Hello, once again!

In order to apologise for my silence these last weeks, I’ll try to provide interesting stuff for you, or more than usual. You know what I mean.

1. Poll results

Basically, we had around 7 – if not precisely – votes, that pushed the results to 50% of English spoken in class for levels 1 and 2.

Of course, there is no way to know if our voters were mainly Basic 1 or 2 teachers. Ever since I started teaching this was a major issue for me. People tell you you’re supposed to speak English at all times, even during basic levels, but no one is willing to tell you how. I can see how that can be easily done in other languages, more related to Portuguese, such as Spanish or Italian, maybe even French. Also, some more experienced teachers seem to develop the bad habit of putting up a misterious expression of wisdom every time you panic with the whole 100% English paradox.

Well, I haven’t been teaching for 2 years yet, so I’m not particularly experienced. That is why I was slightly creeped out when I was given my Basic 2 group, at the beginning of the semester. What you have to remember is that you have to take care with the verb tenses when talking to the group. In Touchstone they only learn the Simple Past during the second half of the course. Does that mean you can’t use any sentences in the past? Not really. You can say ‘did’, and ‘watched’ and other stuff, but always with the “past gesture”. Body language is your best friend.

Also, you have to be extra careful to enunciate – I always do a slo-mo version of the difficult words, so the students laugh and learn. I must confess – I only had one or two classes so far that was 100% English. It doesn’t only depend on the teacher – it must be a good day for the students too. Sometimes they are simply too tired.

So, anyways, do you guys have any special tips on avoiding Portuguese in the classroom? Share with us!


2. Managing Touchstone

And for our next topic:




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Reminders, Poll and Present Continuous

Hello once again, everyone!

Amanda here. I hope your first week of class went on smoothly.

1. The good news: if you’ve checked your e-mail, you probably saw that we received our schedules and the distribution of marks. It goes as follows:

Midterm test
Final test
Oral test 1
Oral test 2
Portfolio (writings+workbook+quizzes+miscellaneous)
Total marks

The fact that we no longer atribute poits to extensive reading presentations is also new to me. However, there was a day in our schedules assigned for “oral presentations”. I will check that with the supervisor and let you know the result.

2. Our archive: At the teacher’s room (not the professor’s room, keep it in mind) we have several teacher aids at our fingertips, but hardly anyone uses them!

Our best reference is Murphy’s English Grammar in Use. Since the communicative approach often leads students to feel unsafe about linguistic rules, such as the possible uses and forms of a given verb tense, it is a good source of orientation when your students need a grammar reinforcement.

In the huge drawers, labeled by me a thousand years ago, you will find all sorts of things: song activities, exercises sepparated by theme, pictures you can use in class for vocabulary-based lessons, etc. Just dig in!

3. Speaking English in Basic Levels. I thought we could start a small discussion every week about themes that we always wonder when we start teaching a foreign language, specially at basic levels.

Theoretically, we are supposed to speak English 100% of the time, even in Basic I groups. I see that it is humanly possible, but it hardly happens, specially when the teacher is still in training. It takes too much time, sometimes, to make the students guess the meaning of words through mime or synonyms, and more often than not they remain confused, even after telling you they understood.

So, my question for the week is, how much English do you actually get to speak with your basic group? If you manage to go a 100%, what kind of strategies do you use? Let us know!

Almost over… bear with me…

4. Present Continuous. This week, Túlio sent me a really nice activity about the Present Continous. It involves speaking and guessing.

It is supposed to be used in Basic II, unit 7.

It will be done in pairs; students A and B will have a picture each that looks almost the same. By describing the actions of the many people in it, they have to find the differences.

You can download the Present Continuous Extra Exercise and the Present Continuous Extra Exercise Teachers notes about it.

Finally, I’d like to ask you guys to send me activities that introduce new grammar such as the one Túlio just provided us. Help out!

That’s it for week #2, see you!

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Ice Breaking Activities

And a good Sunday for everyone out there!

For those who groups start tomorrow, I already have two Ice-Breaking strategies to share.

The first one comes from Danielle Camarinho:

The Mad Lib

Levels: from Basic 3 on, since it depends on a basic level of vocabulary.

How to: “So, first the teacher will explain what are the parts of speech. Then, he will give the students the chart so that they can write the words. After that, the teacher gives the students the lyrics of the song he chose and the students will fill in the blanks with the words that they wrote, in the same order.

And then, each student will choose the part of the song that he thinks is the most ridiculous and tell the class, taking the opportunity to

introduce himself!”

Comments: “It can be done with any song! (I still have to choose mine!).”

IceBreak – MadLib (instructions) and MadLib (chart).

The Object-Throwing Extravaganza

I will admit that this is a very fancy name for a simple activity.

It will be done tomorrow with my Basic 2 group. Their first new lesson will be about the Present Continuous, so I thought I could introduce it without stressing them too much.

Basically, the students will sit in a closed circle, facing each other. I will be sitting amongst them, holding a small object (say, a marker), and my introduction will be their model. Let’s say I introduce myself like this:

“Hello, my name is Amanda, I’m studying here at FALE to be a translator, I’m teaching here at CENEX right now and I really like it.”

Make it clear that the students will have to say a similar sentence, and throw the object/marker at one of them. It is repeated until every student has said it. The “like/dislike” part is important because it will be used later at the same class to explain the difference between the simple and continuous aspects of the present.

I have done this throwing thing with different models of sentences to be said by students, so it is pretty flexible and it can be addapted to any level.

Well, that’s it for now, but feel free to send us more!

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New Term 2011/2

Hello, everyone!

Amanda here. Yeah, it’s been a while. For good or bad, our new term at CENEX/FALE has just started. A fine boiling Saturday, with no teacher absences. All the better for me, because I had the time to let you know a few things!

1. For newcomers, this blog was a small (and hardly successfull) project I created before I went away from Cenex. The basic idea is for us to trade activities, exercises, articles… Pretty much just anything you have come across and you think that might be helpful to the rest of our staff. I strongly encourage you to visit it at least once a week – when I’ll be doing all the posting, in case you run out of ideas for your next class.

In case you want to contribute to our blog, it’s really simple: just e-mail me through cenex.arquivoingles@gmail.com with the necessary files (text, music, etc) attached. It will help enormously if you write a few things about your activity, such as level, class, aim, how to and some comments.  I will upload your files along with the post. For any queries, you can contact me or check the older posts.

Try to send at least one thing, it will look pretty bad if I’m the only one contributing!


2. Yes, I know, the level names have changed. Now we consist of:

Basic 1 to 3

Pre-Intermediate 1 to 3

High/Superior Intermediate (unsure about the exact name) 1 and 2.

I will be adding the new levels as tags for the next posts. Promisse.


3. For this first week, I have a very particular request for you all: what is your favourite ICE BREAKER activity? I know your responses won’t be useful for the Saturday staff, but we got loads of groups during the week, be nice!  I’ll be checking once a day for suggestions. Leave them on the comments or send me your stuff!


That’s it for now, a good start for everyone!

Amanda Pavani

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Artigo sobre RPG em sala de aula

O Renato Frossard encaminhou pra gente um artigo muito interessante sobre o uso de RPG na aula de inglês. Read and enjoy!

Arquivo aqui.

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Present Perfect U2 Activity

Level: Intermediate I

Class: Unit 1

Aim: to make students aware of the meaning and structure of the Present Perfect.

How: Instructions available inside the .rar file.

Comments: it has the video and the song, so you might want to check your technology equipment.

Source: Melissa de Sá

Files: RAR File, Video.

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Passive Voice board game

Level: Intermediate III

Class: Unit 3, Lesson A

Aim: To make students use the structure and to improve vocabulary.

How: Teacher divides the class in two groups. He/She must take a dice to class. Students are told that they once they fall on a square of the board, they must figure out what it is talking about and use it correctly in a sentence. If it is correct, they stay; otherwise they go back.

Comment: You might want to use only half the board, for time matters. It was pretty successful.

Source: Found online (ESL Communicative WebSite), used by Amanda Pavani in class.

File: Board

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