viernes, 29 de noviembre de 2013




OFF THE HOOK: free from blame, not held responsable.

Motivating speaking activities for lower levels

These activities are all designed to motivate lower level learners to speak in pairs or small groups.

Activity type: several short speaking activities
Level: A2+
Age: Teenage/Adult

Planning time has been shown to increase production in speaking tasks. Lower level learners often find it especially difficult to speak spontaneously, so these activities incorporate ‘thinking time’ during which learners can prepare for speaking by planning what they are going to say, and asking the teacher or using a dictionary to look up missing vocabulary. The following activities are relatively short, with minimal materials preparation time for the teacher. They are designed for use as a warmer or a filler in the middle or at the end of a class.

Definitions lists
This activity is good for activating existing vocabulary or revising vocabulary studied in previous lessons.
  • Choose a vocabulary topic (this can be vocabulary you have recently studied or a topic you want to introduce). Tell students to write a list of 10 words they associate with this topic. To make the activity shorter, reduce the number of words.
  • Pre-teach / revise structures for definitions e.g. It’s a thing which / that.... You use it for... You find this in.... It’s an animal / object / place... It’s the opposite of... etc.
  • Tell students to look at their lists and give them time to think of how they can define these words (3 -5 mins).
  • Now students work in pairs (or groups of 3) to define their words. Their partner must guess the word they are defining.
A faster moving, fun alternative to this activity is a team game.
  • Change the vocabulary to lists of famous people / books / films / objects.
  • Each team writes a list for another team (students can also 3 or 4 words each on strips of paper to draw out of a hat)
  • Pre-teach / revise structures for definitions e.g. It’s a thing which / that.... You use it for... It’s a film / book / object.... He/ She’s an actor / a politician.... He’s British / American / Spanish...
  • Each team nominates one person to define the words to their team.
  • Each team has 1 minute to define as many words as possible.

What were you doing...? (What are you going to do....?)
This activity can be adapted to revise a range of tenses (present simple, past simple, continuous, future tenses) by changing the time prompts.
  • Write a selection of time prompts on the board e.g. yesterday at 6 o´clock, this time last year, on September 11th 2001 etc
  • Tell students to choose some of the prompts and think of what they were doing at these times. Tell students that they are going to tell a partner / small group.
  • Give students time 5 minutes to plan what they are going to say and ask for any vocabulary they need.
  • Students tell their partner / small group. Encourage students to ask for more information. E.g. –I was watching TV yesterday at 6. -What were you watching?
  • After speaking, students feedback and tell the class what they learnt. E.g. Marie was watching TV at 6 o´clock yesterday. She loves chat shows!

This is a variation on the above activity and is great for practising adjectives. Students personalise the discussion by talking about experiences and feelings.
  • Write a selection of adjectives relating to feelings on the board.
  • Tell students to choose several adjectives (increase or decrease the number depending on how long you want the activity to take). Tell them to think of a time when they felt this way, and that they are going to tell their partner / small group about their experience.
  • Give students time to plan what they are going to say. They can make notes and ask for vocabulary if they want to.
  • Students tell their stories.
  • Feedback to the class.

Cartoons, cartoon stories and unusual pictures
There are many copyright-free comic strips, cartoons and unusual images available online; you can also find cartoon stories in many EFL resource books. These can be used in class in a number of ways.
Information gap activity: Order the story
Information gap and jigsaw tasks have been shown to be beneficial task types in terms of promoting obligatory, as opposed to optional information exchange and as a way of promoting collaborative dialogue in the classroom. In this activity, students work in pairs and the information, i.e. the pictures are divided equally between them. Students must work collaboratively to put the story together in the right order. Suitable for strong Pre-intermediate students and above.
  • Before the class, find a cartoon with at least 4 vignettes. The cartoon can be with or without dialogue. The more vignettes and more elements in the story, the more difficult the task.
  • Print the cartoon and cut up the vignettes. Divide the vignettes equally between student A and student B.
  • Give students time to think about how to describe their pictures and ask for any vocabulary they need.
  • Pre-teach any difficult vocabulary that has not come up as well as phrases for talking about pictures and sequencing: e.g. In my picture there is... I can see... I think this is the first / second / last picture... Then.... After that....
  • Tell students to work together to put the story in the correct order.
  • Optional extension: Tell students to write the story.

martes, 29 de octubre de 2013

Learning Styles

Your learning styles have more influence than you may realize. Your preferred styles guide the way you learn. They also change the way you internally represent experiences, the way you recall information, and even the words you choose.
Research shows us that each learning style uses different parts of the brain. By involving more of the brain during learning, we remember more of what we learn. Researchers using brain-imaging technologies have been able to find out the key areas of the brain responsible for each learning style.
For example:
  • Visual: The occipital lobes at the back of the brain manage the visual sense. Both the occipital and parietal lobes manage spatial orientation.
  • Aural: The temporal lobes handle aural content. The right temporal lobe is especially important for music.
  • Verbal: The temporal and frontal lobes, especially two specialized areas called Broca�s and Wernicke�s areas (in the left hemisphere of these two lobes).
  • Physical: The cerebellum and the motor cortex (at the back of the frontal lobe) handle much of our physical movement.
  • Logical: The parietal lobes, especially the left side, drive our logical thinking.
  • Social: The frontal and temporal lobes handle much of our social activities. The limbic system (not shown apart from the hippocampus) also influences both the social and solitary styles. The limbic system has a lot to do with emotions, moods and aggression.
  • Solitary: The frontal and parietal lobes, and the limbic system, are also active with this style.