Wednesday, 30 March 2016

New Lessons

I have posted a few new lessons over at my new website, TED-IELTS. The most recent is called, "Improve your IELTS writing with parallelism."

Don't know what parallelism means?! Well, then you really need to check out this new lesson!

There's also a lesson called "8 useful IELTS speaking tips" and a few TED videos with comprehension questions and other activities to boost your listening skills and vocabulary. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

New Website

Hello Students and Fellow Teachers,

I have started a new website for learning IELTS with TED talks. It is called, simply, TED-IELTS. You can probably tell that naming businesses isn't my greatest strength. :)

I will continue to update this blog with general English materials but I will focus more on my new website. Please add it to your bookmarks or share with friends if you wish. Right now you will see that it's really very simple and there are only three lessons uploaded. More is coming soon, I promise! I will add at least one new lesson per week, and hopefully more than that.

David Teacher

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

How to Succeed? Get More Sleep. - A TED ESL Lesson

This is another TED ESL lesson, utilizing the wonderful free resources available from TED to teach students English. This video features Arianna Huffington talking about feminism, sleep, and work. There's plenty for your students to discuss, and the vocabulary she uses is very basic - although she does talk quite fast.


Before starting the lesson, read the following comic and consider what it means:

To begin with, discuss the following with a partner:

What are some common problems in the work place?
What prevents people from achieving success?
What can people do to be more productive?
How does stress impact the economy?

Before watching the video, here are the most difficult words Arianna uses:

Deprived                                Exhaustion
Feminist                                 Brag
One-upmanship                     Hyper-connected
Crisis/crises                           Faint

Now watch the video and take notes: 

Comprehension Questions
What made her rediscover the value of sleep?
What is unfortunate for men?
Why are leaders making terrible decisions?
Why would Lehman Brothers benefit from having more women?
What are the benefits of sleep, according to Arianna Huffington?

Having watched the video, discuss the issues with a partner:

Final Discussion
Do you agree with Ariana Huffington? Why? Why not?
Does sleep-deprivation affect you or other students?
How many hours of sleep per night do people need?
Why is sleep so important to productivity? 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Talking About Food

My students love to talk about food. In fact, I think that's true of almost all Chinese people. I hate to stereotype, but whether I'm talking in English or Chinese, a staggering percentage of all conversations I have in this country involve food.

The key to teaching English as best you can is getting the students interested, and so the perfect lesson for teaching some speaking skills is one that matches the interests of all the students in the class.

I like to start this lesson off with these three worksheets - Food 1, Food 2, Cooking Methods - which teach some basic but useful vocabulary. To make it fun, put the class into groups and have them work together to categorize the vocabulary.

After this, I'll talk about recipes. Introduce the concept of a recipe and explain "preparation," "ingredients," and so forth. I like to use a bread recipe because I actually do cook a lot of bread and the recipes tend to be quite simple. You can find millions of them on Google.

After this, I show the students this video:

I'll then ask my students to summarize the video. They should be able to explain the basic process. As my students are all Chinese, they're pretty familiar with the process shown in the video. For students from other countries it *may* be better to use a food native to their culture in order to make it easier.

After this, I'll give the students a chance to explain a recipe they know how to cook. For my Chinese students that's usually "stir-fried egg and tomato," but some of them are more adventurous.

Good luck! If you used this lesson in your class, please comment below or share the post with other teachers. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

UK Culture Lesson

The students in my class are intending to go abroad to study. Specifically, their course gives them the opportunity to do a year in England. As such, I wanted to give them some information about the United Kingdom and its culture that may not otherwise be familiar.

Whether your students are intending to go to the UK or not, this may well make an interesting lesson.

To start with, ask them to discuss the following questions in small groups and then report back. Obviously, don't tell them too firmly that they're "wrong" when they say something unusual, but it's a good opportunity to gently correct any misperceptions that exist. For example, in China students tend to think that that all men from the UK are the perfect gentlemen... Yes, it's a part of our culture, but it's a generalization.

What is culture shock?
How can you cope with culture shock?
What do you know about British culture?
What do you think about British people?
What do you expect will be the biggest differences between Chinese and Western culture?
How can you cope with cultural differences?

Watch the video and make notes.
What do you find the most surprising?
How do these social rules differ from China (obviously change to your country)? 

Here, I give a PowerPoint presentation on British culture. I use this one. You might want to edit it. I tend to gloss over the ins and outs of the monarchy, which isn't hugely important. Halfway through, after the "personal and intimate questions" part, I like to show this video:

UK Slang
Finally, I teach some British slang. My students are fairly mature and can handle slightly offensive language, so feel free to change any of the below if it's unsuitable for your students. 

All right? - Hello, how are you?
Blinding - brilliant
Bloody - used to emphasize almost anything, also bleeding or blooming
Bollocks - describes something that is no good
Bugger all –used to be a more vulgar synonym for ‘nothing at all’.
Cheers – thanks
Cheerio – goodbye
Cock up - a mistake
Dodgy - untrustworthy
Fanny around - procrastinate
Grub – food
Gutted – sad
Kerfuffle – a small fight
Knackered - tired
Mate - friend
Not my cup of tea - not to my liking
Off your trolley - bonkers, crazy, mad
Smashing - terrific
Ta – thanks
Taking the piss – having a joke

In addition, it's fun to show this final video if you still have time. As an add-on to the "slang" section it shows the range of accents in the UK, which certainly contributes to our culture.

** As always, feel free to use use the materials above. The YouTube videos were not, of course, made by me. Neither was the PPT. Please do comment below if you have any suggestions or ideas, and if you can, help share this website via social media.