Idiomatic Expressions with Christmas

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Right in time for the next Advent celebration to have, we have a really cool set of  idiomatic expressions that deal with Christmas, regardless of if it’s in English or German. Have a look at the Guessing Quiz and its 15 questions and take a stab at it. The answers are at the end of the article.

Good luck and Happy Holidays! 🙂 ❤

idiomatic expressions Christmas

 

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FlFi Christmas 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Answers: 1. true  2.  false 3. false 4. false  5. false  6. true  7. false   8. true   9. true  10. true  11.  a.  12. b.   13. b.  14.  b.   15. b.

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With the Personnel, this is personal! A look at personal, personnel and persönlich.

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ƒƒ FALSE FRIEND

Our next false friend looks at the word personal and its meaning in both languages. In terms of spelling is the word the same in both languages. However, the difference in meaning is something to pay attention to.

When we use the word personal in German, it means the same as Mitarbeiter and it describes the people working in a company or institution. When translated into English, we have the word personnel. It’s basically the same when using the root word person– a person who works for the company. Yet, the suffix ending is with –nel. The word staff is the synonym for this word.

The English word personal functions as an adjective, both alone as well as in combination with a noun. When we use the word alone, then it has to do with the private aspect- something that does not need to be made public unless it is deemed necessary. That means if person A has something personal with person B, then they have a problem that they need to first resolve between themselves before having another person intervene. And while private means the same as the German privat, the German equivalent for personal alone in this case is persönlich. And even when we have the word personal problem, when translated into German, it would be the same: persönliches Problem.

The tricky part is when we combine personal with another noun, for some of the word combinations are exactly the same in both languages. The reason: some of the words from English can be used in the German language as well. But the number is fewer than what can be found in German, using either the words persönlich, privat, or something similar.  You can find the examples in the first task below:

 

Activity 1. Determine if this word combination is possible (P) or impossible (I) in German. If I, translate the term into German.

  1. Personal Computer _________________________________
  2. Personal belongings _________________________________
  3. Personal assistant __________________________________
  4. Personal identification number ___________________________
  5. Personal data __________________________________
  6. Personal letter __________________________________
  7. Personal injury ___________________________________
  8. Personal debt ___________________________________

 

Activity 2. Translate the following German words into English. Hint: Most of these German words do not follow the persönlich or privat rule but when translated into English, they all start with personal.

  1. Tagebuch ______________________
  2. Distanzzone ______________________
  3. Kontaktanzeige ___________________
  4. Privatvermögen ___________________
  5. Terminplaner ____________________

 

Activity 3. Do the same thing but from English into German.

  1. Personal growth ___________________________
  2. Personal allowance ___________________________
  3. Personal quality ___________________________
  4. Personal comment ___________________________
  5. Personal appearance __________________________

 

Activity 4. Determine whether these translations are true friends or false friends. If false, correct them.

  1. Personal chemistry <-> persönliche Chemie
  2. Something personal <-> etw. Persönliches
  3. Personal opinion <-> persönliche Meinung
  4. Personal expereince <-> persönliche Erfahrung
  5. Personal hygiene <-> persönliche Hygiene

 

Raise Your Glasses in the Evening on Saturday- A look at the Prepositions of At/In/On for Time

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Taken on September 22, 2005 [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Prost! Cheers! Mazeltov! Salut! Zum Wohl!  Raise you glasses as you made it through the week. On a Friday night at 9:00pm, you and your friends are celebrating over wine before riding in the night going home.

Wait a minute! In the night? Why not at night?

Very simple: When you ride home in the night, you are riding home in darkness at night, whereas at night itself focuses on the time during the 24-hour day where between 8:00pm and 12:00am, the moon shines its very best. An even better way to describe the difference is a song produced for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, describing the runner at night training in darkness in order to win the gold medal:

It is one of many deep secrets about the prepositions of time, using at, in and on. In each language, there is a different meaning of the three if we focus on the aspects of calendar, clock and the clicks of the timer. The best way to look at this is by looking at the picture below:

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André Karwath aka Aka [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Without reading further, where would you place the three prepositions in the wine glass?

