ESL debating lessons

Debates in your ESL lessons can be a fantastic way to get your students speaking in an extended way. It also gives your students an ideal platform to give their opinions on a range of topics and interact with each other and you, the English teacher. Debating language is very useful for adult students to learn and can be used again and again in discussion when using English.

In this ESL movie lesson, you'll be showing your students clips from the movie The Great Debators, starring and directed by Denzel Washington. In The Great Debators, Washington stars in the true story of a motivational teacher at an American College for black only students from whom he forms a debate team to take on the nation's finest debating team, Harvard University. 

In this lesson, your students will be hearing authentic debating language and practicing giving opinions using English. Included in the free ESL debating language lesson plan is a list of topics and discussion questions aimed at varying levels of English students from Pre-Intermediate through to Advanced. 

Debating Language for ESL Students
In my opinion...
As far as I'm concerned...
I strongly believe that...
If it were up to me...
I'm convinced that...
I think...
The way I see it...
I'd like to...
It is fairly certain that...
Without a doubt...
I suspect that...
I honestly feel that…

Download the movie lesson below for the ESL debating lesson, along with over 50 different debating topics and ESL debating questions.

by Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
Download our FREE IELTS Speaking Practice Questions and Teaching Pack PDF here! Just scroll to the bottom of this page and find the download link to get the free PDF.

The IELTS Speaking Test is designed to be a fair test of a candidate's English regardless of where the candidate is from. Whether a student is from China, Brazil or Germany, the test should be a fair test of speaking and will give no advantage to a particular cultural background.  The IELTS Speaking test is divided into three sections, all requiring candidates to speak and produce language. On this page, you will find our free IELTS Speaking Test Practice Questions and Teaching Pack PDF. There is a range of IELTS pracice questions for speaking and also some good IELTS speaking tips and IELTS teaching tips for speaking.

Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking Test

Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking Module consists of personal questions about you, your family, your work, your education or other familiar topics. A nice list of example topics and questions is given for you in this pack. You can use these sample questions to practice and rehearse for this part of the speaking test. Make sure you can speak correctly, clearly, and with ease and confidence. Practice makes perfect!! Remember to make your answer interesting for the IELTS examiner by providing more than the most basic information. The more you can speak and the more language you produce, then the higher your mark will be. Try to use a range of different grammatical structures to get your score even higher! Some of these sample IELTS Speaking questions are highly likely to appear on your exam, so practice them with your teacher.

Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test
In Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Module, you need to give a short talk, of about 1-2 minutes, on a simple topic. The questions do not require any specific knowledge, but are based on your own personal experience. The questions could be answered by anyone. You will be handed a card with the topic and you have one minute to prepare your talk. You can and should make notes and use these notes during your talk. The examiner will not ask you any questions during this part of the test, so try to make sure that you mention during your 1-2 minute talk all the points on the card. Some sample IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 cards are given below. Practice using the cards to make notes for one minute before giving a 1-2 minute talk. A good tip is to record yourself, so you can listen back and try to find any mistakes or problems which need fixing.

Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking Test
In Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking Module, the examiner will ask you a question based on the topic of the question card in Part 2. This will then become the basis of a two-way discussion between the candidate and the examiner lasting around 4-5 minutes. The candidate should try to speak as naturally and fluently as possible, and it is here that candidates can really impress the examiner and score as highly as possible. A good tip for teachers is to record students in the days and weeks leading up to the exam and error correct with the student together looking at the video. This is something which IELTS students would rarely do on their own, so having their teacher do this with them is especially useful IELTS teaching and ideal preparation for the IELTS speaking test.

