Friday, August 29, 2014

Business Writing Presentation for ESL/EFL Teachers

This PPT is a quick presentation on the difference between American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) in regards to phrases and the small differences between AmE and BrE when writing for business purposes.  Many times, non-native speakers will combine rules from both AmE and BrE because they are not aware of the minute differences.  So, they run the risk of losing credibility when writing to clients because of these differences.  This PPT can be used in addition to other writing activities that allow the students to practice their writing following different scenarios.  The material from this PPT has been used successfully in a virtual classroom or a traditional classroom.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EFL/ESL Discussion Activities: Your Products & Services

How many times have you talked to a non-native speakers of English and asked them about their job?  Where they able to talk much about what they do and about their products and services?  If not, this discussion activity will give them the chance to practice in an environment where they can receive feedback=their English class.  The PPT starts with some pictures and depending on the level, the teacher can have the student describe the profession related to the picture or just describe the picture.  They then tell the teacher which picture relates closest to their own job.  The final slide is a list of questions related to the students' jobs as well as their products and services.  This PPT has been used successfully in a virtual classroom as well as traditional classrooms.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learn Business Idioms

I wrote this worksheet on Business Idioms about ten years ago. This is a worksheet for advanced level Business English students. I took the words/idioms  from the Economist Magazine. Although I'm not a huge believer in teaching idioms to students for them to actually use (until it comes out naturally), I do believe that students should have idioms in their passive vocabulary so that they can understand native speakers who do use idioms without thinking.  In my opinion, non-native speakers should use idioms the same way, without thinking.   I have taught this worksheet with one-to-one students and group lessons.  The students can also use this as homework and then the teacher can have them explain the idioms during the class session. Anyway, I have used this worksheet successfully in traditional classrooms as well as virtual classrooms. The students really enjoy this worksheet because they feel that they are learning something new.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What would you say?

I wrote this activity about seven or eight years ago as a discussion activity. This activity has been used successfully in a virtual classroom and a traditional classroom.  This activity encourages the students who are intermediate and above to explain what they would say about a certain situation and in addition to give the students a chance to provide their opinion about certain issues.  For example, on the first slide, there is a picture of a pregnant woman smoking.  The activity asks what the students would say to this person.  I have used this activity in several consecutive class sessions as the students can normally talk a lot about many of these issues.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ESL/EFL Activities: Giving Advice

I wrote this activity when I was in the LANCELOT course, which was a course funded by the EU that taught language teachers how to effectively use virtual classrooms plus best practices in the virtual classroom for language training.  This PPT came out of one of the modules from that class.  I have used this activity successfully in the virtual classroom as well as the traditional classroom.  The lesson starts out with a quick review of the modals of advice and then each page in the PPT slide gives a scenario and the students increase their fluency by giving advice for each situation. The teacher can use this in several different ways.  First, the teacher can divide the students into small groups or pairs and have them discuss what advice they would give and then have a whole group discussion. Alternatively, the teacher could choose one volunteer from the class to give the advice for the particular scenario and then the class could have a discussion.  Additionally, the teacher could use this as homework for the students to practice writing and have them write their advice in an email, blog, advice column or letter format.  These are just three ways I've thought of to use this material, but I'm sure there are many ways the teacher can choose to use this material based on their personal teaching style.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

EFL Spoken Grammar Activity: Practice Asking Questions

I wrote this Spoken Grammar Activity while I was in graduate school which seems like only yesterday and yet it was fifteen years ago.  Anyway, this is a very simple activity where the students practice using the WH questions and at the same time work on tense and also on their conversation skills.  The activity consists of a chart of all kinds of nouns with the question at the top:  Who/What/Where is/was your favorite...?  So, what the students do is choose a noun from the chart, for example, 'brand of shampoo' and then the student must form the question "What is your favorite brand of shampoo?"  Another example is "person", so the student can choose how they want to form the question:  "Who is your favorite person?"  or 'Who was your favorite person when you were younger?"  This activity can be used with any level because it can be adapted to focus on what the students need.  Some of the students will need practice forming the question and answering.  Some of the students will need practice developing fluency and the teacher can use this activity as a springboard to free discussion.  I have used this with groups where only one question was actually asked as we were able to use that as a way to get into a conversation everyone was interested in.  I have also used this with groups were just asking the question was the goal and so we went through the entire table.  This activity has been used successfully in the virtual classroom as well as in traditional classrooms with every level.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Discussion Activity: I took a trip and...

This is a discussion activity that I wrote about seven or eight years ago.  The basic premise of this activity is to get the students to talk about the pictures and possibly to start talking about the issues or personal experiences that the students may think of as a result of these pictures.  Except for the cover page, this activity does not have any English so it could be used for any languages being taught.  There are several ways one can teach this lesson.  First, the teacher can have the students guess where each picture was taken and then discuss the picture.  Second, the teacher can have the students describe what they see in the pictures.  Third, the teacher can have the students ask and answer questions related to the pictures.  Beginning level students can describe colors, shapes, etc. whereas advanced level students can discuss deeper issues and talk about memories and experiences they remember based on these pictures.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dependent Prepositions

This is a grammar activity I came up with in the late nineties where students can systematically practice using prepositions.  First, the students do a matching activity where they link the sentences together based on the prepositions.  Then the next page is a chart with a bunch of words that require prepositions such as 'similar TO' or 'Angry WITH/AT'.  The students must first choose the correct preposition and then ask a question or make a sentence using the word correctly.  The other students or teachers respond to the question or statement and they try to talk as long as they can as a chance to practice and develop fluency.  There are some words like 'discuss' that do not require a preposition, but a preposition is commonly added by non-native speakers of English so it gives the teachers a teaching opportunity to go over common mistakes made with prepositions.  I have taught this activity successfully with large groups, small groups and one-to-one situations in traditional and virtual classrooms.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Business Writing Activities

Have you ever received emails from students and realized that although they speak well in class, their writing is well below their ability to communicate?  How about students who just refuse to write because they have a lack of confidence?  Or the students who know they need help with their writing, especially in the area of business communication.  This Writing Activities PPT can help you give the students tools to practice.  You can use this PPT for a portion of several classes or spend the entire time on each page in the PPT.  Each page has a different scenario for the students to practice writing.  Here are some ideas as to how you can use this material:  You, as the teacher, could have them write for each scenario as homework and then you could copy/paste it into the PPT to give the student(s) feedback.  You could have the student write during class into the whiteboard in the virtual classroom.  If you are teaching a group of students, you can put the class into pair or small groups and give each group a scenario to write and copy/paste it on the whiteboard to receive immediate feedback.  There is a section on the PPT to put the student's creation into the PPT either during class or before class, depending on how you use the material.  I have successfully used this material in face-to-face and virtual classes and I know it will work for you as well.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Live Online Discussion Activity to Develop Fluency

One of my favorite discussion activities is an activity called 'What would happen if...' which I wrote about seven or eight years ago.  This activity can be done successfully with upper intermediate to advanced students who want to practice and increase their fluency.  This is also good for students who want to improve their ability to give opinions about all different types of topics. Students are given a scenario and they have three things they can come up with that 'could' happen. This can be used in a virtual classroom or a face-to-face classroom with a data projector set up. This can be taught utilizing small group, pair work or whole group discussion.