Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

englishonline.net

Website Review: englishonline.net

In short: For $39-$129, you can access lot of good writing advice and have a teacher look at your stuff. You’ll definitely improve.

This site is half pay stuff, half free stuff. You can pay for writing courses. They look like they’re best for really advanced students, so some students might like a book that’s a little simpler. Still, the content seems strong. The Business Writing course looked especially good. You can also take these courses: “Essentials of Writing”, “Technical Writing”, “Research Essay Writing”, and “Resume Lab”. (The “Essentials of Writing” course would be best for lower level students.)

For free, you can listen to cool conversations with nice supporting materials. You can also check out daily vocabulary, idioms, and grammar points for free.

For students: Once you sign up for a writing course, you can access forums. If lots of people put stuff there, they’ll be great.

For teachers: Why not recommend this site to your students? Paying for a course, could be just the motivation they need to take their skills to the next level.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Teach Timing

How to teach Timing

Click here for some thoughts on what timing is and why it’s important.

Here are some ways to teach it in the classroom

Poetry Poems often have rhythm. Rhythm is the essence of timing. Limericks are especially good. Check out this lesson plan on limericks and some limericks you can use in the classroom.

Songs Songs are just poems with drums and a melody to help you use the right timing. Here’s a nice slow song you might enjoy using with your students. And here’s a lesson plan to go with that song.

And an extension… After reading a poem or listening to a song, ask the students to write another stanza/verse. Don’t worry about grammar and vocabulary. Focus on timing.

Sentence Pairs Create a list of short sentences. Read them to the students with different timing and then ask them for the differences in meaning. See this lesson plan on timing for some specific suggestions.

Special Timing Choose a paragraph for your students to read. Every time they get to a specific word (e.g. “so” or “very”), make them say it with extra special long timing. Alternatively, have them switch back and forth between long and short timing while they read. (The first time they read the word “so”, they should use long timing. The next time, they should use short timing. And so on.)

Use Your Bodies Ask your students to open and close their hands quickly for fast timing and slowly for slow timing. After they get good at that, try some other movements. They could wave, do knee bends, or spin.

Race! Have your students line up and get ready to race across the room (or go outside and do it in a yard or field). When you read something quickly, they can run. When you read it slowly, they should walk. The first person to go back and forth across the room ten times is the winner. The winner gets to read for the next race.

 

April 6, 2011 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Timing Lesson Plan

This lesson is part of a series of one-hour lessons that will help students improve their prosody skills. Prosody, in short, is word stress, timing, and intonation. For an introduction to the series, click here.

Name: I believe in Timing

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Prep Time: Just enough time to understand timing and print the worksheets.

Materials: This worksheet, and this worksheet too. (These are pdfs. If you want to change them, or you can’t download them for some reason, just copy and paste the text at the bottom of the post.)

Primary Objective: Improve Timing Skills

Other Benefits: Have fun singing a nice, slow song. Understand the different ways to use the word “believe”.

Plan:

5 Minutes Listen to “I Believe in You” by Don Williams.

10 Minutes Explain the concept of timing. Go here for more information on how to do this.

10 Minutes Complete this worksheet.  Students should choose which timing you’re using. You can read them out loud to the students. Or you can just play this track.

B didn’t like the movie.

It was…interesting.

Slowly, and slowly.

I waaaaant to go hoooooome.

Yes, No.

I loooove you.

I-love-you-too.

20 Minutes Pass out this worksheet. Students should read the song lyrics and answer the comprehension questions.

10 Minutes Read the song together. Students should listen and repeat each line. Note that the words are timed differently in order to create a steady rhythm. For instance, “mom and dad” and “you” should be said in the same amount of time.

20 Minutes Listen to the song four times. The first two times, just listen. The third time, students should quietly say the words while the song plays. The final time, everyone should sing along.

Extension: Have the students write an extra verse to the song.

Materials

Worksheet—Timing

Listen to these sentences. Answer the questions below.

 

–1–

A: How was the movie?

B: It was interesting.

Did B like the movie? YES NO

–2–

A: I want to go home.

Does A say “home” quickly or slowly?

Does A say “want” quickly or slowly?

–3–

A: I love you.

B: I love you too.

Does A love B?        YES     NO

Does B love A?        YES     NO

Read these sentences to your partner. Your partner should choose if you use short or long timing for the underlined words.

  1. I love football.
  2. Could you please call me on Saturday?
  3. She’s never worn those boots before.
  4. Tokyo was a…great city.
  5. Are we there yet?

