It’s finally time to rest. After three weeks teaching online, this is one of the few times I desperately needed a break from teaching. It’s been a tough period and although I’ve learned a lot about the virtual classroom, I’m quite convinced that the online experience can never be compared to teaching face to face.
During this lockdown period, I’ve managed to improve my cooking and baking skills, my housework skills, I have more time to spend with my husband, but I’m not so sure my teaching is improving. If you feel the same, don’t beat yourself up.
This isolation has had a great impact on some students; many seem passive and unmotivated. We’re also dealing with the same issues, but at the same time, we have to try and cheer students up, distract them from what’s happening and motivate them to keep learning English. It’s tough on everyone. Especially when the highlight of your week has been having lunch on the balcony on that ONE sunny day!
I’m grateful now, more than ever, for the wealth of websites and teacher blogs, which have been huge help since this whole transition-to-online-teaching started. So many Facebook groups, so many concerns and ideas shared; being part of this global community reminds us we’re not alone in this and that people from all over the world are here to support us.
In this post, you’ll find some new websites/blogs which offer free resources, as well as some of my ideas and tools to use in your classes.
Feedback on language:
I’ve read quite a few posts saying teachers struggle with giving feedback on language, mainly because they don’t want to discourage learners who are already going through rough times, or because it’s strange to do it behind the screen. Here are some suggestions on how to help learners reflect on their errors in a fun/ stress-free way or without interfering at all:
1.First of all, record errors. Keep one list per class. You can use this template I’ve created, inspired by Meddings and Thornbury’s Teaching Unplugged. Categorizing errors makes it easier and faster to deal with them.
2. Kahoot them
Create a kahoot quiz for your students, using said mistakes . Play it during class, or set a challenge, i.e. a game they can play at home with other users who have the link.
3. Reverse translation (YouTube, 2016)
I’ve mentioned this before; it’s a great technique with multiple benefits.
Warmer: tell students you’re going to dictate some sentences and they have to translate them directly into L1. Don’t show them the sentences. Include language they would normally misuse. When they finish translating them, tell them to put this sheet aside and go on with the lesson.
Cooler: Then, at the end of class, tell learners to go back to that sheet and translate the sentences back to English. Reveal displayed sentences on the “whiteboard”. Learners notice and reflect on their mistakes without our intervention.
4. Wheel of fortune
Show learners the sentences you want to correct, one at a time. They can work in groups or individually, whatever they prefer. Use this wheel of fortune . Spin the wheel and if they can find and correct the mistake, they win an amount of money. They might also lose their money or their turn, so it looks more like a game than correction.
5. Create a flip grid video
Very handy if you run out of time in class or if you fear an error correction slot will demotivate learners. Record yourself giving feedback on language; you don’t have to appear in the video, you can just share your notes or your computer screen. My adult students have told me they find it extremely useful.
- Don’t know if this is new but I’ve just discovered this Cambridge app and my students say its really fun and helpful. It includes some fun game-like activities to help students prepare for the B1, such as minimal pairs practice, fast reading, decoding practice and so on.
For the Easter break
- Day Kate has shared this great Semana Santa Vacay English Fun BINGO (1) on facebook. It encourages students to practise English during Easter holidays, by listening to audiobooks, reading articles or writing a journal and many more activities. Links to websites included. If you’re not teaching in Spain, you can simply cross off the Semana Santa title using a pdf editor.
- Daniel Martin has shared this cool treasure hunt for your older learners! They can listen to Beatles song clips and find the missing word.
- Delta publishing have shared some useful resources and ideas, like setting up an online class portfolio, or making a book club and asking learners to complete some tasks in a class blog. Also a lot of resources for teachers, like a task-based lesson ideas folder which I want to explore over the break.
- EAL journal have shared some interesting ideas for home writing tasks during school closures, like story prompts and tools, like comic generators. You can read their post here
Materials and templates
- I’ve created this google doc template for teaching reading. You can open it and save a copy to use with your students. They can edit it simultaneously. It worked great with my adults and teenagers!
2. If you’re interested in a lesson plan based on a poem, Chris Jone’s has shared everything changes plan and materials on twitter.
3. I’ve recently read this EFL magazine article. Ken Lackman has shared a brilliant collocations scavenger hunt which you can assign as homework or do in class after reading a text. You can download it here – Collocations-Scavenger-Hunt.
For young learners
- I’ve mentioned this before; a lot of people use quizlet but aren’t familiar with the gravity function. Please try it! It’s a really fun way to get students to practise words. Asteroids hit your planet and you can only save it by typing the word as the picture.
2. free children stories is a great site for storytelling. Lots of free stories which you can browse by age or style, plus tips for engaging young learners.
3. Eslgamesplus has flash cards in PowerPoint which you can download and edit. They are a great slow reveal game. See video example.
4. Easter egg hunt
You can download the powerpoint and instructions on freeed.
5. Lots of activity ideas in lesson flows.
If you’re teaching learners with special needs, I found this list of apps on linkedin.
If you found this post useful, follow my blog to get new post notifications. Enjoy your Easter break, everybody!
Meddings, L., & Thornbury, S. (2017). Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching. Ernst Klett Sprachen GmbH.
YouTube. (2016). Philip Kerr: The Return of Translation. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kk-DUsgaZ4o [Accessed 3 Mar. 2020].