So, I’m a huge fan of using adverts for lessons. I suppose my aim is that if I do it often enough, my students will go out and start analysing these tiny little snippets of language themselves. There’s so much interesting language out there plastered all over the walls. Now, obviously not everyone lives in an English speaking country so the opportunity might not be there but there are ads all over the internet or maybe it’s our job to bring these ads to them.
Either way, here’s yet another lesson using an advert from the tube. If you’re looking for others, you could try:
Intro: the idea here is just a discussion to get them thinking about the idea of using ads for language analysis.
How to say: This is a word I find sts often struggle with and there is quite a difference between British English and American English. I personally think it’s easier to steer them towards “ad” or “advert” which I feel are more common anyway.
Reading between the lines: The nice thing about this ad is that it seems quite obvious to us but only if you assume the reader knows about the Tube, knows about how people can sometimes treat tube workers and understands that this is a child speaking.
Vocab focus: This is a straightforward matching exercise and by the end of this and the previous discussion, sts should be able to answer the single comprehension question, thus showing they have read between the lines.
Language focus 1: This shouldn’t take too long or be too taxing but it sets the sts up for the final practice section and encourages them to analyse language when they see it.
Language focus 2: For some of them this may be new. Take them through it one step at a time and they shouldn’t have any issues.
Practice: This can be adapted to any kind of story that might be relevant for your learners. Something short and snappy that might encourage them to use reported speech is the key.
Final reflection: Discuss with the learners what skills they have practised today and how they could use them in their real lives. Encourage them to tell short anecdotes at the beginning of the next lesson. Encourage them to bring in pictures of ads they have found.
Look, screw it, it was St. Patrick’s day last week and I’m Irish so I’m doing one on Ireland.
Living abroad as an Irishman means two things:
No matter how profound a comment you make, there is always the chance that someone will repeat what you’ve said back to you in the voice of a leprechaun and then laugh uncontrollably at the hilarity…it’s awesome.
If you are speaking with another Irish person, nobody will have a clue (although we might say an iota) what you’re talking about.
This lesson largely came about thanks to the second one. I was watching two of my Irish friends having a conversation and, because they’d known each other for years, I noticed that they didn’t actually finish any of their sentences. Our English friend found it next to impossible to follow the conversation. They were using words he didn’t recognise and they weren’t even speaking in full sentences. He didn’t stand a chance.
(by the way if you’re interested in learning more Irish-English, you might want to check here)
For this reason I decided to have a expose my students to this kind of conversation and see what happened. In reality, they weren’t that much more confused than normal because they expected words they didn’t understand. What they found tricky was the assumed / shared knowledge these two people had.
This lesson examines that.
Objective: by the end of the lesson, you will be more aware of what kind of words can be omitted from a conversation. You will be better able to follow a native-speaker conversation.
I introduce this by asking students to discuss the introductory sentence in Italics and thinking about what kinds of words people might leave out. I put these up on the board for later but don’t really comment on them just yet.
I ask students to read through the text and discuss what they know about the two men. We check this as a class. Again, you can put this on the board and add to it as more info is revealed.
I tell students that these two people are from Ireland. Sts discuss what different versions of English there are in the world and which one they should be learning
What you kind of want to get from them here is that these days there are many different types of English but that in general there is a global English that is being used. That said, it doesn’t hurt to know a few of the major differences between the types.
sts match up the Irishisms using the information in the vocabulary section.
Sts re-read the text to check what the words in bold refer to in the text.
Sts examine the sentences from the text and decide which words have been omitted (they may not get every word from the teachers’ notes but as long as they’re getting the main ones, you’re fine)
Teacher encourages the sts to refer back to section 1 and see if they can add anything from their answers at the beginning of the class.
Sts should also see if there’s anything they could add to section 2 above.
Teacher directs sts to final comprehension questions and checks as a class.
Reflect on what they have used to answer the above questions and how this can help them with future native-speaker conversations.
one of the biggest issues students have with native-speaker conversations is that they assume that the problem is all theirs. It never enters their head that maybe an English person might not understand everything 2 Irish people are saying. This is worthy of discussion as it could help stop students blaming themselves when they don’t understand and instead focusing on what other clues are available to them.
So, it’s international women’s day today and I couldn’t resist popping a topical lesson up. This one is a simple little one, with the content mostly ripped off from Wikipedia. The idea is to examine how / when we use the passive voice. There is some quite high level language in here but I’ve always felt that if the task was right, you could use any text. I recommend this for a pre-intermediate or intermediate group.
Objective: By the end of the lesson students will be better able to write an informative paragraph with the focus on one individual.
To examine how / when we use the passive voice.
To give students a reason to read.
To encourage students to analyse language in context before going to their dictionaries.
Level: High elementary / Pre intermediate / Intermediate
Intro: Open up with the first question about the day. This can be done on any day but 8th March makes it a little more topical. The idea is to awaken interest and then answer their questions.
Answer their questions: The paragraph from Wikipedia should give them some history to the day. Discuss as a class.
Vocabulary 1: The words here shouldn’t be tricky for them but they give them some key language for later.
Discussion: With the vocab and history in place, this gives them a chance to give their own opinion. Students discuss in small groups. Teacher should monitor and note down any interesting vocab they didn’t quite get right but which might help them later on. Feedback as a whole class and deal with the emergent language.
Creating interest: the picture and info box about Emily Davison is designed to awaken some interest. Discuss as a class.
Pre-teaching: nothing kills interest like not understanding the key vocab. Spend a few minutes ensuring they understand the words in the pre-teaching section.
Reading for interest: Allow students to read it first to see if anything surprises them. This gives them the chance to get a general overview and engage with the text with a more realistic task.
Vocabulary 2: Throughout the lesson we have been spoon-feeding them a little with regards vocabulary. Now it is time for them to really try and see what they can get from context. Check they understand the questions properly before letting them loose. If they can’t come up with any ideas, let them check on wordreference.com or any other appropriate site. It doesn’t matter that they get the right answer, just that they are trying to figure it out. Help nudge them in the right direction by looking at words they might know like “hunger” and “feed”.
Language focus: Assuming they have already come across the passive, this will be a revision. Students can run through the questions in groups and then discuss as a class. If they are new to the passive, spend some time going through these questions with them and looking at form.
Practice: try to get students from similar countries together so they can research and write together. Direct them to Wikipedia / Simple Wikipedia or let them research in their own language.
Follow-up: put the paragraphs up around the room and allow sts time to move around and read them. Pull errors from them (specificially passive / vocab related) and place on board. Correct them as a class.
Ahoy hoy all! Being a reflective teacher, I think I have to accept that there are some things I like teaching more than others. Take for example, relative clauses…I’ve never been a fan of teaching them. “Might” on the other hand, now there’s something that’s fun to teach. To highlight that point, this is my second lesson on “might”.
I can’t quite put my finger on why, I think it might be because I feel that native speakers use it all the time but non-native speakers (in my humble opinion) tend to avoid it and favour “maybe”, especially at the lower levels. Whatever the reason, I love it and so here’s yet another lesson on it.
Level: Pre-intermediate / intermediate
Objective: by the end of the lesson the students will be better able to describe possible situations in the present & future.
Aim: to encourage students to analyse the English all around them every day.
Test what they know: Give them the picture of Bob in the bin and let them come up with some ideas as to why he is there. I’ll bet you dollars for doughnuts you only get “maybe”. Put those sentences aside and tell the students you’ll be coming back to them later and you’ll be upgrading the language in them.
Intro: If your students aren’t currently living in an English speaking country, these intro questions would have to be tweaked. The idea is to encourage them to learn English from the ads all around them. However, these days, with social media regardless of where they are living, they are very often exposed to English ads.
Reading: For these questions, students will have to use the information in the ad itself but also their own world knowledge. If they are quite young or are struggling with these questions, you may need to encourage them to apply their world knowledge of these types of websites.
Alternative to the above: if students are struggling, you could always get them to look up Gumtree and find out what services it provides.
Language focus 1: having established the context, students should be able to answer the vocabulary questions. See the teacher’s copy for the answers.
Language focus 2: Students work in pairs to analyse “might” and complete the rules. Check as a class and help with any questions.
