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Messages - elaineli

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Using Literature / Poetry vs. Lyrics
« on: December 07, 2010, 11:10:23 PM »
Poetry and song lyrics are similar to each other in some aspects (e.g. rhyming). But song lyrics are somewhat much closer to students (e.g. lyrics of popular songs). Thus, it might be a good idea to compare song lyrics to poetry when introducing the definition of poetry in a poetry class. Here is the activity I designed for intermediate/advanced level ESL/EFL students:
1. Video  showed (Elvis Presley: Love me Tender, Love me True) (2 min)
Elvis Presley - Love Me Tender

Additional  songs:
Eric  Clapton: Tears in Heaven
Eric Clapton/Tears in heaven
Mariah  Carey: Without You 
Mariah Carey - Without You
2. Question: Is “Love  me Tender, Love me True” a poem? Why?   

Whole class  discussion/debate (You can divide the whole class into two parts, one part advocates that the lyric can be considered as a poetry, while the other part disagrees with that)

Here are some thoughts about the similarities and differences between lyrics and poetry.
Both rely  on the potent use of language.
Both engage their readers and listeners on an emotional level.
Both require a skilled use of word sounds and rhyming.
A poem  stands alone without music. A lyric must work well with the rhythm and structure of music
A poem can be read silently. A lyric must be sung.
Poetry can be of almost any length. Lyrics must be concise.
3. Have the students choose a lyric of their favorite songs. List the reasons why they believe the lyric deserves the name of poetry.

4. Exchange ideas as a whole class


Using Literature / Closing Game <Teaching poetry in ESL classroom>
« on: December 07, 2010, 10:50:35 PM »
I found this game in a seminar handout. It is an interesting game which gives students the opportunities to create poems and share their work with each other. As for the proficiency level, I think it would be best for intermediate/advanced students.

1. Give students an incomplete poem with blanks. Such as:
       The Wind
The wind I can’t see
but I feel and hear
and it must be a spirit
for when it passes
I see trees
_______________. (Nello Caramat; Grade 5) From "Ten-Second Rainshowers" by Sanford Lyne
2. In pairs/groups, discuss about what would go in the blanks.
3. Comparing  your version with the original one and see the cultural differences/similarities.
4. Sharing  each pairs’ work with the whole class

Idea comes from seminar handout, "Korea-Waseda University Graduate Seminar" Presenter: Do-Seon Eur, Ph.D.


Vocabulary / New Versions of Simon says
« on: December 06, 2010, 06:37:28 PM »

Most of us know this game from childhood. In China, we have a similar game but with a different name. Many people think it is a great game only for children or young adults, but I think it is a perfect game for all language beginners, especially when accompanied with the "total physical" response teaching method.

1. Get the students all up on their feet.
2. Explain that you are going to give them some physical orders. They only obey you when the order starts with Simon says.
E.g.: 1. Simon says "One step forward" ( anybody who does not obey is out of the game)
        2. Step back! ( anyone who does obey is out )
There are many other versions of the Simon says game.
When you say to the class : Simon says…. they obey you
" " " " " " Slow says…… they obey you but very slowly
" " " " " " Quick says ……… they obey you very fast
" " " " " " Inside-out says…….. they do the opposite action
When you give a straight order, they do nothing.

I used this game when I taught to kids in Chinese several years ago. They were so excited about the game that they always wanted to play it one more time :P

Game found at:[/font]

Vocabulary / Last One Standing
« on: December 06, 2010, 06:18:01 PM »

This is a game I played often in high school. It was fun and we always played it in school parties. I didn't realize that it can also be used in ESL vocabulary teaching till I found it on a teaching website. So I decided to share it with you all. ;)

1. Give the class a topic (e.g. food, clothes, animals, things in a kitchen) and ask them to stand up, in a circle if possible.
2. Clap out a beat and say, one, two, three, followed by a topic-related word.
3. After the next three beats, the next student in the circle gives a word related to the topic, and so it continues.
4. Anyone who can't think of a word or repeats a word already said has to sit down and it's the next person's turn.
5. The winner is the last one standing.