A Nice Tip for IELTS Speaking Test Preparation for Both Candidates and Teachers
As good IELTS reading practice and good preparation, ask your student to read news articles on current affairs and international news. Not only is this good as reading practice and as a vocabulary expansion exercise, but the student may even be able to discuss current events in Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking Test and impress the examiner still further.
Published in Exam preparation
Friday, 15 April 2016 06:26

Using Drama Activities in TEFL Classes

As an ESL teacher I often try to think of new ways to capture the attention of my students and keep their interest and enthusiasm levels as high as possible. I have always been fond of using songs in my lessons to not only teach vocabulary but also to teach students about nouns, verbs etc… 
After the school at which I currently teach introduced an exciting summer course that used drama in the classroom, I decided to try to incorporate these kinds of activities in as many of my lessons as possible.
Focus on the Target Language and Authentic Speech
This yielded some surprising and unexpected results. Not only did my students enjoy these drama activities, but because each activity incorporated such a wide range of skills, I found that my students were able to pick up the target language much faster. It also aided in getting my students to not sound as robotic as they sometimes do. 
Integrating Drama and Songs into ESL Classes
One of the biggest and most worthwhile benefits of using songs and drama was that it turned me (the teacher), into what I would like to call ‘a support structure’, and forced the students to be more actively involved in their own learning process.
Reasons to Use Drama in your Classroom:
1. Drama is great to help those students who may not be as confident as the others get a little boost in their confidence and self-esteem.
2. Drama incorporates a wide range of learning styles and takes care of the needs of all students.
3. It teaches students how to work together and encourages a team classroom ethic.
4. Drama teaches both, pronunciation and body language.
Ways to incorporate drama in your classroom:
1. Acting out dialogues – Have students split into groups and act out the dialogues from their books. Encourage them to incorporate body movement and emotion when speaking.
2. Dramatic readings – Some students may not always want to be the center of attention, so a great activity is to have students sit facing away from each other (so they cannot see each other) and have them read out their dialogues. Do encourage them to read dramatically.
3. Create a character – Have students create a character that has a different personality from their own. Have certain times during the class where students are no longer themselves but take on the role of the character they have created. This can be great for boosting confidence if you have students wear a mask when they become the character.
4. Improvising – Put students into groups and give them character cards and a situation. Then have them use the language they have learnt in these short 2 to 3 minute scenes.
Fahraaz Dockrat
By Fahraaz Dockrat
Fahraaz Dockrat studied teaching in Durban, South Africa. He majored in English and computer programming and has been teaching for the past six years. Fahraaz is currently living in Changzhou where he works as an English teacher with EF Education First Changzhou. He dreams of one day running his own drama school.
To become innovative, we need to look at the situation from a new angle, never used before. There are thousands of English Language Training Centers (LTCs) in China using a multitude of different methods for teaching English with a rather limited success. I believe that there are a couple reasons that explain why many Chinese can read and write in English, and few can speak fluently. In my opinion, the reasons are:
1.     LTCs teach English as information to be remembered.
2.    LTCs use passive learning teaching, which is less efficient than modern active learning.
English is not a knowledge set to be memorized
We spend years in school learning a lot of subjects. Schools teach most subjects using textbooks, lectures, notes, memorization and tests. The only problem is that language skills cannot be learned in this way, any more than you can learn to play the guitar or drive a car by reading or even memorizing the instruction manuals.  That is why after learning English for three plus years, you are still not able to communicate in it fluently. English is not a knowledge set to be memorized; rather it is a skill to be acquired by practicing under guided instruction or by using mobile application with the new pedagogy of active learning.

