Wednesday, 19 September 2012


An ESOL lesson aimed at improving learners' use of spelling codes used by businesses and authorities.

  • vocabulary
  • spelling
  • pronunciation
  • conveying correct information
Learners will internalise/connect with the vocabulary and convey important information clearly and effectively.

Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet - Worksheets Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet - Lesson Slideshow

These materials are free to use and modify :-)

Friday, 6 July 2012


This activity was inspired by Jamie Keddie at After using a couple of his lessons where L2> L1>L2 translation is used, it was obvious that our learners really enjoyed the activity. Not only does this method focus on the target language but it gives us an excellent opportunity to celebrate the many varied and wonderful languages in our group. In formal ESL lessons learners are usually deterred from using their own languages (L1) and encouraged to use only English (L2). In this activity learners sit in their own language groups and collaborate with the translations which I think helps them to relax and to enjoy working and learning together. We all attempt to say phrases in each other's languages which is interesting, challenging and often quite funny. That said, the target language is effectively dealt with and with good results too.

This activity uses translation to encourage students to notice the difference between uses of the modal verb 'must'. The activity uses 20 phrases with images to supply the language for study.

Lead in
Ask the learners to make 3 sentences each using the word 'must' (2 minutes). Learners feedback answers to the class and discuss the meaning of 'must'.

Present differing uses of 'must' using the board and provided worksheet.

Explain that phrases and images will be shown and instruct learners to translate the phrases into their own language, it is very important that the students DO NOT write anything in English at this point. Encourage the learners to think about what function 'must' has in each phrase. Get the learners to compare some of the words in their own languages (I particularly like asking some of our Arabic speakers to say words in Chinese and visa versa - lots of fun and giggles).
Once the slideshow is finished ask the learners to translate the phrases back into English.

In order to check answers and get feedback from the learners I use the interactive white board to slowly reveal the phrases accompanying the images. Take this opportunity to correct any errors and drill pronunciation when needed.

Modal Verb - MUST - Slideshow

Modal Verb- Must - Worksheets

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Space Bar

Once again, a video that I stumbled upon on the Vimeo website has helped provide some engaging (hopefully) focus on certain language points, words and their varied usage. 'Everynone' make and post wonderful videos that are definitely worth a watch. This video struck me as the words focussed on subtly change through the video, which I thought would be a fun and energetic activity for the learners to shout out the phrases and determine when the words/ideas change. There are only a few words in the video but the vocabulary and usage surrounding them provides much more in-depth focus and practise of numerous language points.


Introduce the Theme - Write 'run' on the board and ask the learners to provide different uses for the word. (runny nose, running late, gun runner etc.) This helps us to clarify that we are going to focus on different uses of certain words.

Vocabulary and Language focus - Using a slideshow get learners to elicit different uses of the words presented. I'm lucky to have smartboard software which allows me to slowly reveal words/phrases that the learners enjoy trying to guess. There are quite a few slides, so to avoid too much 'teacher talk time' encourage the learners to lead the activity, guess and reveal the words. Help with any pronunciation when needed. 

Video Viewing/Game/Review - Learners watch the video, shout out the different words/phrases as they appear. They should also shout out when the word focus changes in the video. Finally hand out the vocabulary list for further home-study.

Re:WORDS from Everynone on Vimeo.

This slideshow can be used/viewed in full-screen mode or downloaded as a PDF file

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Dapper Gents Inquire Within

By far one of the most enjoyable things about teaching English is finding/stumbling upon something amusing and/or interesting to exploit for language acquisition in the classroom. I immediately felt this video would be enjoyable for our learners and could provide focus on relevant language points related to job hunting, appearances and feelings involved when desperately trying to find work.

Stage 1 - Introduce the theme
Learners are asked to discuss in groups what their experiences are/have been in looking for work in the current financial climate and local area. Opinions and ideas are fed back to the class with some discussion.

