Category: English games

Games to help students learn English.

Countability – How Much x How Many
Countability – How Much x How Many

I have not created a new infographic for quite some time. I have been pretty content using the materials here. But when I saw the materials for HOW MUCH, HOW MANY, LITTLE and FEW I realised that I would like to have something better. Therefore I created the following materials to help my students understand the grammar better.

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Teaching with Lego Bricks
Teaching with Lego Bricks

During my summer holiday I spent some time creating these lovely boxes. Do you want to know what is inside?

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What Do We Know About Teaching?
What Do We Know About Teaching?

I am not a really good teacher. But I would like to be. That is why I study a lot. Recently I read two books which tried to sum up what the scientists know about teaching and learning. The first one is called What Does This Look Like In The Classroom?: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice by Carl Hendrick and the other is Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown. In both books I tried to find the things that I should do to help my students learn better. And here I would love to share what I have found.

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Past simple tense – the form
Past simple tense – the form

Some students find it difficult to learn all the forms of the past simple tense. The following worksheets will help them learn this grammar easily.

Students’ Autonomy – Spelling Rules
Students’ Autonomy – Spelling Rules

Autonomous students are intrinsically motivated, willing to take responsibility for their own learning and aware of their preferred learning strategies.

Past tense of regular verbs
Past tense of regular verbs

It has been known that people remember grammar rules best if they come up with their own explanation. Therefore, the teachers should try to design their teaching activities in such a way that they will help students create their own rules.

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Was and Were
Was and Were

The verb to BE in the past tense is one of the most important grammar points in English. As both WAS and WERE belong among 100 most frequent words in English, it is paramount that students know and use them correctly.

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In this post, I would like to share a set of activities I use to teach this grammar point. There is a nice communicative activity to introduce the meaning of the verb. Then there is an infographic and a video to teach the form of the verb. And at the end, there is a worksheet where students can learn to form questions and the short answers.

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Was Were – introduction

[/su_heading][su_spacer]I always start the lesson with the following activity. Students work in pairs. I print the following worksheet and cut it. In each pair, one student has a worksheet A and the other has the worksheet B. They must not show their worksheet to anyone. They read the sentences and their partner has to guess if the sentence is true or not. They count how many correct answers their partner gives.

Then I explain the grammar and usage of the verbs WAS and WERE using the following infographic:

Then I practise the verbs using the following video. Students watch the video and read the sentences using WAS or WERE. If they make a mistake, I stop the video.

I sometimes challenge a student and he/she tries to say all the sentences correctly on their own. Or I make teams, put the students in line in front of the screen and students have to take turns and say the sentences. The team that survives the longest without making a mistake are the winners.

To teach questions and the short answers I use the following worksheet. I use tables and various colours to make my students think about the way to create questions. The rules for the worksheet are simple. The same colour means that that you have to use the same word. A varied shade of the colour means that you use a pronoun, but a different one.

Have got – board game
Have got – board game

Recently my colleague noticed that our textbook contains too few exercises to practise the verb HAVE GOT. To bridge this gap I decided to create a board game. A board game will allow my students practise the grammar in a fun way and this activity can be used repeatedly.

