What does it take to be successful?

(Reading 1 Course for English Majors at HCMC Open Uni)

Take a look at my classroom’s board notes on success – a classic theme that is never absent from any English coursebooks for EFL learners.

Can you guess what we were talking about?


Yeah I mentioned the seven habits of highly effective people, self control (the marshmallow test), grit and deep practice (the 10.000 hour rule)

For each subtopic listed above I assigned group presentations.

I didn’t make the board illustrations. Students all by themselves. I simply asked them to support their PowerPointless presentations by doodling. The doodle idea works like a charm, and I’m thankful for having attended the online webinar on creativity hosted by Alan Maley, British Council a few months ago.

Back to the session, I ended the discussion by neatly jotting down the small-size talent on the bottom right corner of the board. Had to squat writing but heard some giggles, owing to my unfamiliar posture?

I supposed my fresh undergraduate minds had been notified of the true status of talent – the last, the lone and the least important attribute – when we were trying to portray success.


Reading Activities

Here comes the most useful reading activities to bring fun, surprise and engagement to your static classroom:

Photo credit: http://www.cmrls.lib.ms.us/srp%202008%20web%20banner.jpg
Photo credit: http://www.cmrls.lib.ms.us/srp%202008%20web%20banner.jpg
  1. Running Dictation: print texts on a wall a few meters from student B who has questions and asks student A who then runs back and forth to find answers. Variation: you can use the projector to show the text. Student B sits with their back to the board.
  1. Synonym Race: I’m not sure with TOEFL IBT reading but for IELTS students have to look for synonyms. Choose one paragraph. Show it on the projector screen. Give synonyms. Students then race to find synonyms in the paragraph. Award points to first finishers.
  2. Keyword Bingo Guess: give the title/topic of the text. Cover the text. Ask students to write down 10 words relating to the title/topic. Students then skim/scan the text to check if the text mention their predicted words. Award points to correct guessers.
  3. Text-to-speech: you can use a good text-to-speech software to begin the reading lesson with a listening activity.
  4. Miming: pick one sentence from the text that can be demonstrated via body language J Ask volunteers to learn that sentence and then improvise acting. Peers then guess what that sentence is.
  5. Find an interesting Youtube video relating to the topic. Watch and enjoy!
  6. Banana’: pick one sentence. Choose one keyword in that sentence. Read that sentence aloud, replacing the keyword with the word ‘banana’ Students then guess the original word of ‘banana’.