Worksheet—Don Williams “I Believe”

Read the lyrics for the song “I Believe” by Don Williams

I don’t believe in superstars,
organic food and foreign cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
the certainty of growing old,
that right is right and left is wrong,
that north and south can’t get along,
that east is east and west is west,
and being first is always best. 

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in mom and dad.
And I believe in you.

Well, I don’t believe that heaven waits,
for only those who congregate.
I like to think of God as love:
He’s down below, He’s up above.
He’s watching people everywhere.
He knows who does and doesn’t care.
And I’m an ordinary man.
Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love.
I believe in music.
I believe in magic.
And I believe in you.

Well, I know with all my certainty,
what’s going on with you and me,
is a good thing.
It’s true, I believe in you. 

I don’t believe virginity
is as common as it used to be,
in working days and sleeping nights,
that black is black and white is white,
that Superman and Robin Hood
are still alive in Hollywood,
that gasoline’s in short supply,
the rising cost of getting by.

But I believe in love.
I believe in old folks.
I believe in children.
I believe in you.

I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in mom and dad.
And I believe in you.

Answer these questions about the song

“To believe” means to think it is true. In the song, Don Williams says “I don’t believe…” about many things. For example, “I don’t believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate.” Can you find more examples of things Don Williams doesn’t think are true. 

“To believe in” is different from “to believe”. Let’s look at the difference. To believe in means to (1) trust it or (2) think it’s a good idea or (3) have hope for its future.

Find an example of (1), (2), and (3).

(1)

(2)

(3)

What is organic food?

What does “I don’t believe [in] the certainty of growing old” mean?

“Right is right and left is wrong” is about politicians. Do you know of any “right” politicians? How about a “left” politician?

What does “Heaven waits for only those who congregate mean”?

a)    Only people who believe in God go to heaven

b)   Only people that go to church go to heaven

c)    Only some people go to heaven

Does he think there are more or fewer virgins these days? a) more b) fewer

Do you know who Superman is? How about Robin Hood?

What does “folks” mean?

a)    People

b)   Dogs

c)    Cars

Answer Key

“To believe” means to think it is true. In the song, Don Williams says “I don’t believe…” about many things. For example, “I don’t believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate.” Can you find more examples of things Don Williams doesn’t think are true. 

He doesn’t believe that we will certainly get old, that right is right, that left is wrong, that east is east and west is west and being first is always best, that heaven waits for only those who congregate, that virginity is as common as it used to be, that Superman and Robin Hood are still alive in Hollywood, or that gasoline’s in short supply.

“To believe in” is different from “to believe”. Let’s look at the difference. To believe in means to (1) trust it or (2) think it’s a good idea or (3) have hope for its future.

Find an example of (1), (2), and (3). Answers may be different, but for example.

(1) Mom and Dad

(2) Love

(3) Children

What is organic food? Food without chemicals added to it.

What does “I don’t believe [in] the certainty of growing old” mean? It means that we might die before we are old. (For example, maybe a bus will hit us.)

“Right is right and left is wrong” is about politicians. Do you know of any “right” politicians? How about a “left” politician? George Bush is “right”. Barack Obama is “left”.

What does “Heaven waits for only those who congregate mean”?

a)    Only people who believe in God go to heaven

b) Only people that go to church go to heaven

c)    Only some people go to heaven

Does he think there are more or fewer virgins these days? a) more b) fewer

Do you know who Superman is? How about Robin Hood? They are imaginary heroes.

What does “folks” mean?

a) People

b)   Dogs

c)    Cars

March 30, 2011 Posted by | Lesson Plans, Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation (Prosody) Lesson Plans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to explain timing

How to Explain Timing

UPDATE: Here’s a lesson plan on timing that you’ll love.

UPDATE 2: Here are some ways to teach timing in the classroom.

Timing is how much time we give to a part of a speech in relation to the other parts of speech around it.

For example: I’m reeeeeealy tired.

And: I’m really tired.

In the first sentence “reeeeee” takes a lot longer to say than the other parts of the sentence. In the second, it takes about the same amount of time.

Timing can be long or short. In the above example, “reeeee” takes a long time. Here’s an example of a simple sentence with short, normal, and long timing.

I’m good.

I’m good.

I’m good.

Timing can also be used for pauses in a sentence. Compare:

That movie was interesting.


That movie was…interesting.


Finally, note how timing can affect the meaning of a sentence. I’m reeeeeealy tired is stronger. I’m good (said quickly) sounds like the speaker doesn’t want you to care about their goodness. That movie was…interesting means the movie wasn’t interesting.

Timing doesn’t change the meaning of a word or a sentence by itself—tone, intonation, and stress are also important—but timing is a key element of speech and something students should understand.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Phone Calls

Making phone calls in English is really hard. Speaking is hard enough. Taking away expressions and gestures just makes it harder. The speech is a little unclear. Everything together stops many students from even trying to use the phone.

And that’s a pity because the phone makes life easier. Students who are afraid to use the phone can’t call to see if a store has something—they have to go the store. They can’t call to check up on a client—they have to hope things are fine. And perhaps the ultimate tragedy, they can’t order a pizza—they have to go out.

Teachers know this, but what’s a teacher to do? Here are some ideas:

Call Each Other Students practice speaking together all the time, but never on the phone. Send half the class to another room. Have a normal discussion, but have them talking on the phone.

Order Food for a Charity As a class, choose a charity you like. Find out where their office is. Then, call them and tell them your class is going to support them by buying them a pizza. Ask them what kind they’d like. Call a pizza restaurant and order one for the charity. One student will actually make each call. The cost for the pizza and the phone calls shouldn’t be more than $30.

Go Slow Of course you don’t need to jump right to using real telephones. Before making any calls, write practice dialogues to imagine how things will go.

Back-to-Back Ask the students to memorize dialogues (or get close) and do them with their backs to each other and their eyes closed. They’ll have a harder time hearing each other and won’t be able to rely on gestures, etc.

Lights Out! Turn off all the lights and do your discussion that way. This will also help them practice speaking without relying on images.

Analyze the Problems Sometimes just knowing why something is hard can make it easier. Ask the students to write down all the possible problems they might have making a phone call. Then brainstorm solutions to each problem.

What?! One of the big problems on the phone is not understanding. Review ways to ask someone to repeat things.

Plan a Holiday Hotels and airlines often have toll free numbers you can call. Ask your students to put together a holiday package. Give them a budget. Then ask them to call different hotels and airlines to get information on prices and amenities. Just don’t all call the same hotel…

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Praat

Praat is software that analyses your speech. You can see things like tone and rising and falling intonation. This software is designed for linguistic students. You’ll have to study how to use it, but everything is explained simply and anyone should be able to learn how. Visit their website to learn more. Or you can see some practical applications here and here.

 

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to listen to this song: Jealous Guy

How to listen to this song: Jealous Guy by John Lennon

Use this song to practice Past Continuous

You can also listen here, here, or here.

First Listen to the song

Second Answer this question: What is a “jealous guy”? What are three things a jealous guy might do?

Third Listen to the song again. This time, read the lyrics to the song too. (The lyrics are below. Scroll down to see them.)

Fourth Think about the past continuous verb tense. The form is was/were plus the –ing form of the verb. For example: I was watching TV. They were sitting alone.

We use the past continuous to talk about actions that happen over a period of time in the past. We can also use the past simple, but it changes the meaning a little bit. Compare:

I ate rice on Saturday.

I was eating rice on Saturday.

I ate rice makes it seem like the action happened at one time. I was eating rice makes it seem like it happened for some time. Both are true. Saturday is one time and Saturday is a period of time. “I ate rice on Saturday” makes it sound like at one point in time on Saturday (for example 2pm), you ate rice. “I was eating rice on Saturday” makes it sound like you ate rice several times on Saturday (for example 10am, 2pm, and 6pm).

We need to use the past continuous for interrupted actions. For instance, I was eating rice when you called. You stopped the action when you called, so I should use past continuous.

For more information, please click here.

Fifth Look at the lyrics in the song.

I was dreaming of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry (oh my)
I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was feeling insecure
You might not love me any more
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry (oh my)
I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry (oh my)
I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was trying to catch your eyes
Thought that you was trying to hide
I was swallowing my pain
I was swallowing my pain

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry (oh my)
I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy (watch out)

I’m just a jealous guy (look out babe)

I’m just a jealous guy

Sixth Answer these questions:

Why does he say that his heart was beating fast? When does your heart beat fast?

What reason does he give for hurting her? (Why did he hurt her?)

Why was he feeling insecure?

What does “I was swallowing my pain” mean?

Answers

What is a “jealous guy”? What are three things a jealous guy might do?

A jealous guy is a guy who is too protective of his girlfriend/wife. For example, a jealous guy feels bad when the girl he likes does something without him (especially if she is with other men).

A jealous guy might (1) tell his girlfriend not to meet other men, (2) get angry if his girlfriend doesn’t tell him where she is, (3) tell his girlfriend not to do things without him.

Why does he say that his heart was beating fast? When does your heart beat fast?

His heart was beating fast because his emotions were crazy. Our hearts beat fast when we exercise, when we are very nervous, etc.

What reason does he give for hurting her? (Why did he hurt her?)

He’s a jealous guy.

Why was he feeling insecure?

He thought that she might not love him anymore.

What does “I was swallowing my pain” mean?

It means he was trying to hide his pain. He didn’t want to show her that he was feeling bad.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | How to listen to this..., Using Songs to Teach Grammar | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

American Culture: Songs and Purposes

American Culture Songs and Purposes

Do you want to learn more about American culture? Here are five songs that can help.

Green Day “Jesus of Suburbia” This song is full of references about life in the American suburbs during the last ten years. Lyrics are here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/greenday/jesusofsuburbia.html

Billy Joel: “We didn’t start the fire” This song references events from the 1950s into the 1980s. Go here for more information: http://www.teacheroz.com/fire.htm

Don McLean: “American Pie” This song is about America from the late 1950s and 1960s. Go here for more information: http://understandingamericanpie.com/index.htm

Woody Guthrie “This Land” A song that describes many traditional parts of America. Full lyrics here: http://www.arlo.net/resources/lyrics/this-land.shtml

Ice Cube “It was a Good Day A song that describes common activities and concerns for many black men in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Lyrics here: http://artists.letssingit.com/ice-cube-lyrics-it-was-a-good-day-fzcs8pw

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Studying Strategies | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

edochan.com

Website Review: http://www.edochan.com/teaching/level.htm

In short: Lots and lots of games for your class. They’re organized by Level, Aims, Grammar, Time, and Materials. Not sure where to begin? This game, this game, and this game are all great.

For students: You can play these games with your friends. Also, check out this article. It’s about learning Japanese, but there is lots of good advice for learning any language.

For teachers: The authors of these games make them fun to read about and easy to understand. You’ll enjoy games that start like this: “Have the students remove their shoes to prevent bloodshed…”

Note: This is the main site, but most of it isn’t interesting for teaching and studying English.

 

January 24, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to listen to this song: Neutron Star Explosion

Listen to the song “Neutron Star Collision” by Muse. Then read explanations below.

You can also listen here, here, or here.

I was searching, you were on a mission
Then our hearts combined like a neutron star collision
I had nothing left to lose
You took your time to choose
Then we told each other with no trace of fear that

Our love would be forever
And if we die, we die together
Well I, I said never
Cause our love would be forever

  • I was searching sounds like he was searching for meaning in life and/or love.
  • On a mission means working very hard to do something.
  • A neutron star is the heaviest kind of star.
  • A collision is when two things hit each other.
  • I had nothing left to lose means that he could take risks because everything was already gone.
  • You took your time is from the idiom “to take one’s time”. It means to go slowly.
  • A trace is a small amount.
  • No trace of something means there is none of that something. (Here, there is no fear.)

So…there are two young people—a boy and a girl. He is searching for something and she is working hard. They meet and it is very good. He wants to be with her, but she needs time. Then, without fear they decide to be together forever. They will love each other forever. They will even die at the same time.

The world is broken, and halos fail to glisten
We try to make a difference but no one wants to listen
Hail the preachers—fake and proud
Their doctrines will be cloud
Then they’ll dissipate like snowflakes in an ocean

Love is forever and we’ll die
We’ll die together
Well I, I said never
Cause our love, could be forever

  • The world is broken means that the world has big problems.
  • A halo is a ring of light. Usually a halo is above the head of an angel.
  • To glisten means to sparkle or to shine. Think about what water looks like when light hits it. A lake glistens in the morning light.
  • To make a difference means to make things better.
  • Hail means to respect something and do what it wants.
  • Preachers are religious leaders, they are like priests.
  • Fake means not real.
  • Proud means you think too nicely about yourself.
  • Doctrines are systems of belief
  • To be cloud is not a normal expression, but it probably means that it won’t be solid.
  • To dissipate is to break into many parts and go away.

So…The world has many problems, but their love is strong.

Now I’ve got nothing left to lose
You take your time to choose
I can tell you now without a trace of fear

That my love will be forever
And we’ll die, we’ll die together
And I, I will never
Cause our love will be forever

So…This last part makes it seem like he’s still waiting for her to choose or maybe she left and he wants her back. We know because instead of saying “our love” he says “my love”.

January 18, 2011 Posted by | How to listen to this... | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment