Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More TOEFL ideas

1) is a great place to download TOEFL resources

2) Work on specific conversation types & their grammar/language counterparts. (This is actually great for language students of all levels!) For example, one major skill that TOEFLers need to complete the Speaking Section of the TOEFL is to be able to describe a problem, explain the solution given in the conversation they hear, and give their opinion about what the student in the recording should do. So one activity I've used on occasion is problem description using Dear Abby columns. I give the students several, then have them explain the problem, the solution and their opinion about it. It's good practice describing problems. And this activity can be accompanied with language and grammar needed for explaining problems. For example, so and so says/states/describes, etc. So and so talks about/discusses, etc. such and such a problem. Grammar focuses could include using advice language like should/If I were you/etc.

3) Other conversation types are debates: skill to focus on: arguing/defending a point. (This is a pretty common language-learning activity.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TOEFL speaking preparation resources

I've had a quick look at a few different resources for preparing your students for the TOEFL speaking part:
advice, parameters, and voicemail etiquette

great speaking exercises
tons of conversation questions for practicing
Renshaw's speaking tips

Excellent EFL Lessons

These lessons are as good as gold. I love EFL stuff.

Reviewing the simple past

A great activity for reviewing the simple past is to read a short biography of someone interesting. This site, with bios of Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe and this other site where you can read about Noam Chompsky, Alexander Humbolt and Paul Harvey, seem good. This is a good site for long biographies. You can make up your own comprehension questions for the biography you choose to read and then ask them questions about their past or assign them to write an autobiography. Here are links to hundreds of questions to choose from: here, here and here if you or they want to write a book on the subject.

This lesson gets your student speaking in the simple past and makes for interesting conversation.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vocabulary/Conversation exercises

I'm loving these EFL Talking Point Lessons! They are great because they help "ensanchar" the vocabulary of your students and provide great conversation questions. I've even followed the format and written my own: I'll just paste it here because my window's installer is keeping me from installing "esnips", a program that would let me upload it here. Anyhoo...

Edit May 14th: I just added "multitask" to this discussion sheet. This is a good activity to pair up with the gerund activity posted earlier.

At Work

Match the vocabulary words with the correct definitions:

to milk it to micromanage to get sacked the glass ceiling to think outside the box to multitask

1) ___________________ this term refers to situations where the advancement of a qualified person within the hierarchy of an organization is stopped at a lower level because of some form of discrimination, most commonly sexism or racism

2) ___________________ the performance of multiple tasks at one tim

3) ___________________ to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details, to meddle or try to control in detail the actions and procedures of the people working below another

4) ___________________ to get fired

5) ___________________ to have original ideas, often unconventional ones with a new perspective

6) ___________________ to take full advantage of something, to make a task last more hours than necessary especially if you are getting paid by the hour (similar to “sacar la vuelta”)

Fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary term. Be sure to use the correct form of the verbs. (infinitive, gerund) The form of the verb is ALWAYS a gerund when it’s used directly after prepositions.

Brenda is the boss of the graphic designing department at a large advertising company. She’s meticulous, a perfectionist. She complains that her boss hasn’t promoted her because she’s a woman, that she’s hit ___________________. However, his decision has more to do with her love of _____________________ at work, than a desire to keep her at a lower level in the company. She often asks for extensions on projects. Rather than taking one month, she spends six to eight weeks finishing them. In her favor, she’s good at ____________________________, as she often comes up with innovative solutions for problems she encounters. She can do fifteen things at once; she’s a natural at __________________. She’s also responsible for four people in her department. They enjoy her trust in them and her ability to give them full responsibility of their tasks. She doesn’t meddle with their projects or try to _____________________ them, or threatening them with _____________________.

Answer the questions using would or used to.

1. Where did you use to work?

2. Name three tasks you did daily.

3. Where would you have lunch when you worked there?

Conversation questions:

1) Are you a good multitasker? (Are you good at multitasking?)

2) Have you ever felt you were being micromanaged at home or at work?

3) Do you think “the glass ceiling” is a common phenomenon at big corporations?

4) What do you think about workers who “milk it”?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I got this link from a student of mine. It's a list of Spanish connectores translated to English. Very useful.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Reading activities?

Does anyone have any suggestions for reading materials I can find online? I'm looking for all different types of writing: historical, natural science, economics, on culture, music, sports, etc. I'm specifically looking for articles about a page in length. Of all kinds.

Resources I'm currently using include:
the British Council podcasts
suggested by Isabel in an earlier entry
Time: Your Body. A User's Guide. This is a great resource. (It's being sold on amazon for $28.00, but I bought it in an airport for $11.99, the price stated by the UPC symbol.) How each body system (respiratory, digestive, circulatory, nervous, etc.) functions is described in a page. Some are explained in half a page. Most of my students find this book interesting.
Boggle's Worlds two article downloads
The Onion
The New York Times -- these articles are generally a bit too long, often 2-3-4 pages. However there are usually several interesting articles to read.

Update: Here's another great reading resource at Hannah's suggestion: the BBC's Words in the News. Thanks ;)

Here is some great advice on EFL reading activities.

If you have any suggestions, please comments. Perhaps someone knows of other English teaching sites like he British Council.
Thanks. ;)