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The reason for the wine glass concept is very simple. With a few exceptions, wine glasses have an half-oval shape as a way of measuring the amount of wine poured into the glass.  That means as the wine glass is filled up, the amount of wine increases as the width of the glass widens. The narrower the glass, the less wine you have.

The wine glass represents the time frame where as the wine glass is filled to the top, the longer the given time period is allotted. That means at the bottom of the wine glass, where next to no drops are poured, that is where the preposition AT belongs to. AT here focuses on the exact time and moment of an event. Examples of how at is used is the following:

The train to Paris leaves at 7:45am from platform 5.

At Easter time, we have the egg hunt.

I’m not here at the moment

The Treaty of Armistice was signed at the 11th hour on November 11th.

It’s 11:00 at night. Do you know where your children are at?

 

When the wine glass is a third to a half full, then the width of the wine glass plus the amount of the wine is restricted. That is the same for the number of hours in a day, which is 24. Here, ON best fits the wine glass model for it is used to focus on a certain day or date, be it an exact date, holiday or even a day in the week, as seen in the examples below:

On Easter Sunday, we go to church.

I have an appointment on Monday.

She was born on 27 April, 1980.

 

When the wine glass is completely full, then so is the (sometimes) unlimited amount of wine, and in this case, time a person has. This is the meaning of IN in a sense of time. IN focuses on long periods of time. With the exception of certain periods in the day, like in the morning, afternoon and evening, IN has to do with long periods of time that is allowed to complete something. This can include months, weeks and years, but also seasons and other time periods where time keeps running whereever it wants to.  Some examples of how the preposition IN can be used include:

In the spring, we plant our crops.

We have tea time in the afternoon.

Who is making noise in the middle of the night?

Our conference will take place in October.

World War II ended in 1945. 

 

In the end, after reading the explanations, your wine glass in connection with time should look like this:

wine glass time

After looking at the review, do you have any questions? If not, let’s proceed to the exercises, shall we? 🙂

Activity 1.  Complete the sentences using the correct preposition of time (at/in/on)

  1. The concert takes place _____ 5:00pm ______ Sunday at the Church
  2. ______ May, we will fly to Thailand for three weeks.
  3. It’s 11:30 ______ night. Do you know where your children are?
  4. _______ Tuesday we have our important town hall meeting. It starts ______ 10:00am and will last two hours.
  5. Sherry was born _______ 23rd of May, 1977 ______ 3:00am at the hospital in Dublin.
  6. World War I ended ________ 11th of November ________ the year 1918________ 11:11 am.
  7. The building will be finished ________ the spring.
  8. _______ Easter, we have a family gathering at my grandmother’s place.
  9. _______ New Year’s Day we will be at some friends‘ to celebrate.
  10. The Christmas market starts _______ 5:00pm _______ the evening, and ends _______10:00 ______ night.

Activity 2. Why do we say these things? Explain.

  1. Why do we say 9:00 at night instead of in the night?
  2. Why do we say in the morning instead of at the morning?
  3. Why do we say in March instead of on March?
  4. Why do we say on Monday instead of at Monday?
  5. Why do we say both on the weekend and at the weekend?

 

Activity 3. The following sentences are incorrect. Change them to make sure they are right.

  1. The Open Night of Science will start at 8:00pm in the night.
  2. Stacy was born in January 23rd, 1967.
  3. The TV-series made its debut on 1988 and was cancelled at 1991.
  4. The bus comes every morning at 7:30 to pick up the children.
  5. In the weekend, there is a choir concert at the city convention center.
  6. In the moment, I’m preparing the exams.
  7. The meeting will take place on 6:45am at Thursday the 14th of September.
  8. At the winter time, we go skiing in the Alps.
  9. In Christmas, we sing carols.
  10. In my birthday, we will celebrate it at my place.

 

Activity 4. Complete each phrase with at, in, or on.

