Giving advice with Connected Speech!

At our school we offer weekly free pronunciation lessons to all of our students. We get quite a lot of students attending each week and some of them come week on week but for others it’s their first week. This means we need to come up with new ideas all the time, building on the previous week but ensuring that new students can join at any time and not be lost. We also need to design lessons that span all levels from Elementary to Advanced (sometimes Beginners attend but not so often).

My favourite thing to look at in these classes is connected speech for the following reasons:

  1. All students from Elem to Adv need it.
  2. Most of them haven’t come across it in their countries so it is usually new, even for Adv.
  3. We need to raise awareness of features of connected speech over and over if sts are to be able to understand native English speakers.
  4. They love it!
  5. The easiest way for you to get to grips with it is to teach it. 

In the teacher’s worksheet below, I have included my own boardwork so that you can visualise what I’m talking about.

NB: don’t panic if you don’t know the phonemic chart off by heart. Highlight where linking occurs and model any other connected speech that comes up. You don’t need the phonemic symbols (but they do help).

boardwork

Level: All levels

Time: 60 – 90 minutes

Topic: advice (almost every level has come across 1 or 2 ways of giving advice).

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Display the discussion questions from the worksheet and allow sts to discuss them in small groups. Discuss as a whole class (see possible answers on the teacher’s sheet).
  2. Tell the students that you will be talking about giving advice today. In groups ask them to brainstorm different forms for giving advice.
  3. Tell them your problem. I usually use the one below but feel free to improvise.
  4. Ask the students to write one or two pieces of advice per group using the different forms from part 2.
  5. Write them up on your board, 1 from each group. Ensure that they have used the advice forms from above. If they have all used “should”, reformulate their ideas as a class so that you have some variety on the board.
  6. These pieces of advice are what you’re going to analyse for features of connected speech.
  7. NB – don’t panic! you don’t need to be a pro at connected speech, just follow the steps below.
  • Ask students to underline which words they think will be stressed in each sentence. Check as a class.
  • Say each sentence out loud as you would normally and ask students what happens to the other (unstressed) words in the sentence. e.g. are they weaker? are some words connected? do some sounds disappear?
  • As the same things happen in each sentence, draw your sts attention to the patterns. E.g. “to” is usually pronounced = /tə/ & “and” is usually pronounced /ən/.
  • Drill each sentence with the class.
  • Ask sts to examine the sentences and try to find common patterns.
  • Get sts to fill in the Sentence Pronunciation Guidelines on their worksheets.
  • Check together.

Help me, I need some advice!

My girlfriend came home last night and told me she wanted to move to Brazil. She says she is sick of London and needs a change. The problem is that I have friends here, I have a job, my family live close to here.

I would love Brazil, it sounds amazing but now is not the time to move. I’m scared if I say no that it will be the end of our relationship.

 

A might well:The many forms of “might”

A borderline advanced student stopped me in the corridor the other day and asked me what the difference was between might, might as well and might well and for a moment I was stumped. He was holding his Upper Int coursebook on the grammar reference section for “might” and he made a very good point which was:

The Upper Intermediate book has exactly the same information as the Intermediate.

He was right, so I decided to look at it in a little bit more detail and came up with the lesson below.

The materials and the teaching notes are all in the same file and I’ve attached it as a PDF and as a WORD doc so that you can edit it if you like.

Enjoy

  1. might-as-well  – WORD doc
  2. might-as-well  – PDF

 

guys pic

 

I wish I’d never been born! – Conditionals / Hypothetical language

After you’ve taught the same lesson a bazillion times, you do tend to get a little bored of it and it falls into the  forgotten depths of your USB or sits crumpled in a plastic wallet at the back of your locker. The great thing is when you come across one of these lessons after a year or so and remember why you loved it in the first place. This lesson uses a silly little story I wrote years ago and have recently resurrected.

This lesson came about as a result of my frustration with how conditionals were taught in coursebooks. In general, they were taught as if they were rigid structures and that every conditional sentence fit into these strict frames. As we all know, this is not the case.

