Friday, 26 April 2013

Developing Reading Skills for IELTS

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This worksheet is intended for use with any reading passage. It will encourage students to think critically and develop the sort of skills that will help them to pass the IELTS reading exam, and also improve their general academic reading abilities.
With sections on skimming and scanning, as well as methods to increase their absorption of vocabulary, this worksheet should be used together with newspaper or magazine articles, or any other interesting source.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Using Modal Verbs

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When teaching students about "should" and "shouldn't", you can really make some fun lessons. Try watching the Animaniacs' "Good Idea Bad Idea Compilation" with your class. It's very funny and guaranteed to get a laugh out of your students. After each segment, have the students volunteer a suggestion for what the characters should or shouldn't have done.
For higher level students, try this worksheet. It contains problems written in the style of a newspaper advice column. The students should read the problems and attempt to offer various suggestions, such as: "He should..." and "They shouldn't..."
This works as both reading and speaking practice.

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Teaching the Passive Voice

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Practice makes perfect, and with this simple worksheet your students will get the chance to turn the active voice into the passive, and vice versa.
This worksheet is suitable for fairly low level students who're just beginning to wrap their heads around the passive voice, as well as a refreshed for better students who make little niggling errors.

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IELTS Speaking - Describing Cities

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This document contains a brief breakdown of the IELTS speaking exam, including possible topics on which the candidate may be required to speak.
After the introduction, there is a guide to structuring a description of a city. (The example is London, which was a popular choice among my students.)
There are more examples on the next page, with interesting grammatical and vocabulary choices, to help guide students. This should enable them to provide a more believable and entertaining answer than the standard, "My hometown is very beautiful..." reply that some cram schools teach.
The vocabulary here is a little challenging, but can be useful for higher level students.

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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Travel Troubles

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This is a really fun lesson, based on the popular American TV show, Modern Family. In my experience, Modern Family is a great show for teaching ESL. The humor translates perfectly across cultural boundaries, and yet every student in Asia will notice elements of life that are totally alien to them.
One topic that you wouldn't think Modern Family was helpful for is... travel! However, if you can get your hands on a copy of the episode, "Airport 2010" (S01E22), then you have a brilliant lesson.
When I first taught this lesson, my students already knew about Modern Family as I'd used it to cover the topic of family in previous weeks. If your students don't know it, however, then it doesn't matter. You can use the first page of the download to talk about the characters. If you are dealing with lower level students, it's best to introduce their names, backgrounds, and personalities first. With a higher class, however, I like to challenge them to hear the name and write it down.
Either way, let the students watch the show without too much talking beforehand. You don't want to bore them before it starts...
Assign each student a character from the show, and tell them that every character will encounter some sort of "travel trouble." Tell them they must listen and after the show has finished, they should write about these problems.
In the meantime, as the show plays, they should listen and complete the gap-fill exercise. This helps them with their listening skills and if you are dealing with high level students, you can tell them it's good for their IELTS abilities, which it is.

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Describing People - IELTS Speaking

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Practicing for the IELTS speaking exam can be a lot of fun, especially with small groups of students. However, a lot of IELTS preparation books and courses teach really stale and boring vocabulary! An IELTS examiner will spot a memorized passage from a mile away, so you need to focus on bringing some more natural words and phrases to their speech.
This document contains several example descriptions that can help the student prepare to describe a person. These don't focus on the person's appearance, but rather their achievements and personality, in order to provide a brief biographical sketch. This person could be famous or they could be a family member; it could be a teacher or cartoon character. The point is to get some new vocabulary and to make interesting descriptions.
Try introducing some of the phrases on this sheet and discussing their meaning from the class. Try to elicit examples of how they could be used, and then give out the sheet to show the students the practical examples.
Finally, have the students practice making up their own descriptions, and encourage them to use some of these phrases in their own descriptions.

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Monday, 22 April 2013

Reading Comprehension: Couple T-shirts

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Have you ever been walking around town and seen a young couple wearing matching t-shirts?
If you live in South Korea or China, you probably see it on a regular basis. This might seem like little more than a quirky cultural observation, but in ESL you can use it to get your student talking... or reading.
This worksheet contains a newspaper article about an elderly American couple who claim that the secret to their marital longevity is wearing matching clothes! Included is a picture of them wearing a bizarre combination of clothing.
As you can guess, this worksheet will slot into a lesson on any of the following:
Clothing
Relationships
Cultural differences
It's great for relating to younger students and getting them to talk, and of course it helps with their reading comprehension.

Click HERE to download the worksheet