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Just as in Unit 3 we discussed activities based on the 4 language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing), also called macro skills, we can also discuss other guidelines to creating activities, for example: micro skills. Maybe you don’t want to focus on your students becoming fluent while speaking, but you want them to be accurate. Perhaps they have confidence enough to speak and enough communicative skills to make themselves understood, but this doesn’t mean they can’t improve their vocabulary or that they don’t make some noticeable and distracting errors while speaking. You might listen to things like “I lived in Spain since three years ago” or “I went on a travel last summer”. So, what do you do? You might choose some reading activities to indirectly broaden their vocabulary and expose them to the correct usage of structures. But in some cases they need more than that. They need practice on specific areas of language.


Areas of language are also called micro skills, and they are: Grammar, Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Spelling. When one studies an area of language we are focusing on a specific aspect of language to understand it better. Let’s start by analyzing the activities that focus on language form.

1. Grammar activities


Grammar activities are those that concentrate on the structure and use of language forms: their morphology (e.g. it’s correct to say I’m not but not I amn’t) and the syntax of phrases, clauses and sentences (e.g. rules of question formation or the construction of indirect speech).


There are many arguments as to why teach grammar. This is something you’d find if you browsed the web:




There are basically three approaches to teaching grammar: the deductive approach, the inductive approach and the functional-notional approach. Classic grammar activities normally have a deductive approach (they teach through rules) and focus on overtly teaching the grammar points, whereas modern grammar activities have an inductive approach, which means they tend to keep the forms covert to make students aware of the structure through its use in context instead of having them analyze it (e.g. drawing their attention to the sentence I had been to South Africa twice before I decided to move there as part of a text that retells someone’s life experiences in order for them to notice the past perfect instead of explicitly stating that the past perfect is formed by had + past participle). The functional-notional approach, on the other hand, focuses on explaining language in terms of what people can do with it (e.g. I should have done my homework expresses a regret while You should have done your homework expresses a criticism).


And when it comes to introducing the grammar, here are some means of doing it:


  1. in situational contexts (the teacher sets up a situation in order to give examples of a structure)
  2. through texts
  3. through stories
  4. and through songs and poems


In case you want examples or to take a look at pros and cons of each, you click on THIS DOCUMENT:

2. Vocabulary activities


Vocabulary activities include the teaching of meaning of words, their lexical grammar (e.g. the fact that prefer can be followed by either an –ing verb form or an infinitive but enjoy can only take the –ing one) and collocation rules (e.g. we say do exercise and not make exercise).


Just as grammar activities might be classified as deductive or inductive, the learning of vocabulary can be incidental or intentional. Incidental vocabulary-learning does take place, but most of the times some attention has to be brought to the target language words through tasks or readings. For the purpose of analyzing vocabulary activities as such, we’ll focus on intentional learning.


According to research, it’s more important for retention how often the students retrieve unfamiliar words than how deeply they process them, meaning that recycling is crucial in the ESL classroom.


To effectively acquire new vocabulary, students must go through essential stages: noticing and understanding a word, recognizing it and using it.


Here are some ideas on how to target these stages:


  1. However you decide to introduce new TL in class (a text, a quote, a diagram, a table, etc.), make sure you call the students’ attention to those words and explain their meaning in multiple ways (of course not all of them are always possible): definitions, synonyms, images and illustrations, sounds, smells, tastes and/or examples given in context.
  2. In order for students to recognize the new words, you could use: bingo (e.g. cards made with illustrations or with the words; calling out the word, or drawing a flashcard or a definition), matching (antonyms, synonyms, definitions, pictures to a word, etc.), fill-in-the-blank with options(if you deem it useful for your class, even if it’s a no-no in Oxbridge’s activities!), songs and music, realia or puzzles.
  3. Some options for learns to use the recognized words and producing vocabulary could be: descriptions (students to use the words in context), mind maps or brainstorming (good for vocabulary review lessons, learners to think of words associated with a topic) or guess what I’m thinking (students to describe for the others to guess what they’re thinking about –the word in question–).


Take into consideration that the difference between recognizing and producing words is that in recognition the words have to be supplied by you and in production they have to spontaneously recall the words.


In general, it’s always better to teach vocabulary in context (e.g. descriptive adjectives when the lesson is about travel or clothes and accessories when you’re talking about shopping), but never teach a list of words just because, since students won’t have a chance to practice this new vocabulary.


In case you decide to teach vocabulary and include vocabulary activities as part of lesson plans, consider that there are many ways in which words can be grouped. Semantic fields and words families are two possibilities. Particularly in Oxbridge, we group them in semantic fields; including in each level those that would be appropriate and relevant for the students’ needs at each stage and for the specific age group the activity is for.

3. Pronunciation activities


Pronunciation is an often-neglected aspect of English teaching but can be easily integrated into the language learners’ experience. Below are some major areas of pronunciation which activities can be based on:


  1. Word stress
  2. Vowel sounds
  3. Diphthongs
  4. Weak forms
  5. Sentence stress


An example of a good activity and a very important aspect of English pronunciation is the Schwa sound.


In stress-timed languages such as English, stresses occur at regular intervals. Grammar words such as auxiliary verbs, pronouns, articles, linkers and prepositions are not usually stressed, and are reduced to keep the stress pattern regular. This means that they are said faster and at a lower volume than stressed syllables, and the vowel sounds lose their purity, often becoming a schwa.


One way of practicing this is by showing the students the set of questions below, which practice the present simple tense. The teacher says each question naturally, and asks the learners which words are stressed. Then the teacher repeats the sentence, trying to keep stress and intonation consistent, until learners are able to correctly identify the stressed syllables.


Example questions with Schwa in bold:


1) How many brothers and sisters have you got?

2) How often do you play tennis?

3) What kind of music do you like?

4) What time do you usually get up?

5) How much does it cost?


Some factors that affect pronunciation are native language, age and motivation.


The native language of the learner is one of the most important factors and being able to identify the peculiarities of the sounds in the learner’s first language we can understand the student’s difficulties with the second.


When it comes to age, adults in general will have a strong influence from their native accent, more than children tend to, but this is not necessarily a disadvantage for an older learner. A fifty year old can be as successful as an 18 year old if all other factors are equal.


And last but not least: motivation. Some learners may not place much importance on pronunciation, while others do. The learner’s motivation and concern about pronunciation is also a major factor in the learner achieving a good level in this micro skill. This can be helped by the guidance of the teacher, if necessary, to show the learner the importance of pronunciation as a part of learning.

4. Spelling activities


The inclusion of spelling activities in class, just as with any other type of activity, has a specific purpose. Knowing how to spell is part of what is known as orthographic competence (the skills of perception and production of the symbols of which written texts are composed). As far as spelling is concerned, orthographic competence means the proper spelling of words including recognized contracted forms.


One of the many methods of spelling instruction is word study. Word study is an approach that addresses word recognition, vocabulary and phonics alongside spelling. In this approach, students investigate the patterns in word lists by comparing and contrasting features in them. For example, take the difference between “hard c” (as in capsule) and “soft c” (as in cellular). After collecting many words containing the letter “c,” students discover that “c” is usually hard when followed by consonants (as in clue and crayon) and the vowels “a,” “o,” and “u” (as in cat, cot, and cut). In contrast, “c” is usually soft when followed by “i”, “e,” and “y” (as in circus, celery, and cycle).


A cycle of instruction for word study might include:


  1. choosing words for students to sort out demonstrating a particular spelling pattern
  2. encouraging students to discover the pattern in the word’s reading and writing
  3. using reinforcement activities to help students relate this pattern to previously acquired word knowledge


But not all methods apply to all learners, so other approaches to teaching spelling include:


Auditory approach


  1. Phonics is one of the most important teaching methods used to improve spelling.  A phonic approach includes a number of key skills: knowing the sounds of letters so it’s easier to spell words, breaking up words into syllables sounding each syllable out one at a time (and becoming aware of common prefixes and suffixes) and recognising patterns (e.g. words that sounds the same will usually be spelt in the same way, for example night, right, bright, fight, flight).
  2. Inventing spellings is another method, which implies moving students to write the word as they believe it is spelled. Gradually, their initial invented spellings (usually one letter per word) more or less naturally give way to more complete and sophisticated invented spellings and to conventional spellings, as long as the students are reading and writing extensively.


Visual approach


  1. If students keep a spelling notebook, highlighting the difficult part of a word might help the student remember the word and the part of a word that caused difficulty.
  2. Look-cover-write-check is a well-know procedure that involves looking at the word, covering it, writing it and then checking to see if the word is correct.
  3. Ask your student to try several possible ways of spelling a word to see if one ‘looks right’.
  4. Students to choose a limited number of words (say five a week) that they want to learn: words they are interested in, and words they use frequently but haven’t yet learned to spell correctly. At the end of the week, partners can test each other on the words they each have practiced during the week.


