Wednesday, December 28, 2011

English language exercises in a minute!

Lack of time? Are you in a hurry to prepare a "fill the gaps" activity? Or a "scramble sentences" one?

This is a very useful site in which you will find a variety of tools that can help you prepare English language exercises within minutes. And it's all free!

Copy and paste or write the text you want to use in to the generators and they will instantly create a worksheet and an answersheet for you that you can print out or export to PDF.

These tools can be used by English teachers to prepare exercises for class and also by students that wish to create exercises themselves.

Have a try with the different tools the site offers you. It's never been easier to create exercises!

These are the different tools you've got to cretate activities:
  • Gap Fill:  Removes words from your text
  • Filter Articles: Removes all articles from your text
  • Filter Conjunctions: Removes all conjunctions from your text
  • Filter Prepositions: Removes all prepositions from your text
  • Filter Modal Verbs: Removes all modal verbs from your text
  • Scramble Words: Scrambles the letters in words you insert
  • Scramble Sentences: Scrambles the words in the sentences you insert
  • Scramble Paragraphs: Scrambles the paragraphs you insert
  • Match Pairs: Mixes up words and their synonyms
  • Multiple Choice Questions: Creates multiple choice questions exercises
  • True/False Questions: Creates True/False questions exercises

From now on, your grammar activities won't be the same!

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    The Chook Book site

    "Here in Australia, "chook" is what lots of us call a hen. 
    It rhymes with book"

    The Book Chook

    This is the way Susan Stephenson introduces her site. She is a writer, editor and a Kindergarten teacher. She likes to define herself as a "real mother hen, who loved reading aloud to my chicks".

    The Book Chook blog shares "snippets" she discover from the wonderful world and words of kids’ literacy, learning and literature. It is a very useful educational site of resources to help, not only kids to read, to write and to create, but also to help parents, teachers and librarians in this "long and winding road" to literacy.

    You must take your time to look around The Book Chook. You can search for topics, browse the blog archive, or check out popular posts. There are lots of ideas about how to encourage children to write (procedures, comics, prompts...), storytelling, suggestions for reading and how to promote creativity and production.

    I strongly recommend to "grab" a copy of Literacy Lava, a free pdf magazine for parents and teachers that "is erupting with great ideas".

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Australia: a project with young learners of English

    Here you are a project that I carried out with my class of grade 6 (11 year olds) about Australia during this term.Australia
    View more presentations from Enric Calvet. And this is one of the outcomes...
    In spite of being quite simple (I had to deal with strong diversity and mixed ability)  There is no  reason to avoid challenging and high cognitive demand activities. What is a project? In the primary ESL classroom, a project is the work leading to the production of a real outcome in English: a poster, a booklet, a magazine, a play, a video, an audio record, etc. It may be the work of one pupil, but more frequently is the collaborative work of a number of pupils. One key element of all projects is the “topic”. Whether the learners are working individually or in groups they are all concerned with the same topic. The characteristic of a project is that the learning comes from the “process”:  although the teacher does not ‘control’ every stage of the process in a project, the work which leads to the result it is more important than the results itself.
    Children at project working
    In a project the students will use a wide range of language: vocabulary and grammar, a variety of language and thinking skills and often knowledge which may have come from different parts of the curriculum. In this sense a project done in the English language class is very close to the CLIL methodology, in which Content and Language are learnt in an integrated way. Because the learners are combining so many different skills (competences) and areas of knowledge, it is sometimes difficult to say exactly what the children are learning and how to evaluate these  learning. In any project they may be learning many different social skills:
    • How to work with other people.
    • How to share work.
    • How to delegate work.
    • How to appreciate the work of others.
    • How to work alone.
    • How to take responsibility for a task.
    But they may also be learning to use scissors, to design a neat page, to use a variety of ICT tools or dictionaries, to speak clearly...

    The teacher can suggest the original idea or topic, assist in the planning process, scaffold the learning, and provide advice in the actual work, but the project is essentially the work of the children.

    © Enric Calvet

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    A full afternoon with Michael Rosen

    I was waiting for a relaxed Sunday afternoon to have a look (and enjoy a lot!) at the web page of Michael Rosen.

    As I already mentioned in one of my posts about the story "We're going on a bear hunt", Rosen is one of the best "teacher trainers" in “literacy” and story telling. And I very much like his proposals, ideas, stories, and poems.

    “Michael Rosen writes 'stuff'. He doesn't mind whether it’s called poetry or not, but he likes writing that sort of thing and children like reading it.

    Michael's parents were both teachers, and so were many of their friends. In fact, when Michael was young he claims that he believed that everyone was a teacher and, if they weren't, they ought to be!

    Despite this, Michael never became a teacher himself. Originally, he wanted to be an actor but then he started training as a doctor. He then changed to studying English at University and finally became a writer. His first collection of poems, Mind Your Own Business, was published in 1974. It is a collection of poems about when Michael was boy: his relationships with his brother and his parents, and his perceptions of the world around him.

    Since then, Michael has written many anthologies of poems and edited collections of classic poems. He has also written some picture books. Michael writes anywhere, scribbling down his 'stuff' on buses, trains, beaches, as well as in his own back garden.

    As a child, Michael's favourite books included Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Erich Kastner's Emil and the Detectives” ( BookBox)

    It is worth to have a look at his site. It is full of audio and video material of his stories and poems, links to projects, pieces of news and other various “bits and bobs that catch his eye”.

    Three things I would like to highlight:

     1. The videos from the Scottish Book Trust Tour 2008

    2. The hypnotiser: is this the world's first video poetry book?

    3. And do not miss the article “Some thoughts” that you will find in “For adults” page... Simply great!

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    365 Great Children’s books ever!

    Christmas time is coming! Looking for presents? Looking for nice picture books for your English class? Or, for your children?

    Lauren Nassiff’s 365 Great Children’s books blog offers a very good list to start with.

    As she explained in an interview made in Be a child again blog, these are the elements that can make a children's book great:
    1. The book possesses an artful, creative quality that makes it appealing or meaningful to children and adults for different reasons.
    2. The story is giggle-inducing and laugh-out-loud funny. Humour can make a book great!
    3. The illustrations are a fabulous match for the story. Great stories deserve great illustrations, and to me, the best children's books have both.
    4. The book teaches us something new or is generally educational. I love books that contain extra information or fun facts at the end.
    5. The story itself is beautiful, either through its prose, meaning, or message.

    “Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there; some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf (...). Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story.”

    Thursday, December 08, 2011 Personalized Language Immersion or how to improve pronunciation through authentic video

    One of the most difficult (and disappointing!) issue in teaching English to young students in Primary or High schools is pronunciation.

    Here you are a very interesting website where you can find lots of real videos for practicing pronunciation and other language skills.

    What is the main advantage of EnglishCentral?  In this website you can watch all the videos with subtitles and, what it is more interesting, record your own voice reading the subtitles, so the application can evaluate the quality of your pronunciation.

    The topics of the available videos are quite varied: culture, science, cinema, society, sports, etc. They are also classified by levels, which will enable you to plan activities for your students to be progressing gradually.

    The application allows the students to listen the recording as many times as necessary so that they can compare with the original version.

    Students can study this speech and "speak" it on EnglishCentral. Also use in class - has the subtitles in context...
    On the other hand, if you are a registered user, you can scroll your progression from "novice" to "expert" and even "compete" with others, since, depending on the quality of your speech, the application will assign a specific score.

    EnglishCentral is all about immersion in authentic English language and personalized tracking of your interaction with every word you encounter. Such tracking also involves continuous evaluation of your speech, diagnosis of your sound challenges and suggestions for further study and practice. This unique approach makes EnglishCentral a powerful and engaging way to improve your English skills.”

    Why don't you make a try?

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Categorizing and classifying bugs

    "Classifying Bugs" is a short project made by the children from grade 2 (7 year olds) in the School Els Convents in the ESL class. 

    At the beginning of the school year some children brought to the class some bugs. They didn't know the difference from insects to arachnids, molluscs or worms. So we decided to work the animal kingdom classification in the English class, not only as a way to integrate content and language, but also as a motivation to use the language for communicating real facts. 

    First we observe and analize real bugs and toy bugs: we discover some characteristics and discuss a model to classify the bugs according to the number of legs, wings or not wings, shell, body parts (head, thorax, abdomen) ... 

    Then we classify them into insects, arachinds and molluscs in a very visual way. You can see the outcomes of this part of the project in this Power Point.
    Finally, after oral practise using the main vocabulary and basically two grammar structures ("has got" and "it is"), the children made a description of their favourite bugs. In this Power Point you can see some of the descriptions they made.
    You can have a look to this reference: "Categorizing and classifying animals", an article by Judy Haynes in for further support in planning a project like this.

    In this project we are moving from level 1 to level 4 in the Bloom's Taxonomy adapted for English Language Teaching in Primary Education: identifying, categorizing and classifying, making models, describing... are some of the cognitive activities involved.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Reflective Practice in Primary education

    © Enric Calvet

    It is the language of reflection that deepens our knowledge of who we are in relation to others in a community of learners.
    Carole Miller and Juliana Saxton, University of Victoria

    Teaching is often a dynamic, sometimes chaotic, and complex practice. We as teachers must constantly make judgments about planned goals, teaching methods and students' ways of learning. Teachers also have to evaluate their beliefs about teaching and learning, how do they influence classroom practice and how their teaching philosophy will affects future actions.

    No teacher education program can prepare teachers for all the situations they will encounter.

    Teachers will have to make, by ourselves, lots of decisions from among many alternatives. Such judgments may be good or poor, and it is important for us to constantly reevaluate our decisions.

    Reflection on one's own work is a key component of being a teacher professional (Schön, 1983) and is essential to teacher education. Reflection improves teachers' ability to make appropriate judgments and allows us to become great decision-makers.

    The process of teaching reflection (ARC cycle)
    But how to do that?

    Reflective Practice can be a solution 

    First of all let’s consider three main ideas to take into account when we are starting a process of reflection on our teaching practice for any kind of purpose (changes, improvement, new knowledge, new hypothesis and new tries of activities…)

    1. Nobody improves in an area if is not aware on his/her own strengths: What am I good at? This is the key question. This is a question you must answer in silence if you don’t want to seem a little pretentious.
    2. Once we have identified our strong teaching points, we must identify the areas we have to improve by ourselves (another intrapersonal question that should be answered in silence)
    3. We have to make explicit our theory of best teaching (our beliefs and convictions on teaching ESL).
    Key questions

    When we think in our performance as teachers or just when we finish an activity or session we can use some strategies to be more conscious; probably one of the most important one is taking distance, being as much objective as you can, looking back and answering the question why did I do what I did?

    If you consider there is something that doesn’t work in your activity, session or performance you can ask yourself, what can I do?

    But maybe you are completely satisfied of this, and you feel happy; then ask you the question what am I proud of? What am I good at?
    It is important at this point to share reflections with others: with colleagues, with people who feel similar with empathy; and if you’re lucky enough with an expert (but not any expert can work with symmetry with you!).

    It is also very important to remark that we must focus on one topic to reflect and to think about it.

    With all of these considerations there is a final question we have to deal with: What kind of reflection?

    The reflection we’re talking about goes from the GENERAL to the FOCUS, like a magnifier glass (Gestalt).

    The main objective or goal of the reflective process is to flow ourselves into the autonomy of our own learning. It is important a “face to face” with our own performances, realities, problems and circumstances, and doing a continuous reflection of our everyday practice. And, of course, it is important to do it in an autonomous way; what it’s called an “auto-regulative dimension”.

    It is in this moment, when we observe our reality and our performance that we get our “research question”. –That is the focus or the question “what do I want to improve?” (E.g. “Is it my vocabulary, my “face”, my miming... rewarding enough? Should I help children to correct their grammar on their own or should I correct them for myself?)

    The ALACT model (Korthagen, 2001)
    All of these questions must lead us to plan an action for answering our research question, to act consistently, to observe ourselves in action and to reflect again for evaluation and /or to start the reflective cycle again.

    "Mask Dance". An activity of evaluation after a Reflective Practice process. Activity suggested and directed by Zinka Carandell in Departament d'Educació, Generalitat de Catalunya.

    More about reflective practice

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Miss Andrea's blog

    This is a blog that I especially like: Miss Andrea's blog

    It is full of resources for the teaching of English as a second language to very young learners (kindergarten - "infantil"). Andrea has made a deep research on the net finding materials, worksheets, videos... and stuff for IWB, too!

    One of her last posts is all about working Autumn in the ESL class. A PowerPoint made by her is the starting point to develop this memorable season.

    It is worth to have a look!

    And do not miss the page about Halloween with lots of resources to be used in our classes.

    Thanks a lot Andrea!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    14 Places To Make Comic Books And Strips Online

    Making comics, strips, animated movies, stories or designing super heroes is always fun.

    Made with
    And not only fun. In Primary we can take benefit of the enormous possibilities that making comics can offer to ESLT. You can use them as prompts for writing. Its is a great way to motivate students to tell stories, personal feelings, anecdotes or facts, and as improvement on grammar, vocabulary or tenses.

    Today I bring you 14 online places to invite children to make their own comics. Some of these places are so easy to use with very youngs: they will create comic books and strips in minutes. Some other, more challanging, will inspire upper primary students to make complete stories in English.

    Notice that the sites are classified into easy - medium - difficult, according to elementary and primary uses.

    This is a basic Comic Creator with predefined templates. Once you finish the comic book you can print it, or start the new one (easy)

    Make Comic Books And Strips Online - My Story Maker

    Your students will make a story through few easy steps. Once you get in, you’ll choose a character, add items, scenery objects, and adjust scene settings (easy)

    Just select a scene, a hero and add a dialogue. You can easily give predefined
    actions to your hero: jump, kick, twist... (easy)

    Students can make their comics with the help of the Easy Builder or with the help of the Super Builder. The Easy Builder is faster, simplier and ideal for writing a quick stripe or joke. The Super Builder is advanced and students may use it if they want maximum control over their strips: custom layouts, character poses, detailed scenes, and more. (easy - medium)

    Toondoo combines several tools: ToonDoo Maker, Book Maker, ImagineR,
    TraitR, DoodleR. Hundreds of possibilities. Just learn by yourself! (easy - medium)

    First, students make the character, then they make the strip. By combining the two, students can create really funny comic strips.(medium - difficult)

    Make Comic Books And Strips Online - Write Comics
    They can use predefined characters, props, aliens, and animals, as well as predefined backgrounds to create their own comic books. Moreover, they can add dialogs and put words into their character mouths (easy).

    This is a site to design an illustrated book. Students can choose among different backgrounds, backdrops, characters in different poses, props, and of course text (easy)

    A very unic place to make comics with black and white characters, objects, shapes, and bubbles. It looks very professional (difficult)

    This is a site for your students to have fun by creating their own comic strips. They can choose their actors from predefined characters, they write words or thoughts, and that's all! They only need little creativity and start exploring new possibilities (easy).

    You can do comics in many different languages. Pixton is completely customizable. You can move characters into any pose, bring avatars to life with animation or set key frames. The final outcome can be send by email, embed in blogs, and print it (medium - difficult)

    KerPoof is owned and operated by Walt Disney company. Children can make artwork, animated movies, printed cards and stories (easy)

    The hero factory allow your students to make a hero. They can choose hero gender, upper body, lower body, add props, etc. It is not exactly a comic maker but a hero character maker to be included in their comic books (easy)

    Hero Machine is similar to The Hero Factory where you can choose male or female hero and build them.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Content and Language Integrated Learning Resources (CLIL)

    I like to share with you some interesting links for those teachers who are doing CLIL in their schools. And very especially for those who do science in English.

    First I would like to highlight the blog "Free Technology for Teachers" written by Richard Byrne (a blog that I strongly recommend!). It made me discover Simple Science Videos on Vimeo: 91 videos you can use to help explaining science facts.

    A video about what do plants need in order to grow well is embedded below.

    The aim of each video is to give a clear explanation of science topics that elementary and middle school students can understand. Free Technology for Teachers blog comment: “Designed primarily for elementary and middle school students, Simple Science's videos are entertaining and informative videos for introducing a new topic to your students. The collection of videos is also good for independent learning by students. These videos could be included in slide presentation that students may give as part of research assignment”.

    Another interesting site for CLIL Science teachers is Kids Health in the Classroom. It is a site to find lesson plans, videos, and games for teaching health topics to students of all ages.

    You can find a large set of teacher's guides containing lesson plans, activities, and worksheets to download from pre-K to high school about human body, health problems, and personal health.

    In Kids Health in the Classroom you can find The Game Closet containing games, movies, quizzes, and activities for learning about topics in health.

    The Game Closet could provide some individual activities that your students can do to reinforce the ideas that you teach in your classroom.

    This is just an idea:
    Mission Nutrition game

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Designing a T-shirt as a prompt for writing

    © Enric Calvet

    One of the most troublesome things in the teaching of English as a second Language is to push students into writing.

    Every time you do an activity that implies some thinking and writing you get a “long” collection of complaints. If you ask them…

    “I don't like writing. My teacher is always asking me to do some writing. I think she is killing me”.

    “My English teacher made us write thousands of worksheets. You always have to write something… I hate writing”.

    “Some days I could right no problem. Most days it was a struggle to write, but I had to. Even if you just fill the page with "blah-blah-blah”.

    In some other cases you only get a nice set of sounds or noises like “bah”, “aw”, “humph”, “phew”…  (I cannot translate the “other” words students use to express their feelings about writing!).

    Learning how to write in English, especially in upper primary and secondary levels, is one of the most frustrating and annoying task for most students.

    It requires knowledge about different topics and about different types of texts. It also demands creativity and organization of the content. The students who lack these basic writing qualities encounter many problems while presenting an essay.

    And what’s more, many students do not have good control over their own speech and language. They make lot of errors in grammar, usage, punctuations and spelling even in their mother tongue. This makes writing tasks boring and lethargic!

    We as teachers have the idea of examining the writing aspect because we are trying to promote something and get traffic to. Since the students clearly hate writing I don't see much point in trying to convince them to change their mind on that.

    However, I do think that they should learn to write something.

    The question is: Is there anything that will make them feel writing is something interesting?

    Of course! They like to write about their things, their routines, sports, hobbies, likes and so on. But the important point to remember is that the writing exercises we design should be to develop the basic habit, not to create stellar content.

    We have to look for alternatives. We have to use prompts!

    And here there is one: Designing our own t-shirts.

    At the beginning of the school year, still summer, still hot, everybody is wearing t-shirts. And almost every single t-shirt has got a message written in English. Some are just words, some other short statements or questions, feelings, suggestions… Some, of course, are bad grammar constructions, but even with these you can take benefit of them to do some correction activity.

    I proposed to my students of grade 5 (10-11 year olds) to design their own t-shirt. I provide them with a large photocopy with the silouette of a T-shirt (DIN A-3) and I suggest them to follow these instructions.

    • Observe different T-shirts: messages, colours, drawings, size,…
    • Think about something you want to express with your new T-shirt as if it was a real one. Make a draft, check for spelling in the dictionary (paper dictionaries or and correct the grammar with the help of the teacher. I help them with some scaffolding, especially when they want to express complicate messages.
    • Draw, write and colour the T-shirt.
    • When they finish, they have to write a short description of their own T-shirt to be presented (orally) in front of the class. I plan different levels of description according to different learning rhythms.
    • Of course this is an activity that you can easily adapt for primary or secondary levels.
    But, better to see the final results. I scanned the T-shirts in .jpg and the students made a word document with the picture and the description, in order to make a short magazine and post it in the school blog. Have a look and imagine what can you do with it!

    Open publication - Free publishing - More efl
    I will be pleased to know any other writing prompts for writing in upper primary. let's share!

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Time for Time: What time is it?

    Time for Time is a free site resource for teachers and students to learn everything you could want to know about the concept of time.

    You can find games, quizzes, worksheets and lesson plans to help you teaching children to tell the time.

    It is extremely practical the interactive learning clock to be used in an an Interactive White Board (click on the image)

    You can also find some history about the time concept and a World time zones map, a talking clock and some activities for fun
    World time zones map in Time for Time

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Can we do a song?

    “A song is not just a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down”.

    Yesterday one of my students in grade 4, came up to me with a CD in her hands and said “Enric, can we listen to this song, please?”

    It was a really well done request, very spontaneous and, what’s more, with a perfect grammar construction. I felt very proud! But behind this polite question, I had to take a decision. How should I respond?

    And then, I remembered an article written by Bob Hastings entitled Can we do a song? 
    I couldn’t find the reference in Internet. But, here you are a summary of it.

    Can we do a song?
    Bob Hastings

    ...”You could, of course, explain that you have far too many important things to get through this term, and suggest politely that if she wants to listen to music, she can do it at home. But is that really the best way to respond to your student's enthusiasm for one aspect of the English language? Might it not reduce her motivation?

    Alternatively, you could say, 'What a great idea!' and put the song on immediately. I mean, you do want to keep your students happy and motivated, don't you? But this is a risky course of action. What if the lyrics are totally unintelligible? What if they are all too intelligible but consist almost entirely of foul language and fouler thoughts? What if you play the song only to discover that it isn't even in English? Or worse, it's an instrumental, and you all spend three and a half minutes waiting for words which never come!

    So perhaps the best response is to find the lyrics, listen to the song and decide if and how it could be used to help your students improve their English.

    After all, there are some very good reasons for using songs in class.

    Songs are memorable.
    The words in songs stay with us. Even songs we don't particularly like lodge themselves in our memories, and we find ourselves singing them months later, complaining that we can't get them out of our heads. As for songs we like and consciously listen to, most of us still remember their lyrics years after first hearing them.

    Songs motivate.
    If a student asks you to play a song in class, it is because he is motivated by something about the English language. And if our students are motivated, they learn better and work harder.

    Songs are enjoyable.
    Of course, not everyone likes the same kind of music. One boy's meat is another girl's poison, and it is unlikely that those students who ask for a song by Green Day are going to be tapping their feet along to Britney Spears' latest. However, most students will still enjoy a song more than another reading text or grammar exercise. And disagreements among students can lead to some interesting speaking practice. "Britney can sing a lot better than Eminem!" "Yes, but at least his lyrics mean something!"

    Song lyrics contain all sorts of grammatical structures and vocabulary.

    Very often song lyrics are texts which tell stories or provide interesting topics for conversation.

    Songs can help improve your students' pronunciation.

    Without doubt, there are some good arguments against using some songs in class.

    You can't make out what they're singing.
    This is typical of heavy metal and grunge in particular. Now thanks to the Internet, we don't have to listen to songs until our ears bleed in order to work out the lyrics, but is there any point in using a song in class if it sounds as if it was recorded in a high wind near a motorway?

    Maybe not, but check out the lyrics anyway. Even lyrics which are mumbled, grumbled or yelled in rage can make excellent reading material.

    The lyrics don't seem to make sense.
    Of course they don't. This is because very often they don't make sense. However, this is not necessarily an impediment to using them. We don't always understand every aspect of a poem, but that doesn't stop us from speculating on its meaning.

    The grammar is not even correct.
    Songs are authentic. They show English as it is really spoken, with all its irregularities and imperfections, not as some artificial sanitised model. They allow students to learn about the varieties of English and may even prepare them for the shock of hearing a native Londoner say "He don't know nothing". (anything)

    Anyway, isn't incorrect grammar ideal for error correction exercises?

    It's full of slang words no one's ever heard of.
    This is especially true of rap songs. Again, this can be an opportunity - to show students that you don't need to understand every word to understand a text, and to give them practice in the skill of working out the meaning of words from the context.

    It's full of taboo words.
    Obviously "bad language" must be dealt with carefully. You must take into account the school where you work, the age of your students, and the feelings of both your students and their parents. But remember that swear words are ubiquitous in song lyrics, in films, on the Internet, and in real language use. So, rather than pretending they don't exist, we should perhaps give our students some guidance about when they are appropriate and when they are not.

    It's full of taboo ideas.
    Many songs deal with controversial topics, and rap songs in particular can be homophobic, misogynous and racist. Great care must be taken so as not to reinforce prejudices or to offend students' sensibilities. But perhaps some students, for example those in “Batxillerat”, can benefit from discussions on such provocative topics as domestic violence, terrorism or drug abuse. Those issues are prevalent in the media, on the Internet and in conversations in the playground at school, so should we ignore them? Or try to talk about them in a responsible way?

    Of course, it is not recommendable to indulge every musical whim of your students. Some songs may be totally inappropriate for use in the classroom. Sometimes you might have to tell your student that you'd rather not do the song she loves in class. However, rather than dismiss her request out of hand, thereby killing a little bit of her enthusiasm for English, why not check out other songs by the same artist or ask if there is another artist whose music she enjoys? And other times?

    Well, find the lyrics, play the song, motivate your students, and let them learn with music.

    And remember: “a song is not just a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down”.

    Bob Hastings is the author of Take Note (Pearson Longman, 2004), has previously written material for Fun English and English Zone and has more than 20 years of experience in ELT and teacher training in the UK, France and Spain.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Bloom's taxonomy and English language teaching in primary education

    Bloom's taxonomy revisited for ELT in Primary Education
    Our English language learners should be developing thinking skills as they acquire English.

    English language teachers should ask suitable thinking questions from all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy adapting, the language, the age level and taking into account children’s multiple intelligences. Some of the tasks on the taxonomy are difficult for learners in primary because they lack the language and vocabulary to work in English. But, even very young children can work at the Evaluation and Creation levels if we plan appropriate activities.

    Level 1: Knowledge/Remember. Questions of this level are the most frequently used in the first stages of primary ELT, because students are at the first level of English language acquisition. Answers to the questions can be made using yes/no or embedded answers. Flashcards, drawings, and realia will help students give the correct answer. Remember (recognition), match, list, sing, colour, chant... are typical activities at this level.

    Level 2: Comprehension. At this level students can understand the facts. In primary we use this level of questioning a lot. We ask students to describe, complete, illustrate or draw.

    Level 3: Application. At this level students might need scaffolding and word banks to solve several problems by using previously learned facts in a different way. We ask students to choose, construct, explain, organize, plan, select, solve, and identify.

    Level 4: Analysis. At this level students have not got enough vocabulary and language to express responses in English. So they will need teacher scaffolding to classify, contrast, categorize, sequence and interpret facts.

    Level 5: Evaluation. At this level teachers have to modify the language of the questions to be simplified, but the task should remain the same. Some tasks at this level are giving opinions, making judgments about stories, comparing and evaluating the work of classmates in English.

    Level 6: Creation/ Synthesis. Students will need lots of support and scaffolding to answer questions at this level, because they are asked to compile information in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern. Synthesis is particularly difficult. Some tasks at this level are to combine, create, design, develop, imagine, make up, predict and solve.

    But, apart from cognitive questioning and responses, we also have to take care of affective and psycomotor aspects. 

    Bloom's taxonomy: not only revisited but also implemented. Coming soon!

    Enric Calvet, 2011. Adapted from Haynes, Julie “Bloom’s taxonomy and English Language Learners”

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Songs full of energy

    Oh, c’mon, teacher! This song is too childish!

    Some of our upper primary students are fed up with some infant songs that teachers use to reinforce basic language learning, such as ABC, numbers from 1-20, days of the week, months of the year....  

    Our 12 year olds prefer (and so does the youngest in the school!) to hear songs they like from famous pop or rock groups or singers. And you know what happen? They are not the best to learn standard English!

    You tube is a wonderful resource to find songs to learn almost every single thing. And it is not necessary to look for nursery rhymes or songs to “feed” our pre-teenagers in the ESL classes. 

    Let’s try with some songs “full of energy”!
    ABC ROCK By Greg & Steve

    Days of the Week Rap Back- Jack Hartmann song

    Hip Hop Around the Clock (telling time to the hour w/ Jack Hartmann)

    The Number Rock by Greg & Steve

    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Alphabet song by Fred Penner)

    You can find lots of lively songs in Harry Kindergarten's You Tube channel and in English Karaoke icnelly's channel

    Friday, October 07, 2011

    Barefoot books: books that opens the hearts and minds of children

    Most elementary English language teachers know Barefoot books very well.

    I discovered them by chance in St. George church, In Barcelona, during a back yard sale, many years ago.  I immediately, became fascinated about these gorgeously illustrated picture books, not only for their visual treat, but also for celebrating the many cultures of the world and diversity.

    Children waving If you're happy and you know it, from

    I recommend you to have a look at Barefoot books website especially the Children's crafts and activities section  with lots of worksheets and materials to develop and work creatively the fantastic stories of this publisher.

    I also want to recommend the Barefoot books channel in You Tube. There you can find the video version of the books, as well as the audio.

    This is the last video uploaded just few hours ago. The Shape Song Swingalong. Learn how you can draw almost anything with four basic shapes! Sung by SteveSongs. From the book and CD illustrated by David Sim.

    The Barefoot books company began as a home business in 1992.  It was started by Nancy Traversy and Tessa Strickland, two working mothers who shared a similar passion for children's literature. Many books come with "sing-along" CDs, many of which are sung by children's performer Fred Penner. Fred Penner is particularly noted by Barefoot Books for his work on their best selling sing-along book the Animal Boogie. It focuses on "themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning and acceptance of other traditions".

    Tuesday, October 04, 2011

    How to teach ... global education

    "In 2000, world leaders promised universal primary education by 2015. At that time more than 100 million children were out of school. The number has been reduced to 67 million, but there are only four years to go to meet the pledge. More than half of the children missing school are girls – it's expected that 50 million girls will be out of school 2015".
    Children attend class in a makeshift primary school in the Makoko slum, in Lagos, Nigeria. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

    Read the full article in The Guardian  writen by Emily Drabble,, Monday 3 October, 2011

    Apart from the Steve Sinnott Award, that can be interesting for UK schoolchildren aged 14 and 15, there are several links with resources, videos and plans aimed at KS/2 and KS/3 to workcitizenship, geography and history lessons.

    Here you have one of the videos you can find surfing a little bit...

    "In February 2011 our Young Ambassadors, Navdeep and Yasir, travelled to Guatemala to investigate the barriers to achieving education for all".