Tag Archives: ideas

How to Improve your Reading Skills

How to Improve your Reading Skills

How to Improve your Reading Skills

Follow these great tips from British Council Learn English and improve your reading skills today!

Including:

  • Read as often as possible
  • Read things you’re interested in
  • Practice scanning for specific information

Watch the video below to find out more!

Idiom of the day - What am I like?

Idiom of the day – What am I like?

Idiom of the day – What am I like?

The English idiom ‘What am I like?’ is a rhetorical question (one we don’t need anybody to answer) that we ask ourselves out loud when we do something a little bit silly – usually in a public place. It has the same sort of meaning as when Homer says ‘Doh!’ in The Simpsons.

For example, at the supermarket you have paid and you’re walking away from the checkout, when the customer behind you calls you back and tells you that you’ve left a potato on the bagging area. You hurry back and collect your errant potato. To cover your embarrassment you say quickly, ‘Oh, thank you! Thanks. What am I like?’ The other customer smiles, but there is no need for them to reply. For example, we wouldn’t hear an exchange like this:

A – Hey! Excuse me! You’ve forgotten a potato.

B – What? Oh no! Thank you. Thanks so much. Oh, what am I like?

A – Well, it seems that you are rather forgetful, careless, and possibly living in a world of your own.

B – Er, thanks again.

We say ‘What am I like?’ in situations where we potentially look silly or odd in a public place. It puts a voice to our feeling of foolishness and awkwardness, and acknowledges publicly that we have done something ‘unusual’ and that we know about it – we are aware of it. To say nothing would be to create an unreal situation where there is an elephant in the room – an unacknowledged error or problem. This would be very uncomfortable for the typical English person, who tries to avoid awkward public situations. Making a joke about it – and making ourselves the butt of the joke – lightens the mood and takes the heat off – making it seem less awkward.

The typical English response to ‘What am I like?’ would be to smile and perhaps say ‘No problem’ or ‘Yes, I’m always doing that too!’ (showing empathy) if you are feeling more friendly. In any case, phatic (non-essential) communication – also called ‘small talk’ –  eases the awks!

Note: this is not an investigation into your true nature: ‘What am I like?’ It’s unlikely we would ever need to ask this question about ourselves, unless we had lost our memory, or we were particularly vain and wanted to hear people eulogising us! In our version, we put more stress on ‘like’ and the intonation is downward at the end, rather than up, as in a normal question.

Other times when you could say ‘What am I like?’:

  • You get to work and realise you haven’t brought your lunch box
  • The waiter gives you the bill and you realise that you’ve forgotten your wallet – oops
  • In the supermarket you try to get a bag of flour down from a high shelf but it lands on the floor, making a huge mess
  • You are rushing to prepare dinner and you drop your favourite blue dinner plate, smashing it on the floor
  • You get home and realise that you have left the TV on all day by mistake

See if you can use this idiom in your daily life today! Leave a comment to tell us how you used it!

Image: chuttersnap

A 5-Step Reading Strategy For Students - Infographic

A 5-Step Reading Strategy For Students – Infographic

A 5-Step Reading Strategy For Students – Infographic from elearninginfographics.com:


Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

FREE English Class Live on Facebook - Tonight!

FREE English Class Live on Facebook – Tonight!

Join me tonight for a free English class live on Facebook – on the following topic:

Using an Object for Discussion Practice in an English or ESOL Class

Sign up here!

https://www.facebook.com/events/713789082297219/

Download the free materials here:

Ideas for a Fun Discussion Class – FREE Worksheet

Join us Live on Facebook on the Purland Training channel from 20:15 CEST (Warsaw time).

Hope to see you there! Any questions? You can contact me here.

Ideas for a Fun Discussion Class - Video Class

Ideas for a Fun Discussion Class – FREE Worksheet

** Join Matt for a free Facebook Live class on this topic on 29th August at 8.15pm CET! **

Using an Object for Discussion Practice:

Work with a partner or small group. Both of you choose a different object that you would like to discuss.

