Tuesday, 09 February 2016 08:15

ESL News English: The D-Day Landings (1944)

By 1944, the Second World War was on the turn after the German forces' disasterous campaign in Russia and with the Germans also being pushed back in North Africa. The time had come for a full allied landing in Europe which would eventually lead to the end of WWII.

The 6th June 1944 will be forever known as D-Day (which stood for 'Day' Day) - the day in which the allies stormed the beaches at Normandy, France, in a bid to make a foothold in Europe and to force the European campaign.

In this ESL News English lesson, students will discuss what they know about World War Two and any other conflicts they know. They'll then practice their reading skills to learn facts about D-Day and work in pairs to find and expand their vocabulary about war and conflict. Your students will love this war-themed News English worksheet about D-Day and the Second Worls War.

by Stuart Allen

Published in News lesson plans
Nelson Mandela was born in South Africa in 1918 and became a leader among his own people in the 1960's during the time of unjust oppression against blacks in South Africa. In the late 1940's, he helped form the ANC Youth League and during the 1950's increasingly became more involved in politics and advocating civil disobedience against the racist apartheid government. In 1963, he was imprisoned on Robben Island and spent the next 27 years in prison. 

Following growing international pressure against apartheid, the system of segregation because of colour, the South African government began to free political prisoners and Mandela was historically released from prison in 1990

In this ESL news lesson, students will learn about the life of Nelson Mandela, his release from prison watched by millions around the world, and read his history making speech.

There are three activities for your students to do. There is a vocabulary match exercise where students must match vocabulary with meanings. The second activity has reading comprehension questons for the reader and finally, there is a team quiz activity for larger English classes. 

by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
Published in News lesson plans
In the autumn of 1888, Victorian London was gripped by a terror which it had never known before or since. Street prostitutes were being picked up by an unknown man and ripped to pieces before being left in the streets. To this day, the mystery of Jack the Ripper still intrigues and mystifies millions around the world. 

In this very dark ESL lesson strictly for adults, students will learn more about Jack the Ripper, what it was like to live in London in Victorian times and have their English lesson venture into the macbre. A real twist on the normal English lesson!

To buy the Jack the Ripper DVD to go with this ESL movie plan click here

You have a choice of ways to go with this compelling Jack the Ripper lesson. There is a Jack the Ripper reading comprehension exercise for your adult students as well as some macabre creative writing activites, one where students write a gory letter to police and the newspapers, and another where students write a newspaper article about recent Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London. A third activity is where your ESL students design their own Police Wanted Poster bearing the face and crimes of the bloody killer.

Finally, there is a gruesome Jack the Ripper ESL roleplay, where adult students can play Jack the Ripper himself, eyewitnesses, publicans, prostitutes, police, journalists and other Victorian London vagabonds! Great for Halloween!

I hope you enjoy this very cool and very sinister ESL lesson about Jack the Ripper!

Written by Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
Gorillas in the Mist tells of the remarkable life of Dian Fossey, who visited Rwanda in the 1960's and appalled by the hunting and poaching of wild mountain gorillas there. She fought tirelessly there to halt the trade in poaching and was murdered by poachers some years later.

If you are teaching teens or adults about animal conservation, charities, environmental, the environment or habitat destruction, then this ESL movie lesson could be the one for you. It is a very meaningful class and will open your students' eyes to the world around them and some of the destructive things that humans do. There are a number of quality activities from this Gorillas in the Mist ESL lesson plan for you to try.

Please click here if you need to purchase Gorillas in the Mist to teach this ESL movie lesson

Some Activities to Do with this Lesson

You and your Englsh class can make a real difference in the world with a symbolic adoption of a gorilla. After watching the film, if your students want to make a difference, then you can discuss whether you would like to adopt a gorilla.

For only $25, you can make a very special difference to the lives of gorillas in the wild and help these beautiful animals stay alive, looked after and safe from poaching!
You receive an adoption certificate and letter which you can display on your classroom wall, a photo of the animal you have symbolically adopted (which your class can name!), a cute gorilla teddy bear and a WWF school bag. I did this activity with my university class in China and we raised enough money to adopt three animals through university student donations!
Turn your English class into a full WWF conservation experience your students will never forget! This is also perfect for a Salon class and project idea in your school or university. 
Gorilla ESL Webquest!
The internet can be a great source of information and learning for ESL students. After watching the film and doing the classroom activities, why not get your students to have a try of the Gorilla Webquest!
The Gorilla Webquest was designed for native speaking children aged 8-10 years old, which means that the language is challenging (but not too difficult!) for your English students.
It looks at how gorillas live in the wild, how they eat and socialize and the dangers they face from humans.