The reality is that a conditional sentence is just a sentence made up of two clauses, if students understand the language to make up each clause, they’ll be able to create their own sentences without worrying about 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

That’s the idea anyway…

Level: Intermediate and above (possibly a strong pre-int group too)

Time: 2 – 3 hours

Materials:

  1. Tony’s story
  2. Language focus 2 – answers
  3. conditional questions

Procedure:

(1) 

Intro / Pre-reading:

In the past I’ve used Harry Enfield’s Kevin character as the intro picture for this lesson but any stroppy teenager will do really. I usually display the picture and get the students to talk about how he’s feeling and why he might be feeling this way. Naturally, words like “stroppy”, “moody”, “teenage angst” , etc will come up at this point.

(2) 

Gist reading:

Any gist-reading question will do here. I like to ask them what kind of relationship the characters have and who they sympathise with in this story.

This is nice as it usually starts a little discussion and gives them the opportunity to use some of the vocab from the first section. It also gets them engaging with the story a little, and not just a simple true/false question.

(3) 

Language focus 1:

I like to keep my students on their toes and I like to constantly review and practise language points from previous lessons which is why I tend to use this as a quick revision of narrative tenses. Students discuss the first paragraph and decide what tense to use in each case. Feel free to ignore this and put the correct tenses in yourself if you don’t want to focus on this at all.

(4) 

Vocabulary Focus:

Direct the students to the vocabulary section below the story. They must match the definitions/synonyms to words and phrases in the story.

(5)

Language Focus 2:

This is where the real fun begins. The guiding questions on the second page are designed to break down a typical hypothetical conditional into 2 language points:

1- hypothetical language (e.g. wish/if/if only + past perfect for speaking hypothetically about the past)

2- Hypothetical modals (e.g. would have done / would do / might do)

Students should work through these 3 stages in small groups, using the story to guide them. One of the benefits of this is it encourages them to think critically about language in texts and to helps them to analyse language.

I would probably stop after each of the three sections and discuss it as a class. You can find the answers in the materials section above.

(6) 

Possible follow-up exercises:

There are a few ways you could follow this up. I’ve added a few below.

  1. Pull out the modal sentences and focus on the pronunciation. These are all spoken in the story but the way it’s written, there are no contractions. For example, “you should have told me” would probably be pronounced: /jəʃədətəʊldmiː/ or something similar.
  2. Print out some nice conditional questions that might give students the opportunity to explore the language from the text. I’ve attached a few questions in the materials section above. I usually chop them up and put them face down in the middle of a circle of students. One student picks one up and reads it aloud. The other students can’t see the paper but can ask them to repeat or speak up etc. It becomes a nice pronunciation and listening exercise as well. and the teacher can sit back and write down any nice conditional sentences or any errors for examination later on.
  3. Discussion on teenagers / youths and how they are treated in different countries.

Home made listening texts

So, earlier this year, quite a while ago now, we spoke at IATEFL and also watched a number of other talks, which was fantastic.  One thing that we noticed in our speech was how the audience got excited by the idea of making their own listening materials and so here are ideas based around doing that.

Something we’ve long felt to be true was that students need to be given access to listening materials that push them and that are also true to how people speak outside of the classroom.

One of the most interesting talks I went to was by John Hughes, you can find a link to his site at the bottom of this blog.  He spoke about setting up a situation with people and then just recording it and seeing what functional language came up.  In the spirit of investigation, and also as I think it really fits into the sort of thing we do, I have tried it a few times.  Guess what? It works really well.

So the idea is this.  Decide on a piece of functional language you want to teach, e.g. directions / buying things in a shop and just ask two/three people to have a conversation and record them.  I found giving the people realia, e.g. items in a shop situation, made it more natural.  This way you get all of the wonderful features of natural speech, fillers, false starts, discourse markers.  Rather than making it more difficult for listeners these often help in my opinion.  For more on listening definitely check Field’s excellent book, Listening in the language classroom.

