Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Super Heroes

Super Heroes, a lesson plan

Thanks go first of all to Claire Hart, whose idea I have adapted (

Aim of the lesson: to boost confidence in listening and learn new vocabulary while discussing the movie industry and big business.

Level: intermediate and above
Suitable for small groups or one-to-one

1) Warmer: students buzz about nostalgic movies, movies seen when they were children
2) Students read a text and use its context to complete a vocabulary matching exercise:

Link to the text, vocabulary exercise, and scrambled paragraph exercise is here.

3) Students watch the video report from the BBC titled "Superhero no other" and say what they see - it can be single words or more complex impressions.

4) Students use the worksheet below and put sections of the video in order. They may need to watch several times. (This worksheet is included in the document link in step 2)


Put the pieces in the right sequence after you watch the video again.

___ Alex Alonso of Marvel Entertainment says they created a universe and brought the characters together slowly after each one had been introduced and established in previous movies.

___ What makes this movie different is that it brings together several superheroes. They are heroes that have been introduced over the last few years. They include Thor and Iron Man. These previous movies have all served as teasers for the new picture.

__1_ One man says he is very happy about the new Avengers movie. He said he loves super heroes and grew up on the Avengers comic books.We are at war! This superhero movie is like no other.

___ It is not just a creative movie for fans all over the world. It's also a huge commercial enterprise. The film may produce more than USD 220 million, and it also may set a record for the opening weekend boxoffice superhero movie in the U.S.There is a multimillion merchandising phenomenon
connected to the movie. There are superhero fashions for dogs and all kinds of merchandise.

___ It is an intelligent mix. It is a story of superheroes with strong personalities. In Mark Ruffalo's opinion there is an analogy with the world we live in today. In America there are superegos, people fighting it out, thinking they have all the right answers.

5) You can finish here with a discussion of the movie industry, how it has evolved, whether or not movie-goers are exploited, the analogy with power in today's world, low-budget films, India, etc. etc. Or the homework can be to write an opinion about the issues.

6) You can go on and ask students to prepare and then narrate one section of the video report, again with no sound.

Finally, ask the students for feedback on how confident they felt in their ability to complete the tasks.
Send the link to the video report to students for re-watching at home with sound. Follow up in the next lesson and ask how they felt while listening to the video report.

Vocabulary exercise: in order, from first to last: 7, 1, 11, 8, 3, 10, 4, 2, 5, 9, 6
Sequence: 3, 2, 1, 5, 4

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Business English Ideas: The Trainer's Learner Autonomy Scorecard; Assessin...

Business English Ideas: The Trainer's Learner Autonomy Scorecard; Assessin...: As an addition to my post on the BESIG World Blog, I would like to share some more ideas on fostering learner autonomy in the Business Engli...

A very useful post from Charles Rei. It's tied to my thinking about how I teach people who don't need to learn a lot more English.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

On the tip of my tongue, but...

Today I am thinking about how students can overcome problems of forgetting words during a conversation.

Some of my students say they are okay with reading and understand almost everything they read, grammar is okay, etc but when they get into a conversation they often get stuck because some word they want to say just doesn't come to mind.

I feel guilty because this is my job, to solve such problems.

 My students use a cd I have made, a melange of short stories that they listen to over and over in their cars. They say it helps to have those words " ringing in their ears" and when they chat the words come more easily. Actually, i made the cd for someone else, and gave it to these students just for general listening and pleasure. So, by giving them the cd, I really just got lucky! I guess that's okay even though it isn't  such a "professional" solution. Really the students found the remedy-- or at least it's a partial remedy--themselves. 

That's what we really want to do,isn't it: let the students take initiative. Teachers can be a resource and a guide.

Part of the problem comes, of course, from living in their native language environment where they must spend a large part of the day " out of English"

What else can I do? I could make another cd for them, maybe include some listenings that are relevant to their work or typical of conversations they are having in English .

Integrate traditional lessons with Internet teaching

I am really pleased with the series of lessons I have had with some upper intermediate learners recently. The overall topic was money.

The first lesson involved a traditional printed on paper article about universal currency. It dealt with challenging Vocabulary of international money markets (e.g. exchange rate, transaction fee, etc.). In addition the text was structured as pros and cons of a universal currency, so we debated those and formed opinions. Homework was to create a vocab test based on the words and give it to another student.

Second lesson: buy nothing day.  Focus on overconsuming, wasting money.  I emailed a link to a website about BND. Students read it and discussed the idea. Homework was to write a persuasive email to their boss suggesting a BND be organized for employees. Teaching point pragmatics, and expressions were elicited From which students chose for wording their email.

Third lesson: mark Boyle, the economist who lived for a year without money. Students got a check list of keywords from a video about Boyle. Task was to tick words as they heard them while watching the video.

One thing I've always been interested in since I heard the expression CALL for the first time, in 2002, is how to integrate it with traditional pre-CALL methods. This series worked very well from that point of view. The students tend to print or photocopy whatever I give them, look up any words they don't know and write them into the text in L1. With this series of lessons, we included that tradition with listening to a video online and ticking what they heard, so we moved gently to an integrated style.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BME writing exam business letter homework, due on Monday April 2

Dear students,
Your homework is a complaint letter.
Imagine that you have ordered some books, but there are problems. Write to the bookshop and complain
You can find the complete task in your book, on page 36.

In your letter you will include these points
- why you ordered the books by post
- the books you ordered, and what you got
- complain about the confusion of titles and delay
- say what compensation you would like

Write your letter. It's due on Monday, April 2.

Let's collect examples of complaint letters! In your browser, type in "complaint letter" print a good one and bring it to the next lesson with you. By the way, there are some YouTube videos about complaint letters, too.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

BME exam practice: comparatives and superlatives

For your photo task, you may need to compare the photos. Use these practices to improve your grammar skill with comparatives and superlatives.


Good luck!