Monday, May 30, 2016

Introducing Reduction of Relative Clauses (with Freaks and Geeks)

Teaching grammar can get taxing. One week of classes that most instructors fear in our school is when we have to introduce reduction of relative clauses. The materials provided by our school are sometimes too rule-based and deductive, so I have come up with an alternative version to introduce reduction in relative clauses.

Image taken from Google Images

Monday, May 23, 2016

Materials Adaptation (Language Leader Intermediate Unit 8 Lesson 4)

In our school, where students learn English in a two-semester intensive program before they start their academic studies, we use Language Leader as our main textbook. We use the same book every year, which I think is the case in most schools, and it kind of gets dull after some time. That's why, a colleague of mine and I adapted this lesson to make it more relevant to the learners' lives and (hopefully) more interesting. We didn't need to use the book itself (believe me when I say not using the textbook does make a lot of difference sometimes) although we extracted the listening part from it.

It is a speaking lesson with a focus on discussing possibilities and options as well as problem solving. It starts with the following extract from the Lakeside College prospectus, and asks learners to talk about which facilities would interest them and what sort of things students at university often complain about.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Verb + -ing or verb + infinitive (Speaking practice)

As you know, after certain verbs we use the -ing form, and after other verbs we use the infinitive. Sometimes we can use either form and there is no change in meaning. Occasionally we can use either form and there is a change in meaning.

If you'd like to learn more about the rule for whether we use the -ing form or the infinitive after a certain verb, take a look at this document on the British Council website.  For verbs there are used with either with a change in meaning, you might want to refer to a comprehensive grammar book.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Speaking practice with future tenses

I used this activity to give my students practice with future tenses (will, be going to and the present continuous) with pre-intermediate students. I printed the cards on this worksheet and cut them out. I paired up the students and gave each person half of this set of cards. Then, I asked the students to randomly pick a card from their own set of cards, and answer the question without telling their partner what the question is.  Their partner's job is to try to guess the question based on the answer. It might be a good idea to warn the students not to repeat the words in the question since it might give away the answer too easily. When s/he guesses the question correctly, they change roles and repeat the same procedure.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Reduction of adverb clauses to modifying phrases

Even the title of this post looks scary to most people. Reduction of adverb clauses is a difficult concept for most learners of English. Until they internalize the concept, they look for a source to turn to whenever they feel perplexed. And who can blame them? Some of you might argue that they do not even need to learn these, but in most schools like ours, where learners are tested on every single grammar point there is in the English language, whether it be as simple as the verb "to be" or as complex as this one, they need to be able to at least recognize these structures.

If you're looking at this post blankly trying to understand what I'm talking about, here's an example of how the conjunction "after" can be reduced:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Teaching the past perfect (a lesson plan)

I used a little story I made up to introduce the past perfect. I asked the students to take a piece of paper and try to write down everything I said. I told them I would tell the story only twice and they had to take notes of everything that happened in the story.

I used the following story about one of my students, Arda, who tended to be late for the first period.
When Arda woke up this morning, it was 8.30. He immediately got out of bed and ran to class, but it was too late. By the time he came to school, the teacher had already started teaching. It was 8.46.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Do's and Don'ts of Fulbright Interviews

I decided to write this post after attending a webinar on effective interviewing techniques and tips by the Turkish Fulbright Commission. They answered most of my questions, so I wanted to share this with you and keep it for myself for future reference. :)

What do the committee members generally look at?

Most committee members look at your: 

Oral communication skills
Knowledge in your area of expertise
Extracurricular activities
Willingness to be accepted to the program

Friday, March 25, 2016

How to teach causatives (have something done)

Years ago I prepared this lesson to teach causatives, which focuses on the use of the "have something done" structure. (Since this is the passive form of the "have somebody do something" structure, you might want to teach that before you teach this.) I started with this PPT to make sure students understand when we use causatives. While showing the pictures, you can ask some concept check questions to help them figure out the meaning:
Did she paint the walls herself last year?
Who will paint them this year?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Teaching the third conditional

I introduced the third conditional using photos of disasters that happened around the world. I put these photos on the board and asked the learners if they knew where these photos were taken. (The first two were taken after a mining disaster in Turkey; the others are from the Fukushima nuclear explosion and the sinking of the Titanic respectively.)

Almost all of them knew about the disasters. We talked a little bit about what happened. Then, I asked them if they thought it was possible to prevent these tragedies, and they shared their opinions. After that, I shared these news excerpts with them that suggest that they could have been prevented.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A complete lesson plan to teach the second conditional

I used the classic example "What would you take to a desert island?" to introduce the second conditional (or Type 2 conditional as some would call it). I wrote the question on the board (What would you take with you if you were trapped on a desert island?) and gave out this worksheet. Looking at the photo in the worksheet, learners are supposed to write items that they would possibly take to a desert island.

I was worried that they wouldn't understand the question because this was the first time they had ever seen the second conditional. However, they focused on thinking about items to take to the island, and not on the grammatical structure, which made everything easier. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Starting a music band (Role-play)

In this lesson, learners work in groups to create a music band. You can start off by introducing / recycling  the word "audition". Write it on the board and ask learners if they know what it means. You can explain it yourself if they are not familiar with the word. You can also ask if any of them has played with a band before and encourage them to talk about their experiences.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A complete lesson plan to teach quantifiers

This is a lesson plan I prepared as part of the ICELT course I did last year.  It aims to introduce some expressions of quantity (much, many, a little, a few and a lot of) and includes both controlled and free practice. 

I started off by asking the students if they knew anything about Cape Town. Some of them told me that they did, and I asked them some questions about it like "Where is it?"and "What language do they speak there?" etc. After this small discussion, I showed them the video below and asked them to take notes of at least one reason mentioned in the video to visit Cape Town.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Practicing the present perfect continuous

This activity is designed to give learners a chance to practice the present perfect continuous with some role playing.

  • Four students in each group. 
  • Each student is given two slips of paper. 
  • Each slip contains two rows: one for the acting directions and the other for the reason for the acting. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tag questions

My colleague Ceren Kocaman prepared this worksheet to introduce tag questions. It starts with a lovely dialogue between a man and his daughter, and encourages learners to discover the rule with some concept check questions.

The worksheet also includes some practice at the end, but you might need to help them with exceptions like "Let's do this, shall we?". 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Talk for a minute

This speaking activity might help you fill in those 5-10 minutes that you have at the end of a lesson.

The topics are very easy to talk about, so you can use this with learners at lower levels.

Download this PPT and ask learners to choose one of the letters on the first slide. Click on it and it will take you to a ‘talk for a minute’ slide. Read the question, check understanding, then click anywhere on the slide to start the one-minute timer (the white bar at the bottom). The student talks until the timer stops.

When the time is up, click on the cloud with a letter in it in the top left corner to go back to the home slide.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Playing Pyramid to practice relative clauses

This is a fun speaking activity based on the TV game show Pyramid in which a player from the team tries to guess the name of a certain category with the help of her/his teammate(s).  

Watch Joey from Friends play the game in the video below.

This game aims to help learners practice relative clauses, so all the categories are relative clauses. Here is how you play the game.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

MA Programs in English Language Teaching (Turkey)

An MA degree in ELT is a qualification for EFL teachers wanting to learn more about current ELT/ESL research, theory, pedagogy and practice and to conduct research in these fields. By providing students with a chance to become specialized in ELT testing and evaluation, curriculum development and/or teacher education, it allows them to take up jobs as teachers, curriculum officers, testing specialists and researchers  in all kinds of institutions ranging across primary, secondary and tertiary contexts. While some programs are oriented  towards educating more qualified teachers, some prioritize educating researchers/teacher educators who would be interested in furthering their academic studies. Students interested in an MA in ELT should explore the curricula of the programs listed below and decide which one is more appropriate for their purposes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Memorable Prepositions

Prepositions are always problematic for learners of English. Although the ideal way to learn them is by exposure, more often than not, learners might have to learn at least the most common ones in a limited amount of time to do well in school or on exams. My students have been asking me for a list of preposition combinations with adjectives and adverbs, and I have found this list which also includes some practice on these combinations.

I also came up with this game to practice these combinations in class, but it might be a good idea to give students some time, ideally a few days, to study the list before you play the game.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Speaking Club Week 6

With the start of the new semester, we picked up where we left off. Since my students have moved to a higher level of proficiency, I will try to include more challenging tasks including discussions and academic presentations as part of the speaking club.

The first task of this week was watching a short movie "The Present" followed by some discussion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Discussion on children who kill

The chilling title is from a book entitled "Taboos and Issues". I have recently started to use this book to include more speaking practice in class. Here is a sample lesson plan that a few colleagues of mine and I developed using the book. The lessons revolves around the question of whether killer children should be treated differently from adults, and if so, how. The activities in the plan include reading a newspaper article about a thirteen-year-old boy who killed his playmate and having group discussions followed by a whole-class discussion.

Monday, February 22, 2016

True Confessions (Speaking activity)

When I saw this video of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, I thought it would make a great speaking activity. Here's how you do it:

You divide the students into groups and ask everyone to write down two confessions. One of them should be something interesting that actually happened to them, and the other should be a lie.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Speaking Club Week 5

We had the last session of this semester last week. I did not have to do much. It was the students who did a lot of preparation because they gave presentations on their favorite books and movies.

One week before the session, I let them know that they were going to give a short presentation on their favorite book or movie, so they needed to prepare a mini presentation.

I gave them the following guidelines to make it clear what they were expected to talk about.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Making up new words with prefixes

A friend of mine suggested this creative idea that she had seen in an article. In this activity, students make up new words using a list of prefixes and a list of random, simple words and write a definition for the new word.

Before doing this activity, I used this handout to make sure that the students remember (because they were already familiar with prefixes and suffixes) what each prefix means.

one/same                   not (opposite)              many                        between                three
after                   before                   negative / opposite                 against










Thursday, January 7, 2016

Speaking Club Week 4

Jeon Heon-Kyun/European Pressphoto Agency
In week 4 of the speaking club, the students did two different tasks both of which included photos or pictures.

The first task was inspired by The New York Times' Learning Network. As part of a section called "What's going on in these pictures?", they publish a Times photo every Monday without a caption, headline or other information about its origins. Then, readers join the conversation by commenting on what they see and why. A live discussion is offered that day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern. On Friday mornings, they reveal at the bottom of each post more information about the photo.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Top MA TESOL programs in the United States

I have put together some information about M.A TESOL (Masters of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) programs in the United States. The list is certainly not exhaustive, but it might help you get started especially if you're new to the whole process of applying to graduate school. I have intentionally excluded Applied Linguistics programs since I am planning to apply for programs that concentrate more on pedagogy rather than theory.

Also note that the list is not in order of quality or recognition. It's randomly ordered.

I'll try to update the list and include more programs whenever I can.

What's the difference between the TESOL and Applied Linguistics?

TESOL concentrates more on pedagogy and Applied Linguistics is more focused on theory and language research. These, of course, are interrelated and that is often reflected in the course requirements for both programs.