The Young Learners Edition (23rd) of the ESL/EFL/ELL Carnival

Welcome to the 23rd edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Carnival with the focus on Young Learners! Let us start the month with some fantastic resources on motivating and managing young learners. These resourceful reading materials are from many of the finest bloggers, authors, and educators of the English language teaching world! So brew your favorite coffee and indulge in the quotes I share from each post.

You can also enjoy this slideshow with clickable links and music. Just click play and on any of the images to be taken to the post! And, feel free to embed this Vuvox slideshow on your own blog :-)

Tips, Lessons, & Issues

In Carol Read’s ABC of Teaching Children blog, she asserts in her post, S is for Storytelling:

It is arguable that stories can play a similar role in the context of children learning a second, additional or foreign language as well. From my own experience over many years of teaching, I am convinced that it can. In our classes with children, the magic of stories seems to lie in the way that they provide shared contexts for promoting participation and developing emerging language skills in a natural and spontaneous way. Stories also potentially engage children’s hearts and minds, as people and as thinkers, with issues that are relevant, real and important to them.

In Richard Whiteside’s I’d Like to Think That I Help People to Learn English blog, he describes in his post, Let’s see what the magic bag thinks:

Sometimes in class we want to choose one child to do something and often this can be difficult because the kids get annoyed if they aren’t chosen. What criteria do you use to choose which child is going to do whatever it is, or go first? … I recommend a simple technique that I learnt a couple of years ago.

In Dave Dodgson’s Reflections of a Teacher and Learner blog, he describes in his post, Student (De)generated Dialogue:

My attempts to include more drama and more ‘unplugged moments’ in my lessons have continued in the new semester and so last week I decided to try some ‘unplugged drama’ with a twist on the classic ‘disappearing dialogue’.

In Sabrina De Vita’s weblog, she reveals in her post, Dogme with Young Learners:

Been thinking quite a lot about dogme recently, and it has just struck me that I am applying it in my young learners classes without even having noticed it.

In Leahn Stanhope’s Early EFL blog, she illustrates a lesson for us in her post, Tried and Tested Drawing Activity for Young Learners:

This is a really simple but highly adaptable  controlled practice activity that most children really enjoy. Quite simply take a piece of paper show the children how to fold it into 4 or 6. It depends on you. Next get them to number the boxes 1-4 or 1-6. Now you’re ready to draw.

In Sandie Mourao’s Picturebooks in ELT blog, she describes the book in her post, My Nose, Your Nose – Celebrating Individuality:

There’s a nice rhythm here, the two children shown as different, each on different spreads, then brought together with a similarity onto one spread.   Melanie Walsh uses this rhythmic, visual structure to reinforce her message, which culminates in bringing all four children together.

In Jason Renshaw’s English Raven blog, he points out in his post, Ways to Extend News Articles in the ELT Classroom for Multiple and Integrated Skills:

On my World News for Kids Teacher’s Page, I demonstrate how I build extensive ‘kits’ based on initial news articles, working through reading, extending into listening with additional topical content, then working through a variety of different speaking and writing activities.

In Barbara Sakamoto’s Teaching Village blog, she reminds us in her post, Rocco’s Day: A Student-generated Story Activity for Literacy Practice:

This foundation of spoken language is the perfect base from which to begin reading and writing. If students have a good teacher and/or a good course book, then the language they have learned helps them talk about the things that interest them, which means they can learn to write about the things that interest them, and can practice reading things that interest them. It’s a winning situation!…Today, I want to share a very simple  activity I use with emergent readers and writers.

In Marisa Constantinides’ TEFL Matters blog, she tells us in her post, Watching Young Learners at Work: From Practice to Principle:

This post is based on three activities on video with a young class in their first year of English videotaped as part of a training project for a course on teaching young learners.  At the point of  being video-taped, this class of Greek children attending classes in a small language school in Athens, had had about 40 hours of English in total, mostly concentrating on oral work.

