Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Cineforum - some movies based on British or American novels for children

If we want to talk about foreign literature in our EFL class, watching some movies could be very useful. I choose six films based on some British and American novels for children. Three of them (Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Carol and Peter Pan) allow us to talk about the 19th century literature. The others (The Polar Express, The Golden Compass and Harry Potter) can be used to talk about modern or contemporary literature.

In the following Blendspace lesson that I prepared students can learn some information about some authors of books for kids. You can see the trailers of the six movies. Then you can read a list of some movies taken from children novels if you want to go on watching other films and reading other books. Finally there is a presentation of mine with some information about the novels' authors and the major themes of their books. You can also do some quiz.

Click on the link below and have fun!

Below teachers can find some interesting links about using movies, videos and  novels in their classroom.

I made the above poster with Piktochart

Click on the following image if you want to view my presentation outside the context of the Blendspace lesson. 

Enjoy your

Monday, 28 April 2014

May, 1st - Workers Day

International Workers' Day is celebrated on  May 1st in many countries and is a national holiday in more than 80 nations. But, while in some countries this day is officially Labor Day,  in others it marks the traditional Spring festival known as May Day. Other countries, as the United States, celebrate Labour Day on another date.

Below you can briefly see what happens on this day in Italy and in Uk but I would like to take the opportunity to talk about jobs. You can work on this topic whatever your English level is. You can just learn the different jobs in English or you can practice writing a CV and talking about yourself for a job interview.

May, 1st in Italy

In Italy the first May Day celebration took place in 1890. It  celebrated workers' achievements in their struggle for their rights and for better economic and social conditions.Nowadays  the 1st May's Concert, organized by Italian Labour Unions in Rome in Piazza San Giovanni, is very popular. It is attended by more than 500,000 people every year and involves participation of many famous singers and bands. 

To learn more about May, 1st traditions in Italy

May, 1st in the United Kingdom

On this day people celebrate the coming of summer. Many May Day activities have now been moved to the new May Day holiday on the first Monday of the month,  a bank holiday. 
To learn more about May Day traditions in the UK:

May, 1st is the occasion to talk about jobs.

Surf the following sites.

Here it is a list of different professions and an explanation of what each person does in that profession:

Here you can find useful vocabulary, expressions related to jobs, typical interview questions and answers:

How to write a successful CV:

CVs and covering letters:

And now watch the following videos:

What's the difference between work, job and business?

How to find your dream job if you are not sure what you want to do

Tell us about yourself. Interview questions and answers


Now, you can choose to be an 
employer or an employee

In the first case, write a simple vacancy announcement, a profile of your ideal candidate and some questions you would like to ask during the interviews.

In the second case decide which kind of  job you want to apply for, write a brief CV and prepare a presentation of yourself, of your qualities and abilities.

In a second moment, we can simulate some job interviews in our classroom!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Creative writing tools - having fun with words and images

Here are some interesting writing tools to make writing activities 
more attractive.
You can play with words to create your text and 
you can link your words to images.
Then you can share your material.

Watch my simple examples.

You choose an image from the Piclit gallery and you add some text. You can "drag and drop" choosing from different suggested nouns, adjectives and verbs or you can write "freestyle".
My example:

With Capzles you work most of all with images. You can choose an image as your background and then you can add your own pics or videos to create a sort of presentation. By clicking on each picture it is possible to add a brief description. I think it could be very useful to describe a trip or a school activity.
My example:

This is a very original tool. The world is a canvas for your own stories and photos. You start from a map, you click on the place you like, you add your mark and write your story about that place. You can tell your adventures adding your pictures.

My example:

With Storybird you choose some images and write a story drawing inspiration from those pictures. Very useful to write a story and improve creativity and imagination.

My example:

You can write your own poems choosing among different suggested words. Very funny!

My example:

Friday, 25 April 2014

Fakebook - let's have fun with biographies

This is a very interesting tool to study biographies in a different way.

With Fakebook you can invent a profile of any historical or fictional character. Your result will be a Facebook-like page!
You can add images, links, videos, "friends", comments and "likes"! 
I think it could be very useful to study history or literature. 
Below you can see some Fakebook pages:

I personally created the following brief example with my students. Some time ago we watched the movie "The king's speech" about king George VI
( so the Fakebook page is about the period between king George V death and the outbreack of world war II.
There are some quotes, original pictures and links to original videos, as well. Have fun! 

