Posts Tagged ‘ELT’

This post was originally published on Marisa Constantinides — TEFL Matters on August 10, 2012. It was re-posted by Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto who supports the ELTchat project, and is very proud of her brief stint as a moderator for the group, so she shared the post on Teaching Village. 

Being a great admirer of both Marisa’s and Barbara’s dedication and work to support the world of ELT, I am now sharing this post here.

It’s sad when something like this happens.

For the last – well, almost two years now, since September 15 2010, #ELTchat has kept us on our toes and forged hundreds of professional and personal relationships amongst its followers who turn up on Twitter every Wednesday to talk about topics they have suggested and voted on – a community of peers which was created by a small group of colleagues – which grew and grew some more and became something that counts as an important part of our continuous professional development.

Like many great ideas, it didn’t hit just one person but several.

ELTchat logo

And that is how #ELTchat was created.

The website to keep up the communication of its members, a base and repository of our ideas was one of the first things we all thought of creating – the wiki came later.

Andy Chaplin was keen to join the moderation team and help with podcasts and technical stuff; he was quick to buy eltchat.com and announced the good news to us after the fact.

A few months later, right after TESOL France 2011, he suddenly disappeared – some say for reasons of health.

We never found out for sure.

We never received a single word of response to our emails.

eltchat.com was and still is registered in his name.

And yesterday we lost it


On August 8 the domain expired and we have no way of taking over unless it goes up for sale again; it was very sad that Andy Chaplin did not find it appropriate to renew.

The news is really upsetting.

The work we have put in on this website cannot be told in a few simple words – but it has been a labour of love and we have got so much out of it that we have never regretted one single moment

We are pretty upset at the behaviour of this individual – disappointment is one big understatement.

But we trust that our community of #ELTchatters, our PLN for short, will again gather round the new domain which we have purchased – eltchat.org

It will take us a few days to put the website back on its feet

And all will be as it was before – all the posts in place all your thoughts and comments, all the polls and great summaries which got us on the shortlist of the ELTon Awards nominations

We will be back with a vengeance

We are not just a website – we did not get on the ELTon awards shortlist as just another website!!!

 We are a great community of teachers and we have a Plan B!


See you all in September!!!

Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto

Melania Paduraru

P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers, teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers, reposted this on your blog

If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.

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It took me a while to deal with the results to the survey on RA in class – the one I was mentioning in my post Some more on RA in my classes, mainly because of the following reasons:

– disappointment – I sent the survey to 14 teachers in Constanta, hoping for and looking forward to their help; an impressive number of 8 responses were added to the already existing 45 – no further comment!

– the winter holidays and the sudden change in my plans on how and where I would spend them – waiting for my first time in London to happen, there was little room for anything else in my agenda…

However, I feel bound to publish the results of that survey, especially because I promised I would do that and because, as I already mentioned, they are important to me.

Here are the tables and charts automatically generated by the Google Docs application I used for the survey and collection of data.

1. Participants’ age:

I am 14 2 4%
I am 15 23 43%
I am 16 20 38%
I am 17 8 15%


2. I am a:

boy 30 57%
girl 23 43%


3. When we do a Reading Practice activity, …

I usually volunteer to read aloud 11 21%
I sometimes volunteer to read aloud 25 47%
I rarely volunteer to read aloud 14 26%
I never volunteer to read aloud 3 6%

Question 3

4. If it were my choice, …

I would never read aloud 3 6%
I would sometimes read aloud 35 66%
I would be the only one to read aloud 15 28%

Question 4

5. When I read aloud in class and the teacher stops me and names another student, …

I feel relieved. I am finally left alone. 3 6%
I feel disappointed. I would like to read the whole text. 17 32%
I feel generous. Everyone should have a chance to read aloud in class. 30 57%
I feel ready to laugh at my colleagues’ mistakes. 3 6%

Question 5

6. When I read aloud in class, I generally feel…

confident. I have an opportunity to show the teacher how good my English is! 24 45%
nervous. What if I don’t know some of the words? 14 26%
proud. The teacher rarely corrects my pronunciation. 14 26%
insecure. I know I will make mistakes. 12 23%
indifferent. It’s boring anyway! 7 13%
uncomfortable. Everyone will be looking at me. 7 13%
bad. They’ll laugh at my pronunciation. 3 6%
embarrassed. The teacher always corrects my pronunciation. 3 6%
scared. Why me? What have I done? 3 6%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Question 6

7. When I read aloud and the teacher corrects my pronunciation, …

I simply hate it! Why did she ask me to read if she knows I’ll make mistakes? 0 0%
I don’t particularly like it, but I understand why she does it. 27 51%
I feel so bad! She makes a fool of me in front of the class! 0 0%
I kind of like it… She helps me improve my English after all… 26 49%

Question 7

8. When I do my homework and there’s a text in the coursebook, …

I prefer to read it aloud. 19 36%
I prefer to read it silently. 31 58%
I would like to listen to someone else reading it. 2 4%
I just turn the page! 1 2%

Question 8

9. I like reading aloud in class because… – 25 participants answered this question*

  1. … if i don’t i get really bored.
  2. … no one understands what I read anyways.
  3. a better pronunciation never hurts
  4. Because I pay more attention to the meaning of the text.
  5. I can discover my mistakes .
  6. I can improve my English.
  7. I can show the level of English that I have and also I have the opportunity to express my opinions and share them with my classmates.
  8. I can test my English skills and because I can correct the spelling mistakes that I make.
  9. I can test my pronunciation, i can test also my english.
  10. I improve my pronunciation.
  11. I like reading aloud in class because I improve my English speaking.
  12. I like to read and I understand the text more when I read it aloud.
  13. I only read when I feel confident and I like that subject
  14. I think I can improve my English.
  15. I usually like to read and I learn to avoid a lots of my mistakes.
  16. I want to see how good my English is and i want to improve it.
  17. It gives me the chance to improve my English, I can learn how to read the words I meet for the first time, I get the chance to be corrected by my teacher when needed, so this way I’m not going to be emberessed when someone else who is not from my class corrects me and finally because it gives me great pleasure to read aloud.
  18. It gives me confidence in my own skills of pronunciation, and the teacher is always there to correct my mistakes
  19. It helps me improve my English. I like reading texts in English aloud with someone else because I like to speak English with other people. I think it’s my chance to learn English and to use it in the future.
  20. it is the best way to improve english
  21. Maybe i could improve my pronunciation
  22. our teachers are good with us, although we make mistakes. They just correct them and give us some advice. I like improving my pronunciation.
  23. the collegues can hear the correct pronunciation of the words.
  24. the teacher helps me to improve my English.
  25. when I make mistakes the teacher corrects it and thus I can improve my English.

10. I don’t like reading aloud in class because… – 13 participants answered this question*

  1. I am nervous sometimes. What if I don`t know some of the words?
  2. I don’t always feel confident
  3. I don’t have a reason to dislike reading aloud, after all it is a way of improving my English
  4. I don’t like reading aloud because that way I attract peoples attention and that makes me unsecure of my capabilities.
  5. I don’t like to make mistakes.
  6. I feel embarassed by my classmates who are always listening to my spelling mistakes.
  7. I like to read aloud.
  8. I usually make lots of mistakes and the teacher always corrects me  so I feel embarrassed some times .
  9. if I make mistakes, my colleagues will laugh.
  10. i’m insecure and i may make some mistakes
  11. Some of my classmates do a lot of noise and I can’t concetrate.
  12. some of my colleagues may laugh of my mistakes , and because I discover that what I thought I knew well , has, infact , another way of reading .
  13. Sometimes is embarrassing. I don’t like when the teacher corrects me but after all she helps me improve my English.

* the mistakes in the students’ answers to Question 9 and Question 10 are a proof that I did not edit them in any way.

Questions 9 & 10

My conclusion:

– 68% of the respondents would volunteer to read aloud in class, 94% would choose to read aloud at least sometimes, 32% feel disappointed when I interrupt them and name someone else to continue with the reading;

– analyzing the students’ answers to Questions 9 & 10 reveals some inconsistencies: 2 students answered Q 10 by saying they actually like or have no reason to dislike RA, 1 student answered Q 9 saying they like RA because it prevents them from getting bored… For some of my students, RA did not necessarily imply the texts in the coursebook – see Q 9, answer No. 7, which refers to students RA their essays or compositions.

Aware that my survey doesn’t prove anything worth considering anywhere else in the ELT world and that its results are meaningful only for me, I am glad to conclude that my students – all of them Romanian – actually enjoy RA in the English class. This conclusion encourages me to continue believing that reading aloud in the English class is not a waste of time. Not for my students anyway!

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See the this videoclip from “Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are dead”

With upper-intermediate and advanced students:

Questions is a game which is played by asking questions. Play begins when the first player serves by asking a question (often “Would you like to play questions?“). The second player must respond to the question with another question (e.g. “How do you play that?“). Each player must quickly continue the conversation by using only questions—no hesitation, statements, or non sequiturs. The game is usually played with two players, although multiplayer variants exist.