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Colourful Teaching
Colourful Teaching
Imagine that even your most challenged students understand new grammar? Imagine that they discover the rules themselves? Imagine that your students ask you to test them on the topic you have just taught. All these things have happened to me after I started to use colourful teaching. What is colourful teaching? These are cleverly designed materials which use colours to guide students. First the colours show everything but after a while there are fewer of them and the students need to understand the rules to complete the rest of the worksheet. ADVERT [showmyads] I have created several worksheets like this and I would like to share two of them here. I hope you will find them useful. [su_heading size=”28″]Indefinite Articles – Colourful Teaching[/su_heading] The first worksheet is for elementary learners of English. Its aim is to teach the basic usage of indefinite articles in English. I need my students to understand that they should not use indefinite articles with plurals and that they should use AN if the word is pronounced with a vowel. Hand out the following worksheet. You need it printed in colour, otherwise it will not work. Ask the students to look at the first three examples and complete items 4-12. Tell them: “The colours will guide you.” Go around the class and help the struggling students. Check the answers on the board and ask the students to complete items 13-21. This time, the students will encounter an interesting problem at item 14. Explain that the green colour is more important than the pink one and that the correct answer is no article. Once again write the correct answers on the board. Then ask the students to complete the items 22 – 30. When I used this with my students all of them managed to solve this last section without any mistakes. It is a good idea to elicit the grammar rules at the end of the activity. [su_heading size=”28″ margin=”0″]Questions in the Present Simple Tense – Colourful Teaching[/su_heading] Another grammar point, which I have successfully used this method for, are questions in the present simple tense. Once again, print the following worksheet in colour and make sure that each student has one. Ask the students to study the first examples and complete items number 1-4. Check their answers and write them on the board. Continue with the worksheet. Now the students should do items 5-9. Check their answers again. The second column is more of a challenge but if you ask your students to complete it on their own you will be surprised how successful they will be. Elicit the rules at the end of the worksheet.
Magic Grammar Cards for Learners of English
Magic Grammar Cards for Learners of English
Recently I introduced Magic Grammar Cards in my classes. These cards are extremely versatile, easy to prepare and simple to use. Moreover, I believe that they are a great way to revise grammar and they support independent learning. ADVERT: [showmyads] [su_heading size=”28″]What is a Magic Grammar Card[/su_heading] In the video below, you can see an example of the Magic Grammar Card . As you can see, Magic Grammar Card is a sheet of paper which is printed in the following way. On the front page, there is a gap fill exerciseand it needs to be printed on the right half of the page. On the back side of the sheet, there is a translation of the gap-fill sentences (placed on the left-hand side) and a correct solution of the gap-fill exercise (on the right-hand side). The correct answers are in bold letters and underlined. [su_heading size=”28″]How to make Magic Grammar Card[/su_heading] Magic Grammar Cards are easy to prepare. You just need to print the paper as it is described above. You must print it on both sides, so it is good to have a duplex printer. [su_heading size=”28″]How to use Magic Grammar Card[/su_heading] The video above explains the usage of the cards. However, to make sure you get it right, I will explain it again. First, the students do the gap-fill exercise. They do not write anything. Learners just read the sentence, put the verb into the correct tense and then open the card and check their answers immediately. They close the card and continue with the second sentence and so on. Once, they finish the gap-fill exercise, they open the card, cover the solution and try to translate the sentences on the left into English. After each sentence, they peek at the correct sentence and see whether they got it right. [su_heading size=”28″]Examples[/su_heading] Below you can download 6 Magic Grammar Cards. Each document contains three cards. The first document contains exercises to practise the present simple tense. In the other document I share exercises to practise the present simple and the present continuous tenses. If you create some cards yourself, please share them or send them to my email rotreklzdenek@gmail.com and I will share them here.
9 Most Frequent Irregular Verbs in English
9 Most Frequent Irregular Verbs in English

When learning English, students are usually given a list of irregular verbs to memorize. This list usually consists of 60 to 100 verbs. There is nothing wrong with this approach but I think that it would be much more useful to give students a list of the most frequent verbs in English and the chunks the verbs appear most often in.

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Unfortunately, there is little material like this. That was why I tried to create some. In this post, you will find a worksheet which contains nine most frequent irregular verbs in English. Moreover, the verbs are practiced in the phrases they appear most frequently in. At the end, students are given a chance to memorize these really useful chunks and use the irregular verbs in exactly the same way the native speakers do.
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[su_heading size=”28″]9 Most Frequent Verbs[/su_heading]
Do you know which irregular verbs are the most frequent in English? They are: be, have, say, make, go, take, come, see, know, get and give.
You can see all of them, except for the verb to be, in the graphic organizer below:
9 most frequent irregular verbs in English circle organizer

[su_heading size=”28″]Meaning[/su_heading]

It is important to understand the verbs. I suggest that the students should translate the verbs into their mother tongue. For this, there is the following table with several pictures. The pictures demonstrate the meaning (or better to say one of the meanings) of the given verb.
9 most frequent irregular verbs in English translate
Once the students translate the verbs, it is a good idea to cover the verbs and try to remember them using only the pictures.
Moreover, now it is the right time to memorize all the 9 verbs and their forms.
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Once the students learn the irregular verbs, it is necessary to practise them. Use the second page of the worksheet and in the exercise 1 students try to fill in the gaps using the correct form of the verbs.


