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

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Views on Education

With this post we would like to compile several resources that have been suggested in our Facebook group to talk about education (particularly by Laura Martin).

1. First of all, the classic talk by Ken Robinson, one of the most popular video in TED: Do schools kill creativity?’

Also by Ken Robinson, Changing Education Paradigms

Have a look at the fantastic lesson around this video in Film English, by Kieran Donaghy

2. The perspective of a motivated and motivating teacher in TED: “Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.”

3. Education and technology:

No computers in the classroom in Silicon Valley

4. Free schools:

5. Some notions on “unschooling”:

6. Hackschooling:

If you have any more ideas to add here, please let us know in a comment.

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

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.

Link

English Project- CEP Icod (Tenerife)

Last year, I was involved in an exciting project conceived by the Foreign Language advisor at CEP Icod (click here for the credits). The idea was to film a series of short videos showing real life situations (or better communicative learning situations) performed  by native speakers which could be used in the classroom as a teaching/learning resource. The whole project was put together on a website and launched at the beginning of this school year and it is available for anyone who wants to use it. 

In the website you will find a set of situations (at the supermarket, restaurant, in the street…)  each of which has been divided into two levels, but they are not focused on any specific educational stage. What is more, they can be easily adapted to the purposes of any lesson plan we may be working with. Also, for each of them, a list of extra resources is provided, i.e. scripts of the dialogues, an interactive visual dictionary or extra practice dialogues. 

Another interesting feature is that students can make use of all this material even outside the classroom, i.e.  working pronunciation and language in real context, recreating the dialogues and repeating them to practice rhythm and stress…And it is accessible 24/7 and free. 

Time to stop bragging about it and ask you to give it a shot and try it. If you are not convinced, tell your students. I bet they will find it useful. 

PS: the link to the website is at the top of the page, in case you haven’t guessed it. 

British immigration test

Encarni González, from EOI Raimundo de Toledo shared an interesting activity for B2 students on our facebook group.

The activity deals with the controversial test all those who want to become British citizens will have to pass, together with the campaign that the British government has launched to discourage Bulgarian and Romanian citizens from moving to the UK.

The activity is divided in two parts. The first one involves a text published by The Guardian with some comprehension questions, and the second one is one example of the tests that
those who aspire to hold the Bristish citizenship will have to pass. Are our students ready to be British?

You can download the worksheet British immigration.