Tools to improve pronunciation and phonological control

ICT tools and apps to record/promote spoken production and co-production/interaction

Teacher tools for written reception and mediation activities

These websites might be useful when selecting a text to use in class, or designing an activity:

  • Text analyzer: http://www.roadtogrammar.com/textanalysis/: to determine the CEFR language level of a text, and its readability. Copy the text to be used with students, and paste it onto the box. A really useful tool to reinforce the teacher’s perception about the level of a text, by providing Artificial Intelligence (AI)  data to prove it.
  • Text inspector– English Vocabulary Profile Online (englishprofile.org/wordlists/evp): provides information on the CEFR level of words in the text, which in turn provides further information as to the readability of the text. It can also suggest words related to a given topic at a chosen CEFR level.
  • Rewordify: http://rewordify.com/ Enter English text or a web page to simplify it. It can be useful, for instance, when preparing written mediation tasks, as it uses one of the mediating strategies- simplify- to give possible ideas of how the text could be simplified.
  • I Lazy to Read (https://ilazytoread.herokuapp.com) or Smmry (https://smmry.com/): These websites use AI to summarise the text, by selecting the most relevant sentences.

Starting secondary school: icebreaker ideas

Starting secondary school can be a nerve-racking experience for students. These are some suggested activities you can use on the first day of your English/literacy classes with year 1 secondary students.

  • Shonny’s first day at secondary school: the day before (Newsround). This British girl describes her feelings when making the jump from primary to secondary school, something most of your students can relate to. You can download the worksheet with some questions based on the video, as well as the transcription.

As a follow-up, you can also use Shonny’s video describing her actual first day at school.

  • What to expect when you start high school (Newsround). Some year 7 students (11-12 year-olds) who have been in a secondary school in the UK for some weeks now are asked about how they feel now. Based on the questions the kids on the video are asked, you can ask these questions to your own students:

    • How do you feel on the first day of high school? (elicit adjectives from your students, and suggest synonyms using a thesaurus).
    • What is the hardest thing about starting school?

Further ideas: Secondary school struggles: captioned video and article

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 16.18.16

  • Time-capsule: one of my favourite activities to start school. Ask students to answer these questions individually. Nobody else will read their answers unless they want to share anything with their classmates by reading them aloud. Then, a ‘digital time-capsule’ can be created, which can, in turn, become the first element in a digital portfolio. Their worksheets can be scanned and then uploaded, for example, to Seesaw. That way, they could also record their voice explaining some of their answers.

What I did back then was to scan all the answer sheets as pdf files that I have kept on my drive. The students I did this activity with are in their year 4 secondary this year: it would be a nice end-of-year giveaway to show them what their thoughts and hopes were on their first days at secondary school.

  • Finally, another possible nice activity is for students to write a letter to their future selves. The website https://www.futureme.org/ allows you to write text, and schedule it to be sent to your email inbox at a given point in the future. The letter can be scheduled, for example, for the last class of the year, and it can describe, for example, students’ expectations, hopes, fears, and/or resolutions. Then, by the end of the school year, they can check what they wrote in the letter against what actually happened.

Tips for speaking tests (EEOOII Aragón) (B2-C1)

If you’re going to take the speaking test at any of the Official Schools of Languages in Aragón, you can watch this video with tips for the exam. Good luck!

Last-minute resources and tips for B2-C1 English tests

Are you only days away from taking a B2/C1 English test? These links, tips and resources might help you make the most of your last-minute revision time:

General tips:

Speaking:

Writing:

Mediation:

Listening:

Cross-linguistic mediation: Easter-related idioms in Spanish explained in English

During the Easter break, I came across this post on Twitter:

Click on the picture to visit the authors’ blog.

So I thought that could be used as the input for a cross-linguistic mediation activity, to mediate communication, as well as the cultural and historical background involved in those Spanish idioms.

I started this padlet with those ten Spanish idioms. Then, I asked my students to give a short explanation of what they mean, intended for foreign students of Spanish. I asked them to record themselves using the Chrome extension/Android app Talk and Comment, which allows you to record short audio comments, and immediately creates a link. That way, their audio recording could be pasted as a link straight to the padlet, without having to upload their recording anywhere else and then create a link. They could also record it using any recording app, and then upload it to padlet.

Alternatively, students were also allowed to simply type a comment with their explanation.

(Open the padlet in a new window to see all the idioms)

Made with Padlet

Since the main reasons to mediate are to help the other speaker understand, to be helpful to them, and to be mindful of their needs (not those of the mediator), what I am asking from you now is: once my students have explained these idioms, can you give them feedback on how useful their mediation was? Was their explanation clear enough? Relevant enough? Please rate their mediation skills by giving them 1-5 stars. You can also type a comment providing constructive feedback under each explanation. Ideally, they should be rated by ELE students (Spanish as a Foreign Language) or non-native speakers of Spanish, but all contributions are welcome.

As you can imagine, there is no need for you to listen to every single comment on every idiom: just listen to the ones that catch your eye, or any you might see which has not received much feedback yet.

Thank you!