Scoring is done by foul. Fouls can be called for:

* statement: player fails to reply with a question

* hesitation: player takes too long to reply or grunts or makes a false start

* repetition: player asks questions identical to or synonymous with one already asked this game (not match)

* rhetoric: player asks a rhetorical question

* non-sequitur: player responds with an unrelated question

When a foul is called on a player, his opponent is awarded one point. First player to get three points wins a game. Matches are played to best out of three games.

Much as you might feel tempted to allow students to participate in a multiplayer variant, I wouldn’t advise for more than 2 players at a time. The audience finds it easier to follow the questions and scoring. Any student who must leave the game is replaced by a volunteer or by another student named by the teacher.

The game of Questions is featured prominently in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, a play written by the famous British playwright and director, Tom Stoppard, who also directed the film made in 1990, starring Gary Oldman as Rosencrantz and Tim Roth as Guildenstern.

Here’s the film dialogue:

Rosencrantz: Fancy a game?

Guildenstern: We’re spectators.

Rosencrantz: Do you want to play questions?

Guildenstern: How do you play that?

R: You have to ask questions.

G: Statement! One… love.

R: Cheating!

G: How?

R: I hadn’t started yet.

G: Statement! Two… love.

R: Are you counting that?

G: What?

R: Are you counting that?

G: Foul! No repetitions. Three… love and game.

R: I’m not going to play if you’re going to be like that.

G: Whose serve?

R: Err…

G: Hesitation! Love… one.

R: Whose go?

G: Why?

R: Why not?

G: What for?

R: Foul! No synonyms! One… all.

G: What in God’s name is going on?

R: Foul! No rhetoric! Two… one.

G: What does it all add up to?

R: Can’t you guess?

G: Were you addressing me?

R: Is there anyone else?

G: Who?

R: How would I know?

G: Why do you ask?

R: Are you serious?

G: Was that rhetoric?

R: No.

G: Statement! Two all. Game point.

R: What’s the matter with you today?

G: When?

R: What?

G: Are you deaf?

R: Am I dead?

G: Yes or no?

R: Is there a choice?

G: Is there a God?

R: Foul! No non sequiturs!Three… two, one game all.

G: What’s your name?

R: What’s yours?

G: You first.

R: Statement! One… love.

G: What’s your name when you’re at home?

R: What’s yours?

G: When I’m at home?

R: Is it different at home?

G: What home?

R: Haven’t you got one?

G: Why do you ask?

R: What are you driving at?

G: What’s your name?

R: Repetition! Two… love. Match point.

G: Who do you think you are?

R: Rhetoric!! Game and match!

Absolutely amazing! One of my favourite films…

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Interesting or funny as they might be, the texts for the reading activities contained in the coursebooks are likely to be considered boring by the students, usually because they involve the same old-same old “Page 56 in your coursebooks. Read the text and then we’ll answer the comprehension questions…”

Inspired by Philip Kerr’s “Books closed” workshop at the Macmillan Romania Conference in 2008 in Bacau, I would suggest scanning the text you intend to work on with your students and have it projected on the screen or choose other texts, from whatever source you might think of. Usually students answer comprehension questions after a reading but you can change this and have students create their own comprehension questions. It works fine, especially if it is turned into a game.


Organise students in small groups. Have a text projected on the screen. Ask your students to silently read the text and then to work together to write questions about it. Only questions which can be answered by the text are allowed. Opinion questions are not allowed. After groups finish writing their questions, they ask their questions to another group which must answer within a specified amount of time (the teacher decides the time according the class level). Groups take turns in asking and answering the questions. You’ll just keep the score.

Complicate it:

Use two texts, simultaneously projected on the screen. The groups will be assigned one text to form questions about and the other text to answer questions about. Give them a specific amount of time to write as many questions as they can. Then, again in a specific amount of time, a group will ask as many questions as another group can answer. The group receiving the smallest number of answers will be the winner.

The sample texts I used on the PowerPoint were taken from two Hidden Object Games. Besides the quest itself, these games also have a story which is always presented in a diary/logbook/journal. Print-screen those pages and use them as you think fit.


You, the teacher, may need a dictionary do this activity.
– Choose a word which is long, difficult, and unknown to the students, a good word to begin with is: warmonger.
– Without using a dictionary, your students write down a definition. (They can work out the definition in groups of three). Allow them a few minutes to think and write.
– Collect the definitions and read them aloud.
– When you have finished reading, they will have to vote which of those is the correct one. (It doesn’t matter if none of them is the correct one)
– After they have voted and none of the groups guessed the meaning you read the correct one aloud.

