Diary of a Beginner: Sixth Lesson

Last weekend, H and I had our sixth lesson. He led this lesson, starting off with a little card he’d written with 5 sentences on it:

  • I am a teacher.
  • You are a student.
  • He is an actor.
  • She is an actress.
  • It is a dog.

Because he’d had so much trouble in the previous lesson with the idea of ‘I am’, ‘You are’, ‘I am not’, ‘You are not’ and the question forms, I decided we would write out these sentences in the different forms. These were the results:

Positive and negative forms (I, you, he, she, it + be)Question and short forms (I, you, he, she, it + be)As you can see, we did various things to highlight forms. The arrow shows that ‘not’ is how we make a very negative’ – in Czech ‘ne’ is used to say ‘no’ and is added to a verb to make it negative. I used an orange pen to show how the apostrophe in a contraction replaces missing letters. I also drew a line under the phrases to show how the contractions correspond to the longer versions.

This was a real lesson in how to teach beginners for me – there are so many things we take for granted with our students, and we ended up having a lot of discussions in Czech to help H understand various concepts – I dread to think how he would have felt if we couldn’t have done this. I know native speakers who don’t speak the learners L1 can teach beginners, but I can see how much easier it is using a mix of both languages. For example, even the concept of different word order for a statement and a question was very difficult for H to grasp, since in Czech this doesn’t change.

Other problems with L1 became apparent here too: there are no articles in Czech, so he couldn’t understand why he needed one in English even though his original sentences had them already. In the end I showed him the contents page of New English File Beginner and told him not to worry about them – they would be covered in unit 2A and we’re in 1B. The existence of contractions is another thing which Czech lacks – all words are equally stressed, so he found it hard to see why there might be more than one form of these phrases.

The last problem with L1 interference was with ‘dog’ – in Czech ‘pes’ is a masculine noun as it ends in a consonant. Therefore it is always replaced by the subject ‘he’. I extended the idea to ‘It is a bag’/’It is a table’ etc to show other ways to use ‘it’, but H decided to keep his original example sentence.

All of these discussions just from five ‘simple’ sentences!

Once we’d created these tables, we practised the I/you forms using the grammar bank activities in NEF Beginner. Here again we had a couple of problems. Although the two-line dialogues were accompanied by pictures, it wasn’t always clear who was speaking. In the end, we labelled the people in the pictures as A and B to make it a bit easier. H also can’t understand why we say ‘You ARE late’ instead of ‘You ARRIVE late’ like in Czech. I said to him that I can’t understand why they say ‘You ARRIVE late’ and pointed out that that’s why you have to learn other languages 😉 I recorded the conversations so that H could listen to them at home.

After all of that, we only had five minutes left, so I decided to introduce the five long vowel sounds from the English File pronunciation chart. I also gave him these to listen to at home. Ordinarily I wouldn’t rush him with all of these sounds, but we only have three more weeks in which to have lessons, so he asked me to try to do all of them before I leave.

In the end, it was a very educational lesson for both of us!

Diary of a beginner: Fifth Lesson

(If you’re interested, you can read about the first, second, third and fourth lessons.)

The first 45 minutes were spent revising what we’ve covered before, and I can definitely see that he is remembering things now. He’s making progress because we had time to do some writing today.

It took 5 minutes to go through my alphabet cards in a random order and say all of them, then pick them up when I said them – this is a real improvement!

I spelled the numbers and he wrote them, predicting the last couple of letters. The only one he still had trouble with was ‘twenty’, spelling it ‘twenteen’ by analogy with Czech where the ‘tens’ are counted in multiples of ten, so twenty is like ‘two tens’. I also taught him the idea of ‘double’ for the same letter twice, i.e. ‘double E’ = ‘ee’

For the days of the week I showed him the cards and he said them. I then asked him to write them all down in order. With a little prompting he remembered ‘How do you spell…?’ but had to be reminded to use it! He still struggled with Wednesday and Friday, but especially with Thursday which he has real trouble pronouncing and confuses with Tuesday (all of which I have to keep assuring him is completely normal!)

With the months, he put the cards in order, then closed his eyes while I took one or two of them away and he remembered them.

We revised the consonant sounds that we’d done previously and added the final six sounds. Unsurprisingly, he really struggled with the two pronunciations of /th/. He realised that he’d been pronouncing ‘this’ and ‘thank’ wrong, so was trying hard to correct himself.