Procedure:

  1. decide on situation
  2. record speakers, first recording is good, you want it to be natural
  3. listen for which language is used
  4. write a couple of basic gist questions
  5. set checking questions for grammar / vocab
  6. you can then get students to make their own recordings using the target language

E.g. what language was used to ask for directions “could you tell me where … is please?”

Other really useful things for lower levels could be questions about how many people are speaking, this can be really good for low levels.  I tend to subscribe to the view that grading the task not the text is equally appropriate for listenings, after all in the big wide English speaking world, students are not going to have things graded for them by native speakers!

http://elteachertrainer.com/

Office Politics – Listening

So, this is a little listening lesson, pretty tricky unless it is scaffolded properly.  It also shows students some conditionals in a natural situation, which is always a plus in my book, it can conveniently fit into either a lesson on work or comedy, but for the purposes of this, it is as a bit of a break from a unit/week on work.

Do let them listen a few times, especially at the beginning, as it is pretty fast.  Your job as teacher is to stop them getting discouraged and to explain that the reason for this is to try to bridge the gap between what they do inside the classroom and what happens outside those walls.

Enjoy

Aims: expose students to real conversation, show grammar, conditionals, in a real context, focus on pronunciation, sentence stress.

Time: 1hr +

Level: High int +

Procedure:

The worksheet should be fairly easy to follow so the procedure would be to follow that, rather than me writing a lengthy one here.  But do have a look before you go into class as i’ve tried to really mix the activities, listening as the main background activity with lots of things coming off it

I would recommend putting in the time for students to reflect on what they have seen as for this I think it is important for all lessons, but especially this one.

Here are the answers to the word stress exercise at the end, feel free to disagree but this is what I hear.

T. Hey dude

G. Give it back

T. I’m just using it for a second

G. It’s got my name on it, Gareth

T. No, it says Garet, actually, but

G. Ask if you want to borrow it.

T. Yeah, you always say no mate, so what’s the point

G. Perhaps that’s why you should ask

T. Gareth it was just there ok

G. Yeah, that’s its home, leave it there.

Also, you could obviously go onto connected speech at this point or other pronunciation features, depending on how your students are feeling.

Materials

Worksheet: the-office-worksheet

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1PHpkdvNOs

Fillers for fluency

Ok, so a lesson I first did a long time ago and one that i have tweaked a few times since.  It is a bit of a test-teach-test lesson and I often find that it really does do a good job of making your students sound more natural. You will need to either record the two texts yourself or email and get them from us that way. Level: pre Int upwards ( I have used this with CAE classes) Time: 40mins-1hr Main aim 

  • To help students converse more naturally by using discourse markers and back-channelling.

Subsidiary aim

  • To raise awareness of the sub-skills used by native speakers in discourse.
  • To practise discussions by giving students free speaking practice.
  • To practise listening.

Procedure:

1 Test: students are given  a question, think about it and generate ideas,  and then record themselves answering it in pairs together.  The recording is saved to be used later in the lesson.

2 Models: Students are played first dialogue and then second and asked to discuss which sounds more natural. Students are asked why they think it is more natural? You may need to play the recording twice.  Group feedback on which is more natural. 1st one is more natural and you need to make sure students can then say why – use of fillers / backchanelling etc.

3 Target language: Students given tapescript of the listening with gaps for featured target language. (May need to listen to recording 1 again)

  • Check with completed version of the tapescript which contains one mistake to test the students listening and raise the level of challenge.

4. Matching meanings:

  • Students match discourse markers with given meanings. These can be cut up to help engage kinaesthetic learners.

Feedback in the form of a matching exercise on the IWB.

5. Controlled practice

  • Students work in pairs to add discourse markers to a question that they answered in stage one and record it.

Students listen to compare their conversation and decide which sounds more natural.

