Stop speaking Spanish!

I’ve been having some problems in my A2 class lately because a very chatty student has returned from being away for a while. I spoke to my ADOS about it and she gave me some useful ideas.

First it’s important to recognize why they are speaking Spanish. It usually boils down to these three things:
1)They have finished the task and are waiting for slower students to finish.
2)They need to explain something in Spanish because they don’t have the skills to do it in English (they are A2.)
3)They have too many tasks to do: brainstorm ideas and produce something written.

1) This does seem to be a problem with my A2 class as the abilities of the students in the class differ quite a lot. Three students in particular usually finish before everyone else and then start talking to teach other in English.
– One way of avoiding this is to spread out the stronger students in the class. Move the students so that the strong ones are spread out around the class. This means that they can’t chat to each other in English and that they can help the weaker students.
-Another suggestion is to set 7 out of 14 exercises to do. For example if the students are doing an exercise with questions a-n, tell students to do the first 7. When the faster students complete the exercise tell them to continue until the others have finished.
-If a student has finished first and you have checked that their answers are correct you could get them to board their answers and the others can check they have the same.
– Students who finish first could practice and test each other on vocabulary from the board, (the emerging language that the teacher puts up throughout the lesson.) They could make vocabulary cards or sentences using the words.

2) As these students are A2 I think it’s understandable that sometimes they need to explain something in Spanish to really get their head round a grammar point or to double check that they have understood correctly. However, this can also be checked using concept checking questions and giving examples.

3) If students are brain storming ideas and Spanish crops up I must make sure that they produce a final product which is in English. Maybe when they are brainstorming in groups they may need help with words which is when monitoring comes in important. Also I must give students sentences stems to help them form and discuss their ideas.

At the end of the day these students are adults who are paying to come to an English class, hopefully they will make the most of the opportunities I give the to speak in English.

Wish I could do the Spanish hand with them like I do my kids…

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Week review

I’ve decided to try and actually make the most of having an I pad instead of its sole use being Facebook, taking cute pictures of my sister on FaceTime and learning un useful words in different languages …. Did you know ‘neoros’ in Greek means youth….shall come in very handy my next camping trip on the islands I’m sure…

So here are a list of things that I’ve noted down during the week as things to improve, things i’ve heard of, or things that just mad me smile dans la classenzimmer.

1. Personalizing gap fill.
This week in my A2 class I used my students names in a gap fill that I used for controlled practice. I also made the sentences to do with their interests that I had learnt about in previous lessons.
E.g Marian is obsessed with cats, she talks about them every lesson.
Enrique is crazy about basketball, he goes three time a week.
They were all really chuffed that I had taken the time to tailor the exercise and said, que maja! We also laughed a lot because Marian does does talk about cats every lesson and everyone knew where I was coming from…

2. Take photos of emerging language.
I decided this week that I must make the most of having an I pad and try and use it more in lessons. I get scared taking it out of my house incase I drop it, someone steals it, or I lose it (all perfectly plausible situations.) I think it would come in very useful for noting down emerging language or taking a picture of the board after the class and the emailing it to the students. I didn’t do it this week but I will try it out next week.

3. Make it a competition.
This week with my level 6 group it’s been all about the competitions. The best one we did was in a lesson about animals where they were given a sheet with questions on such as: find two animals with wings, 4 animals with 4 legs, 4 carnivores etc
I told them it was a competition and that they had to be very quite so that no one from another group could hear….nicest silence I’ve ever had in a lesson and they took it so seriously. “If you speak Spanish you are DISQUALIFIED….” Harsh but effective.

4. Trains: to revise vocabulary
I heard about this in the staff room this week and it sounds like a good way to revise vocabulary specially with end of level exams coming up.
a) students find 10 words they have trouble with or need to remember.
b) put students in pairs.
c) tell students to pretend they are on a train and have to sit next to a person they don’t know (their pair)
d) students act out a situation where they are meeting this person for the first time and making general chit chat like you would on a real train. However, students must include the new vocabulary in the chat.
You can have the most confident students perform it in front of the class while the other students try and guess what their 10 words were.

5. Taboo: to revise vocabulary
Another good way to revise vocabulary, which I have tried out, is taboo.
a) give students cards.
b) students write a word that they are struggling with on each one.
c) students write 3 words they use/associate with this word.
d) tell students they are to describe the word to their partner but can NOT use the words they wrote on the card.
It’s good crack, everyone like a bit of taboo.

6. Running over.
This week I have been running over in my classes which is weird because when I look at the clock and see that I have 15 mins left, I panic worrying i’ll finish early. I wonder if you can ever get it just right. If Goldilocks can!