Stage 2 - Vocabulary focus
Using a worksheet (provided below) students match new words with their definitions, for this activity learners are encouraged to use mobile devices/laptops/PCs in the classroom to search the Internet. Whilst many of our learners are aware of how to translate language on-line and seek info related to their studies, there's always a few that find this kind of activity very useful/enlightening. With this it is the intention to embed some ICT skills into the activity, enabling learners to better use available resources for self study. Answers are then fed-back and checked with the whole class with some pronunciation focus as necessary. 

Stage 3 - Video Viewing
First viewing - Prediction Activity. With the provided vocabulary list students are asked to predict what the following video might be about, ideas/answers are then fed back to the class.  
Second viewing - Extracting particular information with guided practise of the target language. Learners are set the task of finding answers/vocabulary in the second viewing of the video, answers fed back to the class.

Stage 4 - Free Practise of the target language.
Learners are set the task of writing 1 or 2 paragraphs about their own experiences in looking for work. Teacher circulates and helps when needed. Errors are noted to be used as a peer correction activity at the end of the class. Learners read each other's work, noting any vocabulary/ideas that they like and feed these back to the class.

Final Stage - Consolidation 
Noted errors are presented on the board and the class works together to make corrections. Review what we've covered in the class and discuss likes/dislikes and new ideas/vocabulary.

Lesson Worksheets

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Good food ends with good talk

 Food is our common ground, a universal experience.
James Beard

The objective of this lesson is to familiarise our learners with language used for making and following recipe instructions. The video used stars a lovely Welsh lady called Betty who shows us how to make traditional and delicious Welsh cakes whilst explaining some history around the recipe. This gives our learners some relevant focus on the language used in cooking AND listening practise relevant to the local dialect where our learners live and strive to communicate. Extension/homework activities will hopefully enable us to create a recipe book with some of the dishes from around the world that we are very lucky to eat at the Unity in Diversity group.

Areas of Focus
  • Food/Cooking Vocabulary
  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Writing

Stage 1 - Introduce the Theme
Learners are shown pictures of a bake stone, a Welsh miner and some ladies in traditional Welsh costumes. The learners look at the pictures and describe what they can see, hopefully making some connection between the images. I found the the picture of a bake stone to be very interesting as I know that these are used all over the world, especially in some of the places where our learners come from. This activity helps us introduce the theme of 'cooking', the learners make note of what they can see and feedback to the class.

Stage 2 - Vocabulary Focus
A collection of images are projected on the board and learners match their vocabulary provided on a worksheet with the images. Answers are then fed back to the class with focus on pronunciation.

Stage 3 - Listening practise (dialect and target language)
The learners are given a set of questions and set the task of first reading the questions in their groups working together to understand what they need to listen for in the upcoming video and then watching the video and answering the questions. Answers are fed back to the class with focus on the language points and pronunciation.

Stage 4 - Reading & Comprehension (further guided practise of the target language)
Learners take 10 minutes to read a Welsh cake recipe and then complete a gap fill activity.

Final stage - Making their own recipes
The learners talk about and make notes on recipes they'd like to make with the teacher circulating/helping with any problem words before starting to make their recipes - these will be finished as homework and fed back in an extension to this lesson.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Do animals speak different languages?

the use of words that sound like the thing that they are describing, for example 'hiss' or 'boom'
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

Do animals really speak different languages?
Click on the image to see some wonderful examples of onomatopoeic animal noises in different languages. These are provided on the University of Adelaide website.

I thought that planning a lesson around this idea would provide some well-deserved fun activities for our learners as they have worked hard in the last two lessons on their writing, whilst also having good focus on vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation.

We had a lot of fun exploring how we use words to immitate sounds. It's very interesting and often amusing to find that these words can be very different in other languages. Whilst our main focus is on the English language we were also able to appreciate the wonderful (and very amusing) differences amongst the several languages within the class.


