This is an easier Halloween crossword than the one I did a couple of years ago, and should be more suitable for lower-level learners. Click on the grid below to access an interactive online version, and click here to download a PDF version (with solution).
This is a presentation I made using online presentation tool emaze. If you're fed up with PowerPoint, you should check out emaze - there's a free version with lots of great templates. In fact, I didn't have to do very much to create 'Halloween Fun Facts' - just select the slides, insert the text, and add some creepy music. The result is really impressive (if I do say so myself!).
TIP Click on the arrow symbol (bottom right) to watch the presentation in full screen mode - it's much more effective.
LESSON IDEA Get your students to use emaze rather than PowerPoint next time they do a presentation in class.
If, like me, you use a lot of video in your language classes, you should definitely get this ibook by Nik Peachey. I thought I knew most of the main video resources and sites, but I discovered plenty of new ones. Plus there are loads of great ideas for using video in the classroom. And at just €1.49 it's ridiculously cheap. Download it from the app store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/digital-video/id1025275485
BACKGROUND David Cameron has ruled out the prospect of introducing a tax on sugar, dashing efforts by health campaigners who said it would help prevent an "obesity crisis". Downing Street confirmed on Thursday morning that the Prime Minister had no plans to introduce a levy on fizzy drinks and sweet food and said he believed there were "more effective ways of tackling" obesity. His decision comes despite a government report saying a levy would help combat the rising problem of obesity in the UK by curbing demand for sugary food and drink. The landmark report, which had been held back from publication amid allegations of political interference, PHE says obesity and its consequences cost the NHS £5.1bn a year. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Schrank from The Independent references the song "A Spoonful of Sugar" from the 1964 musical "Mary Poppins". The original lyric goes "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down", but in Schrank's cartoon Mary Poppins is telling her overweight charges that "It's time to cut out that spoonful of sugar, children" (one supposes because she's having difficulty lifting them up). Meanwhile, David Cameron appears at the top of Big Ben to admonish her, "Tut, tut, no nannying!"
COMMENTARY The reference to "nannying" is a play on words. Mary Poppins is a nanny, so her activity is nannying, but Cameron uses the term in the figurative sense. If you "nanny" someone, you are overprotective towards them. And the expression "nanny state" describes a government that is regarded as overprotective or as interfering unduly with personal choice (a charge Cameron seems keen to avoid). • Sydney has become so bogged down by "nanny state" rules that people can break the law up to 10 times a day, without realising.
VOCABULARY Tut tut is an exclamation used to express disapproval or annoyance. It can also be used as a verb. • Aunt Mary tut-tutted at all the goings-on.
DESCRIPTION All Ears English is an English as a Second Language (ESL) podcast for intermediate to advanced English learners around the world. Teachers Lindsay McMahon and Michelle Kaplan will show you how to use everyday English vocabulary and natural idioms, expressions, and phrasal verbs and how to make small talk in American English. You'll also get special tips on American culture, customs, etiquette, and how to speak with Americans as well as conversation and commentary on study tips, business English, life in America and Boston and New York, how to apply to university in the US, dating, travel, food and more. You'll get TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC help also from The Examiner of Excellence, Jessica Beck. This podcast is for adult students who are professionals and university students as well as ESL teachers.
COMMENT It's been a while since I featured a podcast and I should really have mentioned this one before as it's one of the best (14+ million downloads must mean something!) There are over 400 episodes in the archives, so that should keep even the most dedicated English learner going for a while!
TIPS 1. Subscribe using iTunes. 2. Download the free '100 Most Common English Phrases' PDF.
BACKGROUND China's President Xi Jinping and David Cameron have held talks at Chequers on the third day of Mr Xi's state visit to the UK. In a joint statement earlier, the leaders praised the trip as opening a "golden era" in UK-China relations. The Queen has hailed the president's "milestone" trip, but there have also been demonstrations over China's record on human rights during the four-day visit. On Wednesday, a deal to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant was announced by Mr Xi and Mr Cameron. Ministers expect more than £30bn of deals to have been agreed during the four days, but critics have accused the UK government of "kowtowing" to Beijing. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Peter Brookes from The Times shows a waving Xi Jinping and his wife boarding their plane at the end of their UK state visit. However, instead of using the usual passenger stairs, they are walking up the backs of (from left to right) David Cameron, George Osborne, Prince Philip, and the Queen.
VOCABULARY Kowtow, which is borrowed from kau tau in Cantonese (koutou in Mandarin Chinese), is the act of deep respect shown by prostration, that is, kneeling and bowing so low as to have one's head touching the ground. In the metaphorical sense, it means to act in an excessively subservient manner. • It's no use kowtowing to the boss, he'll see right through you. Kowtow rhymes with 'now now'.
Here's a flashcard set I created for my EM Normandie students on the topic of health. Click on 'Choose a Study Mode' to find more activities based on this flashcard set. For more information on using Quizlet, see Russell Stannard's Quick Introduction to Using Quizlet training video. And click here to access all my Quizlet sets (over 1,200 terms currently).
OVERVIEW KidsHealth is a website create by Nemours, a nonprofit children’s health organization. There are three sections in the site for Parents, Teens, and Kids. As is often the case, it's the part aimed at kids which is the most useful for learners of English. There are descriptions of all the main health problems and illnesses as well as some really useful resources including quizzes, movies, and a very complete medical dictionary.
