iPad Lessons for English Conversation Class
The following exercises and activities provide students with the opportunity to use the target language in a natural and real-world environment to accomplish specific goals other than simply using the language. Most of these activities are suitable for pairs, small groups, or the whole class using a main front screen. Not all activities require an Internet connection. The work around for those that do is to assign the Internet search portion for homework and have the students come prepared with the information they need to do the remainder of the assignment. It is most convenient to use school-provided devices for the activities as this allows the teacher to control their use by preloading each device with the necessary information and formatted for each assignment.
These activities require a wireless internet connection in the classroom. If a connection is not available, the internet portion of the activity can be assigned for homework and the students come prepared with the information necessary to do the remainder of the assignment in class.
(1) Find the App
Students search the web for educational apps for their mobile device and choose an app that would be most fun/useful for them. Each student tells their partner/ group what they found out about the app and why they chose it.
(2) Find An Example
The teacher provides a short description of a picture, e.g. “A young man riding a bicycle in the city.” Students search the web for a picture that fits the description. The descriptions can be increasingly abstract to make the activity more challenging by requiring a search for grammatical terms or expressions used in specified ways. Students may also be directed to find an example of something that relates to or represents a specific cultural trait. Students may be required to explain their choices.
The teacher presents a specific topic pertinent to the class content and students are required to search the web to find more information about the topic. Each student makes questions about the topic from the information they gathered to ask their partner/group who try to answer without going to the web.
Students search for places to visit or restaurants to eat at when travelling overseas. They note their choices and explain. The teacher may provide a worksheet to help with gathering and organizing the information.
(5) Make a List
A topic is chosen, e.g. camping. Students visit web sites of camping equipment and choose items for a camping trip. Items (tent, cookware, lantern, etc.) may be specified by the teacher and a spending limit set. Students compare lists with their partner/group and try to combine choices into one agreed-upon list.
(6) Take a Trip
Students search the web and plan a short trip to an English-speaking country. They choose flights, hotels, things to do, and places to eat and fill in a teacher provided worksheet. Students compare the results in pairs and negotiate to combine their choices into one itinerary for a trip they could actually take.
The focus of these activities is on understanding conversations and oral instructions. Students are required to listen carefully and pick up on oral clues. The emphasis is on building vocabulary, learning new expressions, understanding the natural progression of speech and how conversations develop.
(1) Conversation Puzzle
Preloaded iPads with a photo album of sentences that make a coherent conversation when put together in the correct order. One student sees the A parts and another only the B. Students read their sentences and respond by choosing the correct sentences to continue the dialog.
Students construct original conversations in pairs and record them on their iPads. Pairs exchange iPads, watch the video, and give feedback. The teacher may provide a checklist to focus students on parts of the conversation and to assist in their evaluations.
(3) Follow the Instructions
Pre-teach expressions and vocabulary for mobile devices such as “click,” “touch on the …,” “swipe,” “scroll,” “new window,” etc. Have students start on the same web page. The teacher gives a series of instructions and students attempt to arrive at the correct place.
Students display a map on their mobile device and scroll around from place to place as they follow directions.
(5) Find the Picture
All iPads are loaded with a photo album containing the same pictures arranged in the same order. Students display the photos in grid format and attempt to arrive at the correct picture. For example: “Start at the top right picture. Go down 3 and right 2. If there is a large tree on the left, go up 2. If not go left 1. What picture did you arrive at?”
(6) What’s Going On?
Students listen to a conversation without visuals. They discuss in pairs/groups about where the conversation is taking place, what the people are doing, and/or who the people are, or what their relation to one another is. Students listen again with visuals to check and to make sense of the teacher’s explanation.
These activities are largely based on a question and answer model with visuals. Students ask for and give information with descriptors and practice adding more information and detail.
(1) Expanded Picture
A picture is expanded on the iPad to maximum zoom and projected on the main screen. Students talk about what they see and try to guess what it is. Zoom out in increments and students continue talking about the picture, or the teacher can conduct a question and answer session for lower level classes, until the full picture is finally revealed.
(2) Find the Difference
Students attempt to find the differences between similar pictures through verbal clues without looking at the paired picture. The zoom function may be used on selected parts of the picture for accuracy. Students may make their own pictures by arranging objects on their desks and taking a “before” and “after” picture and then exchanging the paired devices with another pair.
(3) Who’s Picture Is It?
Students put a picture on class iPads. The teacher may specify a category e.g. scenic view, group of people, party, etc. Each student/pair/group gets an iPad with a picture and must guess whose picture they have by asking questions and listening to the responses containing additional information providing clues. The Q&A is done by choosing a predetermined order for question asking and answering and rotating around keeping the order. The student responding will answer from memory about the picture they selected to put on the iPad.
(4) Same Pictures
All iPads are pre-loaded with a photo album containing the same pictures, but in random order. The object is for every student/pair/group to display the same picture on the iPad that the teacher has chosen to display on his/hers by asking questions. The amount of additional information the teacher provides when answering can make the exercise more or less difficult.
(5) Describe the Picture
Load iPads with a photo album of similar pictures of scenery, people, or objects. Student/group A arranges the pictures in a certain order and student/group B attempts to arrange their picture album in the same order by listening to the descriptions and asking questions.
Played as usual. However the advantage with mobile devices is students have easy access to a dictionary function to help with meaning and the teacher may provide a file when using class iPads for students to refer to for hints and help so the game does not stall when the students’ abilities do not match.
These activities provide the students with the opportunity to talk more freely and share opinions.
(1) What’s Next?
Students watch a short video that stops at a thought- provoking scene. They talk in pairs/groups about what will happen or be said next. Hints may be provided by the teacher or student/s in the know.
Students preload their favorite song on the iPad. Pairs/groups listen to a part of the song and they engage in various activities based on that. Activities might be guessing the artist, categorizing the type of music, describing how it makes one feel, etc.
Card and Board Games
These activities are done by projecting a variety of board games or layout of card games on the main screen to be played together with the whole class. These activities can be used to reinforce previously studied language components or to teach new vocabulary and expressions while actively engaging in target language use.
Position an iPad above the game board projecting the image on the main screen at the front of the class. Divide the class into 4 teams that play against each other in typical scrabble fashion. The teacher distributes the tiles and lays them out following the team’s instructions.
Position an iPad to show the layout of cards on a large table. Divide the class into teams. The teacher distributes the cards and places them according to the instructions provided by each team.