Questions on a text – the other way round

Instead of confronting students with pre-fabricated questions on a text, why not have them create their own set of questions before reading a text? As an example I’ll use an article and a video from The Guardian’s website that cover the fascinating Mars One project, in which they search for volunteers to establish a human…More

Discussion Activity: ‘Googling in Exams’

This activity is based on a pro/con-article from The Guardian in which the two authors debate whether googling should be allowed in exams. For the exercise to work I cut the article in half giving each student only one side. I used the article as prompt and model for a pro/con discussion done in pairs.…More

Role Play Activity “Skype Translator”

Preparation: Watch the following video clip presenting the Microsoft’s new Skype Translator: LINK TO VIDEO Now read the following reaction of a journalist who could test the new app: This week I’ve been using the preview version of Microsoft’s Skype Translator. And it’s breathtaking. It’s like science fiction has come to life. I don’t speak…More

Twitter fiction in the classroom

On nanoism.net you’ll find stories of the shortest kind. Each story is comprised of not more than 140 characters – the length of a tweet. In the classroom I use the stories in two ways: – I like to print out a few dozen of the stories and stick them to the classroom walls. Now students  can…More

The Amazon Dash Button – a focus on language

As a follow-up on yesterday’s more content-driven lesson I’d like to share a few activities that are supposed to focus on language. They don’t come in the shape of traditional grammar activities, so it might be important to explain their aim to your students beforehand. Dictogloss Use the first three paragraphs of the text (124…More

Linking language input and output with chunks

This lesson is based on a funny and insightful animated short film call “What the internet is doing to our brains”. It is supposed to closely link language input and output. LINK TO VIDEO 1. Tell your students they will watch a film called “What the internet is doing to our brains” and ask them about…More

TPSPS on the Amazon Dash Button

Here’s a quick lesson on Amazon’s new Dash Button that follows the structure of “Think, Pair, Square, Pair, Share” (TPSPS). THINK: Watch the ad for the Amazon Dash Button. Could you imaging using such a button? What products would you use it for? PAIR: Share your ideas with a partner. Now read a newspaper article from…More

Prüfungsvorbereitung mit concept maps

Meine Abiturientinnen müssen in den Wochen vor dem Englischabitur in Partnerarbeit topical concept maps erstellen (jedes Paar nimmt sich EIN abiturrelevantes Thema vor). Die concept maps werden dann für alle vervielfältigt und als Gesprächsgrundlage für Kleingruppengespräche (4er-Gruppen) bzw. als Schreibanlässe oder schlicht als Lerngrundlage für Zuhause verwendet. Die Methode vereint Wortschatz- und Themenarbeit. Sie bietet…More

An online school bag

In a very interesting blog post Adam Steiner and Elizabeth Stringer-Keefe claimed that with the help of simple web tools teachers could end the “the-dog-ate-my-homework” excuse once and for all. Making homework and teacher instruction available online and using audio and video to enhance boring text seem a great way to facilitate access to “school…More

while doing something else …

Given the overwhelming evidence against the concept of multitasking I wonder why teacher training courses still seem to preach the dogma of while-viewing and while-listening activities. Why should we force students to multitask when studies suggest that multitasking is hindering learning and is detrimental to academic performance? Perhaps teachers are afraid they could come across as lazy…More

balanced teaching

This article by Michael Swan is from 2006, so it might be very old news for a lot of you. However, I discovered it just recently and was blown away by its simplicity and brilliance. Swan argues for an approach to teaching English that balances extensive, intensive and analyzed input and output. To me this…More

activity: using 2 short texts to get students speaking

This is a quick recipe for an activity that works with a range of topics and skill levels. It gets your students summing up a short text with the help of 5 chunks of language they extract from the text. ingredients: 2 short texts about interesting news items (My favorite source for these is Breakingnewsenglish.com)…More