What a zoo sequel

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise animal idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing animals, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. 

To my mum and Nero

Teacher tip/ reflection:

I would suggest getting some images of animals for this class especially of a moth, a weasel and a herring as those three were problematic in the groups I’ve done the activity with. At the beginning you can ask students to quickly match the images to the names of the animals. It seems like a simple task, but it engages students more than a mere list of words, and we can often forget how powerful images can be. I know that I often forget 🙂 and could definitely do with using more visuals in my own classes. The images can then be used throughout the activity to give students clues as they go through the tasks. I strongly resist the urge to feed my students the answers and usually come up with a series of clues to gently 😉 GUIDE them towards the answers instead. It’s more empowering, they are more engaged, proactive and take responsibility for their own learning and it also helps them create new associations. I also often ask other students to give clues to their classmates after I’ve checked they completed the tasks correctly of course.

Here are some examples of clues I’ve given my students for the following idioms in today’s activity:

  1. Till the cows come home: Asturiana, Pascual (two major dairy brands in Spain, where the majority of my students are from. If not, Milka should do the trick 😉
  2. The lion’s share: A famous Broadway musical, Hakuna Matata, the king of the jungle
  3. Black sheep: Wales is famous for them; we make hats and scarves out of their beautiful warm wool
  4. A sitting duck: Donald, a famous story in which this animal turns into a beautiful swan

Reinforce the clues with the images if necessary and have fun;)

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of animal idioms.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out copies of What a zoo sequel Worksheet or display it on the screen.
  2. Tell students to, in pairs, answer questions in Exercise 1.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the missing animals. Check if they know the meaning of moth, weasel and herring.
  4. Check together as a class. I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. At this stage people are unsure and doubtful but there is usually someone in the classroom who is able to peer correct. It makes students so much more confident when you show them they can do it without your help but you are always present to provide the support and guidance if they are at a loss.
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. Students first work in pairs to encourage cooperation and show them how much they can learn from each other and that the teacher is NOT the only source of knowledge in the classroom. 
  6. Check together as a class.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 3 and first try to complete the sentences with the missing words. The first letters have been provided to make this memory workout slightly less daunting. You can turn this task into a mini competition to add some excitement.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class.
  9. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the animal idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to draw four expressions they have learnt in class in their notebooks.

Related posts:

What a zoo

MEOW!

Cats & Dogs

Cat got your tongue? Speak up

Let it snow…

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise winter idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing ‘chilly’ words, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. I think this activity is quite appropriate not only because it is actually winter but also because we have recently enjoyed the biggest snowfall in decades here in Madrid. I have seen people put on their skis and snowshoes as well as sledding down the slopes all over the city. I hope your students are going to enjoy this activity as much as I am trying to enjoy the snow ;). Also don’t forget to check out my thematic fast finisher ideas at the end.

Teacher tip/reflection: 

One of the things I love doing when teaching idioms is to tell my students about the origin of the idiomatic expressions we study. It is not always clear where these expressions come from and not all sources can be trusted, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying. I have found that students find it easier to memorise the expressions if there is a story to go with it and it also often gives them the opportunity to learn more about the culture that speaks the language they are studying. My favorite idiom in today’s activity is to go cold turkey. Allegedly the phrase comes from the similarities between a drug addict in withdrawal, who is cold to the touch and covered in goosebumps and looks like a refrigerated turkey. Who knows?

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of chilly winter idioms.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of Let it snow to each student or display it on the screen.
  2. Tell students to, in pairs, answer questions in Exercise 1.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the missing chilly winter words. 
  4. Check together as a class but ask students to first compare their answers with their partners. Always 😉
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. 
  6. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their partners. 
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 3 and first try to complete the sentences with the missing words. The first letters have been provided to make this memory workout slightly less daunting. You can turn this task into a mini competition to add some excitement.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class.
  9. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the chilly idioms as often as possible.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to write a brief weather report describing what the weather has been like recently where they live, what it is like at the moment and what it will be like for a period in the future. 
  2. Write a list of 5 things to do to get your car out of a snow drift e.g. travel with a bag of kitty litter. You can tell I have been inspired by the current weather conditions.
  3. Come up with a dish using the following ingredients: Buckwheat, tuna, two tomatoes, mayo, half a pepper, three avocados, curry sauce, almond milk and pumpkin seeds. Make sure the food lasts for at least two days (Note: the supermarkets were closed for two days in my area and there were no deliveries so I was quite limited as far as cooking was concerned and these were the only things I had in my fridge 😉
  4. Come up with a list of simple pleasure to savour in winter e.g. cosy blankets, hot chocolate, drinks beside the fire etc.
  5. List as many winter sports as you can e.g. ice dancing, ice skating, Nordic walking ski bobbing etc. 