Download and print the free worksheet below and get 20+ great ideas for using an object in a discussion class. Let’s get our students talking!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/using-an-object-for-discussion-practice-1.pdf

Ideas for a Fun Discussion Class - FREE Worksheet (Update)

Image: rawpixel

What do you do when students NOOOOOOOOO! your lesson intro?

What do you do when students NOOOOOOOOO! your lesson intro?

So this happened to me on Monday. It was the last lesson of the day and I’d already enjoyed success with my ‘wonderful and imaginative’ lesson plan (my review) five times – including with a couple of difficult groups – and I was looking forward to winding down with the same lesson plan with a high-level group who are usually personable and intelligent people.

I took the register – about eight students were in attendance. It was too hot in the room; the blinds were down and the windows open to allow a meagre wisp of cool air to enter when it chose. I stood in front of the class and introduced the topic: ‘We’re going to discuss social networks!’

I was astonished to hear a chorus of ‘NOOOOOOOOO!’s from the students. Again, I repeat, my lesson plan involved starting with discussion in pairs about social networks. Not a grammar exercise. Not a review of present perfect, or – heaven forbid – future perfect. Not a spelling test, or a written composition ‘na ocena’ – ‘for a mark’. No, discuss social networks in pairs. I had chosen a topic that I knew my students (aged 14-15) were not only interested in, but absolute experts in. They didn’t know but my secret weapon for the second half of the 45-minute lesson was a Kahoot quiz where they were to answer true/false questions about social networks on their (normally forbidden) mobile phones.

‘NOOOOOOOOO!’

So what do you do when the students reject your (fun) lesson plan out of hand at the beginning of the lesson? ‘We want to go home!’

‘OK, but you can’t go home.’

‘We’re tired!’

‘We have to do the lesson.’

‘BRAAAGGHHH!’

‘OK, but this will be fun. Let’s try it.’

I persuaded them to discuss the simplified version of this set of questions, that I had written on the board. Then I led group feedback. IMHO it was interesting and they were more engaged and made some intelligent comment about social networks. (Although they refused to believe that they are, in fact, only ‘free’ with air quotes, as opposed to free without air quotes.)

Then they dropped the bombshell. I announced: ‘Now we’re going to do a quiz about social networks.’

‘NOOOOOOOOO!’

Again – a chorus of NOOOOOOOOOs. What part of my sentence provoked this reaction from the heart – from the belly – ‘NOOOOOOOOO!’ Was it the word ‘quiz’? Did they associate it with ‘test’ and ‘exam’? Did they still not believe, after months of evidence working together, that I only wanted to engage them with interesting and relevant content? I hurriedly put the quiz up on the whiteboard via the projector and asked them to get their phones out and log in with the Kahoot PIN. This kind of quiz is really fun because it’s interactive – you watch the quiz unfold on the big screen and participate by pressing the answer on your phone. I think it’s cool. My other groups had enjoyed it…

The real knockout blow for me came when the students were entering their screen name or nickname for the quiz. This appears on the big screen and everyone can see it, so there is plenty of potential for writing ‘naughty’ nicknames and getting a bit group laugh. In this case they didn’t use swear words (as other groups had done previously) but one student chose the nickname ‘chcę do domu’ – which means ‘I want to go home.’ Like a child in a pre-school or first class of primary school: ‘I want to go home.’

We did the quiz – all twenty questions – but the wind had been knocked out of my sails and I left the school after the lesson feeling a little sad.

How do you engage students who have rejected your lesson plan out of hand before they know what it is, because they want a ‘fun’ lesson – when actually your lesson plan IS the ‘fun’ lesson? (This is the key question for me, but it was too long to be the title of this post!)

How do you engage students who want to go home? ‘Wolny lekcja!’ – ‘free lesson!’ they chorused. They wanted to be allowed to sit and do nothing but chat in Polish for the last lesson of the day. I couldn’t allow that, but then I realised that maybe other teachers do. Can it be true? Perhaps they baulked at having to use thinking and speaking skills when they would have found it easier to answer a reading comprehension in the course book – which I’m briefed not to use in lessons. Did they think I would be a soft touch because my lessons ARE usually more fun and communicative – or because I’m a naïve foreigner? – so they thought they’d try their luck with getting a ‘free’ lesson?

