Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tongue Twisters

I love tongue twisters. I think they are great for pronunciation practice, for spelling practice and they are so fun to work with, especially when you have to do those boring drills. So here's an activity that is great for pronunciation and spelling practice for learners of any age and proficiency level.

First you have to choose some tongue twisters you want to work with. I found the best collection here and here. Print them out and tell your students to form pairs or small groups (3-4 people). Give each group or pair a different tongue twister and tell them to learn it by heart. 

Give them some time for that and then each pair or group should chant the tongue twister in unison over and over again while the rest of the class tries to write down what they are saying. The important thing is for the group who is "performing" not to stop at the end of the tongue twister, but to repeat it over and over again without a pause. They can stop only when someone from the class has written down the whole tongue twister (the person should signal it by raising their hand). 

Once you check whether the tongue twister is guessed right, you choose another pair or group to chant their one (usually the one from which a person got the tongue twister right first).

Hope you have fun with this activity! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rumor Has It...

No, this post won't be about Adele's song, but about an activity that can not only make your students practice listening and speaking, but also learn a lot about communication. This is an activity for the whole class and it's great to use if you have some behavioral problems within your students. If they are in their teenage years, there will certainly be many ups and downs between them, especially if you take into account that rumors can sometimes make a person's life unbearable. When doing this activity you can show them how a rumor starts, while they practice their speaking and listening skills.

You should ask at least 4-5 of your students to volunteer for the activity and tell them to step outside the classroom for a few minutes. They should wait in front of the door until you call them in, one by one. Tell them not to eavesdrop on what is going on in the classroom, as that will ruin the purpose of the activity. 

When they are out of the classroom, you should read a story to the rest of the class, or make another student do it. The story should be short, have at least 4-5 characters and be pretty detailed. I found one here, so take a look, but I think that this one should be alternated a bit (e.g. change the person to 3rd person singular, so that it sounds like you are talking about someone else, not like someone is talking about their own experience; and add as many details as you want). Your students should listen carefully because they will have to retell the story as accurate as possible to the students who are now outside of the classroom.

When the story is read out loud, one student from the outside, should enter the classroom and the rest of the class should retell the story to him/her. When they are done, another student enters the classroom, and now the student who entered the first should retell the story, again as accurate as possible. Then another student enters and you do this until everyone is in. The last student who enters, should hear the story and then retell it on the spot to the rest of the class. It will probably be hilarious because most of the facts will be thrown out, some of them will be changed, and some of them completely misunderstood.

You should then read the story again, so that everyone sees how the original went and then tell them that this is how a rumor starts and that they should always be aware of communication gaps and wrong interpretations.

What do you think about this activity? Do you have any good short stories that can be used for it?

Friday, September 21, 2012


The game of Taboo is one of my favorite party games and here's an idea how to use it in class when revising vocabulary. The game itself is a word guessing game, which is played in pairs. The objective is to have your partner guess the word you are describing without using that word and another three to five words written on the same card. 

 You can make your own taboo cards for a specific topic, but you can also make a Power Point presentation in which you put a word (or a picture of it) and some other words that are closely related to that word, but may not be used. If that's the case, you can divide your students into teams and they can play against each other. A student from each team has to come forward and sit or stand with his/her back to the screen and then the rest of his/her team have to describe the words. If the student guesses the word, the team gets a point and then it's another team's turn. You can even measure their time, so just give them a minute to try and guess the word to spice it all up.

I absolutely love this game! I played it in class a few years ago, just when I started my studies and it was a bit difficult for me the first time I tried it, because we did it in German and we played it with the real game, so some words were just too much for me at that level. However, I had so much fun with it and so did my colleagues. It really makes you think outside the box and use some compensation strategies. Just make sure to adapt it to your students' level.

How do you usually revise vocabulary? Have you ever used Taboo?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Facebook, Twitter, Conditionals and a Chain Story

I'm sure you're all familiar with the chain story as a form of writing exercise, but today I'll present a little spin to the activity. You can use this method whenever you want, but let's take an example of dealing with conditional sentences. When practicing conditionals, you should start a sentence with: "If I was a rock star..." and a student should continue the sentence with their own words, e.g. "If I was a rock star, I would be very popular." Then another student should continue like this: "If I was very popular ...". You do this until everyone has said their own sentence. 

 You can also use some alternatives and here is where Twitter comes in. As you all know, a Twitter message can contain up to 140 signs, so you can tell your students to write their example as long as possible, but no longer than 140 signs. They can do this on paper or really use their Twitter accounts if they have them. Twitter is even better for real chain stories, where students have to write their sentences based on only the last sentence before theirs. Those are really funny to read at the end. 

They could do this on their Facebook accounts as well, or if you have a Facebook group for a certain class, you could start a story in a post and then they could write the rest of it in the comments. This would be a great homework, since they probably spend a lot of time on Facebook and it wouldn't feel like a real homework.

Do you use social networks in your classroom? How?

Saturday, September 15, 2012


A cinquain is a poem consisting of 5 verses, which can be used for many different things in an EFL classroom. This is the pattern of the poem: 

1. the first line is a noun describing the subject of the poem;
2. the second line consists of two adjectives describing the noun in the first line;
3. the third line contains three verbs (infinitive or gerund form) that give more information about the subject;
4. the fourth line is a four-word phrase describing feelings related to that subject;
5. the fifth line is a noun again, a synonym of the subject in the first line.

