Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ready Made Lessons for Advanced ESL Students

What I like most about this website is how comprehensive each lesson idea is, and how easy it is to print and go. All the prepared activities are useful.

It may not look fancy at first glance, but the activities and content on this site are top-notch, including a wide range of skill building exercises related to the initial article posted at the beginning of each  lesson.

To use this resource:
1. search for an article that is on the topic you want and click on its title

2.  scroll down the page a bit to see the lesson. It isn´t exactly obvious where the lesson begins. It begins where you see the article headline (inside a dark blue banner)

3. Scroll down the page to see the myriad of activity options based on that initial article.

4. Copy and paste the activities you like into a new document and print and go.

If you are lucky to find an article on the topic you want to teach or review, you´re set.

I think this resource works best for use as private tutoring materials or in very small classes of 2.

For larger classes, you could easily adapt the exercises, choosing the ' article' of your choice and then only using selected vocabulary building activities and writing activities to round out the lesson. for free short articles in simple English is a good alternative to wikipedia for quick fact lookups, explanations of concepts, and dictionary definitions.


Although some articles are for purchase ( through High Beam), a lot of general information is available for free.

Good for younger teens, and for historic and geographic topics.


Dictogloss is a classroom dictation activity where learners are required to reconstruct a short text by listening and noting down key words, which are then used as a base for reconstruction.
Example :
Learners discuss the sea. The teacher then explains the task, and reads a short text on the sea to the class, who just listen. The teacher reads the text again, and the learners take notes. In groups, the learners then reconstruct the text.

 Make a reading assignment into an interactive activity by making 2 copies of a passage, and blacking out some words in one of the copies and different words in the other copy.

TIP: Make sure to write out the questions that would need to be asked to recover the missing information to make sure that the activity is pitched to the correct level for your students. It´s surprising how difficult it can be for the students to manufacture the correct question to get the information they are missing, and how easy it is to accidentally create a situation where the question you would need to ask is very complicated.

Then make enough copies of both sheets to be able to give one of each to person in this pairwork activity.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Free Bingo Card Generator Programs That Work Well For Teaching English

(Card sample from Apollo´s Templates)

It`s harder than I thought to find decent, free Bingo Card generator programs that work easily and well, and produce nice looking bingo cards.

I considered the following 7 bingo card generator sites in my evaluation:

 I decided that I liked these ones the best:

1.      1. Bingo Card App
 The quickest and easiest free tool for making basic, multi-purpose cards with short words or numbers that I have found is Bingo Card App

2. Apollo´s Templates
 For quick and easy bingo cards with numbers, I liked  Apollo´s Templates.
Very basic, home-made looking card, but good for cards with either  text ( words) or numbers, fairly easy to use ( although you have to read a lot of text), and useful for generating  a class set ( 20 cards) at a time:
Below is a fuller description of how to use these bingo card generator sites.
1.  Bingo Card App
Although there were problems with some of the layout options (recommendation: don´t choose the option to make 4 cards per page. Choose the options for making 1 or 2 cards per page instead), I really liked the major features of this program.
-          Super easy and intuitive to use
-          Can add your own title, and make cards with letters or numbers
-          Instant preview available
-          Ability to download and save your bingo cards and print them later, at your leisure

-          Limited to making 8 cards in total ( not 8 pages of cards)

2. Apollo´s Templates.

- generates professional, traditional looking BINGO cards, not cards that look like a home-made chart in Word
- automatically makes 4 cards at a time for free ( click ' create new cards' to make more)
-very quick and easy to generate a set of nice looking, bingo cards

-not customizable. Can only make cards with numbers on them, not words-
-can´t save to file; must print out immediately ( unless your printer program allows you to save as pdf during the print process)
- can´t generate more than 4 cards of set dimensions at a time
-no master list of numbers for the caller to refer to
-only includes numbers from 1 to 75
- not all numbers between 1 and 75 are included on the four free cards generated.

How to Generate a set of Bingo Cards:

2.  Don´t get sucked into clicking on the arrow ( it just shows you ads)! 
Look down the page for the heading ' Step 1', and click on a colour (for example, ' Blue Bingo Cards' ).

3. The site will automatically show you a blank template with a banner area in the colour your chose.
Click ' Create New Cards' to generate one sheet of cards, a randomized set of 4 cards.
4. Print immediately using your browser print buttons.

Runner up #3 -
-          Good tool to use to make cards for games that help students review numbers up to 75 but it´s not possible to make cards that are based on a smaller number range unless you make them yourself (and then you will need at least 24 numbers).

-You need a lot of unique phrases or words (25) (24 if the centre square is free) to generate just one or two bingo cards.
-You can´t make less than the 5 pages of cards that are automatically generated ( 20 cards). Well, it´s not the end of the world since you can always just cut out and use the cards you need.
- Doesn´t generate a full list of all the terms you used, so you need to make (or save) your original list so you have something for the bingo caller to use, and a way to see a ‘master list’ of words at a glance.

How to Generate a set of Bingo Cards:

To make instant, automatically generated cards with a random set of numbers, it takes just 3 clicks ( but takes a lot of reading to figure out the options).
1.       On the homepage, click on  I've read enough. Let me generate bingo cards!
2.        Then click on   Standard numbered bingo cards
3.       Then choose how many cards per page (confusingly labeled options like ‘two numeric bingo card per page’)
You can generate 2 or 4 per page, 5 pages at a time (for free – more and you have to pay to upgrade).
To make cards with words:
1.       On the homepage, click on  I've read enough. Let me generate bingo cards!
3.       Then click on create custom bingo cards and follow the prompts


Of  course, it´s easy to picture how to use BINGO in the class setting. Just play the game like normal.

1. BLACKOUT - have students take turns calling out one thing on their card until someone has them all covered, at which point this student can yell '' BINGO'' or ''BLACKOUT'', as you prefer, in order to win.

2. CLUES AND ANSWERS - have a call list made of clues, or definitions for the words that appear on the cards. Optional: Add a degree of difficulty by requiring that the student must remember, and 'call back', the clue / definition and match it to the word they marked off on their card, in order to win.

If you have found a different program that you like better for making free BINGO cards, please let me know!