16 May 2014

Design Your Own Music Magazine


In groups of three you are going to work on the project. Remember you must include vocabulary related to music. To create our magazine you will use the tool Glossi. Log in through Facebook with the email account and password I gave you.

Picture by Stux.

Your magazine is going to be divided into five different sections:

5. REVIEW (include the ones you have already written).

Your cover page should have a title (try to be original), a picture and subtitles related to the articles you are going to include in your magazine.

Write ten different questions and ask them to your classmates, friends or family. This is an example:

How often do you listen to these kinds of music?
· Classical music
· Pop
· Pop-rock
· Funky
· Rap
· Heavy metal

How often do you go to concerts?

Why do you listen to music?
· Because it is relaxing.
· Because it helps me to concentrate when I'm doing homework/ working.
· Because it makes you feel happy.

Write the results and record the conversations using Soundcloud. Ask some follow-up questions. For example, if the question is Have you ever been to a concert? You should ask other questions to get more information, like What group played? When was it? Did you enjoy it?


A cool music magazine always includes a Top 5 section which is, basically, the five favourite tracks people have chosen, in this way your Music Magazine should also have one.

In your Top 5, you will have to select 5 songs you like and explain to the rest of the class:
1. Who is the band playing them?
2. What is the song about?
3. Why have you chosen this song?

You can play the songs in class (up to a minute) so that we can discuss what the song is about.


For the interview, you will have to choose an artist from the ones that you will talk about in your magazine. Write the questions and record the interview using  Soundcloud.

Sample questions:
·         - Who do you usually dedicate your songs to?

·         - Why have you decided to call your album “…”?


      You have already done this part, so you just need to copy it into your  magazine.

7 Apr 2014

An Extreme Map Project

We are going to create an extreme map of a country you choose. First of all, complete the following information:

Highest mountain

Longest river

Largest lake

Biggest city

Most important city

Most interesting extreme sports

Best festival


USE Glogster, Prezi or Power Point to create your poster. This tool allows you to include videos, audio, pictures and text. Log in with the user and password I gave you. Although I explained in class how to use it, here you are a tutorial for Glogster as well.

 -      -  FIND photos / pictures on http://search.creativecommons.org/·

Photo 1
·                       Find a map of your country
·      Introduce your country: name, capital, number of inhabitants, number of regions, main cities.
Photo 2
·      Find two pictures of that country first inhabitants
·         Write a short description. Who were them? Where did they live? What did they do?
Photo 3
·      Find at least three pictures of its landscape
-          Highest mountain. What’s its name? Where is it? How high is it?
-          Longest river. What’s its name? How long is it?
-          Largest lake. What’s its name? Where is it? How big is it?
                What other features can you mention? Any volcanoes? Rainforests? Beaches?
Photo 4
·    Find two photos representing some of the extreme sports you can do in the capital city.
-          What extreme sports can you do there? What do they consist of?


Your poster must include vocabulary related to the topic and different grammar points:
-          Present simple
-          Can
-          Comparatives and superlatives
-          Past simple
-          Must
-          Have to or don’t have to
-          Should or shouldn’t


Once you have finished, you will do an oral presentation in class. These are the criteria that we will use to evaluate your work. I will do it, you will evaluate yourself and you will evaluate your partner’s work as well.

3 Feb 2014

Creating our own restaurant

Internation Restaurant

I have got a small pre-teens group this year and I'm finding very difficult to engage them in class. They want to play games all the time and don't like writing, so when I saw them working and enjoying this project, I couldn't believe my eyes!

Step 1 – Restaurant selection
What KIND OF RESTAURANT is it going to be? A Chinese restaurant? A Mexican restaurant? An English restaurant?
     Now you need a NAME and a LOGO for it so that people remember it.

Step 2 – Create your own menu.
Your menu must include:

  • o   Starters
  • o   Main courses
  • o   Side dishes
  • o   Drinks
  • o   Desserts
-     Brainstorm different dishes that you are going to include in your menu.
-    Include a short description of what each meal is (e.g. FISH AND CHIPS – an English meal made from fried potatoes and fish).
-        Include the price in pounds or dollars.

Step 3 – Create a radio ad.
Now that you have created your own menu, it’s time to advertise your restaurant to encourage customers to come in and enjoy a delicious meal there.

Step 4 – Dining Out. 
Create a short dialogue and act out a conversation in the restaurant. Two of you will be the customers and one will be the waiter or waitress.

26 Jan 2014

EFL Chefs - A new TV cookery show

Picture taken by Inma Alcázar
After such a long time without posting anything in the blog... I'm back! Did you miss me? I hope so. After very busy months full of exciting things to do, this blog post had been left behind in a folder somewhere. 

This was a lesson I and my students enjoyed a lot since it was about food, restaurants and cooking. Thinking on new ways for my students to learn new vocabulary, and not just that, but also remember it and put it into practice, I came up with this simple idea - EFL Chefs - A New Cookery Show.

I asked them to think of a dish or dessert that they enjoy cooking, the ingredients they would need to cook that dish or dessert and imagine they are teaching others to cook that recipe in a new TV programme. This was the result. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

9 Sept 2013

New School Year - Getting to Know You Activities for the First Day

September has arrived again! The summer is almost over in this part of the world and many teachers start their classes with new students. It is time to build new relationships, a relationship of confidence between our students and us, but between students and their peers as well.
No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. James Comer.
After many years of teaching English to students of different ages and levels, I must admit that I still get butterflies in my stomach on the first day of class. However, thanks to all those generous teachers who are online and share their successful activities on their blogs or on Twitter, I have learnt a lot on how to create an atmosphere of trust, respect and learning from day one. Now I would like to share some of those activities with you:

I hope you find these ideas useful for your first day. If you would like to share your own ones with other teachers, don't forget to leave a comment!

3 Sept 2013

Useful websites for students - A2+ level

In August, I was very lucky to teach an intensive English course for adults at the Centre d'Idiomes de la Universitat de València. Apart from the traditional resources usually used in class, I encouraged my students to take advantage of the Internet and practise English outside of the classroom using free online resources. I think that an important part of the learning process is to give students the tools that they need to continue learning independently.

This is the list that I shared with them:

"If you could add any useful online resource to the list, what would it be? Why?"

19 Jun 2013

Useful Websites for PET Exam Preparation

These are all the websites I have found to help my students preparing for the Preliminary English test. Some of them do not include PET tasks, but I have decided to include them because I think they can be useful to improve the different language skills.

All the links worked the last time I checked them, but please let me know if any of them are broken. Equally, if you know other interesting sites which could be added to the list, please leave a comment or write me an email.

You can access the document or  download it:

14 Jun 2013

Adapting a coursebook.

In most subjects and in any grade level, teachers and, therefore, students are expected to use a textbook as a resource in their classes. However, we have to bear in mind that although those textbooks are produced by experts, experienced teachers and teacher trainers, they are created to be used by teachers who work in different teaching contexts, in different countries and with students who are in the same class, but whose level is not exactly the same. Therefore we need some things that the book doesn't provide:

CREATIVITY to adapt the textbook in order to address our students' learning needs.
SELECTION CRITERION to choose just those activities which can be useful, meaningful and suit your students' needs.
SUPPLEMENT the textbook with other kinds of activities which could work for our students and can help them develop their speaking skills and fluency.
ADAPT the activities so that they are interesting, motivating and meaningful for our students.

This is an example of an activity I adapted from the coursebook for one of my one-to-one classes with my 9 years old student.  I was supposed to create a short theatre play with a group of students, but it was just her and me in the classroom. So, I decided that she could create a very short piece on her own including some of the new vocabulary and other expressions she had learn during the school year. She wrote the script and then we recorded it. This is the result. I hope you like it!