  1. ______ Saturday
  2. ______the afternoon
  3. ______ noon
  4. ______ Thanksgiving
  5. ______ 4:00pm
  6. ______ 1300 hours (military time)
  7. ______ the fifth day of Christmas (song)
  8. ______ this time
  9. _______ the weekend
  10. ______ night
  11. ______ midnight
  12. ______ the wee hours of the morning
  13. ______ 2:30 ______ the morning
  14. _______ breakfast
  15. _______ the time of Lent
  16. _______ Friday night
  17. ______ Friday
  18. ______ this second
  19. ______ the class period
  20. ______ this day.

 

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Germany Quiz 8: Saxony Part I: How to Speak Sächsisch- Answer Key

 

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Glauchau’s market square  at night. Photo taken in May 2017

How did the quiz on Sächsisch Deutsch turn out? Which questions were difficult, which ones were easy? Are you ready to find out for yourself? If so, here are the answers to the Guessing Quiz on speaking German with a twist of Saxon to sprinkle on. Good luck and here we go! 🙂

Activity 1:

 

Sächsisch Hochdeutsch English
Fläscher Der Fleischer Butcher
Radscho Das Radio Radio
Bargblad Der Parkplatz Parking lot
Gliewärmel Die Glühwürmchen Fireflies
Daschendicher Die Taschentücher Tissue paper (Kleenix)
Biordäggl Der Bierdeckel Beer cap
Nachellagg Nagellack Nail polish
Breedschen Die Brötchen (Dinner) rolls
Beefschdeeg Die Rindersteak Beef steak
Glemdnor Der Klempner Plumber
Lorke Dünner Kaffee Weak coffee
Reformande Strafpredigt Sermon/Lecture
Dreiche Trocken Dry
Blembe Schwache Suppe Weak soup
Bliemchen (-kaffee) Ersatzkaffee Fake/ immitation coffee
Kääbsch pingelig Picky (eater)
Iezch Geärgert Angry
Motschgiebchen Marinekäfer Lady bug
Quatschen einfach daherreden Shooting the breeze (oral)
Rumbläken Herumschreien Yell around

 

Activity 2.

In your honest opinion, what is the Sächsisch equivalent to the following cities in Saxony. Mark the best answer. In some cases, none of the answers apply and therefore, you need to choose other and write it in (and also mention in the Comment section here)

 

  1. Zwickau (Saxony)     a. Twigge    b. Zwigge      c. Zwick          d. Zwish

 

  1. Leipzig     a. Leice       b. Liken          c. Leib            d. Leibz’sch

 

  1. Dresden    a. Dräsd’n       b. Driez      c. Drisch         d. Dreeb

 

  1. Chemnitz      a.Chemmik      b. Gemmnidz       c. Gemmit        d. Dammit

 

  1. Plauen     a. Plowing      b. Plaue     c. Plau         d. Plau`n    e. Other: Plo’ n

 

  1. Mylau   a. Mi-low    b. Meow        c. Moolah       d. Meela     e. Other __________________

 

  1. Bautzen    a. Pausen       b. Other ____________  c. Bauz’n         d. Baussen

 

  1. Meissen   a. Mice      b. Miken              c. Maise          d. Mei’ sn    e. Other ______________

 

Activity 3.

Now look at the pictures and choose the best of the three words in Sächsisch German and identify the English meaning. 

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a. Pieramidgerzen      b. Bieramidngärdse     c. Booramidskärze      EN:  Pyramid Candle

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a. Bleedma      b. Duummann    c. Blodmama        EN:  Dumbass/ Stupid Guy

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a. Seegeboot      b. Sähschelboud     c. Sälhboot      EN: Sailboat/ Yacht

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a. Chim-Cheroo      b. Feierrübel     c. Firebookman         EN: Smokestack

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a. Pomguberschbärde     b. Geeschma     c. Gombschudoreggsbärde  

EN: Computer expert

 

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Volkswagen: The Wagon of Vikings- Or Was It Vagen for Women? The Tongue Twister Guide to the V and W Words in English

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Vince and Vance went with the Volkswagen Van west to Las Vegas. Vince is from Wiesbaden and Vance is from Wernersgrün. They both have fathers named Werner and they both enjoy Weizenbier (Wheat beer).