7. Reflection: Students give feedback on which conversation sounded most natural

Materials:

1. fillers-for-fluency-1

2. Recording 1 – 

Recording 2 – 

When is the future not the future? When it’s in the past of course!

Apologies for the title…couldn’t resist. 

So, this is a lesson I taught recently and had a lot of fun doing it. The idea was to encourage students to use the future in the past to justify their actions but also to work on comprehension. So often our comprehension exercises are based largely on a student’s ability to skim and scan. I wanted to get them looking further, to read between the lines, to really identify the subtleties of language and to understand exactly what the speaker was saying.

Level: Intermediate and above

Time: 1 – 2 hours (depending on error correction and level of the group)

Materialsargument

Procedure (I think the worksheet is pretty self-explanatory but I’ve highlighted a few ideas you can try out when you’re teaching it)

1

Tell the students you’ve just had a fight with your boyfriend / girlfriend (you may need to change the text slightly depending on your situation). Ask them to think of some of the typical arguments couples might have. (It’s probably useful to start building “argument” language and vocab here, using what the students give you. I find that constructions such as, “he’s always leaving the toilet seat up” tend to come up at this point).

2

Students read the text quickly and discuss the problem in small groups.

3

At this point, tell the students you want them to imagine that they are no longer your students, they are your friends. You have just told them what they have read and they are free to ask you any clarification questions they want but no language questions. This encourages them to dig deeper without focusing on what each word/phrase means. You can make up the answers for yourself and feel free to alter the text to make it suit your needs.

       e.g.

– Did you intend to tell your girlfriend about the meeting?

– How did she find out you had met her?

4

Now that students have clarified what they wanted to, leave them to deal with the comprehension questions and then discuss as a class. These questions are open to interpretation.

5

Get students to underline any examples of future in the past (e.g. was going to / was about to). Pull them out and have a look at the structures together. I wouldn’t worry about pronunciation at this point as it will come up later. You might want to get them to write a few sample sentences to ensure they understand it. I use the example from earlier in the lesson.

– “Why did you leave the toilet seat up?” / “Well I was going to put it down….”

6

Let the students work away on the vocab questions, really digging deep into the text and then discuss as a class.

7

To practise all of the language from the lesson, tell the students they’re going to have the argument with their partners. Give each person a role and then give them a few minutes to prepare some sentences they will say to their boy/girlfriend in the argument. Encourage them to use any language that was on the handout or that has come up in the lesson.

8

Get them out of their seats and let them argue away. Note errors of the target language on the board. Once the arguments are finished, students return to their seats and correct the errors as a group.

Now it’s time for pronunciation. Have a look at the chunks of language below and drill them with your students.

“I was going to” = /əwəzgənə/

“I was about to” = /aɪwəzəbaʊtə/

Now get them up to have the same argument with another student and when they’re finished you can choose to give feedback on errors, vocab, pron or whatever your heart desires. Feel free to change the roles/situation and have them repeat similar arguments. This slight change will keep the activity from becoming tired and boring and will allow them to really focus on upgrading their language with the new language and the pronunciation, something that they won’t do if they haven’t had a chance to try the activity a few times.

You’ve got Voicemail

So this lesson is based on something I did for my DELTA many years ago.  Back then I had to phone each of them and leave them all a little voice mail message.  Now, just create a what’s app group and share it.  Much easier, and less time consuming.

Why make it a voice mail, well a lot of the listening practice that we do as teachers involves us playing the text to them, in the real world they normally only hear things once, unless watching T.V. The exception is voice mail, I think everyone has had to listen to a voice mail a few times to get a long number or to catch a name.  So in this lesson, students can listen as many times as they want, the power is in their hands. Literally!

The context for this is looking for a flat, which is something many students may have had some personal experience of, especially living abroad.  One of the main focuses here is on prediction and script work, getting students to think before listening about what information they really expect to hear.

Also be prepared for the fact that a lot of house vocab can come up in the discussion stage, monitor and board the language that you think would be beneficial for the whole class.