When doing literature, you can ask your students to write a cinquain about the story or about another poem. You can ask them to write a cinquain when introducing a new subject to see what their pre-knowledge is or use it as an introduction for a discussion in class. When there are some problems in the class you can also tell them to write a cinquain to express their feelings and you can always use this type of poem to introduce certain parts of speech, new vocabulary or practice their writing skills.

Have you ever used a cinquain in your classroom? How was it accepted?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paper Snowball

A paper snowball is a great prop for revising vocabulary. I made an activity with a paper snowball when I had to prepare revision of numbers, but it can be used for anything else. You just have to print or write certain words, numbers etc. on separate sheets of paper, each sheet containing one word, number, etc. Then you start forming a snowball. First you crumple one sheet of paper as much as you can. Than you wrap another one around it and crumple it as well. You continue doing that with the rest of the paper until you wrap everything and it looks like a snowball. 

Tell your students to stand in a circle and start throwing the snowball to each other. Each student that catches it has to unfold one paper, show it to the rest of the class, read the word out loud and then translate it, or use it in a sentence, or explain what it means or whatever you want them to do. Make sure to explain how to throw a ball inside the classroom beforehand and make the letters of the words visible to everyone (bear in mind that the circle might get pretty wide depending on the number of your students).

This method is very cheap and you can recycle the materials and it won't take more than 10 minutes to make them.

How do you usually revise vocabulary? Do you think throwing a ball in a classroom is a good idea?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Book Depository

I’m sure you’ve all probably noticed the banners on my blog, which lead you to the Book Depository web site if you click on them. Now it’s time to tell you something more about that. I decided to put them out there for you to notice this amazing online bookstore because I’ve been their returning customer for a very long time and I absolutely love their service.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

About The Book Depository
The Book Depository is the UK's largest dedicated online bookseller, offering the largest range of titles in the world, available for dispatch within 48 hours. Founded in 2004 to make 'All Books To All' we focus on selling 'less of more' rather than 'more of less', differentiating ourselves from other retailers who increasingly focus on bestsellers. 

Free Worldwide Delivery
The Book Depository is an international bookseller shipping our books free of charge, worldwide, to over 100 countries. By working with various world postal authorities and other carriers, we are always looking to add more countries to this list.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

You can find any kind of literature you want on their site and at much lower prices than you would find them in your local book store as well as many reviews, information about bestsellers, fast movers, books of the week etc.  The books I’ve ordered so far were always on time and flawless.  (It takes them about a week to arrive to Croatia.)

With all that said, I would totally recommend trying out purchasing any kind of books on the Book Depository. Here are just some links to the web site, which might be interesting for you if you read my blog (just click on the name).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fortune Teller

If you want to spice up your classes when it comes to teaching and practicing tenses, try this idea for practicing future tenses or use it as an inspiration for something else. 

I really enjoyed playing with the fortune teller origami as a kid, but even now, 15 years later, it's still really amusing. I tried out this method in one of my classes and it worked great, so I hope you'll have fun with it as much as I and my colleagues did.

This activity will help your students practice the Future Simple tense. They should work in pairs and tell the future to one another. They will use the fortune teller origami that you can make for them, but the better option would be to let them make it. Here is how you make a fortune teller origami:

After you have folded the paper in the right way, you should write certain things inside of the fortune teller origami. I would suggest writing some names of the cities, people, cars, brands, colors etc. In the middle part of the origami you should write numbers from 1 to 8 and then on the most outer part draw some shapes, or color the parts in different colors. Also, prepare some guidelines or questions for your students to use, which will correspond to the words that you have written in the most inner part of the origami.

Now the students should start to play. One person from the pair has the fortune teller origami in their hands and the other one asks questions. It should look something like this:

Person A asks questions and Person B has the origami.

A: Where will I live in 2015?
B: Pick a color from the fortune teller! (The one on the outer part of the origami.)
A: Yellow.
B: Y-E-L-L-O-W (While spelling the word out loud, this person should open and close the origami for each letter.) Now pick a number!
A: 5.
B: (opens up the most inner part of the origami under number 5) You will live in London.

And now they can swap roles. You can even give them an assignment to come up with a story behind the answer to use the Future Simple even more. (e.g. Person B says: "You will first move to Italy and you will get married there. Your spouse will be from England and then you will move to London.") Some of the other questions to use could be: What car will I own? What will be the name of my first child? What color will my house be? How many times will I get married?

I can assure you that they will have fun, just let them talk and use the tense through the game (almost unconsciously). What do you think of this game? Would you use it in class?

P.S. This blog is approaching its 1000th view and I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who read my posts regularly. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Number Challenge Game

I think that the easiest way to learn something is if you have fun while doing it. That’s why this post is about a game of numbers for young learners, which can be adapted to any level and any topic. While playing this game, students develop their competitive spirit and practice naming numbers. They also practice speaking, counting and receiving instructions.

All you need is some cardboard paper, some colorful marker pens, scissors and about an hour of your free time to make this board game. First of all, think of all the different tasks for your students – they could count, they could name numbers, they could count backwards, they could even do some TPR activities while doing all that stuff. When you figure out what you want them to do, make little cards with challenges and questions and color-code them. After that just think of a design of the actual board, draw in the shapes, color it according to the cards and write down the instructions.

For playing you’ll need: game board, instructions, skittles, dice and cards. 

You can see my version of the game in the pictures and here you can download the instructions and cards with challenges (you’ll just have to make the ones with numbers on triangles and squares by yourself). Feel free to use the game and let me know how it went. :)