You can download the full worksheet here:[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/9-Most-common-irregular-verbs.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”7″ desc=”Pdf Document”]9 Most Frequent Verbs – Worksheet[/su_button]
[su_heading size=”28″]Chunks[/su_heading]
At the end of 1980s Michael Lewis suggested that we should teach chunks of language. Popular as the notion might be, there are very few materials that would promote this kind of teaching. In this worksheet you will find a table with the most common collocations of the irregular verbs. This list is based on my research in BNC corpus. I suggest that students should learn the phrases by heart.
I hope you find this post and worksheet useful.

7 ESL Activities That Worked in the Past
7 ESL Activities That Worked in the Past
In this post, I would like to write about seven activities that were common in ESL classrooms in the past. However, these activities went out of fashion but there is no reason why they should not return. They worked in the past and if used wisely there is no reason why they should not work today. Even if you wholeheartedly believe in the modern methods you have been using, there is nothing wrong with spicing your lessons up with some of these. I created this list of activities after reading the wonderful book by Scott Thornbury called 30 Language Teaching Methods. I realized that I these old methods could enrich my current teaching, so I made a list of activities which I will try. ADVERT: [showmyads] [su_heading size=”22″]Reading Aloud[/su_heading] Reading Aloud was one of the things I did not use in my classes when I was younger. But at least three of the influential methods in the past claimed that reading aloud is an essential part of learning a foreign language. That is why I started using it and I must say that it works. Students’ pronunciation is better and they understand the texts better. 1. Listen and repeat. Students first listen to the native speaker reading each sentence and then they have to read the sentence themselves. They try to get as close to the original as possible. You can see an example of such a text in the video below (from 0:00 to 1:35). You can see how to create such a recording here. 2. Shadow reading. This activity demands no preparation. Just play the recording and ask the students to read along with it (Yes, they read aloud at the same time as the recording plays). It might seem like a total nonsense but in my experience, this helped my students incredibly. Moreover, there is no preparation and it takes very little classroom time. [su_heading size=”22″]Translation[/su_heading] Yes, translation! It is not a dirty word. Believe me 🙂 Translation has been used for centuries and no second language learner can be without it (even though some pretend they can). Moreover, the ability to translate is the one the learners will probably really need in their real life. They will certainly be asked “How do you say this in English?” or “What does this mean?” In fact, a few weeks ago, my family and I went to Poland on holiday and I had to translate the menu in a restaurant for them. Even though, I was pretty clear of what was on the menu, my family were less than happy with my translation effort. To practice translating, I suggest the following three activities: 1. Retranslate. Ask your students to translate a few sentences into their mother tongue (phrases are perfect for this). Check their translations and then ask them to translate the sentences back into English. They should try to get as close to the original as possible. 2. First letters Write several sentences in students mother tongue and provide the first letters of the words of the ideal English translation. For example: Ona se dĂ­vá na televizi kaĹľdĂ˝ den. SWTED /She watches television every day./ Students work on their own and they try to translate the sentences using the first letters. 3. Table translation I usually take a few sentences from a text we have read in the class and I turn them into a table like the one below. I try to keep phrases in one field to suggest that they cannot be translated word for word. Then I ask the students to translate the text into their mother tongue. The filled table then clearly shows which words the students have problems with and how many words they understand. (A note from extensive reading research: if more than three fields are incorrectly translated, then the students do not understand the text very well!!!)
Translation table

An example of a translation table.