  • Time: 30-60mins + follow on activity
  • Level: Int +
  • Aim:  To help students listen better for specific information in a natural context
  • Sub aim:  To raise awareness of stressed and weak forms in natural speech patterns.

 Procedure

Before going into the classroom you will need to have recorded the text, either yourself or using someone else – it is important to make sure it is natural sounding.

1. The context: Explain to students that the context is that they have contacted an estate agent looking for a flat for them and a friend. They have been told about two, property A and property B.  You can show them the details to the property at this point and ask them to discuss with partners what they think and which place they would prefer to live in and why.

2. Prediction: Tell students that they are going to get an answerphone message in a minute about another house on their phones.  Get them to predict what might be said, what vocab they expect to hear and also if there is any grammar that they think will be used in the recording.

3. Strong and weak forms: Write the first line of the message on the board

“Hi , this is (name) calling from Fairhouse”

Ask the students, in pairs/groups, to think about which words they would expect to hear clearly, if you have done some work with them previously, they should be able to identify them, if not, then give them time and help when monitoring.

Play the 1st line of the recording only and ask students to see which words are stressed

Hi , this is (name) calling from Fairhouse

Say only the stressed words and ask if they can understand the meaning of the sentence

Hi, (name) calling Fairhouse

Get the students to reflect on why those words are stressed and why the others aren’t – ie, it gives meaning, the others don’t.

Tell students that it will be important to listen out for only the key information while doing the task.

4. Note taking: Get students to reflect back on what information they expect to hear and then share the message with them using what’s app or another similar method.  Hand out the questions on the worksheet and let them listen for the answers. Give them 3-5 minutes, remember the whole point is that they can listen as many times as they want.

Hand out the final property information sheet (C) and now ask the students if they would change their first choice of property and in pairs/groups ask them to discuss this and why?

5. Language focus:  Ask the students to listen again and make a note of any grammar structures they hear used.  They should hopefully notice the repeated use of conditionals.

Then ask if they can write them down – a bit of dictation.  Encourage them to listen only twice and then try to reconstruct the rest of the conditional with a partner (dictagloss).

Then pass on the small section on function or put the information on a board.

(this section is short as I don’t want conditionals to be the focus of the lesson, if you want, feel free to go into much more detail on them)

6. Pronunciation: Ask students what happens to the first ‘I’ in if when saying a conditional.

Write this on the board

/faɪ wə juː/

explain that the first sound often vanishes when native speakers talk quickly.  Highlight the fact they therefore need to be prepared for this while listening.

Get them with partners to practise the pronunciation of the three conditional sentences or drill chorally, whichever you prefer or more importantly your class respond best to.

7. Reflection: Place students in small groups / pairs and ask them to think about what different aspects of listening skills they have focused on and why.  Then share as a group discussion.

Optional

8.  Follow up: Ask students to make notes for a reply to the estate agent explaining which house(s) they would like to view and putting forwards ideas for a time. Remind them of the use of conditionals for giving choices. Once they have ideas, get them to record it, don’t worry about mistakes at this point.

Ask them to listen, focusing on their pronunciation and get them to think about two parts they could improve.  Ask them to record again, trying to improve those two things. When they have done this and are happy, ask them to send the recordings to you.

Listen to them, make some notes on the different recordings and work on any issues in forthcoming lessons.

 

Materials:

Property details

worksheet 1

 

Video lesson – catch it if you can – connected speech

Last year I attended a really good CPD session given by a colleague on using video clips in the classroom, I’ve never been a fan of using whole films in class, as I have always seen it as a cop out, but the focus on using short clips or parts of films really struck a chord with me and so I started thinking about how I could use them not just to stimulate interest in a topic or for comprehension questions but how it could be used for pronunciation practice.  So, this lesson focuses on connected speech and listening skills using video. It uses a clip from Catch me if you can, which you may have been able to guess from the title.