COMMENT I've been studying the topic of health recently with my EM Normandie students, and this site has proved to be an excellent source of information, as well as providing plenty of reading and listening material at an accessible level. One useful extra is the option to hear the articles read aloud — unfortunately, it's a synthetic voice not a human one, but the quality is quite good.
“I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution,” the talkshow host turned billionaire businesswoman said on Monday as she announced the deal, which includes personal endorsements and a seat for her on the company’s board.
Investors appeared to have faith in Winfrey, who has been dubbed “Queen of All Media” and built up a $3bn (£1.9bn) business empire. Shares in Weight Watchers more than doubled after the news broke. The share price spiked from the $6.79 she paid on Friday night to as high as $15.09 on Monday, with shares ending the day up 105% to $13.92. That makes Winfrey a paper profit of $45.6m. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Kipper Williams from The Guardian shows Oprah standing on a weighing scale. She has a sackful of money slung over her shoulder (representing the profit she made by investing in Weight Watchers). However, the combined weight of Oprah and all that money has broken the scale!
COMMENT I remember the time when you could find public scales into which you had to insert a coin to weigh yourself. That was before everyone had personal scales at home.
VOCABULARY Although the word scale can be used to describe an instrument for weighing, the plural form scales is more common (sometimes as part of a pair of scales or a set of scales). This is because scales were originally simple balances (literally pairs of scales). So even though they are now usually devices with an electronic display showing the weight, we still refer to them as scales.
DESCRIPTION Idioms are one of the trickiest parts of the English language. Native speakers use them without thinking about them too much, but for language learners they often cause mix-ups and confusion. English Idioms Interactive is an iOS app from Cambridge English Online featuring 45 colourful cartoons illustrating some of the funniest English idioms, plus quizzes and information to help improve your knowledge and command of English idioms. The full app costs €1.99 but there is a 'lite' version with three idioms at each of the three levels.
COMMENT This app is probably better suited to more advanced learners because even I (!) couldn't guess some of the idioms at Level One (I did get the one above though). Although the illustrations and quizzes are fun, what's really useful from a language learning viewpoint is the detailed information on each idiom. In fact, you don't even have to buy the app, because 30 of the 45 idioms are available for free on the Cambridge Online English website. And while you're at it, you should check out some of the other excellent resources they have for English learners.
QUESTION Can you identify the idiom illustrated above? See answer here.
Quiz Game is based on a Who Wants to be a Millionaire format. Students are guided through a series of ESL Quiz questions that get progressively harder. The student also has three lifelines to help them during the Quiz. There are Quiz sets covering Verb Tenses, Idioms and Prepositions with plans to add more.
Game Show is based on a Jeopardy format. You can create your own boards by selecting 4 ESL categories to play or you can choose to play a randomly selected board. Students choose questions to tackle and the teacher is designated as the officiator to decide whether an answer meets the criteria. The games are designed to be played by a single student or by two students or teams playing against each other.
An added bonus is that both games come with a game creator where you can make your own sets, and are free to use for all Off2Class account holders. You can sign up for a free account here.
COMMENT I plan to use the Game Show in class, projecting it onto a big screen with a video projector. That should be fun!
BACKGROUND Britain will spend almost £8bn a year on takeaways by the end of the decade as a surge in smartphone usage and time-pressed households cooking fewer meals boosts the country’s predilection for takeaway food. Expenditure on pizza, curry and Chinese food is expected to grow by 28% during this decade to £7.6bn a year according to figures from Euromonitor International. Domino’s Pizza exemplified the trend by reporting a 21% surge in its latest quarterly sales, to £200m, with 75% of orders placed online and 61% of those made with mobile devices. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Kipper Williams from The Guardian, shows a woman taking a selfie of herself with a Domino's pizza. She has got a big smile and is holding the dripping pizza up beside her.
COMMENTARY I suppose the cartoon makes fun of the recent trend of people taking 'food selfies', a practice which has been banned in certain restaurants. The joke is that you wouldn't normally take a selfie of something as ordinary as a Domino's Pizza. And the cartoonist is also imagining another way in which smartphones have boosted pizza sales.
This is just one of a whole series of videos for Whiskas' new Kitten Kollege campaign. How many of the jokes and references can you spot? You can find the other ads on YouTube. They're all amusing and most take the form of mini lectures, which would be fun to use for listening practice in class. Plus you get to learn a lot about cats and their behaviour. For the one below, I've created a multiple choice exercise using LearnClick.
LESSON IDEA Get your students to prepare their own mini lectures about other animals.
Today (Thursday 15 October), education-lovers across Europe are invited to come together on Twitter to participate in #EducationDay, the first European Twitter initiative that aims to unite the entire educational community in a global conversation that celebrates learning and highlights how to use Twitter to research, get inspired and inform. To mark the occasion, here is a Quizlet flashcard set I made for my EM Normandie students on the topic of ... education (what else?)
Here's a brilliant spoof (?) ad about guns featuring Amy Schumer from Saturday Night Live, which would make a great discussion starter for talking about that topic in the classroom. See Adweek for a detailed analysis of the ad.
TRANSCRIPT Whatever you're waiting for. Whatever you face. Whatever you're looking for. There are things we all share. Love. Family. Connection. A sense of purpose. And also ... guns. Guns are there. In little moments and big ones. When things fall apart. Or it all comes together. They unite us. Comfort us. Bring us joy. And strength. From first loves... to new beginnings. Wherever life takes you, Guns: we're here to stay.
GRAMMAR Note the use of 'whatever' and 'wherever' with the meaning of 'it doesn't matter what (or where)'. For more on this usage see here.