A first week activity inspired by a novel

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September is here and another school year is on its way. I’m just enjoying the last few lazy days reading and planning ahead. I’m reading “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George at the moment. I loved the book. Not only for the plot, not only it is set in Paris along the River Seine but also the richness of the creative writing ideas that pop up in front of my eyes while reading it.

The book takes place in Paris and tells the story of a bookshop owner Jean Perdu who calls his bookshop the Literary Apothecary, because he doesn’t just sell books to his customers, he also prescribes them to suit their minor ailments he diagnoses in them.

I just don’t want to forget those brilliant ideas Mr Perdu brought into my mind so I decided to write them.

Here is one as a first week activity. Mr Perdu says “books are like people, and people are like books.” And continues “ I ask myself is he or she the main character in his or her life?” (pg 28) well, I’m not going to reveal more but I’m planning my first day activity as follows.

The activity will be suitable for any level if you plan it that way but I’ll do it with my year 12 students.

Tell students they are a character in a novel.

Tell them to describe themselves, their motives, ambitions, weak points, strengths.

Who else are in their story? What kind of characters are they? A short description for them as the characters of the story…

The blurb of their story, their problem and how they expect the story will end.

I’ll tell them to create a book cover and a few pages of their books to display on classroom walls.

I think this will be a good beginning for a class who will be studying hard for their university exam. This year their main concern is the exam and how they will shape their future so I guess starting the year with these book covers will be fun.

 

Three Chairs, A Drama Activity for Language Classes

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I’ll share a quick drama activity I learned from our drama club while performing at an event at school.

  • Put 3 chairs in front of the board.
  • Put labels on the chairs as “sad-1”, “happy-2″,”angry-3”
  • Write some situations on slips of papers and put them in a box. (You are waiting at the bus stop and the bus is late / You are going to take an important exam /You are travelling to …
  • Let students choose a slip of paper
  • Give them a few minutes to prepare a very short story based on the situation they have on their papers.

Begin with the volunteers. Explain the rules.

Tell students that you will shout a number from 1 to 3 and she/he will sit on that chair and start telling the story according to the emotion written on the chair. While the student is telling the story change the numbers randomly.

This activity will be suitable for intermediate and above but I think it can also be tried with beginners as a reading aloud activity. The teacher can give a text to practise reading aloud and then asks the students to read the text sadly, angrily, cheerfully, etc

 

Cool Sites and Tools for ESL & EFL Learners

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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.

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Looking at Digital Games and Heroes

image taken from yahoo images
image taken from yahoo images

 

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.

  1. I think I’m like the character ————————– from the game ———— because ———————-.
  2. I like the title of the game ————————— because ———————-.
  3. The game which I find very challenging is ———————————.
  4. I want to meet the character ———————- from the game —————- because ————————-
  5. The character whose action I admire is ————————– because ——-
  6. For me the most interesting 3 online games are ———————————.
  7. It is easy to win a game in ————————– because ———————–
  8. It is difficult to win a game in ———————– because ———————-.
  9. The game ——————- is set in a ——————————. It is —————–.
  10. 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

 

 

A Drill-like Narrative Writing Activity

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We were working on narrative tenses and the writing task of the lesson was ‘writing a story’. My class is small and it’s a real mixed-ability class. although it’s small, it sometimes takes very ages for the students to master something. The book we’re using organized the activity very well – first making students to know and use the connectors to make them aware of the sequences in a story. We did the exercise on the book and wrote a paragraph using At First, Then, After that, Eventually, Finally but some of the students had problems writing their own paragraphs so I decided to continue.

photo credit @AClilToClimb #eltpics

I divided the group into two and told them they would write a story using At First, Then, After that, Eventually, Finally.

Each group now had a good students to help the others.

I changed one student from the groups and exchanged them with each other after they finished writing and reading their paragraphs aloud.

I left the good ones in the group, changing one students after writing a paragraph for four times.

In the fifth round, all the good ones were in one group but two groups managed to use the connectors and produced their own sentences.

Then they all went back to their seats and wrote their own paragraphs.

As a follow-up, they wrote another paragraph, creating a book with bookr.