{November 22, 2012}   Great Video for “Team Work”

One of the videos I watched the most this year came from TED. Whenever you need to work with the idea of team work, be sure to have this video at hand – students love it, and they engage in great discussions departing from it.

The speaker, Tom Wujec, became known here in Argentina some 15 years ago with his book, “Five Star Mind – Games and Puzzles” (Mentalmanía in Spanish). I read it while I was a high school student myself, and it became one of my favourite books whenever I needed to be “creative.”


{December 5, 2011}   Interactive Whiteboard Activities

It’s been some months since I’ve first tried the device, and I must admit I love it! Here are two excellent sites with tons of activities for you to work with on an interactive whiteboard:

TES Iboard


English is Cool

Teacher Led


ILearn Technology

Learning Today



Promethean Planet

{March 22, 2011}   Storytelling

A friend of mine asked if I knew of any good courses on storytelling. My answer was the one you are thinking of:

“Why do you want to do a course of something that you know naturally? Why don’t you do a web search to clarify your doubts, and enlarge your knowledge?”

And as she was working, I did a google search for her and send her some links via e-mail. The first link I came across is a “manual” for beginners in storytelling. The information you will see there perhaps is not new, but it is clearly organized and it gives a general idea of what storytelling is. The second link, a set of resources for storytelling, was chosen simply because I found it really interesting!

As I always say, what works for one person perhaps doesn’t work for another. The truth is, all of us know naturally how to tell a story. We all have little brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, nephews, nieces and neighbours to tell stories to; and as teachers, we have our own students. Also, children are the best judges who are going to tell you what works and what needs to be changed. We all have our own techniques for storytelling, but we all change our voices to represent different characters and we all “make faces” for children to become really interested in the story. I, for instance, use puppets whenever I don’t want to use a book. And children laugh of my faces, and voices, and movements. A friend of mine likes acting out the stories she tells, so if you peek into her classroom, you will see a clown and not a teacher! 🙂

To end this post, I leave a question to all of you: Which do you think is the most useful technique for storytelling?

Did you ever want to work with something different in your Business English lessons?

This year, I felt the need to use something unusual just to break with the routine. Working every single lesson on specific vocabulary made me feel my students were not learning enough. So, I carried out a little investigation -I googled, in other words 😉 – just in search of different ideas that could work with my students.

I got inspired for an intermediate-level class, which was starting on March 3rd. We were very close to a new holiday here in Argentina, and I thought it would be very nice to work with “why” we have that holiday. During my “investigation”, I came across lots of materials about Mardi Gras. My students LOVED the idea and the material, since they didn’t know about this celebration.

And tomorrow, March 17th, two more groups are starting and I’m preparing a lesson on St. Patrick’s Day.

If you like this idea, you can go to this site, where I found LOTS of interesting activities to carry out with students of different age groups. If you work with young people, you may find this audio story really useful. Or you can just ask me for the material I used 🙂


PS: I feel really tired today, but I wanted to share this with you since it’s been ages since my last post!

{August 18, 2010}   Games in the ESL Classroom

Have you ever tried to play a game in the classroom, for the sake of playing?

I’ve collected a series of games that can be adapted to the teaching context and used to have fun and learn at the same time.

Game 1:
Guess Who?

Level: Intermediate
Age: teens
Short Description: Each player chooses a person from the board. The other players ask questions which can be answered just by yes or no. After 20 questions and no right guess, another person is chosen.

Game 2:

Level: Intermediate
Age: teens, adults
Short Description: Have  you ever heard about this game? Here you can find the template to create your own board!

Game 3:
Balloon Game

Level: Advanced
Age: Adults
Short Description: Tell your students that they are flying in a hot-air balloon which is sinking and that someone must be thrown out if everyone is not to die. Each speaker has to make the case why they should not be thrown out of the balloon to save the others. Typically each participant speaks on behalf of a famous person, profession, fictional character, etc. Other perilous situations may take the place of the sinking balloon, for example, a shipwrecked raft, or a nuclear bunker.

I promise I’ll add more games during the following weeks, but now is your turn to try them out!

{July 2, 2010}   World Cup 2010

This year I’ve worked with some vocabulary related to football because of the World Cup. Have you done so, too? Here there are many activities that you may like to use with your students in this World Cup final week.

{May 31, 2010}   World Cup 2010

Every four years, teachers have an opportunity to make students practice their English with activities related to the World Cup. Not only one can use this topic as a source of material for tenses exercises, but also for comparatives and superlatives, countries, nationalities, parts of the body, numbers and colours.

Here are some ideas I put into practice this year:

– Look for the history of the World Cup and use it as an exercise on passive voice. (I created a very nice exercise on this, you can find it here)

– Provide your students with infinite sources for research. They can write physical descriptions, narrations about different places, they can describe the rules of football.

– Younger students can practice colours while decorating the World Cup’s mascot. You can even give them different mascots to colour!

– Provide students related to football: the people, the field, the rules…

– Give students cards with information about different players, then, they can practice question making!

What ideas are you planning to use in the classroom?

{April 27, 2010}   Working in Kinder II

It’s been two complete months since classes started at kinder, and I have some comments to make about my new adventure.

1. English classes shouldn’t be during the last period. I know that kinder teachers work in several places and they use that period to go from one kinder to the other, but the kids are SO tired they don’t pay attention and, for some of them, the classes are not useful.

2. You have to be Superman, flying from table to table, to help everyone and to make every children happy.

3. You have to VARY from class to class, but don’t change everything. Every class, we sing the hello song, they see PePa Frog (my puppet) and we talk about the weather. Then, I can give them some playdough, or I can give them a piece of paper to draw something related to the topics we are working with… or I can use my magic headbands (today I wore one with rabbit ears to teach them about the Easter Bunny).

4. Be FIRM. I think that’s the most important thing. They need to respect you and to know who is the leader of the classroom. What I generally do is, if they get on my nerves, I send them off with the headmistress. If they behave appropriately, they play with my frog or they wear my headbands.

5. Keep the students’ interest. Last Friday, instead of a writing activity, I prepared some finger puppets on Itsy Bitsy Spider. They loved them!

6. It’s the first time my students are so eager to complete  written work.  That helps me a lot when I’m designing the activities!

I’m planning on uploading the different templates of activities I’ve created this year. Anyone interested on that?

{March 15, 2010}   Working in Kinder

Working in kinder differs immensely from working with primary school children. In kinder, you have to adapt your language, your pronunciation and your body language to help children understand what is happening around them.

Here are a few tips to make the best of your kinder classes:

1. Stick to a routine. Young children learn better in an organized way. Keep your classroom tidy, use hello and goodbye songs, use the idea of a circle time when you want to introduce new concepts and ideas.

2.Be organized. Stick to timing. Remember that English lessons in kinder usually last between 30 and 45 minutes, and you surely want your kids to make profit from those classes. Pay a visit to the class teacher and ask her for permission to watch some of her classes to see how the kids work. Ask the class teacher for available materials, and ask if you can have your own English corner, to display the kids’ work. Tell her about the topics you are going to work, so she can help you monitor your students while they work. If the class teacher doesn’t stay during your period, leave her little notes telling her how the class went on.

3. Send kids’ work periodically to their parents. Summarize the kids’ work after a monthly period, so their parents can see their progress.

4. Classroom techniques. There are many ways to work with little kids, but you always have to remember that they need to USE the language to actually learn it. Presenting, practicing and consolidating language helps the development of fine motor skills. Choose one or two students to help, they will love to! Check that you have all your materials before coming into the classroom!

5. Written Work. As I said before, little kids have short English lessons, but you can profit a lot from them! try to plan several classes in advance, and every other class make them do some kind of written work, for their parents to see their progress at the end of the year.

BONUS: I’m going to prepare a short play based on the Three Little Pigs, for my preschoolers (kinder -5). I think that including drama in your classes is great to get the students involved with the language.

Use games, songs, chants, rhymes, stories, drama and have lots of fun with the kids!

Great sites to find material for kids:

As a student, I remember reading lots of materials on the use of videos for educational purposes. There are lots of worth reading materials, but I guess experience is the best reference when working with media products. Working with Videos in the classroom has been mistakenly confused with unplanned classes and with lazy teachers. Teaching a second language that is not spoken in the country  WHAT ELSE???

First of all, if you are planning to work with films, I think a little knowledge on film related vocabulary and the meaning of the different camera positions for instance, is a must if you want to include activities that really engage students as critical viewers.

Then, you should be acquainted with the likes of your students, and see what kind of films are appropriate to their age and level of English.

It would be excellent to have video guides prepared in advance, so as to avoid preparing some not encouraging activities just to fill class time and requirements. As regards this, we have to consider the purpose of the watching activity: are we watching a video just for fun or to expand our knowledge on certain topic?

This is important so we can choose after watching activities that are appropriate to work with, keeping in mind that video watching is an activity in itself.

When preparing a video guide, it’s frequently recommended to divide it in three parts:

Pre- Watching Activities, where you may introduce the topic of the film, elicit background knowledge from the students or predict what the film will be about.

While – Watching Activities, which I think should be just short vocabulary note taking so as to let students concentrate in the watching, and

– Post – Watching Activities, which can be individual or group activities, written or oral, depending on your likes and the students’. Usual post – watching activities include gap filling, comprehension questions and summary writing. Then students can go on towards freer activities, such as poster creation, comic drawing or dramatization.

We, as teachers, should put all our efforts in creating appealing video guides and activities to motivate students. And I’m not saying that we have to print colour copies or something like that. I think that at least one or two images and a nice font can be used to improve the aesthetics of a worksheet, but if the content is not good enough, there’s no use in embelishing it.

How do YOU work with videos?

et cetera