Reading in the Station

A Complete Ranking of Insults to Mr. Grinch

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a holiday stable in my family, in all of its glorious forms. I adore Dr. Seuss, so the the book is an absolute must, while the classic cartoon version brings the spirit of that book to life with child-like whimsy. And though I’m not generally a Jim Carey fan, the way the more modern adaptation brings the Whos to life is fun, and if I find a channel running it in December, it’s impossible to flip away.

And, of course, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch is a prominent feature on my holiday playlist, in numerous varied renditions, it’s a classic. Dr. Seuss may not have written the song himself (that would be Albert Hague) but it definitely captures the Seuss’s signature wacky twist to language that I adore. Of course, this song is the Grinchiest of all Christmas songs. It is full of insults. It’s awful. With this kind of language flying around, it is no wonder this Grinch was so vey Grinch-y. But they are …. awfully creative.

Here is a listing of every insult in the song, ranked by creativity, from least to greatest. Continue reading “A Complete Ranking of Insults to Mr. Grinch”

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Top Facebook Pages for English Language Teachers

Facebook can be an excellent resource for teachers of the English language! Did you know there are Facebook pages solely dedicated to English teachers? In this article, we list and review some of our favorite Facebook pages for English Teachers. To view and “like” these pages, click on the links provided. One tip before we start: Don’t just “like” these pages! Become an avid user and interact with others. Share posts, leave comments, and reply to comments left by others. Most of all, have fun! Facebook is a great way to meet and interact with an entirely new community of teachers from all over the world! 

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1. Teaching English – British Council

Teaching English – British Council is just one of the fabulous pages offered by the British Council to accompany their website Teaching English.  Teaching English – British Council regularly posts about resources and classroom skills, ELT events, and the British culture. This is a fantastic resource for all English teachers, especially those who teach British English.

2. Grammarly

Grammarly is a great tool for any educator! This page accompanies www.Grammarly.com, a tool used for proofreading writing and checking for plagiarism. “Like” this page for fun grammar tips and lively discussions!

3. Teaching Resources

The Teaching Resources Facebook page was created by retired teacher, Laura Candler, to share advice and ready-to-use classroom resources. It accompanies her fantastic website and blog. Laura’s resources are useful for all types of teachers!  Make sure you “like” Laura’s page for teaching tips, advice from other teachers, and amazing free resources from Laura’s ever-growing collection! Topics include Literature Circles, Learning Centers, Classroom Management, and academic subject areas such as math, literacy, science, and social studies.

4. Real English

Michale Marzio, a Real English team leader, moderates the Real EnglishFacebook page. This fabulous page is for students and teachers of the English language. It accompanies the resourceful website of the same name. Fans of Real English will enjoy the variety of resources provided on this page! There, you will find tips, exercises, advice, lessons, and information for English teachers and students!

5. Rachel’s English

If you need pronunciation videos for American English, Rachel’s English is your one-stop shop! Rachel is an experienced ESL teacher who creates and shares excellent how-to videos covering various topics in American English pronunciation. She has posted tons of free videos for her fans! These videos are super helpful and easy to understand! You can easily share the videos in your classroom or watch them yourself to better understand how to help your students improve their accent and pronunciation.

Continue reading “Top Facebook Pages for English Language Teachers”

Classroom Resources

Teach English through Songs

musicSix steps for making a song the focus of your class

Here is a basic outline you can use with any song. Remember, these are just suggestions so make sure to keep the profile of your learners in mind.

1. Listen to the song

That’s it – start things off by just listening. It’s important to remember that this is supposed to be a fun activity; don’t make it too serious or boring.

As an alternative, you can show a video clip if you have one – in fact, I strongly recommend it, as it will cater to more learners’ needs in terms of learning styles (visual and audible).

Ask learners if they’ve heard it before, and don’t overload them with tasks at this point; simply let them enjoy the music.

2. Ask some questions about the title

Here are a couple of examples of the types of questions you can ask:

For John Lennon’s wonderful ‘Jealous Guy’:

  • ‘What is a ‘jealous guy’?’
  • ‘What are three things a jealous guy might do?’
  • ‘What kinds of jealousy are there?’

For Queen’s classic ‘We are the champions’:

  • ‘What is a champion?’
  • ‘What kinds of champions are there in the world?’
  • ‘What activities have champions?’

Such questions tend to work really well as conversation starters, so group three or four learners together and then get feedback from each group on their thoughts. If you think it would help, make this your first step, i.e., before the initial listening.

Alternatively, prior to having listened to the song you can teach a couple of words and give a simple task for the first listening. My favourite strategy is to give three or four words from the song and ask to them to listen out for the words that rhyme with them. You could also brainstorm possible rhymes before listening.

3. Listen to the song again, this time with lyrics

This time, you should give learners the chance to read the lyrics to the song. At this point you might do one or more of the following activities:

  • Learners can just read the lyrics while they listen. They can possibly highlight unknown words for later discussion.
  • You can make a lyric worksheet as a gap fill; learners fill in the gaps as they listen.
  • You can make cut-out strips of selected missing words and again make a lyric worksheet as a gap fill; this time learners match the word strips to the gaps as they listen.

4. Focus on a particular verb tense or aspect of grammar

Virtually every song centres on a particular verb tense. This is too good an opportunity to pass up in terms of uncovering the grammar. My suggestion is to start with questions such as these:

  • How many examples can you find of the past simple in the lyrics?
  • Why did the writer of this song choose this verb tense?

This acts as a springboard for discussing the function of a specific tense, as well as examining its form. Furthermore, it often tends to raise awareness of grammatical flexibility and ‘poetic licence’ in the construction of song lyrics. Students often expect songs to obey the grammatical rules that have been drummed into them. In a surprisingly large number of cases, this can lead to the enlightening discovery that rules can be broken!

5. Focus on vocabulary, idioms and expressions

We’ve noted that many songs bend the rules of grammar. It’s also useful to focus on the creative and artistic use of vocabulary we encounter in lyrics. Start with questions like these (again, for Queen’s classic song ‘We are the champions’):

  • What does ‘I’ve paid my dues’ mean?
  • What does ‘my share of’ mean?
  • What does ‘I’ve taken my bows’ mean?

Go through the meanings, illustrating with other examples if necessary. Songs often serve as really good contexts for phrases and idioms, but it’s good to make sure that the meaning is clear. As with grammar, years of misunderstanding can come to light in this way!

6. Round things off with some creativity

Creativity is an important part of maintaining motivation but it shouldn’t be limited to the teaching approach. Depending on the factors highlighted in the first part of this post (age, language level, cultural specifics, etc.), you might want to try finishing things off with an activity that stimulates creative thought. Here are a few examples of things you can do to get the creative juices flowing:

  • Write another verse of lyrics, maintaining the same mood and style as the original. This can be done individually or in groups. These new lyrics can be presented to the rest of the class. Perhaps several groups can work on this to come up with a completely new set of lyrics for the whole song.
  • A song tends to give you the perspective of the singer. Write a response (this can be a paragraph, i.e., not necessarily in lyric form) from the point of view of the person the song is being sung about, or any other protagonist.
  • Have the learners plan a music video for the song. In groups they decide the location, the characters, and what happens. Then each group explains their idea to the rest of the class and the learners vote on the best one. The results can be surprising, as they frequently come up with an interpretation that hadn’t even occurred to you!
  • Write a diary entry for a character in the song. Get learners to examine the thoughts and feelings that inspired the story being played out in the lyrics.

by Adam J. Simpson