[su_heading size=”22″]Memorization[/su_heading] 1. My story A few years ago the textbooks Inside Out came with a new activity called Anecdote. Students were given a set of questions on a given topic and suggested answers. Students chose the answers that suited their situations or they created some themselves. Then they took their answers and created a story which they told their partners. (You can see an example of such an Anecdote here.) I took the activity a step further. I ask my students to memorize their anecdote and then I want to hear it. It works and it gives the students some language chunks which they might use later. 2. Memorize a film dialogue This one is simple and nice. Find a film your students like. Find a dialogue that contains a lot of useful phrases that native speakers would use (they don’t have to be grammatically correct), transcribe it and ask your students to memorize it. [su_heading size=”22″]Conclusion[/su_heading] Dictation, translation and memorization – it sounds like who is who in ESL criminals. But I still think that these guys do not deserve to be condemned. They got on the bad list because they were overused and misused in the past. If used reasonably, they could greatly help you in teaching English.
The Other Aunt – Harry Potter fanfiction lesson plan
The Other Aunt – Harry Potter fanfiction lesson plan
Harry Potter is extremely popular among students. Students know and like the stories.  Why not use this affection? Let’s give them what they want and teach English at the same time. This lesson is based on a fanfiction piece by Neonskittles98 called The Other Aunt. It was published at Wattpad and the author was so kind as to allow me to use the text and create a lesson around it. I hope you will find the lesson useful and that your students will enjoy it. ADVERT: [showmyads] [su_heading size=”17″]The Other Aunt – Lesson Plan[/su_heading] Download the following document and print it. The lesson starts with a speaking activity. Students work in pairs. Each student in the couple gets a different worksheet. In the pairs, one student has the worksheet A and the other has the worksheet B. Students mustn’t show their worksheets to their partner. Students do the exercise number 1. They read their sentences to their partner and he/she says whether the sentence is true or not. They count, how many correct answers they give. The winner  is the student who gives more correct answers. All the questions concentrate on Harry Potter, so the activity is a great starter. In the second exercise, students read the text and answer the comprehension questions. Some students may ask why some words are red. Explain that it will play its role in exercise 4. Give your students about five minutes for this exercise and then check their answers. The third exercise is very unusual. It is a translation. Students should write the translation of the words and phrases into the fields directly under the words. The aim of this exercise is not to translate the text to create a good text to read. This exercise should help the students notice which words or phrases they don’t know and therefore they should learn them. In the fourth exercise, students look at the text again and they match the red words with the definitions. In the last exercise, students try to solve the crossword using the red words from the text. I hope you and your students will find the lesson useful and interesting.
Creating Audio Materials for EFL Teachers
Creating Audio Materials for EFL Teachers

Nowadays everyone can create audio-visual materials in professional quality. But the question is what materials we should create. The audio files, as we know them, contain a short text which students listen to and then they answer some comprehension questions. But is this the best audio which we can give to our students?

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Unfortunately, there is very little ELT methodology that would suggest some other listening materials which would be helpful for our students. In this post, I would love to share several new kinds of listening exercises and I will show you how to make them. If you have any more ideas and suggestions for listening exercises please share them with me at rotreklzdenek@gmail.com. Thank you.
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Creating Audio

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WavePad is the tool I have been using for creating audios most often. I know there are many free tools but I like this paid one for the following reason: unlike all the others, this one allows you to add your voice anywhere into an existing sound file. It sounds like something that every audio tool does, but unlike all the other tools this one doesn´t delete the existing part of the file. It simply adds your voice there and expands the original file. You can see how it works in the video below:

What is this good for?

Thanks to this feature I can create the following exercises:

  • rocketlanguages listening – As the name suggests, this exercise was inspired by rocketlanguages.com. Their lessons always contain a recording in the target language and then the phrases are explained and taught using the mother tongue. Students are asked to listen, repeat and translate various words and sentences and thus they learn the language of the original recording. You can see an example lesson in the video below (Even though the lesson is a video, it is based on the recording created in WavePad and it could work without the video too.)

    • Read and repeat – by inserting silences into the original recording, you can have a great exercise where students read a text and listen to it. At the end of each sentence, there is a silence in which the students repeat what they have heard and read. In this way, they can improve their pronunciation. It could be used the other way round, too. Students read the text and then they listen and check whether they pronounced the words correctly. You can see both of the exercises in the following video.
    • Zdenda listening – students hear a sentence in English, its mother tongue translation and then there is a pause in which they repeat the sentence in English. I have been using this exercise for several years, but I am not sure how useful it really is. You can hear an example below.

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Dictations

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This software is great for creating various forms of dictations. The simplest form of dictation is the one where students listen and write what they hear. Then they or the teacher check their texts against the original. You can see and hear such a simple dictation below.

Another kind of dictation is a simple gap fill. Students listen and write the missing words.

The third form of dictation I have been using is the receptive dictation. Students listen and they have two options and they say which sentence they heard.

Sound dictation is the last form of dictation I can think of. To create a quality sound dictation, you need a piece of software to help you mix two or more tracks together. For mixing I use the Audiodirector by Cyberlink. Normally, it is really expensive, but you can get a free copy with some specialized computer magazines or if you buy Powerdirector.
You can get free sounds at Freesound.org. Once again, the quality varies but some are awesome. To be able to share your creations, just make sure that you use CC0  sounds. You can hear my sound dictation below. There is a worksheet too.


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Where do I get native speakers to record something for me?

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This used to be a real problem in the past. Fortunately, now it is a breeze to hire a native speaker to record anything for you. I frequently use the paid services at http://www.fiverr.com. My favourite speakers there are theleam, caz3 and zazzbizz.

www.Fivesquid.com is another site where you can find native speakers who will record anything for you. It is slightly more expensive and the delivery takes longer, but I loved the performance of EmilySBrooks123 there. It was perfect for ELT purposes.

If you do not want to spend any money on voiceovers, you can try Rhinospike. You place a text there and a native speaker will record it for you. To be able to download the recording you need to record some texts in your mother tongue in return or buy some credits. Unfortunately, the quality of the recordings varies a lot but it is for free.
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Songs

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To be honest, I am not really sure how useful songs are for learning English. I have met several students who sang their favourite songs, translated and learnt the lyrics but their English was not good. Unlike students who played computer games or watched films in English, these students didn’t progress.
Even though I doubt the usefulness of songs, I have created a few for my students. You can see them below:


If you think that I am really talented, think again. I just wrote the lyrics and I used the fiverr.com services again. I can recommend Douglas Haines who recorded several songs for me (The second song is by him).

My Holiday – speaking lesson
My Holiday – speaking lesson

Once we return from the summer holiday, I would love to hear my students telling me where they were and what they did there. Some might be able to do it straight away, drawing on what they learned in the past, but most of them will be silent. To prevent the silence, I have designed the following lesson to help my students revise what they know and give them the language they will need to be able to speak about their summer holiday.

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Microsoft Word for Language Teachers – part 2
Microsoft Word for Language Teachers – part 2

In the post Microsoft Word for Language Teachers – Part 1 I explain how to use the Teacher´s Pet add-on and I share a simple macro to create the Swimming Pool worksheets. In this post, I am going to offer you more macros which will help you create vocabulary worksheets in no time.
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Noughts and Crosses

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Noughts and crosses is an activity which I published in English Teaching Professional (Issue 105). “For this activity, you need to prepare two worksheets. Worksheet 1 (one copy per student) has a grid, usually 12×13, in which your target words are entered randomly in the students’ mother tongue.”(English Teaching Professional, Issue 105, page 8) It is really difficult to prepare such a worksheet. That was why I created the following macro:


You can see how to insert the macro into Microsoft Word in the following video:

Type your list of words + their translation. Change the page to landscape view. Change the numberofwords value to the number of words in your list. Click Developer and find the Crosses and noughts Macro. Run the macro and your worksheet is finished. (See the video for more detailed instructions.)

Once you have this worksheet, print one for each student in your group. Moreover, you need to prepare a list of words which you used in the worksheet (a simple table with the words and their translation will do).
Tell the students to take the list of words. Read the words aloud and ask them to repeat. Do this at least twice. Then give your students about two minutes to learn the words from the list.
Then they put the list of words away and play the game noughts and crosses. One of the students plays noughts and the other crosses. Before they can place a nought or a cross anywhere in the grid, they have to say the corresponding word in English. If their partner agrees that the word is correct, they can place their symbol into the given square. However, if they do not agree, they need to check using the list and if they are wrong, they have to play somewhere else.

The aim of each player is to create a line of 5 uninterrupted symbols. These can be in line, diagonal or in a column and there must be no free spaces in the line. I usually let my students play for seven minutes and then I stop the game.
Then students have 4 minutes to write as many words into their grids as possible. They may use the word lists but they mustn’t skip any words. The best performance has been 8 full columns.

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More activities

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The grid which we create with the previous macro is very versatile. I use it for two more games.
The first one is called Spill the Beans. Each student gets the grid and 4 beans. They spill their beans on the grid and they have 30 seconds to say all the words their beans cover or touch. They get one point for each correct answer.
The second game is called Tennis. Make the middle line of the grid thicker so it looks like the one in the picture below.
Tennis grid
Students need a bean and a pencil. One student puts the bean on her half and pushes it with her pencil to the other half. Then she has to say the words the bean covers or touches. Students get one point for each correct word. Students play for 7 minutes and the winner is the one who gets more points.
If the bean doesn´t cross the thick line, their partner gets an extra turn and she says all the words the bean covers or touches. Put simply, if the bean is on your half, you try to push over the net (the thick line) and your partner says the words. If the bean stops on the rival´s half, you say the word.
Again, when the game finishes, I ask the students to fill in as many columns as possible in four minutes.
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Microsoft Word – Remembering tables

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Remembering tables is a simple, yet effective, activity to teach new vocabulary using students’ mother tongue. For this activity you need a worksheet which consists of four pairs of tables. On the left there are tables with the English words and their translations. On the right, there are the same tables but without the English words. You can see such a table below.
Remembering tables picture
Obviously, it is not easy to create such tables and that is why I asked an expert on Microsoft Word to create the macro for me. This time, you need to download the following file.