Albert Windsor fakebook page

Now choose a historical character or a celebrity and 
enjoy creating your own fakebook page!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Day - The importance of reading

UNESCO's General Conference in 1995 decided to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on April, 23rd to encourage everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading.
Learn more at:

Reading is important for many reasons:
It is a great form of entertainment
It exercises your brain
It improves concentration
It improves your vocabulary
It improves your writing skills
It develops your imagination and creativity
It develops empathy
It tells you many things about the world you live in
It helps you better understand other cultures
By reading you can be a better student and, most of all, a better person.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  
Love of books is the best of all.” 
Jacqueline Kennedy

Book People Unite is an American movement that recognizes the incredible effect books can have on a child's immagination and tries to get books in the hands of kids who need them most.

Some famous American artists created a song to encourage people to join the cause.
Watch the following videos from Book People Unite. In the second video you can read the song's lyrics.

The songs says:
"One book can inspire a child. One book can be the fundamental thing that helps to change a life. Let's plant seeds of inspiration to motivate some magic."

Do you agree?

Explain the meaning of the song.

Why is reading important for you?

Do you like reading?

How do you feel when you read a book?

What's your favourite book?

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray 

Go throw your TV set away 

And in its place you can install

 A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” 

Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Friday, 18 April 2014

For teachers - The power of images in EFL classes

How to become more creative using 
new technology


In EFL classes it is always useful associating words, ideas and concepts with images.
Through their visual memory students can better understand and remember information. Thanks to images you can explain complex information in a simple way. Images help learners manage their ideas and make connections between pieces of information. Moreover, images enhance students' creativity as well as their language skills.
In some previous posts I have already talked about the importance of images in EFL classes and I have tried some digital tools that can be very useful to create graphics or mindmaps.
Now I'd like to take stock of the situation and suggest again some interesting tools.
I tried some free tools and I prepared some short and simple examples. This way it's possible to see directly the final result and it's easier for you to see what is possible to do with each tool.

are visual representations of  concepts, thoughts and ideas. They help students better remember information, improve their reading comprehension, enhance their learning skills and critical thinking.
The following tools allow to cretae interactive infographics.


My example:

2) Thinglink 

My example:

helps students focusing their attention, enables teachers to organize ideas and concepts, allows to present information in visually attracting and comprehensive way, promotes inquiry and problem solving, enhance learners' note taking. Moreover its organizational structure help students understand effectively. Also the following tools allow to make your maps interactive!

1) Popplet 

My example:

2) Spiderscribe 

My example:

3) Text2mindmap 

My example:

4) Mindomo 

My example:

Comics can really motivate students. With the links below you can create your own comics!

1) Storyboardthat 

My example:

2) Make Beliefs Comics

My example:

Audiovisual material can be very helpful for both teaching and learning. Also videos, as images, can effectively communicate complex information to the learners. You can use videos with your students in three fases (pre-viewing, viewing and post-viewing) or you can also create your own videos with your students. It can be a really rewarding experience and can enhance students' creativity.
The following tool allows you to choose a video from the web (or use your own) and embed anything you like in it (questions, lesson information, links to websites). 


My example:

You can make your own animated cartoon with:


My example:

Presentations can make the students better understand a topic through its essential points. Besides using PowerPoint, you can create more fun and engaging presentations.

1) Powtoon 

My example:

2) Haiku Dech 

My example:

I hope I have been of any help. Enjoy being creative!

P.S.: This post has been shortlisted for the British Council Teaching English blog award! Thank you!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Earth Day - A message from the space...

April, 22 is Earth DayThis day is dedicated to the protection of the environment. Every year more than a billion people in many countries of the world take action to save their planet. During Earth Day celebrations people are informed of ways they can help protect their environment and their natural resources.  

Surf the Earth Day website

and watch their video
On the occasion of the Earth Day I have created an interactive infographic using Piktochart (

It's a work I prepared with my students. We imagined to receive a message from the space ... Someone from a distant planet in the universe wants to warn us...
Click on the link below to view the infographic (there is also a video and a presentation):

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

Native American proverb

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Holy Week: let's study cultural and religious topics comparing different cultures.

 Today the Holy Week begins.
Let's compare different cultures: 
some Easter religious traditions in 
the UK and Italy.
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter and is the most solemn week of the Christian year. During this week Christians remember the last week of Jesus' life. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday 
Palm Sunday commemorates Christ's triumphant arrival in Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd. In many churches, during Palm Sunday services, large palm branches are carried in processions.

 Palm Sunday in Italy
On Sunday morning, the priest followed by all the people waving palms, goes in procession from the church' yard to the church and there he blesses the little branches that everyone brings at home after the Mass. In the South of Italy the palms are mostly
made using branches of olives. People prepare branches of different sizes and decorated them with flowers, ribbons or holy pictures. 

