If you’re tired of scouring YouTube for materials to jazz up your adult English classes, then head on over to Film English. This website provides free short movies and lesson plans that will enliven interest and promote discussion among your students. By all rights, Film English should be charging premium prices for its wares but instead settles for donations from its users, which speaks miles about the generosity of the sites’s author, Kieran Donaghy. An EFL teacher based in sunny Barcelona, Donaghy is also a teacher trainer and prolific author who works tirelessly for the promotion of film in the classroom. His amazing contribution to teachers and students around the world has been recognized by the British Council and the English Speaking Union.
Each lesson is focused around a short independent film (well, mostly independent), and includes a ready made lesson plan that provides great suggestions for how to conduct the class. Unlike commercial film, which may take considerable time to prepare materials for, the films on Donaghy’s site are ideally suited for the classroom. In fact, like substitute teachers thrown into a class with next to no time to prepare, in a crunch you could even just take his lessons as is and have an hour’s worth of work to do with your students.
The films on offer come with varying amounts of dialogue, from none to downright chatty, and cover a variety of themes, from the absurd to the tragic – and there’s rarely one that doesn’t touch your heart in some way or another. So, no matter the ability of your students, it won’t be hard to find something appropriate for your classes.
Learning the alphabet is one of the primary activities of first time learners, and it usually involves a lot of pencil and paper time – but it doesn’t have to. Why not spice up your lessons with a little arts and crafts to inspire your young learners and tap into their inner creativity? At very least they’ll think you’re the cool English teacher. Some teachers might turn up their noses at consulting ‘Mommy Blogs’ like the ones I’m going to suggest, but remember that you’re better than that. Once you’re hooked, save yourself some time and check out the extensive catalogue of these amazing works on my Pinterest crafts board.
If you have the resources and the time you’ll definitely want to try making handprints at least once with your young learners. Not to be confused with the insurers, Crystal & Comp. has an excellent series from A to Z and is your one stop shop for everything you’ll need to make yourself look like a supermom. But there are also good ideas for teachers. Don’t forget to check out Mommy Minutes and Red Ted’s Art for equally nice artwork to try in the class.
The Totally Tots blog is designed for parents who plan on homeschooling their children but it is chock full of amazing ideas for crafts and other activities that could be put to use in the EFL classroom. It’s been out of action for a couple of years now but you really should take the time to scan the amazing ideas this dedicated group of mothers have come up with. Remember, there’s nobody who can teach you more about what children like to do than their own mothers. They offer a craft for each letter of the alphabet (both upper case and lower case), but they’ve also paired their crafts with an appropriate storybook. Other blogs you’ll want to check out include The Measured Mom, How to Run a Home Daycare, and Crystal and Company.
As someone who is always looking for alternatives to costly and sometimes cumbersome coursebooks, it was a pleasure to have discovered Dreamreader.net while reading this interview with one of its cofounders on the excellent blog ELT Rants, Reviews, and Refections. The work of Neil Millington and Brad Smith, two EFL lecturers in Japan, Dreamreader.net provides FREE reading comprehension passages and exercises for use at home or in the classroom.
There are five levels to choose from: easy English, interesting English, fun English, practical English, and academic English. Each lesson offers a reading passage on topics ranging from airplane announcements or shopping receipts to articles about the iPhone or Google Glass. Students can listen to the article being read out, as well as complete the multiple choice comprehension questions without having to do any logging in. One click and you can check your answers right away, and the site will even explain where you went wrong. There are printable versions of the lesson and quiz as well as other useful handouts. Dreamreader stands up well against Newsmart, the WSJ reading site which I reviewed last year, and is in my opinion a more practical option for the classroom. You should check it out.