We spent the last ten minutes of the lesson looking at ‘I am’, ‘You are’, ‘I am not’ and ‘You are not’ using New English File Beginner. First he looked at and spontaneously translated a dialogue, then listened to it. We then looked at the four phrases in the examples and thought about what they mean. There was a slight problem with the example sentence in the book because the dialogue used “You are late.” for ‘You are’. In Czech this would be translated as ‘You arrive late.’ without using ‘be’ at all. I showed him that this was the equivalent for ‘be’ and that this is the verb we use in this phrase in English.

He constantly surprises me with the amount of words he knows already, but they are still very isolated at the moment, with very little grammar to link them together. Highlighting to him that he knows this words is very important, especially when one of his final comments before leaving (in Czech, not English!) was “How will I communicate with people if I can’t speak?” I explained to him that he just needs time, that this was just the first time he had seen these things and that he needs 20+ times to really start to fix it in his head.

(An) amazing article?

Articles are one of those areas of English that have so many rules that my students often give up. As a Slavic language, Czech doesn’t use articles and many students don’t see the point of them. This is especially true for my intermediate-level teenage class. I prepared this lesson to give them a bit of practice and try to have some fun along the way.

Inspired by Ceri’s post where she practised the use of ‘it’ with her Spanish students, I wrote a text about my film and TV preferences and removed all of the articles. The fastest way I found to do this was to write the text normally, highlight the articles (giving me an answer sheet) then copy and paste the text and delete the highlighted words. This was what the students saw:

I’m teacher, but in my free time I love watching films. I go to cinema three or four times month, normally on Friday evening. Next week, I want to see King’s Speech because everybody says it’s great.

I’ve got huge collection of DVDs, many of which I got in Czech Republic. DVDs I bought here are good because they have Czech subtitles, so I can practise language while I’m relaxing at home. I normally learn one or two new words every time I watch film. Normally I watch English or American films with subtitles on, but sometimes I watch Czech films too. Czech ones are difficult if I don’t know story before I watch them.

I have also bought lots of British TV programmes on DVD here. One of my favourites is Red Dwarf. Series was filmed in 1980s, but is still very funny today. In first episode deadly illness arrives on spaceship and kills everybody except for cat and human called Lister, who was frozen because he had insulted captain. After three million years, Lister wakes up to discover he is only human on spaceship. Only other living thing is Cat, who has evolved from original cat, but now looks like human. Third member of crew is Rimmer, hologram of human, who is very annoying to Lister. In second series, crew finds robot called Kryton. I think you should watch it!

What is your favourite film or TV programme? Who are characters? What do they do? What happens in story?

I challenged the students to spot the problem with the text. Once they’d identified the lack of articles, they then had to go through individually and put them back in. They compared their answers with other students. The final part of this stage was a list of numbers: 4, 8, 21, 2. I told them that this is how many articles should be in each paragraph. They were a long way short in the third paragraph, so this motivated them to look at the rules with me.

I used the set of rules from the Grammar Bank at the back of New English File Intermediate which I had typed up and cut into strips. The students stuck them to the board under the correct heading (a/an, the, no article):

the first time you mention a thing/person: I saw ___ old man with ____ dog
when you say what something is: It’s ____ nice house.
when you say what somebody does: She’s ______ lawyer.
in exclamations with What…! : What _____ awful day!
in expressions like… : three times _____ week
when we talk about something we’ve already mentioned: I saw an old man with a dog and _____ dog was barking.
when there’s only one of something: ____ moon goes round ____ Earth.
when it’s clear what you’re referring to: He opened ____ door.
with places in a town, e.g. cinema and theatre
with superlatives:  It’s ____ best restaurant in town.
when you are speaking in general (with plural and uncountable nouns):  ____ women talk more than ­­­­­­­______ men
with some nouns (e.g. home, work, school, church) after at/to/from: She’s not at _____ home today. I get back from _____ work at 5:30.
before meals, days, and months: I never have ____ breakfast on ___ Sunday.
before next/last + days, week etc.: See you _____ next Friday.

We also added the rule “before the names of people and places: ____ Jana, ____ London” under the ‘no article’ heading, as this did not appear in my original rules.

The students then returned to the text and tried to check and correct the articles they had written in. They then compared it to my original text and we discussed any problems they had:

I’m a teacher, but in my free time I love watching films. I go to the cinema three or four times a month, normally on Friday evening. Next week, I want to see The King’s Speech because everybody says it’s great.

