Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ESL Music Listening Activity - "Yesterday" Beatles Cloze Activity (stative verbs)

This Beatles music listening is a review activity is intended to be used after stative (non-action verbs) like “need, want, believe, long, etc,” have been taught for a few days. This activity can be done two ways.  One is to just do a simple cloze activity in which students fill in the blanks on the sheet. The other way is to first have them sort the lyrics.

Download the Worksheet

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ESL Music Listening Activity - Reductions

Many students love English music and jump at the chance to hear it in class. Music is an awesome way to learn reductions, but many songs only use a few of them, which makes using a whole song very difficult or not useful.   I was able to solve this problem pretty easily by using a cool website called Hashcut. I mashed a bunch of parts of songs with reductions.

This allowed me to get only the parts that I wanted from those songs, which makes the students focus only on the content area that I want them to focus on. This mashup included songs from many decades like the Beatles, Rick Astley, Black Eyed Peas, Gotye, and more.  Most students are sure to know at least a couple of them.

You can first download the worksheet for this activity here. Then, play the video below to do the activity with students.

Access the mashup here: REDUCTIONS MASHUP


Friday, June 7, 2013

Powerpoint Alternatives - Best Web Based Slide Presentation Applications

Powerpoint has been the staple for slide presentations for years, but there are many easy and sometimes free alternatives for students and teachers who can't afford the Office Suite. Here are some good alternatives that some may even say are better than Powerpoint.

1. Prezi - This is the zooming presentation platform that has caught fire in the last few years. Done well, prezis can be amazing. Done badly, they can be a real headache. Below is an example made on Prezi, then added to Youtube. Note, Prezi only has the visual features, not the music.  Note that Prezi gives you 100 MB of prezis for free.

Here is an example Prezi I made for iPad apps for ESL teachers.

2. Slides - Looks like a good presentation app with mobile access that seems pretty simple and good for those with powerpoint experience or little to no experience.

3.   Emaze - This looks like a real winner to me. The slideshows look like infographics. They are more linear than Prezi, but they seem very clean and neat.

4.  Empressr - This looks very much like powerpoint in many ways, but is a free web based program that can be embedded. Below is an example.

5. SlideRocket - Very much like powerpoint, but web based, this seems like a business focused preentation platform with collaborative capabilities. Also, you can import powerpoints to sliderocket and collaborate through their web based service. You do have to sign up to use it. This is a very collaborative form of slide presentation.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Movie Trailer ESL Classroom Writing Activity - The Wolverine

Here is a fun activity from the new Wolverine movie for ESL students. Students discuss, take the quiz, then write about immortality (living forever)!  This is sure to be an exciting topic for the classroom!

Download the Classroom Worksheet Here! It may look odd in the viewer, but when downloaded to Word, it will be fine. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Movie Trailer ESL Listening - The Wolverine

This is a new listening quiz from the new movie The Wolverine! Enjoy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Increase Student Motivation in the Classroom

Most ESL students need more than just a desire to learn language to help them get through the difficult nuances, exceptions, and challenges that await them in learning English. As a teacher to adults in an IEP, I realize that most of my students are motivated by their need to advance in careers or in education, but I find that this doesn't usually happen at the pace they expect it to. At this point is when a strong dose of teacher inspired motivation can help them to keep going on their English journeys. Therefore, I want to give a few ways to help teacher inspire their students to be motivated to learn English in and out of class.

1.  Get excited - If you aren't excited about your class, no one else will be. Of course, teaching the 3rd conditional for an hour isn't inspiring to most ears, but it is the teacher's job to make it interesting. Bring in props, wear costumes, act silly, make jokes. Do whatever it takes to make English exciting without sacrificing the core principles of sound instruction.

2. Experiment - I have done many activities that have failed, but changing mid course is okay if something is not working out. I have found that students appreciate the fact that a teacher is trying something different if they know that the teacher is doing it for their good. Most of the time, they don't mind taking a detour from the normal routine as well.  Try games, contests, championships, and fun activities to mix up the classroom.

3. Vary your tone- We tell our students not to be monotone, but sometimes we are the worst culprits of this language sin. A little syllable and word stress goes a long way. Get quiet in order to get the attention of students, then get louder to drive home your points.

4.  Ask questions - Don't simply lecture the whole class!  By asking students questions, the teacher makes them feel valued and respected. This is not common in many cultures, and could set your class apart from many classes that your students have taken in their home countries.

5. Be unpredictable  -  Routines are great, but as the idiom says, "Variety is the spice of life." I teach classes for two hours at a time, five days a week, so doing the same thing each day will not cut it as  heads will droop and students begin to catch up on the previous night's sleep.  Switch up the order of class. If you usually teach grammar first, jump to writing or reading first for one day. Of course, you don't want to do this too much, but sometimes it helps when the students are obviously disinterested.

6. Break out of the textbook- Nothing is worse than painfully going through every single exercise in a long textbook. This may be good for some, but many will grow weary of this in long classes ( I speak from experience).  Make the textbook a resource and not a prison. Use it in creative ways. Cut up exercises and have students relay the answers back and forth to you. Call out random #s from an exercise and ask students to answer those questions. Try to do anything but the student #1, question #1 format every time.

7. Play Games - Lecture and pair work only go so far in a long class setting. Games are a great way for students to engage with content and learn how to work as teams. Here are some good resources to help you "gamify" your classroom.

Also, here is a great article written by colleagues of mine, Sarah Petersen and Ana Kim,  on creating an "excellent" game for language learning students.

In Pursuit of an Excellent Game

All in all, it is important to remember that the messenger is sometimes just as important as the message, and though you or I may be teaching correctly, we may not be inspiring or engaging out students. If my students are not motivated, excited, or interested, the problem may lie inside of myself. In fact, I am the easiest person that I can change. I hope that these tips give you some ideas on how to motivate those in your classes. 

Past tense pronunciation in English - the "ed" sound

This video focuses on when to add a syllable to the end of a past tense verb in English.

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