A web site for the developing language teacher

Teaching Tips 61

New Year Rock
Seasonal lesson ideas


Have a look at the following words. Which do you think could be English words:


You can easily guess but could your students? The sound - spelling relation is a complex one in English & although some rules may be manageable, there are a lot which are just too complicated to pass on. When our students meet a new written word they either use their existing knowledge of English to guess at the pronunciation or fall back on their native language convention for the particular letter combinations. The task above, guessing which combinations could be possible & then discussing why & why not, is a useful one.

The idea of sound values is crucial to this. Some letters can have one sound value while others can have two or more. The letter 'd' has only one sound value as in 'daft', 'did', don't' etc. The letter 'g', with very few exceptions, has two sound values - the first as is 'g' followed by 'i', 'e' or 'y' has the sound of 'dj', as in 'imagine' & 'gent'. The second is the sound 'g' as in 'gun' & 'grey'. (The exceptions to the first include the words 'give', 'girl', 'anger', 'eager', 'gear', 'get')

The letter 'c' has two sound values. Look at the following words & work out the rule:


It is a very confusing area & one that the teacher needs to be aware of. The best ELT reference that I have come across is in Joanne Kenworthy's 'Teaching English Pronunciation' (Longman).

George Bernard Shaw gave one of the nonsense words above, 'ghoti', as an example of the ridiculous system behind English sound - spelling by reasoning that it could have the same pronunciation as the word 'fish'! He got this by taking the 'gh' from 'tough' for the 'f', the 'o' from the word 'women' for 'i' & then the 'ti' from the word 'nation' for the 'sh' sound. A nice example for your students.

The letter 'c' rule
It's the same as with 'g' - if it is followed by 'i', 'e', or 'y' then it takes the 's' sound, otherwise it takes the 'k' sound.

Back to the contents

New Year Rock
Elvis Presley

On the site there is a Year 2003 quiz to use with your students. To see the Quiz

There's also a brief advanced speaking lesson, '20 Big Ideas', about ideas that might take off in the UK in 2004. To see the plan

It's also time for the New Year's Resolutions lesson. Explain the idea to the students & ask them to list five personal things they would like to change. Then get them to compare before asking them together to think of five to ten famous personalities & a resolution the students think they should make. Lots of fun.

The 8th January is Elvis Presley's birthday. As interest in Elvis is still going strong, a lesson based around him would be of interest to most adult classes. Below is first a series of quotes by & about Elvis. Students could read & discuss, possibly making up their own quotes about Elvis. Then there is a gapped biography, with the missing words below. It would be appropriate to then go on to a song - for lyrics to Elvis' songs.

There is an alternative biography that could be used as an information gap task after the official biog below. As they say on this last page, 'This biography emphasises aspects of Elvis's life and character which do not feature strongly in official biographies, namely: his spiritual search and the controlling influences in his life. Elvis had to undergo various trials and tribulations on his journey through life.' A bit more interesting.

A couple of quotes from Elvis
"Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes."
-Elvis often used this adaptation of a well-known quotation.

"Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess."
-Elvis in 1956, talking about his way of moving on stage.

A few quotes about Elvis

"His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people."
Frank Sinatra, 1950's

"There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home...He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect from rock 'n' roll singers."
John Landau
Review of Elvis, (1968 TV Special).

"Elvis is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He introduced the beat to everything, music, language, clothes, it's a whole new social revolution - the 60's comes from it."
Leonard Bernstein, 1960s.

"Elvis had an influence on everybody with his musical approach. He broke the ice for all of us."
Al Green

"There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king."
Bruce Springsteen

" was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody's ear, and somehow we all dreamed it."
Bruce Springsteen

"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew that I wasn't going to work for anybody; and nobody was going to be my boss...Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail."
Bob Dylan

"Elvis was the king. No doubt about it. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps."
Rod Stewart

"He was a unique artist - an original in an area of imitators."
Mick Jagger

"Before Elvis, there was nothing."
John Lennon

"He was the firstest with the mostest."
Roy Orbison

"...if any individual of our time can be said to have changed the world, Elvis Presley is the one. In his wake more than music is different. Nothing and no one looks or sounds the same. His music was the most liberating event of our era because it taught us new possibilities of feeling and perception, new modes of action and appearance, and because it reminded us not only of his greatness, but of our own potential."
Greil Marcus
From his book, Mystery Train.

