Help your students with their speaking tests

If you ask your students how they feel about their speaking tests, the answer is usually “terrified”.

Apart from constant class practice, students need to prepare on their own or with other classmates or speakers of English. This is the list of resources I elaborated for my B2 students this year:

  • Watch these videos of students taking their English exams, revise the teachers’ notes and try to improve your skills.
  • Watch these videos by the British Council, they give you advice about what to do and what not to do during your speaking test.
  • Saro Rosales, a teacher at EOI Las Palmas GC wrote an article for her students giving advice for the speaking test, don’t miss it.
  • Would you like to do a language exchange? Here you have a list of sites where you can do them.
  • Intercambio de idiomas, a website where you can find out about places to practise English with other learners and native speakers. People gather together to practise while having a drink.
  • Here you are a list of the topics you might be asked about during your exams.
  • Finally, here you have a list I wrote for my students back in 2009,

Finally, this is the list of topics they should work with if they want to succeed.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

topics for speaking test

A Tribute to Madiba

The world is grieving for the loss of Nelson Mandela. Our role as ESL teachers is not only teaching language, but culture, so we think it is necessary to mention this event in our lessons.

Here we offer two different ideas.

First, we think we can talk about his figure and his words using this slideshow presentation we found on slideshare. We can use it in different ways, as prompts for speaking or writing, or as a reading comprenhension activity.

 

Secondly, one of the members of our group, Carmela Vaamonde, from Escuela Oficial de Idiomas A Coruña, shared with us this wonderful listening activity about Playing the Enemy, the book that was later used as a basis for the film Invictus.

You can find the audio for the activity here.

And you can dowload the pdf with the questions and the key here:  JohnCarlin_PlayingTheEnemy

Writing a blogpost with B2 students

This article was originally published on my blog “Esl Classroom activities and more“.
20131209-121105.jpgThis is a rather long lesson plan for B2 students, though it can be adapted for B1 and higher levels. It is the result of two objectives I had in mind: first, writing an article, and second, doing some collaborative work on a blog.

LEVEL: B2

TIME: 1 hour

SKILLS: writing

MATERIALS: printed model article, some slideshows (shown below), projector, pc and whitescreen

Procedure

STEP ONE

Students revise a model article, they have to work on its structure, cohesion and coherence, vocabulary, etc. Once they have shared their discoveries, the teacher has to help them find out other discourse markers, topic sentences, etc. I used one found on NEF Advanced, Oxford.

STEP TWO

The teacher shows the first two slideshows you can find on this article. With the help of the teacher, they have to relate what they have seen in the model text with what they are seeing at the moment.

STEP THREE

The teacher explains the use of wordpress with the last slideshow (it’s in Spanish as I had prepared it for a session with teachers of several languages) of the same post as before. We have to expect some negative reactions as most of them have never used wordpress, our mission here is to reassure them and motivate them to try. It’s important that we provide them with a channel to express their doubts and questions, we are using our facebook group, and there they do not only get my help, but other classmates’. Anyway, I’ve promised I will publish myself the blogposts of those who try and can’t manage to publish their posts.

STEP FOUR

Explain their task.

Your task

  • Select a topic you can talk about. Some ideas might be: your job, studies, hobbies, a place you have visited or you would like to visit, etc.
  • Write a blog post of about 250 words (don’t copy from Wikipedia or similar) using your own words.
  • Add at least one related image, link and video. Slideshow presentations or audio using soundcloud are optional.
  • Send me an email when you have sent it for revision. I will revise it and publish (you can not do it on your own).
  • If you have problems with media resources (video, images, etc.), leave them as a link and I will solve it for you.
  • When you see your mates’ works, please comment all of them, say your opinion, if you like them or not. There will be time for this (until Christmas holidays).
  • The deadline is the 12th of December.
  • After this deadline there will be time to use the comments section to ask and answer and create some interaction among them.

STEP FIVE

Now you have to invite them as “contributors” to your blog, thus, they will be able to write and add links, but not to publish posts. This way you can revise what they produce and make any necessary changes.

The deadline for the articles is still open today (December, 9th 2013), but here you can see what they’ve written so far and what other students have done previously.

 

Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night

Gunpowder Plot

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Sandwiched between the overwhelming popularity of Halloween and all-American Thanksgiving, on November, 5th there is a festival that, in recent years, has gained its lost popularity. Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes’ Night is one of those celebrations that are not rooted in everyday activities or seasonal changes, but in the historical events that took place in the 17th century and whose main character, Guy Fawkes, has become the icon for many who fight the political power (see “V for Vendetta” or the masks of the members of Anonymous).

For those who, like us, enjoy introducing their students to the culture of the target language, here go a couple of links with materials for the classroom. If you are teaching beginners or basic levels, Activity Village (http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/guy-fawkes) has a good range of basic exercises to practice vocabulary.

In case you need something more elaborate for intermediate students, the kibishiaul.com blog (http://kibishipaul.com/blog1/2006/11/05/lesson-16-bonfire-night-video/) has a video lesson with an on-line quiz. Also, for this level, we have the material from Remember Remember (http://www.remember-remember.com/schools/teaching.php#literacy) especially the punctuation activities.

Finally, there is a more humorous BBC video documentary hosted by Nick Knowles that could be a good entertaining and inspiring resource for more advanced students. In this case we have not found any activities, although we suggest students could write a short article on the events described.

If you know of any more materials that could complete this post, please write a comment. We appreciate your collaboration.

The Great Fire of London

It’s been a long long time since we last published something here. Today I’m sharing a listening activity about The Great Fire of London. The main objective is not that the answer all questions correct, but that they get to know some of London’s history.

The acitvity is suitable for B1+ and B2 students. You just need to give students the questions and play the video. You can even let them see the video without the questions first.

Finally, as follow up or just for fun, you can show them or share with them this other article which includes a video created by some De Montfort University students with a recreation of London before The Great Fire.