Thursday, 19 March 2015

Speaking Club Ideas + Making Crosswords

As I have promised, I'm providing my plan for a Speaking Club meeting. The first we held was devoted to the topic of city life, or life in Moscow to be particular.
Despite it may seem a bit dull, such topic I mean, the approach and the way we presented the material proved itself successfull and kids loved it!

To set the scene, there were 12 students of Pre-Int and Int level. There were two of us, teachers, and one more teacher who worked with the third group when we were filming videos.

Here is a Busy Teacher link, where you can download it, enjoy -
P.S. At the end of the post there is a short review on a crossword app ;)
Interaction pattern
Supplementary materials/Time
Whole group
Hello, everybody! I’m really glad to see you all here! Today we are going to talk a lot. Please feel free to ask any question at any time, make yourself comfortable.
Please turn off your mobile phones and put them away so that we don’t get interrupted. And tell me, how do you think what is the only rule that we are going to have today?
Come to conclusion that the only rule is to speak English

5 min
Changing groups of 3-4-5 people
Let’s imagine that we went to a café. And it’s like speed dating, where you have to change your companions. At first when we come in there are tables for three people. So when I say Start I want you to unite into groups of 3 and you will have about a minute and a half to learn each other’s names, to learn each other’s hobbies and find something that all three of you have in common. When I say Switch, it means that now you need to unite into groups of four, changing all of your partners. And again you will have about 2 minutes to learn each other’s names, hobbies and find something in common.
Then again into new groups of three or into groups of five.
Poster about info
1)      Name
2)      Hobby
3)      Smth that all of you have in common

10 min
Whole group
Let’s stand in one circle. Okay. Now I want you to tell me the name of the person on your left, his/her hobby and something that you have in common.
A toy or a ball
5 min
Whole group
Great! Thank you everybody a lot! Now when we’ve got to know each other a bit let’s get straight to business! Let’s get to the topic of our today’s meeting. Do you know a game, where you are shown four pictures and you need to guess the word?
Show some examples. Let students guess.
Good! Now let’s try to guess today’s topic. River, golden domes, traffic jam, Dolgoruky monument or picture – Moscow.
So today we are going to discuss Moscow’s most beautiful places, problems that we have in our city and develop some ideas about what to improve and implement, ….. (put the agenda list on the board, read directly from it)
Printed 4pics1word cards

7 min

Agenda list
Whole group
Now I want to show you some pictures that describe city life. Tell me what factors of city life do these pics represent.
Teacher puts up a picture, elicits a corresponding words from students, writes the word on the board under the picture. Afterwards we can divide them into pros and cons together with the students and discuss it a bit.
City life pictures

5 min
2 groups. Each group sits in a circle and shares ideas on the topics suggested
Good! Let’s discuss some points that make a city a comfortable place to live in. What should we have in Moscow so that it’s comfortable, beautiful, attractive for tourists? – write these three words on the board and make students brainstorm quickly, let them shout out their answers.

Now let’s divide into 2 groups and focus more on advantages!

How to divide into 2 groups: cards with Moscow sights and sights from other places around the world. Those who get cards with Moscow sights unite in one group. Other cities’ sights – 2nd group.

Now let’s imagine that we are two groups of designers and architects who have been invited to Moscow to improve it, to provide new concepts.
One group comes from Great Britain (provide students with GB flag and maybe some other GB attributes) and another comes from France (the same).

In your groups now you need to come up with 3 ideas/projects that can be implemented in Moscow. You will discuss it in your groups with a teacher. You need to write down your ideas on the paper that I’ll give you. You will have 10 minutes to do that task.

One teacher per one group to guide and monitor the discussion. Questions suggested to stimulate the topic:
·         How often do we use internet nowdays? Do we have enough wifi access points? Should there be more? Where should they be? Should they be free?
·         Is our city clean? What can be done to make it cleaner? Do we recycle in Moscow? Should we stimulate, encourage recycling? What good does it bring? Where should be recycling bins put? How should they look in order to attract attention? How should we advertise recycling? How to implement recycling systems into houses, not only on the streets?
·         Is Moscow a green city? What makes a city green? What are the most beautiful parks in Moscow? What types of parks do you know? What types of parks should be where and why in Moscow? What programs, campaigns can we introduce in order to make the city greener?
·         What about cultural life in Moscow? Do we have enough celebrations, concerts, fairs and so on? Should we advertise them more? How should we advertise them, through what channels? What annual or monthly or quarterly events in Moscow would you implement? What museums would you like to have in our city? What funny/interesting museums do you know in Moscow/have visited/want to visit?
·         How should a city look at night? How does Moscow look at night? Should there be more lighting?
·         Are you satisfied with public transport in Moscow? How should it work? Should we have more ground transport? If yes, then what types of transport are the best – buses, trolleys, marshrutkas, trams? How can we improve our subway? What do you think of stations in modern style? What do you think of old stations like Ploschad revolyutsii, Mayakovskay? New stations – in what style should we build them? Or, maybe, we shouldn’t care about design and spend no money on eat on order to save it for something more important?
While discussing the topic, the groups need to keep track of their ideas and write them down
5min explanation+ 10mins activity

Write key topics:
Attractive for tourists

Cards for grouping

Countries’ attributes

On screen:
*3 ideas
*what will make our city
-attractive for tourists

A3 papers and markers to write down ideas in groups

5min explanation+10mins activity

Maybe: pictures of subway stations, museums to encourage the conversation
Whole group
Now you are going to present your ideas.

