Showing posts with label Language Learning: Speaking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Language Learning: Speaking. Show all posts

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tefl Classroom Activities: Compound Sentences—And, But

This is a simple classroom activity for students to practice using "and" and "but." You can easily modify it to suit any topic, and you can use it to focus on writing or speaking.

Create Worksheet

Create a worksheet with pairs of questions that students can ask each other regarding whichever topic you want to focus on. I encourage you not to put complete questions on the worksheet. This is so your students can complete the questions themselves. The following examples demonstrate this:

Again, notice that the questions are in pairs so that in the second half of the activity, the answers to the questions lend themselves to using "and" and "but." I created this particular worksheet for a business English class about shopping and new products.

Put Students in Groups

Once you have prepared your worksheets and have met your class on the appointed day, divide them into groups (for this activity, I've found that groups of four work very well). If you have a prepared spiel about the topic in question and any relevant vocabulary, give it to them now.

Then, tell the students that there are two parts to the activity. Hand out the worksheet and tell students to ask and answer yes/no questions in the necessary verb tenses with one or more group members. Let the students know that you will fill them in on the second half of the activity after they have finished interviewing each other. Telling students about both parts of the activity at this point would overload them with too much information.

Second Part of Activity

After the students have finished interviewing each other, tell them that they are now going to take turns telling the rest of their group about the responses of one or both of the individuals they have interviewed. In other words, each group member takes a turn to speak to their entire group about the answers of other group members. Before they proceed, point out to them that all the questions are in pairs.

Next, highlight the possibilities for formulating different sentences with "and" or "but." I usually write the following on the whiteboard:
Explanation on whiteboard
This part of the activity also requires students to conjugate verbs for third person singular. The examples I used here are quite varied, though for lower level students, you could ensure that the structure for all questions is the same. Also, instead of only practicing compound sentences with "and" and "but," you could also practice complex sentences with subordinating conjunctions such as "however," and "despite."

And that's all there is to it. A simple activity that is adaptable, easy to prepare, easy to explain, and which allows students to practice a number of different skills and to focus on using "and" and "but."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Learning Thai: Word Associations

When learning to speak a new language, one of the best ways to remember new words is to use word associations. As in any learning situation, you improve your retention when you move from the known to the unknown.

The memory association trick is an old one. I first read about it in a book published in the early part of the 20th century. The author goes into detail about how much mental energy is required to learn new information without using memory aids. When memory aids are used, the amount of effort needed to remember new words goes down appreciably.

This method has been replicated by many language teachers over the years. The following are some word associations that I have used to quickly remember words in Thai. The word in Thai appears first, followed by the transliteration in English, the meaning, and then the word association.


Thai word transliterated: dtang summatee

Meaning: meditate

Word association: a summer tea party
summer tea party


Thai word transliterated: mybuntat

Meaning: ruler

Word association: I’ve got a tattoo of a ruler on my arse.


Thai word transliterated: brysonee.

Meaning: post office.

Word association: the American author Bill Bryson is mailing a letter.


Thai word transliterated: tanakaarn

bank in thailandMeaning: bank

Word association: Dan Tanna (the TV detective from the late 70s U.S. show Vegas) is taking money out of the bank so he can go to the carnival.

Note: this word association might not be effective for anyone other than Americans and Canadians.


Thai word transliterated: brought pie

Meaning: safe

Word association: my mother brought me pie when I was a child, and this made me feel safe.

cherry pie

Of course, tone and vowel length are very important when learning Thai, and these word associations will not help one bit regarding those aspects. However, you have to start somewhere!

Just as word associations can help to build your vocabulary, you can also use this method to remember the phonetic sounds for all the letters in the Thai alphabet.