giovedì 26 febbraio 2015

Larissa and Inspector Z - Phrasal verbs with fun (part 2)

Last week I created the first episode of the comics series "Larissa and Inspector Z" My students and my followers enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue writing it.

This week the focus in on some phrasal verbs with GET.

How can you use it in class:

 Give your students a copy of this comic strips and ask your students the following questions:
- Where was James?
- Who kidnapped him? Why?
- What did James feel like?


Ask your students what will happen next.
*They can also write their ideas on a board on  so that next week will be able to check who was the nearest to the exact version.

Students create flashcards with the meaning of the new phrasal verbs learnt using (free mobile app, too).

Next week a new episode!

giovedì 19 febbraio 2015

Larissa and Inspector Z - Phrasal verbs with fun

In order to teach my upper-intermediate students some phrasal verbs useful for their Cambridge FCE exam I decided to create a comic series. Larissa and Inspector Z is a comic series which is useful for teaching and learning phrasal verbs in context with fun. I got inspired by the amazing Sylvia Guinan who wrote a post about using storytelling for teaching exam classes.
How can you use it in class:
1) Give your students a copy of this comic strips and ask your students to answer the following questions:
- Why did Larissa visit Inspector Z?
- What happened to James?
- What did Inspector Z find out?

2) In pairs students will try to work out the meaning of the six phrasal verbs. 
Get feedback from students. Write the phrasal verbs on the board with their definition/meaning so that everyone can see them.

3) Students predict what will happen next.

4)Homework: Students write sentences using the TL.

Next week a new episode!

domenica 1 febbraio 2015

The power of free mobile apps - No 2 ThingLink

Here I am with the second post of the series "The power of free mobile apps".

Today I'd like to share with you some activities your students can do by using ThingLink (available on Web, Apple Store and Google Play).

What is ThingLink?

 Choose or take a picture with your phone’s camera and add interactive tags on your image such as YouTube videos, videos from your phone’s camera, twitter handles and text.
You can share your pictures with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Email.
If you sign up on the website as a teacher you can create a class and get email and password for your students to use.

Register your students

You can manage your groups
Grammar - Free practice - beginners/elementary
If you are teaching present continuous students can practise the TL by describing the actions of the people in a picture. 
What I did: My adults students chose a painting they liked and they described it.
See an example here The Luncheon of the Boating Party

Literature -  Biography of a writer (any level)
[Remember you can add videos and links ;-) ]

CAMBRIDGE PET/PET for SCHOOLS - Speaking part 3
During this part the examiner gives you a colour photograph and you have to talk about it for about a minute.
Learners are often reluctant to speak in class especially shy students in large classes. By using ThingLink the learners can record their voice while describing the picture at home. 
What I have been doing: At the end of each class I ask my students to take a picture about the topic we have learnt in that session (e.g. sport, entertainment, the natural world, etc.) and describe it. In this way not only will they pratise their speaking skills for the exam but they will also revise the TL. 
[Remember that your video recording can be up to 30 seconds long so you must split your description in two parts]

If you have more ideas and activities to share I would love to post them here!

lunedì 12 gennaio 2015

The power of free mobile apps - No 1 PicCollage

Dear followers,

Happy New Year! 

I am so glad to be back! I'd like to start this new year with a new series of posts. If you have been following my blog for a while you will certainly know I love teaching by using both tech and daily life objects, that's why I am going to share with you my classroom experiences and ideas about a free mobile apps every month. 

Free mobile app No 1

Description from Itunes

"PicCollage is THE coolest collage-maker in town! Join 80 million people who use PicCollage to combine photos, Youtube videos, funky fonts, sassy stickers and cute cutouts to create the prettiest collages you'll ever see on a mobile device. We have stickers from Maroon 5, Beats Music, Universal Pictures, and LA-based independent designer, Sara M. Lyons. Check out our Contests section and create a visual response instead of just a plain text response. Share with your friends and followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and iMessage. You can also PRINT your collages into greeting cards or postcards to send to your loved ones anywhere in the world!"
Activity 1
Warm-up/Ice-breaker activity - level beginner
Ask learners to take pictures of the things around the classroom or the school they already know and then label them.

Activity 2 
Free practice (homework) - level elementary
After teaching countable & uncountable food nouns I asked my learners to take pictures of food items they had in their house. I asked them to create two different collages: one for countable nouns and the other for uncountable nouns.
This activity gave me the chance to check whether my learners had really understood the difference between countable & uncountable nouns since in their native language the distinction is not the same.
In this example one of my learners took pictures of countable nouns but as you can see there are three items which have uncountable nouns. 
How to give my learner effective feedback?
I shared this picture with all the other students without saying who had taken it. I told them that the collage was about countable nouns but there were three odd ones and they had 3 minutes to find them out. They worked in pairs and then we had collective feedback.

Activity 3 
Exam-oriented activity - Cambridge First for Schools (B2 level) Speaking part 2
From the Cambridge website - "The examiner gives you two photographs and asks you to talk about them. You have to speak for 1 minute without interruption and the interlocutor then asks the other candidate to comment on your photographs for about 30 seconds. The other candidate receives a different set of photographs and you have to listen and comment when they have finished speaking. The question you have to answer about your photographs is written at the top of the page to remind you what you should talk about."

As homework I asked my learners to take two pictures of people who were learning and put them together with PicCollage. When they came to the lesson I printed the pictures out and they swop the photos they had taken and they answered the following question:

What are the advantages of learning in these different ways?

