Responding to a Reading – Critical Reading

Continuing the theme of IELTS lessons, this is another that looks to help students with their exam but also their university studies after.

This looks to explore what arguments are being made and then asks students to respond to them. Stance and criticality are key elements of university study. The ability to understand a writer’s ideas and then use them in their own writing will be tested but sometimes perhaps gets lost in the IELTS classroom. This is a lesson which will work a little on reading skills, but which mostly seeks to prepare students for university. That in turn makes it suitable for any high-level class.

Of course, you can, and should, do all the other lovely textploitation things with a grammar and lexis focus.

Level: IELTS / Advanced / Proficiency

Aim: To give students an opportunity to examine a writer’s opinion and respond to it.

Procedure: 

Reading Skills – Prediction

  1. Direct Students to the worksheet and put them in pairs to discuss what the terms could mean. Focus students on the form of the words. Remember to stress the importance of prediction as a reading skill.
  2. Read to check – Now ask the students to read the text and find out what the two terms mean. Ask the students which reading techniques they will use: ‘Scanning’ to find the terms and then ‘deeper reading’ to understand.
  3. To check understanding and practice paraphrasing, ask the students to write their own definitions. Encourage them to think of synonyms and to use different grammar structures. This might be a time to bring in the idea of plagiarism if they haven’t discussed it before. Below are the sections of the text that would need to be paraphrased:

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a policy whereby a financial payment is made to every citizen, unconditionally, without any obligation to work, at a level above their subsistence needs.

Half-Earth – the simple but profound idea that environmental repair could come from allocating half the Earth’s surface primarily for the benefit of other species

 

Reading – Note-taking

  1. This skill will help with IELTS tasks such as matching, but it is a skill I encourage all of my students to do every time they read an exam text. Ask the students to skim read the text – set a time limit (5mins) – encourage them to take notes in the margins.
  2. Now ask them to compare their notes to their classmates. Make your own notes and see how similar your students are.

NB The article roughly fits a situation / problem / solutions / questioning solutions and conclusion structure.

Reading – Stance and argument

  1. Ask the students to reread the text and look for the writer’s opinions. Then follow the instructions on the worksheet.

Answers: People would still work; break link between work and consumption; ability to say no to undesirable jobs; chance to think long-term

2.

Answers: Reforesting already in action / our views on nature are forged by our society / re-establishing humans as part of nature / seems popular

note taking on different sections – explain how it helps with matching

Students’ Reactions

Ask students to work in pairs or small groups and discuss the points on the worksheet.

Writing: summary and reacting to it in an academic style to be set as homework.

When marking, encourage students for their content, don’t just mark the grammar and the vocab. Look at the structure, arguments and how they are supported and their paraphrasing / summarising skills.

Materials:

Original article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/12/universal-basic-income-and-rewilding-can-meet-anthropocene-demands

Reading and tense discovery: “I caught a falling baby”.

So, the inspiration for this came yesterday at the Pearson Amazing Minds day in London. Ken Beatty mentioned this story and as he put up one of the direct quotations, I found myself just looking at the past tenses thinking, “ooooh, lesson”. I really am that dull.

The lesson itself is fairly standard textploitation. We have a text, we are going to look at the grammar used, look to build learner autonomy with the vocabulary and investigate a litte bit of pronunciation. Also borrowing in the grammar from the wonderful Danny Norrington-Davies ( https://dannynorringtondavies.wordpress.com/ )asking students to identify what the grammar is doing and why it is used.

Like with all textploitation this focuses on a little and often.

Let’s go.

Level: Intermediate (with support) / Upper Intermediate / Advanced

Objective:

  • By the end of the lesson, students will be better able to analyse language in context and to recognise subtle differences in meaning.

Aims:

  • To analyse language in context (vocab / grammar)
  • To build the skills needed for the above
  • To practice the schwa and connected speech

Time: 2-3hrs

Procedure:

Pre Reading:
Prediction task.

  • Write the phrase “I caught a falling baby” on the board and ask students what they think happened immediately before.
  • Ask them to create and build a back story.
  • Put them into pairs or groups for this.
  • Then do feedback as a class.

Prompt them with questions such as where did this happen / when. Also, ask them to justify these answers.

