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Friday, 23 April 2010

A Wandering of Websites 3: Useful On-line Resources for English Teachers

Here's another collection of amazing websites easily exploitable by teachers everywhere.

The only danger is... they're so interesting you might forget that you're supposed to be planning your lesson until it's too late!

So be careful, and let us know if you use any materials from these resources in your lessons, and how. Happy hunting.


If you want to base a few moments of your lesson, or indeed a few lessons, on music, but don't know where to start, this interesting site can help. Far from being an on-line version of some awful written-for-English-teaching 'song book', Song Facts isn't for teaching English at all. Which makes it all the more fun trying to exploit it.

You've got all sorts of off-the-wall stuff in there: curious song facts, a trivia quiz, interviews with artists, a pretty hectic forum and you can add strange song facts of your own if you know them.

Clearly, this site is both for the more sophisticated (higher level) learner, and for teachers who have the right to devote chunks of their time to such, well, trivia, but you've got a great resource here, and plan a lesson right and your students'll love it. Getting them to create their own music trivia quizzes immediately springs to mind as a follow-on activity.

This site should be banned, or knighted, or something. It's just too much! As it suggests in the title (see left) there are tons of 'Top 10 Lists sites, hell, I've even created a couple of Top 10 Lists for this very blog! But they go one better... literally. These are Top 11 Lists, and the topics, to say the least, are... varied. Many would provide some scintillating material for the adventurous English teacher in the right situation.

Some categories which just might tickle your fancy, amongst far too many to choose from, would be (they're clickable, don't thank me, don't thank me ;-) 11 Gorgeously Ironic Misspellings In Protest Signs; 11 Hidden Secrets in Fight Club;  11 Greatest Mug Shots of the 2000s; Interesting Facts About Our Presidents and Their Money; 11 Unbelievable Stories About Twins.

The list creator's intelligent wit just makes these lists even better. So click on some of those links above if you dare, but please come back after an hour or so to finish reading this page!

A brilliant collection of thought-provoking and discussion-inciting pictures. Why so? Because they all look like they can't be real (or most of them anyway), at least until you start to understand what's going on.

If your aim is to get an inimated discussion going with your students, either from the front of the class or in groups, print out a few of these and you won't be able to stop them. Of course, it would be best to prime them with some targeted questions to answer, such as 'Do you think it's real?' or 'What is it?' or 'How did they do that?' otherwise the students won't know what to talk about and will just say 'Ooohh' and start talking about it in their own language.
Another visual one, this, and sure it harks from my city of residence, but hey, we did it you you guys didn't, so just get over it, ok ;-) It caused a massive buzz when it was released a little while ago so have a look and see what you think.

What they've done is, climbed up (well, taken the lift) to the top of the Montparnasse Tower I reckon, and then taken a whole heap of high-res pictures then stitched them all together seamlessly with software. If I were an American I'd probably say 'Awesome!', but I'm a Brit so I'll content myself with saying... 'AWESOME!'.

You can zoom in on practically all the major landmarks of Paris and the creators have even slipped in a few anomalies to make you smile if you can find them so I'm told. (a giant tortoise on a balcony way up is probably the best known one).

Is this better than Google Maps or Google Earth? Well, to be honest, it's just different, and it's really quite refreshing to get away from the Big G for just a while and see what some of the other geniuses on the planet can get up to for a change.

Here's another incredible resource, both for the language class and our daily lives. It's one of those sites, a bit like the 11 Points site above, that once you get there is very difficult to leave.

Need I need to give you any more incentive to make you check it out than telling you that there are the Top 5 Tips for Using Twitter, 10 Off-the-wall iPhone Apps to discover (I love the one where you can write a text message and still see where you're going on the screen..), and hey, what about the Top 5 Tips for Preventing Underarm Odor? You know it makes sense.

But it's not all weird or wired. The site has a vast, and I mean Vast range of categories and subsections covering pretty much most of human life as far as I can see.

And if all of this is just making you go boggle-eyed then relax with this silly-sounding but actually enlightening item on What if I crossed my eyes for 10 minutes? Or any of the other few thousand fascinating time-wasters you'll find there.



© 2010 Sab Will / Hotch Potch EnglishWill Power English : A Wandering of Websites 3: Useful On-line Resources for English Teachers

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Poetry Pause: 'Jean-François's Nodding Off'

Little poem for ya...


Jean-François is nodding off,
In his English class to the distant thrum
Of a past imperfect, roughly taught,
Through an eardrum pierced by a holy thought.
No searchlights could get through that fog,
So leave it out; Jean-François's nodding off.

Thank God It's Friday, weekend's come,
And his English teacher's having fun
With the unreal present;
Teacher-man is droning on,
Then spits out fire,
Like an air-raid siren, all gone wrong,
'Bout a future tense, but the eyes are limp;
No hail of tricky traitor verbs
Can cut cut cut through this thick gauze,
So keep the noise down, J-F's nodding off.

Still wounded eyelids struggle up,
To a present shot with sly conjunctions-
Run and hide; turn in; fall out;
Consciences pricked with wry compunctions-
Foxhole, cover, weapon, webbing;
Wife a-waiting, in the wings,
Future bridesmaid cries and sings,
Pulling cold hand grenade rings
Damp trenches and life ebbing,

But Jean-François is far away,
On a mushroom cloud of conditional days,
Young teacher shoots his sniper gaze,
To a bleary eye,
In a foreign field;
He's focused on
Another phase;
There is no future real in English;
Just ask... oh, Jean-François's nodded off.

© 2005 Sab Will



© 2010 Sab Will / Hotch Potch EnglishWill Power English : Poetry Pause: 'Jean-François's Nodding Off'
Sab Will is Course Director at TEFL Paris, a TEFL Certificate Teacher Training Centre validated by IATQUO


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