Kinesthetic approach


  1. Show them how to trace letters of a new word and then practise writing it out.
  2. If a spelling is wrong, make sure the student rewrites the whole word and does not just correct over a misspelling




A mnemonic is a memory aid. For example, a mnemonic to remember how to spell the word necessary is ‘1 collar and 2 socks’, one ‘c’ and two ‘s’, as it is a common mistake to forget which letters are doubled.


Other mnemonics can be created in the form of nonsense stories, either by you or encouraging the students to do so. For example, the word accommodation – telling a story about going on holidays with twin babies who need two cots (cc) and two mattresses (mm).




Discussing the origin of words can often help students remember the spelling. For example, from the Greek word ‘ped’, meaning ‘foot’, comes peddle, pedicure and pedestrian.


Students can benefit immensely from mini lessons that help them discover the meanings of Latin and Greek roots and suffixes. Such learning is valuable for spelling and writing but perhaps even more valuable for vocabulary development and reading.


These and some others can be found HERE.




In Oxbridge there are two types of activities we use to work on students’ accuracy. These are: structure activities (which relate to the aforementioned grammar activities) and vocabulary activities.

1. Structure activities

1.1 Objectives and characteristics of structure activities


Structure activities build accuracy in students’ communicative skills. It is not just words that students are learning when acquiring a second language. Unless words are dressed up in structures, their knowledge has little practical effect when communicating. It is worth focusing then on how to produce good activities for structural accuracy.


Continuing with the idea of one new thing at a time, when creating structure activities, we base them on already familiar vocabulary. If the vocabulary is known, the students will focus better on the complexities of the new structure and will not have to worry about trying to understand too many different things at a time.


We will go through the different parts of structure activities and how to produce successful and communicative ones, without boring the students.

1.2 Elements of structure activities

a. Objective


It is imperative that you don’t deviate from the issue and sub-issue of the structure. If you are not quite certain about a structure, it is best to read up on it in a good reference book or a well respected online website. Make sure you understand its usage, function and formation. Only then will you be able to prepare a good activity.


Concisely describe the learning goals that you are targeting; the learning outcomes you expect students to attain on the activity’s completion.


When producing an Oxbridge activity and writing your structure activity objective, make sure you meet the assessment criteria for it:


- Refers to skills/abilities the student will develop after the activity
- Corresponds to Issue & Sub-issue



b. Introduction


Base your introduction on a question containing a structure the students already know and then introduce the new structure.For instance, if you want to teach the future tense to low-level students, make sure you start with an example in the present. That way you establish a parallel between the two tenses and introduce the new structure in a logical way.


You might find yourself in an awkward situation if you directly ask them a question using the new structure. Of course it’s important to elicit prior knowledge and listen to what students can say to get more information on what they need to work on, but particularly for low levels it’s good to include an example that models the new structure first and then ask a question that elicits a similar answer.



I go to the cinema every week.
Do you go to the cinema every week?
Next week I will watch … (name of film)
What will you do next week?


If needed, you might also want to provide a brief and functional explanation for it, avoiding grammatical terms (because remember that in Oxbridge we teach grammar inductively and there’s no need for learners to become familiar with technical concepts!).


E.g. We use I will to express future events.


You can also test prior knowledge asking some concept check questions that will give you clues on whether the students are already familiar with the structure.


But don’t announce the structure, elicit it.


E.g. Instead of: “Now we are going to learn the future with will”, choose an engaging prompt/example to introduce your activity.


And using gestures is always a good idea, especially for low-level students.


The Oxbridge assessment criteria for the structure introduction are:


- Gives examples of how to use the structure
- Avoids technical grammar terms/definitions (applies for all throughout the activity)
- Tests prior knowledge asking questions about the use of the structure in context
- Is engaging


c. Activity


Make instructions direct, clear, and easy to follow and include a key to the activities if necessary. It can be very disappointing when you have to teach an activity and at the same time try to figure out exactly what the writer of the activity meant! So, give simple instructions and avoid indirect questions of the type: “Ask the student if they know who this artist is”. Instead: “- Who is this artist?”


Provide a brief explanation of the structure for the teacher if necessary (we do this with more complex and less common structures, such as the passive voice, subjunctive, inversion, etc.)


