“Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.”
Choices are important in our lives. Sometimes there are times we regret, there are times we pray for what we’ve chosen.
I have a group of mixed-ability students in grade 11 studying mostly languages. Some of them are not happy because that was not what they actually wanted but that was the only option to take.
I had a very disappointing lesson the other day and when I arrived home I thought what I could do for them to realize or do something for themselves until the next fork appears on the road they had chosen. And I decided to go to the class with a poem. Yes, I chose The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost as I thought with a little help, they would be able to understand the poem and we’d be able to talk about our decisions. To sum up, it was a great lesson. We all enjoyed it and I think they also revised their decisions or their attitudes towards their choices.
Now I’d like to tell you how I planned the lesson. First of all I found some very valuable lesson ideas on the poem and took some inspiration from them and I prepared one suitable for my students.
First I asked what the word ‘road’ meant. Then I asked what it could be used as a metaphor. We looked at the picture I chose as a warm up. ( If you search Google/Yahoo images as “Two Roads”, you’ll get some pictures of the woods that come to a fork)
The students described the picture and then I asked them what they would do if they were in this picture, how they would feel, how they would decide. The best part of the lesson was actually here and I hadn’t predicted that while preparing it. They talked about how they would be both nervous and excited. We talked about what they could encounter on the road, where these roads might take them.
Then we brainstormed words/ideas related with roads. I chose a recording of the poem on YouTube and told students to listen and jot down any words or phrases they heard/caught/liked.
After listening to the poem twice, I gave them the handouts and told them to read the poem and find if the words they had heard were really in the poem. Then we discussed the poem. We talked about if the poet was happy with his choice, if the poem was sad or happy or hopeful. Now I’m waiting for their bookmarks on the poem. They’ll use the ideas from here.
If you are learning English in the 21st century, you are lucky because you will have numerous alternatives to practise the things you’ve been learning.
There are thousands of great sites which will help you, but if you don’t have a place to store these cool sites, then you’ll lose track so I will suggest you to bookmark them.
I use scoop.it, diigo and pinterest for the sites I love. You can start a pinterest board for the listening, reading or writing sites, or start using scoop.it to curate links for learning vocabulary, practising reading, etc. You can follow other learners and learn from them as well.
Here you will find some cool tools for you to practise what you’ve been learning.
EngVid is a free site to learn English for free with video lessons. New Lessons are added regularly, covering grammar, vocabulary, TOEFL and more. Students who are willing to improve their English can visit the site at least once or twice a week.
5 Minute English is a site designed to give the learners short and easy explanations and exercises. The learners can have a quick look at grammar, reading, listening, vocabulary and idioms. They can also find answers to questions that can be confusing for other learners. This is under the Question and Answer section.
If you spend 5 minutes a day here regularly, you will benefit a lot.
News in Levels is another great site that can be recommended to enthusiastic ESL learners to study English.
There are short news articles for different levels. You can choose your level and read the news and listen to it. You then can try the other levels for the same article. The words in the original news have been changed and adapted to 3 levels. The vocabulary definitions are also given.
I just came across with ETTC, a site where you can try writing poems on your own. The site allows the users to write fun poems, guiding them to use certain vocabulary.
This is a great way to learn and recycle vocabulary.
Listening to songs is one of the greatest ways to study a foreign language. That’s why Lyrics Training is another site you can visit daily. You can listen to the songs and try to fill in the gaps according to your level. If you can’t catch up the words, the video stops and you have to listen to it again.
oneword.com is a great site which will allow the learners to write on a word given in 60 seconds. When you click on the link and access the site you will see how simple it is to use. Click on ‘GO’, you will see a word and will have 60 seconds to write about it. The words given are very simple and that way even the beginners can find something to write.
Esl.fis.edu is a site to provide resources that will help ESL learners improve their grammar, reading and vocabulary skills. The site contains activities and quizzes which will facilitate learning. You can choose an activity and start doing and you get immediate feedback.
1. Each person is given a sheet of paper with a series of instructions to follow. Each student’s instructions should be different. Tell them to stand up and mingle until you stop them. Then ask them to share their answers. Your instructions can be as “Find someone who …”
- Find out who has been abroad before.
- Who can play any instruments?
- Find what your classmates have for their breakfast.
- Who spent their summer holiday on an island?
2. Give each student a post-it note. Tell them to write their names at the top. Then ask them to write 1 adjective that will describe their physical appearance and 5 adjectives that will describe their character. Collect the post-it notes. Tell students they will guess the person you chose. Ask them to stand up next to their seats. Read one adjective each time and if they think that adjective doesn’t describe them, they have to sit down (whether they have written the adjective or not) Once they sit, they can’t stand up again. Continue calling an adjective, till they guess who the person is.
3. Divide the class into teams. Tell them they will advertise themselves to you. Prepare a bank of advertisements for them to get inspired. This will work well with a group of students who know each other well but the teacher meets them for the first time.
4. Provide A4 size paper, crayons, markers for each student. Ask each student to prepare a poster which contains some symbols or pictures describing who they are, what’s important to them or what they enjoy.
Each poster should be divided into 4 or 6 segments. Each segment can contain a picture of favourite emotion, favourite food, a hobby, a skill, a motto etc. Set time limits. When they finish, tell them to stand up, play some music and tell them to walk around till you stop the music and ask them to find a partner and introduce themselves to each other, then they have to exchange the papers and they will introduce their new friend to the class.
Some other activities from the archives of A Journey in TEFL
As you’ll remember, I attended #SLTEP, a train the trainer program run by Sabanci University in June and while getting prepared for the next term, I decided to change some of the motivating, inspiring quotes into posters. Once again, I’m so happy that I had the decision to attend this course. I’ll start the year with lots of food for thought.
I am not a fan of online games. I don’t play any but my son spends most of his free time playing online games. I have lots of students who do the same and when the subject is online games, even the quietest one starts to speak. A few years ago I had three students in my class. They were very much interested in games. They were very interesting boys because they were not ordinary players as they learned a lot about mythology and literature playing these games. One of them is writing stories and probably he’ll become a famous writer one day. That’s my hope for him.
I was clearing my files during the break and I came across a handout I coped from a book (unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the book) on literature. There were questions about favourite titles and characters. I put the handout among the ones I’d like to use this year but then suddenly I thought about another activity. Why shouldn’t I adapt it to games that the students are fond of playing and would work on the activity eagerly?
So here are my questions. I’ll be very happy if you can suggest other questions for this activity.
Think about the online games you love playing. First finish the sentences then compare your answers with your partner.
- I think I’m like the character ————————– from the game ———— because ———————-.
- I like the title of the game ————————— because ———————-.
- The game which I find very challenging is ———————————.
- I want to meet the character ———————- from the game —————- because ————————-
- The character whose action I admire is ————————– because ——-
- For me the most interesting 3 online games are ———————————.
- It is easy to win a game in ————————– because ———————–
- It is difficult to win a game in ———————– because ———————-.
- The game ——————- is set in a ——————————. It is —————–.
- 10. In the game ———————— you need to be a team to win.
Here you can find the handout I prepared for the activity.
Links to some blogs and interesting posts on online games
- Digital Play
- HOW MINECRAFT TAUGHT MY 9-YEAR-OLD SON WITH ASPERGER’S TO READ AND WRITE
- Swedish School Now Has A Mandatory Minecraft Class