If, like me, you think that most ELT coursebooks are unimaginative, boring and a waste of time, you may be interested in The Speaking Cyclist (nice pun) a new blog created by Mark Lloyd, Director of Studies at WELS Bath.
Speaking Cycles are "structured free speaking activities which follow a specific framework aimed at maximizing the attention of students, whether in the role of listeners or speakers." You can read more about the rationale and procedure here.
To paraphrase Mark, if you are a time-stretched teacher with no time to put together lesson plans or to source material, Speaking Cycles are the perfect solution.
My EM Normandie students have to do a job interview next week as part of their final assessment. To help prepare them for that, I showed them a scene from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness and then got them to do a pairwork activity. I've got the DVD, so I was able to show the clip with English subtitles. The YouTube clip below doesn't have subtitles but you can download the English transcript, a questionnaire and the English-French glossary here, and the pairwork activity here.
The Daily Telegraph reports that a German pastor who sought to teach children the Easter message by fashioning bibilical scenes out of specially adapted Playmobil figures has been ordered by the toy maker to dismantle his creations. Full story >>
COMMENTS This story is dated April 1st, but I don't think it's an April Fool. This would make an interesting business English case study. Are Playmobil over-reacting? Don't they risk losing the sympathy of religious customers? You could get the students to role play the Playmobil board meeting.
Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Starting in 2006, SMITH Magazine asked its readers for their own six-word memoirs. The results have been published in two books which you can look inside on Amazon here and here. This video presents some memoirs from the latest book.
LESSON IDEAS 1. Get your students to expand a six-word memoir into a longer story. 2. Get students to write their own six-word memoirs. 3. Take a selection of memoirs and jumble up the words. Students have to put words in correct order.
As worldwide financial pressures increase, many newspapers are in a state of collapse. Paid subscribers are defecting in droves to free news sources on the Web. Ad revenue continues to decline as the global recession deepens. As their old business model crumbles, publishers search for alternative solutions to survive.
The latest lesson from Cartoons for the Classroom asks the question: "What's replacing our newspapers?" The PDF download contains the above cartoon plus another, and a series of talking points.
COMMENT This is a very topical subject about which students should have plenty to say.
LESSON IDEAS Carry out a survey to see which online media sites students use. You could do this online using SurveyMonkey or get students to interview each other in class. They could even devise the questionnaire themselves.
Litter is the rubbish left lying around outside: Pick up your litter before you go home. Litter is also a verb: Anyone caught littering will receive a £75 fixed penalty notice.
Would make a good subject for classroom discussion. What are the potential flaws in this initiative? What other ideas does the class have for reducing litter? Students could work in groups to devise an anti-litter campaign.
The UK version of Google's Street View service has gone live. Now you can take a virtual stroll along Britain's streets. But critics say it's an invasion of privacy. Sky's Ian Woods reports.
COMMENTS Another good topic for classroom discussion: Is Google's Street View an invasion of privacy? Whatever you think about that question, Street View is a pretty amazing tool which has many potential uses for teaching. Here are just a few ideas:
1. Students go on a virtual sightseeing trip (the Street View gallery has some ready-made locations). As a follow-up they could write about their trip.
2. Students describe buildings, people, street scenes, etc. orally or in writing. You can capture any screen using SnagIt. 3. Students find a suitable property for a given family or individual using www.findaproperty.com.
4. Students make a virtual visit to the Tate Gallery and write about one of the paintings.
LESSON IDEA: JIGSAW VIEWING This works well if you have a multimedia lab. 1. Divide class into 5 or 6 groups. Each group watches a different video clip about St. Patrick's Day from the History.com site and takes notes. 2. Members of same group compare notes. 3. Form new groups each containing one person from each of previous groups. Each student in turn tells the rest of group about their clip.
Congratulations to Jamie Keddie, who has won an ELTon for his excellent TEFLClips.com site. The ELTons, now in their seventh year, are a celebration of excellence in ELT, recognising significant and innovative advances in the theory of ELT learning, teaching and research. Here's a description of Jamie's site:
Initiated in February 2008 by teacher Jamie Keddie, TEFLclips.com is a non-commercial project that aims to explore the possibilities that YouTube and other video sharing sites offer to language teachers and language learners.
Through a series of articles and lesson plans which serve to demonstrate diverse principles of using video in the language classroom, TEFLclips.com has become a popular resource for practising teachers of English and other languages.
The creation and uploading of original video content is now underway. This includes instructional videos and clips of classroom techniques for teachers, as well as self-help and language practice videos for learners.
You can read more about this prestigious award and see all the winners here.
Lesson ideas 1. Copy the images (without the text) into a PowerPoint presentation. Get students to speculate what each invention is for. 2. Students have to come up with an advertising campaign for one of the inventions (TV, radio or print). 3. Students have to pitch an invention to potential investors (as in the Dragons' Den). 4. Discussion activity: students decide which the THE most useless invention. 5. Students invent their own useless gadget and present it to the class.
Since his election, the president has been roundly criticized by bloggers for using “I” instead of “me” in phrases like “a very personal decision for Michelle and I” or “the main disagreement with John and I” or “graciously invited Michelle and I.”
The rule here, according to conventional wisdom, is that we use “I” as a subject and “me” as an object, whether the pronoun appears by itself or in a twosome. Thus every “I” in those quotes ought to be a “me.” Read full article >>
The term for this linguistic phenomenon is "hypercorrection". In a long but interesting article Wikipedia explains that one form of hypercorrection is "usage that many informed users of a language consider incorrect, but that the speaker or writer uses through misunderstanding of prescriptive rules, often combined with a desire to seem formal or educated".
Comment It's ironic that Obama, who is generally considered to be one of the most articulate presidents in a while (see cartoon below), should be prone to such a basic error.
The New York Times Learning Network has a super lesson plan based on this article with a whole bunch of grammar resources.