5 books for your students to read this summer

Summer’s (nearly) here and the time is (nearly) right, for dancing in the street! After what’s been a challenging year in so many ways, teachers and students alike are looking forward to a well-earned summer break. But before we dismiss our class, we might set them a task or two to keep up their English: summer’s long over here! Last year I wrote a post with ten top tips for summer activities. In the coming weeks, my colleague Anita Derecskei will be looking at getting our students working autonomously on their writing and speaking and then grammar and vocabulary. But today, I’d like to suggest that classic summer activity: reading a book. And I’d like to share five of my favourite stories to suit different tastes and levels. But this is just the tip of the iceberg – click here to see more!

  1. The Twits

This Roald Dahl classic is one of my son’s favourite books, I must have read it to him a dozen times, I never get bored of it and neither does he. It’s hilariously funny and The Twits are deliciously evil! Imagine putting a ‘Skillywiggler’ in your wife’s bed and telling her ‘It’s got teeth like screwdrivers!’ We repeat this line every time we see a big insect in the countryside. Give it a go with your young learners: you won’t regret it!

 

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Structuring a grammar class…and five top practice activities

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Grammar lessons sometimes get a bad press. Perhaps that’s because in the past the lion’s share of the grammar class has been devoted to an explanation and mechanical practice activities. Those things are necessary, but redressing the balance with more meaningful communicative activities can lead to our students coming to our grammar lessons with more of a spring in their step…and they’ll learn the grammar better too!

In the blog post we’ll consider a procedure to teach grammar (Part 1) and move onto five top activities to practice the grammar taught (Part 2). Let’s begin!

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Helping our students recognise the author’s opinion

Being able to understand and give an opinion is crucial in communication. It makes our connections with each other stronger and our dialogue richer. This important skill is also tested a lot in reading and listening exam tasks, so it’s important that we pay attention to the variety of ways in which a writer or speaker can do this, and help our students to recognise and use it themselves.

As we can see from these GSE descriptors, this skill starts to be developed and is expected at an A2 level:

and continues well into C1:

It’s a skill we can help our students with in general, and also for exam preparation. This blog post is going to take a typical listening text you find in a course book and provide ideas on how to teach it, and then provide further activities for you to use in class to help your students to recognise and use the language used to express opinions.

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Helping students with word formation exam tasks

Word formation is not only a task that you encounter in most language exams, but also a skill that our students need for everyday language use, be it written or spoken.

In this blog post, we are going to look at what’s being tested in the word formation task, how we can exploit more the short text of the task, how students can record vocabulary to maximise exam success and how to get students to work collaboratively with some games to spice up the preparation. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran of preparing students for word formation, I’m sure you’ll take away a fresh perspective here and an idea there to augment your routine.

What is being tested?

In Cambridge main suite exams (Preliminary, FCE and CAE), the word formation task appears in the Use of English part of the written exam. In this task, students are given a short text with 8 gaps and some root words. They have to formulate new words using the roots to make the sentences (and the whole text) logical and coherent. It tests students’ lexico-grammatical knowledge as well as their reading skills. In order to be able to fill in the gaps, learners need to understand the text as a whole and know how to formulate words.

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Speak Out for Sustainability – Get Involved!

As English teachers we know a thing or two about preparing our students for the future. For starters, we help develop our students’ communicative competence in the language itself. We look to integrate other skills too, such as digital literacy, critical thinking or the ability to collaborate with others in a team. But as well as ‘preparing’ our students for the future, we can also give them the tools to go out and shape that future for themselves.

Speak Out for Sustainability, a project recently launched by Pearson and BBC Studios is a project with our students’ futures in mind. It’s a project which has at its heart the goal of making that future sustainable. And we aim to do that by raising awareness of sustainability issues and inspiring action and interaction among teachers and students alike.

Read on to find out more…

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