Ten Top Back to School ice-breakers

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

And just like that we’re back. The holidays have drawn to a close and the suncream’s back in the cabinet. The laptop’s dusted off and thoughts turn to the 25 (hopefully) beaming faces that we’ll soon have in front of us. In our first lesson back we’ll often outline our rules and expectations, explain the content of the course and get to know one another with a range of ice breaking activities. This blog post focuses on the latter. Here are 10 activities to go away and use on the first day back!

1. Teacher introduction gap fill

We’ll want our students telling us about themselves, but it’s easier for them if we go first. There are a number of ways to this. One is a gapped text which students can look over in pairs and make predictions. They’re sure to make a few funny ones which should help break the ice:

I’m Mr Brand. Nice to meet you! I was born in ______________(Country) in _______________ (Year). But I’ve lived in Spain for ___________ (years). My favourite sport is _____________ and my favourite food is _____________. I can’t stand ____________!

Students can then write or read their own texts and even gap fill them too.

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Mediation and the LOMLOE part 2: mediating a text

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Welcome to our second blog post on mediation, which is one of the six key competences for foreign languages in the new Education Law, the LOMLOE. In part 1 we asked ourselves what mediation is and why it’s important. We delved into the different subskills that make up a successful mediator and considered the ways in which we’ll already be developing these subskills in class. In part 2, we’re going to consider what a full ‘mediating a text‘ task might look like. Let’s begin!

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Mediation and the LOMLOE: read all about it!

We’ve been blogging at some length about the new Education Law and particularly about what it means for teachers of English. In the new curriculum for Foreign Languages the Key Competences to be developed have undergone change. There are now six, namely:

Comprehension
Production
Interaction
Mediation
Plurlingualism
Cultural competence

In this blog post, we’re going to deal with the key competence of mediation and consider these questions

1. What is mediation in a broad sense?
2. Why is mediation important?
3. What sub skills are involved in mediation?
4. How can we develop (and how are we already developing) this competence in our students? We will further expand on this point in the next blog post.

Let’s begin!

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6 great ways to use dictation in your English class

Dictation is a tried and tested activity in the language classroom. It’s a multi-skilled activity, testing listening and writing skills: it’s quick to correct too, and it’s diagnostic: we get valuable feedback for where our learners need to improve. Dictation draws our students attention to many features of speech: it helps them get to grips with elision:  the omission of sounds ( /kamra/ for camera). The same can be said for assimilation: a sound becoming more like a nearby sounds (we often say ‘hambag’ for handbag). Indeed, dictation is particularly suited to English because of it’s complicated sound/spelling relationship.

Dictation is also used in certification exams. Take this example from the B1 level of the Pearson English International Certificate. At the top are the instructions the candidate sees, and the transcript of what they hear below:

Candidates hear the recording twice and the second time they hear it there are pauses to give them time to write (represented by the slashes above).

Read on to look at six great dictation activities to use in class with your students:

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Developing the LOMLOE Key Competence of Citizenship at Primary

The new Education Law outlines eight key competences to be developed across subject areas as part of its ‘perfil de salida’ (leaver profile). These are general competences that school leavers will need to get on in life and be effective members of society. One of these key competences is Citizenship and in this blog post we are going to look at how it is defined according to the LOMLOE and consider some activities we can do with our primary pupils to develop the competence.
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Getting future-ready with STEM and the LOMLOE

Spain’s new Education Law (LOMLOE) outlines STEM competences as one of the 8 key areas of the leaver profile (“perfil de salida”) – the core cross-curricular competences that learners should leave school with. This arises from the idea that STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is important for developing individuals now and for the future. Helping your students become future-ready means that they will develop skills, transferable abilities and a learning mindset that will prepare them to face future challenges. And all this, believe it or not, can happen in your English language classroom!

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Supporting International Women’s Day: #breakthebias

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. Celebrate women’s achievements. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

I took this introduction from the International Women’s Day website as I couldn’t improve upon it. I think we can agree that it’s a world we’d like to live in and one that’s worth fighting for. To create it, we’ll need to educate our children and indeed ourselves in the values above. In this blog post, I’d like to look at some of the things we can do as educators, parents and as people to try to make it a reality.

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Developing self management in English class: part 2

Persistence, confidence, optimism and emotional intelligence. Useful qualities to have? They’re all outlined as part of the competencia personal, social y de aprender a aprender, one of the key competences in the new LOMLOE.

In part 1 of this two part series we broke down the key competence (I called it self management) and considered how to develop skills like planning, goal setting and reflection, which are all part of ‘learning to learn‘. Today we’re going to look at the four areas mentioned in the first sentence of this post. Let’s begin!

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LOMLOE: Creating Learning Experiences in the Primary Classroom

The new LOMLOE Education Law in Spain encourages our primary students to work towards participating in ‘situaciones de aprendizaje‘ or ‘learning situations‘ as projects at the end of course book chapters or curriculum sections in their language learning. But what are they and how can teachers set them up and use them in class? This blog post will take you through the essential elements to consider when implementing them.

First of all, let’s look at the wording of the law when it comes to creating ‘learning situations’. It asks our students to:

1. Take what they have learned in class with you and use it in a complex task to achieve an objective.

2. Use their comprehension, production, interaction and mediation skills.

3. Respond to a 21st century task that’s relevant to their interests or concerns.

4. Participate in a real or potential task.

5. Work with texts (oral, written and multimodal).

6. Do the task in order to progress with language and learn more about culture.

7. Reflect on the experience.

Let’s take a look at each point and break it down a little further.

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LOMLOE: developing the self management competence in English class

Happy New Year one and all! It’s a New year, with New Year’s Resolutions and a New Education Law: the LOMLOE!

Back in our first blog post on the new law, we considered how the LOMLOE sets out a ‘leaver profile’ which establishes the eight key competences that young people will need to make their way in life in personal, social and academic domains. The competences are to be developed across subject areas.

One of these eight competences is referred to as the competencia personal, social y de aprender a aprenderwhich I’m referring to as self management, as most of the descriptors outlined for this competence in the perfil de salida fall under the umbrella of self management, as we will see.

In this blog post, the first in a two part series, I’m going to:

  1. Have a look at the description of the competence in the law
  2. Consider what we can do in English class to develop the competence.

In post 2, I will continue with the second practical section, as there’s a lot we can do with our students.

Let’s begin!
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