Have you ever played the game before? Sounds familiar, right? Why not try it in your own teaching some day? :P

The game comes from:

Vocabulary / Telephone/Whisper Game
« on: December 06, 2010, 05:59:52 PM »
This game can test students' listening, reading, speaking, and writing abilities (I'm not kidding~). I used this game in my Chinese teaching and it was great! So I think it might also be used in ESL classrooms :P 

Game preparation: write several sentences on small sheets of paper. The sentences can range from easy to difficult (I usually start from the easiest one as an example). The sentences can include new vocabulary or new grammar points which you want your students to review. Fold those sheets and scramble them.

Game start:
1. Have students in groups (4-5 Ss per group) and have them stand/sit in a line
2. Let the first student in each group choose one sheet, open it, and remember the sentence on it (the student can read the sentence as long as s/he wants till s/he can remember it). Then the sheet will be take away.
3. The first student has to whisper the sentence to the next student in the group. The second student can require the first student to repeat as many times as s/he needs till s/he remembers the sentence.
4. Then the second student whispers the sentence to the third one...
5. The last student in the group comes to the blackboard and write the sentence in the target language
6. The score depends on the time they spend (less time, more score), and the correctness of the sentence they write on the blackboard (less errors, more score)
7. After the first round, the first student goes to the end of the line, and the second student comes up and becomes the first in the group.
8. The game continues repeating steps 2-6
9. As last, if you want, give prizes to the winner!

1. You may want to set an example at the very beginning in order to make sure everybody knows the rule.
2. Deduct points for teams who step out of line, shout, cheat or otherwise try to give you a headache.
3. If you have an odd group with one less student, let the group with more team members start first.

Sounds interesting?  ;D I really love this game^^ I hope you enjoy it too!

Vocabulary / Sentence Scramble
« on: October 11, 2010, 11:09:23 AM »
This is an activity designed by Christine Frank,  author of Challenge to Think, OUP.
I think it is a good idea to have students create with the vocabulary they've  learned by scrambling sentences. And it is also a good chance to have students  know better the grammar about how sentences are formed.
Level: Intermediate
Time: 30-40 minutes
Purpose: Multi-purpose (Grammar & vocabulary)

Lesson outline:
1. Tell the students to think about last weekend and to make one sentence, which they write down. The sentence should be about 10-12 words. You should go around helping and correcting.
2. Put the students into groups of three.
3. In their groups of three they should appoint one 'secretary'. The other two students should take sheets of paper and tear them into about 40 slips.
4. The 'secretary' has to put the three sentences down – one word per slip. He or she has to write clearly remembering to put the capital letter at the beginning of each sentence and the full stop at the end.
5. The slips with the sentences are muddled up together and passed on to the next group of three.
6. When the group has finished sorting out the words into three sentences they can note the sentences down and can muddle up the words and pass them on to another group. The idea is to get as many sentences as possible.

Getting to Know You Activities / Re: The sweets that make you speak :P
« on: October 11, 2010, 10:33:20 AM »
I love this activity!

 ;D This will definitely work for students who love sweets (like me) !

Motivation / Movie trailers: Video based ESL writing activity
« on: October 11, 2010, 10:28:43 AM »
I would highly recommend using film previews in ESL class. This is intended for intermediate/advance students.

Movie trailers are short segments (usually two to  three  minutes) of key scenes that provide interesting linguistic input and  action accompanying the language; they offer us an innovative way to  teach English.

 To be specific, video content from movies can have these significant  advantages:: 
  • movies are popular and have universal appeal across  cultures,  providing current language usage,
  • they present visual context in which the dialogue takes  place,  action accompanying speech, and
  • they show gestures, facial expression, and other body  language  appropriate to the dialogue.
Furthermore, the advantages of specifically using digital movie  trailers are that they are 
  • of high quality, the best that professional studios can  afford,
  • short with very concise, catchy dialogue, having  highlights of the entire movie, and
  • free, readily available from the Internet
(John Gebhardt, Heianjogakuin University

Based on movie trailers, lots of expanding activities can be developed. For example, we can have students write their own reviews and character sketches, incorporating all the information they found  on the Internet about movie plots, characters,  reviews, written dialogue (sometimes before the movie is actually  released), and pictures. And based on the movie, teachers might prepare True/False question  lists, discussion topics, answering fact and opinion questions, and so  forth, depending upon the level of the students' English.   The  possibilities are endless.

