Tuesday, 14 June 2011


So this one is a bit of a simple idea, but to teach imperatives I suggest using a childrens play carpet (the ones with the different roads and places on them which are meant for toy cars) and a some toy cars. If you don't have these then you can always get the students to make them from paper or even using whiteboard markers/ chalk to draw on the floor/ ground.
Pre-teach the imperative vocabulary such as:

Stop! Turn left, turn right, open the door, close the door, put your seatbelt on, close the window, go straight ahead.... etc and any others you wish to teach.

These can be pre-taught by doing the action yourself the first time and then asking the students to do them after this. It can even be turned into a game, where the teachers points to the imperative and the students have to mime it, if they do it wrong or are too slow then they sit down.

Students then make signs from plastic straws, paper and sticky tape or blutak, by writing the imperatives on the paper (in bright colours and bold letters) and sticking it to the straws. Students should make one set of signs per group (maybe 4 students in each group depending on the class size).

Assuming that students have been pre-taught the vocabulary for the different places on the carpet, such as school, hospital, zoo, church, swimming pool, town hall, etc, then in groups students compete to direct a team member to a destination set by the teacher or another student using the signs. The student "driving" the car should not know the destination before they get there.

It worked a treat with the carpet and on the student drawn maps which I used in another lesson.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Going to…

So they idea for this activity comes from two different EFL resource books; Cambridge Puzzle Time for Flyers and Elementary Grammar Games. Unfortunately I can't publish the activities here, but if you can't find them then email me! :)

Copy both worksheets for each student, cut the “Planes and Trains” worksheet from Fun for Flyers up into 4 pieces; the plane picture, the train picture, the plane sentences and the train sentences.

The general introduction to “going to” (presentation) can be done by simply telling learners that “I am going to open the window” or “I am going to sit down” and then completing the action. With deaf learners, this can be done by writing the sentences on the board and then completing them. After this try “You are going to…” and get the students to respond, then perhaps a “He is going to…” and get the students to respond. The structure should then be highlighted on the board, asking learners to provide the “I am”, “You are”, “He/She/It is” part of the structure. 

!!Tip!! Use different colours for the subject pronouns and the verbs.

Now that we have looked at the positive structure, we should give the students some practice using a scaffolded activity. This was the activity which came from Elementary Grammar Games; called “What are they doing?”. The activity sheet has different pictures of different people who are about to or “going to” do a particular action, but have not yet completed it. The students should work in pairs to complete the sentence under each picture. E.g.
He is going to jump.

So the first sentence should be completed as an example for students, the second should be missing only the verb (He is going to ______ ) and so on until the learners must write the whole sentences themselves.
Time to move onto the question form. I don’t have any exciting suggestions at this point for presenting the interrogative form, I simply suggest trying to elicit it from the students and writing it on the board. Close attention should be drawn to the structure of the question form particularly the word order of “is he/are they/etc” and for each of the different persons (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they). Students should then write questions for each of the pictures on the worksheet and check firstly with their partner and then as a class.

The second activity involves the Fun for Flyers activity sheet called “Planes and Trains”. I suggest copying the worksheet, then cutting them up into 4 pieces; the plane picture, the train picture, the plane sentences and the train sentences.
Introduce/ revise the vocabulary:
plane                    land                      airport
train                      arrive                    train station
The adjectives used in the activity may also need to be revised here too.
Then do an examples for both plane and train, both positive statements and questions. 

+ The blue plane is going to land at Pink airport.
? Where is the blue plane going to land?

+The purple train is going to arrive at Gumtree airport.
? Where is the purple train going to arrive?

Point out that the blue underlined parts are those which will change, but the red parts will remain the same.
Give half of the students the plane sentences and the other half the train sentences. Explain that they must write questions (pointing to the examples on the board) to ask for the information they need to complete the sentences. Allow students with the same sentences to work together. With weaker classes, it may be an idea to do the first one on each slip as an example.

When this is complete, pair students who have different sentence slips (i.e. different questions). Explain that you will give each of them a picture with the answer to their partners’ questions; they must understand the question, look and the picture to find the answer and then give their partner the answer (pointing to the positive statements on the board as example sentences). Students may use sign or speech to communicate the English questions and answers, whichever is most comfortable for them. Students should complete the sentences on their slips using the answers provided by their partners. 

At the end of this activity students can either swap pictures and check their partner gave the correct answers, or they can check their answers with other students who had the same questions.

I have used this lesson with several groups between 8 and 11 years old, it worked well and it was excellent to see so much English production in the classroom. Let me know if you use it, if it works or not and if you have any ideas for spicing it up or improving it. 

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Running dictation

Tips for teaching to deaf learners:
Ok so the traditional idea of a running dictation would involve spoken English, but in this lesson, deaf learners are encouraged to sign, fingerspell or speak as they feel comfortable.
Some hard of hearing students may be more comfortable practising their spoken English / listening skills. I think this should be a standard approach to all activities; that all students pick the productive method they feel most comfortable with. Students who wish to practise speaking can be paired/ grouped together.

