Here's a Christmas crossword I produced for my EM Normandie students. Unfortunately, I couldn't embed it, so you'll have to click on the image above, or here, to actually do the crossword. Alternatively, you can download a PDF version here.
A bank manager is being led away in handcuffs by police accompanied by a member of the Serious Fraud Office. A customer, who has been waiting to see him, comments: "Typical! You wait weeks to see your bank manager then he goes gallivanting off".
VOCABULARY Someone who goes gallivanting off (or around) goes to a lot of different places looking for amusement and entertainment. • "Sex and the City" was about rich hip white women gallivanting about New York in clothes no one could ever afford.
COMMENTARY The humour comes from the contrast between the customer's reference to the 'gallivanting' bank manager and his actual situation (i.e., being arrested on suspicion of fraud). The portrayal of the bank manager as a stereoype (balding, bespectacled, boring) adds to the fun.
I got an email from Timothy Due, asking me to review Quickworksheets, a website he founded that allows users to create a variety of vocabulary and grammar worksheets online. So here goes ...
OVERVIEW I signed up for a free account, which gave me access to three worksheet generators: Word Scramble, Basic Wordsearch Maker and Minimal Pair Word Tree (a Premium Account costs $2.99 a month and unlocks a further 15 worksheet generators and other additional features).
1. Word Scramble automatically jumbles the spelling of up to 20 words and generates a worksheet with letter spaces for the correct spelling of each word. You can choose difficulty options such as whether to display hints or a word box. See example here. 2. Basic Wordsearch Maker automatically fits up to 12 listed words into a grid of letters. Students find the words, that are placed either vertically, horizontally or diagonally within the grid. See example here. 3. Minimal Pair Word Tree creates a listening tree exercise from 5 sets of minimal pairs. At each juncture the teacher speaks one word from the pair, and the students follow the path, listening at each juncture, to arrive at the correct number at the bottom of the tree. The exercise can be repeated multiple times using the same worksheet. See example here.
You can find examples of the 15 other paid worksheet types here.
Finished worksheets can be downloaded as a PDF file or as HTML for editing in a word processor (premium members only), and are stored online for easy access.
Another useful feature is the fact that members can share the worksheets they have created (there are currently 160 available).
VERDICT There are plenty of free online worksheet generators available, (see here, here and here, for example), but most of them are cluttered with ads, and I couldn't find any that are as well-designed and easy-to-use as Quickworksheets. The variety of worksheet types available, including crosswords, multiple-choice quizzes, and bingo grids, is impressive. However, the cherry on the top (or the icing on the cake, if you prefer) is the fact that the worksheets are fully customisable. If, like me, you spend a lot of time creating worksheets for your students, it's definitely worth thinking about signing up for a premium account.
Here's a crossword I created for my students using EllipseCrossword as part of a lesson on Saint Patrick's Day (Saturday 17 March). Click on the crossword grid below to begin. You can also download the grid and clues as a printable HTML file here.
This cartoon by Kipper Williams from The Guardian relates to news that online retailer Amazon, best known for selling books, has started offering food and drink in the UK for the first time. Read more >>
A man opens his fridge and finds it full of books. He comments, "We got the wrong order." The joke is ... do I really need to explain it? Surely not.
VOCABULARY 1. Someone's order is what they have asked to be delivered to them in return for money. Order is also a verb. • I've ordered the complete box set of "The West Wing" from Amazon. 2. Groceries are foods you buy at a grocery store or supermarket such as flour, sugar, tinned foods, etc.
If you like the Weboword approach, you might like to subscribe to Weboword Express, a monthly PDF pack which combines Weboword’s daily visual vocabulary and weekly crossword with premium content to aid vocabulary development and English language learning. You can view a sample here.
To help you get in the festive mood, BBC Learning English has compiled a selection of Christmassy features published on their site in previous years. These include a crossword, a pantomime, quizzes and podcasts.
Just Crosswords is a site of 15x15 crossword puzzles that you solve right in your Web browser. Click on the clues or the spaces in the puzzle, and then simply type to fill in the blanks. Standard puzzles use symmetric grids with lots of standard crossword words and a few words that fit the theme. Crozzle puzzles use only words that fit the theme. Choose from one of the more than 300 puzzles or make your own and link to it or put it on your own site. All for free!
Vocabulary is Fun is a vocabulary website with the Flash online word games. The vocabulary games include an online
word search, an online crossword puzzle, and hangman online (called HangMouse). Users choose the vocabulary list that
the word game will use. The games can be used on smart boards for to build vocabulary
skills in the classroom.
Verdict: An impressive suite of games. I particulary liked the crossword puzzles. The Flash effects are really neat.
Postscript is Linguarama's self-study magazine for learners
of English. Each issue has a theme on which many of the exercises
are based, for example Sales, Personnel or Banking.
There are exercises on reading, writing, grammar, pronunciation,
style, vocabulary and usage and each exercise has an answer
key so that you can correct your work yourself online. For recreation, check out the crosswords.
Verdict: Postscript is one of the very best resources for learners of Business English. The cherry on the cake is that you can download the whole site to your own computer!
The only newspaper I regularly buy here in France is The Guardian as there's an international edition which is available on the day (other British papers are a day old, if not more). I'm not a crossword fanatic but I do enjoy doing the Guardian Quick crossword as I'm usually able to complete it in around 20 minutes - any longer would seem like a waste of time. For those of you who want to try your hand at a 'real' crossword (as opposed to an EFL one), you can find the Guardian Quick crossword online. The online version is easier as you can check your answers or cheat. Click here for more crossword links.