Word Grab with Songs

Level: Any Level

This is a wonderful activity if you think your class needs waking up a little. 

Choose a song that the students have or have not heard before. Choose 10-15 pieces of vocabulary from the song and write them on separate pieces of paper. With lower level groups you may want to pronounce the words with the students first. 

Stick each word to the board with putty (blue tack). Put the students into 2 teams each one in a line before the board. Play the song. When the 2 students at the front of their line hear a word in the song that is on the board they must race each other to grab that word from the board (this can get quite violent!). They then go to the back of the line and it's up to the next pair. The team with the most words wins. 

I don't usually stop the tape so don't choose words that come one after the other. If you want to make it more difficult you can put red herrings up. You can usually play the song a couple of times until they get all the words. 


Tell me about myself

Level: Any Level

This game works well with students at pre-intermediate level or above and can be adapted accordingly. It is an original way of introducing yourself (as a teacher) to a class for the first time, but could also be used later on.

Prepare in advance, on an overhead transparency or white-board, a mind map of yourself. Instead of using sentences to describe your life, use single words, numbers, dates, symbols and illustrations where possible.

For example I include information about my life in Kedah, names of siblings, date of birth, name of hometown etc. (My hometown is Langkawi, Kedah which I then illustrate with a eagle, and beautiful beaches. It keeps them guessing.) 

I include information about my husband (name and illustration of job), children (names, ages, birthdays). You can add your shoe size, height, illustrations of your hobbies etc. I draw a needle and thread - sewing, a pair of skis - I enjoy skiing, and a pencil - drawing. 

Any kind of information can be included. Use your imagination! I live in Kedah and draw a picture of a Paddy feild with a cross through it to illustrate that I dont like the flood! 

Get your students to tell you what the information means. For example.
  • July - is that when your birthday is?
  • Does the cup and saucer mean you drink tea?
Try and get a good mix of obvious and less obvious information. For example, when I drew a fish (to illustrate that I kept tropical fish) it provoked questions like:
  • Do you eat a lot of fish?
  • Do you enjoy fishing?
  • Is your star sign pisces?
Give them a clue if they're having problems guessing.

This game has worked wonderfully for me in many classes of varying levels. To follow up, get you students to take a few minutes to prepare something similar individually, and then work in pairs guessing what the information means about their partner.


Name Six

Level: Any Level

This game is fun and challenging at the same time. It can be adapted for virtually any subject and any grade level. It allows the students to review material they've learned, without having to get out a pencil and paper and answer questions from the text.

Arrange 6 chairs in a circle and choose one person, the teacher or another student, to stand outside the circle.
Give someone in the circle a stuffed animal, the funnier the animal the better!

  • The person outside the circle states what the person holding the animal has to name six of.
  • The person then starts moving the animal around the circle and the other players pass it around.
  • The player must name six of the objects before the animal gets back to him or her.

For example, let's say that you have just finished a vocabulary unit on animals. The person standing outside the group may say something like,"Name six animals that have fur." 

The person sitting in the circle begins namimg six animals and at the same time, the stuffed animal is being passed around the circle. 

If the player cannot name 6 animals with fur by the time the stuffed animal reaches him, he has lost and it's his turn to stand outside the group and stunt the other students.

My students absolutely love this game and so do I because it requires no prep time!! It may take the students a few times before they become successful at the game, but eventually I'm sure it will become one of their favorites. I hope you have as much success with Name Six as I have had. 


Lesson Plan 1

Time                            : 80 minutes (double period)

No. of students           : 35 – 40
Level of proficiency    : Intermediate to Advanced
Theme                         : Health
Topic                           : Live Smart (Chapter 3)
General objective        : To enable students to understand food labels for information on  
                                      food items.
Specific objectives      : By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
1.      give an account of experiences on using food labels
2.      read and understand food labels
                                     3.   scan for details from food labels
                                     4.  write and present plans on food for different occassions
Skills involved            : 1. Speaking
                                      2. Critical thinking
   Content                    : 1. Whole-class discussion
                                      2. Pair-work
                                      3. Group-work
Teaching Aids             : 1. Food items with labels
                                      2. Situation cards
Previous knowledge    : This is a continuation to the previous lesson
Curriculum specification: 1.0 Language for Interpersonal Use
1.1  Make friends and keep friendship by
a.       taking part in conversations and discussions
b.      exchanging ideas and giving opinions on topic of interest
1.2  Take part in social interaction by
a.       participating in conversations and discussions
b.      making plans and arrangement
2.0  Language for Informational Use
2.1Obtain information for different purposes by
                                                            a.  reading materials such as articles in print and in
                                                                electronic media
                                                2.2 Process information by
                                                            a. skimming and scanning for specific information
                                                                and ideas
2.3 Present information to different audiences by
a.       reading aloud written materials clearly and  



Set Induction
5 minutes

Whole-class discussion

Material: Food items with labels brought in by students

  1. Teacher displays all food items brought in by students.
  2. Teacher categorises food items under a few groups eg. Junk-snacks, health food etc.



      To start off the day’s lesson

Stage 1
10 minutes

Whole-class discussion

Material: Pg 41 “Understanding a Food Label”

  1. Teacher explains the use of food labels.
  2. Teacher asks students to relate experiences with food labels when they shopped.
  3. Students answer the given questions based on the food label shown.
  4. Students are given different food labels and are asked to tell the class useful information found on the labels.



     Students are informed of the
     importance of food labels.

Stage 2
20 minutes


  1. Food labels brought by students
  2.  Pg  42- exercise C, D, E

  1. Students attempt the exercises using different food labels displayed in class.
  2. Teacher gives different situations and calls upon students to respond showing how useful food labels are.
  3. Teacher-student discussion.


     Students learn to think and consider 
     health aspects before purchasing a
     food item.

Stage 3
40 minutes


  1. Pg  42 – exercise F
  2. Situation cards
(Appendix A)

  1. Teacher explains the activity to students.
  2. Students in groups are given situation cards to work on based on the given instruction for the activity.
  3. Students are to present their discussion to the class.



     Critical thinking on planning an
     event. Teaches students to consider
     others in preparing food for an

5 minutes

  1. Teacher goes through the day’s lesson
  2. Students are asked to be at the language lab for the next lesson

Appendix A

Situation A

Ahmad wants to invite friends to your birthday party. He has friends of different races and a few who are serious weight watchers.

Situation B
Lily plans on having an open house for the Chinese New Year. She invites her neighbours who are mostly Malays. Lots of children from the neighbourhood will be coming to her house.

Situation C

Samy’s Deepavali brunch is a family affair. His wife cooks excellent Indian dishes. Samy’s father has just recovered from a heart attack and is on a strict-diet which he is not too happy about. How can Mrs. Samy make healthful dishes for her father-in-law that he will enjoy?

Situation D

Plan for a children’s party. Avoid junk-food and fizzy drinks.

Situation E

Cater for a weight watchers’ dinner gathering. Prepare three-main dishes and a dessert. Decide a suitable drink to go with the occasion.


I did hear the sound of kompang yesterday and they are fantastic!!!

Kesenian Kompang Sinar 12 Taman Bunga Raya


  • I enjoy shaking my students up. I enjoy shaking them out of complacency. I enjoy when they say, "I totally don't believe in any of the things that seem to be foundational to this course but I'm excited to see what I might learn."
  • I enjoy when they're all talking and all I'm doing is saying "Ok, you're 1, you're 2, and you're 3, 4, and 5," and they just talk and talk and talk about the material.
  • I enjoy when I read a reaction paper that says "I was worried when I took this course that it would be a 60-year-old woman who hadn't had sex in three years teaching it" mainly because I'm vain and that means that they think I actually have regular sex just from looking at me:) (Perhaps that's too much information, but it did make me feel better about myself today.)
  • I enjoy that I have students who are freaked out about difficult material and they email me to say that they don't know how to ask for help, even though that is actually asking for help, because they're comfortable enough with me to know that I won't judge them for being totally insecure. (And the material is wicked-difficult, and this student is awesome, and I love that this student is that comfortable with me and at least intuitively knows I won't judge her.)
  • I enjoy those moments when I'm teaching material that shocks them where they think that what I've built up as shocking is totally fine and normal.
  • I enjoy when my students notice the language of a text - talk about it as great writing - when it challenges their persona belief systems.
  • I enjoy that I know what's going on in my students' lives and when that contributes to my interactions with them, even though I like at first to come off as a meanie.
  • I enjoy that so many of my lit majors who've taken multiple classes with me and who are brilliant and engaged have absolutely no interest in grad school but rather that, because of what they've read in my classes, they would rather become novelists (Literary novelists, at that). Because they'd rather make art than criticize it.
  • I enjoy that my students seem to think that the books that I choose for them to read are fun to read (and yes, this is another vain thing, but still).
  • I enjoy that students are engaged enough to take classes with me that are outside of their immediate areas of interest, just because they learn from me (god, I'm so vain. I bet I think this song is about me).
  • I enjoy when my students say a brilliant thing that has nothing at all to do with me but rather with what they bring to the texts that I teach ( and this is ultimately more gratifying and more interesting than all the things I've listed about me).
And, at the end of the day, I enjoy teaching because I *totally* enjoy just getting to know my students. I enjoy when they resist me, and I enjoy when they have that epiphanic moment in a class that changes the way they've thought about things. I enjoy teaching students who are non-majors and showing them that literature is for them, too, even if it's not something they're totally invested in as a career path. I enjoy that moment when they realize that they're not just taking a course for a requirement but when they're actually getting something out of it.

