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Category Archives: Teaching YL

Super Simple Summer Activities: Pt 2

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Super Simple Summer Activities: Pt 2

A simple and adaptable communicative activity.

 

A few years ago I saw my good friend and fellow teacher, Ben Herbert, share this idea at at the Annual Young Ones Conference for teachers of Young Learners at International House Brno.

Basically it’s an info gap. But a really super simple tweak to make it more effective and motivate learners to want to do it.

The basic template (you can find a copy to download here) is a table that learners fill in themselves. It can be used for almost ANY language point.

info gap picture

For example, a few months ago I used the template to practice “Do you have a………in your bedroom?“. Yesterday, with a class of 9-11 year olds we used it to ask about what they like doing in their free time “Do you………in your free time?”

It’s great for summer camp/school as there is virtually no prep (in fact you don’t even need to print out the template, you could get the learners to draw a table on scrap paper) and so versatile. Brilliant for busy summer schedules. AND communicative 😀 win win!

Step one

I had some lines drawn up on the board similar to the worksheet and elicited things that people do in their free time. These were written in the left had column.

As below, I wrote them exactly as the learners called them out. e.g. if they called out ‘TV’, I simply wrote TV. But if they called out ‘read comics’, then I wrote read comics.

info gap eg1

Step two

I then handed out the worksheet (see above to download a template) and asked students to write as many free time activities as they could think of. I encouraged them to choose their own and highlighted they don’t need to be the same as mine or the person next to them. If anyone needed help with a word or spelling, I wrote it on the board in case anyone else in the class also wanted to use that activity.

Once a few students had a full sheet, I asked them all to stop and reassured the others it didn’t matter if they didn’t have a complete sheet, as long as they had some.

Step three

I then directed the learners back to the board (I had my learners sitting on chairs in a horseshoe shape near the board with nothing but the paper and a pen, but this isn’t necessary).

I wrote my name in the first column and asked them to guess if I liked doing those activities. If they said yes I put a tick in the in the first column under my name and if they said no, a cross. I made it obvious I wasn’t going to tell them the answer yet. It was just a guess.

I then wrote one of the students names in the next column and told the class my guesses for the student – pointing out that he shouldn’t tell me the answer yet.

infogap eg2

Step four

I asked the learners to write names of other students int he class in each of the boxes in the top row. I monitored to make sure they were writing in the right place.

Once a handful of people had finished I asked them to stop and again reassured them it didn’t matter if they hadn’t finished, as long as they had at least a few names.

Step five

I gave the learners a time limit to fill in their guesses with ticks and crosses and monitored to check they were in the right columns.

Step six

I redirected the class back to the board and asked the class to check their guesses about me and see if they were right. I elicited full sentences e.g. Do you read comics in your free time? and made sure to drill and board any sentences or vocabulary they had difficulty with. I also modelled and boarded Yes, I do. No, I don’t.

As I did this, I demonstrated how to put my answer in the right hand side column under my name. Once this was done I told them how many guesses they had right.

I then did the same for the student example and highlighted the things we had in common.

info gap eg 3

Step seven

I did one last drill of some questions using a couple of the learners chosen activities as examples, and then CCQs to check they knew what they had to do before setting them off to walk around the room and check to see if their guesses were correct. It was class of boys and they gave each other high fives each time they got a guess correct. They were fully engaged and using only English, even to high five. best of all, as they really enjoyed the activity and completed it successfully, it really boosted their confidence. They were really proud to have used only English for such a long time as well as complete mini exchanges with each other. I also encouraged them as I was monitoring to ask further questions if they wanted to e.g. “I play football too, who do you play for?” and boarded some of the phrases.

Step eight

We sat in a circle and talked about how many guesses we got correct, which answers were surprising, and which people had similar interests to us.

There are loads of possible follow ups. Writing a reports, drawing some graphs of pie charts, making a poster, giving a talk about what they learnt etc. I hope your learners like it too.