Reading:
Skimming

Ask them to quickly find out:

  • Where the story took place?
  • How the baby got out of the apartment?
  • Why was it not surprising the woman caught the baby?

Natural Response

Place the students into small groups and ask the following questions:

  • Did you find the story interesting?
  • Did anything surprise you?
  • Do you think the woman is a hero?
  • Do you think that the parents of the baby should be punished?

(you could break these questions into two sets if you prefer)

Grammar:

Rather than looking at the whole text this lesson breaks the text into little chunks.

Make sure the students really look at the function and use of the grammar. Do not let them just trot out grammar book rules.

Exercise 1

(picture is of Christina Torre just for context and as the sheet was looking dull)

“I’ve always known that I’m very quick with my hands. If someone throws something, I catch it almost before I’m aware it has been thrown.”

  1. present perfect and present simple
  2. Present perfect is used to describe a skill / ability that the person has had for ever. – the adverbs ‘always’ is a natural fit here. Present simple is used for a fact / ability. Encourage the students to think of how the present perfect and present simple work with each other.
  3. 0 conditional + the present perfect time clause
  4. 0 conditional is used to refer to something that always happens “If someone throws something, I catch it”, the present perfect here relies on ‘almost before’ and I think places the time close to the first ‘throws’ in the conditional. It doesn’t neatly fit any rule, and that is important for you to get across to your students.

Exercise 2

For these put students in pairs to check before doing all class feedback.

I was going to visit a friend with her newborn and was on my way to a toy store to buy a gift. I’d once lived in the neighbourhood and on a whim I decided to head back to my old haunt, a cupcake shop, for a coffee.”
Vocabulary

On a whim (adverbial phrase) – spontaneously – normally used in positive stories. It is important to let students think about connotation as well as meaning

I decided to head back to my old hauntMy old haunt – a place i used to spend a lot of time in. Get them to give you examples of their own ‘old haunts’ and provide examples yourself. Also, worth highlighting the meaning of head back to here.
Grammar

  1. Past version of be going to used to talk about a plan that did not happen.
  2. Past simple used for the main actions in the story.
  3. Past perfect used to refer to a time before the time of this story.

Extra – ask if they can find other examples of these tenses being used.

Exercise 3

“I just wanted the child, who I later found out was called Dillon, to feel safe”

  1. extra info
  2. yes

(if they ask about why there seem to be two clauses in the relative clause I told them that find out always needs an object) sentence could be rewritten as just “who was called Dillon”. If they don’t ask, I wouldn’t raise it at this stage)

Exercise 4

We didn’t practise together, but I guess my reflexes must have naturally developed.

  1. it could fit in the beginning, between the clauses, or at the end. (Though) We didn’t practise together, (though) I guess my reflexes must have naturally developed (though).
  2. The first place sounds more formal, the middle is possible but quite informal(to me, not so natural), the end is also informal

I was approached by a typical Brooklyn older man, who in a calm and very matter-of-fact way told me to call 911, because there was a baby on a fire escape.

  1. because –> as / since
  2. because (informal / neutral), as (neutral), since (formal)

(If you wanted here you could extend this by asking them to rewrite using ‘despite’ or in the second sentence maybe think about restructing using ‘so’

Exercise 5

“what would have happened if I hadn’t caught him.”

“if we let intuition lead us, we can deal with anything.”

  1. A – elicit the form from students
  2. Imaginary / hypothetical past – to talk about regrets or how situations could have turned out differently. “If I hadn’t been late, she wouldn’t have dumped me”
  3. It talks about every time / general time. It is general advice for the future.
  4. It is used at the end, to provide a motivating ending / student’s own answers may be more interesting than that.

Exercise 6

Vocabulary

This is focused on developing learner autonomy, so do not let them use dictionaries until they have tried to work out the meaning themselves. Explain why, get them to think of substituting other words etc.

  • looking around nonchalantly – without a care
  • baby boy became my only priority. – my main focus
  • Apparently he had slipped through pieces of cardboard – people told me (might suggest surprise)
  • Instinctively, he grabbed on as he fell, – without thought
  • my attention was purely focused on my intention to catch the baby – purely means solely or only here
  • As he tumbled, he hit a protruding plastic sign – tumbled – fell / protruding – it was sticking out
  • it turned out it was only his lip that had been cut – we later found out
  • Dillon’s parents had been woken by the commotion – the noise and fuss

Exercise 6

The reality of saving someone’s life is intense. I play it over in my head so many times, I think it has changed me. I am calm and more at ease with things. I study mindfulness, and I see now that if we let intuition lead us, we can deal with anything. I think I was meant to be there.

