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:

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Little Prince

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the word HEART. Students first match the expressions to their definitions, divide them into 2 categories and then answer the questions and discuss their responses with their classmates.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with the word HEART.
  2. To develop fluency and answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

  1. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly Worksheet, one per student or display it on the screen for everyone to see.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out or display a copy of “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Worksheet and ask students to briefly discuss the quote from The Little Prince at the top of the page.
  2. Next go to Exercise 1 and ask students to go through the facts about a human heart and choose the one they were most surprised by and compare their opinions with their classmates. Mine were surprised that a woman’s heart beats faster. Any idea why?
  3. Tell them to, on the word GO, scan the expressions on the left in Exercise 2 and try to, as fast as they can, find the one body part that completes all expressions. At this stage it should be quite obvious what the word is so the students won’t take too long to guess the right answer.
  4. Next ask students to match the idioms on the left to the definitions on the right.
  5. Ask them to compare with their classmates before you check together as a class. I always encourage students to defend their choices and justify their answers and quite often I won’t give them correct answers until they all agree and provide me with identical answers. More often than not they manage to get the majority of their answers right. Just don’t give in too quickly when they start complaining that it is too hard (which they always initially do). Confidently explain that it is an opportunity for them to learn from their classmates or maybe to teach their classmates something. Also show them how much they can deduce and guess on their own before you spoon-feed them the answers.
  6. Next ask the students to divide the expressions into two categories: ones they associate with positive experiences and feelings and ones they have a negative association with. In class today I asked students to read out the idioms they put in the “positive” and “negative” section but only discussed the ones that they decided to put “in the middle” or the ones that they disagreed on with their classmates.
  7. When the students have finished, go to Exercise 4 and from memory try to correct the mistakes in red. I tried to think of words that have something in common with the words used in the actual idioms to give students some clues. You could try and turn it into a competition and ask students to do it individually or in small teams.
  8. When you are finished students answer the questions.
  9. If you have had no time to discuss all questions in class ask students to answer a couple of them in writing.

Food for thought:

Why not encourage your students to practise their listening skills with this great audio book:

P.S. This post is dedicated to my BIG prince:)

Related posts:

Home sweet home

I spy with my little eye

Cats & Dogs

What a zoo

There is no place like…school

Ups and downs

Somewhere over the rainbow 

Taking the leap…

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms related to success and failure. Students first answer some questions in pairs or small groups, divide the expressions into two categories, complete the questions in Exercise 3 with the missing idioms, and then answer the questions in pairs or small groups.

I would start this class with a story, something you initially struggled with and that you managed to turn into a great success. To create interest, first introduce the problem and then ask students to predict in pairs how you managed to overcome it. This way you will give students an opportunity to see you in a different light, someone more approachable and able to share your challenges and difficulties. 

My personal favourite for this type of class and the type of topic is the story of when I went to a bilingual secondary school at the age of 15 with no English to speak of. ZERO. I was in the bottom of my class. I worked my socks off for two years to get to the level of the other students. When I finally did, the momentum, my sheer determination and drive, together with my passion for English was already so strong that I became of one the best students in my class, graduated from an English university and years later became an English teacher, who the English themselves confuse with a native speaker from Ireland Impossible is nothing.

Side note: This post feels special to me and the time of its publication is not an accident. After working in a language school in the north of Madrid for a decade, yes a decade, I have decided to take the leap and go freelance. I am feeling a mixture of excitement, fear, and uncertainty but underpinning all this there is an unshakable belief that I have made the right decision. I loved working in the same school for such a long time, it gave me an amazing opportunity to work with wonderful students for years and years and a chance to get to know them really well. However, the time has come to leave my comfort zone and to take on a new challenge.

P.S. I have also made a Taking the leap conversation board game that I used with one of my students who recently created her own company. Well done! Feel free to download it and use it if it is appropriate for your students. 

P.S. I don’t really believe in failure myself. You either win or you learn. Here comes a book that inspired me in many ways.

John Maxwell “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”.

