Thursday, 28 April 2011

Comb your Hair - Superman!!!

Another full class today with seven students attending. Students were given a task where they matched words with pictures, this enabled the class to understand and be prepared for vocabulary included in later activities. This was done in groups and all the points were effectively understood. We then focused on the form and situations where imperatives are used, in particular recipes. The students then put an omelette recipe in the right order with sentences on strips in a ‘sequencing’ activity, this was particularly tricky but they did very well to get all the strips in the right order. Next we looked at the actions included in a song we were going to dance to, we practiced the moves and then went into the song – a cheeky little number made some years ago called ‘Superman’ by Black Lace, a song where imperative instructions are given to dancers. Graham and I had wondered if the group would be willing to do this, the result was hilarious and everyone enjoyed it enormously. The lesson was then consolidated by asking the students; what had they studied, what is the form of the verb when using the imperative and in what situations are imperatives used.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Opposites and Comparatives - April 21st 2011

April 21st 2011

Opposites and Comparatives

In today’s lesson the target language was ‘opposites and comparatives’. Students began with an activity where they matched words to their opposites; in doing this the students used/activated their existing knowledge of the target language (corpora) in a hands on (task-based) activity, this was enjoyed and completed easily by the whole group. We moved on to the form and spelling rules of comparatives – students focused on this before practicing themselves on a second handout, when feeding back their answers to the class it was clear that they were ‘internalising’ the main points from the lesson. The students then practiced word order and structure of the target language, taking it in turns to use my laptop mouse to rearrange words in a ‘fridge magnet’ type activity projected on the screen.
By this time the group had a real grasp of the target language, how we structure sentences when we use it and had also worked hard on pronunciation. In a final activity we viewed one of our slideshows, exploiting the pictures for use of the target language. This made for a productive spoken activity with correct use of the target language and much laughter.

Graham has kindly devised a three-part English proficiency assessment to help us effectively identify where our students need help and Dawn got the ball rolling by assessing one of our learners with it. In analyzing the results we can offer well aimed help to this individual.

The materials Graham and I make are free to use, to say that we wouldn’t mind if anyone else used them would be a massive understatement – we’d be very flattered. 

Comparatives and Opposites

'Word-Magnets' is a great interactive tool that allows students to take turns using a wireless mouse, in this case to re-order words in sentences, this is projected onto a large screen, providing a task based activity that our students really enjoy, eagerly awaiting their turns. It also has basic practice of IT skills embedded in the task, with students being encouraged to use different functions of a pc mouse. 'WordMagnets' is part of the desktop resources, free at, providing students with productive kinaesthetic/hands-on activities.

Handout #1 - Comparatives

Comparatives and Opposites - 12 - Mixed Group Lesson Plan - 21-04-2011

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Word Search

Make Your Own Word Search

Comparing The United Kingdom to Eritrea.

Comparing The United Kingdom to Eritrea.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The ‘ee’ Sound - April 14th 2011

Create your own video slideshow at

April 14th 2011

Nine students attended today, our biggest group so far!! Today’s lesson focused on pronunciation as requested by our vocabulary super-star ‘Allana’. The whole lesson was built around the ‘ee’ sound. This provided lots of vocabulary old and new plus some excellent opportunities to exploit pictures for the target sound and general conversation. Once again I tried to find resources that were current, amusing and relevant. The large group worked really well with lots of busy discussion and the students welcomed the chance to practice pronunciation. There has been interest in some grammar focus for future lessons and Graham and I are working on it, we may need to split groups as we have been planning in order to offer more rigorous study for the higher level learners. In the slideshow the students absolutely laughed their heads off at the rapper’s trousers.

The Long 'ee' Handout

Long 'ee' sound - lesson plan

Friday, 8 April 2011

Talk Tidy Mun!!!

April 7th 2011

In today’s lesson we looked at Swansea/South Wales accents and phrases. Students had asked for help with this as they find that people speak very quickly here and are often very hard to understand, using colourful/unusual vocabulary. Most students know a few phrases already and clearly enjoy experimenting with them, giving me the opportunity to prepare for a relaxed, humorous but verbally productive lesson.
I’m actually from the East Midlands myself but I ‘thought’ that I had the Swansea accent nailed, until one of our students got the pronunciation I was modeling so spot on that I could hear someone from Nottingham trying to ‘talk tidy’. Well I had go anyway arrite? If you don’t like et, tuff inna? Everybody seemed to enjoy with lots of laughter, I tried to find relevant and funny pictures to elicit meanings of the vocabulary/phrases covered. The students watched and listened to a video of someone using various local accents, Their task was to firstly get the gist of the video and then to find more specific details, the group did really well although they had to listen really closely at times. Everybody had a go at all the words and phrases and hilarity ensued. Students made great efforts to use the target language in one of our regular slideshow-prompted conversations. I thank Ali for helping me realize what I really sound like, he works so hard in his efforts to improve his English, well done and sorry for the dodgy accent you’ve acquired.

Talk Tidy Mun!!

student vocab sheet

10 - mixed group lesson plan - 07-04-2011


Friday, 1 April 2011

Ago Vs Before - March 31st 2011

March 31st 2011

Graham and I had another full classroom today with 8 students attending. Today’s focus was on ‘before’ and ‘ago’, knowing when and how we use these can be difficult for learners of English and again we were able to provide help with something that the students had asked for themselves. Once the students were presented with how and when we use ‘ago’ and ‘before’ they soon began to use them correctly with very few errors. Space restrictions within the classroom means we can’t use a full-size whiteboard, by using a laptop and a projector we are able to present information, music and videos clearly, giving the students a media-rich experience. For a productive spoken part of the lesson I had resourced some new and old music videos from the countries of our students in order to promote the use of the target language. This went down really well with a lot of laughter at some very out-dated music and images. Students were saying things like; ‘This song was made before I was born’, ‘This was made 30 years ago’, and so on. What did come out of this were some very interesting facts about the singers. For example Allana, our Chinese student said “The Chinese singer actually fell in love with the actor Jackie Chan, but he wasn’t interested and she committed suicide”, we also learned about the ceremonies in which some of the songs were performed like marriage etc. We ALL learned something new, making for a very engaging group conversation where students were relaxed and speaking without any apparent anxiety in speaking English. The students made every effort to tie in the target language whenever possible with some help from myself and Graham. A very relaxed, informative and fun time was had by all – a real treat. In a short discussion at the end facilitated by Graham he was able to identify further areas of study that the students want, the main one being the use of slang and the local Swansea dialect and accent, Graham and I relish the thought of preparing for this – roll on next week!

Ago or Before

ago-before key

activity handout

09 - Mixed Group Lesson Plan - 31-03-2011

An Eritrean Song

A Yemeni Song

A Chinese Song - Teresa Teng

An Afghani Song

A short video of part of our class, kindly videoed by Graham. 
It has been speeded up intentionally ;-)

The student participation was excellent.  The lesson moved quickly where I had to adapt the lesson to include a speaking element. Shaima ended the lesson by being able to say “Hello, my name is Shaima and I live in Swansea”.

This wasn’t just a great achievement for her, but for me also.  I felt that after all these weeks, we are getting somewhere and the work is starting to show.  Her daughter said that her mother thinks my lessons are her life and they make her happy!

A quote from a service user; “Shaima’s English has improved immensely.  She couldn’t speak a word when she arrived, but now she is trying to converse with the odd word and sentence”.

Overall, a very happy day for me as her teacher J