Posts Tagged ‘ELT’

‘Let’s celebrate Earth Day, every day!’

IMG_1682Every year Earth Day is celebrated on 22nd April worldwide. Our planet is changing rapidly so it’s vital that we help raise students’ awareness of the damaging effects of modern lifestyles on the environment before it’s too late!

In today’s post, I’d like to share the way my students and I celebrated Earth Day this year. They’re low- level students preparing for the IELTS exam so this was a great opportunity for them to expand their vocabulary, think and learn about environmental issues hands- on. Technology made this much more fun and motivating since we decided to make a video using the ever amazing Animoto!

The students’ first task was to take two pictures of nature each, with their mobile phones. Our school ’s beautiful surroundings provided the perfect location for this!

Next, we set off to plan the video’s structure and write the script! I wrote the following words on the board to help them brainstorm relevant ideas and slogans.

Stop…

Save…

Protect…

Don’t…

Let’s…

Recycle…

Use…

We also googled some supplementary images and chose ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay as the soundtrack of our video!

Surprisingly, on that same day a couple of dolphins made their appearance in Thermaikos Gulf, in the city of Thessaloniki. This isn’t a common sight but luckily one of the students managed to catch it on video! Animoto not only allows users to combine text, images and music but also short videos so we have included part of it as well!

Our main aim was to show some of the beauties of mother Earth, to pinpoint the destructive impact of human activity and share some easy things we can do on an individual or group level to make a difference!

This is the final result 🙂

Click here to download the handout I prepared for my class with useful vocabulary and phrases.

At this point, I’d also like to share another worksheet with 10 Idioms about Nature accompanied by activities and answer key. The definitions have been taken from Cambridge Online Dictionary.

National Geographic has published some lovely images that have been submitted by NG readers. Students can describe or write catchy captions for these stunning photos. You may also choose to show them only a small part of the picture first.  Let them use their imagination and guess what it is! Have a look here!

Finally, this a great list of 12 interesting TED talks on climate change that you can watch with your students and reflect on!

http://blog.ted.com/12-talks-to-watch-this-earth-day/

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Remember that our well- being depends on how we take care of our planet. Awareness is the first step to really making a change! So let’s start by informing our students and celebrating Earth Day, every day 🙂

Best wishes,

Christina

‘Queen Elizabeth alongside James Bond’- Lesson Plan

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(Image taken from http://bit.ly/1xaiTjG)

This time I’d like to share with you a lesson plan that I recently created and used with my new group of young adults. In an attempt to familiarize them with the British culture and take a break from the book, I chose this fantastic short video which shows London at its best and catches viewers’ attention with its unique plot! Please download the full lesson plan (plus the student’s worksheet) from the box. widget on the right side of the blog.

The Queen Sequence Opening =TEACHER’S NOTES

Target Group: teens, young adults

Level: Pre- intermediate and above

Time: a 60- minute- session

Watch here:

STEP 1: Distribute the worksheets to your students and tell them they’re about to watch a short clip from the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Ask them to go through questions 1- 7.

STEP 2: Play the video once.

STEP 3: Pause the video at 00:44- Ask students to predict who will come out of the black cab. A: James Bond- Daniel Craig

STEP 4: Pause at 01:20- Who is James Bond going to meet? A: Her Majesty, the Queen.

STEP 5: Pause again at 04: 10- Can you guess what’s going to happen next? A: The Queen and James Bond will jump off the helicopter and land in the stadium using parachutes.

STEP 6: Check students’ answers to the following questions- You can replay certain parts of the clip to crosscheck the answers.

Q1: Which country’s flag is on the children’s baseball caps? A: Brazil’s.

Q2: What time is it? A: It’s half past eight.

Q3: How many pet dogs does the Queen have? A: Two

Q4: Which famous man’s statue appears in the clip? A: Winston Churchill’s.

Q5: Name as many sights as you can remember seeing in the video.

A: The Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Canary Wharf (Tower 42) , Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Q6: Describe the Queen’s entrance into the stadium with 3 adjectives! Possible answers: Impressive, amazing, spectacular, fantastic, great e.t.c.

Q7: Circle the things you can spot in the video- Correct answers: gold string, police officers, William’s picture, balloons, the British flag.

Suggested Follow- up activities:

1. Writing task: Describe what happens in this short clip as if you were broadcasting the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Use the Simple Present tense.

*Note: Students can do this activity in class either individually or in pairs. Let them watch the video as many times as they need. Alternatively you can assign this for homework.

2. Ask students to surf the Internet and find:

– Five interesting facts about the Queen’s life.

–  Who Winston Churchill was and one of his famous quotes that you can later discuss in class. (e.g. ‘No one should waste a day’, ‘A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.’, ‘Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn.’)

