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How to use Flashcards to Teach a Language

Young children, especially pre-schoolers can’t yet read or write so it’s important to find ways of introducing and practicing new vocabulary in an ESL classroom using methods that don’t involve reading or writing.

So what can a teacher utilize?

Exciting children and capturing their attention is key and I often bring to class real objects and costumes from home for children to touch and smell or play with- stimulating all their senses.  But carrying props to and from class can sometimes be impractical –  as an alternative flashcards work well.

Flashcards are simple, colourful drawings or photos that help children, of any age or language level, visually understand the meaning of the word it represents. They can be bought or easily printed and laminated and can be used to accompany  games, stories and songs.

How to use flashcards to teach English?

Avoid using  flashcards mechanically by simply holding them in front of the class and repeating the word over and over in a parrot fashion. This is an out-dated method used years ago and in my opinion makes learning very boring and unproductive.

Do use flashcards creatively and actively. Here is an example of a simple flashcard game, one that I have successfully played even with children as young as 2 years of age.

Traffic Lights

A flashcard movement game to introduce colours.

Level: All

Age group: 2+

Time: 7 mins

Aims: To introduce  colours:  Red, Yellow and Green.

Start by asking the children to pretend driving an imaginary car around the space for a minute or two manoeuvring the steering wheel and honking an imaginary  horn “BEEP; BEEP”!

Then explain that they are going to play a game called “Traffic Light”.  The teacher holds up a different colour flashcard (red , yellow or green) and  the children have to react and drive their “cars” around the space accordingly.

Holding up a green flashcard  indicates the children to GO (they  pretend to drive fast around the space).

Holding up a yellow flashcard  indicates the children to drive SLOWLY ( they pretend to drive slowly or crawl on all fours around the space )

Holding up a red flashcard  indicates the children to STOP (the children stop still and freeze)

Repeat and practice a few times chopping and changing  different colour flashcards.

As an extra activity choose a child to become the “traffic controller” and holds up and calls out the different colour flashcards.

Flashcard resources – a useful website to select and print your own flashcards.

Happy teaching – Miranda

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Five Little Monkeys Finger Puppet Song

Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree Song For Children

Five little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

Four little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

Three little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

Two little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

One little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

No more monkeys swinging in the tree!

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English Language Teacher Training Course, Florence Italy

 

English Teacher Training Course

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER TRAINING

1 DAY TEACHING COURSE FOR NURSERY & PRIMARY TEACHERS

 Course Dates:

Course Location:

Teatro Puccini Via delle Cascine, 41  50144 Florence, Italy 

This course is specially designed for Nursery and Primary School teachers in Italy and offers a unique “English Language Drama Training” experience, which will equip teachers to be more confident, effective and actively engaging in the classroom.

Acting and theatre activities help children of all ages focus and concentrate their energies and improve their language communication skills. This course provides practical examples of how to incorporate animatedly and creatively language games, songs, stories and role-play activities into the classroom. Children (and teachers) learn by doing and HAVING FUN!

Course programme : 

  • Creative Drama and role-play activities for young learners
  • Chants, rhymes and songs (using music effectively in the classroom)
  • Storytelling with Puppets, Masks, Costume and authentic materials
  • How to teach and engage young learners using TPR (Total Physical  Response)
  • Classroom management skills; appropriate language for the classroom
  • Building confidence teaching in English

The course is presented  by Miranda Fynn Legge, a native English speaker, professional actress (graduate from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London) and accredited English language teacher – Certificate CELTA (Cambridge University, England). Miranda has been teaching English through Drama to young learners, adults and teachers in Italy for over 25 years. Miranda also is the founder of the Teatro Inglese method. “Children have many years of learning ahead of them and I believe that if their first experience of English is pleasurable, motivating and fun, they will have a positive attitude towards it for the rest of their lives.”

During the one day course Miranda will share her teaching experience and introduce creative and practical ideas for the following key language themes Colours, The Body, Animals, Clothes, My House, Food, Weather, Time, Days of the week. All participants will be encouraged to “actively” take part.

In the afternoon participants will be encouraged to practice their new skills by presenting a  simple activity. As a group we will discuss their effectiveness based on their creativity, involvement and enjoyment from a young learners perspective and how each activity can be adapted to different levels. Miranda will also offer individual tips and suggestions for follow up activities and lesson plans.

Certification awarded: Attendance certificate detailing topics covered, course content and the number of training hours.

 

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ESL Teacher Training Courses using Drama Games

I had a fantastic time earlier in December “EAL Teacher Training” Nursery and Primary school teachers in Pontedera near Pisa in Italy.

The teachers were all very welcoming and demonstrated such enthusiasm and dedication to their work . It was a thoroughly rewarding experience for me. We danced and sang all afternoon whilst I also tried to share some of my teaching experience in EAL/EFL storytelling  and drama technique. A big thank you to all the teachers and organisers of the event and I hope to see you all again soon and carry on where we left off.

Miranda

Here are a few pics of myself with Italian Nursery and Primary School teachers.

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Teacher Training Conference Italy

I have been invited to take part in presenting a teacher training workshop for Italian Nursery and Primary School teachers this Friday 14th December in Pontedera (Pisa). I am very excited about meeting everyone and exchanging ideas, methods and experience with other fellow ESL teachers based here in Italy. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

 

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The Enormous Turnip – Role Play

The Enormous Turnip is a super simple story for children learning English as a second language and useful for introducing or revising family and animal vocabulary. An alternative to reading directly from a book is to use picture cards and adapt the language according to the children’s language abilities

Storytelling using theatre props and costumes add extra elements of curiosity, facilitate comprehension and encourage group participation.

To accompany  The Enormous Turnip  try making a little paper shovel, an envelope full of seeds (rice) and a paper watering can.  Include simple coloured masks and stick to plastic spoons for the children to hold for role play work.

You can create a mini role play by simply using props similar to the ones I use in the video and involve children by asking them to sow  and water the seeds.  Add to the fun by encouraging children to interpret the story characters . Give them a mask and tell them in turn to pull the “flashcard”!

show 3

http://www.teatroinglese.it  The Enormous Turnip end of year production

I also find a great exercise after I have told the story is get the children to act it out!

1. Play some relaxing instrumental music for the children to listen to

2. Encorauge the children to lie on the floor and make themselves as small as possible

3. Explain that you are the farmer and using the shovel, pretend to dig holes around the children

4. Sow the seeds (by shaking the envelope of rice over the children’s heads)

5. Water the seeds (make some whooshing water sounds over the children’s bodies)

6. Encourage the children to imagine they are the tiny turnip seeds growing slowly under the earth

7. Continue watering the “seeds” and then explain to the children that the sun is coming out and becomes warmer and slowly the seeds begin to grow, bigger and bigger and bigger until they become the most ENORMOUS TURNIPS waiting to be pulled out of the earth by the farmer (play act with the children and show examples of how they can express the growing seeds using their bodies and faces )

Great fun and a theatrical way to review key vocabulary.

Miranda Flynn Legge
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Teach Emotions in English

View Miranda Legge Emotions

Ever find you have an unruly class? Your children don’t seem to be learning much? Try adding some sparkle into your ESL lessons and grab children’s attention by using total physical response activities.

By engaging children physically and emotionally they find it easier to understand language. And by associating movement, song and dance with language children are much more likely to absorb and repeat it naturally.

Try a simple game for Introducing “emotions” or as I call it “funny faces”:

Lets get those faces warmed up…

Ask the children to find a space in front of you standing or sitting and tell them to start giving their faces a good massage , cheeks, forehead, nose, mouth, chin, ears (get the children to repeat the words as you say them). Now scrunch your faces up to make them as small as possible, open wide, open your mouth, stick your tongues out, wiggle them around, pretend to chew a gum, pretend to chew 10 gums all together, pretend to chew 100 gums! Make some tongue rolling sounds with a Rrrrrrrrrr. Blow some raspberries.

Now ask the children to copy you and to make appropriate faces that describe each word for example: happy, surprised, furious, sad, angry, shocked, frightened, sleepy, cold. Ask the children to be as dramatic and exaggerated as possible.

Make up some simple flashcards and ask the children individually to mime an “emotion” flashcard while the other children guess which emotion he is trying to describe. Children love miming games as they also encourage the less extrovert children to participate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy teaching

Miranda

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Five Little Monkeys Song with Finger Puppets

Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree Song For Children

Five little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

Four little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

Three little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

Two little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

One little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Crocodile “you can’t catch me”
along came Mr. Crocodile quiet as can be and SNAP!!

No more monkeys swinging in the tree!

Miranda’s Interpretation /Translation in Italian – dedicated to any bilingual parents out there:-)

Cinque Scimmiette si Dondolano Sull’Albero Canzone Per Bambini

Cinque scimmiette si dondolano sull’albero
prendono in giro il Mr. Coccodrillo
”Tanto non ci prendi! Tanto non ci prendi!”
Ecco che si avvicina Mr. Coccodrillo,  e piano, piano ….SNAP!!

Quattro scimmiette si dondolano sull’albero
prendono in giro il Mr. Coccodrillo
”Tanto non ci prendi! Tanto non ci prendi!”
Ecco che si avvicina Mr. Coccodrillo,  e piano, piano ….SNAP!!

Tre scimmiette si dondolano sull’albero
prendono in giro il Mr. Coccodrillo
”Tanto non ci prendi! Tanto non ci prendi!”
Ecco che si avvicina Mr. Coccodrillo,  e piano, piano ….SNAP!!

Due scimmiette si dondolano sull’albero
prendono in giro il Mr. Coccodrillo
”Tanto non ci prendi! Tanto non ci prendi!”
Ecco che si avvicina Mr. Coccodrillo,  e piano, piano ….SNAP!!

Una scimmietta si dondola sull’albero
prendono in giro il Mr. Coccodrillo
”Tanto non ci prendi! Tanto non ci prendi!”
Ecco che si avvicina Mr. Coccodrillo,  e piano, piano ….SNAP!!

Nessuna scimmietta si dondola sull’albero

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Rusty the Puppet Tourist Tuscany

There are so many ways in which our character puppets can be used in education, whether it be teaching English , Maths or Science. A puppet brings instant joy and motivation to both young and old. Here we continue with Rusty the Puppet touring Italy introducing us to the wonders of Florence.

rusty_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Here I am with my friend Thomas outside the Church Santa Maria Novella in the Centre of Florence, Italy . It’s all made of marble and is an important Gothic church in Tuscany. It was built between 1279 and 1357 …Wowww, that’s old! “

IMG_1657

“Hi, here I am outside the "Duomo"  cathedral in Florence, It’s  true name is "Santa Maria del Fiore" or "Our Lady of the Flower." It took nearly 140 years to build and was designed by  Filippo Brunelleschi , Amazing, isn’t it? Along with St Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, the “Duomo” is considered the largest Christian Church in the world”

IMG_1658

“This is a replica of the “David” statue outside the Duomo. It is 5.17 metres high and was sculpted by the famous artist Michelangelo. It took 3 years to build and was made out of a marble block . It represents the Biblical hero David . He is very strong and dominating (bit like myself 🙂 ) and symbolized Florentine freedom.”

IMG_1662

“Great fresco inside the Duomo. I would have liked to have gone up to look closer but there’s no lift and Thomas refused to give me a piggy back. Oh well another time… Enough of culture  for the moment , is it pizza lunch time yet? :-))”