We can clearly encourage our
students to become enthusiastic about learning by being
enthusiastic about it ourselves, and this is true in that
all-important area of vocabulary. There's so much of it
that it can easily become overwhelming so one way of encouraging
your students is through 'favourite words'. Here are a few
Begin by telling them
about some of your favourite words in a foreign language.
Then get them to think of a couple. They could then mingle
& tell all their words & why they like them.
Ask your students to
think back over the past couple of weeks & choose 5
words they 'liked' for some reason - the sound, the appearance
In their vocabulary
notebooks get them to keep a page for these words that particularly
appeal to them because of their meaning, form or sound.
As a warmer, ask them
to choose one of their favourite words & just with that
word they have a 'conversation' with a partner, who also
uses using her favourite word - one word conversations.
They will have to use intonation & paralinguistics to
get their message across.
They could go round
& sell their words to each other.
Put a big piece of
card on the wall & add favourite class words as they
come up - the students agree on five words for the week.
At the end of the month use the card to review the vocabulary
of the month.
For the younger learner
they could choose their favourite word & put it on a
sticker which they wear during class. When they use the
word naturally they get a point. At the end of the week
add up the points to see who had most & award a chocolate
One way of developing more
of a curiosity for the language & added interest in
increasing their store of language.
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We've looked at a way of recycling
vocabulary with adults in the Tip 'Vocabulary
Helen has said several times
recently that her younger learners are really enjoying the
monster way of recycling vocab. I thought I would investigate & pass it on here. It is an idea from Sarah Phillips'
book 'Young Learners' (OUP). Here's what you do:
On a big piece of card, draw
a big monster, or robot - with a big mouth & a big stomach
- & get the children to give him a name & colour
him in. Stick on the wall where all can see him during the
day/class. Explain that the monster eats English words.
When new vocab comes up, get
the group to write it on cards or you do it if they are
too young, & stick it around the monster. Leave the
words up a couple of days, telling them to try & remember
the words. Then pick words at random & elicit the meaning
or a sentence with it in & if you feel the majority
have got it you stick the word over the monster's mouth.
Then after a further check a couple of days later, stick
the word on the monster's stomach - he has eaten & digested
the word. You'll need a big space for the mouth & stomach.
Of course, words that haven't been learned are regurgitated
by the monster - yuck!
The youngsters love it & it does the trick - they learn the vocab! And for the very
young learners this also helps them to start reading, using
There is a link to Sarah's
excellent book on the Book page.
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Buy Nothing Day
It's that time of year again
- time for Buy Nothing Day on 29th November, the day after
Thanksgiving & the busiest shopping day in the US. Last
year we supplied a lesson plan with material from the Buy
Nothing Day website. You can see
the plan ..
the BND site..
There's also a
Buy Nothing Christmas site
Here are a couple more ideas to go with the plan. You will
need to download some pages from the BND & the Curbit
sites. (Text & images used with permission from the
Start off with giving out
spoof adverts which will provoke a discussion:
Then explain that they are
going to create an advert & first they are to read through
the stages of writing the ad. Unfortunately, the information
has been jumbled up so they will need to match the headings
with the descriptions of the stages.
Create your own print ad
1. Decide on
your communication objective
2. Decide on your target audience
3. Decide on your format
4. Develop your concept
5. The visual
6. The headline
7. The copy
8. Mistakes to avoid
|Match the stages above with the descriptions
single most common mistake is visual clutter. Less is
always better than more. So if you're not certain whether
something is worth including, then leave it out. If
your ad is chaotic, people will simply turn the page,
and your message will never be read. The second most
common mistake is to have an ad that's unclear or not
easily understood (haven't you ever looked at an ad
and wondered what it was for?). The best way to safeguard
against this is to do some rough sketches of your visual
with the headline and show it around. If people aren't
clear about your message, then it's probably because
your message is unclear. And however tempting, don't
argue with them or assume that they're wrong and that
your ad is fine. You'll be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Proofread your ad, then give it to others to proofread,
then proofread it yet again. Typographical errors diminish
your credibility and have an uncanny habit of creeping
into ads when you least expect it.
b. The concept is
the underlying creative idea that drives your message.
Even in a big ad campaign, the concept will typically
remain the same from one ad to another, and from one
medium to another. Only the execution of that concept
will change. So by developing a concept that is effective
and powerful, you open the door to a number of very
compelling ads. So take you time developing a concept
Typically, an ad is made up of a photograph or a drawing
(the "visual"), a headline, and writing
(the "copy"). Whether you think of your
visual or your headline first makes little difference.
