Thursday, 26 June 2014

How much truth is there in national stereotypes? - Some funny activities to overcome prejudice

Stereotypes are generalizations about groups of people, they can be positive or negative, they can be based on some truth  or completely invented. Clich├ęs about national stereotypes can be great fun, but they mustn’t become prejudice! In this post I will try to talk about some stereotypes in a funny way. By laughing about the most common national stereotypes, you can understand the futility of some prejudices and the great value of diversity! I think that discussing about some national stereotypes could be very useful  to understand not only other cultures, but even our own! In fact, looking at us through the eyes of someone else might make us think!
At any rate, to really understand a culture you have to experinece it first hand!

"To travel is to discover that 
everyone is wrong about foreign countries."

Aldous Huxley



First of all, let's have a look at some of the most common national stereotypes:

Some printables:

What is your opinion, after having surfed the above sites? Do you know any other stereotypes about your country or about a foreign nation? Do you think that travelling could help better understand another culture? Why?


Now, let's listen to this song. 

"Englishman in New York" by Sting

Can you recognize any stereotypes in the song? Which adjectives or nouns are used to describe a British man? Are there any adjectives that refer to American people? Can you understand any differences between English and Americans? 


Now watch the following video from the BBC and listen to what the British think about their own country's stereotypes. 

How would you describe British people? What do you know about the British? Have you ever been to the United Kingdom?

Take a look at the following presentation. I have tried to compare British culture to my own culture summarizing the most popular stereotypes about these two countries. I have surfed the Net to take the pulse of the situation (I considered both the Italian and the British point of view) and I found some interesting and funny opinions (and videos)! 

Sometimes it's good to laugh at some particular aspect, characteristic or attitude but, remember: we should never disrespect anyone!

Now  prepare a presentation about some other cultures, using videos, links, songs, people's opinions or whatever you like! Remember to use irony always respecting others!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Poetry in EFL classes

Today I would like to talk about poetry. Could it be useful in an EFL class?  As usual, I try to imagine some activities that involve the use of different digital tools.

What's poetry? 
At the following link you can find some great definitions (I made the above word cloud from some of these definitions using Tagul):

Why study poetry in an ESL classroom? 
Poetry can help you reach many goals. Take a look at the following map I created with Cacoo:

Click to enlarge my diagram

Some links about the different kinds of poetry

Different types of poetry:

Examples of different types of poetry:

Forms of poetry:

What about writing a poem?

Watch the video

Where to begin? Have a look at this diagram I made with Cacoo.

Click to enlarge my map

Some more tips

Some useful figures of speech:

To find rhymes:

Let's practise!

Magnetic Poetry is a funny tool to write poems. You have to choose some words to create your masterpiece! Try it! Watch my example at the following link:

You could also make a poetry magazine where you could collect all your poems! Joomag is a great web tool.

Have a look at my example by clicking on the picture below:

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."
Robert Frost

Monday, 16 June 2014

London - let's make preparations for our journey!

Next July I am going  to London with some of my students. I would like to give them some information before leaving. Here there are some activities, videos, tips and a final webquest!

Top 10 Attractions of London

A brief history of London:

If you want to investigate the British history further:

A virtual tour

Now let's take a virtual tour of London! Click on the image above. You are on the London Eye and you have the whole city at your feet! Choose a place and click on it. You can take a virtual tour of each landmark and have all the information (clicking on "More Information") about its history. After visiting a place, click on "Back to London Eye" to go back in your capsule and choose another destination. Sometimes, while visiting a place, you will see the following button:
It redirects you to the website of that specific sight. Click on it to have more information.

The Tube
While visiting London, you can't help taking the Tube! It's the easiest way to get around the town. Visit the following site to learn more about the London underground, there are some useful tips for the travellers:

How to use the London Tube

The London tube is the oldest underground in the world. It was opened in 1890. Let's practise to use the tube map! Click on the following image and look for your destinations:

Now you are ready to complete this simple questionnaire I prepared for you about  London! Surf the sites I suggested above, watch the video you will find at the beginning of the webquest and answer the questions. Write your name and click on "send" at the end of the quiz. If your answers are right you are ready to leave!