–  Which actors have played 007? (A: Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Daniel Craig)

3. Correct and return students’ descriptions of the clip. Ask them to record themselves whilst broadcasting the sequence. A great, simple online voice recorder they can use is Vocaroo. If they work on iPads/ iphones, the Voice Record Pro App is ideal since it allows you to record at unlimited length and offers many exporting options (Dropbox, Google Drive, Box Cloud, email e.t.c.  For Android devices, I’d suggest trying Smart Voice Recorder which has similar features.

 I hope you enjoy my ideas and if you have some more, please feel free to share them in the comments!

 Best,

Christina

Coming soon…

…a fresh blog post about the making of our 1st digital storybook for young learners of English! ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’ is now available for all ios and Android devices!

In the meantime, take a slight taste from the short video below:

Stay tuned 🙂

All the best,

Christina

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Happy New Year with a Fun Blog Challenge among ELT Bloggers!

The first blog post of 2014 has been inspired by a dear colleague and friend, Dimitris Primalis, who asked me to join the online blog challenge called ‘11 Random Facts, Questions, Answers and ELT Bloggers

If you want to meet this challenge too, just follow the next steps:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

 So here are 11 Random Facts about me:

1. I recently became an aunt to an adorable baby girl and I’m utterly excited.

2. I love watching ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ again and again. My favourite ‘friend’ is Ross although I’m more of a teaser like Chandler.

3. I have a sweet tooth! I eat chocolate 7 days per week :-).

4. Summer is my favourite season because life is much better at the beach!

5. I make handmade jewels& leather sandals and have a big collection of earrings. Look at some of my creations 🙂

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6.  I like hanging out with people who have a positive energy and make me laugh!

7. I’m a night owl. I get the best ideas and usually write after midnight!

8.  My favourite colours are pink, red and white!

9. My favourite social platform is FB because it helps me keep in touch with dear friends and colleagues who live abroad.

10. I want to swim with a dolphin.

11. This song brings out the nostalgia in me: 

My answers to Dimitri’s 11 Questions:

1.  How long have you been blogging?  1 year& 3 months!

2. What made you start blogging? My teacher trainers in Oxford and Pilgrims encouraged me to start my own blog and I must admit that sharing and connecting with other educators worldwide has been a fantastic experience so far!

3. What advice would you give a new blogger? Update your blog regularly and try to be as innovative as you can.

4. How do you spend your free time? I surf the Net, cook, take long walks, read books, listen to music, watch TV, do family stuff, go out with friends and so much more!

5. If you were not involved in ELT, what would you do? If I weren’t an EFL teacher, I’d be a chef or run a boutique hotel on a Greek island!

6. Do you speak any other foreign languages? Yes! German and French.

7. What is the ideal class for you? There are no ideal classes. Every group poses different challenges to the teacher. However, I prefer teaching more advanced students because it helps me improve my language skills and broaden my general knowledge too!

8. What is the biggest challenge for educators at the moment? To address our students’ real needs and prepare them adequately for the future when educational systems tend to be more obsolete and people fearful of change.

9. What do you imagine yourself doing in ten years time? I usually avoid making long term plans or dreams but I hope to be healthy and surrounded by all the people I love!

10. Who is your favourite author? Nikos Kazantzakis– I admire his free spirit as well as the strength and density of his writing.

11. Is learning technology a fad or a trend that will play a key role in education in the years to come? For me, technology is definitely not a fad. It’s an amazing teaching aid that can help us enrich our lessons and empower our students IF used wisely.

 My 11 Questions:

  1. The peak/the most awkward moment of my teaching career was…
  2. Name a song which helps lift your spirits:
  3. What’s the thing you like most about teaching?
  4. If I weren’t an EFL teacher, I would…
  5. Who is your favourite cartoon character?
  6. Describe yourself in 3 words:
  7. Which two Web tools would you suggest to a teacher who is a technology novice and why?
  8. What is the first goal in your New Year’s resolutions list this year?
  9. If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?
  10. What’s the best piece of advice you have been given as a teacher?
  11. The best book I recently read is …

I’m tagging ELT bloggers/ good friends who hopefully haven’t been tagged before ( it’s OK if you don’t have the time to respond 🙂 )

Edmund Dudley

Antonio Marsa

Isil Boy

Wishing you all the very best for 2014!

Christina

EXETER COLLEGE, OXFORD: The Sequel! English Language Teachers’ Summer Seminar 2013.

A week later and I still seem to be under the ‘Oxford spell’… To be honest, I was a bit reluctant before enrolling on the English Language Teachers’ Seminar again because my first time there was utterly amazing! However, going back was really worth the while!

Feeling more mature professionally and having set new goals, I decided to avoid making any comparisons with the past and enjoy this new experience afresh! So, once again I found myself in atmospheric Oxford and the beautiful, old surroundings of Exeter College.

