Young Learners, Level 2: Classroom Activities

26th September 2020 Based on E Up Textbook 2

A compendium of classroom activities, warm up games and reviews.

Firstly, let’s get rid of this despicable habit of teaching younglings “How are you ?” “I’m fine.”

NO ONE says “I’m fine,” in the real world !

In my class, we get down and get funky. When I ask my group how they are, they reply:https://youtu.be/U5TqIdff_DQ

What better way to start a Sunday morning class ?

One purpose is to encourage writing; a senior Vietnamese official explained to me that Vietnamese customers are not used to writing. In my own experience, I have seen how hard it is to make the class, regardless of age, write down new words. It can take up to ten minutes to get the whole class to write down as little as five words. They have to find paper, pen etc, then they look bewildered at the task presented to them … they will often write down one, maybe one and a half words, then simply stop.

Therefore, I want to get them used to writing from an early age. To facilitate this, allocate a specific time when the lesson stops and the class have to write down new words.

Cinema Paradiso 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD Rental service
From the Chinese film ‘Not One Less’ Dir Zhang Yimou, 1999 and starring a young, non-professional actor Wei Minzhi

I’ve found that using hand gestures can serve an a mnemonic; allow me to illustrate. I put my thumb up, I then hold my palm up, finally I put my thumb down. This has been used to help students build a sentence with a positive verb, a negative one and an advanced discourse marker.

Why Does a Thumbs-Up Gesture Mean “okay”? | guernseydonkey.com
Open Hand, Palm To Camera With Fingers, Isolated. Man or male open hand,  fingers , #Sponsored, #Fingers, #Isolated, #Man, #Camera, #… | Open hands, Hand  palm, Image
Red thumbs down icon - Free red hand icons

This helps the younglings remember how to produce a sentence such as:

I can swim however, I can’t fly

The sentence introduces younglings to a contraction (can not = can’t) as well as a higher level discourse marker (or connector) ‘however’ (instead of merely using ‘but’). Furthermore, I drill the STRESS on the negative ‘can’t‘.

So, what vocabulary do they know ?

Thank you for your question. At this stage, they know many animals, basic body parts (finger, thumb, hand etc), about twenty adjectives, and basic verbs.

Additionally, they are able to form basic sentences.

It’s now time to move into present continuous, from “I drink” to “I am drinking.” We shall start by celebrating Mid Autumn Festival, a major holiday in Viet Nam. Here’s a song which uses the continuous “singing,” as well as new vocabulary such as “holiday,” and “lantern.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWwgI17kTs

It is correct to capitalise the ‘m’ in moon IF we are referring to our Moon. We only have one, let’s not upset it (yes, I know it’s a popular question, ‘How many moons does Earth have ?’ and the answer seems to increase every year due to space debris both natural and man-made, not to mention that now some scientists think Earth actually DOES have two … but this is Level 2, let’s not confuse the poor blighters too much).

And now, without further ado …

Warm up games: If possible, make these team games as friendly competition makes the activities more engaging.

Teacher Says – this is great because it is kinetic, and helps to pass the opening minutes while students are arriving.

Word Bomb or Mind Map – board a simple word (e.g. animals), younglings have to shout out answers. Could try colours, body parts, food, clothes depending on class ability.

Magic Bag – I open my bag and ask “What’s in my bag ?” Class has to shout out (or write) possible items I would have in a school bag. This reviews vocabulary from a previous book. As an extension, when they see the item, they have to describe it with two or three adjectives.

Screen Test (based on a children’s TV show from the 70s) – show a short video clip, just a minute or so. Then ask questions. For example, in the Mid Autumn Festival Song, we could ask:

What is the first word we see ?

How many windows does the house have ?

How many lanterns were orange ?

What lantern did the boy hold ? A star, a fish or a doll ?

What colour dress does the girl wear ?

How many dancing moon cakes were there ?

Bonus Question: Can you name 4 different lantern shapes ?

Run and Write – any game that involves the younglings leaving their seats and writing on the board. One version is to have students write a word that begins with ‘a’, then ‘b’ … and so on. Just one person at a time (to avoid possible accidents … I only have limited space in my classroom).

Memory Recall – choose 4 – 6 students and give them a flashcard from a previous lesson. Today, we could use feelings (sad, happy, hungry, thirsty, hot & cold). Younglings stand at the front of the class and hold their card up. Class shout out the words. Then the younglings hide the cards behind their backs and change the order in which they are standing. Now I ask, for example, “What does Ms Linh have ?”

Pair work talking – this is vital in breaking the teacher- student dynamic; we need to promote more student to student interaction, but making this work is a slow train coming. Arrange class in pairs and make them ask each other basic questions. At this age (my class is in the 7 – 9 age range), it may be difficult to get boys talking to girls … at 17 – 19 it may be impossible getting boys to STOP talking to, or trying to impress, girls … but that is a different story.

