So, a good friend of mine, Kat, has started her DELTA, so I dug out some of my books and started flicking through them and had the idea that Binomials might be quite a useful thing to help my students make their informal writing seem a little more natural and give it that extra sparkle it needs.
This lesson grew from that and starts with a dictagloss, something I am quite a fan of, before moving onto a language focus. The text here isn’t authentic but is a series of little monologues which enabled me to emphasise the target language.
From there the lesson moves on to look at collocation building with the binomials and the construction of chunks which can be used in students own writing or speaking. There is a little bit of a focus on punctuation too, as this is something often neglected.
Aim: raise awareness of binomials and collocations
Level: Advanced, maybe a strong Upp Int if you scaffold.
- Read the 1st extract twice and ask the students to take notes and write down as much as they can, I have been known to read it three times. (recording included, but it might be more fun to read it)
- Ask the students how the person is feeling.
- Ask the students in pairs to check what they have written and see if they can make it work grammatically.
- Compare it to extract 1 – you could either put this on the board or photocopy half of the teachers copy and hand them out in groups.
Give the students the sheet with the extract on and the question, page 2.
- Ask the students to look at the 5 questions written on the worksheet.
- Do group feedback, you want them to underline:
- sick and tired / life and soul / ups and downs
- they make it more informal and more natural
- to make their own writing and speaking more natural and more interesting
- I’ll be honest / I mean / like everyone /
3. Now look at extract 2. Ask the students if they can predict the missing words, read the text once for them to check.
4. Ask the students to try to fill in the table, the box below has the answers but tell them to try to do it without initially if you want to raise the level of challenge.
Now check together as a group and accept any others which would work, e.g. life and death as well as life and soul.
My students struggled with this, so you could allow them to use dictionaries, looking at the examples or encourage them to look online or use something like the British National Corpus
e.g. spick and span – usually works with the verb ‘be’
Why do this? As well as making them more autonomous, i just think it is a far more engaging task than you telling them what the answers are, you might also get some interesting different answers this way.
Plus it will help them later on.
This is a really important element that students have difficulty with and since there are often a lack of rules, teachers avoid. Therefore it is something to focus their attention on, getting them to ‘notice’ the punctuation as it occurs
Follow the instructions on the sheet. I would be tempted to get the to add them to the board if you can copy and paste into an IWB before the big test so that you can observe any errors that you can then highlight and teach.
Follow on activities
The obvious ways to go, would be to get students to record little monologues or dialogues, where they have to use 3 of the binomials.
Alternatively, and this is what I did, ask your students to write a blog about something, e.g. living in their home town, whatever topic you have been doing recently will be fine. I was teaching a Cambridge exam class and so we focused on article writing.