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.
- Level: Intermediate / Upper Intermediate / Advanced
- Time: 1 -2 hours
- Teachers’ copy: Irishisms + context teachers copy
- Worksheet: Irishisms + context
Intro / first reading:
- 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.