Upcoming OUP Webinar: Dyslexia – A Problem or a Gift?

Dyslexia is something I first learned about from watching the Cosby Show when I was a child. But as an adult I cannot remember it being discussed much among coworkers, nor can I honestly recall giving it too much thought myself. Reading Marie Delaney’s post at OUP’s English language teaching blog made me wish I had. More than anything else I read, I gulped at the detrimental effect on student confidence that dyslexia has, and what a miserable experience the classroom can be for students with the condition.

Fortunately Marie Delaney’s upcoming OUP webinar, Dyslexia – A Problem or a Gift?, should prove very helpful by explaining how to understand the main issues concerning dyslexia; the strengths of dyslexic learners; and practical classroom strategies for us teachers. It will take place on the 9th and 18th of October – visit the registration page to check your local time and to sign up.

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Let’s Go Online Homework Review (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I wrote about the online practice rolled out by OUP for its Let’s Go, English Time, and Everybody Up series. This week it’s time to talk about how to set it up for your students.

LG Online homework 1
1. The Teacher’s Book

First you’ll need to have the latest teacher’s book for each book that you want to assign online practice for. That’s because to gain access you need the code at the back of the book hidden under a gray bar which you scratch off.

CAUTION! Don’t use a coin or a key to scratch it off. I did this once and I scratched the number right off. If this happens to you, don’t panic just yet. Fortunately, after submitting photographic evidence, the very nice people at OUP tech support provided me with a replacement code (phew!). Just remember that it’s much safer to use your fingernail.

Let's Go 4 Teacher's Guide 01

Gently now…this is what happened when I used a key to scratch it off.

2. Set Up (for Teachers)

Next you’ll need to sign up and choose from one of the available languages such as Japanese, Arabic, or Portuguese (for instructions and help files). You’ll then be asked to input the code from the teacher’s book and then which book you want to use.

CAUTION! If you want access to Let’s Go 4 online practice but then accidentally (or out of curiosity) click Let’s Go 2, you’ll be out of luck because there is no going back and changing. Choose carefully.

Now that you’ve loaded the book you want to teach you can set up classes by first clicking “Manage Classes” and then “Add a New Class”. Each class that you set up will get its own class code that your students will need to sign up (more about that later).

LG Online homework 12

While signing up you will also be asked for an institution code, which you can get from OUP and will amalgamate all the classes run by different teachers into one location visible by the director. This is not necessary though if, like me, you are teaching students on your own.

3. Set Up (for Students)

Your students will have to go through a similar procedure to use online practice. First, they’ll need the course book with the access code in the back and an email address (theirs or their parents’) to log in.

When choosing the language the online practice will function with for students, remember to consider where the students will be doing it. If it’s with you, then choosing English is fine, but if it’s at home and if the parents have limited knowledge of English, then it might be more helpful to choose the student’s L1.

Then students will need to input the code from their student book and choose their book (same warning as above applies). They then type in the class code so their scores are tallied and provided to the teacher’s account. From here on they just choose the lesson they have been assigned and away they go.

I personally set up each of my student’s access just to make sure there were no mistakes. You may have a tech department that can take care of this for you.

CAUTION! There are two versions of the course book, one with online practice and one without. Look in the upper right hand corner to make sure your students have the right one.

Let's Go Workbook 4 01

If it doesn’t say online practice in the upper right hand corner then your students can’t get access to online practice

4. Management

Once students have signed up their names will automatically appear in the class registrar, which you can check by clicking “Manage Classes” followed by “View Details”. Inside here you can choose which lessons the students have access to by clicking “Hide Units/Lessons” button. Remember that students only have access to the lessons you choose, so if they say they can’t finish their online practice it’s probably because you didn’t open the lesson to them (something I know from personal experience).

LG Online homework 11

By clicking “View Reports” you can see if your students have finished their assigned online practice, what their score is, and how long it took them. That means “the dog ate my homework” just won’t cut it any more. “Add New Book” is where you go to add additional levels to use in online practice.

LG Online homework 10

1. Manage Classes: This lets you view the different classes you have set up.
2. View Reports: This will provide a summary of each class’ progress, including average scores and completion time.
3. Enter Online Practice: This is where you go to try the online practice out yourself.
4. Add New Book: You will need to visit here each time you begin a new level.

You may have noticed there are a few codes to deal with. Here’s a reminder for keeping them straight: teacher book codes start with the letter T, like T-975-XXX-XXXX; student book codes start with letter S, like S-301-XXX-XXXX;  and class codes start with the letter C, like C-139-XXX-XXXX. Simple, eh?

5. Results

It’s a little soon for me to say whether there has been a noticeable improvement thanks to OUP online practice. So far, though, my students have been stoked about using it and there haven’t been any technical glitches. As for myself, I’ve become a huge fan of it and hope OUP continues to develop and improve it.

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A Little ESL Humor: How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers

Just remember anytime you feel frustrated with your students that learning English must be just as hard for them (if not more) as teaching English is for us. I mean this garbled nonsense is what they hear at the beginning – how frustrating would that be?

A brilliant screenplay (whose accuracy my wife vouches for) by Karl Eccleston and Brian Fairbairn.