Looking at this sentence, how would you pronounce these words? Chances are, regardless of where you are coming from, you are pronouncing at least some of the words wrong. If you are a native speaker of English, chances are you are pronouncing the German words with a W when even though they start with a W, they sound like a V. This puts Wernersgrün, Werner, Weizenbier and Wiesbaden in the line of fire. Yet if you are a non-native speaker of English, be it German, Russian, Arabic, or eastern European, chances are that you are pronouncing the V-words like they are W. This is where Vince, Vance and Vegas fall into that unfortunate trap. Furthermore, especially in Germany, some words that start with W are pronounced with V. Apart from west and wheat in this example, other words that fall into the crossfire include wake, watch and wear.

To keep it straight, as well as short and to the point, the Vs and Ws are always mixed up! 😦  Aside from the TH-words, the VW words are one of the most difficult pronunciations in the English language for that particular reason. Another reason behind it is the way they are spoken, something where Ronnie in this video has an easy way to explain the difference between V and W words:

And while she views W-words as words spoken of a true kisser from the Czech Republic and V-words like a two-eared bunny rabbit saying “FUCK!” when spotted by a vulture, here’s another easy way to explain the difference between the VW words.

With the V-sound, it has a close relationship with the F-words, meaning air is constructed from the top part of the mouth. The difference between the F and V is the length as the V-words are longer and most of the time voiced consonants. The F-words are shorter and mostly voiceless.

As for the W-words, apart from forming that short O in the mouth and then widening it in length, one can refer to the Seven-Ws in terms of question form, meaning the Who, What, When, Where, Why, Which and How. With the exception of Who and whose (since the W there are silent), the rest follow this kissing Czech concept. This is also regardless of whether the W-words stand out alone or if a consonant is added to the W.

This takes us to the Tongue-Twister exercise featuring the uses of V and W words. Homemade by the author, it was divided up into the V-category, the W-category and the mixed category. If you can master the first two, then you should be able to master the third one easily. 🙂 A video is enclosed at the end of the article to provide you with reference on how they are pronounced in case you need assistance. 🙂

So without further ado, away with you in your Volkswagen and be vicious, vivacious and victorious with these examples! 😉  Good luck! 🙂

V-category:

V/F:

Vincent went to Fargo with Fred to visit his friend Vance, who owns a Volkswagen five-some conversion van. Fred is fat from feasting on fawn while Vincent is invincible for being Vice President of the Federation for the Advancement of Unforgivable Follies. Vince and Vance are Friends for forty-four years, while Fred is friends with Faye for fourteen fortnights.

 

V:

The Virgins value the Vikings.

The Vikings value the Vegans.

The Vegans value the Vegetarians.

The Vegetarians value the Viceroys.

The Viceroys value the Vocalists,

While the Vocalists avenged the Viceroys with Viagra.

 

W-Category:

W:

Where was Wally Worthington when we wanted him? Wally Worthington was one writer who won twenty wonderful awards for his work, while his wisdom we want, for Wally wants to whistle a wonderful, unwavering work with a whippoorwill.  But Wally Worthington will walk with a wild woman to Willy Wonker’s white and wealthy, western restaurant. Why? Wally and the wild woman want to eat a whoopee cushion.

 

TW:

Twelve twiddling twins tweeted Mark Twain on Twitter with twenty tweezers and with twelve twitches. The twisted twins tweeted that Twain twined twenty tunes about twinberries and twinflowers, twisting and twittering in a Twinkie. Twain twinkles a Twinkie in the Twilight and twists and twirls with the twins.

 

SW/W:

There was a Swiss doing Swan Lake wearing her Swatch Watch on her wrist. She swaddled in the water and met Katharina Witt, who swiped the Swatch Watch swished it into a weaved swivel with White Washington underwear. Where was Washington who wore white underwear? Underwater with Winona Ryder.

 

TW/SW/W:

Twelve twisted witches were swimming with the wind, when we witnessed twenty twisted wolves, who were witty wonders of the world. The wolves were weeping with wiseguys who wore woolen sweaters weaved by sweating workers twiddling with white whisks, swearing with white wisdom teeth, while the twelve twisted witches swirled with their sweethearts, switching their swords with words.

 

Mixed Category:

V/W:

Waking in Vegas, William walked to Vincent with a victorious whistle, wondering why Warren visited Vanessa while wrestling with Vegas Wally Vanderworth, the world wrestler with wonderful vicious wild faces which wants William to wail him one.

 

V/W:

Wayne Von Western ventured with Victoria Wallace with a Volkswagen Van with four wheels to western Washington. Wayne and Victoria were whistling various vivacious songs about a white Hoover vacuum cleaner with various vinyl vibrating hoses with wax which Viviane and the Women Vikings whacked with a vulture.

 

 

V/W:

Virginia with a wonderful voice, ventured with Vivi in a Volkswagen onto Venice with Winnie to voice their vengeance with world-renowned vocalists Vincent Wallingford who videotaped with Werner and Verne their voices for Weight Watchers.

 

V/W:

Victory was wonderful. Winning was victorious. Women were invincible. Vikings were whipped, while Vince and Vance vacated the white Woolworth and went with the Volkswagen to Vegas.

 

Here’s the video where you can listen to the tongue twisters, some of which even the author stumbled during the recording……. 😉

 

 

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Blacksmithing Words with TH: Mr. Smith’s Guide in using TH-words in English

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When I first came to Germany in 1999, one of the main struggles I saw and even witnessed myself in learning a foreign language was the way words were pronounced. In particular, words in English that have TH in them happen to be a struggle among Germans and other foreigners whose native language is not English. The classic example I can pull out straight away was the problem pronouncing my last name, Smith. Even though Smith is one of the top three most popular family names in the world (along with Johnson and Brown), non-native people had a lot of difficulties pronouncing my last name. Instead of Smith (where the tongue is nudged behind the lower teeth partially blocking air flow), my last name was pronounced as the following:

Smizzzz, Schmiet, Smit, Schmizz, Smis (like Swiss Miss) and Smif (like Smurf).  Funny, isn’t it. 😉  Furthermore, many insisted that my last name should be Schmidt instead of Smith.  Sorry to disappoint you, but we have a lot of Schmidt in the US and Canada, plus a beer bearing that name (which comes from my homestate of Minnesota) 🙂 :

To put it bluntly, the name is SMITH! Even more so because we have several words, whose ending is the same as my last name.

Words with TH are indeed the most difficult to pronounce in the English language- just like with the German CH, Z and all the vowels with the two dots on there. This has to do with the fact that we have two different types of TH pronunciation: the voiced (which sounds like a bee buzzing behind your teeth) and the voiceless, which produced a slight steaming sound with the tongue behind your teeth. A video below better explains how the voiced and voiceless TH’es work from a phonetical point of view:

Also important to note from a historian’s perspective that nearly every second word used during the Middle Ages had TH in there, but mostly at the beginning or end of each word, such as doth, hath, thou, cometh, etc. Many of these words over time have been transformed to the ones we use in our modern time, which meant the THes were dropped. Yet even though we’ll find our TH-words in one out of ten sentences, they are there for people to use, even though practicing can be a torture, which brings up this Tongue Twister activity.  Consisting of both the video and the sentences to practice, this activity will give you amples of opportunities to work with the TH-words so that you not only know how the TH-words are pronounced but also give you the confidence needed to say them properly.

You could say that producing TH-words is like blacksmithing: you work with it until you have the right form to use. 😉

It is highly recommended to watch the video to see how the TH-words are spoken before practicing. Yet how you implement them in class or practice them in groups or at home individually depends on you, the person who wants to handle this rather difficult part of English phonetics.

So enjoy and may the TH be with you. 🙂

 

Something in a thirty-acre thermal thicket of thorns and thistles thumped and thundered threatening the three-D thoughts of Matthew the thug- although, theatrically, it was only the thirteen-thousand thistles and thorns through the underneath of his thigh that the thirty-year old thug thought of that morning.

 

There was a mammoth with the name of Thurman, who thrives in Gotha, Thuringia. The sloth slithers through at three in the morning to slither to Thorn’s thermal threading company in Furth, threading thermalware for thirty thoughtless worthless months for thirty-three Euros a month. Through thirteen months and thirty days, this mammoth threads strings from moths and makes thermal underwear. Thurman is happy.

 

Three Catholic athletes bathe in clothes in a bathtub. The thirty-somethings thoroughly thought something that’s thick through their teeths. Through their theory they thought about thieves, thugs, theocrats and heart-throbbers that thrive through their three-thousand thirty-three throwaway thermos cloth, and loath thirty times a month.

 

Thou hath throweth thy health through thy wrath with thy thick thighbone. Theoretically cometh death onto thee though Beth Smith hath saveth thy life through warmth smooth hearth.

 

The South Path is thin. The North Thruway is thick. Through thousands of thinkers, sleuths, telepaths, sociopaths and youths, badmouthing and thrashing over vermouth for the umpteenth time, is the South Path thick and the North Thruway filthy.

 

Beth’s with Ruth. Theodore’s with Faith. They’re thinking ethics. They’re thinking theology. They’re thinking myths. They’re thinking with vermouth with a twist.

 

The Moth is on meth. The moth does math. The moth thaws myths and thus they’re through with this.

 

There are thousands Smiths on Earth. The twentieth blacksmith with the thirtieth locksmith with the fortieth gunsmith with the fiftieth silversmith with the sixtieth goldsmith with the seventieth tunesmith with the eightieth coppersmith with the ninetieth songsmith with the hundredth whitesmith. Smiths ends with z, while one smith has TH.

 

Author’s note: These tongue twister stories are homemade, by the way. 😉  Feel free to add more to this list if you have some more. 🙂

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In School in Germany: Picture Games

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To start off this article, I would like to offer a word of advice to teachers whose passion also includes photography: Take as many pictures as you can and keep as many as you can. You may never know when and how you will need them- especially if you find the best ones for an activity (or several) for your class. 🙂  This principle I’ve followed for years which has led to not only successful activities but also successful articles.

This applies to vacation time, as two thirds of the population of German children are starting school now, with the remaining third still out until September. The same trend applies in the US, where half the schools start in mid-August; the rest after Labor Day. Children gather vast amounts of experiences through travel, summer camps, visits to long-distant relatives and friends, work and other events that add experience and enrich their knowledge of what’s around them. And at the beginning of the school year, they would like to share that experience with other classmates and especially their teacher.

After all, as we would like to look at their interests and get to know them, we can help them along so they can be what they want to be, right?  Be all that you can be, like in the US Army commercial. 😉

 

If you, as a teacher, have some problems coming up with activities to encourage the students to use their language skills and share their experiences with others, there are some activities that can help. Using a collection of photos, you can introduce the following exercises to them to motivate them to speak and be creative. These activities are not only meant to break the ice in terms of establishing communication between the teacher and the students, it is meant to unlock the knowledge that has been sitting in the freezer inside the students’ heads and it just needs to be thawed out. For the first exercise, photos from the teacher are required for use, whereas the second and third activities one can also use the photos from the students, if requested. In the fourth and final exercise, the students should present their photos and images, even if through Powerpoint or a slideshow.