  • Time: 30-60mins
  • Level: High Int +
  • Aim: To raise awareness of how spoken English sounds
  • Sub aim: To highlight stressed and unstressed words

This mini lesson can work in a couple of contexts:

  • as a follow on to indirect questions practice
  • as an extension from FCE Result p58-59 (reading on cons and tricks)

Materials:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiXTwfipyqk
  2. Worksheet

Procedure:

1. Listening: Students watch and listen to get a general idea of what is happening.  Some of the students have probably seen the film and they can help those who haven’t, explaining the context and the situation.

2, Vocab building (optional): Encourage students to think about how they would describe the two characters and their behaviour. Board interesting vocab and push students to use more interesting words to describe them, e.g. calm, stressed, hesitant, looks annoyed.

3. Listening (Test): Tell students they are going to watch a very small clip of the film and you want them to copy down the words (dictation/dictagloss if they are familiar with the terms).

Play the recording from 43 seconds where Leo says: “Do you mind taking that gun out of my face please, really, it makes me nervous.” When you have played it once, ask them to compare together, then you can play it again to help them if you want, or use the worksheet with the option to cut the words up to reconstruct the sentence if you want to scaffold the task a little.

(Teach) Students may have had problems hearing the “do you mind” so focus on this and explain the way it is pronounced and drill /ʤə mɪnd/ or /ʤuː mɪnd/ whichever you yourself normally use, personally I am the former and think that is what is on the recording.

(Test) Play students a different clip of the film at 1.35 – 1.58 and ask them to listen for the two polite questions that are used in the clip you show.  Ask them to check with partners and then listen again if necessary.  Hopefully this time they were able to pick up the question forms, so this time highlight what happens to ‘mind if I’ – /maɪnɪfaɪ/ and drill this.

4. Practice: 1.Give the students the block of text and ask them to record themselves saying it.  Then ask them to highlight which words are stressed, ask them to predict and then play it to check and you can either use the board to show them or use the answers provided here. Ask them to think about what happens to words like ‘and’, ‘a’ – if they know the schwa they should be able to see this, if not, here is a good moment to introduce it.

Also ask them to focus on what happens to groups of words like ‘look at’, ‘would have been’ and ‘got to’.  Show them the clip again and ask them to identify the sounds and how they join together and which sounds are used. See below.

look at – /lʊkət/, would have been – /wʊdəbɪn/, got to – /gɒtə/ 2. Now ask them to say the text in pairs using the correct stress and also trying to join the words together where they are in the recording.

3. Ask the students to think about the adjectives they used earlier and think about how this might influence the way they speak. Ask the students to try to do the text again, taking both the stress and the emotions into account.

4. Ask them to stand up and do it, so that they can really get into it.

5. Ask them to do it without the script, tell them to adlib if they forget parts 6. Ask them to sit down and to record it again.

5. Reflection: Ask the students to listen to both recordings and in pairs discuss how they differ.  Ask them which was better and why.  Also explain that knowing the pronunciation is really useful for their listening, as if they don’t know what to hear, how will they hear it?

Many of the ideas for this lesson stem from sessions given by Gillian Lazar and Martin Parrott, so thanks to them!

Life in the Countryside…the origins of Textploitation

So, this was the first text that we textploited. It was a story that we wrote and decided to use in class. I’d been using it as a lesson for some time and then Mark got hold of it and added his own touches and now we’ve got it to a solid 3-hour lesson, which is quite flexible and gives the students a little bit of autonomy as they get to choose what exactly they do with it.

It’s also the text that we use to demonstrate Textploitation in any CPD sessions we do on it.

We’ve laid out a lesson plan below as well as a number of follow-up possibilities. The idea is that  you can leave it up to the students what you focus on in the second part of the lesson.

Procedure:

Pre-Reading

  1. Introduction: Activate a bit of schemata by asking the students whether they’d prefer to live in the city of the countryside.
  2. Prediction: Explain to the students that they’re going to read a story about a couple living in the countryside and display the following words from the story: (Tread / muck out / the high life / godforsaken / vodka / farm / I’m used to / sunshine / heels). Ask them to predict what will happen in the story, explain that if they don’t know what a word mean, that’s OK, just ignore it. The idea here is that there will be some words they don’t know and without a context they can’t figure them out. Later when they have the context, they’ll be able to work out the meaning.

Reading:

  1. Gist/Checking predictions: Give the students a few minutes to skim read the story and check their predictions.
  2. Vocab (meaning from context): Focus the students attention on the vocab exercise below the story. Encourage them to use the context of the story to find the meaning and to stay away from dictionaries. (The idea here is to highlight the importance of context and encouraging them to avoid dictionaries – not that dictionaries aren’t great but they shouldn’t be a crutch.)
  3. Reflection:  Sit down and have a bit of an informal chat with the students. I like to lead by asking them if they thought the 9 pieces of lexis that I chose were important words for them to learn (e.g. pig pen). Are these words that they will use every day? The answer is obviously a resounding “no”! So why did we spend 15 minutes working on them? (You want to herd the students towards the understanding that you’re teaching them / practising a skill. You can also take the time to ask them why they thought they were unable to understand the key words before they read but were more than capable of understanding them once they’d read the texts.)
  4. Engage with the text: This story tends to lead to quite a bit of discussion as it is very much open to interpretation. I like to take a moment here and explain to students that this is an example of Flash Fiction, which is shorter than a short story and perfect for a student of English who has ten minutes to spare on the bus. They are usually quite open to interpretation. There are two questions that I find really open up the discussion on this story and with any class this will lead to some lovely error correction:
  • Did you like the story? Why / why not? What would you change? what more would you like to know?
  • Who did you sympathise with most, Barry or Brenda?

Post-Reading

So, the second part of the lesson is very much up to the students. Ask them what they would like to focus on. I’ve given you a few different options below, one of which I stole from the wonderful Gillian Lazar, who wrote the amazing book: Approaches to Using Literature. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

(1)

Focus on punctuation: Punctuation is one of those things that we assume translates from a student’s L1, however, this does not always seem to be the case. Take some of the direct speech from the story (which the students have probably read about 3 times at this stage) and write it on the board, removing the punctuation. Ask the students what punctuation they’d like to add. They will probably want to use colons, inverted commas at the base of the words, full stops outside the quotation marks or any other number of variations.

(2)

Keeping with the direct speech, draw students attention to the fact that both Barry and Brenda have one large piece of speech each. My advice would be to prerecord both sections on your phone naturally and then to use this to raise their awareness of connected speech.

or

And this was stolen from Gillian Lazar. Using the same pieces of speech, we want to encourage students to put a bit of emotion into what they’re saying, to move away from the monotonous robot speech. Try following these steps:

  1. Get the students to say it to each other in pairs without any preparation.
  2. Ask them to think about which words would be stressed and try it again.
  3. Ask them to put down the sheet and do it again but adding in hand gestures.
  4. One more time, but standing up, with emotion.
  5. Finally, ask them to stand up, put down their sheets and try it from memory. Let them know that it doesn’t matter if they remember every word as long as they convey the message and capture the emotion.

Trust me, the difference between Step 1 and Step 5 is unbelievable. What you’re basically doing is drilling but by changing the instructions slightly each time, the students don’t get bored. Also, with each repetition they become less worried about the language and focus more on their delivery. It’s also loads of fun!

(3)

This story is only full of grammar (like any story). Let the students choose what they want to focus on: wishes / be + get used to / narrative tenses / direct – reported speech, and then just give them a few questions that will help them to uncover the grammar within.

For example, if they choose wishes, give them the following guided discovery activity and leave them to it:

  • underline all of the strong desires in the text.
  • Are they real/possible or imaginary/hypothetical?
  • What time do they refer to: past, present or future?
  • What is the form?

Check it as a class and then encourage them to make their own examples.

Materials

A) Life in the Countryside (Story + Exercises)