A running dictation can be used for almost any topic, but here the topic is farm animals and the grammar is prepositions. Please try changing the activity for different topics and let me know how it goes.
So before this activity learners should have learned prepositions and farm animals in order to understand the activity fully.
Pre-taught vocabulary: in, on, under, behind, in front of, next to, farmer, table, cow, pig, giraffe, bird, tractor, chicken, snake, boy, apple.
The teacher should prepare sentences and place them around the room. In this example, the sentences were:
1.     The cow is on the table.
2.     The farmer is on the cow.
3.     The pig is under the table.
4.     The giraffe is behind the table.
5.     The bird is on the farmer.
6.     The tractor is next to the farmer.
7.     The chicken is in the tractor.
8.     The snake is under the pig.
9.     The boy is in front of the tractor.
10.  An apple is in the pigs’ mouth.
The sentences and numbers were written, in different colours, on strips of paper which were pinned around the room in a random order. They can be slightly hidden, but perhaps not too hidden or learners may destroy your room trying to find them.

The running and writing - Put learners into pairs or small groups and explain that one member of the team runs to find text strip number one, remembers it and then runs back to tell/sign the text to one other member of the team who must write it down. The learner who ran should not write at this stage, the same learner can run back and forward to the same text as many times as needed. Learners then swap roles, so the writer then runs to find sentence number two and the runner then writes sentence number two. In small groups the students can rotate. This swapping, running and writing continues until learners have all 10 sentences written.
Checking and feedback - The groups/ pairs can then swap writing papers which can be corrected by another group/ pair. This is not a necessary step, but it means that accuracy in English is checked, teams can add/deduct one point from other teams for every letter which is wrong or missing. The teacher should write the ten sentences on the board for easy correction. Teams swap writing papers back with scores and the team with the least number of mistakes can receive a reward or prize.
Draw the picture (instructions) - The next stage is that pairs/ groups take turns at drawing each of the sentences to create one picture. Be clear in explaining that this is a cumulative drawing, not ten drawings.
Checking and feedback - When this is complete, again groups can swap and correct the other groups’ drawing; the teacher should draw a quick, basic example demonstrating the prepositions. Again this can become a competition or perhaps a class vote for the best drawing.

Again please try experimenting and using this activity for different ready activities/ texts it doesn’t always have to be ten individual sentences.
Competition is a major motivation technique with this activity so definitely use it to your advantage when explaining the task.
Ask concept check questions/ instruction check questions to ensure that the learners understand the instructions. This can be done using one group/ pair as an example to demonstrate; perhaps stronger learners who are more likely to understand can demonstrate.

I have used this in a lesson with 7-9 year old learners at elementary level and it worked really well. Please comment if you use this activity or if you create an adaptation then please share it with us. All comments and feedback are welcome.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

About me and this blog

So perhaps firstly a bit about me...

I am an English as a Foreign Language teacher, currently working in the south of Poland. I have been teaching EFL for the last 5 years. I have an MA Literary Studies degree from the University of Glasgow, a Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (CELTA), an International House Certificate in Teaching English to Young Learners (IHCYL), NVQ Level 3 in British Sign Language and I am currently working on an MSc Deafhood Studies at the University of Bristol (Distance learning).

My background from an early age (14 years old) has included an involvement in the British Deaf Community. My Grandfather is severely deaf although is not a British Sign Language user and this was one of the motivating factors to learn the language in a bid to aid our communication. As an elderly gentleman set in his ways, with his love of television sports, my grandfather was not particularly interested in learning the language, but did encourage me to do so. This led to me volunteering at a local Deaf club, making many good friends and continuing to improve my sign language skills.
By the time I was in my last year at Secondary (High) school, I was volunteering as a Communication Support Worker / Teaching Assistant in the hearing impaired unit (HIU) of a primary school. This was where I started learning my teaching skills and developed my passion for teaching.

My recent motivation has come from a visit to the only Deaf University in the world; Gallaudet University in Washing DC, teaching deaf students from the Czech Republic and current motivation comes from teaching amazing young Deaf children here in Poland.

The purpose of this blog...

So the hope for this blog is that it can be a space for any EFL teachers who wish to discover or suggest some new visual teaching techniques as well as discuss how to improve or adapt traditional methods or activities. The main focus will be creating and discussing activities which are focused towards Deaf learners, but also to create a friendly discussion place for critical, objective analysis and feedback.

There are very few published and unpublished resources for teaching Deaf learners EFL, therefore it is important to try and create access to something useful for teachers to aid and improve their teaching, myself included.

Please comment on anything you can find on this blog and try to provide your own ideas or opinions with the true goals being that some constructive criticism can create better materials/tasks/methods for all teachers to share.