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Materials and Activities for English Language Teaching

City Guide

Using mind maps to help learners develop texts

Age: Teenagers and Adults

Level: A2+

Aim:

By the end of the lesson, each pair of students will have produced an article about a city for a travel magazine. This will be done by generating, expanding on and organising ideas via a mind map.

Rationale:

This is a great, practically materials-free lesson which suits a range of levels. All you need are students, paper and pens. Of course, there are lots of ways of getting students to produce an article, but this approach is great because it puts their experiences, ideas and knowledge centre-stage. While some learners may automatically transfer effective writing skills from L1, others may not, therefore it helps to break down the process and spend time on each stage.

Mind maps are a great way to generate ideas, which makes the eventual writing process less stressful. Having students work in pairs to complete the task creates valuable opportunities for peer teaching as they exchange ideas and decide on the best way to express them in writing. It also helps the teacher to monitor and support learners, by listening to their thought processes and providing suggestions as required.

City Guide procedure

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Tourist Information:

If, after looking at the example, you are interested in visiting Palermo, this article from The Guardian might be of interest!

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My house

A vocabulary worksheet for Young Learners

Age: 8-10

Level: A1

Aim:

By the end of the lesson, students will be better able to recognise and use vocabulary for rooms and furniture.

Rationale:

This is a topic which commonly appears on a YL syllabus and also represents an important part of children’s lives: their home. The worksheet itself doesn’t specify exactly which items to teach, because each book or syllabus seems to choose a slightly different selection, so choose which ones are best for your learners. If in doubt, the Cambridge English Young Learners Handbook for Teachers has a very useful thematic vocabulary list, but be careful not to overload students. Depending on your learners and the length of your classes, you might want to split the activities over two lessons.

Recording new vocabulary is important, but simply writing an alphabetical list may not be particularly memorable. In this case, there’s a clear link between the words and their physical location, so it makes sense to organise the lexis in this way and make a strong connection between the concept and the word. Asking students to listen and draw the furniture before labelling it scaffolds their learning by moving from reception to production, and also makes the process more personal by allowing them some creativity and fun.

My house procedure

My house handout

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Further information:

If you would like some more ideas for creative worksheets, have a look at my talk Worksheets which Work from the International House Teachers’ Online Conference.

How do you say…?

A classroom language song for Young Learners, to the tune of Frère Jacques

Age: 7-10

Level: A1

Aim:

By the end of the lesson, students will be better able to understand and use useful chunks of functional classroom language. This will be achieved by learning a song.

Rationale:

To promote English in the classroom, it’s important to provide young learners with a bank of phrases which allow them to meet their immediate needs. Since music is appealing and memorable for children, it’s a great way to introduce these chunks. Using actions helps make the meaning clear, and also means the chunks are easier to remember because learners are engaged in a number of different ways.

The song could easily be introduced and practised without using the handout. However, it is helpful for learners to keep a record of it in their files or glue it into their notebook in case they need it. This encourages them to develop good study skills, too. The tune is well-known and catchy, and I found that my learners would burst into song at random times during the year! 

How do you say procedure

How do you say handout

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Acknowledgements:

Thanks go to Jenny Holden, DoS at IH Language Centre Palermo, who came up with the idea of using a handout. I should probably also apologise to anyone who was in the staffroom at the time who had to listen to me or students endlessly singing the same tune!

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