If you have other ideas I will be pleased to add them here!

lunedì 24 novembre 2014

My first workshop and webinar - Experiences I want to make again and again

In the last few weeks I was really busy with my lessons but I made time for my first workshop and webinar.

1) Workshop - Teaching Teenagers: 4 Skills + 1 at the TESOL Italy's 39th National Convention

In this workshop I talked about how we can engage teen learners and how to create fun lesson plans which integrate the four linguistic skills, and at the same time, allow the students to learn job skills. I shared with the audience my series of lessons called "If I were a... JOB". The example I used was If I were a... mayor
However, before handing out my own lesson plan I showed them this slide and I asked to create their own lesson plan. While they were working in small groups I supervised and I noticed that the most difficult part was to integrate the skills with the aims. So I told them, "Be creative, don't be afraid of trying something new and you'll see that you and your students will have a lot of fun"!

Over the last few lessons my teen students and I have also tried out to be TV reporters and real estate agents and I hope to share my lesson plans soon with you. 

2) Webinar - Games in the English classroom hosted by Jason R Lavine (Fluency MC) and WizIQ.

I'd never been fond of teaching online because I'd always thought it was not my cup of tea but yesterday I completely changed my mind. I'd always believed I couldn't have enough interaction with the audience in a webinar but I was terribly wrong! Yesterday I had the chance to meet teachers from any part of the world and I was able to share my ideas with them. Moreover, at the end of webinar some of them even contacted me on social networks and we continued our conversation about teaching issues. 

I loved having this webinar also because I could talk about something I usually do with my students in my language studio. Playing games is so important to me because they add variety to the lesson, they make students feel relaxed and less worried about mistakes and finally we have a lot of fun!

If you wish to see the slides and the webinar recording please enroll here ;-)

I'd like to thank once again Jason for giving me this fantastic chance and introducing me to the world of online teaching!

sabato 18 ottobre 2014

Teaching for Exams? Have fun! - Gift bags

UPDATE: This blog post has been awarded for the 'Blog Award for Innovative Teaching Ideas' by Teaching English British Council.

A couple of days ago my mother and I were doing some spring cleaning in the basement when she told me to throw away a bunch of gift bags. I was walking to the bins when I stopped at once. "Why don't take these gift bags into the classroom?", I wondered. I had already heard about vocabulary bag activities in oder to revise words from the website  Teaching English British Council so I decided I could try to introduce these Realia objects in my classes. 

This is the activity I did with my students.

Aimed at learners who are training for the FCE/FCE for schools

Background: Use of English part 3/ Reading and Use of English part 3 (from 2015)
This task is called word formation and it focuses on candidates' knowledge of how prefixes, suffixes, internal changes and compounds are used in forming words. 

Number of students: 4
Number of gift bags: 4
(You can pair or group up students depending on your class)

1) Give each student (pair/group of students) a bag. Each bag corresponds to a grammar category:
a. nouns, 
b. verbs, 
c. adjectives, 
d. adverbs. 

2) Put in the centre of the desk  mixed-up sets of words which have the same root. 

A set of the cards I used in my lesson.

3) According to the number of words, tell students they have ___ minutes to pick up the words which belong to the grammar category they have been assigned and put them into their own bags.

4) When time is up call the students to come to the board with their bag. One category at time. 

5) Students call out the words while you copy them to the board so as everyone can take notes.  
IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG: If a student has put the word SURELY in the ADJECTIVE's bag, don't write it immediately in the right column but stick it on the board. 

6) At the end, when all the chart is filled up go back to the words which haven't been categorized yet and with the whole class classify them. The students will then take the words and put them into the right bag.

My students enjoyed a lot this activity above all when they had to choose which category the words belonged to. This activity also gave them the chance to do some peer-teaching. 

You can also use this activity if you want to teach vocabulary according to the grammar categories or with just two bags you can teach opposite words. 

Do you have more ideas to use gift bags in exam preparation classes? Please share them with me!

sabato 13 settembre 2014

#100happylearningenglishdays - a challenge to improve English through social media

If you like me teach adults you are certainly used to hearing something like, "I need to learn English, but I don't have enough time".

A few days ago I ran into this website whose slogan is 
and I immediately thought about my adult students who are always in a hurry when it comes to learning English. Why not challenge them to learn English for 100 days in a row? 

In order to take part to the #100happydays challenge people must take pictures of what makes them happy day by day and share it via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

As far as learning English is concerned there might be several types of challenges according to the level and the needs of the students.
I came up with the following ideas.

#1 Vocabulary - Students can take pictures of daily life items in order to learn their names.

#2 Grammar - Students can write the paradigms of irregular verbs. (E.g. TAKE-TOOK-TAKEN)

#3 Phrasal verbs - Students can write a new phrasal verb together with its meaning and an example. (They might add a picture if they want to.)
#4Idioms - Students can write a new idiom together with its meaning and an example. (They might add a funny picture.)
#5 Functional language - Students can write a question or a sentence that is useful for their communication with other people such as inviting someone to do something, suggesting something, apologizing, etc. E.g. DO YOU FANCY GOING TO THE CINEMA TONIGHT? (Maybe someone will reply and you will spend a great night out :) )

Why do I think it can work with a huge number of students?
People aged between 18 and 44 use social media more and more. They love to catch up with family and friends, share their experiences and feelings. In this way, learning English can be something that will make them feel cool.

What are the drawbacks of this challenge?
In my opinion students might be fed up with it after a week. Also the 100happydays website states that 71% of people failed to complete the challenge.

I hope my students and your students will love this challenge and will be able to win it!

If you can think of any other idea for the challenge, please share it with me!