"You know, Bush is always comparing me to Elvis in sort of unflattering ways. I don't think Bush would have liked Elvis very much, and that's just another thing that's wrong with him."
Bill Clinton
During the 1992 presidential campaign.

"Ask anyone. If it hadn't been for Elvis, I don't know where popular music would be. He was the one that started it all off, and he was definitely the start of it for me."
Elton John

A biography of Elvis Presley - from the Official Elvis web site
Fill in the gaps in the text with the words below

Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances, was __________ to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to __________ as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.

Elvis' musical influences were the pop and __________ music of the time, the gospel __________ he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, he began his singing __________ with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording __________ was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and __________ barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new __________ of American music and __________ culture.

He starred in 33 successful __________ , made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, __________ concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has __________ over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have __________ him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 141 different __________ and singles, far more than any other artist. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which he __________ at age 36, and his being __________ One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without any of the special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably __________ his country in the U.S. Army.

His talent,_________ , sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he __________ throughout his life. Known the world over by his first __________ , he is regarded as one of the most __________ figures of twentieth century popular culture. Elvis __________ at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977.

popular - films - name - country - albums - born - served - career - era - grow up - demonstrated - earned - good looks - important - sold - music - died - contract - named - racial - live

Back to the contents

Seasonal lesson ideas
Xmas trees

Christmas & seasonal lessons will soon be here so this week we offer some ideas for those Christmas lessons. At the end are some links to previous ideas on the site.

There is a lesson plan based around a reading a text that deals with returning presents to shops 'The less than wond'rous gift'. It is a useful text for reviewing the first conditional & as a springboard for roleplays.

Below is an excerpt from an article on the Guardian Unlimited site about Xmas toys. There is a list of popular Xmas toys in the UK going back to 1965. Clearly your teaching situation will dictate whether this is suitable material or not. If the toys are alien to the situation you are in you could ask the stds to prepare their own list of popular toys over the past few years for their country. Here's a procedure to follow:

1. Put up 8-10 of the toys below - obviously known ones, not in chronological order, & ask the students in groups of four to discuss what they are & then to try & order when the might have been popular >> feedback.

2. Put the 1965 >> 2002 on the board & ask the students to tell you the year when they were eight years old & to discuss their favourite toys around that time in their childhoods.

3. Handout the list below or put on oht & students discuss if they received any of the toys round about the years given - if the toys are unknown help out & explain. Send a student from each group to go to each group to see what they said & then report back to their original group >> class feedback. You could go on to discuss which were value for money. This all lends itself to the language of description - it's a toy for ....that ...'

From an article on Guardian Unlimited - 'When you can't rely on Santa'

The British Association of Toy Retailers has been making a Toy of the Year award since 1965 - the criteria being that a product must have proved popular in the past year and excited interest among customers and retailers. The winner should have sales success and "star quality", but doesn't have to be the top selling toy. Rubik's Cube, Turtles and Tracey Island were, in fact, in short supply when they won.

1965 James Bond Aston Martin
1966 Action Man
1967 Spirograph
1968 Sindy
1969 Hot Wheels cars
1970 Sindy
1971 Katie Kopykat writing doll
1972 Plasticraft modelling kits
1973 Mastermind board game
1974 Lego Family set
1975 Lego basic set
1976 Peter Powell kites
1977 Playmobil Playpeople
1978 Combine harvester (Britains)
1979 Legoland space kits
1980 Rubik's cube
1981 Rubik's cube
1982 Star Wars toys
1983 Star Wars toys
1984 Masters of the Universe
1985 Transformers
1986 Transformers
1987 Sylvanian Families
1988 Sylvanian Families
1989 Sylvanian Families
1990 Teenage Mutant Turtles
1991 Nintendo Game Boy
1992 WWF Wrestlers
1993 Thunderbird's Tracey Island
1994 Power Rangers
1995 POGS
1996 Barbie
1997 Teletubbies
1998 Furby
1999 Furby Babies
2000 Teksta
2001 Lego Bionicle
2002 Beyblades

You can find previous Christmas ideas on the site at the following:

Xmas activities 1

Xmas activities 2

Beat the cheats plan & Xmas links

Christmas lesson plan

Back to the contents

To the Past Teaching Tips

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing