I work at the Sociedade Brasileira de Cultura Inglesa (SBCI) with scholarship students from communities from different places in Rio de Janeiro. We have been working with remote learning since the beginning of the pandemic. During this period, the challenge of online classes was imposed on everyone, all over the world. In this context, websites for pedagogical and activity planning that we already use to support in-person classes can further assist remote learning.
I try to show my students different accents, because English is a global language. On this website, we can search for some structure that we are working on, expressions we want to work with, and it finds it in several videos – interviews, lectures – the English language being used in a real context. I’ve used it several times with my students in order to show, first, English being spoken by people in other places, such as Canada, Australia, Mexico, and even by Brazilians. I think it’s important for them to have this contact, to become familiar with different accents.
You can crop, save parts of the videos to use again later, or use some video editing program. For example, if I’m working on a certain grammatical topic, a specific expression or sound, I take snippets of videos from different people and compile it all into one video. Then I ask students to identify what we are working on, how these words are pronounced in various accents.
I already used this website in face-to-face teaching, and students love it. You choose the song, and some words are erased from the lyrics. As the music plays, the lyrics pass by, and you can choose the activity option: whether you want to type the missing word or, in choice mode, you want the student to choose the correct word among some options that appear.
Now they have the app that the student can download and do the activity again later. You can choose the level and, based on that, the amount of words that will be taken from the lyrics for the student to fill is defined. They have to pay attention, it’s a great way to practice listening.
In the first semester of 2020, we did not have online classes: we prepared the material for students to study at home. I used Wordwall a lot, a class planning website that is user friendly — it has all the directions on how to do the activities. It’s really cool to practice vocabulary, it has several layouts to choose from. It’s also very interactive. The students were already far from school, they had to do the exercises themselves, so I think it’s cool to have at least a minimal interaction like dragging and clicking on words.
Imagine you have a PDF activity and you want to make it interactive. You upload the file to the website and it makes it interactive, making it possible to link one sentence to another, type or drag words. The students will have access to the generated link and, when they click and open the PDF, on his or her cell phone or computer, he or she will be able to do the activity. Each student does the activity separately as they are not using the same file. You can view the answers and check what is right, or do the activity and check the answers together with the students.
On the TED Education website (TED Ed), you can create an account as an educator and they provide activities using the TED Talks videos. They are ready-made lessons, lesson plans, which the teacher can adapt to the reality of the students.
Linguahouse, as well as TED Ed, already has ready-made lessons: the student worksheet, which you can download in color or black and white, and the teacher lesson plan are available. These are diverse and very up-to-date topics, there’s a lot of stuff and the teacher doesn’t need to use other material. Or he or she can use it as an idea. You can create an account and whenever there is a new class, they let you know by email. These are reading, grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation exercises. The site is very practical and has helped me a lot – we teachers had to do a lot to adapt the classes to the online format, so this website, which already has the lesson plan that adapts to the student’s reality, saves the teacher’s time.
Breaking News English offers content based on current news. Generally, there are several types of exercises, and it’s up to the teacher to select the ones he or she wants to use or customize. It’s news from around the world, and the activities are divided by level, that is, the same news is adapted to different levels.
The site features varied activities in English on various topics: art, biology, Brazil, travel, camping, animals, colors. You can download the PDF with exercises, by level. Generally, they also work with questions, post topics for discussion. For example, if you do the activity in pairs, you have the questions that student A will ask student B and vice versa.
The site has many activities available, regarding pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. Many lesson plans are available as well. I find it interesting to use this site if you want to review some content. Searching for activities can be done by topic, level, age, skill or format (audio, video, game etc.).
The BBC Learning English website is great. They have the 6 Minute English podcast, it’s always six minutes on a topic, in which expressions, vocabulary, grammar are worked on. The student can listen to the podcast first, which is short, and then start the class by discussing the topic covered.