Friday, October 26, 2012

Who / Whom / Whose Examples

I was scrolling through Amazon the other day and I randomly kept seeing who and whom. I was reminded of my who/whose/whom post and decided to make another one quickly showing how the "ask a question" method works.

Since Halloween is next week, here's something seasonal to start
  Who saved Halloween? His saved... no wait that's not right. Him saved? That's wrong too! He saved! Since we used He to answer the question it must be who!

For whom the sleigh bell tolls
For whom does it toll? For THEM! So keep the M and use whom.

Who kicked the hornet's nest? SHE did! Not her did.
For whom does the dog bark? For thee! Since we don't really use thee anymore let's try him, them or her!
Whose teeth were all alike? His teeth! Since the teeth were his we keep the S and say whose.

Whom did he sleep with? He slept with him! Oh Bill Cosby, you never cease to get my attention.

Whose mom? The mom is his or hers! So keep that S and use whose!

Seems to me like the rule works! So don't be like the confused owl and know if it is who or him. Just remember if it is he or him and then you'll never miss!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reference Words

Another helpful and clever (I think) review of reference words from one of my high school classes. If you teach reference words it may help your students as well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Comma Commotion!

A presentation my students made about the four main uses of commas

I thought it was pretty cute!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alternate Hangman (The Hangman you knew and loved, but more physical)

When I was young I remember spending HOURS playing hangman with my brother while my parents prepped for their own classes.

Many teachers that don't have much training start out with limited games and one of the go-tos is Hangman. It helps with word recognition, can be used to review vocabulary and is a great filler since it requires little to no prep. It isn't just for EFL and English classes; I can recall this being used in many of my classes throughout high school. We would use it in history (e.g. with president's names, battles, treaties), geography (e.g. countries, rivers, mountain ranges) etc. This version is a twist on the classic hangman that can be used in any class!

It was presented at a GEPIK conference I attended in 2008, while I was in Korea. I do not remember the name of the teacher, but she was a younger lady who was clearly overwhelmed at being told to help a group of 100+ new GEPIK teachers with activities for class, nonetheless she did really well.

One of her games was adapted hangman! I don't remember the specifics of her set up, but this is how I have used it over the years. I understand she used it mainly as a filler, but I suggest using it for a vocabulary review, OR to review pretty much anything.
You can play this game two ways.

For both versions you need a target for the students to hit. You can make one out of cardboard/poster board and hang it on a wall or just draw one on the board. The point is to make the rarer letters on the outside (easier to hit) and the more popular letters on the inside (harder to hit). I made a sample here, but you can adapt it anyway you like. You may choose to have more letters in the middle or only 3 different area to hit (instead of my 5). You're the teacher so make it however you like!

  1. Divide the class into teams.
  2. Go around the classroom with each team getting a turn.
  3. When it is the first team's turn let them throw a beanbag at the target. Whatever section it hits is the section they can pick a letter from. (so if they hit the green ring they can choose, N, B U, C, R or M)
  4. My rule is they can talk together as a group to decide but if I hear anything that's not English they forfeit their turn and the next group goes.
  5. For this version I gave them a point for each letter they chose in the word (if there were two of the letter they got two points).
  6. The team with the most points when the word was completed wins.

  1. Divide the classroom into two teams.
  2. Ask revision questions about the topic you wish to review.
  3. Either with a bell, raising their hand, etc. Give the first team to “buzz in” the chance to answer the question.
  4. If they get it right they have a chance to throw the beanbag and guess a letter OR they can simply try to “solve” the puzzle.
  5. If they get it wrong the other teams have a chance to steal, and then throw the beanbag and guess a letter or “solve” the puzzle.
  6. No points are given for correct or incorrect answers, points are ONLY given to the team who guesses the word (or completes it).
  7. If time permits after one word is guessed you can put another, and another until the time allotted is up.
Why add the beanbag throwing in the first place? With younger students (and even older students) the addition of the physical makes it more fun (and more like a real sport, not just a language game).

The reason the speaker added that in her class she had a few students who were physically competent. They played sports they were active and they had killer reflexes... but they struggled in English. When she divided the class into groups often students would be audibly disappointed when these students joined their group. By adding this physical component, they were no longer seen as liabilities and instead were viewed as assets. This helped their self-esteem and also classroom dynamics! I hate to perpetuate the stereotype of a “dumb” jock as it is not the norm (in my opinion) but if your class has students like this then try it may help.

So there you go: an easy twist on the classic Hangman!

If you have a chance to use it in your class please let us know! Or, if you have a different way of using hangman, I'd LOVE to hear it!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Modifier Memes

In class we were reviewing the importance of where things are in a sentence. Participial phrases, appositives, relative clauses, and all other modifiers need to be near the noun they are referring to or the sentence changes. To prove this fact a student made this.

Not perfect grammar, but the point is there :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5 little Pumpkins (family version)

A family of pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The mommy said, "Oh, my it's late!"
The daddy said, "I don't care!"
The sister said, "There are witches in the air!"
The brother said, "Let's run away!"
And the baby said, "Boo! It's Halloween. Yay!"
Then Whoooooosh... went the wind,
And out went the light!
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

I know the original version is different (and great for ordinal numbers), but this was my Halloween adaptation when I taught preschoolers English(EFL for some ESL for others) in Spain.

If you aren't interested in my version and only came here looking for the original there are several books you can look into

Some people consider this a song, others a poem, and still others a fingerplay. I like to think of it as a song, but really it doesn't matter what you call it! If you aren’t familiar with it check out the YouTube video above the hand motions are great, and they LOVE the Boo!

My students ADORED it, and it was a fun review of family members. You could teach it several different ways, but this is what I did.
1.      We started class normally with the Hello song, and we reviewed our emotions (happy, hungry, sleepy, etc.). I introduced a new emotion, scared!
2.      We did quick flashcards of the family to review and I showed them the pumpkins. I asked which pumpkin was the baby? Which pumpkin was the mommy? Etc. Then we quickly cut out each pumpkin (by quickly I mean we cut out the pumpkins as squares, not as circles). Each student wrote their name on the back so the pumpkins didn’t get confused later (and to get them to practice their letters again).
3.      I drew a gate and a witch on the board and we learned the words.
4.      I said the five little pumpkins song and each time I said a family member I held up my pumpkin and had them hold up theirs.
5.      Then we repeated the song, line by line. I sang it, they repeated.
6.      I selected 5 students to be the pumpkins they would come up with one pumpkin family member and we would sing the song. They would hold their family pumpkin in their air when we said their part. (Repeat until all students who want to can come up to the class and be a pumpkin)
7.   As long as they enjoy the song and you have fun keep going! It is really great practice and repetition is key at this age.
8.      Review colors (What color is the sky? What color is a pumpkin? What color is grass?)
9.      For older (my four and five year olds) students they colored their pumpkins and then pasted them to the gate paper. My younger students (the three year olds) were divided, some cut, and some just colored a pre-made page (the last one in this packet)
10.  For fast finishers I also put a witch, some bats, some grass and the phrase, “Happy Halloween” that they can cut out and paste to the picture

Here are some sample worksheets should you choose to use them.

Five Little Pumpkins
This is another easy example of how to use something that already exists and tweak it for your class. You could change this to review animals (5 different animals sitting on a gate, the bird said etc.), colors (the blue one said), adjectives (the small one said), jobs (the doctor said), and SO MUCH MORE! Get creative, and use this song for whatever works best for you.

Have you tweaked a song and had it work for you? Or do you have another activity you like for the 5 little pumpkins? Let us know in the comments

I had the honor to guest blog a Springtime version of this read more about that

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This or That? These or Those?

When I was younger, I vaguely remember this song being used in class. It went, "Open them, shut them, open them, shut them, give a little clap clap clap. Open them, shut them, open them shut them, put them in your lap lap lap." I believe there was more, but I seemed to omit that part from my memory. (If you want the whole version and other fingerplays you can look inside The Eentsy Weentsy Spider book and see the "correct" version")

As far as learning goes, it was perfect. It was repetitive, simple, included the body (wohoo TPR) and was super easy to adapt. So when I started teaching ESL (EFL to some) to Preschool and Kindergarten students this was definitely in my bag of tricks.

Like most songs and chants I liked it because it could be adapted to almost anything.

We used it to review classroom language (stand up, sit down or open the book, close the book etc.), animals (much like with the sweet little bunny song most animals can easily be given a body equivalent), adjectives (really useful for short and small and other subtle differences), verbs (often the easiest to mime), classroom supplies (have them hold up a pencil then a pen), clothing or body parts (touch the clothing), and really anything else your heart desires.

As the video states I found it great when reviewing this and that (along with these and those). This was one finger touching the other hand (singular and close), that was one finger pointing away from the hand (singular and far), these was two or more fingers touching one hand(plural and close), and those was two or more fingers pointing away (plural and far). Students picked it up quickly, and I could see them doing the motions during the test.

The best part was students genuinely enjoyed it! When classes got rowdy, I would silently begin doing the "open them shut them" motions and one by one they would do them with me. Then when everyone was with me we would quickly do a round and then get back to the lesson.

Have you altered the song's lyrics or tried any of the above in class? Share in the comments!

Whose whom is whose? (or is it who?)

The easiest way, for me, to help students remember who, whom and whose is to outline the differences on a chart. I tell them that Who,Whom, and Whose each have a matching pronoun.

Who is used in cases where the answer is He, She, or They.
Ke$ha, who spells her name with a dollar sign, sings songs. Who sings songs? SHE sings songs!

Katy Perry, who kissed a girl, had Ke$ha in her music video. Who kissed a girl? SHE kissed a girl!

Whom is used where the answer is Him, Her, or Them.
This is easy to remember because the m in whom matched the m in Him and Them (females as usual complicate things).

Ke$ha, whom is loved by many, sings songs.
Whom do they love? Many love HER!

Whose is used for the answer His, Hers or Theirs.
This is easy to remember because of the S in whose and his, hers and theirs.

Ke$ha, whose song “Boots and Boys” is my favorite, sings songs.
Whose song is it? The song is HERS.

Katy Perry, whose music videos are popular, had Ke$ha in her music video.
Whose music videos are popular? HERS are popular.

So that's what I find the easiest way to remember when to use what. However, some students work better if they know the rules.

WHO is used when the person is the subject of the verb. The person is doing the action.
Ke$ha, who dances, loves boots and boys. (SHE dances)
Ke$ha, who is crazy, loves boots and boys. (SHE is crazy)
Ke$ha, who rocks, loves boots and boys. (SHE rocks)
Ke$ha, who parties hard, loves boots and boys. (SHE parties hard)
Ke$ha,who doesn't like James VanDerBeek loves boots and boys. (SHE doesn't like James)
In all of those cases Ke$ha is the subject.

WHOM is used with the person is the object. They are receiving the action.
Ke$ha, whom I love, loves boots and boys. (I love HER. She doesn't love me)
Ke$ha, whom James VanDerBeek fights, loves boots and boys. (James VanDerBeek fights HER. We don't know yet if she fights him back.)
Ke$ha, whom my neighbors found drunk in their bathtub, loves boots and boys. (My neighbors found HER. Ke$ha didn't find them.)
Ke$ha,whom my priest never listens to, loves boots and boys. (My priest never listens to HER. We don't know if she listens to the priest.)

WHOSE is used to show possession.
Ke$ha, whose teeth wish she would stop using booze to brush them, loves boots and boys. (The teeth are HERS)
Ke$ha, whose album sold more than mine, loves boots and boys. (The album that's HERS sold more)
Ke$ha, whose love of singing shows, loves boots and boys. (The love of singing is HERS)
Ke$ha, whose mother was a singer, loves boots and boys. (The mother is HERS)
Ke$ha,whose outfits in music videos are always fun, loves boots and boys. (The outfits are HERS)

One last thing.

Who and Whom are only used for people...with a few exceptions. Depending on your love for animals many people use who(m) for pets. I have seen some people take this so far as to use it for all animals, but usually that isn't the case.

Rarely, for poetic license, countries or cities will use who or whom.

So that's it. Now you know all there is about who, whose and whom. The only thing left is to review the difference between defining and non-defining clauses (check out which vs that for more on those).

What activities can be done to review these with a class? One that works well is to find a brief news article and have students combine the sentences. This also lends itself easily to flyswatter (just write the relative pronouns on the board). It would work better if you could use a smartboard or similar so you could have the words move every turn (since there are so few). 