Gorilla Reading Comprehension Quiz
There is a fun trivia quiz which students must find answers for, or alternatively, they can make their own quiz questions for classmates. You can set the Gorilla Webquest for a quality homework assignment or in do it in the school if you have computers there.
Good luck Web-questers!!

ESL Poaching and Conservation Discussion Questions

How did the film make you feel?
Have you thought about poaching before today?
Do you feel differently about gorillas now?
Do you think the film industry portrays gorillas unfairly? e.g. King Kong
Is there anything you can do to help gorillas in the wild? (WWF adoption project!)
Should your government do anything about illegal poaching?
Is poaching of other animals a problem in your country?
If you were in a market, would you buy an animal trophy? The animal is dead anyway, right?
Should all forms of hunting be banned? For example, fox hunting, whale hunting, elephant hunting and animal fur hunting?
Do you think poaching will ever be stopped?
Should we consider the lives of hunters and their families who rely on hunting to feed themselves?
Do you know anyone who has ever bought animal trophies or fur?
Should gorillas be sold to zoos?

Lesson written by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
This is a discussion based ESL lesson about homelessness, the reasons behind homelessness and what we can do as a society to solve the problem. It is a topic that your students are bound to be interested in and it serves as a great platform for your students to express themselves. Often English students, especially in China, think that the west is super rich and that everyone has money. This is an important lesson to teach them that this isn't true whatsoever. Streets of London was written and written and performed by Ralph McTell

Download The Streets of London by Ralph McTell here - you'll be helping www.rayenglish.com too

How to Teach this Class
As a warmer, play hangman with the students. After the mystery word has been revealed (homelessness), ask your students what it means. From their answers, develop a small discussion about homelessness. The main discussion comes later, after listening to the song.
Tell the students that they are going to listen to a song about homelessness. The people in the song don’t want to be homeless and they are sad and lonely. The students should work in pairs to fill in the missing words. Play the song twice and then go through the answers at the end.
Following the song, ask your students to discuss in their pairs the following questions. Get feedback from the pairs just as you hear the discussions begin to die down (never wait too long, so that there is silence!)
1. Why is the man reading yesterday's newspaper?
2. What does it mean by "carrying her home" in two bags?
3. Why do you think the man makes each cup of tea last an hour?
4. What do the faded medal ribbons represent?
5. Why does the world not care about the elderly hero?
After pairs have given you feedback, you can use the conversation questions or go your own way with the lesson.
by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
Published in Song lessons
Students will listen to a song about leaving home and saying goodbye. They will then write a letter to one of the people in the song to practice using the past and present voices. Finally, there are some discussion questions about being away from home. Seasons in the Sun was sung by Westlife, a 1990's Irish boyband. 

Want to teach this ESL song lesson but need the song? No worries, click here! You'll be supporting this site to grow also.

Tell students they’re going to listen to a song about a man who is saying goodbye to some people. We don’t know why he is saying goodbye, but it is either because he is about to die, or is going to war.
Play Seasons in the Sun and ask students just to listen for which three people he addresses the song to. This will allow students the chance to simply listen to the song and enjoy it, without having to listen for too much information.
Tip! When using songs in class that are a little bit difficult for your students gradually ask them questions about the song.
Task 1
Play the song a second and third time, and have students answer the questions for task 1.
Task 2
Hand out the lyrics and check answers to task 1.
Next, get students to imagine they are the person saying goodbye in the song. They are all in the army (brainstorm different jobs: soldier, cook, engineer etc.) and have been stationed far from home. Get them to write a letter back home to one of the people in the song.
This is a good practice of using the past voice (talking about their relationship) and the present voice (to describe their current living situation).
Task 3
Put students in small groups or pairs and have them discuss some of the questions. Encourage them to choose any question they like. They don’t have to answer the questions in the order on the sheet.
Tip! Allowing them to choose their questions makes the task more personal and interesting. It gives them ownership of the learning.

by Phil Senior

Phil Senior is a British teacher living and working in Xi'an. Phil is an ESL materials specialist having written course materials for EF Education First in China, Russia and Indonesia. Some of his work will be used for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. He is also a former IELTS examiner for The British Council. Phil is currently writing a kids book called The Funky Bubble Box

Published in Song lessons
The sounds of the late 60's produced some enduring songs that we all still know and love. One of the very best was the Mama's and Papa's California Dreamin'

This ESL song lesson is perfect for lower-level teens and adults. It's a very simple song for beginners to practice listening for colours, basic action, verbs, seasons, and simple adjectives

The California Dreamin' song can be downloaded immediately here. You'll be helping this website to stay open too.

Put students in pairs and give them these questions to ask each other:
1. What’s your favourite season? Why?
2. What do people usually do in their free time in this season?
3. What’s your favourite colour? Why?
Task 1
Hand out the gap fill lyric sheet. Go through the words together to clarify meaning of anything such as L.A., California, preacher, and gonna.
Play the song twice and students fill in the missing words they hear. Check the answers.
Task 2
Analyze the song with your students. Ask them these ESL concept questions:
1. Does the singer miss L.A.? How do we know? (Yes. “I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.)
2. How does he describe the place where he is now? (grey, brown, cold)
Draw on these themes and ask students to think about their own hometowns.

Brainstorm on the board words associated with ‘hometown’, including places, people, things to see and do, feelings, etc.

In pairs, get students to discuss these questions:
1. If you were away from your hometown what would you miss? (except family and friends) Why?
2. How does your hometown make you feel?
3. Think of two colours to describe each season in your hometown.
Why did you choose these colours?

Lesson written by Phil Senior

Phil Senior is a British teacher living and working in Xi'an. Phil is an ESL materials specialist having written course materials for EF Education First in China, Russia and Indonesia. Some of his work will be used for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. He is also a former IELTS examiner for The British Council.

Published in Song lessons
Monday, 25 January 2016 04:11

11 Things to See and Do in Chongqing

Chongqing is one of the four large municipalities in China, after Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. It is the largest city is south-west China. Chongqing is a river port city, where the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers meet. It is also a ‘mountain’ city and a stunning place to live and teach. 
As a traveler, Chongqing is the ideal location, as it has a number of world class tourist spots and also has borders with Hubei and Hunan to the east, Guizhou to the south, Sichuan to the west, and Shaanxi to the north. Besides Han Chinese, which makes up the majority of the population, Chongqing and the surrounding area also has a number of Chinese ethnic groups.
Fun facts about Chongqing
- Chongqing has a large monorail system to get around the city on!
- Newcomers to Chongqing often get lost because of the numerous hills and confusing streets in the city!
- Chongqing was the capital city of China during World War II because the Japanese controlled the east coast of China!
- There is a harbor area in Chongqing called Chaotianmen Harbour which has a large number of interesting and unusual fleamarkets!
11 Great Things to See and Do in Chongqing
#1 - Foreigner Street
This is an entertainment, shopping and amusement park area in Chongqing where foreigners have been encouraged to open shops and bars. Here you can discover an ‘upside-down house’, a church, the world’s largest public toilet (!) and some great people.
#2 - Underground Arcade and Outdoor Beer Gardens
These areas have countless bars and restaurants, and after a long day of teaching, many foreign teachers and ex-pats living in the city will head over for a much needed cold beer and some good Chinese food. A wonderful place to chill out and relax. Very cheap.
#3 - Chongqing Jiefangbei Pedestrian Street
This is the heart of the city and contains a large number of malls, restaurants, hotels, banks, trade, telecommunication services and over 3,500 shops of all kinds. This is the uptown district of the city. At the centre is the tall Peoples Liberation Monument, which commemorates victory in the Sino-Japanese war.

#4 - Ciqikou
This is an ancient port village near to Chongqing which is known as the ‘Porcelain Village’ because porcelain china used to be made and traded from this area. Coming to this village is like stepping back in time to a forgotten China.
#5 - Forest Park Shengdeng
This tranquil forest park full of flora and fauna is located on Shengdeng Mountain, close to Chongqing. It is over 1000m above sea level and it is said that the Ming Emperor, Jing Wen, took refuge up this mountain.
#6 - Yangtze River Cruise
This peaceful cruise will take you through one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. Read a book and take in the stunning local scenery from the water.
#7 - The House of Zhou Enlai
For those interested in history, this will be of particular importance. Zhou Enlai was a senior member of the Communist Party during the days of Chairman Mao. He was a hugely popular man and genuinely tried to help his country at every turn. His former home is now a museum and for a small fee you can go there and see how he lived.
#8 - Chongqing Hot Springs
Deep under Chongqing lies a labyrinth of natural volcanic water systems. These bubble up to the surface, meaning Chongqing has some of the best hot springs anywhere in China. When you aren’t teaching, why not head over to one of the hot springs, immerse yourself in hot volcanic water for the day and ease all those aches and pains away?
#9 - The Yangtze-River Cable Car
For only 5RMB, you can take a cable car over the Yangtze River. The ride gives spectacular views of Chongqing.
#10 - Chongqing Hua Yan Tourist Spot
This is a large temple which includes a Buddhist monastery and a huge golden Buddha. This temple complex is tucked away within a lush valley on a small lake. It is amazingly right in the centre of an urban built-up area of Chongqing.

#11 - Eat Chongqing Hot-Pot
Before Chongqing became a municipality in 1997, it was culturally and geographically part of Sichuan Province and so shares its hot, fiery food. Hotpot is famous and wildly popular all over China, but all people in China recognize Chongqing as being the top place in China for the best hotpot!
Teach English in Chongqing
www.rayenglish.com has some excellent teaching positions available in Chongqing. To check out our Teaching jobs in Chongqing click here
Published in Articles about China
Monday, 25 January 2016 03:33

Things to See and Do in Xi'an China

Xi’an in China was one of the four great ancient cities in the world, along with Rome, Athens and Cairo. The city has a wealth of cultural artifacts and jaw-dropping places to visit. Xi’an was the starting point of the old Silk Road to the west, and so the city enjoys a unique mixture of history and heritage not found anywhere else in China, as the customs, religions and ideas from the west all had a distinctive influence over the years on the city and its people.

Xi'an: The Home of The Terracotta Warriors
Xi’an is the home of the Terracotta Warriors; the hidden clay army which lay undiscovered for two thousand years until a farmer digging a well in his field discovered a single mysterious statue many metres under the soil. Xi’an also has an ancient city wall with battlements which still surrounds the city centre today.

Xi'an City Centre

The city-centre itself is built around the famous Bell Tower, well over a thousand years old, which had bells which rang out to wake the citizens of Xi’an and to signal the opening of the city gates to allow in traders. You can still go on the Bell Tower today and for a small fee, you can ring the bell – thousands of people will hear it! Xi’an has a wonderful mix of ancient delights and a modern cosmopolitan buzz(depending on where you are in the city), and so there is plenty to amaze and stimulate anyone coming to teach English in Xi’an.
Finally, the central location in Xi’an makes it a great place to be located if travelling around China is of interest to you. The airport has direct flights to nearly all major Chinese cities.
The Xi'an City Wall
The Xi’an City Wall is the largest city wall on earth and the present wall as it is dates from the 1600’s. It is 15m wide at the base and about 13m wide at the top. The total length of the wall is over 13kmand it will take you about 4-5 hours to wander around the whole length. Should you not want to walk the whole length, there are a number of places to get on/off early. You can also rent bicycles and tandem bikes for around 80RMB for 90 minutes. At the night, the wall is lit up with lights and you can stroll through scenic parks around the wall and get snack foods. Each year, there is a mini-marathon around the wall which you can join. From the top of the wall, you can get a birds-eye view of quaint and hidden back streets teeming with everyday common Chinese life.
Beilin Art Street Xi'an
Just inside the south gate of the city wall, there is an art and culture district full of old folks doing Chinese calligraphy and all kinds of painting shops, jade stores and wood carving places. There are alsosome great bars in this district to be discovered.
The Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque, Xi'an
Running off from The Bell Tower are four major streets running like the points of a compass; North Street, East Street, South Street and West Street. In the quarter between West Street and North Street is the Muslim Quarter. This is where the large Chinese Muslim population of Xi’an lives and works.
You could spend weeks here and still be finding quaint back streets, places to eat and places to explore. There are markets here to buy all of your touristy things to send back home and remember to take your camera, as you’ll get great photos to keep and share for a lifetime. In the centre of the Muslim Quarter is the great old mosque which was built centuries ago for the Muslim population that came through as traders and inhabitants from the Silk Road.
The Terracotta Warriors Xi'an China
About 20km away from Xi’an (there are frequent buses) is the world famous Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Warriors were built on the command of the great Emperor Qin Shihuang, who wanted to have an army of soldiers for the afterlife.
The Terracotta Warriors comprise of thousands of soldiers, generals, archers, horses, chariots and weapons. There are three separate pits to see and a museum to learn more about the history of the soldiers. A 3D cinema brings to story of The Terracotta Warriors to life. The faces of the warriors are all unique and different. If you are an English teacher in Xi’an, then you must make visiting here a priority.
De Fu Xiang (Bar Street), Xi'an
