English is Fun with Sitcoms

English teachers have been using videos in the classroom for decades and, more recently online video clips from Youtube. A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, with often humorous dialogue. Such programs originated in radio, but today, sitcoms are found mostly on television. Sitcoms are an excellent classroom resource for a number of reasons:

  • Watching TV shows and films in English is a wonderful way of improving your listening skills and pronunciation.
  • Sitcoms provide us with authentic English in all its guises. The situations that the “sit” refers to are often situations that are universal.
  • Sitcoms are full of cultural references.
  • Students love watching videos that reflect Britishness. They like to see how British people live, what they eat, how they spend their free time. They love seeing typical British homes and institutions, British countryside and British weather. Our students like to confirm their perceptions of British stereotypes and they like to be surprised by aspects of British culture that they didn’t know about before.
  • Sitcoms are funny and everybody enjoys laughing. Watching a humorous video clip in class can be rewarding for students and helps to create a positive classroom atmosphere. After all, English is fun especially through films and TV shows.

One of my favourite TV Shows is Friends. I’m sure many of you have heard of and watched the American sitcom. It ran in the US from 1994 until 2004. My favourite characters was Joey Tribbiani played by Matt Le Blanc. He always played the slightly stupid guy, but he also had some fabulous sketches. Here is one of my favourites:

In this sketch, Joey (a native English speaker) follows a beautiful woman into a beginner’s ESL class (English as a Second Language), and tells the teacher he is in the right place. Trying to impress the girl, he competes with beginning English learners to prove that his English is the best. Enjoy!
Funny! Basil gives Manuel a language lesson – Fawlty Towers – BBC. Basil and Manuel have a conversation about how to dress the breakfast trays. 

Go to http://uktv.co.uk/gold/homepage/sid/5527 and click on a sitcom

For a comprehensive list of UK sitcoms go to http://www.sitcom.co.uk/list_top.shtml

What is “Fawlty Towers: The sitcom”?

Extract from: English is Fun Especially with Friends

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/sitcoms-a-tool-elt

 

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Quizzes

Are online quizzes your best ESL allies or a complete waste of time? Let’s take a closer look.

There have been quizzes for ESL learners available online right from the start. But not everything that is available online is appropriate for your students.

The Advantages

Computer Literacy. Most ESL students know how to, at the very least, navigate the Internet and have basic computers skills. Most feel absolutely comfortable in an online environment and will not only enjoy completing quizzes online, they will work through them quickly and efficiently.

Timely FeedbackMost online quizzes either show the correct answer after each question or correct them all at the end. Most also give students a “result” usually as a percentage of correct answers. They get their feedback while their doubts are still fresh on their minds.

Self-PacingStudents are able to progress at their own pace. They may take as long as they need for particularly difficult questions; there’s no pressure from the teacher or peers to respond quickly, as there might be in an oral Q & A. This creates a very safe, non threatening environment that is ideal for classes where you have students who process information at different speeds.

Variety. The Internet probably has hundreds of online quizzes for us to choose from, in a wide range of topics from grammar to specific vocabularylistening to reading quizzes.

Individualized Learning. You may choose to give each student a different one to target specific needs, instead of making the entire class do the same quiz.

Availability & Autonomy. Online quizzes may be accessed by students any day, any time. They are also great for developing learner autonomy and helping them take control of their learning.

The Disadvantages

Technology. The one obvious disadvantage is that not every ESL classroom has a computer, let alone access to a computer lab with one computer for each student. 

Quality. The astounding variety of materials available in the Internet – not all of them are good quality. Some may have mistakes, others may not be challenging enough and in otehrs there are distracting ads or banners with content that is inappropriate.You must take the time to conduct a proper screening to make sure the quizzes and links work properly.
to make sure online quizzes are not a waste of time, you have to take the time to pick the right ones for your class.

Conclusion:

Like any online tool, it is not the tool itself that is either good or bad, it is the use you give it. Choose the right one, and you’ll have a trusty ally to help you in your English-teaching efforts.Choose online quizzes that are not only appropriate for your students’ level, but also challenging enough so that they may learn something from them. Don’t just look at the website and list of quizzes, try completing an entire quiz yourself. If possible, choose quizzes from well-known, established sites like:

Level Test of English:

Extracted from: http://busyteacher.org/

Young Learners English (YLE)

Cambridge English: Young Learners, also known as Young  Learners English (YLE), is a series of fun, activity-based English  language tests specially designed for children. Schools all over  the world use these tests to motivate children to learn English and show the progress they are making.

Specially designed for 7–12 year-olds to increase their motivation to learn English. Tests children’s reading, writing, listening and speaking  based on realistic everyday situations.

There are three levels – Starters, Movers and Flyers. All Cambridge English tests are aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

YLE scale

The Flyers Test is roughly equivalent to the Cambridge English Test: Key (KET), in terms of difficulty but the lexis and contexts covered are suitable for young children.

There are different parts of YLE Starters:

  • Listening 4 parts: 20 questions, approx. 20 minutes
  • Reading and Writing 5 parts: 25 questions,  20 minutes
  • Speaking 5 parts: 3–5 minutes

The overall lenght for Starters Test is about 45 minutes.

If you want to find more informatian about this exam, try this link:

http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/24619-starters-information-for-candidates-en-.pdf

Exam Materials

All materials which relate to this exam:

Exam Handbook

Sample papers for Starters

Sample papers for Flyers and Movers:

Games

Encourage your learners with fun vocabulary practice using these interactive games.

Activities

Extend and consolidate your lessons with this selection of interactive activities.