This paragraph has present simple / present perfect / past simple and a 0 conditional. Again get them to think about why each tense is used – sometimes the reasons are not the same as earlier.

Pronunciation

The idea is to look at the schwa and the effect that it has on rhythm when we are speaking.

Schwas are in bold (different native speakers may decide differently. To me, this is the most likely.) Connected words underlined

  1. ‘The reality of saving someone’s life is intense. I play it over in my head so many times’

Ask the students to practice saying the words, model and drill, but really focus on the schwa and the connected words.

If you wanted to do further work, you could ask them to work in pairs and select another piece of direct speech and examine it, looking for the same features.

Further practice:

You could ask students to find a news story that they found interesting and examine the grammar in it. Bringing it to a future class and asking them to explain it to others in a group and discussing it.

Materials:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/18/experience-i-caught-falling-baby

Murder Mystery Part 3 & 4

So, this is the follow up to the lesson: https://textploitationtefl.com/2017/07/11/modals-of-deduction-a-murder-part-1-2/

It has quite a bit of listening, they are included here, but feel free to rerecord them using colleagues. They are not my finest.

Aim: to practice modals of deduction / create opportunities for using them in speaking. Reading and listening practice and vocab building.

Level: Pre-Int / Int / High Int / Upper Intermediate (The lower levels will find it challenging, but that is fine, as long as you tell them it will be, and provide lots of scaffolding and support)

Procedure

Reading:

You could do this as a jigsaw reading, where the students have different information they have to share with each other, if you have the right number of students, or you could dictate one and get students to do the remaining two as a jigsaw. Alternatively, you could pass them all to the students.

For further reading on Jigsaw readings see: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/jigsaw-reading

Vocab:

Answers: A – 4, B – 6, C – 1, D – 5, E – 3, F – 2

Modal verbs:

Just an opportunity for the students to practice the target language. Encourage them to share ideas and support them with linking words. As groups ask them to present the questions or pieces of information they would like to be able to say who committed the crime.

Listening:

This is challenging, you might need to play it more than once. For the answers try to encourage the students to give fuller answers.

If they are really struggling you could ask them to read it and listen at the same time.

Answers:

  1. No they have different interests.
  2. He says they get on fine as they avoid each other.
  3. He wanted Adam to take over the family business.
  4. He uses it for his photographs.
  5. Obviously this is subjective, but no, he is rude, arrogant – try to get the students to explain this.
  6. Not happy at all.
  7. Yes very.
  8. Working with stones from the fruit trees – encourage students to think why this may be significant.
  9. He didn’t say what really, he just said some tools.
  10. It’s normal / he is surprised it is illegal.

Encourage them to think further about the new evidence and to make suggestions. If you have time get them to build up a picture of what they think happened and explain it to the class.

Prepositions

  1. on
  2. of
  3. at (but in also works)
  4. up

Optional task

This is something I like to do, but can easily be left out, ask the students to find a picture online using their phones which represents what they think the three characters look like and ask them to justify their choices.

Modals

Encourage the students to make statements using must have and can’t have related to the story.

The ending

I did this as a cut up and asked them to match the sections to the different times shown below.

  1. 9.00
  2. 11.00
  3. 11.45
  4. 15.00
  5. 16.00
  6. 18.30

The end is in order, but the times are attached in the tapescript page.

After, ask the students to explain in pairs or groups what has happened in the story to check understanding. Monitor and do all class feedback.

Ask them what surprised them / annoyed them about the story.

Follow up:

I asked them to write a short newspaper article which enabled us to practice passives and recycle some of the vocabulary seen. I did it as pair work, but of course it could be done as homework.

Materials:

 

Adam Brown

Jim Birch 

Leslie Forbes 

 

 

 

 

Modals of deduction – A murder – Part 1 & 2

So, I have been teaching modals recently and I wanted to make modals of deduction a little more interesting. Voila: here we go.

This lesson has a lot of reading, which should give the opportunity for some past tense work as well as lexis.

It’s a murder mystery and the students work out who did it from clues, gives them the chance to work as pairs.

It is a challenge; I haven’t really altered vocabulary too much. I hope though that it gives them some good reading, grammar and speaking work.

It is also a long one, so I am serialising it. The next sections will follow shortly.

Aim: to practice modals of deduction / create opportunities for using them in speaking. Reading practice and vocab building.

Level: Pre-Int / Int / High Int / Upper Intermediate (The lower levels will find it challenging, but that is fine, as long as you tell them it will be, and provide lots of scaffolding and support)

Procedure:

Start with the reading – Part 1.

The aim of the gist is just to get the students thinking about the set up of the story. For me the answers are all in the text except for the 4th question, which is all about opinion. Some students said they were rich, others poor. At this stage that doesn’t matter, but encourage them to justify why they think that. Here is also a place for them to use modals so you could board some examples.

E.g. He’s sat at a desk so they might have a study so they could be rich. / They have two floors so the can’t live in a flat.

  1. She is the dead man’s wife. / widow
  2. They are married
  3. He has died
  4. We don’t know, but see above
  5. Not in London – “she was away in London”

Ask the students to write 3 sentences describing the situation using could / might / must in the present.

The vocab section encourages learner autonomy, try to discourage them from using dictionaries.

  • a) wrist
  • b) icily cold
  • c) slumped
  • d) tut
  • e) pulse

Modals:

  • First use of modals: monitor and board examples, correcting errors and encourage them to think about the pronunciation of have – /əv/
  • Group feedback – see what the students think – get them to talk to each other in groups.
  • board examples and correct errors

 

(Feel free to do other normal textploitation things, such as focusing on the tenses used. I use it to ask the students what the pronouns refer to as I often find these are overlooked.)

Pronouns: 

Ask the students to underline the uses of ‘it’ in the text.

The room felt icily cold as she walked into it. Her fingers felt for the light-switch on the wall. It was never where she thought it was. She found it and suddenly the room was bathed in light. Her husband was where he normally was, at his desk. He was slumped over and was sleeping. She walked over to the desk, put the lid onto the open bottle of whisky, and tutted. She didn’t like him drinking so much, but he always did when she was away in London. She ran a hand through his hair. He felt cold. She pushed him back so that she could look at him. It was then that she realised something was wrong. She stared at him, he wasn’t breathing. She grabbed his wrist, no pulse, nothing. Upstairs her son was woken by the sound of uncontrolled screams.

what does each one refer to?

  1. the room
  2. light-switch
  3. the light-switch
  4. the light-switch
  5. the moment she pushed him back

Reflection: Ask students how the text would be different if ‘it’ hadn’t been used.

Extra:

N.B. I was unsure that my students had fully followed all the details of part 1 so I asked them to act it out in small groups, I had 12 so I put them into groups of three, one of them being a director and telling the others what to do. I was surprised how willing they were and it ended up being really good as a way of checking understanding in a different way and gave the class a different feel.

Part 2

Prediction: Encourage your students to take guesses about the victim from the photo and only then let them read the report to check their assumptions.

Students read the police report, take notes and discuss ideas as to what has happened, have their ideas changed?

Checking understanding:

Ask students to decide if the following questions are true or false – ask them to try to answer from memory – they can check after.

  1. He has been married once.
  2. He sometimes plays golf.
  3. He owns a company making computers.
  4. He is well off.

Answers:

  1. false
  2. false – he is a keen golfer and member of the club, probably plays more
  3. false – distributes components / parts
  4. true – owns two houses

 

Vocab:

Read the forensic report and ask them to match the definitions to the words in the text.

  • a) the deceased
  • b) appeared
  • c) condition
  • d) intruder
  • e) other substances
  • f) laboratory

Listening:

  • Ask the students to take notes and then compare them in groups. I played the recording 3 times.
  • Then ask them to decide which pieces of information was the most important for the case.

Below is the tapescript with the sections I think most important underlined

Hi is that the chief inspector? Good, good. This is Laura Donavon from the lab. Right, I have some information for you. Mr Brown did not die of natural causes. In fact, from the tests we’ve carried out on his body we are 75% sure he died of poisoning. Yes, I know. We examined the crystals in the glass and it was definitely poison. Now, this is the really interesting bit. We think it was cyanide, and I know what you are thinking, but let me tell you a bit about cyanide. It can be swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin and it stops people being able to take in oxygen, causing an ‘internal asphyxia’.  The victim suffocates to death as he breathes in oxygen he cannot use. Yeah, not very nice is it. Yeah, yeah,  effects are almost immediate. Oh, and you might want to know something about this, it can be made from the stones of fruits as well as from chemicals, so something for you to think about there. Yeah, good luck with the enquiry.

Reflection:

Once the students have understood this, ask them to reflect on what they know so far and what they think may have happened now.

 

More to come soon and let us know what you think.

P.S. thanks to Jess for recording the text for me. x

Materials:

Word Doc: Murder Mystery part 1 & 2

PDF Doc:    Murder Mystery part 1 & 2

 

Listening: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reported Speech: Trump in Quotes

So, I was challenged by a friend to write a lesson using Donald Trump’s quotes for reported speech. It was tricky but here it is.

The idea is largely about bridging the gap between the language rules and the real world. We don’t always just step back a tense, very often we focus on the message and paraphrase.

Objective: By the end of lesson, students will be better able to report longer pieces of speech.

Sub aim: to encourage students to think about using their language / synonyms to understand difficult words in context.

  • Time: 2 – 3 hours
  • Level: Intermediate and above

 

Materials:

  1. Trump in quotes

Ads on the Tube – Reported Speech

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:

Level: Elementary / Pre-Intermediate

Time: 1 – 2 hours

Objective: By the end of the lesson, students will be more aware of how to report speech in English.

Aims

  • To analyse context
  • To read between the lines
  • To analyse language in context

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Intro: the idea here is just a discussion to get them thinking about the idea of using ads for language analysis.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Irishisms + Referencing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  • Level: Intermediate / Upper Intermediate / Advanced
  • Time: 1 -2 hours

 

Materials:

  1. Teachers’ copy: Irishisms + context teachers copy
  2. Worksheet: Irishisms + context

Procedure:

 

Intro / first reading:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Language focus

  1. sts match up the Irishisms using the information in the vocabulary section.
  2. Sts re-read the text to check what the words in bold refer to in the text.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. Sts should also see if there’s anything they could add to section 2 above.
  6. Teacher directs sts to final comprehension questions and checks as a class.
  7. 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.

 

International Women’s Day (The passive)

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.

Aims:

  1. To examine how / when we use the passive voice.
  2. To give students a reason to read.
  3. To encourage students to analyse language in context before going to their dictionaries.

Level: High elementary / Pre intermediate / Intermediate

Time: 2 – 3 hours

Material:

  1. Women’s Day – teachers’ copy
  2. Women’s Day

Procedure:

  1. 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.
  2. Answer their questions: The paragraph from Wikipedia should give them some history to the day. Discuss as a class.
  3. Vocabulary 1: The words here shouldn’t be tricky for them but they give them some key language for later.
  4. 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.
  5. Creating interest: the picture and info box about Emily Davison is designed to awaken some interest. Discuss as a class.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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”.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

“Might” – learning from advertisements

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”.

The first can be found here.

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.
  • Time: 60 – 90 minutes

Materials:

  1. Might is all around us
  2. Might is all around us – Teacher’s copy
  3. Might – Practising the skill – picture 2

might

Procedure:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Alternative to the above: if students are struggling, you could always get them to look up Gumtree and find out what services it provides.
  5. Language focus 1: having established the context, students should be able to answer the vocabulary questions. See the teacher’s copy for the answers.
  6.  Language focus 2: Students work in pairs to analyse “might” and complete the rules. Check as a class and help with any questions.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Identifying text types

The idea with this lesson is twofold (love that word):

  1. get sts thinking about what is appropriate in different text types.
  2. make them more aware of what they can learn from the little things all around them.

It’s a simple little lesson but it works.

  • Level: pre-intermediate and above
  • Time: 1 -2 hours
  • Aims: see above

 

Materials:

  1. worksheet (word): text types
  2. worksheet (PDF): text types
  3. Teachers’ worksheet: text types teachers’ copy
  4. Audio: