Website bermanfaat untuk belajar bahasa Inggris

Mengingat banyak pembelajar bahasa Inggris yang berkunjung ke blog ini, saya berpikir akan sangat berguna jika daftar website yang bermanfaat di bawah ini bisa dibagi juga di sini. Beberapa website yang disebut merupakan saduran dari blogpost @EnglishTips4U#EngTalk #EngTips: list of useful English learning websites.

General English






Kamus bahasa Inggris




Soal-soal latihan


Social media belajar bahasa Inggris








Daftar ini akan terus disunting dan ditambah. Punya daftar yang lain? Silakan bagi di kolom komentar ya. Jangan lupa juga, like dan share. 🙂

Practicing making questions with Past, Present, Future Simple using biographies of famous people

This is a simple activity if you want your students to practice making questions (or other activities that use the same tenses) in Past, Present, and Future tenses. There are 2 notions behind this activity:

  1. Tenses are usually taught separately and in isolation from each other. Inspired by Bloom’s Taxonomy, I was trying to apply an activity where students could make comparison between tenses. In this case because they have learned Present Simple, Past Simple, and Future Simple, thus this activity was created.
  2. After reading about Whole Language approach in language teaching and the importance of using authentic instead of artificial (read: textbook like) materials, I was intrigued to use more authentic materials in my class. The biography used here is an example.

Few notes before you do this activity:

  1. Make sure students have already learned about the 3 tenses and done some other necessary activities to practice them.
  2. Choose biography of a famous person who is still alive, because you need your students to also make predictions about the biographee’s life in the future to practice Future Simple Tense.
  3. You can choose to use biography in form of text, video, or the combination of the 2 where different types of skills are in practice.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I used Bill Gates’ (mini) biography from’s YouTube channel.
  2. Before viewing the video, students were divided into pairs.
  3. Students watched the biography, twice (more if you like).
  4. Each pair was instructed to make 3 questions using Past Simple, basically making questions about Bill Gates’ past.
  5. Before the next task, members of the group were swapped.
  6. Each pair was then instructed to make another 3 questions, this time using Present Simple, asking about Bill Gates’ current life.
  7. Members of the group were again swapped.
  8. Each pair for the last time was instructed to make 3 questions using Future Simple, making predictions about Bill Gates’ future.

At the end of the question making, you can ask students to either correct other groups’ questions or answer them. Here are some questions my students made, with few additions from me:

Past Simple Tense:

  1. Where was Bill Gates born?
  2. When did he found Microsoft?
  3. Did he drop out of school?

Present Simple Tense

  1. What does he do now?
  2. What is the name of his foundation?
  3. Is he a creative person?

Future Simple Tense

  1. What will Bill Gates do in 2014?
  2. Who will replace his position?
  3. Will he go bankrupt?

I hope this is useful for you. Don’t forget: like, share, comment. 🙂

Practicing Past Simple Tense with Ladder Race (Game) and Story Writing

Just like my other blogposts under the tag teaching ideas, in this blogpost I am sharing activities that I used in my class for other English teachers to use and be inspired from. If you are reading this and interested in applying the activities described here, you are free to do so with customization and other changes based on your own needs.

There are two activities that I did described in this blogpost to practice Past Simple Tense. Please note that material presentation for Past Simple Tense had already been done before conducting these activities.

1. Ladder Race (game)

Perhaps you’ve heard about this game before, perhaps you haven’t. I tried to find a blog or website that gives description about the game but there was none. So let me explain it in case you don’t know.

Illustration of Ladder Race (game)

Illustration of Ladder Race (game)

  1. What you need: a board (white or black).
  2. Divide the class into 2 groups, let’s say Group A and Group B.
  3. Draw a ladder-like table like shown in the image above, together with numbers, 1 to 10, from bottom to top. The numbers represent the words each group has to race to write on the board.
  4. Start the game by writing the first word based on the category you play. In this case our focus was practicing Past Simple Tense, so the category was Verb 2 or Past Simple of the verb.
  5. Members from each group have to continue writing the second, third, fourth, etc. word by using the last letter from the previous word. For example, the first word is MET, so the next team member has to write a word that begins with the letter “T”. In the image, Group A wrote TOOK, Group B wrote TOLD.
  6. Both groups can’t use the same words. Group discussion is allowed. The first group to finish completing the ladder (1-10) wins.

2. Story Writing

The story writing is still done in groups. Each group, within a limited time frame, has to create a short story with all the 10 words that they have gathered in the first activity, the Ladder Race game. The story has to make sense and each group can decide the theme and topic to whatever they feel suitable with the vocabulary they have.