Subjects could include:

How are you ? (to which the answer must not be “I’m fine.”

What animals do you like ?

What is your favourite colour ?

Do you have a brother or sister ? How many ?

What food do you like ? Can you swim ? Can you play piano ?

663 Asian Girl Piano Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Young Boy Asian Boy Art (Page #8 of 13) | Fine Art America

Hope this helps. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.

Drew's Reviews (at home): Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) | WRGB

IELTS 5- 6.5: All you need is love … and relative pronouns

25th September 2019

Tonight I want to focus on forming complex sentences in order to boost the speaking prowess of my students. Being able to speak in long sentences, with subordinate clauses and relative pronouns, linked by appropriate discourse markers, will improve their scores in the speaking tests, along with use of stress, intonation, chunking, and a liberal smattering of expressions and vernacular, thereby demonstrating a familiarity with different uses of English.

So, without further ado … complex sentences. Let’s kick off with some basic information about my friend Pete:

Pete (left) with drummer Kenny Jones of The Small Faces & The Who

Pete’s family are Irish. He was born in Kent, south England. He loves music especially Jazz and he can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass. He is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses. Currently he plays bass in a band called ‘The Deep Six’. They have a video on YouTube. In the photo, Pete is with the famous 60s drummer Kenny Jones. He was in The Small Faces. Later he joined The Who after their original drummer died.

Example:

Pete, who was born in Kent in the south of England, is of Irish heritage. Although he is just forty, Pete looks older, probably due to the fact that he is bald, as well as having to wear glasses. His great passion in life is music, especially Jazz, but his interest is not merely passive; he plays several instruments. In addition to saxophone and keyboards, Pete is proficient on guitar. Having said that, he actually plays bass now in a band named The Deep Six, who have a video on YouTube. Pete is seen here with the legendary drummer Kenny Jones who rose to fame in the 60s as drummer for chart-topping band The Small Faces before joining The Who following the death of their original drummer.

And here is said video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_u-W_3jWk&list=LLfquznE0joCgmA3v1PIQ0CQ&index=6&t=0s

I am sure if you watch the video, give it a ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’, Pete will be tickled pink.

Now, a quick practice:

This is Wei Minzhi. She was born near Beijing. She was chosen to be in a Chinese film called ‘Not One Less’. She was 13. She played a substitute teacher but had no experience teaching (and no experience acting). The area is very poor. Some of the children have to leave school to work. The film was shown all over Europe, even at special film festivals. She was famous. She did no more acting. She studied in USA. She lives in Hawaii. Wei is married and has two children.

Students have five minutes to reorganise this information into a style more suited to an IELTS student.

Now – a Socratic activity; students are arranged in small groups, selected by choosing a card (Ace, 2 or 3), given a task and have to collate information and present it to the class, utilising the resources available, namely internet for facts, images or videos. Let’s revisit some old friends; first one of my favourite authors, Dr Franz Kafka:

Image result for kafka

Born: 1883 Prague, Czech Republic (at the time, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) // Died 1924 in Austria. Never married, engaged twice. Had three sisters. Was vegetarian. Difficult relationship with his father. Famous for writing, but only produced three novels, all of which were published after his death. Most famous of these is ‘The Trial’ which has a famous opening line, “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Joseph K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.” This book is seen as a warning about totalitarian governments. He lived in Prague which is Czech and Protestant, but he spoke and wrote in German, and he was Jewish. He is one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century, and his name has become an adjective, ‘Kafkaesque’ meaning impenetrable, convoluted, mysterious and unsolvable. More information can easily be found online, for example:

https://www.dw.com/en/franz-kafka-the-trial/a-45774582

Now let’s turn to John Lennon, seen here with his Japanese wife, Yoko Ono (also an artist, but more avant-garde).

Image result for john lennon

John was born in Liverpool, during World War II, in 1940. Liverpool was a port, so was a target for German bombers. He grew up very poor. At school he was rebellious, but liked art. When he first heard Rock ‘n’ Roll, he knew he had to be a singer. He formed The Beatles. His guitar playing was enthusiastic but basic. He wrote many songs which have become classics. When The Beatles split up in 1970 he went solo. His most famous solo work is the ‘Imagine’ LP. The title track has the lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too.” He protested against the war in Vietnam. He was shot in 1980 outside of his New York apartment. He has two sons, Julian by his first wife, and Sean from Yoko.

The third group will get NO help from me – they shouldn’t need it. Their subject is “the father of the Indo-Chinese people, and his name is Ho Chi Minh.”

Image result for Uncle Ho

This task involves the students working together, assigning tasks, then producing and presenting their report. All members of the team have to speak. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to use English during the preparation stage, only resorting to Vietnamese for clarification or translation of new words.

Quick end game: After the book work, which I have to teach, my hands are tied, we can unwind with some speaking practice.

Using discourse markers: I give teams two words which they have to incorporate into a sentence, for example ‘therefore‘ and ‘subsequently‘.

having said that & furthermore

moreover & consequently

initially & eventually

likewise & specifically

meanwhile & notwithstanding

on the whole & instead

What Difference Does It Make ? : I give students a paper with two words or phrases that are related but different. They have to clarify the distinction, for example

teacher / headmaster

educate / bring up

take an exam / retake an exam

do homework / do housework

quite common / ubiquitous

required subject / optional subject

similarity with / disparity between

skim / extrapolate

And to play us out, let’s go back to John Lennon and his iconic song, ‘Imagine’. The music starts around 0:40:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkgkThdzX-8

Nothing to kill or die for … Peace xx

IELTS 5 – 6.5: Extra activities

10th September for 11th September 2019 pp. 22 – 23

Tonight’s lesson is quite full, focusing on speaking and pronunciation, with extra worksheets to encourage longer sentences and the use of IELTS-preferred language. Subsequently, there is no so much for a teacher to prepare. Having said that, the students generally respond well to more active exercises. As such, I’ve prepared a handful of said items.

Warm Up – students arrive on Viet time, so I always start with a minor exercise. Tonight, we will go over some new vocabulary and then apply in short sentences. Last week, we covered:

disparity // tongue in cheek // consider // extrapolate // significance

And we need to increase the frequency of discourse markers:

subsequently // therefore // consequently

First, elicit the meanings, then decide which words or expressions fill these gaps ?

You must scan the article quickly in order to ……….. the relevant information.

There is a huge ………. between the super rich and the poor in many countries.

Image result for super rich super poor

The students just played with their phones in class. …………. many failed their test.

I need time to …………. your proposal.

What was the ………… of 30th April 1975 ?

He refused to ask directions and …………. was completely lost.

“Vietnam is such a clean, environmentally-friendly country,” John said, ……………..

BONUS POINTS:

What does Thay Paul drink in the morning …?

Tony was busy ……………………………… to his friend (phoning).

What is the name of those three dots (…) in a text ?

Can you think of a good anecdote ? Oh, I can ……………… (remember something)

Next Up: What’s the story.

Here, I board some key words and the students have to try to devise a plot of a film:

China // rural // poverty // teenage teacher // naughty // runaway // search // appeal on TV // subsequently // reunited.

Give the students a few minutes to come up with a plot-line, and listen to their ideas.

Show this clip and see how close (or miles away) they were: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgtEYDc1JW4

NOT ONE LESS, (YI GE DOU BU NENG SHAO), Wei Minzhi, 1999, (c) Sony Pictures Classics

This short trailer is also great for listening as well as learning new vocabulary.

We have a lot to get through tonight, so time to hit the books, and cover the extra speaking activities.

Movin’ on: Speaking practice

I have list of general, small talk questions. The task is to respond in such a way as to impress an IELTS teacher. As always, best to start with an example, so a simple, very open question:

What kind of music do you like ?

One could just list some genres, but that wouldn’t cut it for IELTS. So, to increase sentence length, start with a short introduction, for example:

Music is very important in my life; I listen to some form of music every day. I really couldn’t imagine life without songs.

Then go on to explain in detail. People rarely only like one type of music, so that opens up the scope of the response:

When I was younger, of course I liked pop music such as (list two or three examples), but nowadays, I find myself listening more to (name some different genres).

Then how do you listen to music ? Computer, You Tube, Spotify, MP3 player, on your phone ? Do you buy, stream or download. Do you buy CDs ?

Can you play an instrument ? If so, which one(s). If not, you can still talk about it:

Although I love music, I don’t actually play any instruments, though I have always wanted to learn (the piano, guitar, oboe etc), and, who knows … maybe in the future I will.

Then turn the conversation; is there any music you don’t like ? This will enable the speaker to use an appropriate discourse marker:

Be that as it may // That notwithstanding // Having said that, I absolutely detest (give an example or examples – are there occasions when you are forced to listen to music ?) karaoke, which is so prevalent in Viet Nam, not to mention drunken wedding party ‘singing’.

I have a list of several questions. Students can work in small groups or pairs and choose one question about which they feel most confident. After a short preparation time, they must speak without repetition, hesitation or deviation – their partners can check this.

Finally, as an endgame, I can play some music and the students have to identify the genre from the above list.

Sweet ‘Love is Like Oxygen’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXJ4TZSXtzc

Nirvana ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

watch?v=hTWKbfoikeg

Chic ‘Good Times’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er9xGRolrT4

Stray Cats ‘Stray Cat Strut’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbAyj1h9vI0

And on that note … lesson over.