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It’s that time of the year again!
All those Christmassy and New-Yeary (is there even such a word?) topics are on the rise and getting a lot of traction.
But having discussed all my favorite things and done all my top-of-the-list activities (the wonderful, ever-inspiring and moving video of Christmas Miracle put into action by WestJet among them) , I turned my attention to one more topic which has been pretty trendy when one year turns into another: The New Year Resolutions, how to make then and, more importantly, how to keep them.
to start off with some fun, it helps to show a short and fun excerpt from a movie or a TV show where NY resolutions are mentioned. It could be this one from Friends https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU7GKh1Exa4, or this one from Outnumbered https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdrNYgsyr9k .
But then this is where the real work and serious stuff begins.
Here is a no-nonsense video explaining all about NY resolutions and even referring to a certain research and figures. What it essentially says is that resolutions actually do work (I was genuinely surprised and sceptical , to be honest), and also that the resolutions made at New Year are kept 2 times more often and longer. Sounding pretty auspicious, right?
And here is what I did about it at my lessons before the New Year, and I’m still going to apply it a couple of times more after the New Year Holidays.
On the lookout for some video material for your Business English students, but have run out of the coursebook resources? Want them to watch and discuss smth (and it better be authentic) but series or TED talks are not exactly what you want? Look, there are reality shows! No, I don’t mean the ones where they are cooking, learning to sing or losing weight. I’ve recently come to appreciate the business-focused reality show, the Apprentice.
The beginning of the first episode was exactly what I needed for one of my students. By that moment we’d been speaking about success in business for some time, having read smb’s top 10 leadership qualities post and watched Richard Branson on BBC’s 5 minutes interview (an amazing source of inspiration in itself, no doubt!).
So just to get an idea of what Apprentice is, we started off with
a short description of the show from Wikipedia. I got my student to read it, we did some work on the vocab, and then I asked if she thought it could be an interesting watch. It was, so we started from the very beginning of the first episode (I’m talking about the UK version) and watched the first 3 minutes. I asked her to stop at 3:15, to be precise. After the first watch she had to answer some general questions:
Where is the show set?
Who is the boss?
How many participants are there?
After that, we focused on details. The very first part of the video is perfect if you want your SS to learn a lot of adjectives to talk about people’s qualities (that is, business / work-related qualities).
So the task was to complete the gaps using the words from the list. I wanted her to try and do it on her own, after which she could rewatch the first half (0 – 1:15) and check it.
Complete the gaps
1. how do they describe themselves? (try to guess, then watch and check)
…… is important to me
I ….. to win most times, I don’t ….. losing
I am very adaptable, ……., determined
I am ….., yet honest
I am definitely a ……… thinker
I’ve got O-levels, I’ve got A-levels, I’ve got a …… in environmental planning
There are …..too many business ideas in my head
14 people ……for success have been shortlisted for this ……. opportunity
All they’ve …..to do is impress the boss
lord sugar speech (try to guess, then watch and check, 1:15 – 3:15)
I don’t wanna ….. my own trumpet here
I am telling you, I am sick and …… of it
Sir Alan sugar is on the ….. of his game
I am very, very ………
you are ……!
don’t ……. me down
We didn’t continue watching at the lesson as those 3 minutes was quite sufficient and saturated with the info, and anyway, my main goal had been to spark her interest, but we left another part (where Lord Sugar is briefing the teams on their first task, from 15:43 to 17:03; and his comments on the task, starting at 17:33) for the hometask.
And…here comes the unexpected part: instead of watching only those several mins my student, who is an entrepreneur herself, watched the whole episode (over 40 mins). Not only did she watch, but she also came up with a big post (in English! and it was a genuine surprise for me) in her blog sharing her impressions of “the Apprentice”. Her impressions actually we’re not all joy and admiration, but that’s not the point. Especially since the task and it’s execution as well as the whole idea of putting 14 competitive adults into one place are pretty controversial. Anyway, the point is, smth caught her attention so much that she got really interested even though she didn’t become a fan of the show.
At least we had smth to discuss next lesson, and she took away a lot of good vocab out of it.
What do you think? Would you take “the Apprentice” to your classroom?
the right beginning of the lesson always sets the right mood for the rest of it, doesn’t it?
So recently I got a little tired of just informal chit-chat during the first minutes of my one-to-one lessons, and it got me thinking, what else can I do?
Here is what I’ve come up with: several versions of more or less the same thing, so here goes.
- the tastiest….
- the most interesting…
- the most unexpected…
- the hardest…
- the most boring…
- the most pleasant…
Just before the lesson,…
- The last thing I was listening to/heard was…
- The last thing I read was…
- The last thing I saw/ was looking at was…
- The last person I talked to was…
- The last thing I had smth to eat/ drink, it was..
As in my case it was always a 1-to-1 activity, I usually started off with my own example, and then it was quite clear to my students what they were supposed to do.
I had a chance to try it out with different levels, from pre-int to upper-int, and the results obviously sounded differently, but I can say it worked well with all of them.
Plus, you get to hear a lot of interesting things and experiences your students have done. I wonder if it should work the same way in groups, but have no chance of checking at the moment. What do you think? )))
I love using interviews at my classes! Do you? I think they are just what you need to practice speaking, tenses, word order, and at the same time they let you make the lessons fun (obviously, depending on the interview contents, but still). Thanks to its structure, an interview gives you so much to work with!
I would normally follow the order I describe below :
1) take only the questions and either just print them out separately or strip them off all the grammar and present them in a “slashed” look (e.g. instead of “how did you start your business?” it would be “how/start /your business?”)