Enjoy!

 

Until next time….

 

 

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Super Simple Summer Activities Series: Pt 1

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Super Simple Summer Activities Series: Pt 1

1

3 activities to whet your appetite – more to come!

It’s that time of year again when many of us TEFLers are off at a summer camp or summer school. Our goals tend to be more communicative, the atmosphere more relaxed, our learners more energised. We may also have additional activities like sports afternoons and drama clubs etc.

Are you teaching YL this summer?

Do you have…

  • Large classes?
  • Mixed Ability?
  • High spirited kids on “holiday” with energy to burn?
  • No time or energy for anything that isn’t super simple and super easy to prepare?

I’ve got you covered with these no-fuss, low(to no)-prep, faithful old favourites.

Port – Starboard 

starboard_port_1_large_320wide

Picture source: https://www1.toronto.ca

 

What: Listen and do game

Who: Great for 7-11, but any age really

Resources needed: None, just space

As a kid this was one of my favourite games at summer camps. The basic premise is that a teacher/leader calls out prompts. The students do the appropriate action. E.g. leader calls out “port!” and the students run to the left of the room. Leader calls out “Starboard” and the students run to the right of the room etc. Last one to do the action is out. Last person standing is the winner. Simple. Adaptable. Fun. Super!

Upon googling this fabulous game I stumbled across this amazing resource , a list of different actions and extra ideas for the basic game.

I love the original game, but I love how the basic premise is so adaptable. Last week my 8 year old learners were doing animals and habitats but had so much energy to burn they could have run a marathon. We played our own version of port-starboard with connected animal and habitat vocabulary. It was a real hit!

Zombie

zombie

What: Vocabulary drilling with a difference

Who: 3-8 love it, but no reason you can’t go older.

Resources needed: Flashcards*

*Don’t have flashcards? No problem. Students could draw the pictures. Students could write the words on a slip of paper. No paper no pens? Also no problem. Students could choose an action and act out the word they are allocated (or choose).

The first time I did this with my pre-schoolers (as they were zombie obsessed) I had no idea it would become such a hit.

  • All students stand in a circle facing other (but could equally be scattered around a room or garden). Each student has a flashcard.
  • One student in the middle is the Zombie.
  • The student in the middle holds their arms up like a zombie and walks toward any other student. But, they must chant the word for the card that student has over and over in a zombie like voice. e.g. “appppplleee….apppllleee…apppllleee”
  • The child holding the apple card needs to say the name of another item being held up by another student.
  • If the student says another word before the zombie reaches and touches them, the zombie must change directions and head for the new word, again, chanting the new word. If the zombie touches the student before they say one of the words another student is holding, they become the zombie.

Super easy. Super adaptable. Super fun.

Enjoy!

Fruit Salad

fresh-fruit-salad-11284477825iWun

What: Vocabulary or grammar game

Who: All ages depending on how it’s adapted

Resources needed: Chairs

I think everyone knows this game, right? But maybe by a different name? It’s an oldie but a goody. and SO so easy to set up, play, adapt.

Students sit on chairs in a circle. There should be one fewer chairs than students and the student without a chair stands in the centre of the circle.

In the simplest version of the game the teacher would allocate different fruits to the children. e.g. walk around saying pear, banana, apple, orange, pear, banana, apple, orange until everyone is given a fruit. The child in the middle then calls out a fruit. e.g. “banana” and all the bananas must stand up and change seats. Meanwhile the child in the middle runs to an empty chair. The child left without a seat is the next to call out a fruit. for added fun, if the centre child calls out “fruit salad!“, EVERYONE must stand up and run.

I like to use this at the beginning of summer programmes to work out what learners can and can’t do. I get them to say anything at all about themselves and students, for whom the information is also true, get up and change. e.g. “I have a brother” “I like chocolate”. 

It’s so easy to adapt. Anything from “Stand up if you’re wearing blue”, “I’ve never been to Paris”, to “This time next week I’ll be on holiday”. Vocabulary and structures practices are only limited by the teacher’s imagination.

