May 18

What was Shakespeare like as a boy?

I recently watched a fascinating talk by Sir Ken Robinson in which he asked a question which quite astounded me – What was Shakespeare like as a boy? It’s amazing because the fact is that we generally don’t think about such things, but questions like this can be a great resource in the classroom.
For example, the other week I was doing the causative with a group of teens and so to practise I found some pictures of celebrities they would know and asked them to think of what these people have done for them:

Miley Cyrus – “I’m so beautiful because I have my hair done by a professional everyday.”

Yao Ming – “My legs are so long, when I have them waxed it takes hours.”

Or with another group, we had read a text about what some celebrities did before they were famous, so I asked the class to invent some stories for other stars. We had Antonio Banderas bungee-jumping and Indiana Jones working as a missionary.Students love to use their imagination and activities like this provide great opportunities to practise specific grammar points or vocab without being tedious.
March 29

The Dog – Story-Telling with Young Learners

This is a simple activity which I did recently with groups of 8-9 year olds. It works with groups of up to ten students and uses the following skills: writing, speaking and listening.Draw a simple picture of a dog on the board and write the following sentence starters:

This dog’s name is …
He / She lives in …
He / She is … years old.
He / She likes …
He / She doesn’t like …
His / Her favourite activity is …
He / She is …
He / She has got …

Work through the sentences checking meaning and giving sample sentences. Ask the students to complete the sentences in their notebooks, reminding them to be as creative as possible.

When the students have finished, ask them to come to the front individually and read out their sentences. Their classmates have to listen carefully to the information and you have to note down the information of each dog.

When all the students have read out their sentences, explain to the students that you are going to read 10 sentences about the dogs and that in their notebooks, they should write the name of the person who imagined that dog.

You read…
1. This dog is brown.
2. This dog doesn’t like cats.

The students write…

1. Lucia

Remind the students that it’s a competiton and that they shouldn’t shout out the answer, especially when you read out a sentence about their dog! Check the answers as a class and award points for each correct answer.

This activity will take about 40 minutes.
To make it more difficult for higher-level students, you could provide them with the questions, rather than sentence starters.

The picture was taken from English File 1 Teacher’s Book (Oxford University Press, 2003)