Monthly Archives: February 2012

-Materials vs Activities-

Following my last post, I’ve been thinking about what is the difference between activities and materials? It seems that when creating ELT materials using online tools, they can actually turn out to be more of a “facilitator” for task based activities when all is said and done. So it leaves me at this stage a little confused as to when do activities end and ELT materials begin, and then begs the question, are they actually the same thing?

In the case of the activity for Trinity GESE learners in my previous post, the teacher created material component is very minimal being only a starting point (4 photos),  and activities are simply what follow. The learning materials are created more by the students rather than them working through a predefined script. I would say that in this example about 90 percent of the materials will be created by the students themselves, which was the intention to encourage autonomy.  This also leaves me considering  the implications of students creating the learning materials rather than the teacher, and whether in some ways many Web 2.0 applications might actually promote this as opposed to teacher created materials.




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-ELT Materials Tryout 2-

Using Voicethread

Learners: Trinity GESE students Grade 1 (young learners; teenagers).

Aim:  To help consolidate prepositions of place and encourage learner autonomy.

Context: Private language schools UK and overseas.

Students who are studying for Trinity’s Graded English Speaking Exams must demonstrate that they understand basic elementary prepositions of place in the exam.

For young learners and teenagers the following activity could be used when learning prepositions of place using Voicethread.

Stage 1

Students are introduced to the following slides that show a soft toy (Pink Panther) in various prepositional situations: in the corn flake box; under the car; on the toilet; behind the picture.

The prepositions should be elicited from the class.

Stage 2

Students themselves working in pairs or small groups, then chose an object of their own and take photos of it in various prepositional places. A list of prepositions should be handed out that they need to try and cover within the task.

Stage 3

Students then upload their photos to Voicethread but do not leave any comments on their own. Instead, they try to identify correctly, or error correct, the prepositions on other students’ threads and leave comments.


Instead of using an object, students may use each other eg. Silvio is under the desk, Maria is in front of the school, Magda is between Anna and Luigi.

Here is the link to the activity.


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Voicethread experiments

Both myself and Alex have started playing around with Voicethread. I am very impressed with it and think its potential in the language classroom is immense. Here is the link to our threads they are just early experiments which I am hoping to try out with my classes. Will keep you posted!



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Hi my name is David Coulson and I will be working together with Alex on both this blog and the Materials Design module of the MA MALT / TESOL degrees that we are currently studying for. As Alex has mentioned we will be experimenting with a series of design tools and creating materials which we hope to share with you. We will then pilot the materials we create in our classes and report back on the results.

Looking through the tools available for working with photographs one initial idea sprang to mind of creating a ‘What Happened Next?’ activity where students can speculate using may/ might or predict to practice future tenses.

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-ELT Materials tryout 1-

I read through Nik Peachey’s blog where he talks about Voicethread and some examples of how he has used it with students. He also provides some handy tutorial videos on how to get started over at

It is a service which allows you to upload, or link photos, to create a slide show which can then be annotated by users with text comments or recorded audio. I’ve registered for the free service and found it straightforward to use so far.


Students in groups could take several photos to create a storyboard (perhaps in town). Then they could record or write commentary over the top of each photo in the story to help ‘bring them to life’.

Describing and ‘Used to be’

This might be more of follow-up activity after some pre-teaching.

Three pictures of places in town that are now completely different from how they ‘used to be’ in the past. The first three pictures with text comments ask ‘What can you see in this picture?’ and ‘What do you think ‘used to be’ here?’

Following student descriptions of the pictures and speculation (which they can add to the Voicethread commentary), three more are then shown which are the answers. However, students must try to match them to the first three pictures correctly and explain their choices.


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-Welcome to our ELT Materials blog-

I am currently studying for an MA TESOL at Brighton University along with David Coulson (MA MALT), and this blog is primarily to help us develop,  discuss and critically evaluate our work for the Materials Design module run by Paul Slater. I hope that we can use this little corner on the net effectively to give a good account of the overall learning process that we will undergo during the module, as well as using it as a placeholder and refinery for ideas. It should follow that there will be links from this blog to ELT materials created with several offline and online tools. It is an exciting prospect and it feels as if wandering into something of an ‘undiscovered country’, what with the plethora of ever-expanding WEB 2.0 applications available, each with their own potential for ELT and material creation. However, what actually transpires and how the materials will eventually turn out is difficult to say at present.

During the course of this blog, David and I will be working closely together to develop materials. In doing so, we will share our thoughts, discoveries, illuminations (hopefully) and examples of any finished materials as previously mentioned.

Alex Blyth

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