New index pages April and May 2020

Some of these are quite small at the moment, but I’m presently writing worksheets and articles for all those which are short at the moment, and will be updating them and/ or this list as often as I can:

Starting and ending presentations page– NEW 15 May 2020

Prefixes games/ worksheets

CPE Use of English games/ worksheets

Gerund and infinitive games/ worksheets

Reporting verbs games/ worksheets

Consonant clusters games/ worksheets

Minimal pairs games/ worksheets

Rhyming words games/ worksheets

Word stress games/ worksheets

Pronunciation lists

Functional language lists

100 useful phrases lists

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Teaching checking/ clarifying on and for Zoom

Even more than face to face, the classroom language most needed for online classes is definitely checking/ clarifying phrases like “Can you say that one more time (more slowly)?”, “Can you say that another way?”, “Did you say… (or…)?” and “How do you spell…?” It’s also vital for things which are particularly good on Zoom etc such as telephoning and drawing dictations. However, there are (as I’ve been writing quite a lot recently) complications. Here are a few:

  • Students and even the teacher can easily get mixed up between the real communication problems that are inevitable in online classes and whatever communication problems are included in the practice activities for checking/ clarifying phrases. Therefore at least the beginning of the activity will need to be easy and/ or quite artificial.
  • Giving something to just one person to say so other people genuinely need to check/ clarify what they are saying can be quite complicated online. Therefore, you might want to start with quite a fake situation such as someone deliberately making mistakes with things on a list that everyone can see for other people to correct. Alternatively, you could start by asking students to make up their own things to say for the other people to check so that there’s no need to share lists. (See my post on drawing games for how to share stuff with individual students if you do want to do it that way).
  • If you want students to make up their own things to say/ dictate for other people to check, you’ll need to set it up carefully so that students aren’t saying things that are too easy to need clarification but that they are avoiding things which are too difficult to understand even with clarification, and also that they aren’t saying things that they aren’t clear about themselves (which can cause more and more confusion as the other students try to check what is being said).
  • If you want students to do it in groups in breakout rooms, you’ll need to set up a very structured activity and/ or give them lots of language that they’ll need. For example, to practise numbers and checking/ clarifying in pairs or groups online, you’ll probably need Student A and Student B worksheets with figures and at least two ways to pronounce each figure so that they can explain another way
  • If you’re not splitting into groups , you’ll need to keep every involved. For example, you could have one person say something, the other people take turns asking as many checking/ clarifying questions as they can, and finally anyone who can’t think of any more suitable questions writes down what was said

Although I’ve written and shared an article, 222 phrases and 17 photocopiables on checking/ clarifying over the years, nothing quite seemed right for my Zoom classes. After a night of restless tossing and turning in thought, I eventually came up with a lesson where students get each other to say numbers and words that get longer and longer by one figure/ letter each time, with a bit of pretending to have communication problems for more intensive practice of the functional language. It also involves them working together collaboratively on the same screen, which is a good real-life skill (especially nowadays) and as a lead-in to or further practice of other classroom language for Zoom lessons.

And here it is:

Dictating longer and longer checking/ clarifying games

I’m planning to follow this with something on understanding and pronouncing numbers, then to practise it with a bit more context as part of leaving messages on the phone. Will let you know how that goes…

Posted in clarifying, Functional language | Leave a comment

Grammar practice drawing games

Have just rearranged my list of 75 drawing game PDFs to be more organised by individual topic, and there were enough grammar ones for enough different language points to be worth a post all of their own. Will also expand this as new ones go up.

Grammar drawing games

Present tenses drawing games

Present Continuous drawing games

Who is …ing Present Continuous subject questions dice drawing games

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing dice game

Clothes and Present Continuous drawing game

Good and bad boys, girls and superheros Present Continuous project

Good and bad behaviour Present Continuous pictionary/ mimes

Food Present Continuous pictionary

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing dice game

Third person S drawing games

Does he/ she like pick and draw game

Other Present Simple drawing games

It is and they are plus colours drawing game

Is and are drawing game

Are they… or…? drawing games

Days of the week pick and draw

Present Simple reading, speaking and drawing game

There is/ there are drawing games

How many are there pick and draw drawing games

What’s in the… there is there are pick and draw

Possessives drawing games

Possessive, body and adjectives pick and draw

Animals and body possessive S pictionary advanced version

Possessives and adjectives pick and draw drawing game

Possessives coin drawing game

Whose is this?/ Whose are these? possessives drawing game

Possessive adjectives and personal pronouns drawing game

Possessive adjectives drawing game

It is/ They are + my/ your/ his/ her pick cards and draw game (with optional adjectives)

Clothes and possessive s drawing game

Animals and body parts drawing (possessive S)

Articles/ determiners drawing games

A and an drawing game

Feelings drawing games (with a/ an practice)

Comparative and superlative drawing games

Comparative pick and draw

Which is plus comparative drawing game

Comparative adjectives drawing games

Superlatives pictionary challenge game

Question formation drawing games

Subject questions drawing game (with animals and clothes vocabulary) – NEW

Asking for details and drawing game (question formation, directions, describing places, appearance and family vocabulary)

Prepositions drawing games

Pronouns and prepositions pick and draw drawing game

Want to plus prepositions of position personalised drawing and speaking game

Strange body positions pictionary (prepositions on position and body)

Body parts and prepositions monsters project

Our topsy turvy school prepositions project (classroom and school vocabulary)

Adjectives and prepositions pick and draw drawing game

This that these those drawing games

This that these those pick and draw drawing game

This that these those pictionary

Modals verbs drawing games

Can & can’t drawing coin game

Prohibitions pictionary (modal verbs)

Rules and regulations pictionary (modals verbs and similar)

Other photocopiable grammar drawing games

Countable and uncountable pick and draw drawing game

Have and don’t have coin drawing

Posted in Grammar, Grammar games, TEFL games | Tagged | 2 Comments

Drawing games on Zoom

As I’m (hopefully) only doing Zoom classes temporarily, number one in my criteria for planning lessons is to do things which are better done online than face to face. As I said in my last post, the things which I’ve found gain something from being on a screen are giving instructions, checking/ clarifying, telephoning, and drawing games. The last of those is obviously the most fun and something I have 75 pdfs for, but does need some setting up. Here are some tips:

Zoom settings for drawing games

Firstly you need to make sure annotation is enabled in your Zoom setttings. It seems that if it’s turned on for the person hosting the meeting then it’s turned on for everyone, so if you can do it in a practice Zoom session, then it’s probably already okay. However, if you want students to be able to open the whiteboard function themselves (as recommended below), then you’ll also need to enable screen sharing for participants in your settings.

Choosing drawing games for Zoom

At least the first time that you do drawing games on Zoom, it’s best to stick to Pictionary, which is simply one person choosing something from a list and drawing something for others to guess. Luckily, this can be used for all kinds of vocabulary, business skills such as presentations, grammar like Present Continuous, etc, etc, etc. Particularly if you’ve run through useful language for giving instructions on Zoom, the second best option is probably a drawing dictation, in which one person gives instructions on what another person should draw. Another option which seems good but I’ve never tried face to face is students just working together to make the best drawing that they can to match the target language, e.g. all working on a picture to contrast “He’s cutting his hair” and “He’s having his hair cut”.

Other drawing games like Pick and Draw are also possible, but need a bit more organisation and/ or training of students on using Zoom.

Sharing lists of things to draw on Zoom

If you want students to draw things from a list, you need to make sure that they all get and can see that list by doing at least two of these things:

  • emailing it out
  • using the “file” button in the chat function to share the document
  • pasting the list into the chat box
  • opening the list on your computer and sharing it with the “Share screen” function

It’s more complicated if you only want the person who is drawing to see the list, but you can copy and paste and send as a private message to just that person from the chat box. Just giving them one option for what to draw is likely to lead to problems if they don’t understand that thing (and any explanation will also have to be done through private messages in the chat function so everyone else can’t hear). However, if you send them everything then they’ll have an unfair advantage when the next person draws. I would therefore copy and paste 5 to 10 options for each student to choose from, with different options for each student. After finishing the game, you can share the whole list with everyone in the ways suggested above.

The other possibility is to split the worksheet into Student A, Student B, Student C, etc and email just one part to each student, but you’d need to be pretty confident about the number of students who will take part when you are preparing it that way.

Spaces to draw on Zoom

If you want everyone to be able to see the list while they are drawing, guessing, etc, you need to have both that and a blank space for drawing on the screen at the same time. The easiest way that I’ve found is to make the list as a Word document, open that document in Word as usual, open the Word “search” function, then share that document with the screen sharing function . You and the students can then use the mostly blank grey search box space on the left-hand side of the screen for drawing on, as well as being able to underline things etc in the list on the right-hand side. You could also of course do the same by making a blank space on one side of the Powerpoint slide etc that you create.

If only the student who is drawing should look at the options, then you just need to open a blank page for them to draw on. The easiest way is probably by clicking on the “Whiteboard” function after you click on “Share screen”, but you can all do exactly the same things on top of any blank document.

Making sure that students can draw on Zoom

Whatever document you share, students can draw on top of it by clicking on the drop-down “options” button at the top of the screen, choosing “annotate” (“comments” on the Japanese version that I’m using), then choose the symbol that looks like someone has drawn a squiggly line (called “draw a picture” in my Japanese version). As well as using a pen, they can draw straight lines, draw arrows and draw shapes. They can also draw in different colours (e.g. one colour for each student to know who has drawn what) and change the thickness of the line, all by clicking on the “format” button.

The easiest way to set this up is to start with a few minutes or even a whole lesson on instructions on Zoom (e.g. with this worksheet). Alternatively, I guess it must be possible to show them how you are doing it while you draw a few examples by using “Share desktop” when you “Share screen”.

If you have students who can’t work out how to annotate on top of documents that other people open, you can just close the document that you are sharing and get the student whose turn it is to share their screen and open “whiteboard” or another document to draw on. This is easier to explain than how to draw on top of your documents, as there is a big “share screen” button in the middle of the main menu that is easy to find and use if you put them in charge of that. If they can’t find that share screen button, they probably just need to open Zoom up to the full size of their screen.

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 6 Comments

Useful language for Zoom lessons

After my first week of Zoom lessons, I’m more convinced than ever that students need to be specifically taught Social English (especially small talk and conversational reactions) to be able to communicate smoothly at the beginning and end of lessons on video conferencing platforms like Zoom (even more so than in face to face lessons).

During the lesson, the language that is most likely to come up and need teaching to make communication go smoothly is asking people to wait and checking/ clarifying. Both of these points are presented and practised at lot in telephoning materials. In fact, telephoning is probably easier to teach through Zoom etc than teleconferencing/ video conferencing would be. This is because it’s difficult to be in a real video conference and roleplay a pretend video conference at the same time, but you can turn the video off while practising telephone calls to clearly mark where the roleplay starts and ends, and to provide more realistic practice than you would get in a face-to-face classroom.

Finally, you can do a whole or part of a lesson specifically on instructions for Zoom lessons, teaching both language that they will need to understand and use in future lessons, and how to use the app, as in this brand new PDF of mine:

Classroom language for Zoom lessons activities

This goes well with the language of giving instructions (perhaps as requests or with the imperative). However, I did the worksheet before and after drawing games, as drawing on the whiteboard and annotating other documents is a fair chunk of most possible Zoom class instructions. Note that the instructions which students can follow and give each other will depend a lot on what you’ve done with your Zoom settings, and this worksheet will need to be substantially rewritten if you are using different software for video lessons.

This are just my initial ideas one week into reluctantly agreeing to do online lessons, so feedback on the worksheet, more suggested classroom language, etc, etc gratefully accepted.

Posted in Distance learning, online games, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Technology | Leave a comment

New Social English articles page

Teaching my first two Zoom lessons yesterday showed me that, as I suspected, students need even more help online than face to face when it comes to smoothly starting and ending conversations, small talk, conversational reactions, etc. Luckily, I’ve written eight articles (including one new one) and two lists of useful language on the topic, and have lots more coming soon, all here:

Social English articles– NEW


Posted in Social English | 1 Comment

Proving how complicated teaching English really is

I’ve been following my own tips and writing lots of articles. I’ve somehow managed to write over 2000 words each on just teaching “What’s your name?”, “How old are you?” and “How are you?”, which shows how tricky even the simplest-looking parts of teaching can be. And to show how many such points we teachers have to think about, my new to do list of absolutely vital points which I’ve never written about has over 100 things on it. That is quite an impressive gap given that I’ve just wasted some of that precious coronavirus time calculating that I’ve published 628 articles on what I’d previously claimed were all things TEFL.

Let those past and future 1.5 million words be an answer to all those who think TEFLers are dossing off while they are doing the real jobs!

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Dice games for specific language points (TEFLtastic classics part 16 revisited)

A sudden surge in popularity for my posts on small talk and talking about your week and weekend for specific language points has inspired me to rearrange my list of EFL dice game PDFs so that it is now organised by target language. (Not sure how it was organised before…)

Including a couple of brand new ones, there are now sections with at least a couple of photocopiable dice games for:

  • tenses (adverbs of frequency, Present Continuous, Past Simple, Present Perfect Continuous, narrative tenses, and Unreal Past)
  • other grammar (question formation, prepositions, superlative, can/ can’t, and gerunds)
  • likes and dislikes
  • small talk
  • functional language (arrangements, advice, restaurant language, directions, supporting arguments, and meetings)
  • telephoning, teleconferencing, and video conferencing
  • emailing
  • travel English
  • EFL exams (IELTS and FCE)
  • vocabulary (phrasal verbs, classroom objects, colours and objects).

Social distanced (real word?) versions include buying them a dice each (it’s ten for about a dollar in my local hundred yen shop) or the teacher rolling each time, maybe with an online dice roller. Or you could switch to coin games, as they should definitely have one coin each.

39 more TEFLtastic classics, including many similar coin games, are available here. If you like anything here and would like me to turn down crappy online teaching jobs and spend the time putting more useful stuff up here instead, please support TEFLtastic.

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New TEFL PDFs 2020 Q1

Can’t say that it was planned, but in the last three months have managed a nice mix of language points including some on previously neglected points like indirect questions. All of these are available as PDFs to save and keep, so it’s well worth having a quick look through to save the best ones in relevant folders on your hard disk (no doubt all newly organised, as suggested in my to do list). In approximate order of how likely I am to re-use them myself.

Direct, indirect and taboo small talk questions

Present Perfect Simple and Continuous small talk

Recommendations and invitations for visitors review

Positive and negative responses in a restaurant games

Prepositions of time pairwork guessing game

Business acronyms and abbreviations presentation

Good and bad how questions

Formal and informal business communication activities

Present and past ability discussion questions

Time expressions with Present Simple games

Film, book and song titles with subject questions

Reported speech the same or different

Giving advice and recommendations future time expressions practice

IELTS Speaking Part Three functions card game

Opinions on the news and media

What’s in the… There is/ There are drawing game

Who is…ing? dice drawing game

Indirect questions dice game

How questions card games

How questions dice games

Direct and indirect questions simplest responses game

Aptis Speaking Part Two activities

Travel and tourism recommendations numbers practice

Small talk about work and leisure

How questions about work and leisure

How questions and advice dice game

Work and leisure adverbs of frequency

Present Continuous and like with -ing dice games

Gerunds appearance speaking

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To do list for self-isolating TEFLers

If my blog stats are anything to go by, I’m not the only TEFLer to have lost teaching hours due to coronavirus scares, and it’s sure to get worse before it gets better, including more self-isolating teachers. In some ways TEFLers might be better suited to self-isolating than non-TEFLers, having got used to being far away from friends and family and communicating with them electronically, and perhaps already having stockpiled favourite foods from home or learned to do without.

However, TEFLers might suffer more in other ways when forced to self-isolate. Financially it’s going to be a complete disaster for many of us, given how precarious TEFL was even when times were good. Teachers generally are also probably especially at risk from mental and/ or physical collapse, given the removal of many hours of face to face human contact and an all-consuming job, suddenly changing to the complete opposite of having no one or the same few faces to communicate with, and many hours and much mental space suddenly free – the perfect conditions for all kinds of bugs to hit.

Luckily, another good thing about TEFL is how many suitable related things you can do given a bit of free time. This is a list of some of those productive ways to spend your empty time, things that should both help your future teaching and keep you stimulated through any idle hours, most of which I’ve started doing or have on my to-do list myself.

  • Catch up on all the other useful things that teaching rarely leaves you time for (contacting friends and family, doing exercise, watching the kinds of movies that need time and mental space to appreciate, etc)
  • Do online TEFL training (with a reputable provider like NILE)
  • Go through whole books of TEFL materials and save the best pages
  • Organise your TEFL materials (on your hard disk or in physical folders, by grammar point, function, topic, skill, exam, etc), getting rid of stuff, polishing things up (e.g. writing your own versions of worksheets that were okay but not quite suitable) and/ or sharing stuff as you do so
  • Find useful online materials and teaching tips and organise and/ or share them (putting them in your browser favourites, on Pinterest, in a YouTube playlist, etc)
  • Share your materials (on a blog, via a teaching materials sharing site, etc)
  • Trim down your TEFL-related stuff (edit down the social media that you follow, cut down on the Facebook groups that you belong to, make a pile of TEFL books that you’ll never use, stop paying for Onestopenglish, etc)
  • Trim down non-TEFL stuff to leave you with more time and focus for teaching when it restarts (unsubscribe from social media, delete apps, etc)
  • Read TEFL articles
  • Write TEFL articles
  • Review TEFL books and other materials (if only on Amazon)
  • Do online teaching
  • Polish up your CV
  • Polish up your LinkedIn page
  • Make worksheets based on your favourite songs, movies, TV programmes etc (something that should be enjoyable even if you can’t use those materials in the near future)
  • Fill in applications for future face to face training (such as the Cambridge Delta)
  • Fill in job applications for the next academic year
  • Find more TEFLers to follow on social media/ Join TEFL groups (blogs, Twitter, etc)
  • Get ahead with your paperwork (get started on your reports, write syllabi for upcoming classes, etc)
  • Prepare some teacher training materials
  • Write out a career plan

Any more ideas/ things you are already doing?

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 1 Comment