Over the years I’ve written, used and accumulated a lot of classroom materials, some of which I thought other teachers might find useful. Hence this blog!
A little bit about me. I’ve been teaching since 1991, most of that time in Barcelona. I work at the Escola d’Idiomes Moderns of the University of Barcelona as an EFL teacher and head of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). To find out more, please visit the About section.
All the materials on this site are tried-and-tested, but bear in mind that they have been produced to use in a general adult EFL context in Spain. Please feel free to adapt the activities to use with learners of different L1s and different age groups. I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.
It’s been a while! No excuses – but here’s my latest celebration of my love of TV Quiz show Richard Osman’s House of Games.
Who doesn’t love a good trivia quiz? Even better if we can give it a language twist (revision of lexical fields or past tenses). Here are two games adapted from the ROHoG format. For those of you who don’t know, this is a popular teatime quiz show broadcast five evenings a week on BBC2, in which four guests compete in four games per episode. The final game is always the same, but all the other games are different, and many of them are just calling out to be adapted to ELT classrooms.
The host himself has gone from strength to strength recently, meeting his new wife on the show, and seeing his series of detective novels top bestseller lists worldwide. He’s still fronting his eponymous show, now into its 6th season and past its 100th episode, although I don’t know how much longer we’ll have the pleasure of his company. The show maintains some of its classic game formats, but has also added some new ones – including my current favourite ‘There’s no ‘I’ in Osman’, included here.
I’ve prepared a couple of powerpoint presentations as examples, but the questions could just as easily be written on a whiteboard or read out loud. Feel free to use my examples (please credit me!), but obviously if you want to create your own, it requires a little internet research.
These games can be played by individuals. If you want to play as teams, groups of 3-4 work best, with one individual representing the team in each round. You decide if the ‘reps’ can consult their teams – depending on liveliness and noise levels!
These are both individual or team quizzes, based on general knowledge topics, and/or vocabulary knowledge.
There’s no ‘I’ in Osman – players try to name as many examples of a given category as possible, without using the ‘forbidden’ letter.
Blast from the past – tense – players answer a trivia question, but have to convert it into the past tense. Exercising both general and language knowledge at the same time – quite cognitively challenging.
A pdf with instructions for both games can be downloaded, as well as an example of each game, which I’ve left in an editable format, so you can adapt and add to them as you please. Hope you – and your students – enjoy them and let me know how it goes!
The British love a good queue, or so we’re told. Differences in queueing etquette around the world can be the cause of misunderstanding and stress. This text, adapted from an online news article in the Guardian newspaper, summarises some of the research done into people’s queueing habits, with some surprising results.
This activity practises the multiple-matching task in Cambridge First Reading part 7 and acts as a springboard for discussion on queueing habits and cultural differences. This is aimed at students preparing for an exam such as Cambridge First but can be used as a speaking & reading activity with any group at a B2 level or higher. I’ve included the student’s worksheet and teacher’s notes (with lesson plan and key) as separate documents.
This is the third in an occasional series sharing the potential (I hope) of the games in the BBC2 quiz show ‘Richard Osman’s House of Games‘ for EFL classes. In this instalment I share two games which make use of the main classroom whiteboard. In a physical classroom, you need access to a whiteboard or screen and a projector. I’ve only ever played these games with F2F groups, but it should be possible to adapt these to a videoconferencing format using the whiteboard and stickers functions available in platforms such as Zoom.
As usual, I’ve uploaded an example of each game in an editable ppt format. This means the games can be used as they are, or can be downloaded and adapted to fit the vocabulary and themes that you are presenting or recycling.
Both activities are ‘pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey’ style games, which involve associating vocabulary and cultural knowledge with images. While the basic premise is very simple, this format allows different variations which can expand the language use beyond a simple test of what students know.
Put your finger on it is a game where students identify the correct option from an image projected on the screen.
Where is Kazakhstan? is a geography-based general knowledge game, played in teams.
I’ve provided instructions for both games on one downloadable document and a link to an example of each game in ppt format. I’ve chosen vocabulary and lexical sets that correspond to the context I was teaching, but you can use the ppt as a template to adapt to your own teaching situation and the needs of your learners.
Here’s the second instalment in a series of games based on Richard Osman’s House of Games. In the last post I shared my (slightly obsessive) fondness for this BBC2 quiz show. It turns out I’m not the only one. Here are three more games, all based around recycling previously-presented vocabulary. They can be played individually, or in pairs/teams, with mini-whiteboards, or in live online classes using the chat box or whiteboard to collect answers.
As before, I’ve uploaded the example games in ppt format, so they can be used as they are, or as a template to adapt to vocabulary for your own groups. Given the current situation, the format (I hope) is adaptable to both F2F and live online classes. Let me know what you think!
The three games in this post require a little preparation, basically identifying the vocabulary to be recycled in each case and adapting the ppt template accordingly. I do recommend you make a note of the answers beforehand, or even better, add slides to the game to show the answers while playing. Some of the games, e.g. Games House Of can catch you out (as I found to my cost) if you’re not prepared.
This Round is in Code is a very simple game, which can be played individually or in pairs or groups. The code is easy to understand, but the answers are not at all obvious!
Games House Of is a challenging game, which involves reproducing lexical chunks in alphabetical order, so only works with sequences of two or more words.
Size Matters is a fun game format, where learners aim to produce the longest (correct!) possible word from a given group . In the original programme, the questions were based on general knowledge, but this has been adapted to be used with lexical sets.
I’ve provided instructions for all three games on one downloadable document below and an example of each game in ppt format, which can be used as an editable template to customise for your own teaching situation and learners.