In this blog post I don’t have the answers, just questions, so if you have any tips for how to deal with or avoid the NOOOOOOOOO!s I would be more than grateful!

Image: https://pixabay.com

Teaching Blog: Meet the Conditional Family

Teaching Blog: Meet the Conditional Family

I invented the idea of imagining the four English conditionals as a family while working at a language school in Poland. I hit upon the idea of making each conditional one member of the family. The aim was to make learning the conditionals less abstract – and easier to understand – by showing the nature of each one, and so suggesting the kind of situations that students could use them in.

First conditional is the mum – practical and conscientious, busily focused on the short-term future of her family; second conditional is the teenage daughter – dreaming about the future and considering the best options in terms of studying, finding a boyfriend, getting a job, moving out of her parents’ home, and so on; third conditional is the middle-aged dad – dour and with his head in the past, thinking about what could have been if… if he’d made better decisions somewhere down the line, like if he had married Doreen – his first crush; finally, zero conditional is their young son, who is obsessed with learning new facts and with his reality in the here and now: ‘If I fall off my bike it really hurts!’

The five worksheets that resulted from these lessons with the Conditional Family represent a set of materials that I’m really pleased with. It was one of those cases when the end product was just how I had imagined it at the beginning of the project. You can download the worksheets below – they come complete with answer pages. There is also a podcast from around the same period (below), which may give some useful tips on teaching conditionals.

I guess I modelled the Conditional Family on the standard nuclear family: mum, dad, teenage daughter, boy. I gave them names for the worksheets. I took inspiration from my wife for Ferne Conditional (1st). She is certainly somebody who is very much focused on the here and now and the immediate future. She tries to organise everybody and she knows what is going on and when it should start and how long – exactly – it should last; on the other hand, it is impossible trying to talk to her about booking a holiday for six months’ time! I’m more like Herb Conditional (3rd) – thinking about the past and wondering what if… what if I had got that French A’Level? What if the teachers hadn’t kept going on strike at such a critical moment in my education? Becca (2nd) and Nero (zero) are a bit more stereotypical. You might find the whole family stereotypical – in which case you are welcome to create your own characters based on the conditionals. I suppose that from The Simpsons to Family Guy, via Modern Family and (in the UK) My Family we are used to the family stereotypes, and hopefully they help to make the point about each conditional in a way that a boring grammar lesson wouldn’t.

If you are really cool you could introduce Ferne’s older brother – uncle to the kids  – who is called Mick, and talk about the often baffling to students topic of Mick’s Conditionals – or, I should say, mixed conditionals. You know, the one where the first clause is past (e.g. past perfect from 3rd) and the second is would + infinitive (from 2nd). Something in the past affects the present or future. For example:

If I had remembered to bring the tickets we would be watching the play by now.

Why not get your students to design and draw a comic strip or create a role play / film using the conditional characters and their various situations? You could give a prize for the best one!

Here is the free stuff – hope you enjoy it! If you do, why not make my day by leaving me a message on Facebook and liking my page – and please don’t forget to tell your friends about PurlandTraining.com. Thanks. 🙂

Free podcast (MP3, 30 MB) – Get to Know… the Conditional Family:

Free worksheets (PDF):

Note: to download a PDF file, click the downward arrow at the bottom of each file

Get to Know… the Conditional Family 1

Get to Know... the Conditional Family 1

Get to Know… the Conditional Family 2

Get to Know... the Conditional Family 2

Get to Know… the Conditional Family 3

Get to Know... the Conditional Family 3

Get to Know… the Conditional Family 4

Get to Know... the Conditional Family 4

Get to Know… the Conditional Family – Your Ideas

Get to Know... the Conditional Family - Your Ideas

Using mobile devices in the language classroom #2: Getting started — World of Better Learning | Cambridge University Press

Robert Godwin-Jones, Ph.D., is Professor of World Languages and International Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, and past Director of the English Language Program there. He writes a regular column on emerging technologies for the journal Language Learning & Technology. In the second of four posts on using mobile devices in the language classroom, Robert provides……

via Using mobile devices in the language classroom #2: Getting started — World of Better Learning | Cambridge University Press