Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teaching Collocation

Although not exactly a resource book, we have chosen this volume to feature in the last post in this series as it is an excellent combination of accessible theory and useful practical ideas for classroom activities.

The activity we have selected is the collocation game. This game can be used to revise all kinds of collocations, and the examples given include:
verb + noun: collect, provide, volunteer, conceal, gather, withhold information
adjective + noun: huge, growing, profitable, domestic, export, black market
adverb + adjective: fairly, relatively, ridiculously, comparatively, dead easy
verb + adverb: carefully, thoroughly, properly, closely, in minute detail examine

Tell the learners that you will read out a list of words, all of which collocate with one noun (or adjective, etc.). As you read, the students have to guess what noun it is. When they think they know what it is, they stand up. Once they are all standing, you check their guesses.

This activity only works properly if you choose the order of the words carefully, moving from more general words to stronger collocates. Make sure there is one word at the end, like withhold (+ information) which collocates very strongly and will enable everyone to find the word they're trying to guess.

Michael Lewis (Ed.) (2000) Teaching Collocation: Further Developments in the Lexical Approach Hove: Thomson Heinle Language Teaching Publications

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vocabulary Games and Activities 1

This title in the Penguin English Photocopiables series is a spiral-bound resource book with over a hundred pages of ready-made materials to photocopy, arranged in sections according to level from Beginner / Elementary to Upper Intermediate / Advanced.

The activity we have selected is a version of dominoes designed to practice compound nouns. As well as the cards with the words to be matched, there is also a board to lay them out on, which is illustrated with the vocabulary items that learners need to find, such as newspaper and postcard. Each card has the end of one compound noun and the beginning of another. Students in pairs or groups have to find the cards that match and lay them in order as in the game of dominoes.

As all the necessary materials are provided, this activity can be used with very little preparation time. Alternatively, like many of the activities suggested in these resource books, it can be adapted to practise any area of language that you want to work on. Another example using dominoes in this book has cards with food words, and you could make similar cards for any set of concrete nouns.

Watcyn-Jones, P. (2001) Vocabulary Games and Activities 1, Harlow: Pearson

Friday, December 12, 2014


This title in the excellent Resource Books for Teachers series has over a hundred activities, many of which are suitable for learners of all levels from beginner to advanced. There is a strong emphasis on humanistic activities, but also a range of activity types encompassing working with texts, using corpora and concordances, word games, and many others.

The activity we have selected, Find the word a picture aims to get students to link words and visual images, using word cards and a collection of pictures from magazines. Depending on the size of your class, it's suggested that you use sixty words from previous lessons that need revising, and a hundred pictures. The pictures don't need to be specially selected, as they don't have to illustrate the words, but can simply be related to them in some way.

Give out a few word cards to each student, and spread the pictures on tables around the classroom. Students circulate to find pictures that somehow match each of their words. The picture doesn't have to illustrate the word directly, but may symbolize it, or be suggested by it through association or context. Ask the students in small groups to explain to each other how they have matched their words and pictures.

Morgan, J. & Rinvolucri, M. (2004) Vocabulary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vacancies in Athens for ELT materials writers

We have two vacancies in Athens for writers of English Language Teaching materials to start in January.

Job Description

This position is with Greece’s leading publisher of ELT materials located in Athens. Hours of work are 9 - 5 Monday to Friday. Duties include writing / editing /sub-editing of English Language Teaching materials.


Applicants must have a degree and speak English as their first language. Candidates with a degree in English Literature or similar will be preferred, but any degree will be considered. Experience of ELT materials creation is preferred but not required.


A competitive salary is offered depending on qualifications and experience. Furnished accommodation may be provided if required.


For further information or to apply, please email your CV to or phone (+30) 27410 53511.

Teaching vacancy for January in Komotini

We have a vacancy for a teacher to start in January in Komotini, a city in North-eastern Greece between Kavala and Alexandroupoli.
The successful candidate will teach 25  hours per week,  working with students of all ages and levels, but concentrating mainly on young adults at proficiency (C2) level. 

Terms of employment are according to our standard contract.

For further information or to apply, please email your CV to or phone (+30) 27410 53511.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vocabulary Activities

This title in the Oxford Basics series has lots of good ideas for teachers of young learners.The activity we have selected, What's Missing? is a creative way of reviewing groups of items connected with a place or situation, for example, things on a table at mealtimes.

Gather together the actual items if possible, or else pictures of them. Review the words, saying the name of each item as you show it, and getting the learners to repeat. Then tell the learners to turn away, and while they aren't looking, remove one of the items. When they turn back, the first person to name the missing item takes the place of the teacher.

Slattery, M. (2004) Vocabulary Activities, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Teach Vocabulary

The activities that we have looked at so far in this series are classics that can't be attributed to a specific author. To conclude the series, our posts over the next couple of weeks will introduce one activity from each of our favourite vocabulary resource books.

Show a large picture containing many different items for a few seconds. After you remove the picture, learners individually or in pairs write down as many English words as they can remember for the things shown in the picture. Once they finish writing, show the picture again for them to check. The team that remembers the most words wins.

This is a variation on the classic Kim's Game, but using a picture - which could be projected onto the whiteboard - extends the scope of the activity, while enabling you to focus on a real context.
Thornbury, S. (2002) How to Teach Vocabulary, Harlow: Pearson.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Hangman is one of the most commonly played word games and is a very popular filler activity in lessons. However,  compared to the other activities we have introduced in this series, it's of rather limited value, and its popularity is due mainly to the fact that it requires no preparation.

As in the matching games described in our previous post, most vocabulary activities aim to reinforce the association between the words - including pronunciation and spelling - and their meanings. In contrast, there is no need for students to remember the meaning of a word in order to succeed at hangman. 

The main value of this game is in practising spelling, particularly with words that are a little tricky. For example, this is an effective way to get learners to notice the spelling of numbers in order to overcome common errors such as *threeteen* and *fiveteen*.

While hangman can be useful at the early stages where learners are still consolidating their knowledge of the English alphabet, we wouldn't recommend using it regularly after that.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teaching opportunities with Angloville in Poland

Our friends at Angloville in Poland welcome applications from graduates of the TEFL Corinth TEFL certificate course. In addition to volunteer positions, they are currently looking for a Programme Coordinator / Activity Leader to join the team. See the attached documents for details.

TEFL Corinth has exclusive links with TEFL employers throughout the world, giving you preferential access to jobs teaching English.

Teaching vacancies with EF in Indonesia

Our friends at EF Indonesia welcome applications from graduates of the TEFL Corinth TEFL certificate course. See the attached poster for details.

TEFL Corinth has exclusive links with TEFL employers throughout the world, giving you preferential access to jobs teaching English.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Matching games

Matching words with pictures is a useful way of presenting new vocabulary to young learners, and is equally valuable as a technique for reviewing words that have already been learned. This is particularly suited to lexical sets such as animals.

One way of doing this is to have all the words up on the board - preferably on flash cards as this is a lot quicker than having to write them. As the teacher says and points to each word, learners take the corresponding picture from the selection on the table and stick that on the board. This can be done as a competition, with students racing to grab the correct picture and scoring points for doing so. The pictures can then be matched up with the words on the board, or stuck in a separate section.

Alternatively, a less competitive version of the activity would be for the teacher to give each word to one student to match with the correct picture, going around the class in turn. In either case, this activity reinforces the spelling and the pronunciation of the word, and the association of the word with the picture. 

Using pictures is a simple way to avoid translation when working with young learners, so they get into the habit of associating the English word directly with the object.