So those are things that I enjoy about teaching. I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones that occur to me right at this moment.

Blogging? A new step

Lately I have been noticing a tendency on my part to skim rapidly with most blog posts. Every post looks like it has been churned out by the same machine. They all feel the same.

I wake up to an inbox full of emails that I get as a result of subscribing to many, many blogs. I scroll through the headlines to see what catches my eye, what is interesting or what seems useful. I might click through to read a few.

Although I am looking – great job, headline! - most headlines fail to deliver. Especially the list post ones.

Most of the time, the headlines scream, ” 7 ways to skyrocket your subscribers”, or “9 awesome ideas to get your world rocking with Twitter”, or my (least)  favourite, “21 steps on how to make gazillion dollars on the net working from home”.

List posts headlines work, I get it. The gullible consumer that I am , I will click to check it out – you bet I will.

Do you do the same? Hundreds and thousands of people do.

But – and there is a huge one – how many times do you remember what you read in the post after 5 seconds?  I don’t.

Did you find the information memorable? Were you able to connect with the blogger? Did you find something new? Or is it some information you could have easily found by doing a search on the web?

Yes, by writing a list post you will have many people clicking through, however how many will convert? How many will become your repeat visitors, your enthusiastic readers, or yes, let me use the S word – your subscribers.

I actually don’t read 90% of list posts anyway; I mostly just scroll through them. Here’s my thoughts on what the problem is…

1. Too Much Generic Information

I can find that sort of information anywhere. If I am reading a post – even a list one – I would like something that is a bit more than a compilation of information that even my 7 year old can put together really well.

Yes, the posts are scannable so that they are read quickly but do they have to be written so badly that it has readers skipping over the entire content? They actually go on to hurt your reputation.

Show that you have put in some effort. If you can see that the blogger has only done a half-arsed job compiling that information, are they really worth your time?
No effort, no regular readers.

2. Who Cares?

Keep the winning formula of writing posts in mind; do you know what it is?
Backstory – useful information – close. As simple as that.

Start your posts with some sort of back-story. Clue in your readers to why all of a sudden you wanted to write that post. Bring them to the same page.

Make one point per post – really hone in that point. People will read your post quickly and enjoy sharing it as well. And who knows, your post might actually be an aha moment for somebody – its hard to accomplish that with list posts.

End with a call to action, ask them a question, ask them to share or subscribe. Its up to you.

3. I Can’t Tell Who Wrote it – Could Be a Bot

I never read posts where the blogger doesn’t make it a bit personal. If I cannot feel their personality – hear their voice, I feel like I am reading a generic article, not a blog post.

If you are blogging, you need to be putting yourself out there – you need to allow people to enter your comfort zone.

Everything that can be said, has already been said. When you write with an authentic voice, you can even make a generic piece of info sound like a revelation. Otherwise people will only be reading the headings.

You must give your reader a reason to read the text that is filling up the white space. You want text where people read it from word to word. Given the nature of blogging, it can be an impossible goal, but you need to aim high to have a chance.

Write about what you need to write about. It doesn’t have to be a list post.

3.5 It’s a Personal Thing

You might feel totally opposite on this one. Are you living to see which list post arrives next in your feed? Don’t hesistate to let me know.

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