Enjoy!

Extra

If you do have time for a bit more prep, here is a summer school/camp idea from last year. Especially good for dog lovers!

Panic in the UK! Easter lesson plan

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Panic in the UK! Easter lesson plan

It’s been about, I dunno, 300 hundred years since I wrote a blog post? I just haven’t had time. But…I’ve been meaning to for a looooong time, so when yesterday my learners told me they loved the lesson, I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to finally post something here.

An Easter lesson plan (and materials). Enjoy!

Easter News Lesson Plan

This lesson was originally planned for high level 8-10 yr olds

 

  • Warmer – set up

Write on the board: Noun, Verb, Adjective and elicit examples from the learners

Option 1: Board Race (learners are put in teams and take it in turns to write as many words as they can)

Option 2: Like the board race but the teams write on paper at their tables

Option 3: ‘Scattergories/ Stop the bus’. Learners divide a piece of paper into columns with a category at the top of each column. They are then given a letter and a time limit to write as many words as they can in each column starting with that letter

Categories for the above options are; noun, verb, adjective, Easter, wild card (any word in English).

 

  • Page 1

DO NOT tell learners what is coming next. Given them page 1 and ask them to fill in the words quickly – the first words that come to mind. Monitor and help as necessary e.g. they might ask what a ‘type of home’ means. But do not tell them which words to write. Fast finishers can help their classmates think of words, but otherwise the activity should be done individually

You can find page 1, here Easter News Page 1

Page 1

  • Page 2

Tell the learners to stop what they are doing (making sure they are finished) and come to the front of the class and to gather around as you have some news to tell them. Whisper to them that you have just heard that the Easter Bunny is missing and the police don’t know what has happened to him. Hold up Page 2 and give instructions for them to complete it (they should write their words in the gaps – exactly e.g. if it says the Easter Donkey delivers Easter tables, great 😀 Fast finishers can draw a picture in the box.

You can find page 2, here Easter News page 2

Page 2

 

To create page 2, I used https://www.presentationmagazine.com/editable-powerpoint-newspapers-407.htm

 

  • Share

The learners will no doubt want to share their funny stories. This can be done with their partner, in groups, or one by one with the whole class if the group is small enough and time permits.

 

  • Follow up

Elicit from the learners what might have happened to the Easter bunny. At this stage you might want to board ideas or start a concept map. Set up a writing activity in your preferred way (concept maps, building blocks etc). Learners either individually or in groups/pairs write either a follow up news report.

Alternatives: a story/narrative of what happened, a note/letter found at the scene written by the Easter bunny or kidnapper/someone with more information, the Easter bunny’s diary leading up to the disappearance, predictions about what will happen Easter weekend if the Easter bunny isn’t found, a police line-up of possible suspects (e.g. Jealous Santa, an anti-sugar Mummy, ETA, a mad scientist), a play or puppet show acting out what happened, an interview (e.g. a news reporter and witnesses, a news reporter and the Easter bunny after being found, a news reporter and police), a comic portraying the events……

 

Until next time…..

 

Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?

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Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?

It’s been a looooong time since I posted. I had intended to write up some summer school posts, but, well, I got a hole in my leg (no, really) and life got silly. Instead I’m going to recommend that anyone needing to survive summer school check out The Best Ticher. Elly has written a whole series of posts on surviving summer school that are well worth the read. However, seeing her mention dictation gave me an idea for a very quick post.

A cute lesson idea for Summer Camp/School: Dog Dictagloss

I no longer coordinate my school’s Summer Camp, but I do help a bit by giving teachers tips and writing the syllabus. A teacher came to me last week saying “Kylie!!!! Narrative tenses? I thought you said camp lessons were more fun? How on earth do I make that engaging and fun?” Firstly I pointed out to him that it was there to prepare them for a story telling project and that he should think of it as a  ‘preparing for story telling’ lesson rather than ‘narrative tenses’ to change his mindset. Then together we put together a rough outline for what we both think will be a fab lesson. Basically the lesson is a dictagloss. Because who doesn’t love a dictagloss for narrative tenses? I know what you’re thinking ‘Come on Kylie, kids will hate all that grammar’. But wait, the story for the dictagloss? The adventures of his pet dogs. We discussed the possibility of the dogs being secret agents (like my friend Anne’s cats in her published series of books), but I’m not sure if Mr Teacher is going to go with that or just an adventure. Anyway, here is our rough idea. Enjoy! And let me know what you think, will his lesson be great?

Step 1. Mr Teacher is going to show the class pictures of his pet dog photo-shopped into various holiday snaps, tell the students he woke one morning to find his dog gone and then each day received these photos. EDIT: Pictures now added below. Soooo cute! Are yo n love with his dogs like I am?

Step 2. Using the photos, the students brainstorm and try to guess where the dog went, why, what happened etc

Step 3. Mr Teacher reads his story very quickly for the students to check their predictions.

Step 4. Mr Teacher reads the story again, fairly quickly, not too quickly, certainly not as slow as a regular dictation though, and the students must write it down. Mr Teacher will be sure to point out to the students that they wont have time to write down every word, so they must write down key words and leave spaces to fill in the rest later.

Step 5. Once Mr Teacher is done reading the story, students get some time to think about the gaps and fill in what they can.

Step 6. Students get in pairs or groups and compare and together work to fill in the gaps.

Step 7. All students come to the board and together write the story out on the board. Mr Teacher may or may not draw a time line to help them. Then comes feedback eliciting and drawing their attention to time references etc.

Step 8. Controlled practice. Mr Teacher gets students to guess what happens next. Then gives gapped sentences (verbally), holding up a verb card when he gets to the gap. A bit like a pub quiz, teams write down the verb in the right form then after the sentences see which team/pair got the most right and during feedback elicit why etc.

Step 9. Freer practice. Students write the first sentence of a story about their own pet going on an adventure. e.g. This is the story of  XXXXX the XXXXX and his/her big adventure  

They then pass this piece of paper to the student to their left who writes the second sentence. That student writes the next sentence, but then folds down the first sentence before passing to the next person. As the paper goes around the students only see the last sentence written. By the end of the paper, the story is a nonsense story, but hopefully funny. When the student gets their story back they can check the verb forms.

oscar-cape-town

When I googled ‘dog on holiday’ to try find a picture to accompany this post, I found this blog kick ass trips, and  a website that could be a great inspiration for such a lesson, World Woof Tour 

Picture source: http://kickasstrips.com/2013/12/oscar-the-dog-travels-the-globe-in-his-world-woof-tour/

 

Mr Teacher, AKA Charles Stewart, has promised to fill me in post-lesson how it went and what he ended up doing. The above was just our staff room brainstorm.

If you have any blog posts about summer camp/ school you’d like to share, I’d love to share them for you here. Have a great Tuesday!

Until next time…..

EDIT: Charles has been kind enough to share the pictures his partner created for him for his doggy dictagloss. So let me introduce you to Pierre and Larson, below. They going to be accompanied by postcards with paw prints on the back. Awwww. Enjoy!

The 12 Days of Managing VYL Classes

The 12 Days of Managing VYL Classes

The 12 Days of Christmas Managing VYL:

12 Ways I try to ensure my lessons are the sparkliest thing in my VYL classrooms.

One of the toughest things about teaching little people is that, well, they behave like little people!

 
Not long ago I promised the ‘Teaching Very Young Learners’ Facebook group a Christmas gift. So here it is (albeit a little late). I’m sharing 12 things that have helped me over the years to improve my classroom management.

