Para novos desafios: IELTS – Cursos intensivos na International House Porto

Novos desafios, novas oportunidades.  Estudantes universitários e quem quer trabalhar no estrangeiro encontra um novo desafio – o IELTS.

Foi por isso que a International House Porto lançou um curso intensivo de preparação de 2 semanas, para treinar candidatos, tanto na teoria como na prática.  O formato online combina o conforto de estudar em casa com a hipótese de reunir candidatos com as mesmas necessidades.  O resultado é uma formação dinâmica com amplas oportunidades de melhoria em todas as áreas que fazem parte do exame.

A primeira de uma série

A primeira edição foi do dia 22 de fevereiro até ao dia 5 de março e orgulhamo-nos de repetir o curso de 12 a 23 de abril.  O nosso conceito é simples:  treino quatro vezes por semana com formadores que têm muita experiência em ensinar o IELTS, principalmente no Speaking e Writing, também abordando o Reading e Listening. Um dia de semana há autoestudo acompanhado, para dar oportunidade de praticar tarefas do exame e assim ganhar confiança.

Para quem é?

Este curso intensivo destina-se a estudantes universitários que precisam de obter bons resultados no exame IELTS para serem aceites em faculdades e universidades internacionais, sem, no entanto, terem muito tempo disponível para se prepararem.

Junte-se a nós

Os alunos que pretendam realizar o IELTS com objetivos profissionais ou para obterem vistos em vários países de língua inglesa também poderão beneficiar deste curso, pois irão melhorar as suas capacidades linguísticas tanto a nível da oralidade como da escrita. Todos os participantes irão ficar a conhecer bem a estrutura do exame, e utilizarão todos os recursos apresentados pelo formador qualificado da IH Porto.

Para mais informações sobre o curso pode consultar o seguinte link:

Oh, my Word! Tips on Word’s little mysteries.

also: Don’t forget our IT@IH 1.1 and IT@IH 1.2 courses!

Have you enjoyed watching Shawn’s Corner so far? Have you thought about how these segments wouldn’t be possible without computers?  To celebrate our love-hate relationship with computers, let’s take a gander at FORMAT PAINTER(it’s that little paintbrush) in Word.  Because you know how it is, you have a document looking like you want it and then you cut and paste something into the document—and then you have a mess, different fonts and sizes!  It’s not difficult to get everything all looking the same.

So today, four Word mysteries will be highlighted, solved and resolved.

This little paintbrush will make your cutting and pasting so much easier!
  1. As mentioned before, Format Painter, the little paintbrush.  The way you use this is quite like a paintbrush. So click on that paintbrush.  Then click on the formatting you LIKE.   Only after that should you click on the problem text. Funnily enough, it’s a bit counterintuitive, in that we like to tackle what’s wrong, but embrace the formatting you like and then go and touch up what you hate.  Try it a few times and you’ll like it!
.dotx files are master files you can use as a template
  • On the same topic of formatting, why not make all of your worksheets look similar—create your own persona, your own style and stick with it.  Believe me, doing this is not boring, it gives your class materials a “feel” to them.  So, take a look here at the template I created for our school using our logo, the font we use, the size & color of the title and the size & color of the text.  Once you have it all the way you want it, then go to file menu (where you save on PC) and scroll down to “Save as Template” or “Modelo” in Portuguese.  It’ll be saved!  It has an extension of .dotx  The next time you make some materials, open it!  The good thing is you can never erase the original because it creates a new file every time.
Tight or “justo”
  • Like we talked about a few weeks ago, there is a way of keeping your pics stay where you want them in Word.  It’s called “Tight” or “Justo”.  The easiest way to find this is to double click on a picture OR right click on the picture and look for “Format picture” or, in more recent versions, you might only see a picture of a dog or a rainbow with lines around it.  Find the one where you can see there are lines all around.  This means that the text (and other pictures for that matter) will go around it.  For every version of Word out there, the process is essentially the same, but not exactly.  That’s why you’ll have to take a look on your computer, but if you get the idea of the concept, you shouldn’t have difficulty in finding how to get your text to wrap around the picture—and keep pictures from jumping around when you add more.
As long as you select the text you want to designate the language for, you can mix several languages in one document and use spellcheck!
  • Last but not least, let’s not forget spellcheck. And since we are language teachers, we have a trickier time of it. Most people get their computer formatted for their native language and that’s it, but in our case, even the same document might have two languages in it.  So, if you are like me and want to do that final check, first select all the text or the part that it’s in the language you are going to check. Or even before you start, which is better yet!  Then when you go to Review (or Tools on some computers), then you can do Spelling & Grammar check.

