Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

22 Lesson Ideas

22 Private/Small Group Lesson Ideas…all you need is a laptop and a dream. And you don’t really need the laptop.

  1. Look at pictures of places and discuss.
  2. Read “The Road Not Taken” and discuss.
  3. Read “The Lottery” and discuss.
  4. Discuss trips you’ve taken. Start by thinking of all the adjectives you can.
  5. Think of a business situation and role play it (interviews, etc.).
  6. Summarize a movie.
  7. Summarize a book
  8. Summarize a trip.
  9. Summarize a past project.
  10. Summarize a future project.
  11. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website and discuss.
  12. Read an article from The Economist and discuss.
  13. TED.com videos (watch, discuss, comment).
  14. Learn speaking techniques at rachelsenglish.com.
  15. BusinessEnglishPod has 20 minute listenings you can expand into lessons.
  16. Pretend you’re making a hotel reservation online.
  17. Go shopping online and buy presents for the people you love.
  18. Or, buy stuff for yourselves online.
  19. Go to craigslist.com and try and sell something online.
  20. Order a pizza for a charity. Practice, then make a real phone call.
  21. Comment on YouTube videos. Like this one.
  22. Comment on Blogs. Like these.

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Lesson Plans, Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

vocabulary.cl/grammar.cl

Website Review: grammar.cl/vocabulary.cl

In short: As of today, they have 52 different grammar points and 52 different vocabulary topics. They explain everything very clearly. Almost all of the topics have some game that you can play to help you practice what you’ve learned.

That might sound simple and boring, but the site is actually incredible. The site design makes it special. You’ll never have any trouble finding something on this site. The games will work quickly and they’ll be helpful. After two minutes, you’ll feel like you understand everything they do. Sound easy? It’s really hard to design a site like that.

For students: Just as an example, do you have problems using the word “get”? All the uses can give you a headache, but this section will help.

For teachers: The spelling games are particularly innovative. Students will see the words flashed at them and then they’ll need to spell them correctly. Your students who have spelling problems might enjoy these unique games. (Click here and scroll down to “Spelling Games”)

May 13, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learn English–British Council

Website Review: Learn English—British Council

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/

In Short: The best site on the internet for learning English. It’s multilevel. It’s really big. It’s really helpful.

First: Low-level, intermediate-level, and high-level students will all find great stuff.

Second: The site is really big. You can watch and listen. You can read and write. You can practice grammar. You can play games. You can make friends.

Third: The activities are helpful, interesting, and modern. The site is easy to use and looks great.

For Students: Here are three things you might really like on the site. For listening, Big City, Small World is great. Studying for the IELTS? Check out this section. Or, you might join the virtual community Second Life so you can speak and listen to real people in English all the time.

For Teachers: Send your students to the site and have them write their own reviews. Ask them to answer three questions: (1) What can you listen to on this site? Describe it. (2) Is this a good site? Why/Why not? (3) Would you recommend it to a friend? Why/Why not?

May 1, 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

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: “We are the Champions” by Queen

How to listen to this song: “We are the Champions” by Queen

Use this song to practice the Present Perfect verb tense.

First Listen to the song “We are the Champions” by Queen

(If the above link doesn’t work, you can listen here, here, or here.)

Second Answer these questions: What is a champion? What kinds of champions are there?

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 Present Perfect verb tense. We use the present perfect to talk about past actions when we don’t know, or don’t care, when they happened. The form is have/has+third form of the verb—usually, it’s verb+ed, but not always (e.g. eaten, read, sat, etc.).

Note: You can also use the Present Perfect with “for” and “since”, but that’s not the emphasis for this song.

Fifth Answer these questions:

How many times can you find the Present Perfect in this song?

What does “I’ve paid my dues” mean?

What does “my share of” mean?

What does “I’ve taken my bows” mean?

This is a very popular song. Why do you think it is so popular?

Lyrics

I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I’ve come through

We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions, of the world

I’ve taken my bows
And my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all

But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose (ain’t gonna = am not going to)

We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions, of the world

We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions, of the world

Answers

What is a champion? A champion is a winner. Usually, a champion wins many games or matches, so we know they’re the best of everyone.

What kinds of champions are there? There are lots of champions. You can be a champion sports player, a champion speller, or a champion in any competition.

How many times can you find the Present Perfect in this song? There are eight (8): I’ve paid my dues, I’ve done my sentence, I’ve…committed no crime, bad mistakes I’ve made a few, I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, I’ve come through, I’ve taken my bows and my curtain calls, it’s been no bed of roses

What does “I’ve paid my dues” mean? It means he has done things in the past so that he can be successful now.

What does “my share of” mean? It means a fair amount. Usually, we use this expression before bad things to say that we’ve had similar problems to everyone else. For example, I’ve had my share of fights, or I’ve made my share of mistakes.

What does “I’ve taken my bows” mean? At the end of a popular show or concert, a performer will bow. He means that he’s had good, popular shows.

This is a very popular song. Why do you think it is so popular? This is an opinion question. What do you think?

Do you have more questions about this song? Ask in the comments.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | How to listen to this..., Using Songs to Teach Grammar | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

tefltunes.com

Website Review: tefltunes.com

In short: £10GBP (~$15) gets you a one-year subscription to lesson plans built around songs. As of today, there are 42 plans on the site, 8 of those are free. The free ones are certainly great plans that will ensure exciting, memorable, and educational lessons. The site is well organized and easy to use.

For students: If you want to find some songs to help you improve your English, this is a great place to go. You can search for songs using level, theme, task, or artist. You’ll need to study them by yourself, though.

For teachers: Consider asking your school to pay the £20GBP (~$30) so everyone at your school can use these great materials.

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to listen to this song: Somewhere over the Rainbow

How to listen to this song: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Use this song to practice the Present Simple verb tense.

First Listen to the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow

(If the above link doesn’t work, you can listen here, here, or here.)

Second Answer this question: Is this a happy song or a sad song? Why?

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 Present Simple verb tense. One thing we use the Present Simple for is things that are sometimes, usually, or always true. The time isn’t important. For example: Skies are blue. Yes, sometimes, the sky is black or grey or red, but skies are blue in the past, present, and future.

Sixth Answer these questions:

Can you find another example of present simple? Where? What does it mean?

What does “dreams come true” mean?

Why does the singer want to go over the rainbow?

Lyrics

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly,
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly,
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh, why can’t I?

Answers

Can you find another example of present simple? Where? What does it mean? Bluebirds fly. It’s a habit of bluebirds. It means bluebirds can fly. They fly in the past, the present, and the future.

What does “dreams come true” mean? A dream is like a wish. A dream come true is a wish the really happens. For example, Barack Obama wanted to become president. It was his dream. He became president, so his dream came true. In the song, dreams come true in the past, present, and future. Over the rainbow, dreams come true.

Why does the singer want to go over the rainbow? She thinks that she’ll be happier there.

October 12, 2010 Posted by | How to listen to this..., Using Songs to Teach Grammar | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grammar Lesson Plans-Introduction

Grammar Lesson Plans—Introduction

Ah, grammar. If words are the building blocks of a language, then grammar is the cement that holds the words together. Though some teachers may complain that grammar is boring, this teacher has never found that to be true. Moreover, I’ve never felt it from my students. The truth is that students match their teacher’s enthusiasm.

Still, in an effort to help, these lessons will be as exiting as we can make them.

A few words on the whole debate about how or even if teachers should teach grammar.

What debate you say? Well, for one, children learn grammar in their native language quite differently from adults learning the grammar of a foreign language. No one explains the difference between present perfect and past simple to their child. So, how do they figure it out? What’s more, when a non-native speaker gets good at English, they stop thinking about the rules and just speak. Think of a diplomat at the U.N. They’re not worrying about grammar rules as they argue.

So maybe students should spend a whole lot more time using language until it becomes intuitive and a whole lot less time trying to comprehend strange rules they’re going to stop thinking about once they get good anyway.

To all this, I answer that grammar rules are good training wheels that stop being necessary once you get used to them. Students find the rules terribly useful. That said, teachers should take advantage of the human inclination to find patterns in a language (as a child does).

Also, so much depends on the specific student. Is the student trying to map English onto the grammar of their language? Those students will benefit from being told the exact rules. Students who, on the other hand, have been studying languages for years are good at seeing patterns. When you don’t tell them the rules, they’ll teach themselves. The theory is this self-explanation is a deeper, more memorable learning.

At the end of the day, though, students benefit from being told the rules and figuring them out on their own. If both elements are in the lesson, you can adjust the time you spend on each part based on feedback from your students. Like a good dancer adjusts to their partner, a good teacher adjusts to their students. The lessons on this site will try to both help students see patterns on their own and take time to explain the rules more fully (usually nearer to the end, but, we’ll switch it up).

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Grammar Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , | 4 Comments

tefl.net

Website Review: tefl.net

In short: Wherever you are in the ESL food chain, this site is for you. Are you thinking about starting to teach? Go to this site to learn the basics of the field, how to be a good teacher, and find a job (start here). More experienced teachers will gain from these pages. You can get grammar questions answered, read articles about the ESL business, check out interviews of ESL professionals and more.

The new and old alike can take advantage of all the great resources: worksheets, lesson plans, games, and more.

As if all that’s not enough, the cool forums give you a place to discuss everything from finding a job, to running a class, to managing a school.

The whole site is wonderfully written. The authors clearly know their stuff and present it in a no-nonsense, but friendly way.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment