Category Archives: TESOL

RSA videos – Excellent Viewing

A man worth listening to;  David Crystal is a genius of the English language and in this video he talks about the myths and realities of texts and tweets.



Here is another.  I love this site!

“In this RSAnimate Steven Pinker shows us how the mind turns the finite building blocks of language into infinite meanings.”


Screen Casting in Second Life

As of today I have started thinking about effective learning tools for online language learning with a focus toward communicative competence.  A very broad focus I know, but here, I intend to document my progress.  The outcome will hopefully be a template for an online English learning course for future use. I’m very aware that technologies change day-to-day in the online world, so I feel this blog is a great place to catalogue my ideas and watch them develop.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been wandering around second life (SL) to find out what all the hype is about.  It seems that SL provides a great platform for a task based approach to teaching English offering a little more substance in terms of conversation practice compared to video conferencing and asynchronous online discussions and tasks. This is an area I’d love to explore a little further so through a little exploration, I found an English school on SL willing for me to become apart of their team.  Day one begins next Wednesday with a class observation then after a few training sessions they may let me loose on the students.   I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.

My first thought was; how can I document student progress and provide demonstrations and feedback?   I know other SL members regularly record meetings, but had no idea how to go about this myself with limited means (me and my apple lappy).  Such videos would be great for not only documenting the learners progress and of course my teaching progress, but also for learners to record their own practice and watch themselves develop.  After a short youtube search, I found a website called Screenr which is a very user-friendly screen casting website (a short video tutorial on the site tells you all you need to know) which allows you to make 5 min screen recordings.  Once you have finished your recording, with the click of a button your video can be posted to your (or you class’s) twitter account.

Screen casting has great potential for language learning, one idea I have is for students to interview and record conversations with peers or other SL members then share their short conversations on a class twitter account open for discussion in future lessons.  How might you use screenr for teaching and learning?  Or do you know of better screen casting websites?

I’m looking forward to your thoughts (and criticisms) 😀

Infinitives pair work activity

Kitty:   What do you want to do?
Cow Boy:  I want to go to Tokyo to eat cakes

For this activity I have to thank mes English for this one.   They provide a perfect template for the game “Get 4” to practice many grammar points or for simple vocabulary practice.

The reason I am posting it today is that I have used it in my Elementary classes right up to my adult learners.  It has been a success every time.

Like any activity I change the rules to suit the abilities and needs of my students.

In the ideal classroom, all students behave perfectly and never cheat.   However, this is never the case, so I always look for the best ways to make this activity fool-proof.  Even this one can have it’s faults, but you have to try to trust your students a little sometimes.

Today I used it for practicing infinitives;

A:  What do you want to do?

B:  I want to go to Tokyo to eat cakes.

Infinitives GET 4

(image to follow)

  • 1 worksheet per pair of students
  • an enlarged copy (I enlarged it to A1) to use to demonstrate the game to the class.
  1. Split your class into pairs
  2. Give one worksheet per pair of students
  3. 1 student is X and the other is O
  4. Play RSP to decide who is A in the dialogue
  5. For the sake of explanation the student who is O starts by saying to X, ” What do you want to do?”
  6. Student X chooses the squares he/she wants, such as,  “I want to go to Tokyo to eat cake”
  7. Student O looks for that square then marks an X in that box for student X.
  8. The students switch roles.
  9. In short, X student marks Os square with an O
  10. O student marks X‘s sentence with an X

I find this variation of the rules cuts down the potential to cheat and encourages more listening and speaking.

I hope my directions were clear enough.  The students really get into this activity.  I found that even the slow learners participate well.  Success.  I just hope they can remember the structure for the next lesson without too much re-explanation.

Numbers Challenge – How Many Fingers?

This is a great game to practice numbers in any language.  I have used this one from 3rd grade elementary up to 2nd grade Junior high.  It’s another limited resource activity which works great as a warmer/filler or for a part of your practice within your lesson.

Ok so here are the rules:


  • 2 – 4 students (depending on the difficulty and numbers you want to practice)
  • 1 or 2 hands per student (again depends on the numbers you want to practice)
  • 1 small score sheet for each student.


  1. split the class into teams for 2~4 students
  2. each student holds up 1 or 2 hands made into fists (1 hand each for lower levels)
  3. In a team, all students together say, “3,2,1 – GO!” as if they are about to play ROCK SCISSORS PAPER.
  4. At the same time all students in the team display their fingers of choice from 0~10 (or 0~5 for lower levels)
  5. The first student to count and call out the correct number the fastest gains a point.
  6. This game precedes until the allocated time you have set for the game is over.
  7. Ask the students how many points they have, then reward the overall winners in the class.

My kids love this game.  Even the quiet kids really get into it.  I hope it works for you too.

REWARDS For Young Learners

Rewards are always a great way to promote positive reinforcement in the classroom.

