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Something different for vocab., grammar & pronunciation work

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  • mikeclark
    18 June, 2012 at 8:50
    • Total posts: 3

    I found the commute into my central London TEFL job, at best, dull. To liven it up a bit, I wrote some 40 short poems, based on elements of vocabulary, grammar consolidation and pronunication that my students tended to find tricky.

    The idea behind all of these was to get students speaking and discussing. Maximum student input, and virtually nil teacher preparation!

    If you’re interested, I can post you a poem (+ a directly related worksheet!) and your students can have fun with them!

    For example:
    BOOK 1 (Elementary to Intermediate) includes:
    1. low cost air travel (pros and cons / Stansted!)
    2. preparations for going on holiday (+ pronunciation of short words ending in consonants)
    3. coughs and colds (+ pronunciation of "augh"/"ough")
    4. food and drink (regular past participle as adjective / question forms)
    5. unemployment & job creation (2nd conditional)

    BOOK 2 (Intermediate to Advanced)
    6. rush hour travel (Past Simple & Past Continuous)
    7. unacademic children in an academic system (pronunciation of "TH")
    8. Essex boys and girls/pubbing & clubbing (continue the story)
    9. burglary and its effects (interesting words ending in "LE")
    10. the FA Cup (error correction and 3rd Conditional)

    You could also post me a request and I’ll try to write your students a poem (+ worksheet!). It could be vocabulary based (say, kitchen vocab.), grammar based (say, Past Perfect) or pronunciation based (say, "Vs" and "Ws"). As they say, whatever!. Just let me know the level and I’ll do my ….. err…. level best.

    Bye for now

    Mike CLARK

    3 July, 2012 at 8:56
    • Total posts: 647

    Reply To: Something different for vocab., grammar & pronunciation work

    HI Mike

    Thanks for this – can you post an example poem and worksheet? I’d be interested to see them.


    7 July, 2012 at 8:50
    • Total posts: 3

    Reply To: Something different for vocab., grammar & pronunciation work

    HI Mike

    Thanks for this – can you post an example poem and worksheet? I’d be interested to see them.


    Hi, Dan. When I checked, one or two pageination issues with my first draft. Not easy to redo worksheets with grids going across the page! So, Question 9 (Vocabulary) should have definitions on the left and words in the poem on the right, but they’ve got squashed up in the final version.

    Anyway, hope you’ve got the drift, like Ron!

    Here we go again: Sir Richard Branson and the Second Conditional!

    Mike CLARK


    1. For Your Information 1
    NIMBY – stands for Not In My Back Yard. The plural is Nimbies. Nimbies are people who support any kind of government plan to build houses, motorways or prisons just as long as they aren’t built near where they live.

    2. Discussion 1
    1. Where do the NImbies in your country live?
    Are they usually well-off or poor?
    What plans do they oppose?
    How do they oppose them?

    3. Information 2
    Philanthropists are people who invest a great deal of their personal wealth in big scale building projects to help the poor. Peabody Carnegie and Cadbury were just three famous 19th Century philanthropists

    4. Discussion 2
    2. Do you know about any philanthropists in your country?
    Are there any today?
    Do you think it’s right that individuals should invest their
    money in public works? Should only governments do this?

    5. Reading aloud and comprehenison
    Get into a group of 3 and read the poem aloud to each
    Partner 1: you play the part of Bert (who starts)
    Partner 2: you play the part of Ron
    Partner 3: you are the narrator and read what they don’t say in italics


    Bert: – If Richard Branson built a firm …..
    Ron: – That’s not the word they use these days.
    Bert: – If …….. he acquired. … Is that the term?
    Ron: – It is! (In truth Ron liked Bert’s ways.)
    Bert: – If Richard bought up some old plant
    ‘Cause he can do that. Us, we can’t.
    Or even new build. Got the site
    Set up a brand new company, right?……
    Ron: – It’s not so simple. There’s a catch
    He’d have to win the nimbies round
    And they’re retired. Have jobs.(Bert frowned)
    “What here? Not here. Not on our patch!”
    They’d get the M.P.s on their side
    They’d give your Branson one, tough ride.

