About Alex Case

Alex Case has worked as a Teacher, Teacher Trainer, Editor and Director of Studies in Turkey, Thailand, Spain, Greece and Italy. He is presently working as a teacher and freelance EFL writer, and is based in Tokyo. He specialises in not specialising, and teaches everything from kindergarten kids to chairmen of the board. He is also Reviews Editor of TEFL.net. He has written articles here concerning teachers' interaction with inanimate objects and time management.

Using Songs In The Classroom

Yesterday Lyrics

Doing boring things with songs

If you want to bring songs into your class but are not sure what to do with them, the first thing you can do is all the boring stuff that students usually hate. If you just add the music element they will happily indulge in exercises that usually make them groan and learn language points that usually scare them off. This is also great practice for exams, for example the FCE Use of English paper. Examples of ‘doing boring things with songs’ are:

  • Gap fills (Open cloze)
  • Match the sentence halves
  • Error correction
  • Put it into order- Words and lines
  • Put words into the correct form
  • Dictation
  • Pronunciation work

Gap fills (Open cloze)

Remove single words from the text, by tippexing them out on the page or replacing them with gaps in a Word document. Students try to guess what the missing words are and then listen to check. DO NOT remove random words and ask students to listen to fill the gaps without having even read the lyrics through first. As popular as this ‘random gaps with random songs’ task is with students and some teachers, it has no actual teaching aim. To make sure your activity does have an aim, make sure that:
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Time Management for Teachers

Old Clock

This article and the accompanying worksheets are based on a workshop I gave to a group of teachers who were about to finish their four-week initial teaching course, and were somewhat panicked by the prospect of teaching 25 hours a week- as it took them every waking hour to prepare their 4 weekly lessons during the course. If you missed out on such a workshop, this article could well be for you (wherever you are in your teaching career). If your time management is good, you can use this as a format to pass your skills onto your stressed-looking colleagues!

Think about time.

To start, think about ‘the world’s least efficient teacher’ and list all the things that take up their time when they are at work. There are suggestions further down.
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Teachers and Inanimate Objects

PaperclipDon’t you just hate it when…

…you’ve just got your lesson ready and then you drop the box of paperclips all over the floor.

Of course, you might have been lucky enough to avoid this, but personally in 7 years of teaching I’m sure I must have done this at least 20 times. So, rather than just throw in the towel, I decided to take practical steps against those little annoyances that are produced not by other teachers (uncleaned boards) or students (“Teacher, I’ve done this grammar before”) but by the interaction between inanimate objects and myself.

First I’d like to get a few things off my chest. Don’t you just hate it when…

  1. You have the best prepared lesson ever and then you arrive in the classroom without any pens
  2. You have to cue a pron cassette
  3. Your pens run out half way through the lesson
  4. There are 25 pens in the room and none of them work
  5. You are cutting up a set of cards and one badly lined up guillotine cut ruins the whole pack
  6. You get to the listening in the lesson and the cassette recorder doesn’t work. After the class someone tells you, “Oh yer, that one hasn’t worked for weeks.”
  7. You can’t find the book you need
  8. You have to search the whole building just to find a hole punch
  9. The photocopier breaks down just before you reach it

…or is it just me?

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