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Eight Ways to Use Comic Strips in the Classroom

Comic strips provide a unique and exciting way to engage learners in the world of English. Check out these eight tips for making and using them in your classroom.

1) Making comic strips as a group activity

Creating a comic strip is a great group activity. Some learners can write the story, some can draw, and some can colour. Learners should speak in English and work together. Start by teaching them functional phrases like “Can I do the drawings?” and “I’d like to write the story”.

2) Using comic strips to teach vocabulary

If you’ve just given a lesson about shopping, learners can write a comic strip about ‘going to the shops’. If you’ve just taught them to use the future tense, they can write a comic strip about ‘making plans’. Encourage learners to describe what happens in each frame of their comic strip in English. They should make story notes before they start drawing.

3) Creating fun characters

Keep your students engaged by helping them to create interesting characters for their comic strips. Try asking questions about their characters like “Has he got a long or a short nose?”, “Is she wearing a shirt or a jumper?”, and “Is he happy or grumpy?”

Why not ask them to create a ‘character guide’ before drawing their comic strips? This could be a notebook where they design and describe every character using key vocabulary.

4) Drawing and colouring a comic strip

Your learners should begin by drawing the comic strip frames, speech balloons, and characters in pencil. They should then draw over these lines in ink. Afterwards, they should write words in pencil in the speech balloons. You can check these for spelling and grammar before they draw over them in ink. When the ink is dry, learners can erase the pencil lines and colour in the comic strip.

Are your students good with technology? They could also create a comic strip digitally by taking photos and adding speech bubbles with Photoshop!

5) Using comic strips to practice speaking skills

Once your learners have finished creating their comic strips, there are many follow-up activities you can use them for in the classroom. For example, you could ask each group of learners to act out their comic strips in front of the class. Each learner should choose a character and practice saying their lines before performing them with their group. This will help learners practice their speaking skills.

You could also get students to perform this activity with comic strips from a coursebook. If each group changes three words in the strip before they act it out, listening students can play ‘spot the difference’ between the text in the comic strip and the words they hear.

6) Using comic strips as reading tasks

You can use your learners’ comic strips to create a set of unique reading tasks. Ask each group to create a set of true or false questions and comprehension activities to go with their comic strips. Now you can share these out amongst the class, or save them to use later.

7) Creating more activities with comic strips

Your learners can prepare even more skills work and language tasks to go with their comic strips. For example, they can design tasks like ‘Match these six words with their synonyms in the comic strip’ or ‘Find the opposite of these seven words in the comic strip’ or ‘Look at these eight words and find places in the comic to add them’. Groups can then exchange their finished comic strips and tasks.

Why not try using coursebook comic strips to create even more fun activities. Try creating a comprehension task by photocopying a comic strip and cutting out the text from the speech balloons. Now you can give your learners the pictures from the comic strip in the correct order, and the text in a jumbled order. Ask them to match the correct text with the correct pictures and put the story together!

8) Entering the Project Explore Competition

If you like these ideas and want another way to enjoy comic strips in your classroom, try entering The Project Explore Competition!

Engage your learners and win great prizes by asking them to complete the story of The Ancient Statue with their very own comic strip!

Enter now!


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Teaching changes lives – exponentially!

IMG_0018

Ms. Motta (front row, far right) with her class

Eneais Magalhaes is a former English teacher, who now works as a Marketing Manager at OUP Brasil. Today he shares a story with us about how #TeachingChangesLives, ahead of the closing of the competition later this month.

When I learned about the campaign “Teaching Changes Lives” I was excited – because it invites teachers from around the world to tell their stories, which will certainly be inspiring and encouraging for many others.

As a former teacher of English, I love knowing that what I’ve done professionally has had a positive impact on peoples’ lives. I also like that I have contact with other people who see their work as a mission – their stories inspire and motivate me.

Some time ago I met this kind of teacher during a seminar for English teachers and I learned about her work in a public institution. Her story is worth telling.

Her name is Mônica Motta, and the institution is called CIUG.

The school has been operating for over 20 years now, sponsored by the São Gonçalo Secretary of Education, a city in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro.

CIUG provides free English courses to over 1,600 students who would not be able to afford to study the language in a private school. This exemplary initiative of São Gonçalo’s municipality represents a passport for a better future for their students, once speaking English is a requirement for higher level positions.

As we were talking, I heard several interesting stories about CIUG, but I was particularly struck by one of them. Mônica told me she was approached by a student of a preparatory course saying she had been a student there some years before, and that her experience as a student at CIUG triggered off a deep passion for English, and ultimately, for teaching it, which made her choose to be a teacher of English. After graduating from university she decided to become a student again (at CIUG, of course) in a course to enable her to get an international certificate of proficiency in English. She was impacted in such a way by the work developed at the institution that she decided to become a teacher and change people’s lives as well!

Teachers touch peoples’ lives. Fortunately, some of them will also go on to become teachers, and carry the mission out, perpetuating the cycle. The number of people impacted by a teacher’s work is not possible to measure as it grows exponentially.

Mônica and her fellow teachers, as well as all the people committed to keeping CIUG operating are real agents of social change. I was fortunate in meeting Mônica and getting to know her story. It was touching. The sense of purpose, mission and commitment to their students makes hers an example to be followed. I felt compelled to write about it and share this story with as many teachers as possible, as a way to remind them all of the importance and impact their work has in peoples’ lives.

Teaching does change lives – actually, it changes lives exponentially!


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Winning the Headway Scholarship – could you be next?

Natalia with the other 2015 winners and Liz Soars, Headway author. From left to right: Inanc Karagoz (Turkey); Svetlana Kandybovich (Montenegro); Natalia Valentini (Argentina); Liz Soars (Headway author); Elena Ryabova (Russia); Erika Orban (Hungary); Xiaoyan Deng (China).

Natalia with the other 2015 winners and Liz Soars, Headway author.
From left to right: Inanc Karagoz (Turkey); Svetlana Kandybovich (Montenegro); Natalia Valentini (Argentina); Liz Soars (Headway author); Elena Ryabova (Russia); Erika Orban (Hungary); Xiaoyan Deng (China).

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to win the Headway Scholarship, and spend two weeks on an all-inclusive teacher training course at Exeter College in Oxford?

Natalia Valentini, one of our 2015 winners, and Gloria Rossa, one of our 2014 winners, reveal how they found the experience.

This could be you next year – enter today!

Natalia Valentini – Headway Scholarship 2015 winner from Argentina

Every August just after the winter holidays, I’ve been experiencing this burning desire to explore what it is like to live, study or work in a foreign country. As a teacher and translator there came a point in my professional life when I started thinking that in my local context there were no further opportunities for me to make progress in my career.

Anyway, it was not until this summer when I came across this post on the Oxford University Press Facebook site when my luck began to change. The Headway series written by Liz and John Soars were opening a competition for teachers who used the series. I didn’t hesitate to take part in it and I worked for two weeks on my video and PowerPoint® presentation to submit them in due time. And after waiting for 3 months I got an email. The subject line was: “Headway scholarship. Winner!.” The email went on like this: “Congratulations – you are a winner of this year’s Headway Scholarship competition! On behalf of Liz Soars and the Headway Scholarship Foundation, we are delighted to tell you that you have been awarded one of the Headway Scholarships for 2015 which means that you are entitled to a place on the 2-week English Language Teachers’ Summer Seminar at Exeter College in Oxford. Now I couldn’t believe my eyes. It actually said I was entitled to a place -a proper scholarship I would say! And I was one of the lucky ones, together with 5 more teachers from Europe and Asia.

So there I went, off to Oxford for 2 weeks on a Teacher Summer Seminar where I would meet colleagues from over 30 countries to share our experiences and to learn from the best tutors, those whose names we’ve been reading on the covers of the coursebooks we use. I know, I know… lucky me!

Read Natalia’s full blog here

Gloria in Oxford

Gloria in Oxford

Gloria Rossa, Headway Scholarship 2014 winner from Argentina

I have a confession to make: I fell head over heels in love with England the moment I set foot in it. I must say tears ran down my cheeks when the plane landed. The flight had been long – 13 hours! – yet quiet and interesting.
It was a night flight, but I didn’t get to sleep much – I was so excited! I arrived at Heathrow Airport at 6:30 am on Sunday, 27th July, 2014. I went through Customs and Passport Control very quickly. Friendly staff, documents and letter of recommendation from Exeter College OK, no problem at all.

The trip from London to Oxford was charming. It was a nice summer morning and there wasn’t much traffic due to the early hour.

I’m a quite shy person. Many people don’t know this, but I have to overcome a series of personal obstacles whenever I want to approach someone and say “Hello!” -and when you are in an English-speaking country for the first time in your life and you´re not a native speaker, this is even harder! However, I must have turned into a completely different person on arrival at Exeter, for it was so easy for me to start talking to the others. Everybody seemed so friendly and happy to be there! Anyway, getting used to the variety of accents was particularly difficult for me: there were 60 teachers attending the seminar, and we were from 20 different countries. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? I had never lived such a cosmopolitan experience in my whole life!

Read Gloria’s full blog here

The Headway Scholarship 2016 is open now. You could win a 2-week all-inclusive teacher training course in Oxford in July 2016. Enter today!

The Headway Scholarship is made possible through the generosity of John and Liz Soars.


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Why enter the Headway Scholarship competition?

There’s only one month left to submit your Headway Scholarship entry and have the chance to win a 2-week all-inclusive teacher training course at Oxford University.

But why should you enter? We asked some of last year’s winners to share their top 7 reasons why you should apply for the Headway Scholarship.

The top 7 reasons why you should apply for the Headway Scholarship:

Gloria-NewGloria Rossa

  1. Professional development and personal growth
  2. Experiencing life in an English-speaking country
  3. Studying in a renowned Oxford University college, with top yet humble tutors
  4. Increasing self-esteem and feeling a sense of accomplishment
  5. Meeting teachers from different countries and sharing teaching experiences with them
  6. Meeting one of the inspiring Headway authors, Liz Soars, and sharing teaching anecdotes with her
  7. Practising English in an academic environment and getting used to a variety of accents

Gloria also writes her own blog, My English World, in which she discusses her Headway experience in more detail. A great resource for anyone considering applying for the Scholarship!

Marianne ChavarriaMarianne Chavarria

  1. First of all, Oxford is a magical place, full of ancient buildings and stunning colleges, with colorful gardens and parks that invite you to relax and enjoy nature.
  2. Second, having the opportunity to meet teachers from all over the world, developing friendship ties, partnership and creating a great chance for learning from everyone’s culture.
  3. Third, improving my professional development by learning new techniques and tools to apply in my teaching practice.
  4. Fourth, developing my language skills by practicing everyday with people with different accents and backgrounds.
  5. Fifth, having the reliability that all members from OUP, The Department for Continuing Education from Oxford University and IP Teachers’ Team will do a great job in organizing a pleasant journey, an optimal stay and a worthy experience for teachers.
  6. Sixth, the workshops are given by professional teacher trainers that are very well prepared, full of expertise and willing to share their knowledge and promote our professional growth.
  7. Last but not least; learning to trust a little bit more in myself, in the fact that I am capable to participate and win in this kind of competitions, and be a proud ambassador for two weeks for my country.

Magya DygalaMagya Dygala

Magda couldn’t pick just 7 reaons, so here are her 8 top reasons!
As it comes to these 7 reasons, I guess I could enumerate at least 20 of them but I will try to make it shorter… Oxford was, is and always will be a place where my heart belongs. I will quote here Aung San Suu Kyi who described Oxford in such a beautiful way:
‘The past is always there, it never goes away,
but you can select what is best from the past
to help you go forward to the future…’

  1. Having a chance to meet the incredible and warm person, the author of Headway – Liz Soars
  2. Getting professional experience and knowledge from amazing Oxford tutors.
  3. A chance of a lifetime – meeting new people from all over the world and sharing teaching experience with them.
  4. Making friends for life
  5. Having a chance to experience being ‘out of the box’ (out of your country) in an English speaking country.
  6. Having a pleasure to have classes and dine at 700 year old Exeter College.
  7. Experience living in a place where past meet present, and every building has its own history.
  8. Last but not least, make your DREAMS come true and believe in yourself more

IrinaIrina I. Krestianinova

Well, it’s been twice Headway was a turning point in my both professional and personal life.

The first time was when I started teaching with it twenty years ago. That is where the FIRST reason why I applied for the Headway scholarship 2014 comes from. My essay was meant to be a thank-you to Liz and John Soars and the Headway team. I mean people who do the extraordinary work should know there is at least one person who highly appreciates the significance of this work. I mean it!

The second turning point was a two-week course at Exeter College, Oxford in Aug 2014. And this is the SECOND, as well as the THIRD, the FOURTH, the … reason why I would strongly recommend taking part in the competition.

  1. Just at the moment you arrive in Oxford and open the heavy old oak door to Exeter College, you feel you are in the right place and at the right time;
  2. You become a part of the community, the fellowship of 60 people from 33 countries from all over the world. People who come from absolutely different social, political, religious, and cultural backgrounds, but who, in just two weeks, manage to create their own tiny world full of patience, tolerance, and love. People who you might not see ever again, but who have come into your life and will stay forever;
  3. Every day in the course, though thoroughly planned and scheduled, is absolutely unpredictable. Every day with a lecture, workshops, social activities, free time, and whatever, is an amazement, even for a person who is hardly prone to be amazed;
  4. Great, inspiring and motivating lecturers, course  tutors and students who shape you in some way. You try to pick up something from everybody. You then introduce it into your classroom back home and realize that both you and your students really love your new shape;
  5. taking part in the competition for the Headway scholarship, no matter if you win or not, is sure to give you the greatest sense of achievement: you’ve managed to come out of your comfort zone to find out the new surrounding is much more comfortable;
  6. and in the end you feel you’ve lived another life, no way better or worse than your usual one, but, anyway, different. You’ve been an Oxford student for at least two weeks and in that way you’ve become at least some tiny part of its tremendous history.

Do you still need convincing? Liz Soars, author of Headway, explains why she and John set up the Headway Scholarship 11 years ago:

Start your entry today by visiting our Headway Scholarship competition page! Deadline: 8th March 2015.

The Headway Scholarship is made possible through the generosity of John and Liz Soars.


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How to give an effective presentation: Part 3 – Deliver

This is the third and final video tip from Ben Shearon, the Stretch Presenting Skills Consultant, as he shares his advice to help students enter The Stretch Presenting Skills Competition 2014-15 and become more comfortable and confident public speakers.

With less than one month to go until the competition closes, Ben demonstrates how to deliver a presentation with confidence:

 

It’s the last chance for you and your young adult/adult students to take part in The Stretch Presenting Skills Competition 2014-15!

One of your students could win a two week all-expenses paid scholarship to Regent Oxford, a renowned English school in Oxford, as well as a class set of Stretch for you. Expand students’ public speaking skills, improve their English, and get them presenting in class!

Closing date: January 2, 2015. Enter today!

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