Test what they have learnt: Students should be able to rewrite their sentences about Bob using “might”. Focus on reformulating any present sentences they gave earlier.
Practising the skill: it’s the skill of analysing language that’s really important here. Display the second ad and let them draw their own conclusions. E.g. what kind of person are they talking about, what patterns with “might” are there, and ultimately, how do we use “might” in the past?
Test what they have learnt 2: Bring Bob back in and let them consider how he got himself in this predicament. I’m sure there were a few examples from task 1. If not, let them come up with them now.
Note: at this point other uses of “might” might come up (e.g. might have done). If it comes up, I see no harm in teaching it.
So we finally have it, Barry London’s second official lesson. If you haven’t seen the previous one it’s right here. The idea we came up with was that seeing as how for some reason every character in my lessons is called, Barry, we’d just embrace this and create a person and give him a string of lessons. They’re for different levels and will look at different aspects of the language. Also, they do not need to be done in any sequence. They do not build on each other.
This one is very different to our normal lessons in that it looks at descriptive writing and study skills in more detail than we normally would. It started out as a low level lesson but it was most definitely a high level one by the end.
I’d recommend this lesson as something different to do at the end of the week or course or for more creative students. It’s definitely not a straight grammar lesson.
Level: Upper Intermediate / Advanced
Time: 2 – 3 hours
Objective: to encourage sts to record language in context and to think about metaphors and imagery in creative writing.
In an attempt to claw back some credibility after ‘the script’ lesson, I bring you a tense review based on an article on the Rolling Stones. It is a good one to use either as a diagnostic or as a review. There are also a couple of interesting bits of lexis, should be fairly easy to do from the worksheet and as a warmer there is a listening element made from the direct speech from the text, which you can return to later if you fancy.
And as if that were not enough, there is also going to be a follow up listening lesson with Paint it Black!
This as is often the case with our lessons asks you to train students to notice the grammar and there is some vocab to work out from context. The worksheet should be pretty easy to follow I hope.
Apologies for the listening, couldn’t find it online so had to do it myself!
Level: Int +
Aim: to review / test tense awareness
Picture: just follow worksheet
Listening: The idea here is to get the students thinking about what is actually being said, and so rather than standard gist questions I have made a task where they have to paraphrase what the person is saying, this will be hard as there will be some vocab that may be unknown in this context ‘cut’ for example. However, the idea is to start to give them the tools to deal better out of class. Don’t worry about playing the recording a few times or even, give them a time limit, send it to them via ‘What’s app’ and they can listen as many times as they need in that time. They can then read to check if they were right.
first read to check listening
Read to answer gist questions – answer together
Just as it says really, give students a time limit, you know your class! As i said above, this is either a diagnostic or revision, works for either. I would go a bit demand high on this though during the feedback, so on the past simple, “why is it past simple? which time phrase is used?” How else could the present continuous be expressed grammatically? that sort of thing.
Follow the worksheet, as a follow on, i often ask the students to find examples of direct speech by musicians they like and turn them into direct speech and bring it to class next time or email them to me to check.
Vocab from context:
More of our training, I know we put this into almost every lesson, but getting your students comfortable in working out meanings for themselves is important and the more practice they are given, the better they will get.
Listening (the return):
Now get students to listen again to the first recording, they should find it much easier. Here is where you could highlight some of the following:
OK Once is not actually my favourite film but it’s not bad at all. I was in the middle of a lesson the other day and this was the only film I could think of. I did this lesson (or a version of it) and it went really well.
It’s a simple low-level lesson and if you do similar lessons or activities little and often, you really will begin to get slightly more autonomous students. The whole idea is to encourage them to notice the language that’s all around them just a little bit more.
In this case, they have a tiny text but they’re going to use it to notice 3 language points as well as working on noticing errors and getting the meaning of vocab from context.
Level: elementary / pre-intermediate
Time: 1 – 3 hours
Objective: to encourage sts to notice language in context
If you’re looking for some more film related lessons try this one or this one.
Tip: If a film comes up in class that your students don’t know, do a research hunt. Give them 3 minutes and send half the class to IMDB and half to Wikipedia and then see what they come up with. It’s great for practising independent research skills.