In David Deubelbeiss’ EFL Classroom 2.0 blog, he posts a poem and illustrates how to use it in his post, Imagine…. (a poem about school):

Listen to the original song and share with your students. What do they imagine about education and school? Here’s what some elementary school students wrote me when I asked their class to give me questions they’d like to know answers about! Imagine if they had the time to explore as they wanted?

In Ken Wilson’s blog, he shares a guest post, Guest blog 21 – Beccy on teaching ‘difficult’ primary school pupils…:

I’d never met children with such a low opinion of their own abilities. And there were many like them in the class. The children were spectacularly down on themselves. They were disengaged. They thought they were “the worst class in the school”. Obviously, the urge to do something about this was strong.

In Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day blog, he tells us in his post, The Best Resources For Learning How To Use The Dictogloss Strategy With English Language Learners:

Dictogloss is primarily a listening and writing activity used with English Language Learners. It can certainly be done a number of different ways but, very simply-put, the teacher reads a short text, often one students are familiar with…Here are few of the best resources that I’ve found on using the dictogloss strategy.

In Erika Osváth’s For English Teachers – Angoltanároknak blog, she describes in her post, Our children transforming education in action:

Kids can do this so naturally, so why don’t WE, adults learn from them? It’s high time we paid more attention to what kids can teach us before they go to school and all their innate knowledge, abilities and aptitudes are slowly or quickly, for that matter, anaesthetised and then killed.

In Mark Chapman’s The TESOL Zone blog, he says in his post, ESL Writing for Children:

Writing is an important, if sometimes neglected skill, when teaching children English… It is needed at school, it deepens the student’s understanding of English grammar and vocabulary, it helps students develop their own thinking, provides an alternative creative output for children, allows students to work at their own pace alone, or can be used to encourage group work and more social interaction.

In Kevin Gallagher’s AbsolutESL blog, he says in his post, Humor in the ESL Classroom:

Whether I like to admit it or not, one of my biggest struggles in any classroom is maintain the attention of my students. It seems humor, especially in the East Asian countries where I taught, can help to break the ice.

In Mary Ann Zehr’s Learning the Language blog, she points out in her post, The Nation Sees a Drop in Latino Preschool Enrollment:

Yoshikawa observed that Mexican-American preschoolers have a very low rate of preschool enrollment in the United States, while the rate of enrollment for preschoolers in the country of origin of their families is very high.

Teaching YLs Effectively with Technology

In Burcu Akyol’s Blog My Integrating Technology Journey blog, she says in her post, DOs and DON’Ts of Blogging With Students:

This is a little reminder for the blogging ISTEK teachers. These guidelines are specific to our school but some of the suggestions might be valid for the other blogging teachers too.

In Eva Büyüksimkeşyan’s A Journey in TEFL blog, she describes in her post, Easy to Use Web 2.0 Tools:

They are digital natives, I know but they are only good at playing computer games and as they are young learners they are slower than the teenagers. However, they are more motivated and enthusiastic. I belive if they hear their voices published on their class blogs they will be more willing.

In Graham Stanley’s and Kyle Mawer’s Digital ELT Play blog, they describe in their post, Playing video games = Healthy body, healthy mind:

You’ve probably sat on a bus or train and see someone playing ‘braintraining‘ and finding out how old their brain is. You may even have played it yourself. This popular hand held puzzle video game was designed by a prominent neuroscientist who claims that playing the games’ puzzles reduces the chances of dementia in old age.

In the Pumkin English blog, the new free Iphone app for kids is described:

Learn the colors for free with our new iPhone app. We were on the iTunes “Whats New and Noteworthy” area. So you can be assured that it is noteworthy. In fact it is much more than noteworthy it’s amazing!

In Jennifer Verschoor’s My Integrating Technology Journey blog, she says in her post, Virtual Worlds for Young Learners:

Motivate your young learners by introducing virtual worlds in your daily teaching. I´ve been uploading several virtual worlds in my Web 2.0 online calendar!

