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 🙂
Teacher’s Pet for Microsoft Word[/su_heading][su_spacer] 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?
Simple Crossword[/su_heading][su_spacer] 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. [su_spacer][su_heading]
Flashcards[/su_heading][su_spacer] 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.
My original macros[/su_heading][su_spacer] 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.
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.
PowerPoint is a very powerful tool for teachers. If you know how, you can create nearly anything. You can make teaching activities which look good and which interactive. In this way you can draw students’ attention and involve them more. Moreover, PowerPoint is environmentally friendly and if you take your time, it looks really good.
However, not all teachers are capable of creating complicated presentations in PowerPoint, and those who are, usually do not have enough time. That is why I would like to share a simple quiz template where you only enter the questions and answers and you are ready to go. You don’t have to do anything else. The template will do everything for you.[su_spacer][su_heading]
PowerPoint Quiz Template – What it can do[/su_heading][su_spacer] Before you read on, you should try it out yourself.
As you can see, if you click the correct answer, a green tick and an arrow appear. If you click an incorrect answer, the incorrect answer disappears and you have to answer again. It is simple but effective.[su_spacer][su_heading]
PowerPoint Quiz Template – What you can do[/su_heading][su_spacer] First download the template and open it in PowerPoint. Then you can change the background, and delete all the other pictures you don’t like. You can add your own pictures, too.
To change the answers, do the same. Open the appropriate slide and type your answers. The only thing you need to know is, where the correct answer should go. In slide number 2, the second answer must be correct. In slide number 3, the fifth answer must be correct. In slide number 4, the first answer must be correct. In slide number 5, the third answer must be correct. In slide number 6, the sixth answer must be correct. In slide number 7, the fifth answer must be correct. In slide number 8, the third answer must be correct. In slide number 9, the second answer must be correct.
Hopefully, you will find this template useful and your students will like it.
Most of teachers do not read research papers. There are several reasons for this. First, many teachers do not have enough time to study. Second, these papers are usually pretty difficult to read and understand. And third, they contain a lot of statistics and language teachers are not very good with numbers.
To be honest, I love language teaching research. I try to follow the latest papers and compare their results with my experience and I try to adjust my teaching on the basis of their results. And here I would like to share the most interesting papers with you in a simplified form.
Is extensive reading dead – Research[/su_heading][su_spacer] The first paper which I would like to discuss is called “Retention of new words: Quantity of encounters, quality of task, and degree of knowledge” and it was written by Batia Laufer and Bella Rozovski-Roitblat. It was published in Language Teaching Research 2015, Vol. 19(6) 687 –711. The name sounds a bit complicated but the paper examines what the learners must do to learn new vocabulary.
For a long time, research suggested that extensive reading is one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary. It was supposed that the more often students meet a word the more likely they are to learn it. Therefore, it was recommended that students should read a lot and it was expected that in the end they would know a lot of vocabulary.
This new research took this expectation and put it to a test. They asked the following questions:
- Is it enough to read a lot to improve my vocabulary?
- How many encounters are enough to learn a word?
- Is extensive reading the most effective way to learn new vocabulary?
And what did they find out? If you do a vocabulary exercises you will learn many more words than if you just read. Even if you read and look the unknown words in a dictionary it does not help much (some tests even show that it does not improve your knowledge of vocabulary at all). Put simply, if you memorize the words, you will save time and you will know much more. In fact, the tests showed that you will know up to 20 times as much.
So, does it mean that extensive reading is dead? It depends: If you have used it for teaching vocabulary (and I did), it is time to think again and abolish this practice. However, if you need to improve students’ reading, I am sure that extensive reading is a good means to achieve this.
To sum up, the research paper “Retention of new words: Quantity of encounters, quality of task, and degree of knowledge” shows that it is better to use vocabulary exercises than extensive reading for vocabulary teaching.