7. “Boys are crazy”
I really bonded with my three level 6 girls this week. I do feel sorry for them because usually my attention does go to the boys because they are naughtier and maybe slightly cuter too…(which isn’t a good reason I know) …. But this week I realized I have quite a lot in common with little Mercedes, Paula and Patricia as they were chanting….”boys are crazy, boys are crazy” couldn’t help but think my girls have got their head in gear ..and at the age of 7 – bravo!

8. Tails
This was without a doubt the funniest moment of January so far….I like to think I’m prepared for most things with my class of four level six boys.They are a cheeky bunch and often ask “how you say tetasin eeenglish?” But I hadn’t foreseen a table where they had to tick what animals had wings, tails, legs etc turn into them almost flashing me…..”si boys have tails!” As they point to their penises……literally thought little Jorge was going to get his out to prove a point….erm no boys that’s not a tail.
Bless.

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(One way of using the I pad effectively…adding to the Gracie album)

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Sunny Madrid 2013

2013. The year of Ruth.

This time last year I definitely did not think I would be teaching, let alone in Madrid yet here I am starting my second semester as EFL teacher with the world at my feet (haa I like to think.) Having made some personal resolutions for 2013, wake up before 10 am, stop doing stupid things- the usual impossible promises that we put ourselves through-I thought why not make some professional ones. So voila:

1. Make my teenagers more active.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to ask them to join me on my run around parque oeste (lush FYI) -perish the thought. I want to give them more activities which make them move around the classroom: board races, gallerying items, looking for things, writing things on the board, moving things around etc. I would like to do a Jamie Oliver and get them healthier too but I don’t really think that’s my place……oh and try to have at least ONE lesson that doesn’t have the subject of One bloody Direction…….though maybe I should accept defeat with that one.

2. Push my level 6 class
I have two level 6 classes which was nice in the first semester (I use the word loosely) because it meant I could use the same materials and lesson plan twice. Now I know the classes better I can see that one class is infact a lot stronger. This isn’t surprising as the school is bilingual and the students are exposed to a lot of English outside of their English class. I need to push these students and bring in more supplementary materials.

3. Remember class points
I’m not going to lie when it comes to class points I am terrible. I always forget how many they had in the previous lesson and guess. Usually they don’t realize so it doesn’t cause a problem BUT I know I’m lying and it means they might never reach 200 points and never know the delights of the Gruffulo! Heaven forrrrrbid! I will make some kind of laminated chart so I can remember and everyone knows where we are. Phew.

4. Set more homework
I’m rubbish at setting homework mostly because I hated homework and would hate to have to inflict it on someone else who hates it. I still have nightmares of A level Art homework not being completed ahhhhhhhhhh….nevertheless I need to set it. They can decide if they do it or not especially my C1.1 class. No more miss nice teacher.

5. Carry on enjoying it as much as I have been
I had such a good laugh last term with my students and I can see that they have improved so much. Fond memories of playing Christmas charades with 9 Spanish men, singing the Beatles with my elementary class and arguing over who we like most Paul or John and making lanterns with the kids whilst they shout at me … “Ruth! Please you sing very bad! You hurt my ears!” I was just tying to spread Christmas cheer….

5 is enough I think. I can add more next year wherever I’ll end up…..

Feliz año!

And as always GIRL POWER

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2013

This time last year I definitely did not think I would be teaching, let alone in Madrid yet here I am starting my second semester as EFL teacher with the world at my feet (haa I like to think.) Having made some personal resolutions for 2013, wake up before 10 am, stop doing stupid things- the usual impossible promises that we put ourselves through-I thought why not make some professional ones. So voila:

1. Make my teenagers more active.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to ask them to join me on my run around parque oeste (lush FYI) -perish the thought. I want to give them more activities which make them move around the classroom: board races, gallerying items, looking for things, writing things on the board, moving things around etc. I would like to do a Jamie Oliver and get them healthier too but I don’t really think that’s my place……oh and try to have at least ONE lesson that doesn’t have the subject of One bloody Direction…….though maybe I should accept defeat with that one.

2. Push my level 6 class
I have two level 6 classes which was nice in the first semester (I use the word loosely) because it meant I could use the same materials and lesson plan twice. Now I know the classes better i can see that one lass is infant a lot stronger. This isn’t surprising as the school is bilingual and the students are exposed to a lot of English outside of their English class. I need to push these students and bring in more supplementary materials.

3. Remember class points
I’m not going to lie when it comes to class points I am terrible. I always forget how many they had in the previous lesson and guess. Usually they don’t realize so it doesn’t cause a problem BUT I know I’m lying and it means they might never reach 200 points and be able to read the Gruffulo! Heaven forrrrrbid! I will make some kind of laminated chart so I can remember and everyone knows where we are.

4. Set more homework
I’m rubbish at setting homework mostly because I hated homework and would hate to have to inflict it on someone else who hates it. I still have nightmares of A level Art homework not being completed ahhhhhhhhhh….nevertheless I need to set it. They can decide if they do it or not especially my C1.1 class. No more miss nice teacher.