Upcoming OUP Webinar: Speaking in the Monolingual Classroom

Imagine this scenario: all your students have the same L1; they all come from the same town; they may even work in the same company. The students are fine…they’re fine…but the class atmosphere is somehow…you know…awkward. There’s not a lot of communication going on, not a lot of fun, and you start to doubt your ability as a teacher. Well, Mike Boyle, who has written such textbooks as American English File and Smart Choicehas some tips to help us out with this seemingly intractable problem in his upcoming webinar (September 26 and 27), Speaking in the Monolingual Classroom. Click here to register before it’s all full up.

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Super Teacher Worksheets Review: What am I? Quiz

스크린샷 2013-07-21 오전 11.01.51

A few months back I was in need of a quiz I could give to my students. It wasn’t to cover class material. I love brain teasers and wanted something that could puzzle them through the week, to get them thinking and, most importantly, talk with each other. I naturally found what I needed at Super Teacher Worksheets with their What am I? quizzes. The concept is simple enough. Each day of the week students are given a clue to a mystery word which they try and guess. As each clue is added students gather more information to guess with and by the end of the week it becomes fairly obvious. You can try out this one for free.

What am I quiz 1

Here are the first couple of clues. What could it be?

With my students I posted a huge piece of paper on the wall to glue the clues onto vertically. Then each week I would start the next quiz right alongside it. Like this:

What am I quiz 2

M, T, W, T, F of course indicate the days of the week for which a clue would be glued on the wall poster. A is the answer, which I would put up the following Monday. Then you start the next quiz beside it the next week. After two or three months you’ll have quite a collection.

I also gave out a limited number of prizes to the first few students who guessed correctly. It was challenging but proved to be a huge hit with my students.

If your class is into social media you could play this game out on Twitter. Each day send out a tweet with a clue and encourage your students to tweet back the answer. You could do it over several days, or send several tweets over the course of the day. For example:

Tweet 1: “I was a tasty snack for people of long ago. I am also a tasty snack for people today.

Tweet 2: “I am a gold color. After you cook me, I turn white.”

What am I quiz 3

Who ever said social media was a waste?

Tweet 3: “Mmm, Mmm, I smell so good while I cook!”

Tweet 4: “I am a little noisy. “Pop, pop, pop,” I say. I get bigger as I cook.

Tweet 5: “After I am cooked, you can put butter and salt on me. But, don’t put on too much! I will not be as good for you if I am too salty or buttery.”

Cool, eh?

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OUP Webinar: How to Give Every Kindergarten Child the Chance to Learn English Successfully

Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina

I just signed up to what I’m sure will be an interesting OUP webinar by Kathleen Kampa and her husband Charles Vilina, coauthors of the best selling series Magic Time. As the talk is titled “How to Give Every Kindergarten Child the Chance to Learn English Successfully,” it should be hot on the list of things to do for teachers of young children. The webinar takes place on the 25th and 28th of September but check the registration page for your local time. Although at last count there were still 500 spots open, you should get a move on and sign up because I fully expect it to fill up by the close of registration (which is the day before the event).

The topics to be covered include:

  • What are Multiple Intelligences?
  • How can I use Multiple Intelligence strategies with my young learners?
  • How can I bring my lessons to life with big pictures, picture cards, songs, chants, and movement?
  • How does a good kindergarten course differentiate learning so that all my students are successful?

Just in case you’re still not convinced, here’s a sample of Kathleen Kampa’s work with children.

Great stuff, isn’t it? I hope to see you there but just in case I don’t I’ll be following up the webinar with a write-up.

Class Ideas: Another Noun Game

Last week, I shared some great noun games from Christina Gutierrez-Brewster (the first of which I used with great results). While searching for another fun activity to brighten up this week’s lesson on the difference between common and proper nouns, I came across “The Slouch Game”. You should check it out:

How about a video supplement to reinforce the concept of a proper noun? This smartly made animation should do just the trick. And just in case you haven’t had your fill of nouns, try listening to the greatest song ever written about them:

What on Earth did teachers do before YouTube?

Super Simple Songs Review: Count and Move

Count and Move is an upbeat song by Super Simple Learning that will get your kids excited for class. Found at the beginning of Super Simple Songs 2, I’ve been using it all week as a killer warm-up, much to the delight of my preschool classes. Do yourself a service and give the video a watch:

Cool, eh? At the beginning of class I write one to twenty on the board and count with the kids twice: once pointing to the numbers on the board (usually as I’m writing) and then counting my fingers and toes. After that it’s up off the ground, cue the music, and get marching, arms-a-swinging. As Devon (the creator of Super Simple Learning) counts off the numbers, we join along, raising our hands and fingers to show the numbers.

Don’t forget to check out the song page to download their free flashcards and read some great ideas about how to teach the song. To end off, I’ll leave you with this small fry singing with real gusto.


Super Simple Learning has just come out with an update to the music video. It’s great, and all… totally useable…but I just can’t help but be partial to the old one. Call me old school, the original has the same voice as the CD and it’s just…well…cuter.

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Class Ideas: Noun Games

If you are teaching nouns to your class this week like I am then a few practice activities might be in order. Check out this great video from e-How for three solid games:

Today I’m going to give the first game a try. I’m planning to use a dice and if the student rolls a 1 or 2 they must name a place, a thing if they roll a 3 or 4, or a person if they roll 5 or 6. Then they can choose any letter of the alphabet to say their noun, but once a letter has been used it cannot be used again.

I’ll have an update after I try it.

A Little ESL Humor…

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Or maybe this is just where poorly prepared foreign English teachers go when they die. (thanks Ed)