The search (Part 1) by inmaav on GoAnimate

 The Search (Second Part) by urpillay on GoAnimate

If you are interested in discovering other possibilities to adapt your textbook I recommend you to watch Shelly Terrell's presentation on the topic:

17 May 2013

The Sunshine Award

This morning I could hardly wake up, I felt exhausted, it was cloudy in the city of light and just when I switched on my computer to follow the latest news, I read that our "dear" Spanish Education Minister has finally decided to impose an education reform, LOMCE, which has been widely rejected. So, the Sunshine Award came at the perfect time from a talented teacher and blogger I look up to very much for all the effort, energy and heart she puts in everything she does! She and her students write on their blog Stop and Learn English where they create and share their everyday learning and practices.

Thank you very much, Mª Jesus, for bringing me some extra sunshine today and thinking of my blog for this award! You definitely made my day! Who doesn't like a little recognition now and then?

The Sunshine Award is an award given to bloggers by other bloggers. It is given to ...
Bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.
Now do you understand how honoured I feel?

Well, as with other similar awards, there are certain rules to keep to:

Rule 1.  Post the Sunshine Award logo on your blog.
Rule 2.  Nominate 5 to 10 other wonderful  bloggers.
Rule 3.  Announce their nomination in their blog’s comment section.
Rule 4 .Mention links back to their blog, including a link to the person who nominated you.
Rule 5. Answer seven questions about yourself.  This is designed to help people get to know you better.
And my nominees are .... (Drums roll sound):
Think and Dream in English by Pilar Pamblanco for the great amount of ESL resources and interesting news on education and technology she shares on her blog. Thanks for all your support and help on Twitter as well!

EFL SMARTBlog by David Mainwood also deserves this awards because he always shares useful lesson plans which include interesting resources from the net.

My First Blog by María Luisa Sánchez for her great work on encouraging little children and parents to learn English together in a fun way using ICT and other resources to develop creativity.

Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals by Claudio Azevedo for his contribution to make language learning through films more meaningful and sharing activities which work in class for him.

Collablogatorium by Carla Arena, always ready to share tips, her thoughts and reflections on EFL learning, teaching practice and technology integration.

Lengüetazos literarios by Silvia Gongo, Una tiza y tú by Carmen González, Educadores Hoy by Isabel Ruiz and Canada Blanch by Mercedes Ruiz (in Spanish), teachers from different subjects, from different educative levels, from different regions, joined for their passion to share, collaborate and change education and the way students learn. Thank you very much for teaching me so much! That would had been impossible without Twitter!

Educación y Virtualidad by Cristóbal Suárez (in Spanish) for your thought-provoking posts on education, collaboration, open learning and ICT. Thank you very much for encouraging me to start blogging when I thought I didn't have anything interesting to share. I have learnt so much from you!

Some things about me...

1. Favourite colour. 
I love purple! For me it's the colour of dreams, it makes me feel calm and usually is one of the best colours on me. 

2. Favourite animal. 
I can't choose one. Can you? So... cats, dogs, horses and dolphins and mythically speaking, dragons.

3. Favourite number. 
Maybe 8?

4. Favourite non-alcoholic drink. 
That's easy! A lovely cup of coffee to wake me up in the morning or enjoy with friends somewhere.

5. Favourite alcoholic drink. 
I'm not a great fan of alcoholic drinks, but it depends on the moment. I always enjoy a glass of wine with some delicious "pintxos" and friends. However, if I go to a party (something I don't do lately... I'm getting old!), I prefer a mojito, a daiquiri cocktail or a chilled champagne sorbet.

6. Facebook or Twitter. 
Well, definitely, Twitter has had a great impact on my teaching life, on my way of understanding education, of collaborating with others, sharing, learning and be informed. Twitter is the gateway to reflection, discussion, resources, free online chats and webinars. What else? Well, this is just my personal experience. I think the Twitter experience is different for everyone, so look for your own one!

7. My passions. 
My family and good friends, travelling, dancing salsa, walking along the beach, sunny days, reading and watching films, new experiences and adventures, writing on my blog when possible, cooking, photography, and of course teaching!

