Passion to Practice – Creative English Teaching with Paul Grover

Unusually held in on the cusp of winter this year, due to the timing of other conferences, the standout session for me was Paul Grover’s Creative English Teaching. From his experience as classroom teacher and academic, Paul delivered an almost overwhelming range of ideas and practical strategies for immediate integration into the classroom. Here are some of his suggestions to increase fun and engagement, with a little gentle competition to promote understanding of the different learning styles and strengths of our students.

Paul acknowledged that we incorporate, adjust and rework ideas from many sources and invited us to email him with ‘one good idea’ to receive his presentation in return.

Dictionary Games: Wordplay

  1. Fictionary: in groups of two, students open a dictionary double page, select a word they think others will not know, select the correct and two false definitions from the same double page, and then conduct a class contest with pints added or deducted for correct and incorrect guesses.
  2. Mystery Dictionary: to play this game, give a series of clues. As students hear the clues, they look for the word in the dictionary until they have narrowed it down to just one – first to find wins. For example: I begin with the fourth letter of the alphabet. My second letter is an ‘o’. I am three syllables long. I come before ‘dog’ in the dictionary. My last letter is ‘t’. Students, in pairs, can then create a series of clues for a word and test others in the class.
  3. Swap: students swap their first and last name with a partner. Each has to race to create as many English words that are in the dictionary using letters of their partner’s name. Set a time limit – students use dictionaries to check words.
  4. Stealing Words: use English words from the dictionary that have come from other languages to create an online contest to find more words in English from specific languages, or to create a short story using as many borrowed words as possible, or to conduct an investigation into why English borrows or steals words eg

banana – West Africa                               pyjamas – Hindi

barbecue – Arawak                                  tea – Chinese

camouflage – French                               coffee – Turkish, Arabic

carnival – Italian                                      frankfurt – German

limericks – Irish                                       potato – Dutch

Word Games

  1. Lost Words: Using this list of Lost Words (English words that were popular on the street and in writing 400 years ago), students guess their meanings (do a mix and match) and then search for more. They can then select one Lost Word per pair of students and try to reintroduce it in the playground (and research the reactions of others) or write a 100 word story using Lost Words:

belly-timber = food                             maw-wallop = badly cooked mess of food

chinkers = money, coins                      kew-kaw = upside down

lip-clap = kissing                                fellowfeel = sympathise with someone

fadoodle = nonsense                           thrunch – very angry

murfles = freckles                               lubber-wort = junk food

snawk = to smell                                 ug = fear or dread

thrip = finger snap                              darg = a day’s work

2. Who want to be a billionaire?

It is quite typical for new inventions to be named using compound nouns. for examples, notebook was chosen for a new stye of small computer, airbag for the driver protection system and airbus for a new type of aircraft. You are to create four new products using the list below and name each of them with an original compound noun.

Briefly describe each invention, and make sure your new compound noun tells everyone about your new invention …

  • a new type of computer
  • a new type of transport
  • a new takeaway food
  • a new sports drink

3. It’s a sign: student bring signs from their streets and paly with the words to create double meanings/humour/divergent thinking …

  • at a laundromat this sign was fixed to the automatic washing machines: ‘Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.’
  • seen on a sign at a restaurant: ‘We don’t just serve hamburgers, we serve people.’
  • a sign on a toilet door in an office building: ‘Toilet out of order. Please use floor below.’
  • seen on a gravestone: ‘Rest in peace until we meet again.’
  • seen on a sign outside a farm: ‘Horse manure $2 a bag. Do it yourself $1 a bag.’

Paul also suggested the following books:

At the Shopping Centre

Young people who visit shopping malls are often seen as a problem, especially when they meet up in groups. Paul suggested that students write a response detailing what happens in this advertisement:

It is likely everyone will see something different, and students will learn about different skills within the class when these recounts are shared.

Photoshop by Adobe

Paul recommended this advertisement:

as an example for students to create their own advertising parody.

Future Life

This Corning advertisement offers a range of possibilities for students – create a storyboard or film of future life (this was made in 2011). How might we be living in 2050?

Brainstorm Activities for Multiple Intelligences

  1. The Perfect Paint Company has invented a new house paint known as ’emotional paint’. When applied to the outside walls of a house, it changes colour according to the emotions of the people inside. If everyone is happy, it glows yellow. If someone loses their temper, it turns to purple. Brainstorm at least five consequences of this new product.
  2. A company called I.T.T. (In Touch Technology) has developed an amazing headgear device that can enhance any of your senses (eg. sight, hearing, smell) between 10 to 100 times normal capacity. Choose which sense you would most like to have boosted, and describe at least five things that would be likely to happen.
  3. While travelling alone near the South Pole, you are suddenly caught in a freezing snowstorm which places you in a state of suspended animation. In the year 2350 AD you are discovered and returning to life in a future world that has seen many changes since your own time. Describe and/or draw the five most significant differences you see.
  4. Imagine that colours are gradually becoming extinct on Earth. Which two colours should the earth try to save? give a clear reason for each of your answers.
  5. Make up a joke that each of the following would be likely to tell: dog  fish  rock  tree
  6. How could you teach someone to spell the word ‘co-operation’ by only using the sense of touch? work out your technique, and then try it out on a partner.

Online creative resources – podcasts, music, stories

And my suggested ideas?

Dictionary Stories – a fun writing exercise thanks to Jed Burrows


2 responses to “Passion to Practice – Creative English Teaching with Paul Grover

  1. We’ve used dictionary stories at one of our writing meetings – it went down really well. And I love some of these other ideas, too. Great fun. Thanks for sharing. *Starts updating schemes of work…

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