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What’s in a word?

One concept – many ways…

I recently attended IHTOC3. The International House Teachers’ Online Conference. A biannual event and the third of its kind since it’s inception – organised by IHWO superstars Neil McMahon and Shaun Wilden. This time around it was available and free for all (not just IH staff) and we were treated to two full days of fantastic sessions including a closing plenary from the fabulous Jeremy Harmer.Image

As well as thoroughly enjoying being a participant, on the Saturday I moderated one of the sessions, and on the Friday I gave my own session on Social Media and YL.

Something interesting happened during a number of sessions. Something almost as interesting as the (very exciting) launch of ‘MY Words’, the new IHWO App for students (check it out, seriously, check it out, it’s very cool). Participants picked up on certain words, got quite excited about them, and just ran with it. For example, during Shaun Wilden‘s (great) session, we all loved and got carried away over the word chimping (who doesn’t love a word that is new and sounds silly?) and during my session many commented on my use of the word ubiquitous when describing social media. At first I was taken aback as I thought the word itself was ubiquitous and didn’t get why it was singled out. After all, it’s not new or funny like ‘chimping’? But then I remembered the concept of ‘favourite words’.

We all have favourite words don’t we? Words that sound funny, sound nice, mean something nice, or just look good on paper. I’ve always like the words ‘fabulous’ and ‘splendid’, as to me, the word fabulous sounds fabulous when you say it and the word splendid sounds splendid when you say it. I also have words I hate. Crisps. Eww! I hate saying it. I hate hearing it. I hate the way it looks on paper. I much prefer the Aussie ‘chips’.

Every year I do a Vocabulary workshop for new teachers at IH Prague. At the beginning of the workshop I ask the teachers to write down their favourite word on a slip of paper (an idea I got from Shaun Wilden many years ago). I then use those words to demonstrate a whole range of vocabulary activities and games to use in class. Every year it’s fun. But 2 years ago was the best. 2 years ago the favourite word belonging to one of the teachers was new to many of us. It sounded funny, it had an explanation that made many of us blush, and it was promptly followed by an array of interesting uses, conjugations and jokes etc.  Participants couldn’t get enough of using this ‘funny & new’ word. In fact, many of the teachers still joke and laugh about it. (The word was clunge – thank you, your awesomess, aka Perran).

Since words are so ubiquitous and so much fun, I’ve decided to write a post for you to chimp around, with some basic ideas for every age group to help us take advantage of our fascination with words.

Favourite word (4-8)

ImageThe lower end of this age group won’t necessarily understand the concept of ‘favourite word’ in the same way we do, but they appreciate things that sound funny.

Get each learner to choose their favourite English word.

Choose a simple nursery Rhyme e.g. Baa Baa Black Sheep or London Bridge

Children sing the song repeating the ‘favourite word’ throughout. I once had a 7 yr old who loved the word ‘hat’ he loved saying it over and over and loved drawing hats on everything. Any team games he wanted the team name ‘hat’ or ‘Mr hat’.

So his song would be…

(To the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep)

Hat Hat Hat Hat hat-hat-hat-hat HAT! Hat-Hat Hat-Hat Hat Hat HAT!

Mine might be…

Fabulous Fabulous Fabu fabu fabulous, fabulous fabulous fab fab fabulous!

The whole class sings each song, then the next child’s song and the next until each child’s word song has been sung.

WHY? The children will like the repetition, they’ll like to hear their own song, it’s a nice way to experiment with the sounds of English, it’s fun and most of all it’s silly! and who doesn’t love silly?

Favourite word (6-10)

This age group is more likely to understand the concept of having a favourite word, but might be lacking the linguistic knowledge and skills to use it. This age group generally love drawing and being creative, so why not utilize that.

GetImage the students to ‘draw’ their favourite word. They can make big posters using decorative lettering or pictures (e.g. use drawings of snakes to letter the word snakes) or they can draw pictures around the word. They could even write their favourite word over and over again to make a picture.

Students can give presentations about their favourite word. They can ‘teach’ the class their word – pronunciation, spelling etc. You could have a spelling bee with all the favourite words?

Put all the posters on the wall.Image

Encourage other students to use the ‘favourite words’ when giving examples of language in other lessons. e.g. ‘I like snakes’ ‘I saw a snake’ ‘Snakes can’t run’ etc

Why not use a program like wordle and put all the students favourite words into a poster.

‘Favourite words can be updated each week, month, unit of the class book, semester… Whatever suits.

WHY? It gets the learners interested in words. The shape of words, the way they look and sound and that they can be fun.

Favourite word (8-12)

8 to 12 yr olds are more likely to be able to use favourite words and have some fun with them, but why not use their ‘favourite word’ to teach other words?

Students write (their own) sentences using new vocabulary learnt in a lesson.

They then replace the new vocabulary with their ‘favourte word’.

Students read out their sentences (or write them on the board) for the rest of the class to get the ‘hidden word’. e.g. if my favourite word is ‘monkey’, can you guess the ‘hidden words’ below?

A tiger can monkey fast, but it can’t monkey

Yesterday I went monkeying at the beach.

I like to monkey TV

She monkeys a book every night.