8. Giving or receiving gifts? 
Honestly, both of them make me happy and smile. However, something I find a little bit stressful is trying to find a present for someone just because it's a special day (birthday, Christmas day...). Any day is good to give and receive presents, isn't it?

9. Favourite city or country?
This is one of the most difficult questions for me to answer. I can't choose just one! As a mentioned before, I love travelling and I always discover something marvellous, surprising in any city or country I visit.

I love London, its modern and historical arquitecture, its museums, its lively atmosphere and cosmopolitan lifestyle; Peru, a country full of surprises. Coast, mountains, desert and jungle, all in one place. I love its food and people as well! Greece, what can I say about Greece? It's an amazing country full of culture, sandy beaches, great food and people.

I wish I could travel to all the places I dream of, and take my family and friends with me!

10. Favourite book?
Impossible to choose one, once more! I love reading, it's one of my favourite pastimes. So, some of my favourite books are The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Elogio de la madrastra by Mario Vargas Llosa, El túnel by Ernesto Sábato or Cuentos by Julio Ramón Ribeyro. I also love reading and attending poetry readings, and going to the theatre.

Congratulations to all my nominees! Now it's your turn to spread the positive flow and send the sunshine to other fantastic and inspiring bloggers!  

2 Oct 2012

Learning to Teach at the British Council

Photo: British Council España
Last Saturday I had the privilege to attend the 5th Annual Teacher's Conference organised by the British Council, here in Valencia. There were  many young and enthusiastic teachers, but also very experienced ones to learn from.

Being interested in knowing new ways to motivate students, it was a pleasure to listen to Deborah Bullock talking about Projects to Motivate Teenagers. Her session was really dynamic. She encouraged teachers to participate and share our views and experiences on working through projects in the English class. We brainstormed some advantages and disadvantages of working on projects, thought of topics which teenagers could be interested in and draft a project idea in small groups.

These are two of the projects which were successful for Deborah:
Some interested resources Deborah shared with us:

The second session I attended was Michael O'Brien's talk on Grammar 'Goodies' or better said 'Rules'. His talk was brilliant and quite thought-provoking. He pointed out that teaching students grammar rules or recommend them to use a grammar reference to learn English is sometimes pointless. These kinds of books include unnatural sentences, dialogues and longer responses. That's not the way native speakers talk! 

It is clear that there are differences between written and spoken grammar. Surely spoken grammar cannot be taught through written grammar rules and within rules, there are always exceptions. So, what kind of grammar should we teach to our students? Shouldn't we teach them some rules to guide them through their learning process? In my humble opinion, if students' main objective is to pass an examination, then by all means, - they will definitely need to study grammar!  Although I'm not a big fan of constantly repeated  grammar points course after course, I think grammar is necessary, is a means to master the language, not an end in itself.

An interesting point Michael O'Brien brought up was that grammar is much more than context and much more than objective time. There is also a time called psychological time which refers to the way speakers perceive actions and experiences, not what 'objectively happened'. In my opinion this is really relevant, because it is something which is not always taken into account by ELT course writers. I mean, there is only one possible correct answer in most gap fill practise activities or multiple choice quizzes, when actually it is possible to use different aspects of a tense. In order to demonstrate his view, he asked us to complete a text taken from a coursebook. Here it is the result:

He finished his speech stating that the perfect rule is that there aren't rules, it's a matter of choice. Then taking this reflection into account, I wonder if we really need to teach these kinds of things. Wouldn't it be more confusing for students? Would it help them to pass their exams?

For the last session I chose Patrick Howard's presentation whose title was Using Visuals. This session was full of practical ideas for using visuals to develop speaking skills and review vocabulary.

Drawing - Vocabulary

The first activity we did in small group was a brainstorm related to Olympic events and verbs related to sports. After that, Patrick gave us a set of cards with some words related to sports written on them. In turns we played pictionary with those cards and then a memory game with the cards and pictures we had previously drawn.

Video without sound - Describing (Present simple and continuous)
For the second activity he used the following video:

We worked in groups of three. He handed in a piece of paper with some words written on it to two members of the group who sat down in front of the screen. Then he played the video without sound and one member of each group had to describe what they could see. The people with the worksheets had to crossed those words they heard.

Photo - Speculating (Modal verbs of probability and certainty)

This time Patrick showed us a picture covered with post-it notes and we had to guess what the picture was, using modal verbs like must, could, may, might and can't. In turns, we rolled a dice and depending on the number (1 and 2 = must; 3 and 4 = could, may, might; 5 and 6 = can't) we had to use that modal verb in a sentence. I have just discovered this site which has great photos for speculating. 

Describing pictures

We received half of a postcard each. The objective was to find the partner who had the piece from the same postcard. So we walk around the class describing our picture to the other teachers.

Picture cards game - Storytelling

The last game we played was a card game with a beautiful set of picture cards. It is very good to tell stories, experiences, talk about feelings and so on since it includes different kinds of cards with people, places and situations on it.

How to play (groups of 3-5 students):

- Deal four cards for each student.
- In turns, each student describes his card. The other ones listen to him and try to find a card that matches his story. They have to explain their choice.

I love attending to these kinds of teaching events since as teachers there is always something new to add, learn, improve, change or share with other colleagues.

25 Apr 2012

Digital Games: Learning English by Playing

“Games are a more natural way to learn than traditional classrooms. Not only have humans been learning by playing games since the beginning of our species, but intelligent animals as well” (Clark Aldrich, Learning Online with Games, Simulations and Virtual Worlds, 2009).

Playing is an important part of human development and life. We learn by doing, socializing exchanging ideas and collaborating with our peers. However, we grow up and all of a sudden – voilà – school appears and playing takes a back seat. What has happened? Teaching, understood as instruction, does not consider it relevant for learning.

However, in spite of this negative picture, there is still hope as ICT is changing the way we perceive games and particularly videogames. They are becoming to be considered powerful and valuable tools for learning. 

Videogames play an important role in children and teens’ life. What we call 'technology', they call it 'life'. Therefore, why not gamify our language class? Do you need more reasons for it?

Digital games are...

Good for learning, developing strategies and skills to solve problems in context and critical thinking.

Autonomous learners.

Motivating for students.

Emotional engagement.

Situated learning, social learning, students become the centre of attention.

As part of European Schoolnet's project 'Digital Games in Schools. A Teacher's Handbook' was published in 2009. The handbook is intended for those teachers interested in introducing digital games in their teaching practice. Therefore, it provides useful information about the benefits of digital games for learning as well as tips on how to use them as educational and motivational resources.

The handbook will be very helpful as an overview of this issue. Nevertheless, if you wish to explore the possibilities of videogames for second/foreign language learning, I recommend you to visit Graham Stanley and Kyle Mawer'blog Digital Play. The blog is really easy to navigate and offers a wide range of activities and lesson plans based on digital games to accomplish different language learning objectives while having fun. 

In the following video, Graham Stanley talks about the ways gamification can be used in the English classroom and shares some ideas for adapting games for language teaching. If you want to have access to the full version, click here.

An interesting educational digital game which will be launched next summer is Wikiduca.  This is the project of two creative Spanish young minds, David Anthony and Anton Popovine, who decided to work on this educational browser-game to help children learn English vocabulary through videogames.

Starting from the idea that children love video games, fantasy worlds and solving mysteries, David and Anton propose exciting quests and minigames for them. As children increase their vocabulary words, they gain more powers and new missions within the game. The key point is "learning by playing".

Wikieduca is basically based on a business freemium model, that is, most of the content will be free except a small part of extras. You can read this news in Spanish.

For further reading:

Other websites where you can find useful digital games for your classes:

Video Games and Education
Via: Online Colleges Guide

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