My daughter Laura, sixteen years old, has proven the STRENGTH OF MOTIVATION to me: dire hard work and WILLPOWER almost beyond her limits has brought her to the EUROPEAN SPEEDSKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS as well as passing her very demanding school year with flying colours. Here I sit in my camper in Austria at the start of the venue, not worried about what the outcome will be, but reflecting on the arduous road that led us here - sheer motivation and willpower. She is not one of those talents to whom everything falls easy, she has worked hard against all odds to reach her two goals in sports and education.
This has given me a new insight to learning as I tend to believe that curiosity and enjoyment are the best stimuli for learning and retaining what one learns. Motivation is certainly another fundamental ingredient but I feel that for most people it is difficult to find the willpower to do something they don't at least partially enjoy, despite the hard work it may comprise. So I utterly admire those who find the willpower to carry on doing something that may not give them the desired results - or at least not immediately.
Motivating students is therefore one of my top priorities: arousing their curiosity and making it as enjoyable as possible so that they want to carry on learning outside the classroom, using various methods, media, adjustments to their social networks and corresponding with foreigners as well as travelling whenever possible.
That is where technology inside and outside the classroom as well as games make learning much more effective and exciting than it used to be.
My holiday homework always comprises at least DAILY:
- VOSCREEN - 5 seconds listening (as many times as you like) to bits of films, cartoons, ads... before pressing the button which reveals the subtitle in English - to see if you're right!! = 5 minutes a day
- ORORO.TV – TV series & films with subtitles = 5 - 45 minutes a day (depending on your level)
- LyricsTraining - SONGS (LISTENING & COMPLETING):
LyricsTraining is an easy and fun way to learn and improve your foreign languages skills, through the music videos and the lyrics of your favourite songs.
LyricsTraining also has a special Karaoke mode that lets you sing and enjoy the full lyrics = as often as is fun
GAMES to practise your English:
- ESL Fun Games Online
- ESL Revision Fun Games Online
http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/ - ONLINE ENGLISH NEWSPAPER for English kids aged 8 -14 so simplified information
MINDMAPLE - super-easy mind mapping tool for writing up phrases, collocations and vocabulary in context.
- putting Mobile phone settings in English
- putting Facebook (& other social network) settings in English
- putting computer settings in English
- and generally SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH ENGLISH so your brain switches into English mode.
Update on the venue of the EUROPEAN SPEEDSKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Day 1: my daughter Laura helps her teammate make it to the gold medal;
Day 2: she gets pulled down by another competitor onto the asphalt at 40 km/hr, jumps up to continue the race with her teammate (also involved in the multiple fall) when blood streams copiously into her eye: 3 stitches, a black eye, bruised shoulder and various scrapes; luckily her seriously bruised teammate still makes the gold medal!
Day 5: still not allowed to race (doctor's orders);
Day 6: despite a huge plaster covering half her eye she races her 10,000 metre points race to win a GOLD MEDAL and become EUROPEAN CHAMPION of her category in that particular race. Driven by sheer MOTIVATION and DETERMINATION - "Where there's a will there's a way!" - something to instil in our students!!
LISTEN, REPEAT, MOVE: the DIRECTIONS CHANT - combining movements with words to memorize the meanings...
Combining movements to rhythmic chants in order to memorize words and meanings in a FUN way without having to translate has always been popular with children and adults. I invented the DIRECTIONS CHANT for teenagers decades ago and many of my former students still remember them.
Download the VIDEO below to see the movements connected to the DIRECTIONS in the rhythmic CHANT!
Try it out and have fun!
LISTEN, REPEAT, MOVE: the PREPOSITION CHANT - combining movements with words to memorize the meanings...
Children and adults alike have always benefited from combining movements to rhythmic chants in order to memorize words and meanings in a FUN way without having to translate. I have been teaching a PREPOSITION CHANT that I invented for children and decades later I meet former students who still remember them with pleasure.
Everyone stumbles at some point on a longer sentence, be it beginner, intermediate or advanced, young or old... but many years ago I read a very simple TRICK which WORKS INFALLIBLY every time and your students gain lots of confidence in a jiffy: prepare saying it backwards!
Update: Try out my
LISTEN & REPEAT exercises to BOOST YOUR FLUENCY from my Video Course
Also: Try out my
LISTENING COMPREHENSION with Susan’s A WEARY TRAVELLER'S TALES on my YouTube Channel:
Focus on CHILDREN - acting LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD! – recycling language in adapted versions of Nursery Tales and singing NURSERY RHYMES to PROMOTE FLUENCY
Repetitive NURSERY RHYMES with their easy rhythmic tunes and well-known NURSERY TALES lend themselves to SINGING and ACTING: two activities which children love doing!!
Many years ago I ADAPTED three NURSERY TALES in increasing difficulty to RECYCLE the most important LANGUAGE we had learnt during the school year. Children loved it and parents enjoyed watching their children's progress. HAVING FUN was another key element to making sure they learnt EXPRESSIONS IN A MEANINGFUL CONTEXT.
NURSERY RHYMES can also be ACTED OUT whilst they are being SUNG to consolidate their meaning and enable children to pronounce somewhat complicated sentences to PAVE THEIR WAY TO FLUENCY...
Below is the easiest of the three to download with the pronunciation guide as well to help children practise alone at home. In those days children had no other way of practising autonomously. Nowadays I prefer to RECORD AUDIOS of the pronunciations for them TO LISTEN TO REPEATEDLY all collected in a Dropbox folder for easy access. Try it out!
Hope you have fun with it!
POEMS and MUSICALS in the classroom: CATS: SKIMBLESHANKS the Railway Cat – intermediate / advanced / teens / adults
Poems I find are difficult to present in an appealing way, more so if they are for students of English. Many years ago I attempted a project fueled by my enthusiasm for the MUSICAL CATS in which I presented one T.S. Eliot’s CATS poem a week with comprehension questions of various nature. In those days we listened to the song on cassette but I would recommend showing a You Tube Video to them on the IWB to make it more exciting.
For intermediate/advanced students I find that SKIMBLESHANKS the Railway Cat – Musical: CATS is rather fast as it mimics the speed of the train but the poem/song also gives us the opportunity to discuss TRAVELLING BY TRAIN in the past and today on normal trains and luxury trains like the ORIENT EXPRESS. It can also arouse curiosity to watch the entire musical and can lead to interesting discussions. I plan on occasionally posting poems from my CATS Project in the hope they may be of interest to students and teachers and would welcome any feedback.
You can download the worksheets to the song below. Feel free to delete or translate the Italian into another language.
Hope its another interesting way of learning English!
Also check out MY PLAYLIST
for Susan's ESL Learning Videos (Chants & Songs)
Songs always bring a breath of fresh air into the classroom and are greeted with joy. I usually try to choose songs, which are not only clear and fairly easy to understand but have meaningful content for language learners such as grammar, phrasal verbs or vocabulary pertinent to what we are studying.
For intermediate/advanced students I find that IF I WERE A RICH MAN – Musical: Fiddler on the Roof is not only repetitive easily teaching the SUBJUNCTIVE with practically no effort but the song also gives us the opportunity to discuss the historical and religious context the musical is set in: a small Jewish community in a Russian village with all its traditions and its relationship with the Christian community in and outside the village. All in all a catchy tune which can also arouse curiosity to watch the entire musical and can lead to interesting discussions.
You can download the worksheet to the song below. Feel free to delete or translate the Italian into another language.
Hope you have fun with it!
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My name is Susan Brodar, born in London into a multilingual family and brought up bilingual English / Italian.