However, words that have been written by the groups are swapped before they begin the story writing. For example, words that are written by Group A will be given to Group B, vice versa. So each group must use words from the opponent team. Here’s a short story made by my students (Group B) using words from Group A. I found the story quite interesting and funny. They have surely done a good job.

Students' work in story writing using the Past Simple

Students’ work in story writing using the Past Simple

I hope this blogpost is useful. Leave your comment, like, or share. 🙂

Teaching “Will vs. Going to” with YouTube videos

It was only recently that I started making ‘contact’ with YouTube in terms of English Language Teaching (ELT). You can read my first experience in using YouTube here. Drawn by the successful attempt, I decided to give YouTube another try. This time with other grammar points: Will vs. Going to (Future Simple Tense). The activity consisted of 2 parts and used 4 videos: the first 3 videos were used as the explanatory videos for “Will vs. Going to” and the last video for writing (productive skill) practice using the 2 grammar points.

The steps are as below:

1. Students watch the first video about the use of ‘will’. The video contains some funny scenes so my students were quite entertained. You can choose to pause and play as the video contains several conversations and scenes. The video can also be used for other types of activities (listening, fill in the gaps, summary writing, etc.).

2. Worksheet is given to students and teacher explains a little bit about the use of ‘will’. Students are given time to do the worksheet while teacher guides, but only the ‘will’ part (the left-hand side). Download the worksheet that I made and used here Will vs. Going to Worksheet.

3. Students continue watching the second video about the use of ‘going to’. The form of this video is almost the same with the first one: it contains several conversations and scenes. It’s funny too.

4. After watching the second video, teacher explains about the use of ‘going to’ a little bit and students are asked to continue doing the second part of the worksheet (the ‘going to’ part). Again, teacher’s guide and assistance in students’ completing the worksheet is essential.

5. After finishing with ‘will’ and ‘going to’ in the worksheet, teacher prompts the question: “So what’s the difference between will and going to?” Students try to answer the question and teacher confirms it (explanation can be found in the worksheet). Third video is played.

6. After gaining understanding about the difference of ‘will’ and ‘going to’, students are asked to practice using the grammar units — again, with a YouTube video. I was trying to find a short video or movie about how the future will look like, but ended up with this video “What Will Clothes Look Like in the Future?” about the future of clothes. It is quite interesting and my students also found it quite amusing (so did I!).

7. So what’s the instruction for the practice? Students watch the very short documentary twice (or as many as you like depending on students’ level), then in pairs they have to write a summary about the documentary using ‘will’ and going to’. The aim of this practice is so students can make predictions about the future using ‘will’ and ‘going to’. Sentences should start with ‘will’ and ‘going to’ like these:

  1. There will …
  2. There is going to …
  3. The clothes will …
  4. The clothes are going to …

Here’s an example made by a group.

Students' work: Will vs. Going to

Students’ work: Will vs. Going to

Well, that’s all. I hope you find this blogpost useful. If you have comments or suggestions, or perhaps other brilliant ideas to teach grammar, feel free to drop me a comment. Thank you. 🙂

Practicing the imperative and modal auxiliaries with The White Stripes’ We’re Going to be Friends

Do you know this song?

I didn’t know this song until after I desperately asked for some suggestions on songs I could use to teach on my Twitter and a friend suggested me this. At the same time I was teaching the imperative and modal auxiliaries to my business English students. After watching the suggested video (the real music video from the band looks far more depressing than this one here) and reading the lyrics, I found the two grammar points were used a number of times.

Since the activity uses song as its media, the practice eventually incorporates listening as part of the grammar practice. Listening, just like reading, is considered to be an important input in the process of second language learning. Besides that, my other aim of using the song is to also show my students that grammar is not a separable unit or entity in a language. We can find it in speech and utterance, even songs. Hopefully this can motivate them to pay more attention to grammar.

The procedure of the practice involves listening, fill in the gaps activity, and followed by grammar and short writing practice. All of these activities are done individually but at the end of the listening activity they are allowed to discuss their findings. Because the topic of this song is about school, I believe school teachers can definitely use this song too. Here’s how I did the practice and other aspects about it.

Steps I applied during the practice

  1. Students watch the music video. This is done to entice students and let them grasp the context of the song.
  2. Worksheets are given to students. You can download the worksheet I made and used here We’re Going to be Friends Lyrics Worksheet.
  3. The music video is played 3 times while students are listening to the song and filling the gaps in the worksheet.
  4. Time to check students’ work! Students discuss and read (or sing) the lyrics aloud. There are many ways we can do to check students’ work. We can ask different students to read or sing the lyrics aloud one verse at a time, they read aloud or sing together, etc.
  5. By the fourth time they listened to the song, they could sing it. So we decided to sing together as the closing activity before we went to the next tasks: grammar and writing.
  6. Students do the grammar task in group or individually, then complete the activity by doing the writing task individually.