Introduce the topic
Focusing on a picture of a large ornate gong on the board, students were asked what this is in their own languages. The variations were quite noticable but students immediately understood that although there were some differences we can see that the words in some way represent the sound a gong makes. This helped the learners to understand the topic of the lesson.

Learn new vocabulary
The learners were given the task of matching words with the correct pictures on a handout, first working individually, then they compared their choices in their groups before feeding back their answers to the whole class. After drilling pronunciation we moved on to the next activity.

Focus on selected onamatapaeic words (activating the vocabulary through guided practice)
Using a slideshow students were first shown an image and asked what words they would use in their own language to describe the sound, variations were fed back to the class and then the English version was presented, we then focused on the phonetic quality of the words and drilled pronunciation. Working together sentences were elicited and discussed using these words. This was repeated with all 19 onamatapeic words chosen for the lesson. We had a lot of fun using the words together, creating 'flocks' of sheep/ducks and 'packs' of dogs and so on. This was greatly enjoyed, much to the amusement of the learners themselves and to the volunteers at the group observing the lesson.

Free (unguided) practice
The learners were then set the task of writing a few sentences using their choice of the vocabulary, these were then fedback to the class followed by peer and teacher correction.

Competition time
We then played a game where the class were shown random images, the first person to shout the relevant word/sound scored a point. This became very competitive with some very effective use of the target language.
Onomatopoeia Worksheets

This video demonstrates how interactive whiteboard software was used to enhance our lesson on onomatopoeic words. Please note that this is provided as an example and does not reflect the 'real time' aspect of the activities used throughout the lesson.

Let's practise using the words

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Planning for Success

I'd like to thank Kieran Donaghy for this wonderful lesson, one of many he kindly shares on his website, Film English.
This lesson is designed around an inspiring short film about what we do in our everyday lives. The lesson also encourages students to reflect on their own language learning and how they can improve it.
Kieran Donaghy
In this lesson we focused on:
  • comparatives - more/less
  • to + infinitive - to walk/read etc.
  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Discussion
  • Planning effective learning strategies
  • Writing
Many thanks to all our learners for their wonderful input and hard work this evening, as always. :-)

Wayne - Tuesday 28th February 2012

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Vocabulary and meanings - Review

I would like to thank our learners for their written assignments in the last week or so. Activities and focus on the work produced will follow. Here we can practice some vocabulary and meanings that need some focus.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Happy Birthday UiD ESOL Classes!

Has it been that long already?

It is with great pride that we celebrate 1 year of fun, learning and friendship in the ESOL classes at the Unity in Diversity group. Many thanks to John and Adelle for creating such a wonderfully friendly group for our visitors. We have been very lucky to have some great volunteer teachers over the year, helping us provide lessons at different levels. So a massive thank you to Dawn, Graham, Jelena, Jo, Clive, David, Stuart and everyone else that has helped us over the last year. A big thank you to the guys at the ELTS department in Swansea University for pointing great teachers our way. Last but not least a big thank you to our learners for their committed participation in classes.

Learners have given some great feedback 
on lessons provided and the materials used.

Class sizes have steadily grown over the last year, we now have 
18+ learners studying twice a week with the largest class now 
being held in the main hall area in the centre.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Love 146

Trafficking in persons is modern day slavery. Victims are forced, defrauded or coerced into labour or sexual exploitation. 

Thanks again to Jamie Keddie for an excellent lesson provided on his website. :-)

This lesson focuses on vocabulary and ideas around the concept of 'freedom'. When I saw the lesson on his website, I immediately felt that this would be perfect for our class. I am constantly learning about issues concerning our visitors and their respective countries of origin and human trafficking is often discussed. Knowing our learners I'm confident they will enjoy engaging in these activities focusing on 'FREEDOM'.

Link to the lesson plan and resources:

I highly reccommend Lessonstream to anyone interested in media/content rich lessons that are enjoyable for learners.