Thursday, December 08, 2016

English for refugees - Describing homes - finding accomodation


Aim - To help refugees with some grasp of English describe and find accommodation Greek city of Thessaloniki

Materials - Photographs of different kinds of housing  either from magazines or via  via smart phone.

Level - Elementary/intermediate.

1 - Ask students to think of their dream/perfect home. You may need a photograph to help get your message across and then describe the place and say why you want to live in this place.

2 - Now elicit suitable vocabulary for describing a home;

Type - e.g. flat/house/villa etc

Size - e.g in  square meters or number of rooms/bedrooms

Location e.g in the centre/suburbs/countryside

Amenities pool/utilities room/garage etc

3 - Write these on the board elicit further terms from the students.

4 - Now students look for a suitable dream home on their smart phones or simply describe it to the person next to them. Students then ask each other why they want to live in this place.

5 - Now draw a floor plan of your own or one you have found on the internet. Label the rooms and facilities, check comprehension.

6 - Students then draw their own present home/previous residence floor plan or for their dream home.

7 - Students then describe their plan.

e,g, It is/was
       It has/had
       I like/liked etc


Aim - To help refugees with some grasp of English describe and find accommodation Greek city of Thessaloniki

Materials - Photographs of different kinds of housing  either from magazines or via  via smart phone and a map of the city..

Level - Elementary/intermediate

1 - In the next lesson recap the language used to describe homes (see part one)


2 - Now divide the students into two groups landlords/landladies and tenants - explain terms.

3 - Now in their groups students think of questions the landlords/landladies and tenants would ask.


e'g How long do you want to stay?
     Do you have pets?
     How many people are there in your family?
     How will you pay the rent?- cash/credit card/direct debit?


e.g Where is the apartment?
      How big is it?
      How many bedrooms does it have?
      How much is the rent?
      Howe much is the deposit? 

4 - Write these and any others on the board so students can see them during the following exercises.

5 - Give out landlords/landladies and tenants role play cards (cut into strips)

6 - Work on vocabulary issues and either assign roles at random or ask student to choose their own roles. 

7 - Students write down/copy suitable questions and practice them in pairs.

8 - Now students stand up and the landlords/landladies go to one corner of the room and tenants to the other. Explain that the tenants are looking for accommodation and the landlords/landladies have properties in and around Thessaloniki. Remind students that in Greece prices are often are negotiable so they can haggle/negotiate things such as cost of rent.

You may also need to pin up a large  map of the city to help students understand where the properties are located

9 - Student try to find suitable property/tenant. Encourage students to try more than one option.

10 Students then explain how they made their choice to the class.

11 - If time permits students swap roles.

In the next lesson students can repeat the exercise using their real life details in order to recap.

Clashes between anarchists and riot police in the centre of Thessaloniki, Greece's second city.

6th December marks the 8th anniversary of the killing of a 15 year old Greek teenager, Alexis Grigoropoulos in central Athens district of Exarchia. Within hours violent protests swept the country and for weeks afterwards Greece saw clashes between demonstrators and riot police.

Every year the events is commemorated, often violently.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sunday, December 04, 2016

English for refugees - Giving directions

Aim - To help refugees with some grasp of English give and understand directions as well as talk about locations in the city of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Materials - A map of the city either on paper or via Google Maps via smart phone.

Level - Elementary/intermediate.

Before the lesson begins, choose a nearby shop/cafe/office that the students are likely to know or have seen.

1 - Ask the students if they know the shop/cafe/office you have chosen. 

2 - Now ask them where it is and how I can get there.

3 - Write these phrases on the board Turn, left, turn right, go straight on, stop

4 - Explain to the students they are going to play a game and that they need to get into teams of 2-4 people each. In each group one person is going to be blindfolded (students can use hats/scarves/hooded coats etc and the other students will be giving them directions in order to reach a particular point in the classroom. You may need to demonstrate this yourself and get students to give you directions,

5 - Stand in the corner of the classroom and students in another corner. Now their fellow team members shout out directions so they can reach you. 

6 - Play the game 2-3 more teams with different team members blindfolded.

7 - Now ask students to once again elicit language used to give directions. Use mime and example as well as drawings ti explain them.

e,g It's on the left/right/next to/near/opposite/behind/in front of/on the corner/at the supermarket/cross/go past etc.

8 - Students write down how to get to their bus stop from the building or how to get to a supermarket/shop etc from their home.

9 - Now students explain to each other the directions they've written (if they can without looking at their notes).

10 Hand out a map of the city or ask students to look it up on Google Maps on their phones and write some nearby landmarks on the board.

Aristotelous Square/Kamara/ The sea front etc.

11 - Together students give each other directions of how to reach there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

English for Refugees - addresses and locations

Aim - To help refugees with some grasp of English give and understand addresses as well as talk about locations in the city of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Materials - A map either on paper or via Google Maps via smart phone.

Level - Elementary/intermediate

I - Revise how to say addresses in English, use some well known example, for example the building in which the lessons are taking place. In Greece addresses are usually given thus;

Egnatia 34  - Name of the street then number
Kalamaria  - District
Thessaloniki - City or town
54333 - Post or zip code

Often the floor of the apartment is given as most people live and work in apartment blocks.

You may need to teach

0 - ground floor
1 - first floor
2 - second floor etc.

2 - Now read out an address and ask students to write it down. Repeat as many times as necessary until people have it written, Optional activity - ask students to find out the address on Google Maps.

3 - Now students dictate addresses that they know to each other (be warned many newcomers may not know any, including their own address). Alternatively. they give their own address back at home but the y not want to do this for obvious reasons.

 Another possibility is this address

Brothers Menexopoulos Dried Fruit and Nuts store (it has herbs, spices, dried fruits and nuts, grains and black tea at very good prices)

Katounis 49
the centre

4 - Revise or teach points of the compass

5 = Draw or hang a map of the city and ask students to say where they are now in the city.

e.g In the centre, in west Thessaloniki etc.

6 Now ask students to say which area they live in and its location in or near the city (if they live in camps). You may have to help if students are hazy about the location of their neighbourhood,

7 Teach or elicit other useful phrases used to describe the location of a place,

e.g next/close to, near, behind, in front of, between, above and below (useful in Thessaloniki when talking about roads).

8 Now ask students to describe the location of the building where the lesson is taking place. or the shop mentioned earlier

9 Students now describe the location of their accommodation.

10 Ask students to describe buildings/ locations that are useful for them

e.g local supermarket/police station/doctor's office etc.

A useful mobile phone app is the one by the local public transport company OASTH  which gives information on local bus routes in Thessaloniki area.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Refugees Welcome, Golden Dawn Scum Are Not - this design is free to download and use.

Refugees Welcome Golden Dawn Scum Are Not

The day after  a meeting held by seniors members of Greece' neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on the island of Chios, the Souda refugee camp was attacked by right wing extremists who throw firebombs boulders down upon the tents were refugees are housed. The meeting was also attended by MPs with Belgium's far right Vlaams Belang party.

Refugees Welcome Vlaams Belang  Scum Are Not

English for refugees - lesson plan for numbers and dates.

This plan is designed to help students revise numbers in English with the purpose of talking about dates and for other uses such as shopping and other financial exchanges. This part of a course I am devising and teaching here in Thessaloniki for refugees and migrants. The different parts can be used in any order and the aim is to provide English language skills and knowledge that will of immediate and practical use rather than a broader based academic course.


Revise use of numbers 1 to 100 in English as the prelude to talking about dates.


The photocopy below



Numbers 1-100

1 - Hand out the photocopy and go through any pronunciation issues. (you could  ask students to write down the words as well or set this for homework).

2 - Ask students to stand up and form a circle. Explain to students that we'll play a game. You start and the person next to you will say the next number 1,2,3 and so on. If the person makes a mistake they are out of the game and leaves the circle. Start over with the next person in the circle and continue until there is a single winner. If you have a large group you may have to divide the class into smaller groups to ensure the game is over quickly.

3 - Get students to play the game in 2-3s.

4 - Students sit back down and write on a piece of paper (in numbers and words (e.g 44 - forty four) numbers that are important to them.

They can be their age, the number of their home, How many kids they have etc.

5 - In 2-3s ask or guess why their partner's numbers are important.

Days and dates

1 - Explain to students they are going to talk about days and dates. Elicit the names of the days of the week and write them on the board. (you could also ask students to write the Arabic/Farsi on the board)

2 - Ask them what today it is today, will it be tomorrow and what it was yesterday.

3 - Ask some students what is their favourite day of the week? Students then ask each other.

4 - Play game where students take turns in pairs saying the days, when one makes a mistake, they start again.

5 - Introduce months, elicit names of the months of the year, write them on board. Go through any pronunciation difficulties.

6 - Play circle game again in pairs with names.

7 - Ask which months they like the best and why. E,g June because school finishes for summer.

8 - Explain how to say dates. I'd recommend the US system for ease of comprehension and use.

E,g November 7 rather than 7th of November.

9 - Now students ask each other when there birthday falls. and the other person writes in down in full.

10 - Ask students about important dates in their own country/Greece or other places they know. E.g Independence day, religious holidays, New Years's Day etc.

11 - Now explain how to say years in English i.e nineteen sixty, not say One thousand nine hundred and sixty as they do in Greek, for example).

12 Write down a timeline on the board with important dates from your own life.


             1960       1975      1986    1999           2010        2016

13 - Ask students to guess or ask directly what happened on those dates.

14 - Students write down their own timelines and then mix up the groups and people ask others they don't usually work with to talk about their timeline.

15 - Optional activity. Ask students to write a short personal biography based around the date mentioned for homework.

"At the third stroke it will be 1936 precisely."

At the third stroke it will be 1936 precisely