2) ask SS to think of possible answers to the questions / recreate the questions and then to think of possible answers. Ask them to share their opinions on what they expect to read/hear in each of the answers. In a group situation, I’d then ask them to compare their guesses
3) give the answers and get them to match Qs with As.
4) do some comprehension check
5) get them to comment on if the answers were expected /unexpected
6) ask them to think of more questions they’d ask that person
I’ve been a firm believer in deep and profound work with texts for a long time. No need to repeat that it (and “texts”, obviously can stand for listening/ videos) has tons of benefits, acquiring vocabulary from the context and having a lot to discuss among them. After getting students to read a text and clarifying all the unclear bits/ new words and maybe going through the usual, like comprehension questions
etc, it really pays to ask them to (simply, old-school style) retell the text, but the problem is, it could look bad. Or not bad, but just not very “adult-like” teaching.
Since I mostly teach quite adult and professional people, it often feels quite counterintuitive to ask them just to retell the text. Don’t know though, it might be just my problem. (Or is it yours too? Let me know). So as some inner feeling wouldn’t let me just make them retell the contents, I have to disguise the retelling task and make it look “decent” and appropriate for adults.
So my favourite way to go about it (and it also helps to focus on the vocabulary) is to write out some key expressions/ words from a text, mostly featuring new and useful vocabulary items, in the same order as they appear in a text.
Ask a student 1) to see if everything is clear on the list 2) how all these words and phrases are connected to the text.
And the second point is of course what in the end results into the text review /retell, often without the person actually noticing it. So my usual question to go with such a list would be “can you remember how all these words and phrases were used in the text”? And, after some thinking time, a student would usually come up with a more a less structured summary of what they’ve read.
I’ve stumbled upon a great song, just an English teacher’s dream!)) thanks to the site http://www.tefltunes.com/ ! the song is all about how smb is going to do smth next year and about New Year resolutions.
not too actual now, but I’ll leave the link here just to be able to find it at the right season
Are there many ESL materials that would encourage speaking about a flat renovation/redecoration or repair? Surprisingly, they are scarce! and the ones existing are not what I want them to be, to tell you the truth. So after some really focused search, looking through all the books I posessed or managed to find online I still didn’t have anything worth considering as a teaching material. And as one of my students specifically asked for that topic for the several classes to come (her interest has quite a plain reason as she is in the middle of , I had to do something!
I wanted the materials to be thought-(and speaking)-provoking, full of good words, preferably the ones that could be used to talk on some other subjects as well..and also I wanted something interesting!
So here is a couple of things that worked for me andf my student (though I’m still wondering why the renovation topic isn’t covered in usual ESL books. Or am I wrong?)
- some text on flat decoration from http://commonenglisherrors.com/housekeeping-jargons-homerenovation-phrases/ . I used certain parts of it, making it look like several people were sharing their intentions on house renovation and housekeeping.
- videos: I was lucky to discover IKEA home tour, the series on home remake. The episodes are around 3 mins, are made by the American IKEA, many of them have simple Enlgish spoken with different accents, and could be used not only to start a talk about home design but also about many other things (like shopping, home, tastes etc) . I went for an episode no 113 for a start;). I’d say some of them could be used at intermediate level and upwards.
- one more thing that’s not directly connected to home design but could still be a logical continuation is discussing the concept of “home exchange” and that’s what we are going to talk about next time with my 1-1 student. So far we’ve just touched upon the sunject slightly and she seemed to be quite engaged. During my (re)search I came across a site knok.com where there is a nice “success story” of one of their users. I took it as a starting point and will see soon if it was a good choice ..
if you know some good materials to do with home repair/ redesign, please let me know!
Do you often get students who is really confused about tenses? “I living in a big city”, “they speaks Spanish” and even “he is has been …”. oh and… “future? how do I make future? ” I am sure you’ve been there too)
So I’ve been thinking about one more way to revise, refresh and structure the tenses quickly and in a fun way, and surely songs are just a great way to do that. As I needed to cover very basic tenses mostly (with one of my students who is struggling to get his head around all this “grammar” and to be honest is not a very “grammar person” at all – he just wants to speak, and grammar is not important. You’ve heard that too, right?)
Songs were a good choice because he likes music (and who doesn’t?) and lines from songs are usually very memorable, so it wouldn’t be too hard to recall a cliched phrase like “I will survive” and then make another sentence using that model, like “Ok, I will call you” . But I couldn’t use just one song, because even if I found something covering Present Simple, Present Continuous, Past Simple, Present Perfect and Future Simple, it would be too hard for him to get it – his level can be assessed as pre-int low. So all this didn’t leave me much choice and I decided just to crop several songs that everyone knows – for the benefit of English Grammar 🙂
What I came up with is a 1:47 min file containing 8 song extracts (from Gloria Gaynor, U2, Beatles, Susan Vega, Queen etc) and a simple worksheet to go with it(taking into consideration that that student of mine needed smth really easy to grasp). I just asked him to listen to the extracts, complete the gaps in the song lines, match them to the right grammar tense, and then make his own examples (positive, negative, question) for each of the tenses. I am sure the task might be much more profound, but I decided not to make it too complicated and proved to be right. It worked pretty well for him and helped to structure the tenses and to revise the forms. Although I can’t say his tenses are immaculate now 🙂 , this was at least one of the steps to make him just a little more confident in using them.
Here are the mp3 and .doc files, hope you’ll find them useful too:)
UPD> Can’t think of a way to upload an MP3 file here, so if you need it, pls let me know and I’ll mail it to you. Alternatively, please teach me how to upload it here))))