A Little ESL Humor: English for Beginners…

I think I can remember days in the classroom like this…

Thanks to Stephen Thergesen for sharing.

A Little ESL Humor: The Problem With English

Maybe it’s time to up the sympathy level for our students who are compelled to study such a wretched subject as English.

Thanks to Newsmart for sharing this.

Yes, in ELT, Less Can Actually be More!

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, co-author of OUP’s best selling Let’s Go series, has penned a must-read post on the OUP ELT Global Blog called Teach Less to Help Young Students Learn More.

“Teachers are often pressured to teach more – more vocabulary, more grammar, more content – to satisfy parents and administrators. Moving through a coursebook quickly becomes the measure of success… [However] the measure of a successful lesson isn’t how much you teach; it’s how much students can do with the language they’ve learned.”

Sound familiar? Read more of Barbara’s wonderful piece here.

Review of Genki English’s Eat! Drink! Dance!

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about the TPR song par excellence, the Genki English Disco Warm-up, written and sung by Richard Graham. One of my all time favorite EFL songs, it’s a universal hit among students and parents alike; the kind of tune that stays with you long after the class has ended, like the aftertaste of a particularly good chili. And once you’ve taught it, you can pull it out of your teacher’s toolbox every once in a while to get the kids revved up for class.

So now it’s time to talk about Eat! Drink! Dance!, which might just be a little bit better. This song recycles bits of the Disco-Warm Up while introducing the vocabulary words eatdrink, read, dance, sleep, sing, cook, and stop.

스크린샷 2014-04-12 오후 2.52.09

Now this is no Mary Had a Little Lamb-type children’s song. It opens with a strong guitar intro that gets your students bobbing their heads up and down like they were at their first rock concert. Meanwhile, reminiscent of Disco Warm-up, the kids repeat after and follow such classroom commands as “stand up” and “sit down”. But then, just as their excitement level is starting to bubble, Richard belts out “And DANCE!”

Make no mistake, even some of the most self-conscious of students will begin to groove in ways that not even the most upbeat Wiggles concert could ever get them to. And so it will be with you.

While this mini-rave is going on, Richard starts yelling out the aforementioned vocabulary words “eat,” “drink,” and “read,” which the students should repeat after and act out (while continuing to dance, of course). Then, Richard unexpectedly says “STOP!” A moment of dead silence is followed by what sounds like the unstoppable voice of doom counting down from five. And just as the voice is about to say zero, Richard screams “Dance!”

This time around, it’s pandemonium.

The energy in the room will suddenly feel like it’s been turned up to eleven. Just check out these kids from Turkey get their groove on:

Now before actually doing any singing or dancing, I usually do spend a good ten minutes pre-teaching the vocabulary with my young learners, although the lyrics really are easy peasy.

Eat, Drink, Dance 
by Richard Graham

Are you ready?

Stand up
Sit down
Stand up
And dance!

Eat (Eat!)
Eat (Eat!)
Drink (Drink!)
Drink (Drink!)
Read (Read!)
Read (Read!)

5 4 3 2 1


Sleep (Sleep!)
Sleep (Sleep!)
Sing (Sing!)
Sing (Sing!)
Cook (Cook!)
Cook (Cook!)

5 4 3 2 1


You don’t need dance club type stereo equipment to play this song, but a decent sound system really helps get things in gear. It shouldn’t be so loud that it ruins their little ears, but perhaps something more than one of those dinky, what-was-that?-type classroom CD players.

Don’t forget that you can watch a demo of the music video on the song page at Genki English, get some great game ideas from Richard, as well as download flashcards and other goodies. And perhaps best of all, once you have this song under your belt, you are all set to teach your kids Richard’s wonderful What are you doing? song, so all the more bang for your buck.

Just Marginally Useful to an ELL, But Cool Anyway

I pass this amazing poster all the time on my way to the great South Korean shopping mecca that is Myeongdong. It’s not exactly related to English, but I suppose you could use it to teach the concept of wordplay, or as an introduction to literature, or something… Just use your imagination. I think it’s cool, anyway.

Fantastic Mini-Books for Early Readers from Super Teacher Worksheets

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Once my young learners have conquered CVC words like cat or pig, and are working on their long vowels and CCVC words like frog or shop, I generally feel it’s about time for them to start reading some “real” books. It’s not always so easy though to get just the right level and variety of book from the library, and it can be costly to have everyone reading the same books at the same time since that means resorting to purchasing from the big publishers.

Fortunately, Super Teacher Worksheets (STW) had just what I needed with their mini-books for early readers, which can easily be colored in, cut out, and stapled together with little muss or fuss. They can then be used for reading practice in class or assigned as homework. They have the advantage of costing virtually nothing to make, and they can be kept for future use (with a little laminating). And truth be told, I’m very partial to the illustrations.

스크린샷 2014-04-05 오후 10.22.20 스크린샷 2014-04-05 오후 10.22.39There is one book per consonant of the alphabet, each of which introduces a new sentence pattern, the consonant’s sound, and new vocabulary words. There are also books for the short and long vowels, several blends and digraphs, and there’s even a perfect little mini-book template for designing your own books which could have tons of uses in the EFL classroom.

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In an ideal world, it would be great if STW had audio files that could be downloaded by subscribers to the site, or a better yet, a dedicated YouTube channel, where children could tune in and listen to the books being read to them (maybe like this one). Neither would be that hard to set up. In fact, I fell for these books so hard I was actually thinking about doing the recordings myself, or at least putting it on my list of things to do during the summer break.

Even without the audio files, I’m still ecstatic at having such a wonderful resource for teaching reading to young learners.

A Little ESL Humor: Yes, My Young Student….English IS Crazy!

And here are the reasons why:

Incidentally, when my students angrily complain about the strangeness of English (which is often), I rather defensively reply that I didn’t design the language. It’s not my fault! I just teach it like it is. Of course, the odd student will follow this up with something along the lines of, “Well then who DID design English? They should be fired!”

A big thanks to Ed for sharing that video!

(Been a busy week, but there is more great stuff to come, so stay tuned!)