 
No matter how competent and confident you are with your teaching in general, Very Young Learners are not Adults or Young Learners. And teaching VYL is not the same as teaching other groups. Far from it. And it’s much easier to cope with a 5 yr old (and indeed 2, 3, 4, 6 year old) behaving like a 5 year old when you’re able to anticipate it. Learning a bit about early childhood development will help with both understanding their behaviour and also planning your lessons accordingly. Thus helping to avoid many of the classroom management issues us experienced VYL teachers know all too well. I therefore highly recommend to all those teaching VYL, particularly those new to the age group, taking a teacher development course like the International House IH VYL (Disclosure: I mention this particular course because I work for IHWO), or at least reading books, journals articles, blogs etc on the topic. Lesson planning is so very important for classroom management. All the tips in the world won’t help if the activities and language aren’t age appropriate.

 
But for now what you really want is for me to get on with said tips, right? Getting there.

 
You should know (so that you don’t reach the end disappointed) that this post isn’t a replacement for the above or even a list of classroom implications e.g. ‘They have short attention spans so keep activities short’ (Although I do have other blog posts for that – see links at the bottom of this post). It’s not even a list of activities that work well with this age group, sorry. I don’t have anything flashy, new of fancy to share.  Rather it’s a list of simple things that I have personally found to be effective for me, in my own classrooms.

 
Something else important to note, I called this the 12 days of managing VYL classes because I don’t think super efficient VYL classroom management something you should expect yourself to achieve overnight. Maybe not even in 12 lessons. It’s more realistic to try one thing at a time and slowly build your classroom management techniques with trial and error, tweaking as you go so that your techniques suit both you and your learners. Effective classroom management is a work in progress for all of us. With every new student, class, comes a new challenge, a new way of doing things.

 

WARNING: If you thought the introduction was lengthy. Get ready. Super long blog post ahead! Can you make it to number 12?

ONE

What: I take 5 minutes before the lesson starts to prep both myself and the room
I do my best (although sometimes with other lessons being taught immediately beforehand it’s not perfect) to arrive in plenty of time to set up the classroom and get organised. I don’t just mean moving tables around or taking flashcards out of my bag. I mean taking a moment to look around the classroom and visualise where I will stand for each part of the lesson and where the learners will be. What they will be doing. How they will be reacting. This includes managing my space, thinking about where I will do different things e.g. will I sit with my back to the board for the flashcard games? The back left corner with my back to the window for the story? And also placing the materials I will need for each task within easy reach. I might put my flashcards in a pile on the floor close to where I plan to sit, my story book on a back table or the window sill, some sticky tac on the board ready for a board race etc.
Why: It only takes a moment to lose them to a dried leaf on the bottom of their shoe. To say prevention is better than a cure is an understatement when teaching VYL and the proverb underpins almost every one of the below ideas.

Read the rest of this entry

Using songs and chants in the YL classroom

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wpid-fb_img_1426189219067.jpgBoom Chicka Boom!

Thank you to those of you who attended my session at the IH Torun Teacher Training Day, April 18 2015. You will find a link to the handout at the bottom of this post.

Literature is full of references to the efficacy of music as a tool for both first and second language acquisition, but are songs and chants utilized as much as they could be in the second language learning classroom? I’ve loved singing and music for as long as I can remember, and been interested in using them in the classroom since I stepped foot in one.

How do you feel about using songs in the YL Classroom?

YL coursebooks are full of songs and chants. And why not? Using songs and chants as a pedagogical tool to teach children language is a natural and logical choice. Singing is a natural and popular medium for both parent and child and by the time children come to us in the second language learning classroom, they are often already equipped with a catalogue of songs, chants, and rhymes. Children live in musical worlds. In fact, according to research, babies as early as in the womb pay more attention to singing than speaking and it’s suggested that from very early ages there is little distinction between singing and speech.

Are you happy to sing? Why? Why not?