A wonderful group of 62 English Teachers from 27 different countries were my family for the next 15 days! All highly motivated and willing to share their teaching experiences and positive energy! As expected, the course was intensive and very informative with daily morning lectures and workshops that covered different areas in ELT and addressed individual teaching needs!

We were taught by the best team of teacher trainers who inspired, broadened our horizons and made us want to become better teachers and well- rounded human beings.

During these two weeks, we learnt so much that time for reflection is absolutely necessary! However, I’d like to single out some of the things I learnt from each teacher trainer and really cherish:

Adrian Underhill: ‘Every wall is a door.’

Charles Boyle: ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’- Quote used by Charles at our closing dinner.

Hanna Kryszewska– ‘How to become a teacher trainer’: ‘Never give up teaching even if you become an expert teacher trainer’.

Edmund Dudley– ‘Teaching Teenagers: Challenge Accepted.’: ‘When dealing with difficult students, make them feel valued, irrespective of their performance.’

Jon Hird– ‘Exploring Grammar’: ‘Allowing students thinking and planning time can result in greater accuracy on a grammar level.’

John Hughes-‘Writing Materials for ELT Publishers’: ‘Always test if your materials work with the public. Ask other colleagues to try them out and give you feedback about how they worked for them and their students.’

Ken Wilson: ‘All our students are different and differently talented. We need to find ways to access their way of learning.’

Russell Stannard: I loved one of the iPad/ iPhone apps Russell demonstrated in his lecture called Brainshark! Use Brainshark to make impressive presentations: upload your pdf/word files/videos or images, add your recordings (up to 15minutes) and share via e-mail or post to your blog and other social media.

For me, if you are an English teacher seeking inspiration and fresh ideas, Oxford is THE place to go because there you can combine high-level education with loads of fun and entertainment! For more information about this course, click here: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/details.php?id=X162-2

Finally, for many people studying in Oxford is a dream! In my case, this dream has come true twice! So, I can’t help but feel blessed… I’d like to say a big, sincere thanks to our teacher trainers, Richard& Joe and all my dear new friends who made this another unforgettable experience! Hopefully our paths will cross again…It’s a small world after all :-)!


All the best,

Christina

How to create and use comics with your English language learners!!!

In 2012 I attended a very useful online EVO session on ‘Digital Storytelling for Young Learners’. Among other things, I became familiar with a variety of web tools used to create comic strips and explored the ways to incorporate them in my EFL lessons effectively. In this post, I’d like to share some of the things I learnt as well as reflect on the use of comics in language teaching from my personal experience.

To start with, I’ll suggest 6 great comic creation tools! The first four are simpler to use and there is no need to sign up in order to employ them. The rest two are a bit more sophisticated, thus more appropriate for older students or very competent computer users.

1. Dvolver is one of my favourite tools! Completely free and straightforward! Just select your characters, different backgrounds, add your lines and music to create a comic strip in the form of a digital movie!!! You can e-mail your movie as soon as you’ve completed it!

2. Professor Garfield: Who doesn’t love this lazy, fat cat who hates Mondays and diets :-)?! Your students will have loads of fun while making their short storylines with Garfield and his friends Jon and Odie! They can then print or save their strips as a jpg or png file to their PCs! The site offers some nice tips and videos about the secrets of writing comics that your students will find very handy before moving on to the creative process! Check out the strip two of my intermediate students created with my help after a session on how to stay safe online.

3. Phrase.it This is a lovely tool to add cartoon speech bubbles to your own pictures! It also lets you import FB images or use a random stock photo! It’s ideal both for very young learners and older ones! It allows you to post your creations to FB, tweet or pin them, download or e-mail them! Take a look at the three images below to see what you can do with it!

4. Makebeliefscomix.com: That’s a neat, free tool to create comics with! However, the site doesn’t store your comixs! Thus, you should e-mail, print the out or use Jing (or another screenshot tool) to capture and save them to your computer!

5. Toondoo Learners can create wonderful strips with Toondoo! There is a variety of characters, backgrounds and inbuilt clipart! Signing up is free and students’ work can be embedded, e-mailed or printed! The comment feature is also available in the free version! You can also create private Toon spaces for your class/ school at a low rate. Here is a lovely Toon my 12 –year- old students Achilles and Elizabeth made the other day:6. X-treme Comics is a powerful visual writing tool! Teachers set up an account, add students (with or without e-mail) and can easily moderate their actions! Students can create very elaborate strips that will then be printed, downloaded, embedded or shared on the web!

Why?