Why this activity is good

  1. According to Dr. Krashen, lowering stress means achieving more learning. Listening to songs can certainly make students feel more relaxed in classroom and help them enjoy the learning process.
  2. Choosing songs with the right tempo is also important. As their first listening activity, this song really suited my students well.
  3. Students can practice grammar from things that are familiar to them and their world — songs. It is hoped that they will be able to apply the practice on their own time.

Tips on using songs for grammar practice

  1. Choose songs that are appropriate to your students’ level, the tempo and difficulty level of the lyrics.
  2. Find songs in which the lyrics contain grammar points you are going to practice. It takes time but it’s worth it.
  3. Beware of lyrics and music videos that contain explicit content. Same concern I mentioned some time ago in my previous post.

So, what do you think about using songs to practice grammar? Are you interested in applying the same or similar activity in your class? Or do you have other ideas? Let me know by leaving your comments. 🙂

Pages you can use as additional handouts for pre-activity:

The imperative

Modal Verbs

Dear guru bahasa Inggris Indonesia: ini PR kita bersama

Tulisan ini sebenarnya hasil unek-unek yang saya tuangkan di akun Twitter saya, @NenoNeno, pada tanggal 22 Agustus 2013. Niatnya saya chirpify tapi karena lama tidak ngeblog, jadi lebih baik saya pindahkan ke sini saja.

Jika menurut Anda apa yang saya sampaikan di sini mengandung ketidakbenaran, silakan dikoreksi atau tinggalkan. Karena saya tidak ingin mengubah isinya, maka penulisan dan bahasa saya biarkan seperti sebagaimana yang saya tulis di Twitter.

Semoga bermanfaat. Syukur-syukur menjadi bahan renungan.

“Lama-lama risih jg memang lihat guru bahasa Inggris yg banyak salah grammar. Sayangnya bahasa Inggris memang bukan content subject.

@cath_mw: how come? mereka lokal atau native? kata temen yg di jkt, ada juga native yg ga menguasai grammar.

Bukan ‘menguasai’ grammar secara teori, mbak.
Tp menggunakannya dgn baik dan benar dlm speaking/writing. That’s why it’s a skill. @cath_mw

Content subject: mata pelajaran yg dipelajari utk dapat informasi (sejarah, biologi, dsb). Smtr bahasa Inggris = skill (ketrampilan).

Tp kalo misal syarat guru bahasa Inggris nilai TOEFL-nya harus minimal 600 mungkin ada banyak banget guru Indonesia yg bakal ‘terpangkas’.

Plus gosipnya kalo kuliah di jurusan pendidikan bahasa Inggris ga semua perkuliahan pake bahasa Inggris (kalo saya salah tolong dicerahkan).

@tionovita: saya kuliah Pendidkan Bahasa Inggris, dan emang ga semua perkuliahan pake Bahasa Inggris. Parahnya, ada mata kuliah yg ga penting.

Smtr bahasa itu didapat (acquired), bukan cuma dipelajari (learned). Utk mahir prosesnya bisa panjang, biar maksimal biasanya sejak kecil.

Bayangkan.. Calon guru bahasa Inggris masuk kuliah.. Sblmnya ga terekspos bahasa Inggris dan ketrampilan minim. Smtr kuliah cuma 4 tahun..

Jd.. Ini kyk ‘membentuk’ orang utk jd guru bahasa Inggris cuma dlm waktu 4 tahun & stlh itu mereka dilepas utk jd ‘panutan’ murid-muridnya.

@angelaamoy: iya betul mba, 4tahun itu ga cukup. Aku aja ngerasa masih kering ilmu, dan masih sering ikut course buat referensi mengajar. 🙂

Makanya ga heran akhirnya banyak cerita guru ngajar bahasa Inggris pake bahasa Indonesia sepanjang pelajaran atau ngajarin sesuatu yg salah.

Ditambah lagi perilaku guru (biasanya yg udah tua) yg merasa dia tau segalanya jd ga usah belajar lagi. Ilmu dan skill ga pernah ke-upgrade.

Di kurikulum 2013 jam pelajaran bahasa Inggris utk SMP/SMA dikurangi & utk SD ditiadakan (ga wajib). Ini jd kayak lingkaran setan.. Ngerii.

Anak-anak yg kurang terekspos bahasa Inggris ini nanti dewasa jd guru bahasa Inggris dan akhirnya ujung-ujungnya jd guru spt yg td. Ngerii..

Yg lebih ngeri lagi adalah keadaan ini (banyak guru bahasa Inggris dr Indonesia yg ga berkualitas) bikin celah utk guru-guru asing masuk.