Before you open the file above, you must create a list of 16 words+their translation in Notepad. Save the list under any name but make sure that you save it as Unicode. (Don´t ask, I have no idea what this is 🙂 ) Then download the file above and Select the file you created in Notepad. Beware, the macro will not work if your file doesn’t contain exactly 16 words and they are not in Unicode. (See the video below for detailed instructions)

And how do you use the remembering tables? Start at the top. Read the English words in the first table and ask your students to repeat them. Do it at least twice. Then the students have 20 seconds to remember the 4 words from the first table. After the twenty seconds, they cover the table on the left and try to complete the table on the right. When they finish their work, they look at the table on the left and check + correct their answers. If they cannot remember any word, they can have a look and complete the table on the right with this help.
You do the same with the rest of the tables. The only difference is the time the students have for learning the words. For the second table, they have 30 seconds, for the third they have 45 seconds and for the last one they have only 40 seconds because all the words there have already been taught.
I hope you will find these macros and activities useful and that you will use them in your lessons. If you have more ideas for Macros, share them in the comments below.

Microsoft Word for Language Teachers
Microsoft Word for Language Teachers

Do you use Microsoft Word? Do you create worksheets and teaching materials with it? You are not the only one. Microsoft Word is the most common piece of software teachers use. It is really easy to use and it can do nearly anything. However, it can do much more! It can make your lesson preparations really easy!

In this post, I would like to share several macros I have been using for years. These macros save a lot of time and make my lessons are more interesting. I will share the add-ons and macros to create some of the activities I have been using daily (or at least weekly 🙂
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Teacher’s Pet for Microsoft Word

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Have you got a pet? No? You will!
Teacher’s Pet is a set of macros you will love. There are many things that you will be able to do. You can create crosswords, wordsearches, flashcards, jumbled texts and much more. You can download it here: Teacher’s Pet.

How does it work? Simply, download the programme and install it on your computer. There will probably be several hiccups during the installation as the original Microsoft Word tries to prevent you from making any changes but you will find instructions and help here.

Once you install it, there should appear a new tab in your Microsoft Word. It is called ADD ON and when you click it, you will see the icon with a dog and it is the Teacher´s Pet. So, what shall you do with it?
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Simple Crossword

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I often create simple crosswords for a vocabulary test. You just type the list of words + their translations (type the WORD+Translation). Add a solution at the top of the list and then click Simple Crossword and the macro will create your crossword. You can see a video of the process here.

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Flashcards

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Another Teacher’s Pet macro that I use frequently are flashcards. To create flashcards, you need to create a table with two columns first. The first column contains the words and the second can contains the translations or pictures. Then you click FLASHCARDS and two files are created. In one file, there are the words, and in the second there are the translations or pictures. Then you just print the first file, return the paper into your printer and print the second file. See the video:

There are 24 macros in Teacher’s Pet. Twenty are free and four are premium and you have to pay for them. Some of the macros do not work perfectly, for example Verb Tense Test, but most of them are fine and worth having. They will save you a lot of time.

Once I got to know Teacher’s Pet I got inspired and started programming simple macros myself.
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My original macros

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One of the activities I have been using a lot is called SWIMMING POOL vocabulary activity. You can find its description here. To do this activity, you need a worksheet with three columns for each student. In the columns, there is a random selection of the words you want your students to learn. When I started creating these worksheets they took a lot of time. So I wrote a macro and now it is a breeze. Here is the macro.


To use this macro, copy the text, open the DEVELOPER tab, Macros, Create New and paste it there. You can see the process in the video below:

Type your list of words+their translation. Click Developer, find the Swimming Pool Macro and change the value Numberofwords to the number of words you really have. This value is set to 29 by default. If you have fewer words and you do not change the value, there will be some empty squares in your worksheet. Click the run button and the grid should appear. See the video demonstration.

 

Conjunctions of time
Conjunctions of time

To teach the conjunctions of time, it is crucial that the students understand the meaning of the conjunctions. That is why I have created the following graphic organiser which I use to explain the meaning of the conjunctions:
Conjunctions of time graphic explanation
I print the picture and hand it out to my students.

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Then I explain the meaning of the conjunctions. If I teach monolingual classes I translate the meaning of the words and then I explain how the usage differs in English. However, if you teach an international group you need to explain the meaning in English.

  • AFTER means later or then.
  • WHEN says that action 2 happens after action one. Moreover, action one is certain to happen.
  • BEFORE means sooner.
  • WHILE – the two actions happen at the same time.
  • AS SOON AS – immediately after.
  • IF – is similar to when, but the action 1 may not happen and then the action 2 will not happen. I like to emphasize that IF includes a  decision.

I am not saying that the explanation is perfect, but it works pretty well for my students so it might work for your students, too.

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Conjunctions of time – practise

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Now your students understand the meaning of the conjunctions. But can they use them?
I suppose that there will be some exercises in your textbooks or that you can find some worksheets online. So I created two rather unusual exercises to practise the grammar.
The first one is a game. Download the following pdf document and open it in Acrobat reader by Adobe (the game will not work otherwise).
The game is called Penalty Shootout. Your task is to choose the correct answer and then score a goal.

The second unusual activity to practice the conjunctions of time is a video quiz.
Students prepare a piece of paper and watch the video and write down their answer for each sentence. There are eight sentences and the students can see the correct answers at the end.

I hope you will find these activities useful and that your students will learn the conjunctions of time and will use them correctly.
 

Simple Dictations for Elementary Students
Simple Dictations for Elementary Students

Dictations?! Really? Isn’t this method outdated, boring and non-communicative?

Yes, it certainly isn’t modern or innovative, but it is useful. It provides feedback on listening and during a dictation the skill of writing gets some practise.

Moreover, Paul Nation in his book “What Every EFL Teacher Should Know?” puts dictation among Language-Focused listening and speaking activities. He writes that “there is value in giving deliberate attention to language features in listening and speaking. This deliberate attention provides a way of learning new language features quickly and efficiently.” Put simply, dictation helps learners practise listening and writing and it improves their language at the same time.

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How to do a dictation?

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Paul Nation describes a good dictation in this way:”a teacher needs to get a text around 100 words long. This text should only contain familiar words and it could be taken from a reading text that the learners have already studied earlier in the course.

The classroom procedure should be following. The teacher first reads the whole dictation at a normal speed, and students only listen. Then the teacher reads small chunks of the text quite naturally and students write what they hear. The teacher reads each chunk twice. In the end, the teacher reads the whole text again at a normal speed.

Once the dictation is over, there are several ways to check the writing. The teacher can collect the dictations and check them. Or they can display the correct text and students correct their own work. Or the students work in pairs and correct their partner’s writing.

I followed these instructions and I created and recorder the following dictations for my elementary students of English.

The first two dictations focus on the verb TO BE, while the last one features the verb HAVE GOT, too.

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Dictation 1

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Dictation 2

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Dictation 3

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I hope these dictations will help you in your teaching and that your students will improve their listening and writing.

Works cited:
Nation, P (2013). What Should Every EFL Teacher Know? [E-book].Compass Publishing.

Passive voice – board game
Passive voice – board game

I love playing games with my students. They lower students’ anxiety and they give them a chance to practise the language. Moreover, in a game mistakes are welcome, and students find it easier to concentrate and perservere. Therefore, a well designed game supports the learners’ growth mindset and is better than a lot of worksheets.

In this post, I would like to share a board game which I created for my students to practise the passive voice. Before I play the game with my students I teach the passive voice using the activities here. Once I feel that my students understand the grammar, we play the following board game.

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Passive voice game

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Printing the game, you will need to print three times as many pages two as pages one. Thus if you need the game for three groups, you will print the page 2 three times and the page 1 once. Moreover, you will need a dice for each group of students.
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My students usually play the game in groups of three or four. Each of the students should take a counter that will represent him or her in the game. They place the counter on the START and throw the dice. They move their counter, read the sentence and transform it into the passive voice. The others listen carefully and check their answers using the key from the page 1. If the student forms the sentence correct, they may stay in the place where they landed. If they form the sentence incorrectly, they must return to the place where they started their move.

The student who gets to the end first is the winner.

I hope your students will enjoy the game as much as my students did.