Monthly Archives: April 2013

Very, Very Basic Reading with Phonics


Someone sent me these today.  They’re for the absolute beginner reader–preferably one who is obsessed with domestic animals.

Sam Sat

Sam Sat game



David Suzuki’s “Connecting With Nature”


David Suzuki’s website offers a free .pdf download (176 pages) for educators.  You do have to hand over an email address, but the booklet is useful enough that it’s worth it.  You can get the booklet here.

Teachers with higher-level classes can use many of the pages as is for vocabulary, reading, discussion and writing.  Teachers with lower-level classes may have to adapt the activities and reading.  As well, some of the activities just won’t work for online schools.

The students are being taught a lot of this information in school; they will probably be the generation to make the most environmental changes in China.  A few of the older students are becoming quite passionate about the environment and enjoy heated discussions about one’s personal responsibility to the environment.

P.S.  Occasionally, there is an issue with Mr. Suzuki’s heritage.  I try to breeze over the matter by mentioning the multiculturalism of Canada.  If that doesn’t work, I point out that his family has been here for many generations (Wikipedia complies by providing such information).  This matter has only come up once or twice with older students, though.

ESL Games Plus


Awesome new game site for everyone!  (Thanks, Stephanie!)  An easy way to introduce the boring-but-necessary vocabulary.

Crocodile Games would be great for Beginners and Levels 1 and 2.  The games with the light green backgrounds depend on audio (you’ll have to repeat what the game says), and the games with the dark green backgrounds depend on reading. 

The Memory Games are just like the ones on Hangmouse website; best of all, they have a Colours game for those who can’t get the old one to work!

If you have older students at lower levels (or scurvy scalliwags of any age), you can also play Pirate games.

Levels 2 and 3–and maybe even 4–may like the Spelling games

Levels 4 and 5 can beat their heads against the Connector games.

Of course, nothing is perfect: the Crocodile games have annoying background music that I can’t seem to get rid of on my computer.  The Pirate games, though, were nice and silent. 🙂

More Speech Topics


Seeing as our goal is to have the students talking non-stop, here’s another website for speech topics:

Good Speech Topics

This website is good for Levels 4 and 5, and adults.  Even the “easy” speech topics are still a little difficult for our lower-level students; although, you could simplify any of the topics.

Do check the lists before you show them to the students, though: some of the topics are culturally inappropriate for minors in China.  It would be best if you selected a few topics from the list and then gave them the options.

My English Class also has a good post on speech topics.


Mr. Donn


I discovered Mr. Donn more than six years ago.  Actually, I’ve never met Mr. Donn, but I revere him–and owe him my life several times over.

Click here for Mr. Donn’s Social Studies website.

Naturally, Ancient Civilisations are a hit with most students: it’s the main section I use.  Somehow, Zeus threatening people with lightning bolts and Poseidon sinking entire cities are always popular.  The free PowerPoints make things really easy, especially if a student has given orders for a Vulcan story or some such thing.

The students also like to see how English people study Ancient China.  While they’ve laughed at a few things, and corrected some others, there hasn’t been anything that actually contradicts what they’re taught in school.  (Do check new resources before you show them to the students, though, just to make sure they fall within our cultural recommendations.)

I’ve also used the Holidays resources when my students had questions about specific holidays.

Let us know in the comment section if you find anything that works particularly well with certain levels or personalities.


The Light at the End of the Tunnel


Beijing has introduced some new guidelines regarding quantities of homework and the frequency of exams.  This article explains the new rules.

Of course, these rules don’t necessarily take into account the competition that’s still in place: it’s fine to do without homework, but will students still be able to get into good schools, etc?  Some of the parents and teachers don’t think so.

I do have two Beijing students whose schools are making a serious effort to reduce “make work” homework and unnecessary tests.  These students are noticeably more… interesting than the other students, as they have more time to explore their own interests.  They do, however, complain about their homework as much as the other students do. 🙂