De Fu Xiang is a narrow street within the city walls about a ten minute walk from The Bell Tower. Twenty years ago, this street had a different nature altogether – it was the Red Light District of Xi’an!
Today, De Fu Xiang is a really rocking place, with bars on each side of the road, side by side from top to bottom. If you are looking for a brilliant night out after a busy weekend of teaching, hit De Fu Xiang for a brilliant night out, with quiet bars, loud bars, coffee shops, niche corners or live music. It has it all.
Just around the corner, is South Street with an assortment of top quality night clubs if you want to keep going until the early hours.
Huashan Mountain
A few hours away from Xi’an is Huashan Mountain. In China, there are five ‘holy’ mountains, and each one is meant to represent the body, arms and legs of Pangu, a giant God-like creature from the old Chinese creation story. Huashan is one of these five mountains.
Carved into the granite mountain are literally thousands of steps which one climbs to reach the summit of the mountain, which is over 2,400m above sea-level. The climb is very arduous (and it takes nerves of steel!) and for those that can’t make it, then a cable car to take you most of the way is available. Top tip: Stay on the mountain overnight and wake up early to watch sunrise from the top of the highest West Peak.
The Big Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
Ever heard of ‘Journey to the West’ or seen ‘Monkey’? This is the story of a monk who travels to India, finds Buddhism, and then returns to China with the holy scriptures and then Buddhism becomes the dominant force in China, influencing the life and development of the Chinese people and the China story. Well, this event actually happened, and where did the monk leave from and return to? Xi’an. The Big Goose Pagoda is one of the most important religious buildings in all of China and for many years the actual scriptures which came back from India were housed here. You can still go into the temple and the parks and water parks surrounding are an absolute joy to visit.
The Small Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
Less well-known as the Wild Big Goose Pagoda is the Wild Small Goose Pagoda, also situated in Xi’an. This pagoda is 13 storeys high, but the upper most were destroyed in an earthquake centuries ago. You can also go up inside this pagoda, and the final few levels are quite fun and tricky to access. This is my favourite of the Xi’an pagodas.
The Qinling Mountains
They say that China is divided into two halves; the north and the south, and the Qinling Mountains are the border, running across nearly a thousand kilometres of China. This is a stunning mountain range is a 30 minute bus ride to the south of Xi’an and there are numerous National Parks, Panda Reserves, camping spots and areas of stunning beauty. Catch a bus, ride a motorbike, or feeling like a challenge, ride a bicycle out there!
The Tang Paradise, Xi'an
During the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an was unquestionably one of the most powerful cities in the worldand was at its peak of cultural grandeur. One of the original play areas for the Emperor and his concubines was a park and lake area strictly forbidden to be entered by commoners by pain of death. This was a private retreat for the most powerful man on earth and selected friends and lovers. Today, Xi’an has recreated the park to its former glory and it is now open to all. Tickets are around 60RMB to go in and you needn’t worry about losing your head!
Eating and Drinking Out in Xi'an
Xi’an is a very large city with numerous choices of many different styles of Chinese foods and also countless western options. Xi’an is famous for its street foods, and you’ll always be able to get good Chinese food at 3am or 4am!
There are also countless places to get a drink in the evening/night time. Xi'an is awesome at night!!
Xianease Magazine
Xi’an has a thriving expat community with lots of special events going on nearly every day of the week, every month of the year. The city has an ex-pat magazine named Xianease with events, restaurant guides, pub and club guides, reviews, cinema listings, pub crawl events, running clubs, quiz nights, movie nights, trips away, etc. You can check out the Xianease magazine here.
Teaching English in Xi’an
If Xi’an sounds pretty cool, then why don’t you apply for one of our Xi’an teaching jobs? Teaching English in Xi'an will afford you to actually live in this wonderful city on an excellent salary!

by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen has been an English teacher since 2002 and has taught Chinese, French, Italian, Austrian, Korean and Spanish students, both in the UK and China. He runs two successful TEFL blogs in China and is a well-known voice in the China TEFL industry. Stuart is the founder and owner of www.rayenglish.com
Published in Articles about China

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