However, here are a few guidelines worth following.
|c. Is it going to be
a poster, a half-page magazine ad, or a tiny box in
the corner of a newspaper? Make this decision based
on the target audience you're trying to reach, and the
amount of money you can afford to spend. If you're talking
to kids, a poster in one high school will not only cost
less, it will actually reach more of your target audience
than a full-page ad in the biggest paper in town. When
it comes to deciding on the size of your ad, the more
expensive it will be to produce and run. Don't let that
discourage you. You can do a lot with a small ad so
long as it's strong, clear, and properly targeted.
|d. The most
important thing to remember here is that your headline
must be short, snappy and must touch the people that
read it. Your headline must affect the reader emotionally,
either by making them laugh, making them angry, making
them curious or making them think. If you can't think
of a headline that does one of these four things, then
keep thinking. Here's a little tip that might help:
try to find an insight or inner truth to the message
that you're trying to convey, something that readers
will easily relate to and be touched by. Taking the
rutabagas example once again, it might be tempting to
write a headline like: "Stop Exploiting These Migrant
Workers." However, with a little thought, a more
underlying truth might be revealed - that Migrant Workers
are as human as we are, and that our actions do hurt
them. From that inner truth, you might arrive at the
headline: "Do unto others as you would have them
do unto you." Of course, the headline doesn't have
to be biblical, though that in itself will add meaning
and power for many people. Finally, whenever possible,
avoid a headline longer than fifteen words. People just
don't read as much as they used to.
|e. Though you don't absolutely
require a visual, it will help draw attention to your
ad. Research indicates that 70% of people will only
look at the visual in an ad, whereas only 30% will read
the headline. So if you use a visual, then you're already
talking to twice as many people as you otherwise might.
Another suggestion is to use photographs instead of
illustrations whenever possible. People tend to relate
to realistic photographs more easily than unrealistic
ones. But whether you choose a photograph or an illustration,
the most important criteria is that image be the most
interesting one possible and at least half your ad whenever
|f. The communications
objective is the essence of your message. If you want
to tell people not to eat rutabagas because it's cruel,
then that's your communications objective. A word of
caution: though perhaps the most important of your 8
steps, this is also the one that beginners tend most
to neglect. A precise and well-defined objective is
crucial to a good ad. If your objective isn't right
on, then everything that follows will be off as well.
where you make the case. If you have compelling arguments,
make them. If you have persuasive facts, state them.
But don't overwhelm with information. Two strong arguments
will make more of an impression than a dozen weaker
ones. Finally, be clear, be precise, and be honest.
Any hint of deception will instantly detract from your
entire message. Position your copy beneath the headline,
laid out in two blocks two or three inches in length.
Only about 5% of people will read your copy, whereas
30% will read your headline. By positioning your copy
near your heading, you create a visual continuity which
will draw more people to the information you want to
convey. Use a serif typeface for your copy whenever
possible. Those little lines and swiggles on the letters
make the reading easier and more pleasing to the eye.
If you have lots of copy, break it up
with interesting subheads, as we've done in the graphic
above. This will make your ad more inviting, more organized,
and easier to read.
This is where the name of the
organization belongs, along with the address and phone
number. If you don't have an organization, then think
of a name that will help reinforce the message you're
trying to convey. Perhaps "Citizens for Fairness
to Migrant Rutabagas Pickers" would work for the
example we've been using. This isn't dishonest. Your
organization doesn't have to be incorporated or registered
for it to be real.
|h. Who is
your message intended for? If you're speaking to kids,
then your language and arguments will have to understandable
to kids. On the other hand, if you're speaking to high
income earners (for example, if you're writing an ad
to dissuade people from wearing fur coats), then your
language will have to be more sophisticated. So define
who your target audience is, because that will decide
how your message is conveyed.
Answers to the matching
You could pre-teach tricky
vocab & after pick up on some interesting language.
The students then work through the stages of designing their
own print ad & put them on the wall for all to see,
& possibly vote for the most imaginative.
related Curbit site
For Buy Nothing Day on November 29, we asked you what characters
should appear on posters and billboards worldwide boldly
proclaiming, I want you to curb your consumption!
Oddly, North Americans made more suggestions for other countries
than for their own. Some folks felt knowledgeable enough
to make suggestions for a half-dozen different countries
at once. However, we did get lots of homegrown ideas originating from different countries, too.'
Download & copy out the stickers & get your students
deciding on who should be on them.
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the Past Teaching Tips