Saya ga bilang guru penutur asli itu jelek atau ga perlu. Tp imbasnya ke persaingan tenaga kerja di dlm negeri — yg kadang ga masuk akal.

Gaji guru penutur asli (biasanya dr negara-negara asal bahasa Inggris) di lembaga kursus biasanya 3-4x lipat guru Indonesia utk entry level.

Yg bikin ga masuk akal bukan ketrampilan bahasa Inggrisnya (jelas ‘bule’ takdirnya dr lahir udah pake bahasa Inggris dong ya, pastinya fasih).

Tp kualifikasi mereka di luar ‘bisa bahasa Inggris’. Sama aja spt menjeneralisasi semua orang Indonesia pasti bisa ngajar bahasa Indonesia.

Kenyataannya mengajar itu perlu ketrampilan khusus. Saya banyak contoh kok ‘guru’ penutur asli yg ga suka ngajar, malah asal-asalan banget.

Tapi walo ‘asal-asalan’ gitu gaji mereka 4x di atas saya dong.. Bagi kalangan guru bahasa Inggris di Indonesia ini udah bukan rahasia lagi.

Saya masih respek sama guru penutur asli yg mengajar bahasa Inggris krn dia menikmati itu, punya gelar di bidang yg sesuai, dan kompeten.

Banyak kah guru penutur asli yg kompeten spt ini? Banyak.. Banyak kah guru penutur asli yg ga kompeten dan asal-asalan? Banyak juga..

Jd sama kayak guru Indonesia jg. Jd mentang-mentang ‘bule’ jangan langsung ‘takluk’ (baca: percaya 1.000%). Cari tau/tanya kualifikasinya, pengalamannya, dsb.

Jangan cuma orang dalam negeri, Indonesia, yg terus-terusan dipertanyakan/diragukan kualifikasinya. Kualat banget sama negeri sendiri..

Kalo cuma pengen temen ngobrol penutur asli, mending ke internet, cari temen chatting, jangan ke tempat kursus. Tempat kursus buat belajar.

Jadi apa nih intinya? Intinya apa? Pesan utk para calon & guru bahasa Inggris: PR-mu banyak. Belajar bahasa Inggris, pengajaran, pendidikan.

Bahasa Inggris skrg statusnya lingua franca. Cepat/lambat kualitas guru ga akan lagi dilihat dr warna kulitnya. Kita harus ambil momen itu.”

Dear students, this is what your homework really means to you

I was so embarrassed… To have given a speech in front of my class. But it was a speech I had to give.

Last week, a student from my business English class complained about me giving too much homework. I have to say this is a typical issue in adult classes. I understand they have lots on their plates: work, family, spouse (husband/ wife), kids, other stuff in other places, etc. In the past, what I usually did was let them get away with it. I would usually just give in to the idea that they should not be given any homework. But not today. Not again. So, what was the homework actually about?

I asked them to do pair work to present a topic on English tenses. Each group was assigned to prepare and present one tense based on the number they got. I mentioned about this assignment on this blog a little bit here. The presentation did not have to be perfect (probably only according to my point of view). I let them find their own materials and make the presentation outside class, and they did not have to prepare any handout. The supervision was done at the presentation.

When you teach at school, it’s easier to give your students homework. However, when you teach a group of adults, they will have all the reasons not to do it. Usually the higher their position is in the company, the more reasons they have to avoid doing it. To some extent, some adult students also think (probably because they are used to other people do the work for them?), that the success of their learning relies solely on what their teacher can make of them.

For all we know, as an English teacher, this kind of mindset is a bit… misleading. I believe, just like the Chinese proverb, teachers open door but students must enter by themselves. They have to be actively involved in and responsible for their own learning. And so with a smile and a bit of wrinkles on my forehead, I replied:

“English is not a content subject where you can read a book one night and suddenly speak English the next day. One needs to constantly keep in contact with the language. We only have two times 90 minutes a week. Do you really think that your English will improve in just 3 hours a week? I personally think as an English teacher, no, it won’t. That’s why I’m giving you homework. The homework functions as a bridge. The bridge to connect the time you learn in class and outside class. So you will not forget that you are learning English when you’re not here.

This is not the first time I teach adult class, and I’ve seen many classes I taught did not give significant change in my students’ English. And I don’t want that to happen. Again. Especially to this class. I learned my lesson. Do you want this class to be effective? Do you want your learning to be successful? Well, I’m sorry that I have to break the truth: there’s no shortcut to success. You have to do the hard work. If you have a particular goal, I’m pretty certain you will somehow do anything possible to reach that goal. And I hope that’s what you do in this English class.

And so about the homework? That’s all for you, not for me.”

Do you think I am doing the right thing? Do you think that some tough love is necessary in teaching? Let me hear your thoughts. 🙂