Simplify vocabulary to already familiar items and basic structures, so that the acquisition of the structure you’re targeting doesn´t become overcomplicated.


Again, you can split the activity into two sections: one for a guided or controlled practice and another one for a less controlled or freer practice to activate students’ knowledge (a game can be very useful at this stage). This ‘activation’ stage is the most important part of a structure activity, as it requires students to put the knowledge they have acquired into practice and ensures they gain a deep understanding of the structure’s real application. It is often beneficial to include role-plays and real-life contexts in the activity so that the structure comes to life for students and becomes more than a dry grammatical rule.


Eg. Structure Activity.


Issue: Conditional sentences.
Sub-issue: Third conditional (unreal in the past).
Activation Activity: Role-play. SS to pretend to be old people looking back on their lives and talking about their regrets. “If I had spoken to that girl at the dance, I would have married her.”


Make practice progressively harder so students are challenged after having mastered the basic structure.


Activities shouldn’t be too long. You can break your activity down into points and the teacher will decide whether he/she will use one or all of them.  Bear in mind that structure and vocabulary activities are to be completed in 10 to 15 minutes maximum.


When including questions or prompts, make sure there are enough examples for 8-10 students and provide the answers or key for the teacher if necessary.


Engage your students. Grammar shouldn’t be boring. Find a way to make the activity interesting by including facts or quotes or contextualizing the structure in a situation that should catch the students´ attention.


Concept checking should take place throughout a structure activity and should take the form of constant eliciting of the structure by the teacher. The teacher should prompt the students to produce the structure and ensure that it is formed correctly. The questions could be quite open and require the students to produce the structure entirely by themselves; e.g. Third conditional CCQ: Do you have any regrets? Alternatively, the teacher can lead the student more directly to the structure; e.g. What WOULD HAVE been different if you HAD not ACCEPTED the job at your current company? It is advisable to include questions like this as part of the activity so that the teacher does not have to think of them on the spot.


The Oxbridge assessment criteria for the activity:


- Overall: At least one part makes students practice TL in a free form (‘Activate’ or ‘Production’ stage)
- Content: Instructions are simple
Activity Parts: Parts of the activity are progressively harder
- Relevancy: Considers difficulties that students might have related to issue & sub-issue
Coherence: Is coherent with objective & gives diverse practice of TL
Focus: Simplifies other structures that are not object of teaching
Vocabulary: Has simple and familiar vocabulary
- Form: presentation is teacher-friendly and has consistent markers
- Practice: Assures enough practice for 10 students to participate
Examples and Key for Teachers: Has examples to clarify instructions; key for teacher if relevant



d. Wrap up


Concept check questions (CCQ) are absolutely vital for structure activities and also form part of the Wrap up of an activity and a class. CCQs should refer to the structure that was practiced and ask the students about the same things that were covered during the activity. New information should not be introduced at this stage.


The underlying question would be: What would I ask students to find out if my objectives have been met or not? Include at least three diverse questions that cover specific items that have been looked at during the class or activity and go over points that are likely to be particularly challenging for students.


Again, make sure you take into consideration:


- Include only CCQs that refer to TL
- Don’t introduce new info
- At least 3 diverse questions
- Questions are specific and refer to difficulties students might have had



d.Target language


Choose the Target Language according to the level. You won’t be teaching idioms or phrasal verbs at P2 / P3.


Model the structure in affirmative, negative and interrogative statements, whenever necessary (e.g. for tenses).


The formula of the structure has to be present in your TL (E. g. Present Perfect: Subject+ Have / has + Past participle), but you might also include some interesting vocabulary if there is a text or a game.


Definitions, examples, audio and images are to be provided according to the structure you want to illustrate.


For low levels, examples have to be graded and language should be presented in its most common context.


And the assessment criteria:


- Is conformed by the most relevant words/phrases necessary to understand and practice the structure
- TL words belong to the semantic field referenced in the Sub-issue
- Definitions are simple and clear (& no typos)
- Examples help students deduce meaning by context (& no typos)
- Audio (loud and no background noise)
- Image if relevant for word
- Maximum 8 words



f. Attachments


Don’t forget to somehow name your attachments. This is a relevant reference for both teachers and students.


It’s better if the activities you include are communicative, so don’t use “gap -fill”, “match the columns”, or “finish the sentence” activities.


Here are some tips to help you to create an attachment with a clear layout:


-        Use tables to insert your pictures and word lists, if used. The pictures should be centred and maximum 2 columns wide. In case of word lists, maximum 4 columns wide.


-        Bear in mind that the attachments (if printed) will be printed in black and white, so they have to be good and clear. They should also be of good quality so that they will stand up to magnification on web classes and tablets.


-        For texts use a font which is at least 16 pt. Also make sure there aren’t any typos.


-        Use bold type to highlight the TL in the texts or situations. This will help students and teachers identify them easily and know what to focus on.


And the assessment criteria:


- Overall: Is clear enough to teach the activity even with little instructions and provides enough practice of the TL
- Content: If a text, there are no typos and it’s easy to read. If a video, there is a transcript
- Form: Pictures and word lists are included in tables. The attachment is well aligned and sized, the quality of the pictures is good and with no water marks. If matching activity, rows are evenly distributed
- If relevant, there is a copy for the teacher and for the student
- Wysiwyg is used wisely to stress target language and relevant information
- Attachment has a name


2. Vocabulary activities


2.1 Objectives and characteristics of vocabulary activities


Vocabulary activities supply the learners with new lexicon in English; they provide all the necessary new words and expressions that allow the learners to broaden their communicative competence. Activities targeted at enriching students’ vocabulary are not to be confused with learning just lists of words of the same kind. Learning vocabulary is continuously achieved through communication in English in general and during any kind of activity, but it is through vocabulary activities that you specifically focus your attention on acquiring new lexicon.


When writing vocabulary activities it is best to simplify grammar to the extent that it is not an issue for the students.


When creating a vocabulary activity it is important to always start with the objective in mind. What is the purpose of the activity? Which semantic field/s are you dealing with? Which level is the activity for? What age? The answer to these questions will constitute the objective of your activity. Once you have that clear, the next thing to do is to decide which words you’re teaching, and then choose a very specific context to introduce those words and then an activity -also contextual!- that will enable learners to practice the vocabulary.

2.2 Elements of vocabulary activities

a. Objective


The objective has to include what the concrete learning goals are and how you expect the students to achieve those goals through this activity.



Your objectives for a vocabulary activity about: “Outdoor activities” could be: “Introduce outdoor activities through a fun test and practice new target language through a competitive game. At the end of this activity learners will be able to describe what they do outdoors in their free time”.


The assessment criteria being:


- Refers to skills/abilities that students develop during activity practice
- Corresponds to Issue & Sub-issue


b.   Introduction


The introduction of the vocabulary activity has to include questions or some kind of stimulus that is engaging and that refers to the issue at hand. What will trigger your students’ interest? If you provide some engaging information containing some target language items, you can check the previous knowledge of the students about the subject that you are about to introduce.


For the introduction, the assessment criterion is:

- Contains engaging intro questions/statements that refer to the issue/sub-issue


c.   Activity


How can you activate students’ usage of the vocabulary target language (TL)? Your priority should be providing good practice of the vocabulary and not to limit the activity to memorising a series of words that you will introduce by asking “What is this word?” Avoid asking, “What is this word?” and substitute this question with some well thought-out questions and practices that would ensure that the learners use the TL that you have selected. Our aim is for students to become familiar with the way vocabulary is really used in spoken English, not only to think of new words as translations and something to be learnt by rote.


Means of activating a vocabulary activity´s TL include:


-        Questions containing the TL to be answered using the TL

-        A word game containing the TL

-        A short story including TL items

-        Board games

-        Role-plays

-        Situation games

-        Total physical response games (motion games)

-        Poems, tongue twisters and songs

-        Pictures and images


Some tips:


You can split the activity into two sections: one for guided or controlled practice and another for less controlled or freer practice.


Always provide relevant, clear and in-context examples of your TL.


When writing an activity, make it teacher-friendly. Keep instructions straight to the point and simple. Consider that including a key or some examples might also make the teacher’s job easier. In addition, bullet points and other markers are used to ensure that the instructions and activity are easy to read. A good activity is one that you can read and understand easily within 30 seconds!


If you are going to include questions or visual stimuli, make sure you have enough examples for all of the participants of the class. We recommend including between 8 to 10 different questions or visual stimuli.


We learn better if learning is fun! No matter our age, try to make the activities fun through a game. There are loads of examples of word games or board games you can use on the Internet. All text books include them in their resource packs as well.


Grammar should not be overcomplicated, no matter what level the vocabulary activity is for.


If you decide to include a text, it should be short and also included in the body of the activity (so that the teacher has a copy; in case it’s printed… it is very difficult to read upside down in class), with the TL highlighted in bold.


As in Structure activities, concept checking should take place during Vocabulary activities, as well as at the end in the Wrap up. The teacher can ask questions that elicit a particular word, or alternatively use the target language in a question and check for understanding by examining the student’s answer. Included in the Wrap up section below are many ideas for CCQ techniques that can also be used in the main body of the activity.


And the assessment criteria:


- Overall: Is divided in at least two parts that are progressively harder
- At least one makes students practice TL in a free form
- Content: There’s an active practice of TL words (making students use the words in context in a creative/engaging way)
- Explanations of target language are very clear and in context
- Instructions are simple
- Form: presentation is teacher-friendly and has consistent markers
- Assures enough practice for 10 students to participate
- Has examples to clarify instructions; key for teacher if relevant


d.   Wrap up


The wrap us is the final part of the activity, the one that you do before you move on to the next one or you finish your lesson plan. Any teaching and learning process has to finish with checking the learning outcomes. Concept checking is extremely important to do before you finish an activity. It has to be conducted through a series of questions that imply the learners using the new TL actively. You can do one or more of the following:


-     Ask for an example

-     Ask for the opposite

-     Ask for a description

-     Ask SS to continue the sentence

-     Ask SS to use the TL in context

-     Ask for a definition

-     Ask SS to ask their classmate a question


Take into consideration that each of these techniques for concept checking involve different skills (e.g. recalling, understanding, and using), and that these are skills that the learner has to have in order to answer them. You must make CCQs consistent with what you have asked students to practice during the activity.


Just as for the structure activity, the wrap up criteria are:


- They’re all CCQs that refer to TL
- Doesn’t introduce new info
- At least 3 diverse questions
- Questions are specific and refer to difficulties students might have had


e.   Target language


The target language is the part of the activity that you consider first when starting to create an activity. According to cognitive educational psychologists, the average new items we can learn in one go is around 8, so usually this is the number of target language items that we include in an activity.


The target language has to be relevant to the level. High level students don’t need words such as:  president, government, interesting, exciting, etc. as they are by no means difficult enough (semantic or pronunciation wise) for this level of learning; but don’t choose to ignore idioms or words such as embezzlement and prank just because there are already 8 TL in the activity. In that case, substitute them for a simpler word.


Defining the TL has to do, again, with the level. The simpler the definition, the better. Avoid long dictionary definitions. Even though they are precise and accurate, they are not always clear enough for students. Instead, use synonyms or antonyms or your own words to describe or define the TL. Context is again a great ally for you to explain a word. Learners usually guess and remember words put into their most common contexts. A good online resource for easy definitions is WORDSMYTH.NET, which includes easy definitions for children and beginners. For all levels, but particularly for low levels, remember the golden rule that an image is worth a thousand words. Go for images whenever the TL is a concrete object, or whenever the idea of the TL can be easily shown in an image or a picture.


Also, target language should be exemplified in its most common context. That way, students will easily remember and associate the context with the TL item. As examples help students deduce meaning from context, always make sure you don’t skip them and have several to hand.


For vocabulary activities in particular, it is imperative that target language words belong to the semantic field/issue that the syllabus specifies.


If your target language is recorded in a loud and clear way, students will be able to play the pronunciation as many times as necessary and improve their pronunciation effortlessly. If you don’t have a recording program, have a look at free audio recording programmes online.


We recommend that you use AUDACITY or RECORD MP3 that saves an *.mp3 file directly to your computer.


Finally, check your spelling and punctuation. Run a spell check to avoid typos and incorrect punctuation. It is very embarrassing if it is your student who discovers a typo or a mistake in spelling or punctuation.


Make sure you double check:


- TL words belong to the semantic field referenced in the Sub-issue
- Includes all words in the activity that are relevant for the level
- Definitions are simple and clear (& no typos)
- Examples help students deduce meaning by context (& no typos)
- Maximum 8 words
- Audio (loud and no background noise)
- Image if relevant for word


f.   Attachments


We usually use attachments to illustrate our examples and to activate the TL in an activity. A good attachment grants the success of the activity. With a little bit of experience you’ll be able to teach only using the attachment, if it has a good clear layout.


Attachments refer to activities and the connection between the two has to be made clear for the teachers. All attachments have to be named.