The idea of this game is to let students be creative and practice their speaking/ writing skills. Then you can have the students to discuss their writings. Or, you could have your students report their definitions, write them on the blackboard and there you have a source of discussion.

You might also like to subscribe to www.dictionary.com and register for their “Word of the Day” – thus your resources would be updated daily.

Another useful resource which comes in their e-mail is “The Hot Word” – short articles containing really useful information about words, their meanings, their usage, their etymology, etc. These texts can be transferred on slides and used for the “Reading for fun” section.


Wouldn’t it be fun to help your students discover that Moms all around the world say the same things to their children, and quite often using the same words in both their mother tongue and English? Here’s an infinite resource which would almost certainly have your students rolling with laughter.

Use the sentences you find on the PPT as you think appropriate:

– scramble the words and have the students rearrange them

– match the halves of the several quotes

– complete the missing words in the quote

– give them a quotation and ask them to write a 5-line situation which would make Mom say that.

– create a short story about Mom and her children going through some situation, read it aloud and ask them to guess what Mom would say.


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Also short-named HOGs, these games are on sale on the internet as well as in shops. A Google search for “hidden object games” returns 7,460,000 results in 0.10 seconds! Almost all HOGs are offered for an hour free-play. Among the many sites where you can play online HOGs or download a demo, here’s one http://all-hidden-object-games.com/ .

A HOG is a game telling a story whose action takes place in several locations where the player must find a number of listed hidden objects. The graphic is usually really good, so the creators manage to conceal objects successfully.

What you have to do:
– start playing such a game and when the first HO scene appears, press Print Screen on your keyboard
– next, press Ctrl+Esc – this will minimize your game and take you to your usual desktop image
– open Paint, paste the image and save it
– at this point, you can continue playing your game and do all of the above whenever you find a scene you think might be good for your classes

Later on, you can copy the image and paste it on a slide in PowerPoint. You can use the image as is, or you can edit it in Paint, adding the circles or whatever else you might think of.

The PowerPoint (at the end of this post) demonstrates what can be done with one single image. The various exercises covering 8 slides are self-explanatory in point of how such an image could be used.

If you want to create your own task based on the image:
– open PowerPoint
– paste the image on a slide
– press Insert on the Menu bar
– select WordBox
– place the cursor on the image and draw your WordBox
– shape the WordBox so as to cover the list of objects and place it to cover the list
– choose a black background for your WordBox
– write your task using a bright/white colour

One more thing I usually do: I select both the image and the WordBox and group them together. Here’s how I do that – in case there’s anyone who doesn’t know:
– select the image
– keep Ctrl pressed and move the cursor on the screen until it turns into a small +; then left-click
– now both objects are selected
– place the cursor within the frame of one of the objects and right-click
– from the drop-down list which opens, place the cursor over Group and from the second drop-down list choose Group

What else is there to say about these games? It’s every teacher’s call to try them and see how they work and, again, the teacher’s imagination is the limit.

Have fun!

Hidden Object Games

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You can use this with any subject. Write the names of famous people (mixed nationalities) on small pieces of paper. Tape a name on the forehead of each student. The individual student should not see his or her paper, but the others should. Then, like with 20 questions, only yes or no questions should be asked. Perhaps start with yourself and ask “Am I man?” If the answer is yes, I can ask again, but if the answer is no, it’s the next person’s turn. Play until everyone has guessed who he or she is! This can be played with nationalities, countries, household objects, anything and it’s a gas, especially for adult students!!

Ask students to come up with their own combinations, from simple names to more elaborate constructions, i.e. “a rich paparazzo living in Florida

• small pieces of paper / labels

• names of famous people / objects / animals

• a student comes in front of the classroom, picks a label and tapes it on the forehead

• facing the class, the student asks questions to discover who / what they are

• only yes or no questions should be asked

• ask students to come up with their own combinations, from simple names to more elaborate constructions, i.e. “a rich paparazzo living in Florida”

• keep labels handy, face down and play the game whenever you want a moment of relaxation / fun


Practise prepositions of place by asking your students to describe a colleague.

e.g. The person next to me is inventive.

The person in front of the door needs to raise her standards.

The person behind me is one of my friends.

The person before me had 3 sandwiches today.



A variant of the game above, this game, irrespective of what you call it, challenges students to describe their classmates. The description can be based on what students already know about one another or on one sentence each student writes on a small piece of paper. The teacher gathers all these papers and redistributes them randomly. Each student must report to the class that “There’s someone among us who … likes brown high-heeled shoes” – reading the information they have got. The other students must guess who that colleague is.