According to Trinick (2012), Lee believes songs are not being used as much as they should be in the classroom and suggests the root may be that they are viewed purely as entertainment, or that teachers lack understanding into the theoretical underpinnings or application and methodology. Could it be as Carless and Douglas (2011) surmise that the significance of the ubiquity of songs goes unnoticed? Trinick (2012) concurs and cites Tracey, ‘there is a tendency to overlook familiar, everyday materials and resources’. As Rogers (no date) attests, literature ‘abounds with positive statements regarding the efficacy of music as a vehicle for first and second language acquisition’. Indeed countless resource books for teachers, coursebooks, TESOL websites and blogs proffer advice, activities and encouragement*. *See handout link for resource list

Are you ruling the TEFL world Beyonce style in your classroom? Or are you pressing play on the CD and hoping for the best?

Maybe you do want to sing in class, and it’s not that you’re afraid to, but you just:

• can’t be bothered • don’t have time (you do one at the end of the lesson if you need to fill in time)

• aren’t sure what songs to sing

• aren’t sure how to sing the songs

• aren’t sure how to teach the songs

• have never done it before

• hate the songs in the coursebooks

• would rather teach grammar and other important things

• are actually a T-rex and therefore can’t sing. Or clap.

I urge you to think about using songs and chants in the YL classroom.

Why?

‘Children love rhythm, music and movement, and it is widely recognised that the use of rhymes, chants and songs contribute to young children’s overall social, linguistic, physical, cognitive and emotional development. When starting to learn a foreign language, rhymes, chants and songs play a special role in drawing children into producing language in ways which are natural, spontaneous and enjoyable. As well as enhancing children’s learning and acquisition of language, the use of rhymes chants and songs promotes the development of positive attitudes and motivation towards learning a foreign language in both immediate and longer term. Give their many potential benefits for learning, there is a strong case for making rhymes, chants and songs a fully integrated component of any programme to learn English.’

(Read 2007)

How?

It’s all about confidence, enthusiasm and having fun. Songs and chants are perfect for the YL classroom as they present language in a fun and memorable way and allow our students to experiment with the sounds of English. Many teachers, however, despite being fully aware of the potential of songs and chants fall a little short because they lack the confidence to pull it off in the classroom. Confidence and enthusiasm is key. Students need to know the teacher feels good about the song in order for them to. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a little off key and no Mariah Carey. Chances are your students won’t notice or will feel more comfortable knowing you are normal just like them. What will stop your students joining in is if they see you aren’t 100% comfortable. It’s fine to have a CD player for back up. But don’t rely on it, and whatever you do don’t stand at the front of the class lip syncing and conducting (but not actually singing) expecting them to do all the work. If you are enthusiastic and singing along you are more likely to get them to join in.

Want to know more?

You can read my 5 tips for using songs in my YL Column in the next issue of the IH Journal here ihjournal.com

You can get a handout on Using Songs and Chants in the YL Classroom here Boomchickaboom_handout_April2015

I’d love to know how you feel about using songs and chants in the YL classroom.

Until next time!

CARLESS, David and DOUGLAS, Kitrina (2011). What’s in a song? how songs contribute to the communication of social science research. British journal of guidance & counselling, 39 (5), 439-454.

READ, Carol (2007). 500 activities for the primary classroom. Oxford, Macmillan. Macmillan Books for Teachers.

TRINICK, Robyn Margaret (2012). Sound and sight: The use of song to promote language learning. General music today, 25 (2), 5-10.

Children Learning English Affectively

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting and working with the wonderful Juan Uribe,

English Teacher, Storyteller, Methodology Cook, Puppeteacher, Dreamer with young learners, Teacher Educator, ELT Management Strategist, ELT Magician, Frog Collector, Kindergarten Pop Star…

and blogger extraordinaire at  ‘Children Learning English Affectively‘.

One of the best things about meeting Juan was getting to know his wonderful blog, so I am absolutely honored that he invted me to be interviewed and has published the interview here.

Thanks Juan and Buddy!

Juan and I in Konya, Turkey

Juan and I in Konya, Turkey

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