English Banana.com ESL Blog

The latest free material and news from English Banana.com


12 Years On – EnglishBanana.com Is Still Making A Difference To English Classes Around The World!

A message from EnglishBanana.com webmaster Matt Purland:

“It’s just over twelve years since I founded the English language resource website EnglishBanana.com, and since that first day online we have given away literally millions of free printable worksheets, and an estimated 2 million + free full-length course books. Twelve years is almost a lifetime in terms of internet years, but we are happy to still be here providing high-quality free resources for hard-working teachers and students everywhere. As the ‘net has changed, so we have changed to reflect the different ways our users want to interact with the site, for example, launching our mobile site last year: m.englishbanana.com, which is ideal for people using tablets or smartphones to access the free material. In all of those 12 years it would have been easy to become irrelevant, which is why we are so glad to read the kind of email that we received last week, from a teacher in Spain. A. writes:

Hello Matt,
First of all, I would like to introduce myself a bit for you to understand why I’m so grateful to your generosity.

My name is A. and I’ve been studying a career and some master degrees in order to become a teacher. Currently, due to the effects of a chronic illness I discovered I have, I’m not able to work, but I’m trying to occupy my time studying on my own from home.

As my goal is to teach Spanish as a foreign language, I also need to deeper my knowledge in English. And materials and exercises in English are good for me to improve, and also, to give me good ideas and knowledge on how to prepare my own materials in Spanish orientated to the foreign.

Some years ago, I used some of your exercises to help a 12 years old English student, with great results and a successful final mark on the exams. On that time I kept your web address noted, but didn’t give a proper attention to it. Nowadays, on my current situation, I’ve been surfing a lot in search of ideas, inspiration and a bit of help on materials. And I haven’t found something as good and generous as your altruist work.

That’s why, now that I’ve recovered your web again and used your material once again, I wanted to write to just say: Thank you! The world would be a better place if everyone took your initiative as a way of living. Including me.

My warmest greetings from Spain,

A.

“Thank you, A., for letting us know how much the site means to you. It is invaluable for us to receive this kind of feedback, because it encourages us to keep going, when so many older (ancient?!) free resource websites are closing down around us. Thank you again!”


Free Live English Class on EnglishSpeaking.Tips: Tuesday 13th January 2015 at 8pm CET!

You are welcome to join us for the start of a new online speaking course on EnglishSpeaking.Tips. It starts tomorrow at 8pm CET. Hope to see you there! For more information, please click below:

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/11662553/events/3719591/player?width=640&height=360&autoPlay=true&mute=false


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FREE ESL Lesson Plan: Make a Group Text

This is a free lesson plan from You Are The Course Book – Lesson Plans by Matt Purland. You can download the complete book for free here. (.pdf – 6 MB) This book is in the public domain, which means that anybody can use it for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Method:

1. Stage 2.1 First Draft – Initial Ideas:
Explain that the whole group is going to write a shared text with 8 sentences on the board, which includes an agreed number of vocabulary words and phrases. T states or elicits a text type, e.g. an informal email. A SS from one team comes up and writes their sentence at the top of the board. A student from another group comes up and writes the next, and this continues until there are 8 sentences and SS from each group have participated. As they write, all of the other SS have to copy the text into their notebooks. Other SS can call out with suggestions and corrections. T must stay out of it. T does not try to correct their work. If SS ask for help, T says, “Sorry, I can’t help you at the moment.” By the end of this stage, SS have created the first draft of the text. One SS reads it aloud.

Variation: each sentence has to begin (or end) with one of the 8 chosen words.

2. Stage 2.2 Second Draft – Corrections:
T asks: “Can you see any errors?” T elicits a few from the text. SS work in their teams and analyse the text for errors: grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. After a few minutes, T elicits the errors from the whole group, helping if SS really can’t see some of the errors, and corrects the text on the board (or a SS could do this), until the text is completely correct. SS should also correct the text in their notebooks, so that every SS has the same corrected second draft text written down.

3. Stage 2.3 Third Draft – Improvements:

T congratulates the group: “Good! The text is correct; it’s good, but can it be improved? How can we make it better?” T elicits the different ways in which it can be improved:

  • title / headline / subject line (if required)
  • higher-level vocabulary and more adjectives
  • compound or complex sentences instead of simple
  • character development, e.g. names, motivations, back-stories
  • more dramatic action
  • consequences of actions are explored
  • detail where the text is generalised

SS work in their groups to produce an improved text, which means that there are now several distinct texts in the room. T can check each group and offer advice. After about 10-15 minutes, T asks a SS from each group to read their text aloud. After each reading T asks the other groups: “What was different? How has it been improved?” T helps SS to process what they have done: how they have gone from a few vocabulary words, through a rough version of the text, then a corrected version, to an improved version – working together as a whole group to begin with, then in smaller groups.

Tips:

  • T must let SS do all the work. Guide, don’t lead. Let them make mistakes on the board in Stage 2.1. Encourage SS to peer correct. All mistakes will be corrected in Stage 2.2.
  • Before you begin, make sure you have a few board pens that work!
  • The text that the SS write on the board should be legible and of a reasonable size. If it is too small, other SS will not be able to read it; if it is too big, there may not be enough room for all 8 sentences.
  • SS could write up their own final draft of the third draft text for homework.


FREE ESL Lesson Plan: Mode 1 Vocabulary Session

This is a free lesson plan from You Are The Course Book – Lesson Plans by Matt Purland.  You can download the complete book for free here. (.pdf – 6 MB) This book is in the public domain, which means that anybody can use it for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Mode 1 Vocabulary Session

Method:

1. T asks each group to write down 8 interesting and random words or phrases. They must be content words, not function words. They could be completely random, or begin with the same letter (elicited from a SS), or from a particular topic, e.g. Music. SS work together – one list per group. SS can use dictionaries. One SS from each group reads out their words and T selects the most interesting and random words to write on the board – 8 in total. T does not allow boring words, e.g. table, chair, book… SS write down the whole list.

2. T checks that everybody knows all the words and leads a pronunciation drill with the words. SS have to listen and repeat each word after T.

3. T asks SS to work as a team and write down the type of each word, e.g. noun, verb, adjective, etc. When each group is ready T asks for a SS to come to the board and write the word types on the board next to the vocabulary words. T elicits whether they are correct or not. If not, T elicits the correct answer and the SS writes it.

4. Repeat 3, except with number of syllables in each word.

5. Repeat 3, except with the stressed syllable in each word, which is underlined.

6. Repeat 3, except with the stressed vowel sound in each word. SS writes it with Clear Alphabet, if possible. If not, T elicits it from SS who use the Clear Alphabet chart (p.107). SS could also write each word in Clear Alphabet.

7. Repeat 3, except with whether the stressed vowel sound is short, long, or diphthong. T models the stressed vowel sounds and SS repeat.

8. Repeat 3, except with schwa sounds circled. By the end of the session, your board might resemble something like this (with words from the topic of Music:)

Vocabulary Lesson Plan - Image 1

…and so on.

Tip:

  • Try not to spend too long doing the vocabulary session. Remember to put together a lesson that provides a balanced ‘meal’ – where different skills are practised and different student needs are met. For example, while one SS might be happy to work with vocabulary for the whole lesson, another SS might prefer free practice activities, and so on.