New teaching English syllables materials and teaching ideas

Recently had the hard but rewarding experience of writing and giving a nine-hour course just on pronunciation. Spent about 3 hours of that on making sure my students could recognise and produce the right number of syllables, including in famously difficult situations like consonant clusters, -ed endings and -(e)s endings, and words ending with consonants without a final vowel. It was surprisingly successful given how difficult Japanese students tend to find it to get “strike” down from four syllables to one, but still an awful lot of work for a one-off lesson! Therefore as usual I’ve decided to share my ideas to make all that labour feel more worthwhile…

Six photocopiable classroom activities plus an article with many more lesson ideas now available on my brand new page on the topic:

Teaching English syllables games/ worksheets

and those an a couple of other new activities added to my general pron pages:

Pronunciation games/ worksheets

Articles on teaching pronunciation

Posted in consonant clusters, Pronunciation | 3 Comments

TESOL International Association set ridiculously low standards for short TEFL courses

God knows something needs to be done to raise the standards of the typical 120-hour-ish TEFL courses that dominate our industry, but TESOL (the larger American version of IATEFL) have quite possibly acheived the opposite with their current attempt. From now on, dodgy TEFL course providers will be able to claim that they meet some kind of minimum standards from a well-respected industry organisation while:

  • It is impossible to fail their courses
  • There is no observed teaching practice (let alone the graded observed teaching practice that is by far the most important part of any course)
  • Their trainers have no relevant teaching qualifications
  • There is no outside accreditation (let alone outside accreditation by a university or exam board like some organisations demand)
  • etc

Instead, TESOL set pointless and/ or incredibly vague “standards” such as:

  • Having a mission statement (but nothing at all on what the mission statement should say)
  • “The program’s goals and objectives guide the choice of instructional approaches and materials”
  • “Instructors understand the connections between theory and practice and value the role of culture in language teaching and learning”

Any attempt at a better description of standards than “Cambridge CELTA (or Trinity Cert TESOL) or equivalent” should be a good thing, but as I said above I honestly think TESOL have managed something even worse here. I’d love to think it was just well-meaning incompetence, but I have a terrible feeling it has more to do with the increasing commercialism of the organisation in some way.

Posted in Online TEFL certificate, TEFL certificate, TEFL qualifications | 5 Comments

Ten new(ish) articles on teaching English

Have written a little flurry of new articles during August that I wanted to show off like a primary school kid writing about “What I Did in My Summer Holiday”. Then realised that I haven’t done anything similar this year, so it became more of list of What I’ve Done So Far in 2015:

Why does my teacher not speak more slowly?

40 telephoning activities

Favourites in EFL classes

How to teach FCE Listening Part Two

How to teach like and would like

How to teach telephoning

How to teach frequency expressions

How to teach FCE Writing Part One essays

How to teach There is/ There are

36 fun classroom activities for Present Simple and Present Continuous

The other thing that I could show off (?) to my teacher and classmates in show and tell is that some time this year I seem to have passed the 500 articles about TEFL mark. All of them arranged by topic here and by place of publication here.

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | Leave a comment

New TEFL pdfs May to July 2015

Didn’t realise that it was so long that I I hadn’t written one of these lists of latest photocopiable material. Can’t say I have any evidence that people were crying out for a bunch of new worksheets from me, but here they all are anyway…

In reverse chronological order:

Comparative Adjectives and Requests speaking and grammar presentation

FCE Listening Part Two-Guessing What Goes in the Gaps game

Past Simple Small Talk Questions

Financial Vocabulary Trends Mini-Presentations

Verbs for Describing Processes

The process of IELTS Listening (listening tips linked to IELTS Writing Part One process tasks)

Which Part of the FCE Listening?

Countable and Uncountable Nouns- Kitchen Shopping Roleplay Discussion

Like and Would Like Food Roleplay Dialogue

Setting Up a New Office- Countable & Uncountable Roleplay

FCE Speaking Part One on education

FCE Speaking Part Two on education

FCE Speaking Part Four and Writing Part One on education

Likes Alphabet Coin Game

Determiners in Typical Presentations Phrases

He Likes & She Likes Games

Explaining education in your country comparing and contrasting practice

Meeting on the topic of entertaining guests

Describing Japanese things comparing and contrasting practice

Formal and Informal Phrases for FCE Emails and Letters

Country and Nationality Words Bluffing Game

Planning FCE Email Tasks

Wh- Questions Needs Analysis, Presentation and Practice

There is & There are with Prepositions Make Me Say Yes Game

Giving Reasons in Negotiations

Dealing with Presentation Questions Politely

FCE Speaking Part One on family

FCE Speaking Part One on free time and hobbies

FCE Writing Part Two restaurant review task

Present Simple and Continuous Discuss and Agree

Present Perfect and Simple Past Meetings Roleplays

Leading seminars & discussions longer phrases game

Leading seminars & discussions review

Rephrasing in IELTS Speaking Part One

Arrangements, Plans, Predictions and Spontaneous Decisions game

Conspiracy Theories- Speculating about the Present and Past Practice

Alphabet Homophones and Minimal Pairs

Giving Positive and Negative Feedback in Academic Discussions

IELTS Speaking Part One and Needs Analysis First Lesson

Leading Seminars/Discussions Politeness Competition Game

Present Continuous and Prepositions Drawing Dice Game

Negotiating Phrases Mimes

Meeting People- Key Words, Phrases, Dialogues and Topics

Respond to the meeting people phrases

Internal and External Business Negotiation Roleplays

Language of trends and advice practice

Business trends and predictions

Comparing and contrasting synonyms

Opinions on emailing

Second conditional and trends

Frequency Expressions Ranking and Speaking Card Games

Meaning and Formality Differences in Emails

Solutions to poverty discussion and reading

Emailing test

Small talk with present tenses

Travel Vocabulary & Roleplays

Travel Situations Email and Telephone Roleplays

If that ain’t enough for you, see the last post on food and drink vocabulary for a couple more new ones.




Posted in Photocopiable worksheets | 1 Comment

Linking food and drink to other language points

While reorganising my food and drink vocab index pages, noticed that many of them tied it in quite nicely with other language points – buy one language point, get one free! Here are the ones that do that:

Food and drink vocabulary with grammar points

Food vocabulary with too and not enough – NEW

Kitchen shopping countable and uncountable roleplay discussion

Countable and uncountable foods presentation and speaking

Food and drink mimes Present Continuous

Food present continuous mimes (young learner version)

Food Present Continuous pictionary

Food vocabulary comparatives and superlatives

and one on passive voice coming soon

Food and drink vocabulary with functional language

Food and drink and kitchen supplies to sell (with food and drink and sales collocations) – NEW

Like and would like roleplay dialogue on food

Explaining Japanese things comparing and contrasting practice (mainly food and drink)

Meetings on the topic of food and drink and business entertaining

British food speculating game

Making food IELTS process task practice

Food trends and speaking

Food and drink vocabulary teaching general vocabulary points

Food vocabulary word formation challenge game

Positive and negative words about food and dining

Food and other vocabulary

Food spelling code game

Circular foods picture flashcards

Food word recognition flashcards

Triangular foods picture flashcards

Square and rectangular foods flashcards

Exam practice on the topic of food and drink

FCE restaurant review task

IELTS Speaking on food

IELTS Speaking Part Two presentations on food

FCE Speaking Part One on food

FCE Speaking Part Two on food

FCE Speaking Part Four on food

Posted in comparatives, countable and uncountable nouns, Food vocabulary, Modals of deduction, present continuous | Leave a comment

New Present Simple pdf classroom materials pages

So many activities recently that the main Present Simple photocopiables page had got a bit unmanageable. Hopefully a bit easier to handle now with separate pages for Third Person S Activities and It is/ They are Activities. Links also there for connected grammar like this/ that/ these/ those, can, and have got.

Posted in Present simple for routines etc. | Leave a comment

Have Cambridge lost interest in the CELTA and Delta?

I’ve been flicking through the Cambridge English annual review (as you do), and was surprised to find just one very brief mention of the CELTA (in Ukraine “Teachers who complete TKT or CELTA can apply for an exemption from the English language teaching module…”) and not a single mention of the Delta.

Obviously there haven’t been any major changes to those qualifications to announce and the markets for qualifications aimed at state school teachers and students of English are much bigger, but you’d think they’d have something or the other to say about their top level teaching qualifications, say an expansion of people studying online or courses in a new country or two. If no such thing is true or they think such changes are so insignificant to not be worth mentioning at all, I think it’s fair to fear about the future of these qualifications, given how ruthlessly cut-throat such UK “non-profits” tend to be nowadays.

The next thing I did was therefore to wonder what a world without the Cambridge CELTA and Delta would be like (as you do). The utopian outcome would be all those course providers banding together and producing their own joint qualification that had a lot more basis in how people should teach and learn while skimming off less course fees. The more likely outcome is a continuing replacement of CELTA by the much lower level TKT and an increasing proliferation of other providers who consist of little more than dodgy marketing copied from each other.

Seen any good annual reports or had any good teaching qualification-related dreams recently? Views about Cambridge English? Please share below.

Posted in Cambridge Delta, CELTA | 3 Comments

Two nice new activities for mixed future tenses

Along with the fact the authors have done boring stuff like workbooks so I don’t have to, what I most like about teaching with textbooks is the challenge of trying to come up with activities to tie together with whatever random language points come next to each other in the book. As with the two ideas mentioned below, I sometimes even find that it helps me come up with ideas that probably never would have occurred to me otherwise but I’ll almost certainly use in classes that don’t have this particular text.

Present Perfect and mixed future tenses

Students get one point for each time they can get the answer “No, I never have, but…” to “Have you ever…?” questions that they ask their partner(s), with the “but…” part plus a future form being very important. For example, they score a point if their partner says “No, I never have, but I’d like to/ but I’m going to/ but I probably will/ but I definitely will/ but I might” to questions like “Have you ever been to Africa?” and “Have you ever cooked French food?” That means they get no points if their partner says “Yes, I have” or gives a totally negative answer like “No, and I don’t really want to/ probably never will/ etc”.

Food vocabulary and mixed future tenses

Students get one point for each correct future sentence that they can make about their partner on the topic of food, e.g. if their partner says “That’s true” to “You are going to cook tonight” and “You will probably eat horse sometime this year”. They don’t get a point if the statement that they make is not (likely to be) true, including if the tense is wrong, e.g. if their partner says “Actually, I’m planning to eat out tonight, but I might have to cook if my husband comes back late” or “Actually, I’m going to a horse meat restaurant tonight”. To ensure a range of language, you could ban students from repeating future times, foods, future tenses etc in their guesses, or at least until they have used a good selection of them at the beginning of the game.

Many more activities combining different future forms here.

Posted in Food vocabulary, Future tenses, Grammar games, Present perfect, Speaking games | Leave a comment

TEFLtastic updated nearly every day (really!)

You certainly wouldn’t think  it from the number of actual posts, but under the hood (also known as the classroom activities section) new links to my articles and worksheets are added several times a week. To make it easy to spot when pages have either been updated since you last came to them or have been neglected for ages and so should be treated with caution, have started writing dates when pages were last updated and labelled the newest links. And if I do ever feel inspired to actually blog again, this blog posts bit of what is still called rather misleadingly “TEFLtastic blog” will of course be here waiting…

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 2 Comments

New photocopiable classroom activities March and April 2015

A bit of a random selection as always, but I do seem to be coming up with a lot of dice games recently and my collection of EFL games using dice is now up to 16.

Meetings on the topic of travel (with travel collocations)

This/ that slapping game

Meetings on the topic of problems (with adjective opposites)

Discussion about language learning with adverbs of frequency

Good and bad travel experiences speaking

Like + Gerund Personalised Speaking Dice Game

Time Expressions with Present Simple personalised speaking and presentation (adverbs of frequency and prepositions of time)

Problems with some and any speaking practice

Problems with Have and There are speaking practice

Negotiating phrases error correction pairwork

Wh- Questions for Making Small Talk

Brainstorm a telephone dialogue line by line

Subject and Object Questions Speaking Games

Telephoning Problems Vocabulary, Roleplays and Phrases

Favourites Drawing Dice Game

Negotiations Jigsaw Dialogues and Useful Phrases

Favourites Alphabet Dice Game

Passive Tenses Environmental Quiz

Ending Presentations Politeness Competition Game

Useful phrases for FCE Writing Part One Essays

Adjectives with too and not enough problems and solutions

Problems with Too & Not Enough Presentation and Practice

FCE (Cambridge First Certificate) Writing Part One Essays Advice and Useful Phrases

FCE (Cambridge First Certificate) Writing on Speaking Part One Topics

Starting and Ending Negotiations phrases card games

Closing Lines for Different Kinds of Emails

Can, can’t and prepositions dice game

Adverbs of Frequency for Describing Business Culture

A & An for Describing Companies and Jobs

You can also find all of these on the relevant index pages via the dropdown menus just under the photo above, and many of my worksheets are also mentioned in the very extensive resources section of the brand new website EFL Magazine.

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