 Palm Sunday in the UK

Many churches provide people with small crosses made from palm leaves at Palm Sunday services.  The priests bless these palms and people preserve them to make the Ash Wednesday ashes for the next year. Churches may also have a procession during which people sing songs and wave their palm leaves. Some churches give people pax cakes at the end of the Mass.

Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. It is the day of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and established the ceremony known as the Eucharist. The night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. The word maundy comes from the command (mandate) given by Jesus during the Last Supper:  love one another.

Maundy Thursday in Italy
In Italy this day is known as Holy Thursday. On this day each Italian church prepare a "sepolcro", a sepulchre. The term sepolcro is a sort of altar or chapel of repose. It is a solemn exposition of floral compositions consisting of  wheat and seasonal flowers or plants and it is the symbol of Jesus’ transition from death to rebirth. Churches hold these sepulchcres until the afternoon of Good Friday, when the flowers and wheat will be distributed to the observants during sacramental communion.

Maundy Thursday in the UK
 In Britain, the sovereign takes part in the Ceremony of the Royal Maundy. This ceremony, held at a great cathedral, involves the distribution of Maundy money to deserving senior citizens (one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign's age), usually chosen for having done service to their community. They receive ceremonial red and white purses which contain coins made especially for the occasion. The white purse contains one coin for each year of the monarch's reign. The red purse contains money in place of other gifts that used to be given to the poor.
Good Friday
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. It commemorates the Passion of Jesus and his death by crucifixion. It is a day of mourning in church, in fact during Good Friday services Christians meditate on Jesus' suffering and death on the cross. In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the Crucifixion.

Good Friday in Italy
On Holy Friday solemn religious processions with statues are held in many towns. Many churches have special statues of the Virgin, of Jesus and all the protagonist of Christ's passion. The statues parade through the city and are then displayed in the main square or in a church. Parade participants are dressed in traditional ancient costumes.
While Easter mass is be held in every church, the biggest and most popular mass is held by the Pope at Saint Peter's Basilica. On Holy Friday, the Pope celebrates the Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross in Rome near the Colosseum. He carries a huge cross with burning torches and at the end of the celebration he gives the world a blessing.

Good Friday in the UK
Many Catholics do not eat meat on Good Friday. Many people eat hot cross buns on this day. These are made of leavened dough, sugar, currants and spices. The top of the bun is marked with a cross and filled with flour and water paste or rice paper.

Holy Saturday
The Easter Eve service on the night of Holy Saturday is the first Easter service. It's the day when Jesus lay in his tomb. During this service Christians wait hopefully that Jesus will return at midnight. 

Holy Saturday in Italy
In Italy on this day there are masses and some religious processions.

Holy Saturday in the UK
The Easter, or Paschal, candle is lit during this service. The mass traditionally begins outside the church, where the minister and some worshippers gather around a fire and light the candle. After being lit outside, the candle is carried into the church, where the worshippers are waiting in darkness, which symbolises the darkness of Christ's tomb.
Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday in Italy
On this day at Vatican City there is the famous Easter Sunday Mass. 

Easter is the end of the Lent season, so food plays a big part in the Easter Sunday celebrations! Traditional Easter foods include lamb or goat, artichokes, and special Easter breads. Colomba (it means "dove" because it is dove-shaped) is a typical sweet. 

Chocolate eggs are also popular, especially among children and they usually come with a surprise inside.

The Monday following Easter, la Pasquetta, is also a holiday in Italy. On Easter Monday, people usually go away from the towns and cities and go to the countryside or to the sea to have a picnic. Easter Monday is a time to gather with friends and have fun.

Easter Sunday in the UK
Priests usually emphasize the dawn of a new life during the Easter Mass.

Easter eggs are very popular in the UK, too.  Children decorate eggs with paint, crayon, water colors, stickers and other material and they are often put in Easter baskets. In the United Kingdom, Easter eggs are often large hollow chocolate eggs filled with bonbons or other candy. 
Many children believe that the Easter bunny comes to their house or garden to hide eggs, so they search for these eggs on Easter morning.

In the UK there are many Easter egg hunts. These can be competitions to see who can collect the most eggs, or somewhere in Britain people roll hard boiled down slopes. In other places, there is a game in which people roll hard boiled eggs against other peoples' eggs.

We've seen some Italian and British Easter traditions.
Are there many differences  between these two countries?
Which tradition do you like most? Why?
How do you usually celebrate Easter?