By the way, I'm quite curious about what students can create when they watch the trailer of Inception ;) . I personally spent a long time figuring out the whole story after I finished the movie.

This afternoon, I was writing my reflection paper about a  recent presentation. When I wanted to describe something I missed or something  I did wrong, I got confused about the use of "should've" or  "could've" or "would've". So I did some research on the Internet  and, accidentally, I found this wonderful lesson plan:

Ideas for using the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve slideshow  in class

Idea 1: Dictation
Dictate the book titles to your learners and then allow them  to correct what they have written by showing them the slideshow.
• All the ways we could have met
• I could have danced all night
• It could have been worse
• How Hitler could have won World War II
• 10 things my mother should have told me
• The man I should have married
• The manual that should have come with your body
• Wrong: The biggest mistakes and miscalculations ever made  by people who should have known better
• Rembrandt would have loved you
• I would have loved him if I had not killed him
• The Christian president: What Jesus would have done 
• Things you would have learned if you’d listened 

Idea 2: Guess about the book
Give out the list of book titles but don’t let your students  see the covers at this stage. For each one they should guess:
•What genre the book belongs to (fiction, non-fiction,  romance novel, self-help, etc)
•What the book is about
•Who it is aimed at
Once decisions have been made, allow your students to see  the images. The covers themselves will usually give away the
information they have been looking for.
Idea 3: Consensus translations
For monolingual classes, show your students the slideshow  and get them to come to a consensus translation for each title. All 12
titles should be written down in their own language (no  English should be written at this stage). Then, in the absence of the
slideshow, your learners should attempt to translate the  titles back into English.
Idea 4: Drilling and gap fill
Use the slideshow to drill the target language. In other  words, get your students to repeat the book titles after you. Follow this up  with
the gap fill exercise on the next page. (See the attachment)
I love this lesson plan because it relates real book titles  to grammar teaching and it also provides relevant slideshows. According to the  lesson plan, students are responsible to find the grammar rules by themselves  through various activities, such as dictation, guessing, and translation.  Generally speaking, it adopts deductive grammar teaching method.
Here is the link for the lesson plan:

For those who want to teach "Could’ve, should’ve,  would’ve" in ESL/EFL class, I hope this will be helpful.

Using Literature / Re: Skim Read Run Race!!
« on: October 11, 2010, 09:44:55 AM »
Hi Andy,

It's really a great idea to have some students be the questioners and have others compete in the run race when the class size is large. Thanks a lot. ;D I will definitely try this game someday when I teach.

I love teaching poetry in English class and Stopping by wood on a snowy evening is one of my favorite English poems. So I designed a lesson plan about teaching this poem in ESL/EFL class and my target students would be intermediate-level English learners.

Here is my lesson plan:

Lesson goals
To appreciate English poetry in ESL/EFL context
Lesson objectives
At the end of the class, students should be able to:
?   Paraphrase the poem
?   Appreciate the images and sounds in the poem
?   Rewrite the poem in the same pattern
?   Video: Snowy day: Stories and poems
?   Picture book: Robert Frost: Stopping by woods on a snowy evening (Illustrated by Susan Jeffers)
?   Snowflake stamps
?   Paraphrasing worksheet
Procedure (40 min)
Video (5 min)
?   Question: What is poetry?
?   Video showed (focusing on images and sounds) (2 min)
?   Discuss as a whole about the poem (2 min)
?   Let Ss pick up their snowflake stamps and have them in groups (1 min)
Vocabulary (5 min) Skipped
?   Distributing the books to the class (1 min)
?   Let Ss look over the poem and find out unfamiliar vocabulary (1 min)
?   Let Ss help each other deducing meanings from the context (3 min)
Paraphrasing (10 min) Skipped
?   Distributing paraphrasing worksheet to each group (1 min)
?   Let Ss discuss in groups about the literal meaning of the lines on the worksheet and paraphrase them (5 min)
?   Sharing each group?s work as a whole class (4 min)
Images (5 min)
?   Giving each group three to four pictures and let them find the images in those pictures (2 min)
?   Sharing each group?s findings as a whole class (3 min)
Sounds (5 min)
?   Question: What did you hear in the video? What makes the sound of a poem?
?   Discuss as a whole: Rhythmic pattern (iambic tetrameter), rhyme scheme (drawing back) the poem, repetition (s/w) (5 min)
Rewriting (10 min)
?   Let each group rewrite the poem based on the assigned pictures (6 min)
?   Sharing each group?s work as a whole class (4 min)
Follow-up activities:
?   Think about:
What is the conflict in the poem?
What do ?woods?, ?sleep?, and ?horse? represent?
?   Gather information about the background of the poem and the poet
?   Rewrite the poem into an ?everyday? style (short story, dialogue, diary, speech, et.)

