{May 31, 2009}   English for Toddlers

Some months ago, a friend of mine asked me to give some English classes to her 3 years old daughter. It was really difficult to start at first, because the little girl loves being in my house and she gets easily distracted. Also, I had doubts on how I should work with her. I didn’t want to work with the language as something outside her life, so I designed a short annual plan to work with her.The topics I chose were those I thought kids her age are interested in, though I’m still not sure of some of them.

The main goals I am trying to achieve are working with skill development, preparing her for kinder and school, and to make communication in English a need for her (at least in my house). As for contents, she is really young, so I decided to start with alphabet recognition, reading through pictures and little language use (generally, we use simple structures in present simple or continuous, and she is doing really well!).

Activities vary according to her mood, but we generally work with colouring pictures, drawing, story telling – specially when she is tired, she really likes stories! – , singing (I love nursery rhymes!), recognizing shapes and colours, counting, games and some funny crafts. English is used during 2 whole hours a week, and after almost 3 months, I can gladly say that she has made great improvements in her command of the language!

These are some of the websites I found really useful when designing her classes:…………………………………………………………………

Some months ago, I bought a DSi and started looking for information on the different available games. Not only could I choose some classic games to have some fun and some totally new games (I mean, games that I find really difficult to play) but also I found really interesting games to learn and practice different languages.

I have to admit I’m a language geek who loves learning: I bought My Japanese Coach and My French Coach. The games are kind of expensive here, but, the DSi fits in any bag or pocket, you can use it everywhere you go, plus you can easily translate and understand some basic phrases in other languages. My idea is not to get proficient in Japanese* and French (though I’d love to!) but I’m doing this more like a hobbie really. If the games improved their level of language (come on, people do not talk just in present!) I’d be really glad to use the English version of the game with my geeky little students who also have this game console. What is true, is that these games are a really interesting way to make children practice and enjoy learning a language.

*What I found really interesting about the Japanese version of the game was all found here.

{May 29, 2009}   Some Funny Videos

You can find the lyrics here.

{May 22, 2009}   Twilight

I’m really commited to my reading of Twilight.  As I work from 8 to 7, the only chance I get for reading is travelling by bus. I still doubt how long will I resist the long bus trip having colleagues near home to travel with.


On Monday, I started reading Twilight. I was reluctant to read it at first, but when I saw it at the book fair I decided to give it a chance. I read two hours a day, as I go and come back from one of the schools I work. And I’ve read almost half of the book. I’m planning a trip to my favourite bookshop to get the other three books in the saga. I am eager to get on the bus tomorrow morning. I desperately need to finish the book tomorrow.

(The same happened to me when LOST came into air tv. I didn’t want to watch it because average Joe watched the series. One day, I got the dvds from season 1, and now I’m desperate for season 6 to start next year!)

And now, as I’m writing this, I find this link full of excellent materials on Twilight to use in the classroom. What else could I ask for? 🙂

PS: My boyfriend got me the movie (:


More Info on Twilight here and here

{May 22, 2009}   Be ready!

If you live in Argentina, be ready for future events!
I’ll update with news really soon!

{May 20, 2009}   Thinking aloud again

What happens when old methodologies are used as if they were the newest and the best ways of teaching? People quit. Or even worse, they start thinking that they have to comply to a set of rules that were set by Fred Flinstone & co.

Today I was part of a heated argument where the main point was error correction in little children. I’m not the best friend of the methods and approaches used in the institution, and I pointed out that there is always room for discussion on mistakes. My opinion was the same as that of many: if the mistakes do not cause misunderstanding or lack of communication, they should not be corrected at the very first stages of the learning process.The discussion went on for some half an hour, when someone pointed out the magic results seen by the methodology they use, and then my mind started working.

From what I’ve been taught, read, seen and experienced, children learn what they want when they want. When some unexpected external event takes place, there is a great possibility that children will not make any progress in their learning. And with this I’m not saying that mistakes should be here and there without being noticed. There is a place for everything and a moment for everything, and so, different approaches to teaching come into view.

I’ve seen many different teaching approaches, but going to Sam on Radio’s is too much. Drilling is good, but in the right amount. If your students are being exposed to drilling activities 100% of their classes, they may not be able to work with structures and vocabulary out of the context provided by the drilling activities.

Which is the best teaching approach in your opinion? I’ll go for a mix of CLT and TBL, with a bit of brain friendly activities! And in spite of that archaic knowledge one is exposed to here and there, I’m ready to go on learning and improving my teaching practices.

If you want to enlarge on the topic, you can check these sites:

A well balanced use of error correction

Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

Principles of L2 Teaching Methods and Approaches

English Language Teaching Methods

PS: I guess these people never heard about the word “Interlanguage”

{May 19, 2009}   A great idea!

I can’t remember where I got the idea from, but today, I made my English Literature students change the lyrics of a song to fit the story they were tested about (We read Five Orange Pips, and I chose “What a Wonderful World” by The Ramones for them to create new lyrics)

The results were superb, and the students had lots of fun looking for synonyms of the words from the story to make their ideas fit the rhythm of the song provided. I strongly recommend this activity if your students are art oriented or if you want to bring some fun and music into your classroom  – Your students will love doing this activity!

Here you have the Ramones’ version of the song and the lyrics a group of students wrote:

I have five orange pips

A letter too

It says I will die

Die really soon

And I think to myself

KKK I hate you

They have killed my uncle

My father too

I called Sherlock Holmes

To help me now

And I think to myself

KKK I hate you

In Baker Street I met him,

so serious in his flat

I told him how my father

and my uncle had died

I appreciate what he did

but now I am dead

Now he is saying

“I have failed”

My friend Holmes found the ship

It was called Lone Star

It sank in the sea

There are no solutions now,

And I think to myself

KKK I hate youuuu,

And I think to myself

KKK I hate youuuu…

{May 14, 2009}   Slang

For those interested in Slang, here you have two great must-check websites:

London Slang

UK Slang Dictionary

{May 9, 2009}   Melting Post (:

Today I was looking for new ideas for this week’s planning, and I came across several interesting sites, which I’m sharing with you:

Trash Matcher is a site where you can find lots of crafts to make with recycled materials.

OneHen is a great site to teach finance to kids!

Learn to read free provides free online reading for kids who are starting reading.

Internet4Classrooms provides resources for teachers to use Internet effectively in their classrooms.

Colouring Books for Download

And, the most interesting for me this week, Mayan Kids (Since my students are doing a project on ancient civilizations)

Hope they prove useful for you!

et cetera