Using QualityTime-ESL Oral Exercises

Teachers often want to use oral exercises so that students can practice certain grammar points or increase their active knowledge of useful vocabulary. For this reason I am producing three series of podcasts (available on this site and on iTunes) for students, who can thus practice in a lab, in front of a computer or with an MP3 player—either in class or at home.

Three series of podcasts

There are three series: Your English (vocabulary), QualityTime-ESL Podcasts (grammar) and 5-minute TOPs (song lyrics). They are ranked in the top 200 language courses on iTunes in many countries. These free oral exercises provide "active" speaking skills training intended for A2 to C1 learners. You can download them from this site or get them even faster by going on iTunes.

Download them by clicking below to go directly to the pages you need:

Your English (vocabulary/listening comprehension/quizzes)

QualityTime-ESL Podcasts (grammar/pronunciation/vocabulary)

5-minute TOPs (drills based on song lyrics)

You can easily subscribe via iTunes. You just type my name "Marianne Raynaud" in the search window in the upper right-hand corner of the 1st screen on iTunes. If you subscribe, each time I post a new podcast you will get it automatically.

You can also use these RSS feeds to get past podcasts and all the new ones I produce:

Your English
QualityTime-ESL 5-minute TOPs

Working on grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary

My first series is QualityTime-ESL podcasts}. I will soon have produced over 70 podcasts on a wide variety of grammar and vocabulary points. These are the points I consider most important. I believe it is essential to speak English correctly with an accent that is comprehensible in most countries of the world. The podcasts do not follow a set order, so teachers can use them according to their needs. They may seem very easy at first—particularly if you read the transcripts, but doing these exercises orally without reverting to the text will prove challenging for most students, even at higher levels (B2-C1).

I am producing two other series. Your English is less systematic and offers many different themes: dialogs, narratives, listening comprehension and pair work exercises, quizzes, pronunciation practice, spelling, numbers, poems, etc. in order to work on vocabulary and correct usage. 5-minute TOPs is my third series where I offer exercises based on song lyrics.

The easiest and quickest way to download these podcasts

The best way to download these podcasts is to go to iTunes and find my different series. Then you click on “subscribe” and you will immediately get on your computer the latest podcast in each series. I suggest you click on “get all”, and in just a matter of minutes you will have the whole series on your computer. Students can do exactly the same thing on their own computers or on their smartphones. You can select and then drag and drop a file from iTunes onto your desktop. This is useful if you want to put a file on a pen-drive and then use it in a language lab. By copying the file you can also extract a particular passage, i.e. exercise, or shorten a podcast. You can do this kind of "manipulating" by using Audacity (free editing software).

Using the transcripts

It is useful for the teacher to have a look at the scripts before assigning any of these podcasts or using them in class. It is a quick way to know how your students will be practicing the language you have chosen for their lessons. The transcripts of QualityTime-ESL podcasts 1-5 are provided free of charge, and the others are available at a minimum fee in our store. Once you have paid for the transcripts you can make them available to your students. But there is absolutely NO POINT in having the students READ THE TRANSCRIPTS WHILE THEY ARE DOING THE EXERCISES. Students should use the transcripts either to check their worksheets or when they are doing oral pair work with a partner.

Using the drills in lab work and classroom activities

There are many advantages to having students work on drills in a lab (an audio lab, mobile devices or multimedia). Each student gets a maximum amount of speaking time. Students can stop the recording and go back over a point, if they have not understood it properly or if they have made a mistake. You can easily combine oral work with written work by using the worksheets in lab. Lab work reinforces knowledge and turns passive knowledge into active vocabulary. The main advantage of lab work lies in the fact that all the students are speaking at the same time. You can also introduce the “tutorial system", i.e. have private conversations with one or two students at a time while the others are busy speaking into their microphones while listening through their headsets.

If students are supposed to complete the worksheets and then correct them against the key, chances are this will take half an hour. If you combine this work with a listening comprehension exercise and a fill-in of a popular song, the students will have enough work for an entire hour. During this time the teacher can listen to 3 different students doing individual presentations or 3 times 2 students doing an interview. All these activities (lab work, presentations, interviews) will greatly contribute to increased student talking time.

Classroom work

Teachers do not always have access to a lab or mobile devices though it is true that more and more students have smart phones, and they could use them in English class. But if such devices are not available, teachers can follow other procedures. They can use one laptop with loudspeakers and have the students do the exercises all together or have one student answer at a time. To avoid having the students feel embarrassed, you can ask them to first work on the drills in intensive pair work. One student has the complete script of the podcast and works like a tape-recorder or MP3 player. The other student repeats or transforms sentences as though he or she were in a lab booth. The latter can even fill in the worksheet. There will probably be quite a bit of laughing and giggling at first. But they will soon settle down and do the oral work effectively as classroom exercises. They will, after a short whole, feel far more at ease and consequently stay focused and work seriously much longer. During this pair work the teacher walks around the room offering help and encouragement.

Podcasts as assignments with follow-up work

You can of course get your students to do independent oral work on their own outside of class by assigning the podcasts. In that case it is best to indicate a particular podcast and have the students do follow-up work in the classroom. One idea for the follow-up work is to distribute the script to each pair of students and have them do parts of the podcast—as mentioned above—imitating the voice of the recording. The teacher can easily move around the classroom to see who has done the work seriously before coming to class. This should be part of the evaluation system. The role of the teacher is also to correct pronunciation—which can be done on an individual basis.

To purchase the scripts and worksheets

We suggest you go to the page on QualityTime-ESL podcasts, Your English podcasts}or 5-minute TOPs to listen to some podcasts and look at the sample transcripts and worksheets. If you are interested in purchasing the sets of transcripts and worksheets, go to the section DVDs (Book-Podcasts-Film)}. For more information about our other products head to the store}.

These podcasts plus ALL the transcripts and worksheets are included in QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book}, which costs €29. The downloadable version includes transcripts and worksheets for QualityTime-ESL podcasts 1-20 and Your English podcasts 1-20}. It sells for €14.99.

QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book} will enable you to create easily your own workbooks and ensure your students get maximum "student talking time".

Best wishes,

Marianne Raynaud

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