Here in Japan the students are really motivated to collect stickers, which is why I have added this post sharing with you the sticker sheets I hand out to the students from grades 1 to 7

Please feel free to use them in your classes, or simply use them as an idea to customize your own, using characters you know your students love.

This year I have used a continued theme of  ‘Mario Kart’ in the classroom.

I have also printed and laminated all of the ‘Mario Kart’ characters in colour for use in team games for the students/teachers to easily mark points on the board.

They can also be used as players in chalk/white board soccer/baseball.

Another use is for playing ‘Shark attack’.  A game similar to ‘Hang Man’, but using a set of 3 stairs and a shark in the water at the bottom of the stairs and 1 Mario character at the top of the stairs (I will explain this game in more detail later, if you are unsure of the rules)

Anyway, below are links to my reward sheets.  I hope you find them useful.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Looking forward to hearing your thoughts

Suzie 😀

Game of the Day, ‘STOP THE BUS’

Below is a game I really enjoy playing with my students.  The joy about this game is that it’s completely adaptable for all levels of students and really challenges their vocabulary.

I play this often with my English club students, who really get into it, especially loving the competitive nature of the game.

I have attached a worksheet which you can download easily and adapt to your students abilities.

This is another activity which requires little or no preparation if you are looking for something effective and enjoyable for both you and your students at minutes notice.

Please click on the title to download;



  • 1 worksheet per pair of students


  1. have the students make pairs (you can have them in 3s or 4s if you like)
  2. give each group a worksheet
  3. draw the first ‘stop the bus’ grid on the board with a space for each teams answers.
  4. Choose one student in the class to stand and say the alphabet in their head (I usually have them play ROCK SCISSOR PAPER to decide who does this)
  5. Have another student shout stop for the alphabet student to stop on a letter of the alphabet
  6. That student calls out the letter he/she stopped on
  7. Use that letter for game one (each grid has 3 games)
  8. When a pair/group of students completes all categories they have to shout, “STOP THE BUS”
  9. At that time all teams must write on the board the answers they came up with
  10. If any team have the same answer neither team gets a point for that word
  11. Points are only allocated to words which no other team has used.

ESL Limited Resource Activities

So, you find you have little time to prepare a quick warmer, short activity or English club game?

I have found myself in this situation more times than I’d care to recall.

5 minutes before class, you find your schedule has been re-shuffled and you have to attend a lesson at 5 minutes notice.  Or, you are simply on the search for something short and high pace to get your students in the mood for English.

I have collected a few ideas which have helped me out of certain situations, which I’d like to share with you.

Here are a few to get started.  I will add to them regularly, so please keep checking back if you need something new.

First on the list is a fun TPR team work game;

Team Spelling

You can spend from ten to fifteen minutes on this game.


  1. A pile of  scrap paper, which you can easily find in the recycling box in any print room.
  2. 5 black markers or thick felt pens for each group (the students always have some).

Now let’s play!


  1. Divide the class into teams of 5~6 studetns
  2. Give each team a pile of scrap paper and some pens
  3. Call out 1 word from the vocabulary list they are learning
  4. In their teams they have to spell that word writing 1 letter on 1 piece of paper.
  5. when they think they have the word written correctly, they must run to a space at the front of the class, stand in the correct order facing the other students, spelling out the word you gave them.
  6. The first team to shout “STOP” and who has the correct spelling wins points for their team.

After the first couple of rounds, the students really get into this game.

I have only played it with my English club students, who often ask to play this game if we haven’t played it for a while.

I find it’s a great team building activity,  giving the students the responsibility to order themselves, making each round faster and more efficient.

Next up is another spelling team game.


  • students
  • a black/white board
  • chalk
  • A list of words you can use


  1. split your class into 2 teams
  2. Have them stand in two lines towards the back of the class.
  3. divide your board into 2 sections, for team one and for team two.
  4. give each team one piece of chalk/board pen.
  5. Call out a word from the vocabulary list they are learning from.
  6. One student at a time has to write one letter of the word in the correct order.
  7. When that student has finished his/her letter, he/she must run back to his/her team, hit the next student in lines hand then go to the back of the line, for the game to continue.
  8. Continue this process with various words quickly, giving points to the fastest team who spells the word correctly.

Below is another fast pace spelling game:

Letter by Letter


  • A list of vocabulary your students are studying
  • A classroom board
  • 10~26 students works best


  1. split the students into 2~4 teams
  2. divide the board into 2~4 sections
  3. line the students in their teams
  4. Call out a word then shout, “GO!”
  5. One by one the students race to write letter by letter on the board
  6. issue points to the quickest team, who finish the word correctly
  7. Any team who spells the word incorrectly, must change the mistake.
  8. Keep the words on the board then move to the next word
  9. When the board is full, reverse the process.
  10. Call out a word on the board, then shout, “GO!”
  11. Students, one by one race to ERASE letter by letter OFF the board.
  12. Again giving points to the winning team.
  13. If you have a large class, use your JTE to take care of one side of the board and their points and you do the same on the opposite side.