Word Puzzles about Transportation and Verbs

I’ve had a little bit of backlog due to not posting my word puzzles for a while, so here’s yet another fresh batch of word puzzles for you and your classes. This time, it’s all about methods of transportation, and about verbs. These two were used in my A1.2 class.

I’m making them available under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence, which means you may use them for teaching as is, without changing anything, without deleting my byline, and without making a profit with them (e.g. by selling them). Print them out and copy them for your students as often as you like:)

And a heartfelt thank you to all the other teaching material creators out there who make their materials available for free use by teachers! I love you, and you make teaching a lot easier!

Word Puzzle A1.2 Modes of Transport

Word Puzzle A1.2 Verbs and Phrasal Verbs (1)


I’m on Patreon!

So those of you who know me know that this is a big step, one that I’ve not taken lightly, and I feel I should explain to you why I did it.

You see, Patreon is a crowdfunding website where people can pledge to pay a specific amount of money every time a creator publishes a new creation, or per month (creator’s choice when he sets up his page). There are musicians, short video creators, artists, photographers, comic artists, and also educators like me, some of which make thousands of dollars each creation/month.

Why am I on there?

I’ve started creating my own teaching materials a while ago, and I’m set on making them all available as OERs (open educational resources, so basically resources that may be used for free for educational purposes) under a Creative Commons licence. I don’t have as much time and energy for this as I’d like, though, and that’s why I set up a Patreon page. Every dollar pledged is a dollar less I’ll have to worry about earning, and thus every pledge helps reduce my stress and frees time and energy to create teaching materials.

I will continue creating materials whether or not I receive any pledges, but I don’t know how fast or slow it will be. If I get even one pledge for a dollar per month, I have to create at least one new material every month (and I will definitely try to create more), and I take suggestions and wishes for what to create next. I know that one material per month doesn’t sound like much, and it probably isn’t, but right now I still have to earn my complete living by teaching, and I’m still in university full-time as well, so I don’t have that much free time available. As (and if) my pledges grow, I will commit to more materials per month, but even without commitment I will try to turn out more.

So…if you think this is a worthy cause to support, or you just want to have someone create specific teaching materials for your ESL class, here’s my Patreon site: http://www.patreon.com/SaoirseOMara.

More Word Puzzles for Teachers

Here’s a new batch of word puzzles for beginners of English as a foreign/second language. This time, they are about everyday objects, and about family and kinship words. These word puzzles are great as a warmer to revise some vocabulary, or as a cool-down at the end of a difficult or long lesson. Have fun with them!

I’m making them available under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence, which means you may use them for teaching as is, without changing anything, without deleting my byline, and without making a profit with them (e.g. by selling them). Print them out and copy them for your students as often as you like:)

And a heartfelt thank you to all the other teaching material creators out there who make their materials available for free use by teachers! I love you, and you make teaching a lot easier!

Word Puzzle A1.1 Everyday Objects (with solutions)

Word Puzzle A1.1 Family Words (with solutions)

The EFL Teacher’s Toolbox (1)

I’m in my fourth year of teaching English as a foreign language at our local Volkshochschule (kind of a community college or trade school). Most of my students are adults, and most of my courses are elementary level (CEFR A1/A2). I usually teach with a textbook including audio CD or MP3. However, there are some additional materials I have gathered by now that I often use to supplement my lessons, and that may be a great addition to any EFL teacher’s toolbox:

1) English Flashcards

My flashcards are illustrated on both sides with both charming pictures and the English word they’re illustrating. They can be used for explaining exercises or creative writing/speaking, for vocabulary teaching, and for other vocabulary games like association games (draw a flashcard and write down as many associated words as you can think of).

2) Taboo Game

Whether you get the original, or a variant, doesn’t matter. I own both the original taboo game and a children’s version with easier words and the possibility to decide between one and four taboo words for each card, which is especially great for beginners or younger students. It works great as a warm-up or as vocabulary repetition (sort the cards before you play), and often at least some of your students will know the rules so they can help you explain them to the others.

3) An Assortment of Dice

Yes, I’m a gamer so I already owned a lot of dice before I started using them in my classroom. However, dice can be great for repeating numbers (playing bingo with a d20 or d%), dates (use a d12 for months and a d30 for the days of the month, although it’s not 100% correct that way), time of day (d12 for the hour and 3d20 or something like that for the minutes), and so on.

4) Emotions Memory

This one is a memory game that was given to us during the presentation of a new series of workbooks based on emotions. It works well as a conversation starter or for creative writing/speaking exercises, but it can also be used for some little acting (build groups, each group has to present their emotion in a short silent sketch of about a minute’s length), or to determine pairs or groups to work together in class.



The Conlang Library Grows

My latest additions will be four books about some major languages of various regions of the world, compiled by Bernard Comrie and published in 1990.Comrie Major Languages

I ordered them from a reseller of used books since the new versions are pretty expensive. There’s also a compilation available which seems to contain all the languages described in these four books, which is less expensive (and also available from resellers), but also over 1,000 pages long. So if you’re thinking you might want to take it with you for reading on the bus, I’d highly recommend getting the four-book collection ^^


Update on My Newest Hobby: Conlanging

I realised that I left you pretty much hanging when it comes to my decision about my bachelor’s thesis. So here’s confirmation: I will write about my first conlang, with a part about the historical background of artificial languages and famous conlangs and auxlangs.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to keep you updated on my conlanging progress much here since I’d run the risk of getting help I can’t properly reference in my paper, so my professor and I decided that I should rather not blog about it while writing my paper. I will publish it afterwards, though, as soon as it’s been graded.

Both the professors I asked about mentoring me (there are two mentors/examiners for a bachelor’s thesis here in Germany who will both grade it in the end) are excited about my project, and I feel I couldn’t ask for better mentors: one of them is the head of our department of phonetics/phonology, and the other one teaches language variation, and has written a grammar of a rather unknown language as her PhD project (plus, she knows a lot about a ton of languages, and not just European languages).

Already got some valuable advice regarding my conlang from both of them, as well as some literature recommendations.

Anyway, for anyone interested in this topic, I can highly recommend the following books as starting points:

  • Okrent, Arika (2010): In the Land of Invented Languages. New York: Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperbacks.
  • Peterson, David J. (2015): The Art of Language Invention. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Rosenfelder, Mark (2010): The Language Construction Kit. Chicago: Yonagu Books.

Warning, though: You might find yourself in too deep to get back out again once this topic has sneaked its way into your mind and heart 😉

The Chinese Challenge (4)

I realised it’s been a while since I updated you on my self-imposed Chinese challenge. Well, to be fair, I haven’t got around to studying much these past days, but my last vocabulary test showed 44 out of 87 words correct (character plus pinyin), and I left out the earlier chapters of my exercise book, where my quota should be close to 100% by now. I knew a total of 48 of these 87 characters, and a whopping 73 pronunciations (the pinyin).

I still have almost four weeks to go and I’ve filled in about half of my exercise book completely (it has lots of squares to practise writing the characters), and only have eight pages left that are still blank.

Fun fact: When I talked to my professor yesterday (one of my mentors for my BA paper), she was shocked by the way I’m trying to learn Chinese, and insisted that I need to read and write in Chinese in order to learn it. While I mostly agree with her, I still think this writing exercise I’m doing at the moment has its merits. I feel a lot more confident writing all those weird lines by now, for example, because my hands have learnt which lines (strokes) need to be grouped, and how, so characters are not a random mess of strokes anymore but rather words consisting of only a few groups of strokes that I use to help memorise the meaning and/or pronunciation. My mnemonic to remember “cat”, for example, is a claw (the radical for “claw”, to the left), cat grass (it contains the radical for “grass”, on the top right), and a box. The character is this:

The pronunciation, well, that’s easy: It’s mao (with the first tone, a flat, high tone).

I’ve been trying to create mnemonics for a lot of the characters, especially the more complex ones, and sometimes it works. Still working on increasing my success quota, though…