I’ve shared activities in the past to practice question formation. However, I’d like to offer one more in case you have a group of beginners who are still limited to the simple present tense. Please view my Naming Names_handout. You may find that the activity is similar to games you’ve either heard about or played before. The idea is simple. It’s a guessing game to discover who the mystery person is. Hopefully, this handout will prove to be a time-saver for you. Enjoy and recycle it as many times as you can!
Posted tagged ‘beginners’
I recently covered ordinal numbers with my beginner student, Natasha. She found first, second, and third easy to learn and use. The challenge, especially in terms of pronunciation, began with fourth and onward.
On camera I limited practice with ordinal numbers to reading randomly selected dates. Off camera I’ve been thinking of ways to give meaningful practice with the limited amount of language she has. I’d like to share some ideas with you, and I’ll modify them for a classroom setting. Please feel free to add to the list if you know a fun and effective way to practice ordinals with beginners.
- Ordering Birthdays. Have students write down the birthdays of five friends or family members. They will partner up with another student and share the dates in chronological order: First is my mother. Her birthday is on January 21. Second is my sister. Her birthday is on February 5. Third is my friend, Ben. His birthday is on April 9. Etc. Then the two students will combine their lists deciding the order of all their friends and relatives: First, your mother. Second, my brother. Third, your sister. Our fathers have birthdays on May 19. They are fourth. Etc.
- Birthday Lineup. As a warm-up, ask students to stand up and form a line according to the order of their birthdays, from January 1 to December 31. (I’m sure some of you already know this warm-up. I don’t know who the original author is, but it’s a great one to include in this list.)
- Holiday Trivia. Write 6-8 names of national holidays on the board in random order. In an ESL setting, I’d use holidays of the country you are in to help students become acquainted with that calendar. (E.g., U.S. holidays: March 17 - St. Patrick’s Day, third Sunday in June - Father’s Day, July 4 - Independence Day.) In an EFL setting, you can mix the national holidays of different countries. In pairs or small groups, ask students to guess the order. They should write their ideas down on paper. After a few minutes, write all the corresponding dates on the board and invite the class to match the holidays to the dates as a way to correct their written work.
- Magazine Marathon. Collect a large number of different magazines (and newspapers). You’ll need at least five magazines for every two students. In pairs students will note the publication dates and put a set of magazines in chronological order, saying the dates aloud every time they make a decision. Two pairs can combine into one group and the process can begin again.
Recently I faced the challenge of explaining article usage to my beginner student, Natasha, whom you may know from my new series on YouTube. I hadn’t planned to focus on the difference between indefinite and definite articles yet, but as you know students’ needs and interests can easily change our game plan. I ended up creating a short lesson on articles. I felt challenged to explain the rules with so few words in Natasha’s vocabulary. Off-camera I offered some explanation in Russian, but I also tried to lead my student to a correct understanding through examples in English in order to make use of the language she does understand.
Some time ago I posted several ideas for presenting and teaching articles. When writing Part One and Part Two of “The Art of Teaching Articles,” I had intermediate and advanced students in mind. I thought it would be a good idea to round out that collection of activities by adding some suggestions for basic level students.
I Spy -
- Pair students up. Student A states what s/he sees. The student should name singular nouns. (“I see a red bag.” = indefinite article)
- Student B locates the object and makes a statement about it. (“Yes. I see it. The bag is on the floor.”)
- Have students take alternate making the opening statements.
Keep & Toss -
- Have students check their pockets, bags, and purses. They should find find two objects to show the class. Demonstrate by taking two items from your desk , bag, or pockets. (Choose one object you want to keep and one that you can throw away.)
- The class will place all objects on a central desk or table. When a person adds to the pile, s/he should identify the object. (“This is a ticket.” / “This is a book.”) Note new vocabulary on the board.
- Help students decide what to throw in the trash. (“What can we throw away?” – Demonstrate by tossing one item in the trash can.) Students can call out their suggestions. (“The paper…. the receipt…”)
- Allow students to claim the remaining items on the table. Demonstate by claiming yours. (“The blue pen is mine.”)
- You may choose to call attention to the pattern of articles just used. Explain the importance of first and second mention as well as “the” being a specific reference to something – an object understood by the listener.
Do you have a favorite way of presenting and practicing articles at the beginning level? Please feel free to post your ideas.
You can listen to this post here.
As I continue to work with my new student, I’m challenged to provide meaningful speaking activities that make use of her limited amount of English. However, by talking about people we both know or are at least familiar with, we’ve been able to have simple conversations. The activity Who’s Who is based on a recent lesson. You’ll see possibilities for using this in a one-on-one setting as well as in the classroom.
Click here to view my Who’s Who_handout.
Yesterday I had my second lesson with my new student. As you’ll recall, she’s a false beginner and has been in the U.S. for a few years. She’s also a friend, so we’ve come up with an arrangement that will involve a combination of off- and on-camera instruction. Yes, you’ll soon get to see my efforts to teach English at the basic level.
On the one hand, some things are easy. We already have a relationship of openness and trust. I feel it’s key to make a personal connection with a student because she or he must have minimal anxiety in order to learn well. My friend has accepted my role as her teacher, and I have the freedom to correct and direct her, which is not usually part of our friend-to-friend relationship.
What surprisingly proved to be a challenge was getting through some of the basics. So far we’ve covered greetings, introductions, the alphabet, and some useful expressions. Although we completed what I had planned to, I thought our pace would be faster at times. As a false beginner, my friend wasn’t unfamiliar with much of the content, but more questions than I expected came up, so it was a good review for her and a chance to correct misunderstandings.
I’m going to share just a few of the points I had to clarify either because my friend asked me to or because her production prompted me to.
- Which greetings are appropriate for which people? I had to get the idea across that hello is widely used, but hi is more limited to informal greetings. Also, how are you? is really part of the greeting, and the response is invariably a positive one. In America (on the surface at least), everyone is happy. Everyone is fine, good, all right, or perhaps not bad.
- How does intonation and reduction change a greeting? The follow-up how are you? stresses the pronoun. It often sounds different from the initial How are you? in an exchange of greetings. And you? could sound polite if said carefully, but when reduced to ‘n you? it becomes a casual reply to a friend’s request about our well-being.
- Should students learn to print and/ or write cursive? I had my friend practice both upper and lower case letters, and I asked her to print. I promised we’d cover cursive writing later. I also took care to make her printed letters follow American standards. She had learned in other language studies to make the lower-case “r” with an s-like squiggle rather than the u-like hook, and her lower-case “q” looked more like an upside-down check mark rather than a backward “p” with a tail.
One final thing I’ll share is one of the homework tasks I’ve assigned to my student. After each lesson, I’m sending Voice Memos from my iPhone to her email account. I record the key expressions that we practiced during our lesson. She’s to listen and repeat each day. This is in addition to using online resources I selected for her. Click to hear my Voice Memo_Lesson 1 greetings and useful expressions.
Our YouTube debut will be soon!