Jan 6, 2018

News Quiz 2017 - Follow Up

Activities for reviewing the language from News Quiz 2017

Collage made with photos by www.kremlin.ru [CC BY 4.0], 
Beyoncé (@beyonceon Instagram [fair use],
Alex Fau on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/qKyoQ2 [CC BY 2.0]
I hope you enjoyed the traditional end-of-year news quiz I posted last weekAs promised, here's a follow up: lots of activities aimed at reviewing and practising vocabulary (and a bit of grammar) from the quiz. If you haven't seen the news quiz, click HERE.

You can preview the activities below or download them in Word format and edit/adapt them as you wish. This year, the key (answers) and teachers' notes are provided at the end of each level - not as a separate file.

For a suggested sequence of activities, see last year's News Quiz Follow Up - click HERE

Update: Vocabulary from the quiz on Quizlet: https://quizlet.com/leosel/folders/news-quiz-2017/

Dec 29, 2017

News Quiz 2017

Image source: Billboard
Not too many celebrity deaths this year, but there is a variety of science, sport, celebrity gossip and, inevitably, some politics thrown in. I've tried to vary the format slightly by including, where possible, two stories on the same topic for example, two discoveries, two pregnancies, two air travel related stories etc. to see if this can facilitate recycling of some key lexis from the quiz - more on that under Eliciting / Recycling in the Teachers' notes.

Dec 18, 2017

The state of stative verbs

or why I've stopped teaching them (and why you shouldn't bother with them either)

Photo by Emma Newman Segev
via ELTpics on Flickr
Like for many EFL/ESL teachers, stative verbs used to be a staple of my teaching menu. I had a great activity for focusing on them, which I have abandoned because I've come to realise that it served no purpose.

Sep 29, 2017

The double life of the asterisk sign

A small glyph with lots of functions
An article in Time magazine entitled The History of #—and 6 Other Symbols that Rule Twitter and the Web (published 4 years ago, but which I came across this year) talks about how various little known or underused punctuation symbols have gained more prominence after being adopted in computing and, more recently, on the social media. We learn that the at sign, @, was given a new lease of life in 1971 thanks to the creation of email, and the hash/pound sign, #, the formal name of which is octothorpe, was rehabilitated thanks to Twitter.

Sep 1, 2017

Four 'back-to-school' activities

Going back to school: some ideas for your first lesson(s)  

It’s September, the time when many are heading back to school (in the Northern Hemisphere). I thought it would be a good time to share some lexical (and lexico-grammatical) activities to start the year.

May 28, 2017

Powerful tea and other (im)possible collocations

Photo by Christina Martidou
via ELTpics on Flickr
How do you explain the notion of collocation to your students? Apart from using this great song, I often employ this simple technique: I write on the board: make and do (in the left column), homework and a mistake (in the right) and ask students to match.

Feb 27, 2017

Trendy terms, tantalizing techniques and talented teachers in Thessaloniki

A report from the 24th TESOL Macedonia-Thrace convention, which took place in Thessaloniki on 11-12 February

Earlier this month I had the pleasure to attend and the honour to present, for the first time, at the TESOL Macedonia-Thrace international convention in Thessaloniki. While the best thing about the conference - like with most ELT conferences lately - was catching up with teachers from my PLN, making new friends and connecting with professionals from all over Europe, here are highlights from some of the sessions I attended.

Jan 6, 2017

News quiz 2016 - Follow up

Photo by iphonedigital via Flickr 
flic.kr/p/J6zv2j [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Activities for reviewing the language from News Quiz 2016

Like in previous years, here's the follow-up to last week's news quiz: 13 pages of practice activities and exercises aimed at reviewing and consolidating lexis from the quiz (in 2 levels).

I hope you and students enjoy them as much as you enjoyed the quiz. If you still haven't seen this quiz, it's not to late - click HERE.

Update: Vocabulary from the quiz on Quizlet: https://quizlet.com/leosel/folders/news-quiz-2016

Dec 26, 2016

News quiz 2016

Photos by Chatham House [CC BY 2.0], 
Marie Lan-Nguyen [CC BY 2.0], 
wowser [CC BY-BC 2.0] on Flickr
There has been an unusually high number of celebrity deaths this year - so many that I could have built the whole quiz around it! Anyhow, here's my end-of-year offering in its traditional format, focusing on some key news stories of 2016. Like last year, I've tried to keep it light-hearted as much as possible. Politics is still there, but it's fairly evenly balanced by sports, travel and technology news.

Dec 10, 2016

One is better than none

One of my students showed her vocabulary (and grammar) notebook to her private tutor, who was surprised at the way new vocabulary was recorded in it. The student then conveyed the tutor's concerns to me, for example, that "pack in" doesn't have to go necessarily with the job (I'd taught the group "she's packed in her job"). She said, "it means 'finish' or 'give up'". I agreed. But where does it get you? If "pack in" can be substituted for "finish" or one of the other alleged synonyms (alleged because no two or more words are ever absolute synonyms - see HERE), can we say "I've packed in my homework"?

Oct 11, 2016

When we were young

Based on Adele's song from her third album 25, this activity can be used with Intermediate level and up. The main focus is listening to chunks, followed by discussion of the song and reviewing the use of like/as.

Jul 24, 2016

Does the chunk argument trump the plagiarism allegations?

Photo by Marc Nozell via Flickr
One of the hottest news this week has been Melania Trumps’ allegedly plagiarized speech. Why allegedly? Because although Donald Trump’s wife address at the 2016 Republican Convention bears marked similarities to Michele Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention, there is not much in it that would effectively constitute stealing in the linguistic sense.

