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?