I’ve got a huge collection of DVDs, many of which I got in the Czech Republic. The DVDs I bought here are good because they have Czech subtitles, so I can practise the language while I’m relaxing at home. I normally learn one or two new words every time I watch a film. Normally I watch English or American films with the subtitles on, but sometimes I watch Czech films too. The Czech ones are difficult if I don’t know the story before I watch them.

I have also bought lots of British TV programmes on DVD here. One of my favourites is Red Dwarf. The series was filmed in the 1980s, but is still very funny today. In the first episode a deadly illness arrives on a spaceship and kills everybody except for a cat and a human called Lister, who was frozen because he had insulted the captain. After three million years, Lister wakes up to discover he is the only human on the spaceship. The only other living thing is the Cat, who has evolved from the original cat, but now looks like a human. The third member of the crew is Rimmer, a hologram of a human, who is very annoying to Lister. In the second series, the crew finds a robot called Kryton. I think you should watch it!

What is your favourite film or TV programme? Who are the characters? What do they do? What happens in the story?

I did another set of practice at this point (which I will describe below), but in retrospect I should have got the students to write their own texts and used these for analysis. They did enjoy the other activities, but it probably did not benefit them as much as their own texts would have done.

The next stage was a running dictation. I had the first two paragraphs of a story with spaces for potential articles stuck on the wall. Students worked in pairs to get the story onto their paper 5 words at a time. They could choose whether to complete the articles as they went a long or copy the paragraph and then do all of the articles at the end. The text was given to me by a colleague. I know it came from a book, but I’m not sure which one – please let me know if you do.

This is ____ true story. It’s about ____ politician. He was ____  Member of ____  Parliament (MP) in Britain. ____  story happened back in the 1980s, and ____  MP was called Richard Alexander. At that time, ____  Irish Republican Army was conducting ____  bombing campaign in ____  Britain. A few days earlier, ____  parcel bomb had been sent to ____  government minister. So ____  politicians were warned to be extra careful about opening parcels.

One day ____  parcel was delivered to ____  Mr Alexander’s office at Redford, in ____  English Midlands. ____  MP thought he heard ____  sound of ____  ticking clock inside ____  parcel, so thinking it might be ____  bomb, he rang ____  local police station. Soon ____  squad of army bomb specialists arrived at ____  office and x-rayed ____  parcel.

I then gave the students a fictional 500 Czech crowns to ‘spend’ on deciding which articles were correct. They could bet a maximum of 50 crowns on any one space. Once they had written their bets, we went through the text and checked the answers. For a correct answer we added the amount they had bet (if any); for an incorrect one, we deleted it. They became very competitive at this point, and if the answers differed they had to explain why before they could get the points. (Another retrospective note: I could have given them extra ‘money’ for correct explanations) The score was very close, and they really enjoyed the activity.

We didn’t have time to do any more than a quick discussion about the end of the story, but the plan was then:

  • discuss what they think happened next.
  • read the remaining paragraphs and find out if they were right.
  • complete the paragraphs with the correct articles.

They saw that what Mr Alexander could hear was indeed ____  timing mechanism. Obviously, ____  only safe thing to do was to blow it up which they did. ____  squad then pieced together ____  contents of ____  parcel. It had contained ____  pyjamas, ____  toothbrush and ____  small alarm clock. ____  MP had recently stayed at ____  hotel after making ____  speech one evening, and ____  hotel had kindly sent on his belongings after he had accidentally left them there. ____  clock had been ____  present from his wife.

They saw that what Mr Alexander could hear was indeed ____  timing mechanism. Obviously, ____  only safe thing to do was to blow it up which they did. ____  squad then pieced together ____  contents of ____  parcel. It had contained ____  pyjamas, ____  toothbrush and ____  small alarm clock. ____  MP had recently stayed at ____  hotel after making ____  speech one evening, and ____  hotel had kindly sent on his belongings after he had accidentally left them there. ____  clock had been ____  present from his wife.

They saw that what Mr Alexander could hear was indeed ____  timing mechanism. Obviously, ____  only safe thing to do was to blow it up which they did. ____  squad then pieced together ____  contents of ____  parcel. It had contained ____  pyjamas, ____  toothbrush and ____  small alarm clock. ____  MP had recently stayed at ____  hotel after making ____  speech one evening, and ____  hotel had kindly sent on his belongings after he had accidentally left them there. ____  clock had been ____  present from his wife.

I probably should have done something more productive at this point – the use of the second ‘controlled practice’ activity wasn’t vital with this group, as they understood most of the rules. However, they only got about half of the answers right, so perhaps it was justified, with more ‘freer’ practice coming in later lessons.

What do you think? How do you go about teaching articles? Are they a problem for your students?

By the way, feel free to take these materials and use them however you will.


Update: I have created an articles flowchart and worksheet which you might like to use in class with these activities.

Planning Evolution

I read Cecilia Coelho’s most recent post with interest, wondering what prompted her to begin her adventure as a blog challenger, having been a sucker for any challenge that came her way. Being just as much of a sucker myself , here is my response to What’s your plan?

Having only started full-time teaching three years ago, I actually have copies of lesson plans on my computer from virtually every lesson I’ve taught at IH Brno. I had done some summer school teaching and a year of pre-CELTA, where my planning largely consisted of opening the book for 10-15 minutes and trying to work out if I knew the grammar (my poor students!) already, but when it got serious, I decided my plans should too.

The first format that I came up with was based on the CELTA plans I’d done, as I think many fresh teachers’ plans are. This is the plan for the first ever lesson I taught in Brno:

1st plan

If you look closely you’ll see I still had an aims column on there. By the end of October, I stopped writing the aims, and a couple of weeks lately I deleted the column from the lesson plan. One thing you can see on the plan is where I’ve edited it after the lesson – this shows any changes I made, things we didn’t get through, ideas on how to improve the lesson if I teach something similar again and more.

It just so happens that this 1-2-1 student is the only one who I have taught for the entire time I’ve been in Brno, so here is a plan for the first lesson I taught with him in my second year in Brno:

2nd plan

Again, you can see where I’ve edited the plan after the lesson – this is a great way of reflecting on the lesson for me. I used highlighting in my plans when there is something I really didn’t want to forget, although this is gradually disappearing now as I settle in to my teaching and planning. Another feature is a list of notes at the bottom of the plan; these are things which have come up in discussion and could be potential themes for future lessons. I copy and paste them from plan to plan, adding and taking away from them as things are covered.

The plan from my first lesson from my third year in Brno, is essentially the same:

3rd plan

What you’ll probably notice though, is that the plans are getting shorter and shorter. This is because there are fewer and fewer reminders which I need during a lesson. The main one here is for before the lesson: something I need to remember to copy is in red.

This year I’ve made one more change to my plans: originally I would print them to take into class, but since the end of October 2010 or so, I’ve started taking my computer everywhere with me, so it seemed a bit of a waste to print plans as well. This means that I can edit lesson plans as they are happening – it’s easy enough to move lines up or down as I decide to change something. It also means that anything unfinished can be copied to the following week. (Of course, I only do this when the students are busy and don’t need my help – the rapport is good enough that they know they can call on me whenever they need me).

This is my latest plan, from  last Monday’s lesson:

4th plan

The biggest thing here is the amount of empty space – I’ve become more and more comfortable with the lesson taking the course required by the student, rather than imposing my own will on it. This is especially true in this class, where I’ve got to know the learner very well.

The one thing that has remained constant throughout all of my planning is the materials column. This is the most important part of any plan for me – I can check it just before the lesson and make sure I have everything I need quickly and easily. I also copy and paste file names of specific worksheets I’ve made in there, so that I can just search for something on my computer and all of the lesson plans featuring that sheet / activity appear so I can see how I’ve used it in the past. This works in reverse too: for example, if I think “I had a great activity for second conditional, but I don’t know what I called it”, I can search for “second conditional” on my computer, and see which lesson plans come up. I was very careful right from the start to give every file as clear a name as possible, and thus far it seems to be working!

Many of my colleagues would ask me if I was being observed when they first saw me planning like this, but they have gradually become used to it. I type much faster than I write (although I still write often), so plans don’t take long to produce. I have a database of all of the lessons I’ve ever taught, ready at hand on my computer whenever I need / want to consult it, and as soon as I see a plan, I can almost always remember exactly what happened in the lesson when I taught it. Best of all, I don’t have reams of paper all over the place.

So, these are my plans. Thank you to Cecilia for prompting me to write this post!


Playing with a projector

Our school’s got a new projector, and having a reputation as a technologically-forward type of person, I felt I should get using it as soon as possible, especially since I was one of the people asking for it!

I decided the best place to start was with the intensive group. They have three hours of lessons every day, and having started in September it’s quite difficult to find new things to keep them interested in the lessons. We’re already using Edmodo outside class (I blogged about it here), have made a video for the IH World YouTube competition and had a couple of sessions where they brought their own laptops, but this was the first time technology was one of the main aspects of the class. The lesson may seem a bit disjointed, but it follows the syllabus – finishing a unit on ‘time’, starting another unit and doing some CAE speaking practice.

We started off lightly, getting them used to the idea of having the projector in class. First, I showed them a short presentation I’d made based on some writing they did before Christmas. As an exam class preparing for CAE, one of the big issues I have with them is handwriting. With their permission, I took some of their work back to England and showed it to my friends and family, asking them to rate how easy it was to read. This was the result:

Next we discussed proverbs and I asked the students to suggest some. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ was the best example, so I wrote that on the board. I showed them some pictures from the New English File Advanced teacher’s book. (For copyright reasons, I won’t reproduce them here) They were illustrations of ‘time’ proverbs, such as ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ and ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’. I asked the students to think of ideas for proverbs to go with each picture and to think about whether a similar phrase exists in Czech. We then looked at the pictures a second time and discussed the ‘correct’ answer for each image, as well as any other vocabulary arising from the picture.

To end the first 90-minute session, I showed them a wordle of synonyms for ‘I think’ and challenged them to come up with 18 phrases. Once they had a complete list, we went to break.

(made with wordle.net – please contact me if you’d like the list of phrases)

After the break, we got to the ‘tech-heavy’ part of the lesson – I had decided to take the coursebook off the page and create a webquest. We did all of the activities from the book, but based on original sources, with the students using their own laptops in groups of 3 (there are 12 in the class). The complete webquest is here, with a summary below. I provided the students with links throughout, but encouraged them to look elsewhere if they wanted to.

The unit was called “Are you suffering from affluenza?” so their first task was to find out what “affluenza” is and add their definition to a Google Doc.

Next, they looked at an Amazon summary and a review of the book “Affluenza” by Oliver James, which had both been reproduced in New English File, and answered the comprehension questions through a Google form. I encouraged the students to use their own words, rather than copying and pasting. (I’ll return to this later)

In the final section, they used the ideas from the previous stages of the webquest and various other links I provided to add to a mind map using mind42 – a collaborative mind-mapping site – as preparation for a CAE Speaking part 4-style task.

Students getting involved in the webquest


We then returned to using the projector. First we looked at the final definitions and compared the different answers. We also looked at the answers to the reading comprehension, and discussed whether it was a good idea to copy and paste or write using your own words, as well as how useful both strategies are to remember information.

The final part of the lesson drew the previous work on opinions and brainstorming together. Students worked in groups of three to discuss the topics from the mindmap. To help them, they choose one topic which I showed on the board. They discussed it for three minutes, then changed groups and discussed it again. To finish the lesson off, we had a short conversation about whether the mind-map helped them to organise their ideas and how they felt the first and second time they had each discussion.

From my point of view, the lesson went well. We achieved the aims for the lesson, covered everything from the syllabus, and I think the students enjoyed approaching the material in a different way. I have asked them to send me a short email about how they felt about the lesson and whether they thought it was useful or not. When I have their responses, I will ask their permission to share them here.

I do have a couple of questions though:

  • Do you think the lesson was too focussed around the projector / technology? (The temptation was perhaps too strong, since I’ve been working with only my laptop for the last six months!)
  • Was there anything else I could have done with this material?

Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts!

Receptive Skills

Following a session on Receptive Skills, we had to teach from either a reading or listening section of a coursebook and consider a variety of questions. This was the result:

Class: Level 7, Pre-Advanced (A7ucA)

Coursebook: New English File Advanced, SB p22-23, Exercises 4a-f (listening)

Topic: Childhood memories

Analysis of the exercises

  • Is the text authentic or graded?
    There are three texts. The first consists of five different people speaking about their earliest memories. The second and third are both taken from the same interview discussing scientific research into memory. None of the texts are graded, which is only to be expected at this level, as students should be able to understand the majority of utterances.
  • What is the purpose of the listening?
    The listening is part of an overall unit about childhood memories. Students use it as a prompt for speaking about their own memories, which should use be discussed using ‘used to’, ‘would’ and narrative tenses, the grammar focus for the unit.
  • Is the text being used for skills or language practice?
    The text is mainly being used for skills practice (discussed below), although it also re-exposes students to the narrative tenses studied during the previous lesson.
  • What are the sub-skills that are being practised?
    Ex a: Identify inferences of meaning conveyed through both intonation and choice of lexis.
    Ex b: Intensive listening.
    Ex c-d: Prediction.
    Ex e: Note-taking, intensive listening.
    Ex f:  Responding appropriately to a text.

Lesson plan and notes [ ]

  • Talk about the pictures on the page. [activate schemata before listening]
  • SB p22 Ex 4a: Listen to people talking about their earliest memory. Match them to their emotion. [SS could do this with no problems.]
  • Ex 4b: Listen again. How old was each person? What was their memory? Answer the questions using a table drawn in their books (Speaker / Age / Memory) [Two of the memories were difficult for students to pinpoint accurately as they were not aware of the meaning of the following items of lexis: ‘to be a penny short’, ‘to pine’. We discussed them and listened again, after which students had no more problems understanding.]
  • Ex 4c: Discuss the questions with your partner. [Served to activate schemata in preparation for the listening.]
  • Ex 4d: Listen and check your answers. Was there anything surprising? [SS confirmed their predictions, thereby becoming engaged with the text.]
  • Ex 4e: Write down the key words for the memory. [SS only wanted to listen once, although the book recommended doing so twice. This is a more life-like situation, as it would be unusual to hear exactly the same piece of text more than once.]
  • Retell the story. [SS were motivated and engaged. They rebuilt the text by activating a range of grammatical and lexical knowledge.]
  • Listen and check. [SS discovered how accurate their rebuilt text was. Most of the new versions were quite different from the original, helping students to understand the benefit of being able to listen to a text more than once when in class.]
  • Ex 4f: Do you have any early memories about any of these things? [Using the listening texts for inspiration, students had a long and spirited discussion about their early memories.]


The variety of activities and sub-skills practised meant that students were engaged with the listening throughout the lesson.

Technology / Homework

My first steps towards becoming a technologically active teacher are well on the way.

I’ve already posted about Edmodo, which is now being used by all of my groups, with greater or lesser rates of interest, depending largely on whether my students fall into the category of digital immigrants or digital natives. So far, what students have responded to most have been links to youtube videos related to whatever we’ve been doing in class. For example, after listening to a man talk about genealogy in New English File Advanced, my level 7 Pre-Advanced students watched clips from ‘Who do you think you are?’, a BBC programme which looks into the family history of celebrities from all walks of life. Each person watched the first 10 minutes of the programme at home, then chatted to their classmates about how the subject of the programme felt, what they wanted to find out and what they had discovered during the first section. For the first time in the history of my teaching, I had a 100% homework hit rate! Students were motivated, interested and really enjoyed watching a real programme. The students were really surprised when the subsequent homework from the workbook was about the same programme – it helped them to see the link between their studies and real life.

Another tool which I’ve become slightly obsessed with is voicethread. It’s a collaborative tool for videos and presentations, which users can add text, video or audio comments to as they please. My first attempt was a tongue twisters presentation, which I encouraged fellow teachers in the staffroom to record, followed by a few of my students. Feel free to add you own versions of them!

The only downside is that you can only create three voicethreads on the free accounts. I loved it so much that I actually paid for a class membership – something which I almost never do! Watch out for more of my voicethreads in future posts.

I’ve also gone back to basics in a lot of my classes. With only my poor little laptop, a dodgy internet connection and a whole class (admittedly of only up to 15 students!) to show things to, and without any projector to help me, Powerpoint is really useful. I’ve used it for simple, quick-to-prepare materials like having a visual backup during class feedback after controlled practice exercises, or as speaking prompts rather than using questions from a coursebook. The most time-consuming, but effective use I’ve found for it at the moment is to liven up my teen lessons, based on the book Success Intermediate, which none of my students seem to be particularly inspired by. Here’s an example of one presentation I made to practise adjective word order using clothes vocabulary.

One more use for Powerpoint, which I tried out in the summer at Ardingly (see ‘The End of Ardingly’ post below), is to revise vocabulary using a hidden picture game. The teacher clicks to gradually reveal a picture and a word, all of which can be used to describe people (Beginner – Pre-Intermediate levels). It’s not my idea originally, but unfortunately I really can’t remember where I got it from.

Although it doesn’t look like much in this version, feel free to download it through slideshare and use it yourself. My young learner groups are particularly enthusiastic about this game. Definitely a stirrer rather than a settler!

The great thing about the Powerpoint presentations with the classes which use Edmodo is that I can then post it there and they can use it again at home, something which my students really seem to appreciate.

So, that’s it for now. I’ll post more about my experiments as I try them out.