Are you on your own for materials?

…I am. That is to say, my school does provide me with a veritable scheissload of laminated picture-cards that can be used to teach vocabulary, but they’re losing their charm and I need either new ideas on how to use them, or simply new materials.

What have you found to be nifty materials/methods for teaching new vocabulary? (It’s starting to feel a bit tired, walking into class going "Here’s some pictures I’m sure I haven’t shown you yet? Aw, I have? Well, here they are again…) You weren’t planning on publishing those great lesson plans anyway were you? Come on, let’s have 'em!

What level(s) are you teacing/using the cards with?

Ages approx. 8-12, beginning-low intermediate level (the upper echelon knows most tenses including past, the lower know present and present continuous)… actually another problem I have is with the general progression of the curriculum, which is grammar-centric - far too much getting the kids to memorize exactly what the right way to use, say, present perfect is, and far too little of them actually talking with any kind of initiative or self-expression… which is why I’m looking for new methods.

I’m not a kid’s teacher so I can’t suggest specific materials. You’re right that the grammar focus is ingrained here to the point of being stultifying. It sounds like your using a PPP methodology which tends to focus on practising some grammatical rule in contrived situations. This approach is great for teachers but not so for learners. It’s also non-representative; Most of us didn’t learn grammar, if at all, until we were adults.

Try getting your kids involved in some meaningful task where there is a goal which will allow practise of some of the grammar you have taught. But make the task goal the objective, not the parroting of taught grammar. This is far more natural and will likely cover a range of tenses in a natural presentation.

Tasks should be well specified so that you can preteach any likely required vocabulary or structures. They should also involve group work during which time the students use any language resources they have to get to the goal. Don’t enforce English only here.

In the last stage, students report back their results to the class and it is here only that you focus on accuracy. This allows consolidation.

I use this approach all the time with adults and it is well received. If you make your tasks (1) interesting and (2) tailored as much as possible to the expressive needs of your students, they will get a lot out of them.

I think ages 8-12 you don’t really need to worry about using flashcards. They’ve got textbooks right? Flashcards are good for kindergarten and beginenrs.

I think 8-12 you really should focus on grammar and writing otherwise there’s know way they’re goingt o learn it right unless they’re in an immersion environment (the way we learnt it), but of course it’s important to get them talking naturally. I start every lesson asking everyone how they feel and why, which gets them talking. Do you have little ‘conversations’ or ‘small talk’ in your textbooks? Get them to act them out, but tell them to change it a little bit, make it longer etc. They really like that (takes a bit of practice for them to get the hang of it though. Get them roleplaying and talking to each other about a topic.

Getting back to the grammar, they have to be able to use it properly, but make sure they know why they’re using this pattern, not that. Draw pictures and give them choices as to what grammar to use to describe it. Get them describing the pictures in your textbook. Use old vocabulary with new sentence patterns and old sentence patterns with new vocabulary.


You might want to try some “dogme” activities. What’s that, you say? It’s a new approach to teaching English that de-emphasizes using realia and other materials, and focuses on just communicating with the students.

You can learn more about it at:

Also, lots of FREE games and activities are available at:

What happened to my previous post?


I have just downloaded, printed and laminated a a lot of materials from

It is all free.

I laminated the flash cards and worksheets so they can be used time and time again (students can write with a thin whiteboard marker), I wil use these as activities for a Learning Centre.

Some of the worksheets are great, a lot of stuff on sentence writing and structure etc.

There are also some game templates, including a Soccer World Cup one.

Hi John.

Thanks for the complements on my site - I thought I’d pop in here and see what kind of forum led you to Looks like a good helpful place for teachers to meet and exchange ideas.

Thought I’d let you in on a bit of a treat… I noticed you mentioned worksheets and grammar-based stuff. I’m in the process of launching a whole new section of the site called “Sentence Navigator” - basically I’ve put four books I made and had published on-line as independent downloads sorted by lesson. They’re free of course.

I’m still organizing a full on-line teacher’s guide for the lessons, so the pages are not linked up to the main site yet. But if you want a sneak preview and full access to the downloads, go to:


The Navigator pages should be ready really soon, and if you liked anything else you found on the site, well, I think you’ll find that these lessons take the cake. Given you are obviously using my material for personal/educational purposes, I welcome you to use my site and ask me any questions you like.

Happy teaching!

English Raven in South Korea

Thanks for the great material, your phonics material is cool.

I actually found your site through the Elementary Teaching Forum on Dave’s ESL Cafe.