sometimes figuring out on the spot what sound some of the animals make…koala (snoring), seal (clapping), giraffe (munching on tiptoes), lemur…I’m still stuck on that one – any ideas!?


March 8

Bingo! #2

This is a Bingo activity which I picked up from a YLs workshop a few years ago – many thanks to the person who presented the idea and apologies for not remembering exactly who it was!


For this version of Bingo, you’ll need to print out cards with sentences on – sentences including actions, such as I’m reading a book or I’m brushing my teeth.  Each student has four cards face up on the table.  The Bingo caller does an action and the students have to say the sentence and repeat the action.  If they have the card with that sentence on, they can turn it face down.  When they have turned over three cards, they shout, “BINGO!”

March 7

Bingo! #1

Bingo is great fun and this version is an easy way to get students speaking and revising vocabulary in a different way.  First, tell students to draw a bingo board – I did mine 5×5 – and dictate the words to them that you’d like them to review.  Remind them to write them in jumbled up.  When you’re ready to play, rather than just saying the word, you describe it.  When students have four words in a row crossed off, they shout, “BINGO!”  I did one game as a group as an example, then split them into groups of three to play.


It’s a great game for all levels, as lower levels can use quite simple language to describe the word, whereas higher levels can give more complex clues and make it harder to guess the word.  It also works well with all ages – I played with a group of nine-year-olds yesterday and I’m going to do the activity with my A1 adults tomorrow.  Also, you can either use it as a review of specific vocabulary points, or give them a completely random set of words.

February 10

Deep drilling

Although I can see quite obviously see the reasons for it, I’m not a fan of drilling.  As such, I know I don’t do enough drilling in class so one of the challenges I set myself in my bid to get back on the blog was to find an interesting way to drill vocab with young learners.  It was actually inspired by some videos I saw ages ago about an American teaching method called Whole Brain or Power Teaching.  If you haven’t heard of it before, I recommend checking out some videos on youTube.

So, one of the points of Power Teaching is the method in which the teacher gains the students’ focus at the end of an activity (or at any other point in the lesson).  He says, “Class” and the students respond, “Yes.”  BUT, they must respond using the same tone, speed and volume of voice as the teacher.  I adapted this to get the students repeating this unit’s vocabulary, whilst showing them the flashcards and it was a great success – they were more focussed and participated much more than they would have if I had simply asked them to repeat.

Here are some ideas for “voices” to use:

Whisper / Shout – or repeat the same word and slowly get louder

Fast / Slow

With a deep / squeaky voice

Say the word three times quickly

Say the word as if it’s zooming past you in a car

Say the word as if it just fell off a cliff

Cup your hands over your mouth and “echo” the word