Related posts:

Lovely day, innit?

2020 Round-up

Introduction:

This is a board game activity to reflect on the past year. Students answer questions about the challenges they faced, things they learnt, things they would have done differently, etc. This time I have decided to add what I myself learnt in 2020. Scroll down to keep reading 😉

Level: B1 +

Objectives:

  1. To reflect on the past year.

Materials:

PDF board game and one die per pair or group of 3.

Procedure:

  1. Put the students in pairs, or groups of 3, and give them a copy of the board game and a die or display the game on the screen.
  2. Players take it in turns to throw the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  3. All three players must then answer the question in as much detail as possible.
  4. At the end, ask the students to name three new things they agreed on with other classmates.

Lessons I learnt in 2020:

Life is unpredictable;) We try and put things in place to fool ourselves into thinking we have everything under control, yet we do not control anything other than our own reactions to what happens. Before 2020 we might have been under the illusion that life bent to our will, but I am sure that with the arrival of the pandemic those illusions were quickly shattered. What I learnt, faced with unpredictability and uncertainty on a daily basis, is to let go, accept and to drop resistance. I know now that the more I resist reality and the present moment the more painful it is to move forward.

The power of positive habits and routines. I have been meditating now for a long time and I can not even begin to explain the power of meditation and how key it has been in moments of both happiness and pain. It helped me relax, stay grounded, realise the impermanence of things and allowed me to detach from what I strongly identified with e.g. my life story, people, material possessions, places etc. As I have realised, we fall back on our habits in the times of crisis, so I wanted to make sure my routines in 2020 were solid and definitely supportive of my health and well-being. I established a strict routine of yoga, meditation and walks in nature which helped keep me calm and reduced anxiety. Bringing myself back to centre also helped me control my negative emotions. I was acutely aware I did not want to project my fear and anxiety on others and did everything I could to manage and process my emotions in solitude and avoid taking things on other people. I apologise to anyone I took my anger out on last year. I am sorry;) 

Being surrounded by the right tribe. Energy is contagious and surrounding yourself with people who will lift you up and support you is key, but letting go of relationships that are no longer serving us is hard. In 2020, I had to let some relationships go. No hard feelings. It is what it is. We meet others to learn and grow but not everybody is meant to stay in your life. I have learnt not to force, push and try to fix things that maybe, at this moment in time, are not meant to be. The people that are meant to stay in your life, will stay or if they have only momentarily left, will return 😉

Authenticity. A year like 2020 certainly brings you to your knees. It has forced me to be more authentic, to be less of a people pleaser in search of validation and approval, to finally face certain things I’ve been avoiding or distracting myself from. I am no longer able to look away. I feel like the masks I have been wearing are coming off. Although I am still far from living in alignment, I am definitely striving daily to only keep things in my life that align with my values and goals. Lockdown helped/ forced 😉 me to turn even more inward by eliminating every distraction I surrounded myself with before the pandemic.

Responsibility. I have seen how much of what we do, we do unconsciously, automatically, without taking into account how it might affect others. We are quick to blame, judge, point fingers and criticise without pausing to examine how we might have contributed to problems we are now facing. We all want great things in our lives, but everything comes with its own set of positive and negative characteristics that we have to take responsibility for. I have tried to stop, not to react so quickly, to create a gap between the stimulus and my reaction and then if necessary respond. I am slowly trying to become more intentional, deliberate and responsible in my choices. More conscious.

There are more lessons I am sure but that’s all I have been inspired to share today 😉

Thank you to all my lovely students for making 2020, despite everything, beautiful and enriching. I love you 😉

Thank you for my new template Stu 😉

Thank you for inspiring me to write what I learnt in 2020 Vanesa E. 😉 and for sharing the podcast below.

Food for thought: