The first golden rule for the teacher who would like to give his/her students
supplementary grammar or vocabulary worksheets is:
NEVER GIVE A STUDENT A WORKSHEET WITHOUT EXERCISES!
Maybe I'm just cynical about human nature, but certainly in Rio de Janeiro, 90% of language students would just put a worksheet without exercises in a pile of other work that they will never look at again.
The second rule is: ALWAYS CHECK WORKSHEETS YOU'VE BORROWED CAREFULLY.
Even the course materials of expensive and professionally produced textbooks sometimes have mistakes (See the repeated verb 'left' on p.19 of New Headway Intermediate wb, and the incorrectly spelt 'mor(n)ing' on p.30 of the old Headway Upper-intermediate wb. Although I always try to check the worksheets on this site, there may be some mistakes which have escaped, or which I've only discovered after uploading them, and haven't got around the correcting. Therefore, check that you know what the answers are before using them in class, and if you're not sure, or think you've found a mistake, please let me know.
Every few years the recognised language textbooks are updated and new versions produced. I use the 'Headway' series as course material, and, with the exception of the sometimes excessive number of new editions, I've been very happy with the methodology and content used in this set of textbooks. However, what does a teacher do with the old set of text books and workbooks which have been superceded by a new course? I select the exercises from both the student's and workbooks which I have found most effective, cut them up to fit onto a piece of A4 paper and give them to students using the latest course books at supplementary materials to a worksheet on the theme studied in class.
If, like me, you use a series of course books, it's worthwhile producing a series of worksheets on a theme which recurs at the various levels. As an example, you can see my 'Gerunds and Infinitives' series. Firstly, I went through the pre-intermediate student's book and workbook and listed the structures and grammar at this level. This gave me the following worksheet:
Pre-intermediate Gerunds and Infinitives worksheet
Then I went through the intermediate course books and added the new structures and grammar to a worksheet at the next level:
Intermediate Gerunds and Infinitives worksheet
Finally, building on the previous two worksheets, I repeated the process at the upper-intermediate level, which resulted in this worksheet:.
Upper-intermediate Gerunds and Infinitives worksheet
The same basic process can be used when producing song worksheets. If you want to do a gap fill exercise, start removing words for an exercise at the pre-intermediate level, then continue removing more words and save the file as an exercise for intermediate and upper-intermediate / advanced students. This process can be seen with the song 'Thank you' by Dido:
'Thank You' (pre-intermediate)
'Thank You' (Intermediate)
'Thank You' (Upper-intermediate)
The 'English Grammar in Use' and 'Essential Grammar in Use' books by Raymond Murphy are also, in my opinion, an excellent source of supplementary materials. Some teachers recommend that their students buy these books. I believe that this may well prove ineffective, because as the saying goes 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink'. Many language students have this excellent book at home, but seldom have more than a few, if any, been completed. I prefer to make copies of selected pages, with the grammatical explanation on one side and the exercises on the other. I give these copies to my students when appropriate, and ask for them to be returned to me for marking. Although it means a small expense for the teacher instead of a large waste of money for the students, at least I know that the exercises are being completed and can easily see when the target language or area has not been understood.
Creating a reading activity worksheet
Newspapers (both newsprint and on-line) are an excellent source for classroom reading activities. Below there's an example of one of these, taken from the Guardian on-line news site, which Viv used with his students in December 2010.