What activities do you use to have students practice who, whom and whose? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Which vs That

When teaching relative clauses there are two hard parts. Defining vs Non-Defining clauses and the differences between who, whom and whose.

Who vs Whom has gotten some popularity in Internet memes, but which vs that still has not been given as much attention. I predict within the next 10 years people will start insulting people for using it incorrectly in YouTube comments.

In order to understand the difference between which and that you need to understand the essentials of comma usage with relative clauses, in short the difference between defining(essential) and non-defining (non-essential) clauses.

When I teach I tell students to think of commas as balloons. When something is surrounded by commas that information can “fly away” since the balloons tell you it isn't necessary.

My boyfriend, who is a teacher, is sexy.
The information in the commas is non-defining. We already know who my boyfriend is we don't need to know that he is a teacher. Thus: “My boyfriend is sexy” has the same essential meaning.

My boyfriend who is a teacher is sexy.
Without the commas, “who is a teacher” becomes defining or essential information. This means the information is needed or we don't know who I am talking about. It suggests I have more than one boyfriend and the one who is a teacher is sexy (perhaps the engineer whom I am also dating is not sexy).

So let's try it with another sentence.

My friend, who lives in Paris, is speaks French.
How many friends do I have based on that sentence? Just one, or more?

Since there are commas, it is extra information. Consequently the sentence suggests I only have one friend.
My friend who lives in Paris is speaks French.
On the other hand this sentence has no commas. This suggests that the relative clause is necessary thus I have more than one friend.

Got it? Let's check. Select the correct sentence:
My cat who is my only pet is annoying. OR
My cat, who is my only pet, is annoying. (yes I use who with pets).

Since I only have one cat the relative clause is not needed and thus should be in commas: My cat, who is my only pet, is annoying.

How does this apply to which and that?

Which is ONLY used with extra information clauses, whereas that is ONLY used with defining clauses.

For example.
News that is controlled by the rich is biased.
This sentence requires the relative clause, hence it suggests that some news is not controlled by rich people and only news controlled by rich people is biased.

News, which is controlled by the rich, is biased.
Conversely, in this sentence the relative clauses is unneeded and the sentence could be re-written as, “News is biased,” thus it suggests that all news is biased.

Starbucks that is near the park has the cutest employee.
There are many Starbucks in the city and this sentence is talking about the one specific Starbucks found near the park.

Starbucks, which is near the park, has the cutest employee.
There is only one Starbucks (weird, but that's true in some cases) and it has the cutest employee.

The last difference is easy. Which is ONLY used with objects. That is used with objects and people.

To recap
Which is ALWAYS used with commas and objects.
That is ALWAYS used without commas for objects and people.

So try it out:
A. My television, which is the only one I have, is broken
B. My television that is the only one I have is broken.
C. My television which is the only one I have is broken.
D. My television, that is the only one I have, is broken.
I only have one TV, so the relative clause should be in commas (so it is A or D) and since we never use that with commas the correct answer is A.

A. Justin Bieber's album, which was his debut album, sold tons of copies.
B. Justin Bieber's album that was his debut album sold tons of copies.
C. Justin Bieber's album which was his debut album sold tons of copies.
D. Justin Bieber's album, that was his debut album, sold tons of copies.
Justin Bieber has had more than one album. So the relative clause is needed, otherwise we aren't sure which album they are talking about. As a result, we can say the correct sentence has no commas and is either B or C. Since we ALWAYS use commas with which the answer is B.

Once more!
Tyra Banks' TV show, which isn't cancelled, is my reality TV addiction.
B. Tyra Banks' TV show, that isn't cancelled, is my reality TV addiction.
C. Tyra Banks' TV show which isn't cancelled is my reality TV addiction.
D. Tyra Banks' TV show that isn't cancelled is my reality TV addiction.

Tyra used to have a talk show. Now, she just has a modeling show. Since there is more than one Tyra television show, we need the relative clause. Consequently, our answer can't have commas and has to use that. That means the answer is D.

Hope that helps! Do you have any special activities you do when you are talking about defining vs non-defining clauses? I tend to just try to make my students practice with a lot of worksheets that I make as interesting as I can with celebrities, current movies, crazy examples etc.

Like You're vs Your Flyswatter is a great game for reviewing this. I also like finding weird news articles and making them combine the sentences using which or that.

How do you get students to practice definind vs non-defining phrases? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Is it safe?

As a single female who travels to random countries to teach English, I often get asked is, "Is it safe?" My godfather has repeatedly told my mom, "Your daughter backpacked through Southeast Asia when she was in college, anything from then on will be considered 'safe.'" While that may be true, the real answer is that it depends greatly on who you are, where you are going and what kind of jobs you have. Here are a few super quick "safe" tips.

THE BIG FIVE: If you learn nothing else check out these quick five guidelines to staying safe while teaching abroad.

1. Be Legal! As stated in "But how do you work abroad" I am a goodie goodie. I don't believe in working illegally. First of all, it can put you in unsavory positions. Friends have been blackmailed, jailed and just threatened when they were working illegally. It doesn't happen all the time but it can happen, so just don't put yourself in that position.

2. Walk with purpose. I am not quite sure how to teach this as I have it naturally. It isn't always a good thing. Quite often in high school people approached me and asked, "Who do you want to kill?" or "Why are you so angry?" I am normally a very pleasant person, but when I walk I have a tendency to look angry. This is good for me. People are more likely to go after a skipping lollygagger, or a person who keeps looking at road signs than someone who is walking with determination.

3. Know your surroundings, and be nice to the regulars! I walk to work early, before 5am, sometimes. I take the longer route because it is better lit and has more guys selling newspapers. I am very nice to these men. I know their names. If I ever feel unsafe, or don't like the person walking behind me, I stop and talk to them for a while. In Spain there were three homeless men who lived in a church near my apartment. Sometimes my friends' host families gave lunches my friends didn't like. When that happened I would collect the lunches and give it to these guys. One night a guy followed me home and would not leave me alone. I made sure to pass by them and told them the guy wouldn't leave me alone. They stood up and ran screaming at him. He quickly left me alone. This was possible because I knew them, I knew my neighborhood and I planned on it. Another time someone was following me and I stopped into a nearby hotel my parents stayed at once. I explained someone was following me and I didn't want to keep walking home. They let me stay in their lobby until he left.

4. Don't be too polite all the time. I got to know the newspaper salesmen and homeless men in daylight. Not at 4am. Sometimes when I walk to work I have people pulling over to offer me a ride. 60% of the time it is a shady offer and I quickly refuse it. 30% of the time I think it is someone honestly concerned for me walking so early. 10% of the time it is someone asking a question. At 4am on a not so well lit street I am not polite. I don't walk over to the car to hear them better. I don't offer to show them. I curtly say I don't know, sorry, goodbye. There are times to be sweet and polite, but you need to know when those times are and when to just tell someone to go away. I happen to be a hitchhiker, but that doesn't mean that I would hop in every car that pulled over.

5. Be prepared. For all that is good and holy you should know the emergency contact number wherever you are. Before you learn "hello" in the language you should know their emergency contact number. When you walk keep your keys in one hand and your phone in the other.

  • Watch them pour your drink or order a beer and watch them open it.
  • If you do end up at knife or gun point and are asked for your wallet/purse throw it away from you and when they go for it run in the opposite direction
  • Learn one really good phrase in the language of the place you are staying to get someone to leave you alone. The varies from culture to culture. In Dutch it was, "F*(# off Cancer Dick" in Arabic countries, "What if I was your sister" etc. Learn it well. Often if you are in a not so great situation them hearing something firmly in their own language will get you out of trouble.
  • Don't get drunk! The vast majority of bad situations my friends have gotten into happened as they were leaving a bar (in fact both the stories above with men following me home happened out of a bar... luckily I was sober and they were not, so the odds were in my favor).
  • You know how some bras have that removable padding? Take out the padding. Take a few bills (it should be enough for a taxi home if you are in your city or a bus ride home if you are in another city) and wrap them in toilet paper and put it in the padding's place. Now even if you do get pick pocketed (which I have a few times) you will have enough to get you where you need to be.
  • Know your nation's rules and FOLLOW them.
I am sure there are a million more tips I could give you, but most of them boil down to, "Use your common sense and stay aware."

What about you? What tips do you use to stay safe when travelling or living abroad?
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