Vocabulary revision games: Part 2

This post is the second in a series of blog posts about vocabulary revision. In this one, I’m going to list my five favourite games. For a handy list of principles that can guide you to choose the best activities to revise vocabulary, check out my previous post.

What makes a successful vocabulary revision game?

Just as a reminder, here are the main principles that I bear in mind when selecting or creating vocabulary revision games:criteria for vocab revision

Let’s have a look at some engaging games that also tick all the boxes above:

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Helping your older primaries to write

It’s 3pm on a hot afternoon. You have just asked your primary students to write a story in English. All your students can see is a big, blank page that needs to be filled in with words and phrases they are not too sure how to use or know what it means in their language yet. It’s a daunting task, and students start to sigh, complain and procrastinate. They positively beg you to play a game instead, or anything except writing. If this scenario sounds at all familiar, then read on to find out many more ideas to avoid this situation and to help students to really enjoy writing in class. Continue reading

Supporting International Women’s Day in the classroom and beyond

8th March is International Women’s Day. It is a day on which we celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality, all with the aim of forging a gender equal world. Here at Pearson Spain and Portugal, we’d like to mark the day in a number of different ways.

Lesson materials

Firstly, we’ve prepared a reading lesson for your intermediate teens. The focus of the lesson is celebrating women’s achievements. Click to download the student worksheet  and the teacher’s notes. Feel free to adapt and use the material as you wish.

In the lesson, students will read about a scientist, a sports star, a billionaire business executive and an activist, all of whom are women. Unless we’ve been very careful as teachers, our students are likely to have been exposed to more male role models in these categories than female.

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Vocabulary revision games: Part 1

Revision is unquestionably of utmost importance when learning a language, so how do we go about it effectively? What are pedagogically sound criteria for selecting vocabulary revision activities? What’s more, how do we ensure these activities don’t generate a lot of extra work for teachers? In this two-part series of blog posts, we are going to look into what makes vocabulary revision effective and look at lots of ideas for games.

There is a lot of research behind retention and if you want to look into it, I highly recommend reading Paul Nation and Scott Thornbury on this topic to understand the rationale behind the following tasks (in this blog post and in part 2). 

What are the criteria for a good vocabulary revision activity? Let’s begin…

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Rising to the Challenge Part 2: sign up now!

We’re living through a time of great challenges. We’re being challenged personally and professionally and are having to regularly change and adapt and find new reserves of resilience. Teachers for example, have had to incorporate distance learning, social distancing and have had to deal with the emotional upheaval many students are facing.

But as well as a time of great challenges, it’s also been a time of great learning. And we’d like to celebrate this learning in our new series of upcoming webinars: Rising to the Challenge, Part 2. Across a variety of topics we’ll identify new ways of working which are useful for our present and for the future too.

What are the topics and who are the presenters? When are the webinars? Read on

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Squeezing the most out of songs: 10 ideas

This month we launch Pearson Music to learn to, our new Spotify account for teachers and students alike and its first playlist, Songs for St Valentine’s. To celebrate comes a blog post on using songs in the ELT classroom. Many and varied are the reasons for using songs in class and, equally, many and varied are the ways in which they can be used. Why might we use a song?

  • Songs contextualise grammar structures and vocabulary and include repetition and therefore repeated exposure to the same vocabulary and grammar structures…which can  mean remembering language!
  • Particularly If it’s a song they like, songs can be memorable for students…which can mean even more remembering of language!
  • As well as listening to songs, our students can sing them, even better if we go first (and even better with a guitar!). I think I have sung Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire to every class I’ve ever taught and can still picture a student by the name of Juan Cruz doing a cowboy lassoo gesture singing along. Another song I’ve had success singing with a class is Lemon Tree by Fool’s Garden. It inspired the name and picture of this post! And singing songs can help our students…you guessed it, remember language.
  • Many songs have a story behind them that invites interpretation and gets our students talking. A song therefore can be a springboard for discussion.

Next up, how can we squeeze the most out of songs in class? Read on for ten ideas

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Greatest Hits 2020: our five most-viewed posts from last year

This week, we take a look back at our five most-viewed posts of 2020: most-viewed as they’ve been shared a lot, and shared a lot because teachers found them useful (I hope!). And just as we use spaced-repetition to help our learners retain vocabulary they’re learning, a quick reminder of ideas we’ve already seen can help them become a permanent piece of our teaching repertoire!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the unexpected events of 2020 – which are spilling into 2021 – influence our list, as two posts on online lessons and one post on classroom activities with masks made the cut. Teachers are still on the lookout for games to use in class, with a post on guessing games finding its way into the top five too. Our list is rounded out with a post on ways to get your students to keep up their learning in the holidays. Here we go!

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EFL Compass: Reflection and planning in difficult times

I’m a huge fan of reflection and planning. Every year I sit down with my partner or a friend (or sometimes even alone) and go through the YearCompass questions. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a little booklet designed by a group of Hungarian university students, which went viral in 2012. You can download it in 61 languages (to print out or fill in in the digital version) and only last year around 1,500,000 people downloaded it. 

On January 2nd 2021, I sat down to do it again, and frankly, just couldn’t. 2020 was such a difficult year for everyone and it really has turned our whole world upside down. What’s the point in reflecting on such a year? So I put it aside but for some reason couldn’t let go of the idea completely. What’s there to reflect on? Until I realised: my professional life! I’m sure many of you working in ELT can say that although 2020 was an extremely challenging year, it was a year in which we learnt A LOT about teaching (whether it was socially distanced, online, hybrid or a combination of these), and since I keep telling my students that revision and reflection are key to learning, that’s what I should do, too!

So in this blog post I’m going to select a few of the YearCompass questions and answer them about my professional life in 2020/2021. My hope is that it will motivate you to reflect, too!

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Breaking the Boredom with Properly Planned Projects

Teachers and students are living through trying times. With the constant change in regulations resulting in students going online, then back into class, then into a hybrid class and back online, it’s no wonder teachers and students alike don’t know if they’re coming or going and motivation can wane. All I know is we teachers are doing the best we can.

The Spark

One thing I have found to be a huge help has been the use of projects in class. Using projects is  is a great way to help students make real-life connections with the material, as well as increase motivation, participation and collaboration – all while working on all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking), having fun and learning at the same time. There are clear learning outcomes. The students have a tangible end product which they can be proud of. And can we keep using projects if our lessons are moved online? You bet we can!

In this blog post we’ll look at how to get the most out of projects with our teens.

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Shortcut to Success. Eight hotkeys making Zoom classes a breeze

Are you a victim of cumbersome cutting and slow screen switches in your online lessons? Perhaps you’re doing lots more clicking than you need to. And I’ve got some simple solutions to mute the madness.

There are a vast number of hotkeys in Zoom, each with its own very particular function. I’ve picked out the eight hotkeys that have made my online lessons a great deal smoother and more efficient, enabling me to move seamlessly around an activity and from one part of the lesson to another.

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