Lots of language teachers have second jobs. Many English teachers work in more than one school. I’ve even met English teachers who were also tourist guides, translators or musicians. Now I can add illusionists to that list.
I met Téo Elfo in São Paulo earlier this year, when he attended an OTA training course for English teachers. During the breaks I noticed that he always had a pack of cards in his hand and I duly asked him about it. He told me that as well as being an English teacher he was a keen illusionist, and that he always carried cards, balls or some other magician’s props in his pockets. At the end of the session he showed the group one of his tricks – something to do with magically appearing and disappearing red balls – and impressed us all. I remember thinking how much his young students must appreciate the fact that their English teacher was a magician. What a brilliant way to motivate students.
Not long ago Téo posted a terrific video of an illusion online. The trick involves the eyebrow-raising juxtaposition of Fruit Loops and dental floss and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be just the kind of thing that my own students would appreciate. Earlier today I showed a group of eleventh grade elementary students the video – and they loved it.
Letters to the Magician
I then asked them to write down their reactions to the video in order to send them to the illusionist himself. The students were clearly motivated by the fact that the person they were writing to was a ‘real person’ known to the teacher. I told them that if we were lucky, we might even get a response – perhaps in the shape of another magic trick from our Brazilian maestro. I collected the responses together and sent them to Téo.
Moments later – abracadabra! – I had a response. Téo was really pleased and promised to send a reply to the students. Even better, he’s going to dedicate a video trick to the group.
It was great to be able to use this video with an elementary group. It’s short, there’s no talking, it’s very easy to follow and yet there is a wealth of things to discuss and describe. With this group, we reacted to the impact of the trick; equally we could have described the sequence of actions, using the present simple, linking adverbs and prepositions of place.
Here is another idea for using the video in class (intermediate level):
Before showing the video
– Pre-teach the words Fruit Loops and dental floss.
– Ask: how would fruit loops and dental floss usually be used together? (Eat the fruit loops, then floss.)
– Can you think of any other (creative) ways to use them? (as fishing bait, pendulum, decoration, etc.)
After watching the video
– How (on earth!) did he do it?
– Write sentences using must have, can’t have and might have
– Write to the magician 🙂
What do you think about using tricks in the English lesson? Have you got any good ideas?