In my post, Survival Tips for Teaching Kids English: 30 Tips & Resources, I reflect:

I remember teaching a group of 14 seven to eight year-old students. They climbed the walls (oddly there were racks on the walls), fought a lot, and flew paper airplanes everywhere. I went home after a 9 hour day and cried. I wanted to quit. I have a fighting spirit, though, so I went online to research lessons and ideas. Throughout the four years that I have been teaching in Germany I have collected some great research, resources, and tips to make me a much better English teacher of young learners!

Looking forward to the next carnival?

The Carnival welcomes any blog posts, including examples of student work, that are related to teaching or learning English. You can contribute a post to it by using this easy submission form. If the form does not work for some reason, you can send the link to Larry Ferlazzo via his Contact Form. The following edition will be published by Eva Buyuksimkesyan on September 1st. The November 1st edition will be hosted by Berni Wall. Let Larry Ferlazzo know if you might be interested in hosting future editions.

You can see all the previous editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.


Try any of these resources with your young learners.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

What are your tips for working with young learners?

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Animating Your Lessons with Some Drama: 20+ Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

Act up

Every Friday I am presenting free webinars thanks to American TESOL! We have an incredible time. Recently, we shared ideas for integrating drama in the classroom. Teachers do not have to be skilled in acting. Instead, the webinar was away to introduce teachers to different games that get students to tap into their creative juices and get them moving! As Ken Wilson said in a recent interview with me, “Animate your classes!”

Classroom activities that include drama skills include:

  • role plays
  • puppets
  • pretend games
  • mime
  • pantomine
  • total physical response
  • dance
  • music
  • dress-up
  • improvisation games
  • puppetry
  • storytelling
  • digital storytelling

Find more activities by watching this webinar, Using Drama in the Classroom!

Drama Activities & Resources

Check out these resources to help you animate your classes!

Improv Games: Videos

  • Game 1: Yes And (click to watch a video example)
  • Instructions:
    • Put students into pairs
    • One student begins with a sentence and the other student says “Yes and” then adds more information.
    • Use a timer to get students speaking for 1 minute or longer.
  • Game 2: Rumors (click to watch a video example)
  • Instructions:
    • Put students into pairs
    • Student A makes up a rumor to tell student B.
    • Student B adds to the rumor then both students giggle.
    • Student B then makes up the rumor and student A adds to the rumor.
    • Use a timer to get students speaking for 1 minute or longer.
  • Game 3: Pass the Prop (click to watch a video example)
  • Instructions:
    • You will need an everyday object such as an eraser, a chair, a broom, or other object. You can choose to bring in as many as you want. We will use a broom as an example.
    • Place students in a circle.
    • Place 2 students in the center of the circle with the broom.
    • Student A decides what to pretend the broom is either than a broom. For example, student A may decide the broom is a spaceship.
    • Student A then demonstrates the broom is a spaceship through acting and using dialogue until student B figures this out.
    • Student B determines the broom is a spaceship and plays along matching the dialogue.
    • When a student in the circle imagines the object is something else that student taps student A or B and replaces that student in the skit.
  • Game 4: Jibberish to English (click to watch a video example)
  • Instructions:
    • You will need a bell or whistle.
    • Put students into pairs
    • Have the pairs make up a scene or give them one. They are choosing a scene they can easily talk about so they may want something simple like going shopping, playing a sport, etc. Or you could have the scene match your lesson topic.
    • Student A begins by speaking about the topic. Student B rings the bell every 10 seconds or so. When student B rings the bell, student A must speak in Jibberish (a made up language).
    • Use a timer to get students speaking for 1 minute or longer.

Resources for Using Drama With Young Learners

More Drama Resources

Recommended Reading


Try one of these ways to animate your lessons!

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Why it Makes Sense to Teach the World Cup

Part of the Cool Sites series

As an English language teacher I love opportunities to teach culturally responsive lessons (CRT), a type of curriculum that celebrates and responds to various cultural issues through student-centered instruction. In a previous post, Do Our Students Realize They Live in the World, I explain why all students need to develop skills in collaborating with others worldwide. These skills are rarely thought in schools. How many teachers do you know in your school that participate in international projects?

