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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: Expect the Unexpected - April Fool’s Day ESL Classroom Ideas

The first of April, some do say
Is set apart for All Fool's Day;
But why the people call it so
Nor I, nor they themselves, do know,
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.

Poor Robin's Almanac (1790)

This verse was recorded quite a while ago but still reflects the general feeling about this fun little holiday that is celebrated in many countries around the world.

Explain to your students that the only gift they may give or get on April Fool’s Day is an empty gift wrap. They shouldn’t be surprised if someone asks them to bring some non-existent thing (e.g.: striped paint or left-handed tool). They should definitely be skeptical about what they read, hear or see on that day (including on radio, TV and in newspapers), especially if it seems out of ordinary.
 
Sample warm-up questions on this day may include the following:

1. Is it a notable day in your country?
2. Would you play a practical joke on your family members, close friends, neighbors or enemies?
3. Do people get a day off work or school on that day in your country?
4. Why is it important to remain vigilant on April 1st?
5. Do you get tricked sometimes? Do you know someone who often falls victim to practical jokes?

Additional ideas:

Review relevant April Fool’s vocabulary.

Work on the humorous story “The Last Laugh” and related idiomatic vocabulary.

Go over practical joke devices.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:39 PM   1 Comments  Add Comment

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: When A Day Has 23 Hours

The daylight saving time is now in effect in Canada and most of the United States. As we moved our clocks one hour forward, the days seem to stretch longer and nights go by faster.

How do your students manage to spring their biological clocks ahead? Do they view the time change as ‘no big deal’? Encourage sharing their views on this annual transition by discussing the (sample) questions below in small groups:

1. Does your country observe daylight saving time? If yes, when does it begin and end? When was daylight saving time first introduced in your country?

2. Do you always remember to adjust the clock? Has it ever come as a surprise? Have you ever missed the change? Have you ever showed up at work/school one hour early/late?

3. Turning the lights on later in the day and reducing the use of electricity in the evening is one of the benefits of daylight saving time. What are some additional (economic, health, safety) benefits of clock shifts?

4. Some of the electronic devices may still show incorrect time after switching to daylight saving time. What are some additional drawbacks of moving the clocks forward/backward? Does the time shift benefit or disrupt farmer’s schedule?

5. As an American envoy in France, Benjamin Franklin suggested firing cannons at sunrise to wake up Parisians so that they use the morning light more efficiently and economize on candles in the evenings. Benjamin Franklin is known as an author of the famous proverb: “ Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. Do you agree with this proverb? Support your answer.

6. The first Sunday in November will have 25 hours as we return to Standard Time. Do you look forward to gaining an extra hour of sleep?

Springing froward means losing one hour of sleep and often affects our sleep patterns. Check out what Roz Chast, a writer and cartoonist, does when she can’t fall asleep. Save the cartoons for a health-related class too.

View the world clock here.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 1:20 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

top Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog:Teaching Irregular Verbs Lexical Approach Style

Famously, the Lexical Approach differentiates between vocabulary (as a stock of individual words) and lexis (that includes word combinations or meaningful language chunks in addition to single words). Grammar plays second fiddle to lexis that is central to creating meaning; therefore, to use language fluently, students need to develop a vast arsenal of lexical chunks.

While using a correct form of an irregular verb is important, its choice (past simple or participle) is driven by meaning. Through input (readings, recordings, picture descriptions), provided by a teacher, students will gradually gain understanding of how the forms are used in real life situations.

The following activities can be beneficial to help students retain the forms as well as ensure they apply these forms in correct contexts:

1. Build phrases. Since each of the phrases includes a verb, possible combinations will include verb+noun, verb+prepositional phrase (or a prepositional verb - with a preposition associated with a particular verb) or verb+adverb combinations:

run a marathon/errands
run for mayor/into debt
run loose

After the phrases are built, follow with questions that require the past and past participle forms:

Did you run any errands on Sunday?
Have you ever run for a President of the Student Council?
Do you know a successful business that is run by women only?
I would have run a quick scan for you if you had asked me.

2. Focus on a specific group of verbs on the list that you’ve provided in class (e.g.: verbs 10 to 20). Ask to find a verb that can go together with a list of words that is written on the board. Try to have the verb in a different positions e.g.:

_____ fingers along the page/through his hair
_____ short of money
a river/well ____ dry
a cold _____ its course

Have students think of sentences with these combinations focussing on grammar currently discussed in class.

The deeper and broader way of working with the irregular verbs overtime will ensure students gain understanding of a variety of meanings making grammatical structures more obvious, logical and memorable. After all, many students consider the table of irregular verbs their forte, yet can’t progress beyond the basic levels of English.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:48 PM   7 Comments  Add Comment



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