The attachment is my lesson plan. I hope it will be helpful.

Using Literature / Re: Skim Read Run Race!!
« on: October 03, 2010, 05:59:18 PM »
Hi Andy, I really love this idea! With this activity, students can have physical exercises as well as skim reading practice. It's one stone and two birds!

Honestly speaking, I've never participated in such activities when I learned English in China. As most of the teacher still adopt grammar-translation or audio-lingual methods when they teach English, they don't have much experience designing such activities. Also, because of the class size we normally have (40-50 students), it is impossible for us to divide students in three or four and have them running around the classroom.

But I do think it is necessary to introduce such activity to Chinese English learners. So do you have any suggestions if I want to carry out your activity in China with a class of 50 students?


Using Literature / Justification for teaching poetry in ESL/EFL classroom
« on: October 03, 2010, 05:39:36 PM »
This is a very useful article which explicitly explains the justifications for teaching English poetry in ESL/EFL classroom. I mentioned some of them when I taught English poetry in ESL/EFL class. I think it might be helpful to those who want to teach English poetry in ESL/EFL class in the future. But it needs to be noted that, it'd better if you relate personal experiences to your rationale instead of simply presenting those theoretical principles. Trust me. I've tried that and it bored my "students".

Please find the article in the attachment.

General Writing Resources / Practice Free Writing with a Robot
« on: September 21, 2010, 10:00:02 AM »
I found an interesting way for ESL students to improve writing skills: to practice free writing with a Robot.
Here is the website:
On the website, you can type anything you want in the blanket and then the robot tutor will respond immediately.
For example, here is a dialogue between me and the robot:
YOU: hi
Mike: Hello!
YOU: how are you today
Mike: I'm doing well.
YOU: you look great today
Mike: Really?
YOU: yes I like your new suit
Mike: All right! Thank you for your kind words.

Sounds interesting? Though it is a little bit different from natural conversations, it is still a good way for beginners who are shy and not confident with their oral English to practice having conversations, in the way of free writing.

Harry Potter Lessons! / Rewrite and act it out
« on: September 14, 2010, 09:48:40 AM »
I think there might be some interesting activities we can conduct after the reading of Harry Portter Chapter 1.

Students are supposed to be high school students or freshmen in college.

1) We could ask students to choose a character they are interested in within Chapter 1 or beyond Chapter 1.  And collect information which relates to the character's appearance, personalities, and even their magic ability in the whole story (as much as they can).

2) Let students write a short paragraph about the character they choose and compare each other's work with their classmates.

3) Divide students into several groups (normally 4-5 per group) and have them design a short play according to their characters. The play would both consist of background setting and detailed dialogues.

4) Exchange each other's work and help each other to perfect the play. Of course, they can also ask the teacher for help.

5) If time permits, have students act it out. They are gonna love it!

Extensive Reading / Relating images to written words
« on: September 07, 2010, 10:51:29 AM »
Fairy tale is always a good choice for extensive reading among teenage students.  However, sometimes, there would be lots of new words in the stories.  In order to make students read more smoothly and with more interest, it might be a good idea to have students watch the adapted movie before they read the original story. 

For example, there are a lot of names, magic words in the story of Harry Potter.  Having students watch the movie (or just a part of the movie) first may let them get more familiar with the characters and further trigger their desire to finish the story with the written text.

One thing needs to be mentioned here is that the movie should really be well-adapted, as some movie is deviant from the original story and that's not a good choice for this activity.

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