This article is aimed at adults learning English
This article is for adults learning English. Children do not have this problem and acquire any language in their environment subconsciously by forming direct links from images and concepts to words and phrases in the new language. So every language that a child learns becomes native to him. Children preserve this ability until about 12 years of age.
It is hard to persuade teachers that English is a skill to be trained since they believe that the only option for teaching it due to large class size is to lecture about the language.There is a much better solution that I will describe after elaborating on why all conventional methods involve passive learning. 
We only remember about 20% of what we hear 
According to the Learning Pyramid, we remember about 20% of what we hear. Speaking more, by itself, will not improve your vocabulary and grammar; actually, it can make things worse. To acquire language patterns and intuitive grammar - it is not enough to speak because you are just practicing what you already know. Some teachers think that because their learners spend 80% of class time speaking in English, they use active learning method.However, in reality, only one person speaks at a time, and the rest of the class passively listens.
Speaking makes language learning active: multiple use of all skills
The learning becomes active when each learner spends 80% of class time speaking in English. It seems that we have reached a dead end. How on Earth could you have all learners to speak all the time? No conventional method allows for that.
However, the unconventional method called the Language Bridge Technology (LBT) allows exactly this —active training of English skills.  LBT is a perfect combination of modern technology with new pedagogy. It helps learners start speaking English fluently in less than a year. To learn English effectively, it is not enough to read or listen or write or speak – all those skills should be practiced concurrently while a learner understands the context and is emotionally involved in it. 
Speech shadowing and drills
LBT introduces speech shadowing of lessons and drills that all learners wearing headsets, perform at the same time. This allows the brain to remember language patterns and intuitive grammar, and prepare it for thinking and speaking in English. Each learner, using the LBT application, speaks 80% of the time in class about familiar situations and concepts they understand. The application provides support in Mandarin when the learner needs it, but the main experience is in English. 
The application lets learners share recorded sessions with friends or with a teacher. Three types of texts are used in every lesson:
          1. Pre-recorded lessons on various topics and drills, which ensure training of language skills instead of memorizing vocabulary lists or grammar rules.
          2. Lessons added by a learner or a teacher, thus making the application interactive and suited for vocational training.
          3. Inspirational poem recorded by a native speaker, which allows learners to re-enact an understandable situation in English.
Signing up for the online language course
If you want to become fluent in English in less than a year, you may sign up for this online course here
This course offers a stress-free training environment instead of the stressful learning and memorization of the traditional methods. It combines self-paced self-training using the content of the course. For those who want to boost their experience by adding to the course the LBT android application we will provide the link on Alibaba to download it. After downloading it and installing all lessons you may use it anywhere anytime without the need to be connected to the Internet.  
Combine guided learning with self-study through mobile applications
This course is for students and teachers who want to encourage students to combine guided learning with self-study through mobile applications. We offer technical support for teachers implementing active training of EFL using LBT. Learners have access to the course content anywhere, anytime because the course is platform-independent. With this course, the learner starts speaking actively before he or she memorizes the rules of grammar or vocabulary lists. 
You may use this video for speech shadowing: read the text, listen to the recording and speak at the same time. This is the main drill of Active Training of English Skills.

by Arkady Zilberman

Arkady Zilberman

During many years of Arkady’s work as a scientist and simultaneous interpreter, he was trying to find an answer to the question: why do some people like him learn a foreign language easily, whereas most adults have such a hard time learning a foreign language that they simply give up? After many years of experimenting during simultaneous interpretation and doing research on how adults learn foreign languages, Arkady made a few discoveries on his website and in his Amazon Kindle eBook:

Arkady offers the patented Language Bridge Technology for free licensing for the first year to Language Training Centers in China. 

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 11:47

The TEFL Lemon 'Juicy Warmers' Pack

Are you looking for TEFL warmers and ESL games for your English classes? You've come to the right page! Scroll to the bottom to download the free Juicy TEFL Warmers PDF Pack!

What is The Big Juicy Warmers Pack?

The TEFL Lemon Big Juicy Warmers Pack is a massive Warmers and Games PDF, crammed-full of TEFL warmers, TEFL games, ESL activities, English speaking activities, TEFL roleplays and more English games than you can shake a stick at!

This free PDF is pack is 100% TESL teaching GOLD!!!!

Whenever you teach English classes, you should always consider starting off your class with a fun warmer to raise those energy levels in your students and to help them relax and get ready for your classes.

Follow Us on Facebook!

Download the TEFL Lemon Big Juicy Warmers pack below and Like our TEFL Lemon Facebook Page here. We have fresh TEFL games and warmers daily.
In 1986, scientists were carrying out safety checks at the nuclear power station in Chernobyl, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union). There was an unforeseen power spike sending readings dangerously high. Minutes later, the heat inside the nuclear reactor had become so hot that the cooling rods designed to cool the reactor to safe levels had buckled and could not drop into place. From that moment, the reactor was doomed and there was a catastrophic explosion which blew off the roof of the reactor and caused radiation to be blown high into the air and the surrounding countryside. The Chernobyl Disaster is still the world's worst nuclear disaster.

The aims of this English News Lesson about Chernobyl are:

To read an authentic news article in English and improve their reading skills (e.g. reading for gist, reading for information) 

To acquire new vocabulary in a natural way (i.e. through reading a news article like we do in our native language) 
To have a discussion about peace in order for students to practice reasoning skills and to make them think

by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 07:10

ESL News Lesson: The Peace Index

Each year, The Instutute of Economics and Peace publishes its Global Peace Index which measures how peaceful countries are around the world and the changes in peace between regions and countries. Many factors are taken into account when the peace rankings are made.

This News English lesson plan has a number of English teaching activities which centre around an article about the peace index. Students discuss which countries they think are the most and least peaceful and why they think this. Students should also match the countries which appear in the article to which continent they lie in.

There are also additional scanning and skimming activities, good for IELTS reading practice and finally a class brainstorming activity. The ability to discuss current affairs is an important element in getting a higher score in the IELTS speaking component.

Written by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
Every year, millions of Chinese students face the biggest challenge of their young lives by taking on the Gaokao exam - China's be-and-end-all test to see which students can enter which university. Failure in this exam can be disaster for the dreams of many young Chinese people and they will endure many sleepless nights revising for the exam and worrying about if they will pass it.

This ESL News lesson looks at the exam in a slightly different way in that the pressure to succeed and do well in this exam is so great, that a few people will try to cheat their way to sucess in the exam.

This News English lesson will be very relevant and interesting to students, especially in China. 

There are a number of different activities for your students to do, including colloquation activites, debate and discussion activities and other comprehension excercises. This will also be good for students in later middle school, high school, university or in preparation for an IELTS or TOEFL exam.

by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
in Liar Liar, Jim Carey stars as a successful lawyer, who has built his career by telling lie after lie after lie. He lies in the courtroom, he lies to his friends and he lies to his family (white lies that is). 

One day he misses his sons birthday and lies about why he couldn't make it. His son, Max, wishes that his dad can't lie for 24 hours and it comes true!

Your English students will find it hilarious to watch Jim Carey unable to lie in various situations and this will be the ideal lead-in to your main speaking activity where your ESL students must lie to each other and try not to be caught out. The full lesson plan PDF with student handout is free to download below.

You can download Liar Liar on the spot right here. You'll be helping us too.

What to Do in Class

Write the word LIE on the board. Ask your students if they know or can guess what it means. Give some examples, for example, exaggerating your age or how handsome you are. Make your students laugh. After a minute or two, they will all understand the meaning of lie.
Ask your students if they have ever lied about something. Try to get some humorous stories.
Show the film clips. Follow up with a short talk about Fletcher and if he was a nice man or not.
Write three things about yourself on the board. Two must be true and one must be a lie. Make it difficult to guess the correct answer! Ask the students which one they think is a lie and reveal the answer right at the end. Make all three things unusual or interesting.
Now tell your class that they must write three questions that they need to ask other students in the class. Everyone must tell two truths, but lie once to everybody. Get your class to mingle round and write their answers on the printable student handout.

Once every student has spoken to everyone else and written down their answers on the worksheet provided, you can ask them what they think the lies were. If they can guess correctly, the liar must take a forfeit card, if they guess wrongly; the guesser must take a forfeit card i.e. Stanley, what do you think Jenny lied about? Sorry Stanley, that’s wrong. Please take a forfeit card! This is a great activity, especially as a first class topic as everyone gets to know each other! Enjoy!