You can chose not to conjugate the favourite word as it often doesn’t make sense – see above. But I find the students like it more when it doesn’t make sense and like to play around with the endings.

WHY? It’s a fun way to practice using words.

Favourite word (12-18 and beyond)

Get the students to write their favourite word down on a small square of paper and there you have it. A million and one potential vocabulary activities. The ideas are only limited to your imagination.

1. Get the students to write 3 words they associate with that word and play taboo

2. Get students to mingle and describe their word and other students must guess it.

3. Get students to tell each other why it’s their favourite word.

4. Students write description for a class crossword to exchange with another class.

5. Students are given a topic to talk about for one minute (randomly) then either their own favourite word or another students. While they speak they must include the ‘favourite word’ (which should be unknown at this point). The rest of the class tries to guess what the word is.

6. Get students to teach the class their word including all aspects of it e.g. meaning, use, pronunciation, spelling, part of speech, C vs U word families, synonyms,antonyms, idioms using the word…the list goes on

7. Pexeso (Pelmanism). My favourite. All cards (words on paper) are face down and shuffled around.  Students choose two pieces and turn them over. To win the pair students must use both words in a sentence.

If you have teen favourite words (or new teachers’) you’re likely to get some funny and interesting ones and this activity can be challenging and good for a laugh. During my ‘clunge’ workshop, one poor teacher turned over ‘scarlet’ (the colour of my face at this point) and ‘sphincter’ (and the new teachers seemed like such a nice lot). The poor teacher who’d turned these words over was Czech and had never heard either of these words.I don’t think she’ll forget them in a hurry.

WHY? Personalising a lesson with favourite words creates interest, prompts discussions, and paves the way for memorable moments. It facilitates learning and it’s fun.

There is (almost) nothing better than having students interested in words. Learning new words. Remembering new words. Using new words. Right?

So why not start using favourite words in class? and don’t forget to get your students to download the new IHWO My Words APP to record all these new words.

Until next time….

IHWO TOC3

IHWO TOC3

It’s free! It’s online! It’s fabulous!

Come and join me and 20 other speakers at the International House World Teachers Online Conference.

Friday November 2nd – Saturday Novemebr 3rd

 

I’ll be talking about Social Media and YL.

 

Facebooking without facebook

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy. I’ve been lazy. I’ve been having babies! (no really!), but that’s not what I want to talk about. I have something else to tell you. A confession of sorts…..

My name is Kylie, and I am a facebooker!

I message my friends and family back home in OZ, I message my friends who live only minutes away here in Prague, I post events, I post photos, I look at other people’s photos, I share memes and articles, I post meaningless status updates, I ‘like’ lots of things, I have a wee bit of a George Takei obsession, I DON’T play games (so please don’t send me any more farmville or whateverville requests) and I generally spend far too much time facebooking. I tend to have a facebook tab open whenever I’m online and it’s become a part of my life. I wake up, make coffee, check facebook, check email, shower, check facebook…

I recently read an article (posted on facebook to one the TEFLy groups that I ‘like’) called 100 ways to Use Facebook in your Classroom and another article (on yet another group I ‘like’) titled ‘School Use Facebook Timeline for History Lessons‘. This got me thinking….

I think it’s a great idea to bring something that our students use every day, like social media, into the classroom, but what if;

Our YLs are under 13? (which means that technically they shouldn’t be on facebook, but probably already are, and let’s face it, they often aren’t as interested in the ‘kiddy’ versions of social media sites)

You don’t have internet access in your classroom?

Technology makes you nervous?

Power cut? Internet down?

Can’t be bothered reading the impressive but somewhat excessive 100?

Well, never fear, I have a list just for you….

5 ways to facebook without facebook

All you need is pen, paper, and a little bit of imagination.

1. Paper profiles
OK…I’ve mentioned this before. But it’s really a goodin. Get YLs to create paper based profiles which can be stuck around the room for other learners to read and comment on. (Click on this campbook link to see the version I use each year for internetless Summer Camp and read more about it here). Each time the page is full, another page is added (leaving the top half visible).

Alternatively, students can create a paper facebook page for a celebrity or fictional character.

2. Get ‘liking’
Put projects, homework, any work up on the wall for other students to ‘like’ and/ or comment on (encouraging and modelling positive comments).

3. Messaging
Again, I’ve mentioned this idea before. Students write each other messages on paper. The teacher acts as the server and hands them to whomever they’re addressed to. All notes must be in English. Message could be anything from social chit chat to peer support e.g. ‘Anna, What’s the answer to question 5?’ You might even want to stipulate certain vocabulary or structures for that day’s messages?

4. Interest groups
In groups (or individually), students create a group interest page (poster) which can be added to through the term, liked, commented on.

5. TEFLville
Create your own Farmville type games. Students can earn money/ points by completing tasks, good behaviour, helping others, doing homework, speaking English in class etc and use this to build farms/ cafes/ intergalactic empires or whatever you think your class might enjoy. Get the class involved in creating the game.

This is only a basic list that I came up with very quickly. The possibilities are endless! and only limited to your imagination. I’d love to hear your ideas for using facebook without facebook?

Interested in reading more about Social Media and ELT? Try this link to a fabulous post shared with me recently on yep, you guessed it, facebook!.

Happy Facebooking!

Until next time….

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