Number one for English language teachers

Skills work

Jim Scrivener provides tips and imaginative lesson ideas for teaching speaking, listening, reading and writing in English.

  • Skills: assessing speaking skills

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Teachers are often asked to evaluate learner progress during courses, maybe by preparing progress tests. Teachers often feel unsure as to the best way to do this. Here are some ideas.

  • Skills: teaching English using anecdotes

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Learners are often keen to hear stories about the teacher's life (even if they are not 100% true!). Here are some ideas for creating richer, more varied personal anecdotes.

  • Skills: teaching resources: sound effects

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Sound-effect CDs are an exciting teaching resource. These are recordings that have hardly any words on - but instead contain a sequence of noises such as crashes, bumps, bangs, whistles, screams etc. Here are some ideas for using sound-effects in the classroom.

  • Skills: telephoning in English

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    For many learners using the telephone in English is a particularly nerve-wracking experience. As well as all the standard "telephone phrases" learners need strategies for getting a failing interaction to work. Here are some ideas for confidence-building in class.

  • Skills: whole-class discussions in English

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Have you ever tried a whole-class discussion and, instead of speaking to each other, the learners direct all comments to you? How can you get more student-student interaction in such activities?

  • Skills: the same old song

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Songs are a popular resource with teachers and learners alike – but, when it comes to exploiting them in class, why on earth does it always seem to be gap-fills? Here are a few alternative ideas.

  • Skills: under the spell of spelling

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    English spelling? “Wonderful! I love it!” If that isn’t your students’ reaction, you might like to try some of these ideas.

  • Skills: longer reads

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Students who do a lot of extensive reading in English seem to make substantial progress. Here are some general ideas for starting to use longer texts.

  • Skills: graded readers

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Reading a novel is essentially a private, personal activity – but it can still provide useful classroom work . Here are some ideas for working with graded readers in class.

  • Skills: bringing dialogues alive

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    You can find short dialogues in many course books. How can you exploit these scripts and get them to come alive?

  • Skills: dictation for teaching English

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Traditional dictation - where the teacher reads a text aloud and the learners must write it down accurately - is often quite unpopular with learners. It can feel like an unfair test. Could we make it more enjoyable and useful?

  • Skills: Glorious gap-fills

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    There seem to be an awful lot of gap-fill exercises in course books nowadays. And sometimes they can be rather dreary for students and teacher alike. Well, you could try some of these ideas.

  • Skills: teaching phonics: schwa

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    The schwa – the only phoneme with its own name – is important for learners to recognise and produce as it is the most common vowel sound in English. Here are some awareness-raising and practice ideas.

  • Skills: teaching phonics: sounds and symbols

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Phonemes can be difficult for learners and teachers. Here are a few ideas that could help teachers as well as learners become more comfortable when working with phonemes.

  • Skills: responding to real-life events

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    When there is a tragic event in the world teachers often feel the need to address it in some way in classroom time. Finding a way to do this appropriately and sensitively can sometimes be hard. Help is here.

  • Skills: teaching English intonation

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Many teachers find intonation difficult to teach. As a result they may avoid it. But intonation can be fun to work with - and it can make other language areas such as grammar easier to teach. Here are some ideas.

  • Skills: teaching listening in English

    Author: Jim Scrivener Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

    Modern coursebooks provide some excellent recorded material, but it can be exciting to supplement this with more unusual sources of listening work. Here are some ideas.

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