    Bert:- He’d do it. He would take them on
    Then he’d take on the unemployed
    For miles around! ….. No, listen, Ron ….
    (The thing is that they both enjoyed
    This kind of argument, debate
    No need to take offence, berate.)

    Bert: – They’d also need accommodation ….
    Ron: – Then schools ………. the kids ……. their education……
    Bert: – First house the workforce………….. Nice, this beer.
    Ron: – And how’d they get in? Drive? Commute?
    Bert: – No cars or trains. No trek. No route.
    They’d walk or cycle. They’d live near.
    Ron: – So, Virgin cycles? Virgin shoes?
    Bert: – A Virgin waterway ……… canoes!

    Ron: – Then clubs and clinics, megastore?
    Bert:- Just one of each. And just one park.
    There wouldn’t be the room for more
    Ron:- One theatre, cinema? You mark
    my words. ‘Cause Branson, he would need
    to make a profit. There’s the greed
    in every philanthropic act.
    You can’t avoid it. It’s a fact.
    Bert: – Hmmm. “He who dies rich, dies disgraced”
    Carnegies’ libraries, swimming pools
    And Rowntree’s village, with its schools.
    Ron: – But them, they’re dead, just like Bill Gates.
    Bert: – The thing is that they all had vision
    Invested first, then made provision.

    Bert: – Of course they’d need their corner shop
    Ron: – A pub on every corner, mind?
    Bert: – On every street? That’s over the top!
    Sir Richard needn’t be that kind!
    Ron: – I’ve got your drift, Bert. So, small scale?
    Bert: – That’s right. So it’d work, not fail.
    Let’s have another. It’s my shout
    What are you having? Ale or stout?
    And so they supped ‘til gone eleven
    Discussing what the “firm” would make
    The pay, conditions, what they’d take
    For having dreamt this dream, this heaven
    For willing workers, (not laid back)
    Now facing cut backs, then the sack.

    6. Reading comprehension
    Now work together to answer the questions.
    a. Where does the scene take place?
    b. What do you think Ron and Bert’s relationship is?
    Complete the sentence with the right answer, then justify
    your choice.
    Ron and Bert are discussing how to help _____________
    • Sir Richard Branson?
    • the “deserving” unemployed?
    • build new plants
    • improve commuting

    7. Grammar Spot
    When you want talk about an imaginary future, remember to use: if + Past Simple + Conditional (would/could/should) + infinitive without "to"
    Notice how, in speech, would id contracted to ‘d (I’d/You’d/He’d/She’d etc.). It’d is included! Practise saying it!

    Example If Richard Branson built a firm, he’d take on the unemployed. It’d be a great idea!

    8. Grammar Practice
    Reread the poem and Answer the questions
    a. If Sir Richard Branson decided to have a new plant built,
    whose opposition would he meet?
    b. Why would they object?
    c. According to Bert, would Richard Branson back down?

    Here are the questions. Write the questions!
    e.g. If Richard Branson were to go ahead with the plan,
    what would the workers need?


    d.______________________________________ ?

    e. ______________________________________ ?
    By canal!

    f.______________________________________ ?
    A club, a park, a theatre, a cinema and a pub

    g_________________________________________ ?
    Because there wouldn’t be enough space

    h._________________________________________ ?
    No, they’d take their cut! (payment)

    9. Vocabulary
    Find words in the poem that mean:

    Definitions Words in the poem
    a. to buy a company to acquire a company
    b. a small problem
    c. to persuade / convince
    d. a local neighbourhood
    e. to create big problems
    for someone
    f. to tackle someone; to employ
    g. to criticise, tell off
    h. to travel from a dormitory town
    to your place of work and
    return there after work
    i. Listen to me …..
    j. Wanting too much money or
    too may possessions
    k. to understand someone’s general
    l. to drink
    m. keen to do something
    n. relaxed; lazy

    10. Discussion 3
    a. How high is overall unemployment in your country?
    b. How high is youth unemployment?
    c. Do you think Ron and Bert’s idea of hiring philanthropists
    is a good one in theory?
    d. Could it work in practice? Why? Why not?


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