Like many English teachers, I’m a big fan of word games. I’m also a big fan of the British TV producer and presenter Richard Osman. The Quiz show ‘Richard Osman’s House of Games’ (ROHoG) has been running on BBC 2 for a couple of years. The basic format is that four media personalities take part in a series of games based around language, logic and/or general knowledge. Most of the games are very simple and accessible and I’d been wondering for a long time if it was possible to translate them to the language classroom.
*Update: Fellow fan @eltplanning uses the ROHoG classic ‘Answer Smash’ in class and has blogged about it here.
Then the Coronavirus crisis occurred and my extra-curricular activities were put on hold. After making the move online with my year-long F2F courses, I was then faced with a new challenge: a summer intensive course from scratch taught via Zoom. To break up the routine of daily online classes, I set out to do at least one different game every day to recycle and use vocabulary presented throughout the course. I’d already tried adapting some of the games in my F2F classes and this gave me the opportunity to see if any of the games worked well in an online context. Huge thanks to my group for being such willing and motivated guinea pigs. This is the first in (I hope) a series of posts to share teacher- and learner-friendly ROHoG game formats which worked in both contexts.
Games for tablets or mini whiteboards.
Here are three games adapted from the ROHoG format which can be used with tablets or mini whiteboards. A blank piece of white paper inside a clear plastic pocket is an easy way to make your own mini whiteboard. If you’re teaching an online class via videoconferencing, the students can hold their boards or pockets up to the camera to play. Give your students advance notice so they can bring or make the mini-whiteboard for the following class.
NB: If using mini-whiteboards, students will also need a tissue or cloth to clean it after each round. Students often have a packet of tissues on them, but if you’re playing in a F2F class, have some extra, just in case.
You Spell Terrible is a game played in pairs which tests both vocabulary knowledge and spelling of ‘problematic’ words.
The Rich List is an individual game, loosely based on the ‘Scattegories‘ board game, where the teacher gets to play too.
Size Matters is a game where learners compete to find the longest possible word within a given category.
I’ve provided instructions for all three games on one downloadable document and, for each game, a link to an example game in ppt format. I’ve chosen vocabulary and lexical sets that correspond to the context I was teaching, but you can use the ppt as a template to adapt to your own teaching situation and the needs of your learners.
Time for a seasonal dose of schmaltz, this year courtesy of Sky/Xfinity TV. I’ll let you (and your learners) decide if it’s a homage to a much-loved childhood classic or something entirely different.
This is a video based on an advert for a satellite TV company that reunites the characters of Elliott and E.T. from the eponymous film. As there is very little dialogue, the activity can be used at lower levels, to introduce vocabulary related to Christmas, family and nostalgia and, at higher levels, as a springboard for discussion of growing up, change and (potentially) the exploitation of the season. There are both powerpoint and paper versions of the student activities. I’d recommend the ppt format, not only to save paper, but also to make better use of some of the images used to introduce the ad. Exploit the images to elicit the story, characters, actors etc. for those students who may not have seen it (if not, why not?).
This worksheet is designed to be used with the short video ‘Thank a teacher’, which marks the annual ‘World Teachers’ Day’ coming up on October 5th.
The video and worksheet can be used as a basis for discussion on teachers, education and childhood influences and role models. The video ‘Thank a teacher’ is fairly self-explanatory. I’ve used it with B1 classes, but I think it’s probably more accessible to levels B2 upwards. The follow-up video (Ian Wright), which went viral a couple of years ago, would probably work better at higher levels (C1+).
Worksheet based on short TED talk by Greta Thunberg, just as she was coming to prominence as a teenage climate activist.
Climate change is an extremely topical subject, for good reason. This worksheet is based on a TED Talk by the teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg when she was just 16. The ppt below can be used to brainstorm learners’ prior knowledge about the speaker. As she speaks very clear, articulate ELF (English as a Lingua Franca), this worksheet could work from B1+ (with subtitles). From C1+, try listening without subtitles first and then checking with the subtitles on the second listening.
Two worksheets (in print or paper-free ppt versions) related to TED talks on the subject of the (mis)use of mobile devices, followed by a ppt discussion/debate on using mobiles in class. Students have to negotiate and agree on what is and isn’t acceptable and draw up a code of good conduct. I find it very useful to do this early on in the course, as learners in different contexts (and especially of different age groups) may have different perceptions of mobile ‘etiquette’.
Each of these activities can be used independently, but I find they work very well together, especially if you can use the two talks as a jigsaw listening before moving on to the debate:
In-class activity: The discussion on mobile use in class is a stand-alone activity, but it is very helpful to watch one or both of the TED talks on the subject beforehand to generate ideas. There are equivalent worksheets and ppt (paper-free) versions of the activities for each TED talk.
Jigsaw listening: Two groups in different rooms work through the exercises on their assigned talk, controlling the subtitles & repetition of sections as they wish. Learners re-group and summarise the talks to each other before debating the issue of mobile use in class.
Jigsaw listening: Flipped version. Learners are set a different talk and corresponding worksheet for homework. They summarise talks to each other in the following class before the class discussion.
This activity was inspired by Anastasia Dedyukhina’s plenary talk at Innovate ELT conference, 2019.
Worksheet inspired by the updated version of the song ‘Ironic’ (for millennials) by Alanis Morissette, shown on the Late Late Show with James Corden in 2015.
Discussion worksheet on the theme of millennials, focussing on vocabulary of personality traits and new technology. Learners listen to an updated version of the 90s classic ‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morissette, updated for Gen Y, and discuss their reactions. I used this to supplement unit 11 of Headway Advanced (on the subject of new technology), but it could also work at lower levels for discussion of personality, generation (gaps), etc.
I’ve uploaded both the ppt and pdf version here. The ppt version includes the song and has more animations, but it is a heavier file. You can adapt it if you want, but please remember to credit me if you do!