Here are some tips to help you create an attachment with a clear layout:


-        Use tables to insert your pictures and word lists, if used. The pictures should be centred and maximum 2 columns wide. In case of word lists, maximum 4 columns wide.


-        Bear in mind that the attachments (if printed) will probably be printed in black and white so they have to be good and clear; and of good quality so they stand up to magnification during web classes and when displayed on tablets.


-        For texts use a font which is at least 16 pt. Also make sure there aren’t any typos.


-        Use bold type and/or capital letters to highlight the TL in the texts or situations. This will help students and teachers identify them easily.


Take into consideration the following assessment criteria:


Overall: Is clear enough to teach the activity even with little instructions and provides enough practice of the TL
Content: If a text, there are no typos and it’s easy to read. If a video, there is a transcript
Form: Pictures and word lists are included in tables. The attachment is well aligned and sized, the quality of the pictures is good and with no water marks. If matching activity, rows are evenly distributed
If relevant, there is a copy for the teacher and for the student
Wysiwyg is used wisely to stress target language and relevant information
Attachment has a name


3. Characteristics of communicative Vocabulary and Structure activities


A key point to have in mind when preparing vocabulary and structure activities is that, if we want to focus on students developing communicative skills, activities should be communicative. According to the Communicative approach, communicative activities have three features in common:


  1. information gap (when a person knows something that another person doesn’t)
  2. choice (on what to say and how to say it)
  3. feedback (information the speaker receives from the listener in order to find out if the purpose of communication was met)


This means that asking students to make sentences while using pictures and a particular verb tense is not communicative. An exercise like this represents the controlled practice or study (from the ESA model) part of an activity.


If you think about these three conditions, creating communicative activities may seem challenging, but with creativity and careful consideration of the above conditions, it is possible. Our aim is to develop students’ communicative skills and make in-class activities somehow resemble situations they will encounter in the outside world.

4. Teaching through games


Activities based on micro skills (grammar/structures, vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling) provide great opportunities to teach through games, and there is a wide range of games and activities you can choose from to incorporate into your class. Make sure the activity/game is appropriate for the level, contains easy, simple instructions both for the teacher and for the students and can be performed in a short period of time but, above all, make sure it has a purpose!


We are going to analyse some games that can be used in lesson plans. They can be used as a whole activity and /or as part of an activity and adapted.


Low TTT is at the heart of the games.


1. Memory game:

It is good for vocabulary activities, to reinforce structures, practise pronunciation and activate fluency.


- T starts off by saying ”Yesterday, I went to the supermarket and I bought an apple….”
- SS1 then has to repeat and add one of their own:
Eg. SS! – ”Yesterday I went to the supermarket and I bought an apple and a lemon…”
- SS2 repeats and continues:
Eg. SS2 ”Yesterday I went to the supermarket and I bought an apple and a lemon and coffee……”
- Continue until one person is left at the end.


2. Story game:

It is good to practise any grammar tense or structure.


- Make a list of irregular verbs (see, go, buy, etc.)
- Teacher starts off a story by saying: ”Jack saw Jill at the cinema…..”
- SS1 has to continue the story using one of the verbs on the sheet using the past simple of the irregular verbs
- SS2 then continues the story using another of the verbs on the table. The story has to make sense.

3. Drawing:

It is good to practise prepositions, as they are describing, also good to practise adjectives. ie, on the the left there is a big tree, opposite there is a narrow river, etc.


- SS draws a picture of a beautiful scene (simple picture – beach, forest, street etc.)
- SS1 then has to describe their picture as accurately as possible.
- The other SS draw the picture described as accurately as possible.
- Then each SS takes it in turn to describe their picture.


4. Call My Bluff (Higher levels):

It is good to develop fluency (but might be confusing for vocabulary).


Rules: Split the class into 2 teams. They take it in turns to describe an obscure word or definition that their opponents have to correctly identify. They will have at least two or three different definitions or statements to choose from. Only one is true. The team that correctly guesses the word wins a point.


Game 1: Laws

- T gives a card containing the definitions or statements to one team at a time.

”In Canada on Sundays it is illegal to-tie a horse to a lamp post, to feed street dogs, to walk dogs after 6 p.m. (the first one is correct)


Game 2: Word Definition

Same instructions as above but related to word definition.

“The word Lionize means to treat a person like a celebrity; to treat a person rudely”. (the first one is correct)

**As this game is intended to be used with high-level students, challenge them using difficult words or statements.