Tell your class you are an Alien and you are inhabiting a human body to study human ways. You then ask about virtually anything in the room, and ask follow up questions:

What is this?
It’s a pen.
What’s a “pen”?
You use it to write.
What is “write”?
You make words with it on paper.
What are “words”?


You can make it as difficult as possible for your higher level students; at some point, though, you’ll need to say “OK, I understand“, and go to the next object. Even your best students will eventually get stuck on this one!

Complicate it even more: find images with odd or useless inventions and print them. The alien shows the images to the class and answers their questions. At this point, it can be even funnier to allow for some improvisation in the language – funny names of objects, funny verbs for different actions, etc.


Basically you can list three people and ask your students to pick who they would kiss, marry, or punch.

A variant:

– tell your students you can predict their future

– ask each student to take a piece of paper and write three names of classmates/ personalities/ etc

– when they’re done writing, ask them to sign their names and gather the papers.

– tell them that the game is “KISS, MARRY, PUNCH

– start reading: Tom will kiss Betty but he will marry … Anne. He will punch Harry.

Practise tenses

Tom kissed Betty but he married… Anne. He punched Harry.

Practise Present Conditional forms

Tom would kiss Betty but he would marry … Anne. He would punch Harry.

Practise Indirect Speech with the reporting verb in the present or/and the past

Tom says he will kiss Betty but he will marry … Anne. He says he will punch Harry.

Tom said he would kiss Betty but he would marry … Anne. He said he would punch Harry.

Practise Verb+-ing structures

Tom denies kissing Betty. He denies marrying … Anne. He denies punching Harry.

Just don’t put limits to your imagination…


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All my bilingual classes have to take a semestrial summative test based on the vocabulary and structures they have studied so far. I find the tests accompanying the coursebook quite useful and I usually compile the exercises I find on the CD. It helps me check students’ knowledge on several units we have covered.

This year, I encountered the following problem:

When presenting Comparatives, the student’s book says: “Use different from or not as + adjective + as to talk about the differences between two things.

e.g. This credit card is different from that one.

These explanations are followed by an exercise asking students to identify several mistakes in the use of comparatives. The teacher’s guide suggests correcting “… this is slightly different as the Mark V” to “… this is slightly different from the Mark V

In the Language reference section of the same unit, the coursebook says:

If we want to talk about the differences between two things or people, we can use the following structures:

1 different from – e.g. Her trainers are different from mine.

2. not as + adjective + as – e.g. Her trainers are not as nice as mine.

And then, the test to the unit presents students with an exercise in which they have to correct the use of several comparatives, one of which is: “It doesn’t look any different as this one.” and gives as unique solution “It doesn’t look any different to this one.

Only 2 out of the 28 students taking this test have come up with the “different to” solution. Most of the other 26 opted for “different from“, but there were also some who corrected the mistake using “different than“.

Now get ready for the funniest part of it all, ’cause I am about to make a fool of myself: I corrected the students’ test using the unique solution, crossed out any “different from” or “different than” solution and took 0.5 points from each of the 26 students’ scores. Thus I managed to bring 7 of the students to 94.5 points out of 100 and robbed them of the chance of getting a 10 on this test… One good thing though: I didn’t mark their grades in the register, so I still have time to amend this.

A Google search for “any different from” returns 38 milion results; “any different than” returns 31.4 million results; “any different to” returns 9 million results.

The Macmillan Dictionary says:

different – not the same as another person or thing, or not the same as before
I tried on lots of different hats.
Her new glasses make her look completely different.

different from: What makes him different from the rest of the students?
different to: American English is slightly different to British English.

Ask.com says:

Different from” is the construction that no one will object to. “Different to” is fairly common informally in the U.K., but rare in the U.S. “Different than” is sometimes used to avoid the cumbersome “different from that which“, etc. (e.g., “a very different Pamela than I used to leave all company and pleasure for” — Samuel Richardson).

Some U.S. speakers use “different than” exclusively. Some people have insisted on “different from” on the grounds that “from” is required after “to differ“. But Fowler points out that there are many other adjectives that do not conform to the construction of their parent verbs (e.g., “accords with“, but “according to“; “derogates from“, but “derogatory to“).

The Collins Cobuild Bank of English shows choice of preposition after “different” to be distributed as follows:

“from” “to” “than”
U.K. writing 87.6 10.8 1.5
U.K. speech 68.8 27.3 3.9
U.S. writing 92.7 0.3 7.0
U.S. speech 69.3 0.6 30.1

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