I Got Schooled Today, Big Time.

Never try to answer riddles after a long day of classes. Full disclosure…I didn’t get it right the first time. Now I plan to run it by all my students this week to see how many of them are smarter than me. I mean, when you think about it there really is a good lesson to be had here. Right?

Check out The ESL Review Store.

Free Picture Writing Prompts by Lanternfish


The other day I was casually browsing the contents of Lanternfish, a newly discovered treasure trove of free EFL teaching materials. The site is the creation of Chris Gunn, a former EFL teacher in South Korea who has since moved on to bigger and better things.

I was really pleased to come across a series of a few dozen worksheets whereby students describe and caption an image. They are divided into three levels: young learner, basic, and intermediate.

Here is an example of an intermediate level image:   Here’s an example of a basic level image:

  lanternfishnd here is an example of a young learner level image:

What I really like is the advice Chris provides for teachers trying out this classic exercise for the first time, especially the kinds of sentences students might try to make. You should check the site out.

(Super Teacher Worksheets also has an excellent selection of similar worksheets, which aren’t free, but certainly worth the pittance they cost.)

Follow The ESL Review on Pinterest

Comic Strips in the Classroom

Most of my students like comic books of one kind or another. That’s why I like to include a few worksheets like the one below in my lessons. It gives the children a way to do some structured writing and drawing in the classroom.

 The more creative and confident ones of course would prefer I just give them a blank piece of paper to scribble away to their heart’s content (which means I get a lot of Iron Man’s talking to Spongebob). Sometimes though children need the structure of a few sentences and a background image.

The above worksheets comes from my unit 7 worksheet bundle for Let’s Go 1 which I just uploaded this week. 

You can check it out here.

Follow The ESL Review on Facebook.

The Ultimate Adjectivity! I Mean Adjective Activity.

스크린샷 2013-07-21 오전 11.01.51

Super Teacher Worksheets is such an integral part of my teaching experience that I often fail to give it due credit. To do so feels a bit like mentioning how much I appreciate what a good job the classroom pencil sharpener does. Like most important tools you just take it for granted. So today I’m going to explain one of the reasons I continue to fork out the modest subscription fee.

The site has an impressive number of language arts worksheets suitable for the EFL classroom on almost any topic you might need. Recently I’ve been reviewing the parts of speech with many of my classes and finding myself depending more and on the site’s resources to either fill the gaps in my textbooks or to provide extra practice in the class or at home.

Take this quaint little exercise that I love for practicing adjectives. Students are challenged to come up with an adjective for each letter of the alphabet about this adorable little kitty cat that belongs to someone, a delivery girl perhaps, named Kiki.

Kiki's kitty worksheet forcpracticing adjectives.You can get some really wacky answers when you let the students use their dictionaries (or when you grudgingly let certain inappropriate words slide for the sake of the activity). Here is a list put together from answers recently provided by my middle school students:

  • Kiki’s kitty is an artificial kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a bitchy kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a crazy kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a dangerous kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is an enormous kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a furry kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a gigantic kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a happy kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is an incredible kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a jelly kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a kind kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a lying kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a mischievous kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a naughty kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is an opinionated kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a poisonous kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a quiet kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a responsible kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a strange kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a twinkling kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is an ugly kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a violent kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a wonderful kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a xenophobic kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a yummy kitty.
  • Kiki’s kitty is a zealous kitty.

I also use the site extensively for its veritable library of reading comprehension worksheets and geography projects. Its series on the solar system is also impressive, as are its numerous worksheets generators and writing prompts. And there’s more, much, more.

About Time – No, Not the Movie!

스크린샷(11)This morning I had a ball singing the “What Time Is It, Mr Wolf?” song by Genki English, a truly inspired piece of EFL music about which I have written elsewhere. It’s my favorite way to introduce the concept of telling time to young learners because the song is just so sticky. We also get to play the classic children’s game, so what’s not to like?

Just before walking into my morning lessons I had one of those moments of inspiration that sadly seem to come less and less often with age. Remember the pilot of Newsroom when they discovered that the Deep Horizon oil rig had exploded? They tossed out their plan for that evening’s show and did it completely on the fly. It’s those kinds of moments in teaching that I love – when I ignore what my own experience tells me to do and I improvise. It’s like jazz, man.

So, just like that I ditched my original lesson plan and tried a new game that was simple but lots and lots of fun. First, I spread my laminated teachers’ cards across the classroom. Some were in obvious places like on tables and chairs, while others were nestled in the hidden nooks and crannies of the classroom. Each one shows a clock displaying a time of day ranging from one to twelve o’clock.  Time (Genki Mini cards)

They were all clearly visible from afar but you did have to get up close to see precisely what time was displayed.

Since there were more than twenty children in the class I divided them into two teams. This was not for competitive purposes. I just wanted to reduce the mayhem that was to ensue a bit. I mean, I was going to purposely let the children run around the classroom like little maniacs after all.

The first team gathered in front of me and on the count of three asked, “What time is it?”

I then unleashed utter chaos simply by answering, “It’s eight o’clock.”

Within a split second the children began to search the class for the right flashcard as if their lives depended on it while I counted down from ten. When I reached zero, I yelled “stop” and all the children froze in their tracks whether they had found the right card or not. The ones who hadn’t were tagged out. It’s important to try and make this process as fun as comical as possible (I have a whole array of sound effects just for this purpose) so no one feels like they’re just being excluded or punished.

The ‘survivors’ gathered in front of me and we tried again, repeating until there were only one or two children left. At this stage I declared them the winners, and then the next group of children got to try (but only after I rearranged all the cards around the classroom).

It’s a lot like The Camera Game, which is also quite a hoot for practicing almost any kind of vocabulary words you could think of.