And there you have it, some quick tips on mysteries of Word. Most times in Shawn’s Corner, we have been focusing on how to make the most out of technology at home so that we can prepare for classes.  We’ll carry on with giving tips on technology and “paper” resources again in September.  For now, in the next few weeks, we hope to see you at our centre in Foz for our IT@IH 1.1 (beginner) and IT@IH 1.2 (intermediate) courses!

A focus on development from the “10 things to do in 2019”

Teacher Training is naturally focusing on the teacher and the best teaching practices.  But what about doing something for ourselves?  By this, I mean, just do something that makes you feel good about your English, your academic skills and your math skills? What, you say you’re an English teacher?

In one of our teacher training sessions, we looked at 10 things to do in 2019.  Well, we are halfway through the year and now it’s time to look at #6 and #8 of the top 10 things to do, both of which are related to teacher development.  We’ll look at a dictionary app for our phones as well as some games that are meant to hone our language skills.  Today, let’s kick off a summer of focusing on our own development and take away a few tools that any teacher will enjoy.

So the first one is the Merriam-Webster app for smartphones—both android and iPhone.  This is extremely useful for students and for you as a teacher.  You can always have a dictionary with you and it’s one of the best in the world.  Caution:  it isn’t a learners dictionary, but it gives almost all of the possibilities of how to use a word and examples.  It also gives etymology, which is really great because it’s possible to see where a word comes from.  The app, when you have internet, also pronounces the word.  This makes a wonderful tool for teachers and students.

Type in your web browser, and go to the App Store or Google Play.  There is a fun game called Quizzitive, which I also have had lots of fun with.

The other app we looked at in 10 things to do in 2019, the one that I was talking about with the math, which actually you can avoid if you really want it, is an app called Elevate.  It is designed to increase how fast you think because it adjusts the level of difficulty as you use it. The developers describe it as “a brain training app designed to help you stay sharp, build confidence, and boost productivity.”  I look at it as a challenge and a fun thing to do to boost my vocabulary, grammar, listening and, yes, math skills.

Type in your web browser, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Get it now”.

These two apps are free, they aren’t too big so they shouldn’t fill up your phone and they’ll help you sharpen up your skills.  At the same time, have some fun!

If you’d like to watch the video on Facebook, click here.

Flip ’em with Flipgrid in speaking exercises

Today we’re going to look at how to flip a speaking activity.  And why do this?  For one thing, it gives students more time.  They can speak at home without distraction.  And if they want to repeat again, they can.

Another good reason is that you can place your full attention on each students’ performance. It’s easier for you to take notes and think about suggestions.  OK, you can’t correct on the spot, but research shows correction on the spot isn’t as helpful as we’d like to think.

And, last but not least, you can’t be 2 places at once!  You can’t be maintaining discipline in one corner of the room and doing an individual speaking task in another.  And although I believe the idea that other students could benefit from listening to other, we know that this is often not the case.

So, let’s see how we can do this.  Let’s visit

I already have an account made and signing up for that is quite easy.  You sign up your account, then create a new “grid”

Here is the Flipgrid for my Soar task.  Feel free to record your answers.  I have chosen to be “moderator” so your videos won’t be public until I have approved them.

Let’s take a look at how it works.  Basically, the task here is to look at the worksheet we made in previous Shawn’s Corner and to narrate it on an online platform.  Students narrate and the teacher can review the videos outside of classtime and give feedback using Flipgrid.  You’ll see some examples and also learn how to set up a Flipgrid speaking task.  You can put up videos, visuals and links for your students to look at.  They can give their response from the comfort of their homes.

If you’d like to watch the video on Facebook, click here.

IT@IH for T’s: goals and opportunities

By now, you have seen how we place importance in adding technology to enhance the classroom experience.  Technology can be used to access resources, create our own and also to challenge students during the class.  Let’s survey some of the skills you can work on this summer, especially if you take our IT@IH course.   Technology is not the centre of our teaching, but it certainly provides support!

This week let’s set some goals related to technology or at least see some opportunities that technology can provide us with if we use it well.  Technology should never be the centre point of our teaching, but it certainly can provide support!

I always tell people how I moved to Portugal with just a couple suitcases, which meant I didn’t bring any resources for teaching English along with me.  What I had, which has been a never-ending resource has been my laptop.  From there, I have been able to share a bit of the US with my students, or at least, English.  Just think of all of the videos on YouTube, and don’t forget the TED talks we talked about some weeks ago.  We’ve got the world at our fingertips, but we have to set some goals so we can take advantage of what technology can help us access.

That’s why the first goal is:  because you invest in creating activities to accompany video, why don’t you learn how to download the video?  Let’s download, create folders and organize our worksheets and videos so that they’ll be ready when we need them.  Also, let’s not leave ourselves at the mercy of a wi-fi connection at our school.

The second goal is:  take screenshots of videos.  And why not make PowerPoints & worksheets from our screen shots?  This summer, we’ll be working on making our own visually-rich activities using images from the internet, screenshots and perhaps even our own photos.

The third goal is:  calculating results.  Excel seems like a dirty word, but it’s a very powerful resource.  We just have to look at what we want to do and how to do it.  Working together, it’s really not as hard as it looks!

The fourth goal is: let’s explore a few online platforms like what we’ve seen here, such as Kahoot to challenge our students.  Several moments throughout the year doing activities and playing games using technology changes the pace and makes learning enjoyable.

By setting these goals, in fact we are creating opportunities for ourselves and our students.

If you’d like to watch the video on Facebook, click here.


Getting grammar and language out of picturebooks

Today we are going to work with a specific book, but I hope that you take a look at your library and find books with similar characteristics and that you try to make your own activities. 

Or, get a copy of Lost and Found and have the same experience I had with my students.  This book, in particular, works well with two language points — simple past and connectors.  Also, it helps students build emotional intelligence, or at least engage in a conversation requiring empathy.  You will find this especially interesting to do with students at the A2 and B1 levels.

So, let’s take a look at the cover.  And, if you’d like to take a look at a narrated version on YouTube, you can follow this link:

Once we get inside, you’ll see that the verb forms are in the Past Simple and so it’s easy to practice that verb form. I have also worked conjunctions in the text (but, so, and) and time sequencers too.

So, let’s look inside at what I have done.  You  can do the same with another book or with this one.

I have cut out the phrases that would appear in the text and have replaced them with a letter.  Students have a table with all of the phrases cut out and with phrases where they have to supply the verb in the past simple.

Here’s the first picture of the text.  Which one is the matching sentence?

Further on, we see the boy talking to some birds.

And we see the boy starting out on his mission.

so the boy decided to help the penguin…

Notice the conjunction in this sentence—so.  Although I have taken out a lot of sentences out—17 in all, students are able to do this activity.   Later, they can do a matching exercise with pictures printed out.  Even better yet, they can re-narrate the story, given their own versions of each sentence.

There is so much you can do with picturebooks! This was one that worked really well in some of my classes. I hope it works well in yours.

Stories are fabulous, and even better if we can work with vocabulary and grammar. 

Next week, we’ll be here to work with something of more virtual appeal—we’ll look at some goals and opportunities for English teachers when using IT.

If you’d like to see this video on Facebook, click here.

Wordless picturebooks — a sneak peek

Welcome back to Shawn’s corner, where today we’ll be looking a special kind of book.  You know about some wonderful storybooks out there, like those from Dr. Seuss, especially Green Eggs & Ham, my favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Giving Tree (as we saw in an earlier Shawn’s Corner) and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Some of these may work best with younger students if, but we should take some time later to see other ways we can use these classics.  For now, let’s look at a type picturebook that is good for most levels and ages—the wordless picturebook. 

My favorite authors in this genre are Shaun Tan and David Wiesner, illustrators of “The Arrival” and “Sector 7” but there are many more out there like a funny little story called “The Flower Man” about an old man who moves into the neighborhood and brightens it up with his flowers.  Another one is “The Journey” about a girl who has amazing adventures that she partly creates with a red crayon.

Let’s take a look at one that I have found engaging at all levels called “Flotsam” by David Wiesner.  As I don’t want to include a spoiler, I am just going to show you the first part of the story and you’ll have to check out the book to find out what happens.  You will be amazed to see how the book can convey a fantastic story without a single written word.

Students should learn phrases to hedge a bit, like “He must be doing something”, “He like is…” “It looks as if…” “It looks as though” “Maybe” “Perhaps” and so on.  This is the kind of language that lets their imagination run free without losing face.

You, as the teacher, can ask as many questions you like because everything is open for interpretation. These books give tons to talk about so they really are worth checking out. 

In the next Shawn’s corner, we will look at a picturebook with text and some ideas for using it for grammar and vocabulary study. 

In regards to what you saw today, I hope you came to the conclusion that although these picturebooks are wordless, your students should be far from speechless when working from them. 

If you’d like to see this video on Facebook, click here.

Getting creative with video

Do you mind if I work on a cliché?  A picture is worth a thousand words… that’s why I’d look at moving pictures today.  So, you do the math, thousands times a thousand…those are a lot of words. That what you get when you work with moving pictures!

There is so much to do with video—in this video segment, I am going to show you how to make a prediction activity, meant to get students talking!  This is just one of tons of different ways to get thousands of words out of moving pictures.

In order to take screenshots, there are 2 tools: 

for PC users, do a search for “snipping tool” if you haven’t already found it in “accessories” and pinned it to your start menu. 

for Mac users, you press three keys at one time:   command – shift – 4

I am going to show you a video with quite a simple story line, but it’s a chance to get students to speculate and predict what’s going to happen without having to pre-teach too much vocabulary.

So, let’s make some screenshots from the video Soar.

What I did was download the video so that I could get the screenshots without any pause or play marks on the screen.  Also, this means that I can do the activity even if I have problems with the internet on the day we look at this video in class.

So, I’ve mentioned the tools to use to take screenshots.  I will do it on my Mac and show you how it works.  With a PC, the process is similar.

I’ve watched the video and marked 8 different moments that I want to use for my speaking task.

Here they are if you’d like to make the activity yourself. 

:37  :40  1:03  1:19  1:39  1:47  3:41  3:51

You can use any number of pics you like, but for working in pairs and small groups, I try not to do more than 8, otherwise the task might become too complicated.

So, I advance in the video and pause on the frame I’d like.  On my Mac, I type command + ctrl + shift + 4 all at once, so I can paste the picture into Word right away. 

If I’d like to save all 8 pictures as files, then I can press command + shift + 4. These files are saved on my computer and this is the process you use with the PC. You can save the files and then put them in your document all at one time.

After putting these all into Word and I have a worksheet like this.  You can put the pics in order or have students order them.  It’s a great pre-watching activity and it gets students talking.

So, get some words out of your student, maybe a thousand words, by using screenshots.

If you’d like to see this video on Facebook, click here.

From student to teacher: Students helping make Kahoots!

Welcome back to Shawn’s Corner. Last week we looked at several different types of Kahoot! To finish off our exploration of this tool, I’d like to give you ideas on how to get your students involved in creating games. They’ll be reviewing language at the same time they set up items for other games that everyone in the classroom will benefit from.

So, here is what you need.
1. A Kahoot account
2. A model for students to give Kahoot items like I’ll be showing you.
3. A group of students who want more challenges.
4. A few minutes at the computer to set up your game.

In past Shawn’s corner segments, I mentioned you could use other people’s games, but today I am going to show you how to make a game, while also presenting a model for getting your students to make up the question items.

So let’s go to our account at (remember is for students to play games)

Let’s go to create.
Just to remind you, the most common type of game to play is a quiz.
And now we’re down to two options, we can type in Qs one by one or we can use a template. Today my objective is to show you who easy it is to use a template, especially if you get students to help you make the questions.

You can download a simple document I’ve created for my students so that they can create their own items or possibly copy from another resource. Perhaps, in most cases, it’s best to make a rule that questions can’t be from your current textbook or workbook activities you’ve already done. Or, if it is from the book, they must change some words to make the question look like a new one. Consider too, whether you’d like to make a list of grammar points that you’d like to gather questions for.

Video segment on:
How to download template
A simpler worksheet version for students
How to transfer this information to the template and complete
Uploading the template

Now, let’s put the template and my worksheet side by side. See how easy it’ll be to get the items written up. In my case, I have the items written up and I’ll cut and paste, but your students probably won’t write up long questions anyway 

And now, upload your document and the game is done! That was easy and now you just have to wait for the class you’re going to play it in.

This is the last in our sequence on Kahoots for now. Next week, we’ll take a look at an idea for getting students to talk about videos in class.

Have some fun with this learning tool. Your students are now in cahoots with you on making a Kahoot.

If you’d like to see this video on Facebook, click here.

Different kinds of Kahoots!

Last week we looked at how you could get started with Kahoot! By now, I suppose you have your account and you’ve looked around.  Today, I am going to talk about different kinds of exercises that you can create, all focused on how to teach & practice language.

There are five different kinds of Kahoot! exercises that I have come up with.

Let’s start with the one that is a favorite in workbooks—dehydrated sentences.  When you set up Kahoot, you can choose the “JUMBLE” option and this will allow you to have sentence parts presented randomly each time you play.  Students will drag the parts of the sentences in the right order on their phones.  Please note, that you will can only cut up sentences into 4 parts, so think about how you’d like to challenge your students.  I often like to have sentences with two main clauses joined by linking words.

The second type is the most common type to play:  Multiple choice options to grammar questions.  It works out well to use sentences from other resources or the workbook.  You simply need to have between 2 and 4 multiple choice answer options.  You can even put in various correct answers, but I find that students don’t like that possibility!

The third way is to use Kahoot for a flashcard activity. You can put pictures up on the kahoot and give students vocabulary options.  You could ask a question like “what’s this” so students identify the picture.  Or you could put up a picture, say, of school and then ask which word is associated with it.  You can also link YouTube videos in with it, so you can play a short segment of a music video and ask students which vocab words they heard.

The fourth way is playing trivia.  I have found this a fun way of introducing new vocabulary and promoting discussion.  With these, I generally look for a  Kahoot on a topic that we are talking about, like health, copy it to my account and then add or delete questions.  Many times, Kahoots that have been made for a class in the US has been useful for my English class if I simplify the questions a bit.

The fifth and last way is multiple-choice cloze reading activities. For the Cambridge First exams and other tests, there are reading texts which test 4 different but similar words and their collocations.  As an example, there might be a text where we want to contrast and the word choices could be however, despite, although, or but.  Depending on the rest of the sentence, only one would be the right answer.  For example, you could complete this sentence: I didn’t raise my hand to volunteer ___________ I knew the answer.

I didn’t raise my hand to volunteer although I knew the answer.

So these are the 5 ways I have found of using Kahoots.  It’s a great way to keep students challenged, to keep the game fresh and to also be able to adapt Kahoot to what you are teaching.

Watch again on Facebook.