See some other posts of mine about London.
London landmarks:
London museums:

Friday, 13 June 2014

It's time to travel: let's consult some maps... or create one!

Summer is usually holiday time and some of us are planning a journey. We often consult a map to decide which places we want to visit and to define our route. Using digital maps before, during and even after our journey, can be great fun! 
These are some free map tools that can make our trip more enjoyable and can also be very useful as summer tasks for our students!
(If we are not planning a trip, just imagining where we would like to go in the future could be very amusing and stimulating.)


Before leaving let's have a look at the time zones. With the Time Zone Converter map you can easily convert a time in one location to the time in another location just with one click.

If you want to know how long your journey will take, you can use the Trip Calculator Map. Simply enter your average speed and start clicking. You can know how long your journey is and how long it will take to complete.

Now, a very useful tool to compare different cultures.
If you don't know exactly where to go, if you are wondering which country is right for you, try Ifitweremyhome.
If we were not born in our country, what would our life be like? 
This tool is a gateway to understand life outside our country. You can compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. 
Some examples:


Mapskip 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, links or videos. It could be great to update your journey in real time!
My example about the town where my school is located:


Tourbuilder is a fantastic tool! You have the whole world to put your stories on! It allows you to write your stories directly in the various countries of the world where they are set.
You will need to install the Google Earth Plugin (it only takes a couple of minutes), if you haven't already.
You can add your photos, videos or links to describe the places you visited.

Tour Builder takes track of all your movements on the map and this is the final result. Watch my brief example about my Cambridge experience! Choose "enter Street View" on the map to watch 3D the places I saw!

My example.

The following is a very good site suggesting some other mapping tools for schools:


Describe your real or imaginary journey using the above map tools. Write some information about the country you are going to visit, the time zones, the distances between a place and another and describe some cultural differences between this country and your own.
Then, with Mapskip or Tour Builder add some pictures, videos or links to all your destinations.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Football World Cup


FIFA official site:

Fuleco, Brazil 2014 mascot:

The World Cup Stadiums 2014:


A brief history of the World Cup:


Football vocabulary:


The rules of football:


Quizzes and printable worksheets:

World Cup worksheets:



And now it's up to you! Let's make a digital sport magazine about the World Cup events. Last time I used Glossi (in my previous post about food and recipes), now I've tried Joomag.
Here you can find a short example of our sport web magazine
You can write articles, add images, links or videos and keep us informed about the World Cup news! 

Click below to open my example

Become a digital journalist! Some advice for you:

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Food and recipes - some activities to improve English using digital tools

Talking about food and recipes can help ESL learners improve their
  • food related vocabulary
  • oral skills (brainstorming, discussion, giving instructions)
  • written skills (describing and giving instructions)
  • knowledge of different cultures (learning foreign recipes, food and traditions)
  • healthy habits


Here's a great site with exercises and activities about cooking and kitchens:

Some printables:

Cooking worksheets:

Vocabulary about cooking:

Students' task
Prepare a mindmap about cooking vocabulary using a mindmapping tool.


Some British recipes:

Recipes and meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner):

Cuisines by country:

Students' task
Choose one recipe and prepare it at home. The next day show your classmates how you prepared it (or make a video!).


Recipe calculator to calculate the nutritional information of a recipe:

Healthy recipes:

Healthy food to prevent heart disease (British Heart Foundation):
Students' task
What do you do to keep yourself fit? Describe your diet and your habits using a presentation tool.

You have a lot of information about food and cooking, now. You are ready to create...your digital magazine! With Glossi you can publish your own magazine with text, images, links or videos. It's very simple, have a look at my short example:

Click on the image to open

Students' task
Create your own web magazine with Glossi! Write your articles, add images and videos and have fun!