In one of my previous jobs, teaching teenagers in Spain, I was forced to accept something: 15 year old girls don’t want to read newspapers, stories or other long texts. They receive their input through their phones and I-pads and if I didn’t accept and adapt, I was never going to get very far with them.
So I started bringing in text messages and encouraging them to WhatsApp each other in class and to write comments on Twitter in English. I definitely wasn’t going to be able to beat them and although I didn’t really feel like joining them would be appropriate, I was able to get a lot of new language and error correction up on the board…which was nice.
Here’s one of the texts I brought in for them and a couple of suggestions for exploiting it.
“Alright mate, I’m gonna be nearby later on. I might pop in and say hi if you’re around.”
- Focus on the register. Get students to rewrite it as a more formal email.
- Examine the informal language. Pull it out and look at the different ways you can use it. “Pop” is the obvious choice here. Not one you tend to see in your average coursebook, but a lovely piece of language all the same.
- Give students a post-it note and get them to reply to the message. Take in the notes and examine the messages, focusing on register and interesting language that comes up.
- Perfect for a bit of connected speech analysis. At the very least you have “gonna”.