Two teachers - are the Moscow government (provide some attributes as well) and they are going to decide whose project to implement. Students need to compete and advertise their ideas in the best way.

Each idea should be presented by two speakers. Right now you have 5 minutes to decide who is going to present which idea and you also can write down key points of your speech. You will have 2 minutes to present each idea.

These cards (teachers provide every student with a card) have some vocabulary that will help you to deliver your idea. If you use these words in your presentations, you will get extra points.
We will judge your projects by the following criteria: refer students to the slide.

Students prepare their speeches.
At the same time teachers arrange the classroom so that there is their Judges desk, space for presenters and room for audience. When 5 mins are up students come up front in turns and present ideas (1st team couple – 2nd team couple – 1st team couple – 2nd....)

Maybe: before speaking each group is given extra challenge. For example, use this or that word during your presentations, make some gesture with your hands so that it fits your speech, etc.

Judges do the scoring while teams deliver speeches.
After everyone is done, groups post their A3s with ideas on the board.
Then when all points are counted and while announcing the results, teachers give feedback on each idea and besides writing the scores next to ideas, they also give badges and glue them to the A3s:
The most unusual idea
The most practical idea
The best presentation


At the end we as well can provide students with web-links to Moscow government site, where they can suggest their ideas by themselves in their free time.

Now, dear designers, we can have a tea break and rest a little bit before moving on to the next part of our very important discussion today!
2 min explanation+5 min preparation+15 min presentations+5 mins feedback

Cards with vocab

Slide with criteria:
-Usage of the linking words and expressions (one expression=1 point)
-Usability (практичность, реальность применения на практике)
-Timing (not less than 1.5 minutes but not more than 2 mins)
-extra challenge (+5 points)
TOTAL FIRST PART TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes

Let’s enjoy some tea and sweets
Turn the music on
5 min
Whole group
OK, the second part is going to be devoted to the problems that our city has. What is problem number one in Moscow? Put idea on the board.
Discuss it. Break each problem into 3-4 clear points.
What is second largest problem?
Moscow problems:
1)      Traffic/bad roads/parking
2)      Old damaging houses, expensive real estate
3)      Environmental problems
4)      Immigrants
5)      High prices
6)      Homeless and panhandlers
Let’s choose three problems that are the most interesting for you by voting. Now let’s divide into three even groups. How to divide into 3 groups: cards of three colours – yellow, red and green.
Each group needs to pick one problem (cards).

You are political parties running for an election campaign now. In order to be chosen by voters, you need to make your advertising campaign video.
Let’s watch one of the examples of such videos. While watching I want you to focus on the structure of the video. Tell me, what parts does this video consist of?
10 min
Whole group
Let’s discuss now, what should a good advertising campaign video have?

You should come up with a plan more or less like that:
1)      State and illustrate the problem
2)      Say that we (as a party) can deal with it because we are:…….
3)      How we will deal with it
4)      A call to action and party’s motto

Give and discuss briefly some motto examples. Hand out vocabulary lists with words useful for their video. Tell them that they have 20 mins to plan and film their video. Teachers are ready to help them at any stage.
Set the timer for 20 mins.
Vocab lists
5 min
3 groups
Students make their videos, teachers monitor and help out
20 min

TOTAL TWO PARTS: 1 hour 55 minutes

BREAK. Students chatting, teachers downloading videos to the computer, preparing the election process
10 min
3 groups
Now we are going to watch each of your videos. Please be attentive. After the video each group is allowed to ask one question about the video, party or campaign.

Teachers may provide short feedback on each video at the end
5+5+5 min
3 groups
Each student now needs to vote for one of the parties. They cannot vote for their own party. They vote by writing the number of the party on their colour cards and putting them into the poll
Yellow – party 1
Red – party 2
Green – party 3
Poll box

3-5 min
While one teacher is figuring out who won the election, second teacher asks students to fill in the feedback list (about the meeting in general).

E.g. 1-2 topics that he/she would like to discuss next time
What could have been done better at this meeting
Evaluate the meeting judging by: fun (1-5 points), interesting (1-5), comfortable atmosphere (1-5), how useful were the materials provided beforehand (1-5), etc.
Feedback list

5 min
Whole class
Check points on the Agenda list as done. Give each student to pick a card with a summing up question (most interesting activity, new word, some question on the topic, etc.)

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 35-40 minutes
Question cards

5-10 min
And one more thing I'd like to share today is an application that helps to create crosswords for your students. It's name is Eclipse Crossword. 

Here is the link to the website - - where you can download it, it's free and easy to install.
Here is how its interface looks:

As you see, you can provide clues for the words, make different word lists and then use those wordlists to create a crossword. It's as simple as that :)

Can't wait to use it on my students these weekends bugaga!

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