Holiday heaven & hell

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Introduction: 

This is a creative speaking activity inspired by a great book by Edward de Bono called “Creativity Workout”.

Objective:

  1. To brainstorm vocabulary related to holiday and travelling.
  2. To build fluency by using vocabulary in a fun and entertaining way.

Materials:  

  1. One die per pair or small group.
  2. One set of cut up Holiday heaven and hell task cards per pair or small group.

Procedure:

  1. Draw a 6 x 6 grid on the board.
  2. Divide the class into teams, e.g. Three teams of 2.
  3. Start with the square in the top left hand corner and write any summer, holiday, or travel related word inside it, e.g. a tent.
  4. Each team has to quickly think of another summer, holiday, or travel related word that starts with the last letter of the previous word, e.g. tent > travel.
  5. The teams receive a point for each correct word. Discourage the use of dictionaries unless students run out of ideas.
  6. When the grid is complete, put students in pairs or small groups and handout one set of cut up task cards. Taking it in turns to pick a card, students obtain the words and complete the task.
  7. To obtain words for the speaking activity students throw the die twice: the first throw indicates which column they are going to use and the second indicates which row they are going to use. Depending on the task, they must roll for the number of words and use them repetitively to complete the activity.
  8. The tasks on the cards are just examples of activities that can be done with random words. They could be done in one session or you could choose a few to do as a warmer or plenary.

Related posts:

Random words

Random words return

Back to life, back to reality

Introduction:

This is a needs analysis board game to do at the beginning of the course and to give both the teacher and the students an idea of what they already know and what they want to achieve in this course or academic year.

Level:  B2 +

Time: 35 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To determine students’ needs at the beginning of the course.

Materials:

One Back to life, back to reality board game and one die per pair or a small group of 3.

Procedure:

  1. Print the board game and put students in pairs or small groups of 3.
  2. Players take it in turns to throw the die and move the numbers thrown.
  3. To obtain a question for the speaking activity students throw the die twice. The first throw indicates which column they are going to use and the second indicates which row they are going to use.
  4. All the players must answer the question in as much detail as possible.
  5. The game continues in a circle going left and until students have answered at least 5 questions.
  6. During the activity monitor very carefully and take notes.
  7. At the end, ask students (still in their groups) to write three things they had in common with their classmates, (e.g. they need English for their jobs, they want to improve their listening comprehension, etc.) and three differences, (e.g. they have learnt English in different countries, etc).

P.S. Thank you Alex.

Nothing changes if nothing changes

Introduction: 

These are activities for upper intermediate students to introduce and practise idioms and phrases relating to change. Students match the sentence halves; complete the sentences with the missing expressions and do a role play.

Level: B2 +

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To match sentence halves to make idioms and phrases relating to change.
  2. To do a role play activity to practise the new vocabulary in a new, playful context.

Materials:

  1. ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes phrases and fortune teller cards, one set of phrases per small group of three or four, cut up and shuffled and one set of fortune teller cards per pair, cut up, and shuffled.
  2. Nothing changes if nothing changes worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write the following questions on the board and ask students to briefly answer them in pairs:
  • Have you made any recent changes in your life?
  • If you could change anything in your life, what would it be?
  • Do you think it is easy for people to change?
  1. Hand students ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ idioms and phrases.
  2. In small groups, students match the sentence halves.
  3. Monitor and encourage students to guess some of the answers, before asking them to compare with the other groups.
  4. Check the answers as a class – you can make this more competitive by asking each team for their answer and awarding a point for the correct answer.
  5. Give students ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ worksheet and ask them to complete the sentences with the missing phrases individually before they compare them with their partner.
  6. Check the answers as a class.
  7. Ask students to think of their love life, health, work/school and money, and very briefly describe what stage they are at in these. Tell them they can be creative and invent it, even pretending to be a celebrity, if they don’t feel comfortable sharing their personal information.
  8. Put the students into pairs and give one student a set of ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ fortune teller cards.
  9. One student is a fortune teller and the other is a client who is looking for advice.
  10. Once the client has explained their situation, the fortune teller draws one of the cards and offers advice using all three expressions on the cards, e.g. Unfortunately, the project you have been working on is not going anywhere. You will have to go back to square one and start again.
  11. Once the client has asked for 2 pieces of advice, students switch roles and continue with the next card.
  12. Then, mix the students into fresh pairs, shuffle the cards and continue.
  13. Role plays continue until each client has spoken to at least 3 fortune tellers.
  14. At the end ask the students which fortune player seemed the most convincing and which piece of advice in particular they found the most useful.

Fast finishers:

Unscramble the following idioms and write your own definitions of each one:

  1. Clean break to a make
  2. Breath fresh air of a
  3. To change times with the
  4. To doors open new

The proof is in the pudding

Introduction: 

These are activities for upper intermediate students to introduce and practise food idioms. Students complete the sentences with the missing expressions, write their own definitions and play a taboo game.

Level: B2 +

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce food idioms and expressions.
  2. To write definitions of the new expressions.
  3. To play a taboo game to reinforce the new vocabulary in a new, playful context.

Materials:

  1. The proof is in the pudding worksheet, one per student.
  2. Three sets of taboo cards per pair, cut up and shuffled.

Procedure:

  1. Write the beginning of the following sentences on the board and ask students to complete them:
  • My favourite dessert is…
  • I typically eat desserts…
  • One of the countries I often associate with great desserts is…
  1. Hand students The proof is in the pudding worksheet.
  2. Individually, students have a go at completing the sentences with the missing expressions (Exercise 1).
  3. Monitor and allow them to read and guess some of the answers, before putting them into groups of three or four to discuss and compare.
  4. Check the answers as a class – you can make this more competitive by asking each team for their answer and awarding a point for the correct answer.
  5. Ask the students to write their own definitions of the expressions in Part 2.
  6. Monitor and offer feedback.
  7. Put the students into pairs and give them a set of taboo cards.
  8. Place the cards face down on the table and ask them to set a timer for one minute (they can use their phones, or you could use a timer as a class).
  9. For higher levels, the first player takes the first card and must explain the expression on the top of the card without using the three taboo words in the middle of the card. If a taboo word is used the student whose turn it is must put the current card into the discard pile.
  10. For lower levels, they can use the words as prompts for their partner to guess the correct expression.
  11. Play continues for one minute and the players swap. The continued repetition of the same 12 expressions will enforce their understanding.
  12. The winner is the student who has the most correctly guessed taboo cards at the end of the game.

Fast finishers:

  1. Choose 3 idioms and in writing try to predict what the origins of the expressions might be. Once you have finished do some research to find out if you were correct.

Related posts:

A piece of cake or a hard nut to crack?

Yummy Yummy I’ve got food in my tummy

P.S. Thank you for putting this activity to the test Stu. It was a pleasure to observe your class.

Bid it 2 Win it Sentence Auction

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Introduction: 

This is a sentence auction activity for students of mixed nationalities I am currently working with in Absolutely English Young Learners summer school in Sherborne, UK. Students work in groups and bid on the sentences they think they can correct.

Level: A2, B1, B2

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To buy and rewrite incorrect sentences.
  2. To review the most common mistakes made by different nationalities in an entertaining way.

Materials:

  1. Bid it 2 Win it Sentence Auction, one worksheet for the teacher.

Procedure:

  1. Put students in small groups of 2 or 3.
  2. Each group will have £2000 to spend.
  3. Bids begin at £50 and each subsequent bid is increased by £100.
  4. The teacher writes the first sentence on the board and sells it to the highest bidder.
  5. Once the students have bought the sentence they have to rewrite it. If their answer is correct they keep the sentence. If they are wrong the sentence goes back on sale and the students can bid on it again at the end.
  6. The winner of the game is the group which has ended up with the most correct sentences.

Related posts:

My favourite mistakes card game

P.S. Thank you for your constant encouragement, support and great feedback Stu. I really appreciate it.

Getting itchy feet

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Introduction:

These are activities to introduce travel vocabulary and to encourage speaking about travelling. Students do a word search activity and then do the speaking activity with their classmates.

Level: B1 +

Objectives:

  1. To introduce travel vocabulary.
  2. To answer questions about travelling using the new vocabulary.

Materials:

  1. Getting itchy feet worksheet, one per student.
  2. Getting itchy feet board game, one per group of three.
  3. Getting itchy feet worksheet solutions

Procedure:

  1. Write down the following 18 letters on the board A, B, C, C, C, C, D, F, G, J, L, L, R, R, S, S, T and V. In pairs, ask students to write down ONE travel related word that begins with the letters above. Set a timer to make the activity more competitive, e.g. 5 minutes. When the time is up ask students to compare their answers with another pair.
  2. Check as a class and make sure students know the meaning of all the words that came up during the activity.
  3. Hand out a copy of Getting itchy feet worksheet and ask students to find 18 travel related words in the word search. Tell students the letters in bold are either the first or the last letters of the words they are searching for.
  4. When the students have finished, ask them to add the words found to the list they created at the beginning.
  5. Check together as a class to make sure students know the meaning of all the words.
  6. Put the students into pairs, or groups of 3, and give them a copy of Getting itchy feet board game and 3 dice.
  7. 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. The player who has rolled and obtained a question must then choose a word from the list of travel vocabulary without telling the others, and keep talking until they have naturally incorporated the word into their answer and have fully answered the question. Whilst the player is speaking, the role of the others is to listen for and identify the travel word. When it has been identified and the player has finished speaking, the word is crossed off the list and it is the turn of the next player.
  8. At the end, ask the students to name three words they have struggled to incorporate into their responses.

Related posts:

Hit the road

Cat got your tongue? Speak up

Introduction:

These are activities to develop speaking skills around the topic of animals. Students do the speaking activity in small groups, taking it in turns to express their opinions and asking for repetition and clarification.

Level: B1 +

Objectives:

  1. To answer questions about animals and pets.
  2. To express opinions using commonly used expressions.
  3. To ask for repetition or clarification using commonly used expressions.

Materials:

  1. Cat got your tongue_Speak up board game, one per pair or a group of three.
  2. Cat got your tongue_ Speak up cards, cut up ( you could also write the expressions on lollipop sticks and use them again in other activities), one per pair or group of three.

Procedure:

  1. Put the students into pairs, or groups of three, and elicit opinion language and expressions for asking for repetition.
  2. Hand out a set of Cat got your tongue? Speak up cards and ask them to compare their expressions with the ones provided by you. Ensure correct understanding and clarify meaning.
  3. Hand out a copy of the Cat got your tongue? Speak up board game and a die to use with the set of Cat got your tongue? Speak up cards.
  4. In their pairs or groups of 3, ask students to divide the cards into two piles: red opinion expressions and blue asking for clarification and repetition expressions. 
  5. 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.
  6. The player whose turn it is takes ONE card from the red pile and the remaining players take ONE card each from the blue pile.
  7. All players must then answer the question in as much detail as possible and use the expressions on their cards.
  8. Once the players have used the expressions they put the cards at the bottom of the piles.
  9. At the end, ask the students to name three topics they have strongly agreed on, or disagreed on, with each other.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to think of or find 5 interesting animal facts and share them with their classmates, e.g. there is an average of 50,000 spiders per acre in green areas.

Related posts:

MEOW!MEOW!