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Other tips

On these pages you will find tips on a range of teaching subjects.

Movies in the English classroom
Ana Maria Mari, Argentina

Nowadays students need to be exposed to a wide variety of resources from audio to printed material. Although this output seems to fulfil their needs and prepare them for the outside world, teachers always keep searching for more motivating sources. So, introducing movies into our classroom is a challenge most language teachers must face.

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Daily, Teachers encounter students' demands for watching real movie stories rather than those graded video ones found at the local bookstores, which in the long run turn out to be meaningless and artificial. So the need to adapt and grade famous film tittles such as "Meet the Parents" or "AntZ" to fulfil their demands leads us into a new editor-like ground.

During the worksheet preparation, planning and editing to accompany these movies, a wide variety of techniques are resorted to involve and motivate students as well as help them profit from the video session.

Years of experienced teaching have proven that well developed, planned and graded video lessons should consist of different stages, which are:

  • Tune in
  • While watching
  • After watching
  • Firstly, by 'Tune in', it is meant that students are gradually guided and involved in the plot, the characters and the setting of the film. They can be led at this stage by prediction based activities brainstorming speculation patterns with the aid of visual aids such as pictures, vocabulary banks with words and expressions from the story or just through questions related to the main topic.
  • Secondly, at the 'While watching' stage, there is more thorough work on the plot and the characters. Students are exposed to a variety of activities such as problem solving, filling blanks, multiple matching, ordering events, true and false or comprehension questions. The main aim at this stage is to exploit the film at its best profiting from the wide variety of idiomatic expressions, collocations and slang that the students will encounter in real life.
  • Thirdly, the 'After watching' stage is considered to be the follow up one where the film plot is used together with the lexical terms by making students either role-play the best parts or by organising group debates based on the moral of the plot.
  • Furthermore, a written homework assignment may be set asking students to describe their favourite character at lower levels or writing a film review as well as an article to be placed in the school magazine at higher ones.

To conclude, variety, dynamics and creativity are the essential elements needed to create profitable video lessons while bringing Movies into today's classrooms. Also, Teachers should not be afraid to face the challenge of making the most of their creativity by creating the perfect classroom atmosphere.

My favourite article
Luisa Costa, Brazil
I've been teaching for only three years and there's an exercise that makes the students read and talk: I ask them to look for an article that interests them, something related to their work field,their hobbies and so on. Then they read the article and on the next class they talk to the others about what they've read and learned. They feel proud of themselves and motivated.

Guess who you are!
Joanna Wokowicka, Poland
I've read these wonderful ideas for speaking lessons, and decided to send you some I have tried with my students:
- put the names of famous people (either dead or alive) on some slips of paper and stick them to the students backs.
They CAN'T tell each other who they are. Then they take turns to describe the person to one student who tries to guess "who" is at his/her back. We really had fun !!

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Celebrity interview
Farheen Viquas, India
I am an English trainer at Whitefield Academy, and I tried one activity which became an exercise for fluency. I have ten students in each class so I make students, taking it in turns,be a "Celebrity": an actor, sportsperson, a singer etc.. Then all of us sit as if we are in a press conference and we ask the celebrity question after question. It motivates the students a lot and I am seeing improvements in their fluency.

Minimal resource - Text translation
Abdul Jawad Samimi, Afghanistan
Hello everybody,
In Afghanistan we do not have a lot of facilities to use in order to help the students improve their English. We most often use our local newspapers which are not in English. I myself cut out some articles, write down the new words and translate them into English. Then I read the article out loud, translate it into English and make a sentence for each new word. Then the students read it aloud and make sentences with most of the words. Finally we all get together and discuss the theme. Of course, we ask someone to go the board and talk about the article so that the others can ask questions. It only takes one and a half hours to learn a lot of words and get encouraged to speak in English in front of people.

Proverbs and quotations
Wanda Paulina Esteves, Brazil
For years I have been writing quotations, proverbs and statements on the top left side of the board. I change them every week. When students come in they are eager to read what is there and discuss what they do not understand.

Claudio Leopoldino de Mattos, Brazil
My name is Claudio Mattos and I have been teaching since 1989, I think that the best way of improving interactions among students is by using flashcards, they are really effective and you can practice fluency mainly with large groups.

Improving the classroom
Tiago Mota Miranda, Brazil
"Have students decorate the classroom with projects on movie stars, athletes, family, weather, etc. Some cardboard, glue, pictures (from magazines or internet - which leads to another good activity) and felt pens can turn them into real Picasso´s, da Vinci´s and Michelangelo´s. It works fine with children, but teens and adults should have an opportunity to show their artistic skills. If each group, in the same class, in its time does something in order to improve the look of the classroom, the walls will be part of the class, and blackboards will have more time to rest. The point here is to have fun."

Developing student autonomy
Ma. Elena Delgado Ponce de Leon, Mexico
"Teaching English to high school students in regular classes and as a facilitator in a self-access centre within the same institution has led to some experimentation on promoting autonomy in the classroom. One of the activities that has proven very successful has been asking students to design an exercise after finishing each unit of the textbook . The exercises are exchanged in class and answered by a different classmate. Having answered them, we have a short reflection on how well they were able to do the exercise, which are their strong points, and what needs to be further studied or worked on. The exercises are really a means for students to monitor their progress."