Nelson Mandela is an incredibly wise man who realized that one way to unify people in a nation is through sports! The World Cup is the sporting event that unites nations and brings the world together to rejoice, cheer, kick, scream, rant and now blow our vuvuzelas! My adult English language learners are having rich discussions about the World Cup and my kindergartners are also enjoying learning about sports! However, you can use the World Cup to teach any subject, such as math, history, and statistics.

Lesson Ideas

Below are the resources I have been using with my adult English language learners (pre-intermediate level) and hope they provide you with ideas:

Sean Banville’s Listening Exercises & Quizzes

To prepare for the class, I suggested my students complete these activities in our wiki:

  1. Please read this article about Germany in the World Cup
  2. Then listen to the MP3 of the article without reading the article
  3. Now take these quizzes to check your understanding- Quiz 1 and Quiz 2

Sue Lyon’s Video & Listening Quiz On Vuvuzelas

  • In class, we sparked thoughtful discussion by watching a video on the ESOLCourses blog about banning Vuvuzelas.
  • As a class we created a concept map of what we remembered from the video about Vuvuzuelas and what we had each observed.
  • Then we took this video quiz.
  • We then separated into two groups to debate the issue if Vuvuzelas should be banned! We had an incredible discussion with the majority of the class voting on Sue’s poll to not ban them. Many of the students came up with great arguments, such as Vuvuzelas being a tradition, a symbol of hope, preventing coaches from communicating with players, and more!

Can I Play This at Home? The World Cup Online Game

  • In class, students also created questions for this fun game, Can I Play This at Home.
  • This game has the students choose a team, then answer questions correctly to make the footballers make a play.
  • Students are submitting their questions on the website then having their classmates play the game at home.
  • There are also preset questions in several categories, such as math, spelling, and grammar.

Here are more World Cup resources and ideas:

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Bookmark and Share

Read More

PLNs, Twitter, and Conference Tweet-ups

One of my favorite TV moments is when Norm of the series Cheers walks into a bar and everyone shouts, “Norm” as if they were welcoming him home. Part of the Cheer’s theme song, Where Everybody Knows Your Name by Gary Portnoy, goes:

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same

And this is what Twitter is for me, a place where my Personal/Passionate Learning Network (PLN) knows my name, they’re glad I came and we find out all our educational problems are pretty much the same.

IATEFL Conference

This past week, I attended the IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) conference in the UK. Maybe you saw the hashtag on Twitter and followed along. Our tweet-ups (meet-ups with people who are on the social network Twitter) were regularly at Christie’s Pub and many of us were Norm from Cheers as our PLN shouted our names, embraced us, and we chatted and joked like old friends. Many of us had only meet for the first time, yet it always feels like we’ve been friends for a long time.


was the largest Tweet-up for me so far and I got to spend as long as 9 days with some of my Twitter friends.

As educators…

we face enough troubles. Our governments continue to not support us by making policies that cut our tenures, salaries, retirement, benefits, and so forth. Education policy around the world is usually not run by educators who spent years in the classroom with students. High stakes testing punishes teachers if they don’t get the right scores. Now entire staffs of teachers are being fired and our leadership is supporting these measures.

When someone asks why a Personal/ Passionate Learning Network (PLN)? Why Twitter?

My response is, “Why not?”

Why not have a support system that reminds you why you decided to teach in the first place, helps you self-reflect, collaborates with you, and at the end of the day is glad you are there? When our government education policy and school systems fail us that is when our PLN helps us.

IATEFL Highlights….

Thank you PLN for making this an incredible conference with your incredible presentations, support, love, and friendship! I’m always glad you came….

From my IATEFL Flickr Stream

Watch Jan Blake tell stories!

Hear Jeremy Harmer‘s poetry with the beautifully haunting melody of Steve Bingham!


In case you missed the conference, here are related video links & resources:

Posts about IATEFL

Please read the following in depth posts about the conference:

Which conference touched you? Did Twitter or your PLN play a part of the experience?

Bookmark and Share

Read More

My Favourite Sites for Teaching Phrasal Verbs by Janet Bianchini

Part of the Cool Sites series

An Xtranormal Kind of Introduction

Teaching phrasal verbs is my favourite activity of all!  Why is this so?  Well, in my experience, I have found that students generally don’t like studying them because they find them “too difficult, miss!”  I set out from elementary level to train my students not to be afraid of them, but to look forward to showing off their newly acquired knowledge of them. To stand out from the crowd. To use phrasals in a natural way.  In the correct context.  How do I do this?  I will explain.

I encourage them to chill out during the lessons if I see they look a bit stressed out.  I ask them to come up with ways of using new phrasals both in class and outside of class.  I encourage them to ask each other this question as a natural starter “Have you come across this word?  Do you know what it means?”,  if for example, they don’t know the meaning of a word.  Instead of asking me all the time, students are encouraged to ask each other first, always using this phrasal verb until it becomes instinctive for them and of course, second nature.  On a Monday morning my first question is inevitably “What did you get up to over the weekend?”  Students then ask each other in pairs and dialogue ensues following this prompt.  Another question would be “Did you get through the weekend homework?” I make sure that these questions are all in context and provide opportunities for practice.


Below is an example of a Powerpoint presentation converted to Slideshare. I have created this in order to maximise opportunities for student discussion. This would either be used as an introduction to this set of verbs, or as a review and recycling activity.  I have introduced 18 phrasal verbs with some follow-up activities at the end. I have experimented with whole pictures as background for added interest.


Bookr by Pim Pam Pum is a nice tool for exploiting images to enhance your  phrasal verbs lessons.  You can easily create a “book” in minutes by selecting pictures, according to the theme you want to explore, and then simply dragging them into the pages of the book. You can write a short sentence on each page.  The example below is one I created especially for this post to demonstrate how it can be used.


This is a great site for dialogue exploitation. The animations are easy to create with a set group of characters. There is a choice of background music which adds to the special effects. There is no sound for the characters.


This is another cool site for creating animations. Go!Animate can be used by students to recycle phrasal verbs learned or indeed, any item of vocabulary that needs to be reviewed. Getting Down to Phrasals by Janet Bianchini

Create your own at

The ZimmerTwins

I registered on the ZimmerTwins site for the purpose of researching for this post.  I was surprised at how intuitive and easy it was to create my very first animation.  I have a feeling that students will love this tool!

Phrasals in the Jungle!

Have a look at Phrasals in the Jungle!


I love ToonDo because it’s easy to create cartoons for any topic you like.  Students enjoy creating small dialogues or comic strips.  Here’s one I created which has a phrasal verbs theme.  The cartoons can be easily embedded into your class / student blogs or posted via email.

A Dilemma
Create your own Toon!


The last on my list of favourite e-tools to make teaching and learning phrasal verbs fun is PhotoPeach.  I was able to create a simple quiz using my own photos. You have to select a synonym  out of the 3 options given for the verb in the picture.  I hope you enjoy it!

Test your Phrasals! on PhotoPeach


I hope I have inspired you to use some of these cool sites with your students. You can adapt them to suit whatever theme you are working with. Why don’t you try one of these out for your next class? I am sure your students would enjoy creating short animations and dialogues or short books or indeed quizzes to test each other on new vocabulary or structures they have learned with you.

Have you had experience with any of these tools? If so, I would love to hear from you to learn how you and your class got on with them!


smalljanetjoeypicI would like to thank Shelly for giving me this wonderful opportunity to write for her Cool Sites series. It’s a great honour for me to be here.

Janet Bianchini (@janetbianchini) has been an EFL teacher for over three decades.  She still loves teaching and she is enjoying the challenge of learning more about new technologies and how to integrate them into her lessons. She writes a blog called Janet’s Abruzzo Edublog.  When she is not writing, studying or teaching, she loves to spend time in her rather wild garden with her menagerie in tow.

Bookmark and Share

Read More