Because…

  • Comics are a great way to inspire and motivate students of all ages! Even yourself ;-)!
  • It helps learners get a clearer understanding of how to develop a story in a logical sequence (Beginning- Middle- End).
  • Students learn how to convey an idea precisely in a few words! Trust me, it’s more difficult than it sounds!
  • Learners get the chance to practise the dialogue aspect of comic stories.
  • They practise creating& designing characters with different personalities (nice, mean, funny, heroic, goofy e.t.c), giving them emotions as well as picking the setting of their stories.
  • Students can understand the differences between traditional narratives and comic strips more easily. (more dialogues, images, use of punch lines, funny words or ‘pantomime’ e.t.c)

 Teaching Ideas:

Here are some ideas on how to use comics in class! Ask students to make comics:

  • On Internet safety rules.
  • On road safety rules.
  • On Facebook manners or other useful social media habits.
  • To describe ways to stay healthy or happy.
  • To create an autobiographical comic strip at the beginning of the school year.
  • To change or go beyond the ending of a book you have just read in class.
  • To build their plot based on a given prompt. This is a cool website for story starters for kids: http://www.thestorystarter.com/jr.htm
  • To comment on a current social or political issue.
  • To describe or summarize their feelings about a personal experience (e.g a school trip, holidays, cheating or failing a test, been lied to by their best friend…).
  • To present a recipe or make an instruction manual.
  • To practise on a new grammar rule or new vocabulary words.

 Tips to get the best out of comic strips:

  • Make sure to familiarize yourself with the comic creation tool(s) before introducing it/them in class. Explore their capacities, how they function as well as their weaknesses/ limitations.
  • Choose the tool or website that best suits your students’ age, level as well as their computer skills! Some of these tools can be quite complex and may discourage the less tech-savvy students. Collaborative work is preferable!
  • Give students time to experiment and play with your chosen tool.
  • Learners should always plan their comic strips before they start creating them.
  • If you want to challenge your students a bit, why not give them 5 specific words they ‘must’ use in their strip?
  • From my experience, this whole creative process can be pretty time-consuming. Nevertheless, it’s very worthwhile if anything, for the sheer fun of it :-).

Have you ever tried using comics in your ELT class? What were your students reactions? Did you face any problems?

I’d love to hear your experiences!

All the best,

Christina

Art& Technology in ELT: An incompatible marriage or not?

Are you an art lover? Would you like to familiarize your students with the artwork of famous painters while learning English? This was the logic behind the development of the two lesson outlines you can find and download for free in the box.net widget on the right sidebar of this blog.

The first lesson plan was based upon Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom in Arles’ and it’s aimed at advanced students. The technology-oriented suggested activities include the use of http://www.blabberize.comhttp://www.pimpampum.net/bubblr/ and You Tube. The second outline called ‘Just Dance’ was designed with the valuable help of a dear friend and colleague, Rania Chiotini, who is a state primary school teacher in Greece. As you’ll see, we have combined art, music and technology in our attempt to exploit the educational value of three lovely paintings by Toulouse Lautrec, Edgar Degas and Pierre- Auguste Renoir. The incorporation of technology gives them a ‘fresh’ feel, engages young learners and empowers their creativity!

The lesson outlines provide clear, step-by-step instructions. We look forward to your comments! Would you be tempted to try something like this in your language classroom? Do you think your students would enjoy this ‘marriage’ of art to technology :-)?

All the best,

Christina

English Language Teachers’ Summer Seminar- Oxford University.

When I enrolled on the annual summer seminar for English teachers at Exeter College in Oxford, I really didn’t know what to expect. This would be my first visit to Oxford and the first professional development course I would attend… Luckily, the overall experience turned out to be more satisfying than I could ever imagine!

The seminar lasted for two weeks that literally flew by! We were a diverse group of 54 teachers from Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Slovakia, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, China, Japan and the USA! Our daily schedule was very demanding yet highly motivating! Each morning started with some very informative lectures given by inspiring teacher trainers among whom Ken Wilson and Shaun Wilden.

The workshops to follow covered a wide range of ELT areas for ‘every taste’ like language testing, developing materials, how to become a teacher trainer, successful pronunciation, teaching grammar, working with texts, promoting speaking skills and teaching teenagers. Our tutors, Charles Boyle, Hanna Kryszewska, Jon Hird, Edmund Dudley and Adrian Underhill were great- I’d say the elite of the ELT field!

Aside from all the learning, we had our share of entertainment too! Indeed, we had lots of fun doing some Scottish country dancing, going on a pub tour, walking in the countryside ‘the English not the Latin way’ 😉 as well as talking about our countries while trying local delicacies and drinks on a special cultural exchange night!

Experiencing the Oxford student life at the beautiful premises of Exeter College, going around this lovely city with all its historical buildings, the old colleges, the Botanic Garden, the Bodleian Library was dreamy to say the least.

Most importantly, in Oxford I made some lifelong friends :-)! It’s so nice to feel part of a worldwide ELT community and even better to have special people to visit wherever you choose to travel in the world!

I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have attended the seminar at Exeter and if you ever get the opportunity to do this course, just don’t miss it!

A big thanks to everyone who made this course so memorable!

Christina