Lesson by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
Divorce rates around the world, particularly in China, are going up and up. Kramer vs Kramer is a brilliant movie for ESL discussion classes to look at divorce, the causes of divorce, who should get what, and importantly, the custody of children after divorce.

In Kramer vs Kramer, Ted and Joanna have decided to divorce. Ted would like Joanna to come back, but she has moved on with her life and wants a clean break. After a year of travelling and starting a new life, she has now decided that she wants to fight Ted for custody of their son, Billy. Ted is against this, because she ran away for a year and he has struggled to become a good dad. Joanna feels that she is the mother and so has the automatic right to take care of their son. Students must debate and decide who should get custody of Billy.

If you want to teach this ESL divorce debate and discussion roleplay and need to by Kramer vs Kramer, then click here 

How to Approach the Lesson
Introduce the topic of divorce. Perhaps ask the students to get into pairs or small groups to think of problems that people might face in their adult lives. After a few minutes, write down their ideas on the board i.e. debt, job problems, marriage problems. Ask the students which of their suggestions are most common. Divorce is bound to come up and once it does, start moving the conversation wholly in this direction.
Ask the students what kind of problems and difficulties come as a result of divorce. The students are likely to offer things such as depression, family pressure, money and child custody. Again, once child custody is raised, talk about this in more detail.

It is important to get the child custody/divorce topic well discussed before playing the movie. It generates interest in what they are watching and the students will get far more out of the lesson.
Play the movie clips as shown in the free lesson plan accompanying this page. Make sure that you have watched the clips before hand so you are familiar with the clips!
After you have finished watching the clips, stop the DVD and tell the class that Joanne has come back and now wants full custody of Billy. Ask the class if they think it is fair or not and ask the class to give their reasons.
Divide the class into two groups. One group must argue for Ted to retain custody of Billy. The other group are in favour of Joanna getting custody of Billy. Give each student the info slip corresponding with who they support.
Tell the class that they have ten minutes to prepare arguments in support of either Ted or Joanne. After ten minutes, bring the two groups back together and let them debate who should get custody of Billy. The teacher should act as a neutral referee, only getting involved when necessary.
After the debate, maybe have a secret ballot to decide who gets custody of Billy. You can also have an open class discussion, using some of the divroce discussion questions below as a starter.

Divorce Discussion Questions for ESL Students

Divorce rates are climbing each year. What is the reason for this?
Should divorce be made illegal?
Do you think people get divorced to easily and quickly these days?
Who should usually get custody of children following divorce?
How much should the parent who doesn’t have custody of the child pay each month to the parent with custody?
How does divorce affect children?
Should parents ever continue in a loveless marriage to protect their children’s feelings?
Would divorce be less common if couples lived together for at least two years before marrying?
Why do celebrity marriages often end in divorce?
How do you feel about young, attractive women marrying older men i.e. a 25 year-old woman marrying a 70 year-old man? Should she get any money in the event of a divorce?
Is divorce a big problem in your country? Why?
Divorces usually end in a 50/50 settlement. Is this fair?
If you divorce, are you a failure?
ESL Class Divorce Debate 
Arguments for Ted Kramer to have full custody of Billy Kramer
Ted Kramer has looked after Billy for the past year, even though he admits that he has found it difficult
Ted quit his high salary, high pressure job to spend more time with Billy and to learn to be a better father.
Ted has proven his love for Billy
Joanna has a new job, which means that she will be working much of the time
Joanna walked out on Billy before. Maybe she will walk out on him again?
Joanna said in the lift that she was a bad mother and that Ted could look after Billy better than her.
Arguments for Joanna Kramer to have full custody of Billy Kramer
She is the mother and can probably look after Billy better
She is more experienced at looking after Billy, as she looked after him full-time before
She has found a new job with a high salary. Billy can now live better and go to a good school
She says that she was not thinking straight before because of the stress of living with Ted. She would never walk out on Billy again. 
Ted admits that he has found it tough to look after Billy in the last year. 

Lesson by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
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