Jul 12, 2016

The L in ELT

A report from the International ETAI Conference "Engage Enhance Energize" which took place in Ashkelon, Israel, between 4 and 6 July 2016

When Naomi Epstein asked everyone who was planning to attend and present at ETAI 2014 Summer conference to sum up their teaching career and life in seven words, I wrote “Let’s put the L back in ELT” as my 7-word bio. Nobody seemed to mind or make a big deal. This is unlike LexicalLab's similar-sounding strap-line "Putting the Language back into Language Teaching" which has drawn criticism from some who found it arrogant and insulting.

May 14, 2016

Those who can't

I'm a ________ (1) teacher of English (what has recently become a bad word has been blanked out as to not offend anyone). As readers may have gathered from the content of this blog, I love language. I’m also a language learner. I’ve spent all my teaching and training career improving my knowledge of English and honing my understanding of how it works. Especially since I started teaching more lexically, I’ve been paying more attention to how words combine into patterns and how vocabulary interacts with grammar to create meaning.

Feb 20, 2016

Criticism of the Lexical Approach

"All chunks and no pineapple?"
Image by Andrew Malone via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Writing an essay or working on a paper on the Lexical Approach and looking to include some sources that criticise it to make your writing balanced? I've collated a list of relevant articles here.

Jan 31, 2016

Be like Bill for grammar (and vocabulary) practice

The third person singular of the Present Simple tense is known to be particularly problematic for learners and when the "Be Like Bill" meme took social media by storm last week, I thought that it presents a wonderful opportunity to practise the problematic structure.


If you don't know Be Like Bill, it works something like this: you see in your feed an image one of your Facebook friends has posted which looks like this.

Jan 7, 2016

News quiz 2015 - Follow up

Activities for reviewing lexis from News Quiz 2015

Photo by Dustpuppy72 via Flickr 
[CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Here's the promised follow up to the end-of-year news quiz: five pages of lexis-focused activities aimed at reviewing and consolidating language from the quiz. If you haven't seen the news quiz, click HERE.

You can preview the activities below or download them in Word format and edit/adapt them as you wish. The key (answers) follows below.

Update: Vocabulary from the quiz on Quizlet: https://quizlet.com/_1x0vbs

Dec 29, 2015

News quiz 2015

Traditional end-of-year news quiz for the first lesson of the new year

The dress which went viral
To tell the truth, I almost broke the tradition this year when I decided not to publish my annual quiz. The year has been so depressing I simply couldn't think of the news items that wouldn't be about terror and murder. But, at the insistence of friends and colleagues, here's this year's edition of the lexically enriched news quiz, which I've tried to keep light on politics.

Nov 29, 2015

10 things you can do with "10 things you didn't know last week"

10 things you didn't know last week is a digest of news snippets published every Friday on the BBC website. You can find it in a section called Magazine Monitor. The items chosen for inclusion tend be offbeat and quirky news - very often to do with science. Each story is linked to its source - on the BBC website or elsewhere on the web.

Below are some ideas on how you can use 10 things you didn't know in class. You will see that all of them require no preparation on the part of the teacher.

Oct 17, 2015

Colligation and a bottom-up approach to grammar

Summary of Hugh Dellar's IATEFL webinar Following the patterns: colligation and the necessity of a bottom-up approach to grammar - September 2015

For most people, the Lexical Approach is about focusing more on vocabulary in general and collocations in particular. Personally, however, I have always thought that the crux of the Lexical Approach is a different approach to teaching grammar. Lewis himself acknowledges that the Lexical approach “means giving attention to a much wider range of patterns which surround individual words […] In this respect, it is a more ‘grammatical’ approach than the traditional structural syllabus“ (2000:149-150, author’s emphasis).

Oct 1, 2015

The return of translation: opportunities and pitfalls

For most of the 20th century, there was a deep-rooted tradition in the ELT, which dates back to the Direct Method, that L1 in the classroom should be avoided at all costs. Although there were some alternative methods, such as Community Language learning (aka ‘counsel-learning’) and Dodson’s Bilingual Method, which made use of the learners’ L1 and used translation, most ELT methods of the last century were clearly ‘target-language’ only and some even went as far as to take a clearly anti-L1 stance in order to avoid interference.

Aug 8, 2015

8 things I've learned about Special Education Needs this summer

Public Domain image
Last week I was involved in another Train the Trainer course (Summer School) organised by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Israel. The focus was Special Education Needs, and I had the privilege to work together with top expert in the field, Aharona Gvaryahu, MOE National Counselor for Students with Learning Difficulties, who was my co-trainer. While my role was sharing my knowledge and experience in designing and delivering teacher training workshops, my co-trainer as well as the participants of the course were a source of number of interesting insights into Special education, which I would like to share below:

May 26, 2015

Lexical activities united

This is a quick post that consolidates some activities for teaching collocations and chunks that I’ve posted on this blog and elsewhere, specifically the ones organized in series which I refer to as Cycles. 

I’ve demonstrated most of these at various conferences, most prominently at the IATEFL conference in Glasgow in 2012, but video recordings of the sessions have been taken down while the IATEFL Online website is being revamped. So I pulled all the activities together into one table for the convenience of the teachers and student teachers I work with as well as visitors to this blog.

I hope it makes it easy to navigate and find the activity that you’re after:

Apr 11, 2015

AAAL2015 convention: highlights, insights and implications

Rod Ellis presenting
While in Toronto for TESOL 2015 convention last month, I also attended - for the first time - the AAAL (American Association of Applied Linguistics) 2015 conference. The annual AAAL conference is conveniently held right before TESOL which gives ELT professionals travelling from all corners of the world an opportunity to attend both events back to back: the more classroom-oriented TESOL and its more highbrow cousin AAAL.

Here are some highlights: