Let’s Play Checkers – by Sandra Luna

One the easiest game, one everyone knows so you won’t have to teach the game. Instead you’ll be able to teach language!

checkers game

Checkers is one of the easiest games to learn. Most children like it and adults never forget how to play it. Many years ago I started to use it to teach grammar. It started with the Simple Present and the 3rd person -s. However, I’ve used it with so many different things I think you can teach virtually anything using it.

Here’s a list of topics I’ve worked on with this: phrasal verbs, prepositions (at, in, on), Simple Present, phonemes, stress patterns and word formation. I’m sure you can come up with other ideas for how to use this, wouldn’t you like to share?

The pictures describe how I build my pieces and the image I use for the board. If you laminate these (like I do) they’ll last and you can reuse your pieces if you make them in card. I have a box of different sets according to what I want to work on.

The rules are the normal checkers’ rules with a twist, you can only take your opponents piece if they’re a match. For example: if black has “in” and white has “June”. Sometimes the game will come to a dead end, which can also happen when playing the regular game. Just tell your students that the player who has taken more pieces wins the match and that they can have another turn. Hope you like it.

Click on the links below to get materials and see how to adapt the game!

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Young Learners vs. Adults by Isabel Fechas

I was recently faced with this question: “How is teaching Young Learners different to teaching Adults?” My first reaction was saying that it is very different, and I actually came up with some differences very easily. Adults are aware that they’re in a classroom to learn a second language whereas Young learners usually go there because someone (usually parents) take them there, even if they’re not really aware of the reasons. Another aspect is at the skills level. Adults are usually fluent in their L1 and already have some previous knowledge of the L2 they want to learn, which helps in terms of the time spent giving instructions, and, the most relevant for me, they can read!
However, there was something that I’ve only noticed this year when I started teaching Adults. They are usually more reticent to letting you know that they are struggling with something or that they simply don’t understand your instructions or what you’re trying to explain. So I came to the conclusion that just as with Young Learners, the teacher should try to establish routines to make Adult students feel confident and secure enough to admit their difficulties. And even though one usually thinks about games for Young Learners, I’ve discovered they work really well with adults, and they tend to relax, eventually helping them with their learning.
It seems to me that Adults and Young Learners have more in common than one might think at first glance.
So, after this small reflexion, I would like to leave you all the challenge of sharing some of your thoughts and ideas about this. We’ll be waiting for them!


The Flipped Classroom – or Tilting it by Shawn Severson

Have you ever questioned whether explaining grammar is effective use of class time? Of course you have, this is one of the big points addressed in the communicative approach!

For younger levels, an inductive way of exposing students to grammar is so effective and really compliments grammar knowledge they might see in a table or which has been drilled into them at school. When it comes down to the more complicated and stylistic points of grammar, say, inversion for example, sure you can show students a few examples in a text (any more and that would be extremely artificial!), but then what? And then you have the issue that not only does explanation take a long time, but also setting these into a communicative setting is quite difficult. So, the last recourse is explain and drill.

But what if your explanation, very declarative, straightforward and traditional, were done at home? This is what the flipped classroom aims to do. Give declarative information, material that would normally be lectured at home. Homework, drills, etc. can then be done in class. Flipping learning has been a huge success in science and mathematics because it also allows for students to have access to additional resources because declarative knowledge being explained is linked to online resources. And students can stop, pause and rewind at random.

For language, perhaps this is not so clear and so what I am doing in 2014-15 is trying to at least “tilt” my classroom. Through Moodle, I am proving links to grammar tutorials, then students do the standard course book exercises. The next class we correct those exercises and then do freer types of practice, ironing out points they might not have understood so well. More importantly, we try to integrate this grammar into realistic contexts into the classroom, moving past analyzing language and into using it. For example lessons (these are my first attempts, done simply, in just a few minutes after preparing the materials).

Inversion: http://youtu.be/nyRz1eWSL40

Articles: http://youtu.be/LGO2bvq1naM

For more information on this type of teaching, which won’t replace us as teachers, but merely underline our importance and free up opportunities for communicating and interesting classroom work: http://flippedclassroom.org