Here’s a look at the photo activities you can use in the classroom (suitable for all ages and language levels):

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Picture This:

Based on an exercise in Baron’s TOEIC Preparatory Book, the object of this game is to look at a picture provided by the presenter to the group, and identify what is seen in there. How students view it and express themselves depends on what the picture has. The picture can be a landscape, a certain scene with people doing activities, a phenomenon, or something totally different. What is seen is what is to be identified. Some people may feel restricted because they have to focus on the picture itself and therefore may have some difficulties finding the right vocabulary for the pictures. Yet by the same token, especially if the activity is done in groups, one can take advantage of learning new words from this game or even refreshing the vocabulary that had been sitting unused for some time.  There are two ways of doing this activity: one is in a large group where each student can find what is in the picture and make a statement on it. The other is in pairs or small groups, where each one receives a picture, analyses it and can present it to the rest of the class. With the second variant, five minutes of preparing and five to ten minutes of presentation total will suffice, pending on the number of students in class.

As a trial run, use the picture above and find out what you see in there. You’ll be amazed at what you will find happening at a place like the Westerhever Lighthouse at the moment of the pic. 😉

 

Finish the Story: 

This activity comes from the film, Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Originally in the film (produced and directed by the late Sidney Pollack), the character Karen Dinesen (played by Streep) is a story-teller and in a conversation with Denys Hatton (played by Redford) and others, she explains the concept, where one starts the story with a sentence, where the other finishes the story the way it is seen fit. Like in this example:

While one could adopt this concept in the classroom, if it was a one-to-one training session, in larger groups, it would not be as exciting as it is when each student adds a sentence to the first one given by the teacher, and going through a couple rounds until the entire class feels the story is complete. This concept helps students become creative while at the same time refresh their knowledge of sentence structure and a bit of grammar. While one can try this without pictures, more challenging but exciting would be with pictures, especially from summer break, like the ones presented below. Try these with the following sentences below and complete your own story……. 🙂

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It was afternoon on the North Sea coast and a storm is approaching. It is windy and perfect weather for kite-flying………   

 

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It is high tide, and the beach is underwater. Two people sitting in Strandkörbe are taken by surprise……..

 

Make a Story:

 Going further into talking about vacations and things to do in the summer is creating your own story, using a pic provided by the teacher. In groups of two or three, students have five minutes (for those on the beginner or pre-intermediate levels, 7-10 minutes should suffice) to create a story to present to the class. The advantage of this exercise, is that students are able to exchange ideas and knowledge to create a fantastic, rather interesting story to share with the rest of the class. In small groups of six or less, the exercise can also be done individually.  Even when you have pics like these below, which are rather simple, one can create great stories out of it. The whitest and plainest of canvases make for world-class pictures with this game.  Word to the wise  from my former uncle, who was a world-class painter. 😉

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Mini-Presentation:

With time constraints being the thorn in the side of teachers, one has to go by the principle of “Less Means More,” and optimize your class, in order to make learning as effective as possible. Mini-presentations are the best way for students to talk about their vacation in the shortest time possible. With a couple pics as support, each student has 2-3 minutes to talk about their trip.  The downside to this activity is that the student does not have much to talk about. It is possible though to choose one aspect of the vacation that you love the most and would like to talk about. The best aspect always receives the best attention. How it is presented depends on the student’s creative talents. One can focus on a sport the student tried, a wonderful place the student visited, a local food the student tried and loved, or a local event that took place during vacation. It can also include a summer job, summer camp, talent show or even a local festival, such as a parade, county fair or city market. Whatever event was the highlight, the student should have a chance to present it- as long as it does not overlap with another presenter.  🙂

 

There are several more activities which require the use of photos, while an increasing number of them require the use of 2.0 technologies, such as blogs and other interactive platforms, yet these four exercises do not require the use of technology (minus the Powerpoint aspect), but more with your language skills and your creative talents.  While these four activities can be used at any time, with even different themes, such as Christmas or school-related events for example, for the purpose of reactivating their language knowledge and getting (re-)acquainted with the students and teacher, are they perfect for the occasion. By implementing one or more successfully, the class will become so involved, it will appear that the first day in school never happened, and that the class will pick up where it left off before break, without missing a beat.

Even more so, when using photos for classroom use, a teacher can do a lot with them, while the students can benefit from them through their own stories. Therefore, take a lot of pictures and be prepared to use them for your future classes. Your students will thank you for it. 🙂

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