Level: B2

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms related to success and failure.
  2. To answer questions about success and failure.
  3. To divide the idioms into two categories: one associated with success and one with failure.
  4. To complete questions with the missing idioms and then answer the questions in small groups or pairs.

Materials:

  1. Taking the leap Worksheet, one per student.
  2. Taking the leap board game board game, one per student/ small group.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of Taking the leap Worksheet and ask students to discuss the questions in Exercise 1. Elicit some answers when they are finished.
  2. Ask the students to divide the expressions into two categories: success and failure. The students could first work individually and then compare with their partners, but once they get into groups or pairs they must agree on the answers. It encourages discussions and forces students to engage and defend their answers rather than mindlessly/distractedly do the task before moving on to the next one. 
  3. Check together as a class and ask students to try and come up with precise definitions of each expression. Help with the ones students were unable to figure out themselves. 
  4. When the students have finished, ask them to complete the questions in Exercise 2 with the missing idioms. I usually ask students to fold the paper in half at this stage to try and encourage them to do it from memory which makes the task more challenging.
  5. When they have finished, ask them to go back to Exercise 1 and self / peer correct before you check as a class.
  6. Next, students answer the questions in pairs or small groups and give examples.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to think of some inspiring stories they have read or heard about and write a short summary, using the expressions learnt, of how the character in their story overcame the challenges they faced.

Related posts:

The proof is in the pudding

It’s all a numbers game

Nothing changes if nothing changes

It’s game time

Somewhere over the rainbow 

You make my heart BEET 😉

There is no place like…school

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?

P.S. Thank you Alex, Stu, Nat, Adam, Penny, Lorna and Kompacho for your support and encouragement.

 

 

So, what brings you here?

Introduction: 

This is a board game that could be used to assess your learners’ needs or to simply do a review of tenses. Students answer questions in pairs or small groups of three and the teacher closely monitors to determine what the learners are struggling with. I have deliberately chosen the questions that hopefully only evoke positive 🙂 emotions from learners to make them feel good throughout the activity especially if is their first class and they don’t know the teacher and/or the classmates.

Level: B1+

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To assess the learners’ needs.
  2. To review past, present and future tenses etc.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language whilst playing a board game.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. So, what brings you here board game and one die per group of 3.

Procedure:

  1. Put the students in groups of 2 or 3, and give them a copy of So, what brings you here? board game and a die.
  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. When a player lands on a square all three players must answer the question from that square in as much detail as possible. Encourage students to ask each other additional questions to obtain more information.
  4. The game continues in the circle going left.
  5. At the end, write down the mistakes students made during the activity and ask them to correct them in their teams.
  6. Check together as a class.
  7. Ask students what they found out about their classmates.

Recommended reading:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amberjohnson-jimludema/2018/03/29/for-a-high-performing-team-ask-positive-questions/#46af16781ddf

Related posts:

Do you believe in ghosts?

What would you do if…?

Brace yourselves. Phrasal verbs r bk

 

 

Know thyself

Introduction:

This is a free board game to talk about philosophy. I have done this activity with some of my advanced and proficient students just because sometimes they fancy talking about something exciting and less mundane, without focusing on a specific outcome in mind. Many students also often ask me to give them an opportunity to talk about more challenging topics, so this is for them. If you feel uncomfortable about having no objectives, you could turn this activity into a debate and introduce some lovely agreeing and disagreeing expressions. If you are feeling rebellious just join the discussion and have fun with your students.

Level: C1

Objective:

  1. To have an inspired conversation about life in general.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. Know thyself, one PDF board game 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.
  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. The players must then speak on that topic for as long as they find it interesting and in as much detail as possible. Do not rush the students but give them absolute control over the activity, as long as they answer the questions in English. Monitor and help with vocabulary as needed.
  4. The game continues in a circle going left.
  5. At the end, ask the students to choose one topic they would like to explore further and ask them to write an article or an essay at home. I did it with my students and they produced very interesting pieces.
  6. Encourage students to watch How philosophy can save our life Ted talk https://ed.ted.com/on/JQxh4veu

Reference: http://www.mantelligence.com