5. Carry on enjoying it as much as I have been
I had such a good laugh last term with my students and I can see that they have improved so much. Fond memories of playing Christmas charades with 9 Spanish men, singing the Beatles with my elementary class and arguing over who we like most Paul or John and making lanterns with the kids whilst they shout at me … “Ruth! Please you sing very bad! You hurt my ears!” I was just tying to spread Christmas cheer….

5 is enough I think. I can add more next year wherever I’ll end up…..

Feliz año!

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Christmas around the world

And so this is Christmas . . . . .
Today I did a lesson on Christmas around the world with my b2.1 class (young learners). It was a last minute plan so I wasn’t as organised and prepared as I could have been but I think it’s a nice idea for young learners especially teenagers and with a bit more planning would work nice.

Preparations: photos of Christmases around the world that you can put up across the room. I had Germany, England, France, Italy, Mexico, USA, Spain and Brasil. You need a little bit of knowledge of what Christmas is like in these places e.g. Food or traditions.

This is what I did:
Students look around the photos on the wall. They write down on the paper where they think it is, any words that come to mind (snow, winter, festive etc).
Teacher writes in the board some words to do with each country at Christmas and the students match it with a picture e.g. Mince pies- England, Roscon- Spain etc.
Group feedback consists of students sharing there ideas, any knowledge they have of Christmas is this country and which country they would most like to spend Christmas in.
Students then choose a country to research. It can be one of the ones discussed in class or their own ideas. Luckily most the students had access to the Internet on their phone so they were able to carry out some good research. The points they had to cover were: traditions, food, songs, presents, and decorations.
Students made a leaflet on their chosen country. We had Brazil, Ireland, England and Germany.
It was good practice for them to use “should” e.g you should visit the Christmas markets in Germany because . . . . .

I think this would work nicely in a mixed nationality class as they could all talk about their own Christmas experience and compare.

Next time I will have prepared more on the countries at the beginning so I can give them more ideas.

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Now just 6 days till home time. . . . .i can smell the mulled wine and peppermint creams already.

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Cheese or yoghurt

I played a great game with my adults last week it was so much fun and I was crying with laughter by the end of it.
Aim: to improve students fluency when speaking and recycle vocabulary from past topics.
Preparation: a list of 10 opposites
Split the class into two teams.
Split the board into two sections.
In one column write a list of words and in the other write the opposites. For example I had: beard/mustache, plastic/paper, water/fire, cheese/yoghurt, Barcelona/Madrid, American English/British English, green/red, metro/bus etc. The more ridiculous the words the better.

Tell students that they are all extremely passionate about the words in their column and they have to debate and convince the other team that theirs is better.

Luckily in Spain this works really well because they are all so expressive and love to talk and shout get involved, it was so funny.
Some of my favorite quotes were, “I’d like to see you put out my water with your fire!” “You can’t put yoghurt on bread !” And the best one, “how can you catch rats with yoghurt!” Fair point Roberto, bravo. I did also enjoy “beards are so sexy” as all my students are men this particularly tickled me. The best thing was that I didn’t have to get too involved, I just let them take the floor and get on with it only helping if they needed it (which they didn’t.)

And you know something’s worked when at the end of discussion everyone is crying from laughter and they ask if we can do it another time. SCORE! I love my B1.1 class awwww.

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Getting teens talking….

I’ve discovered a great way to get unwilling students talking. This activity focuses less on accuracy and more on fluency. It worked really well today and got a “usually one word answer group” discussing lettuce and religion!

Preparation:

Cut up pieces of paper with linkers on. My class is an advanced class so I used quite difficult linkers such as: therefore, as I was saying, also, nevertheless, for this reason, on the other hand, consequently, moreover etc. This can be adapted according to the level.

Instructions:

  1. Put the students into pairs and label them A and B.
  2. Give A a pile of th slips of paper with linkers on.
  3. Teacher writes a question on the board that B is to answer e.g “What are you going to wear tomorrow?” Explain to student B that they must keep talking until the teacher says stop.
  4. B starts to talk and A puts down one slip at a time that B must include in their answer. For example: Tomorrow is Sunday so I think I will dress smartly because I must go to church. However, I don’t have any clean clothes, therefore tonight I will do the washing…but as I was saying etc etc
  5. When the teacher says swap, the students change roles and a new question is written on the board.

Tips: With lower levels it’s a good idea to give questions that you know they can answer (maybe to revise past subjects,) and that there is a lot for them to say. With my advanced group I put fairly closed questions on the board to see how their speaking would go off in a tangent when pushed and they spoke about things they wouldn’t have usually considered.

Although I used this for teens, I think it would work well with adults too. (Blast from the past of my teen days- 17 and loose in London…oh god)