As a teacher that has taught all levels of English (or almost all levels, anyway), I realised that teaching beginners can be as challenging as teaching C2s students. The first reason for this is that adult learners usually feel very shy and self-conscious about making mistakes in front of their classmates so they need to be able to practise a lot before producing new structures. At the same time, they usually have very little time to do English homework because there are a lot of other things that they need to do like: work, take care of the kids, household chores, etc., just to mention a few. Finding a balance in everything can be very a difficult task indeed and for this reason, on many occasions beginners quit English classes before they see any progress, which is a real pity. But on the other hand, if a beginner manages to stay on, they very soon notice that they are having fun, learning a lot and making new friends.
This year, with A1s and A2s in mind (or the groups that I’ve had anyway), I want to create a collection of videos with some tips and practical information on how to do something like for example, how to give and ask for a price, or how to congratulate somebody, etc. Sort of something very short, simple and clear that will allow learners to focus on very little content and have the opportunity to practise so as to gain some confidence with new structures and chunks of information.
I am aware that the videos are and will be in English (as usual), and that this can seem a bit off-putting for a beginner, but it is also true that all the audio files also appear in writing, so at the same time, learners are doing a listening activity where they can associate the written form of the word to the sound of it.
Here’s the very first video of this project that I’m really enthusiastic about, hoping that they will be useful for A1 and A2 English learners and that I may (only may), get some feedback.
Template and animations by me (sometimes being a graphic designer can come in handy)
When you have a phonetic language like Spanish, for instance, it is quite easy to say the words you have learned from a book or a dictionary because if you know the sounds of each letter you can do quite well when speaking the language and everybody will understand you. But this is not the case with English, which for a lot of people seems like a `crazy´language with its own rules. I already mentioned this feature of English in a post on phonetics and here I’m going to mention another feature that will also look pretty strange to many language learners, that is, letters that appear in the written form of language but should not be pronounced. These letters are called ‘silent letters’ because we do not pronounce them. About two years ago I created a slide lesson, but now that I (unfortunately), have a lot of time, I have also made a video where you can see and hear the examples some of the most typical silent letters.
This is a really hilarious song performed by Syd Barret. It’s a sort of wierd love song where the boy is wooing a girl offering her the few things that he has and sharing stories and facts about his daily life with her. The end of the song is quite scary and I can’t help wondering if the girl didn’t actually turn out to be ‘the type of girl that fits into his world’. I’m aware that some blog visitors will think me completely bonkers for using this song and that my students may even think that I’ve knocked my head on some hard surface (well I actually did a couple of months back, so that might explain everything!). Anyway, I think this song is absolutely fab for low levels and it’s SO English!
Here’s a song written by David Bowie back in the 70s that became very famous again when Nirvana performed their fantastic cover. It wasn’t an easy task for me to decide which version to use; because I love both of them, but since very few people know that Bowie wrote it, I eventually decided to use this one. The aim of this activity is to become familiar with the relative pronoun ‘who’ and to practise simple past verbs. There are two versions, one with the verbs in brackets and the second one without the verbs.
Probably the most devastating problem in modern society is loneliness, which is even worse for the elderly. John Lewis Christmas advert aims to raise awareness of this situation. Hopefully, this touching ad will not only tug at people’s heartstrings, but will also make people understand how much we need each other, especially now in a year so full of isolation and anxiety.
In no other way could I have started creating and uploading blog entries for this year, other than placing this beautiful cover by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole and his soothing ukele. It’s a song of hope, to which we all relate to during these times of troubles and worries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s even more than a song of hope. It’s a conviction, that somewhere, there is a better and more beautiful place where humans will find comfort and their problems will melt away like lemon drops. I really hope that some day soon, we find that hidden rainbow.
For this post I’ve set two listening activities where beginners can fill in the gaps with the words they hear. The first button is for verbs and the second button is the same song, but this time filling in the gaps with missing nouns.