How can I write it if I don’t know what it is?

So, this lesson was something I taught yesterday to try to help my students with their writing, I only took over the class recently and in the needs analysis a few of them stated that they needed to work on their writing, two of them telling me that they hadn’t been able to join the advanced level because they hadn’t done well in the writing paper of the level test.  When I asked what had been wrong with the writing, one reported that the writing had been “good but in the wrong style”, I asked what she meant, but she just said, that was what she had been told and wasn’t sure how to change it.  A quick check with the rest of the class confirmed that she was not alone in being a bit lost when it came to how to write in different styles, so I thought I would start at the beginning.

That’s what this lesson is, a beginners guide to genre, or a quick revision of it, whichever you prefer.

Aim: to increase awareness of genre and register in writing, so that the know the key features so that they are at least aware of what they should be using for different writing

Level: High Int + (the class I did this with yesterday were a pre-advanced level)

Procedure:

1. Cut the extracts out from the page, stick them on the wall and invite the students to read them with some background music playing. (I only did this to generate interest as I felt handing them a piece of paper would be a little dull.) While reading I asked them to think about what type of writing they were and where they thought they had come from.

2. Ask them to sit down and discuss it in pairs or groups for a few minutes

3. Write the possibilities on the board and ask them to match the types of writing to the possibilities in their groups.  Once most of them had got close to finishing I asked them to sit down and gave them the worksheet so that they could look at them and confirm their decisions.

4.  Check the answers but at this stage I gave them the answers only, I did not give them reasons.

5. Elicit from the students how they knew the first one was an essay and wrote what they put on the board.  I then asked them as a group to go through the other examples explaining what features of the text they thought were typical.  I monitored and helped to steer them in the right direction if they were lost.

6. Group feedback – you could give them the answer sheet here, but I think it is more fun to elicit and get the information from the students.

7. Give the students the opportunity to check any vocabulary they don’t know, they may have done this already, as always try to encourage them to guess the meanings, but help if needed. (you could arrange a matching exercise here if you wanted with meanings, but as it wasn’t the main focus of the lesson I chose not to this time)

8. Ask the students to arrange the different types of writing into similar styles, don’t set them any rules here, what they decide is often very interesting and useful for them.  If you have them get them to write it up on the IWB, the different groups.  Make sure all the groups are involved even if it is only to affirm other groups decisions.

You can obviously make your suggestions once they have discussed theirs.  For example, all of the formal types together, etc.

Follow on: Obviously writing, but where you go totally depends on your students and where you feel they need practice.  The easiest would be to carry on the story.

You could also get them to predict what the title of the article might be, or activities that get them interacting with the texts more.

Hopefully the good thing is that this lesson can be referred back to whenever you want to focus students on different genres.

 

Materials: 

1.Genre

2. Answers

The Passive Voice: A quick revision

I’m a big fan of using short articles in lessons and although I’m loathe to admit it, the Metro is a great source of material as the articles are usually quite short and not too difficult for the students. Very often, after I’ve taught a language point, I like to revisit it a week or a few days later. My favourite way to do this is to examine it in its natural surroundings. For the passive voice, I very often use newspaper articles.

This is a nice little lesson I did a few years ago. I’ve always enjoyed it. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Materialpassive- an article

Time: 1.5 – 2 hours (depending on follow-up activities)

Level: Pre-int and upwards

Procedure:

(1)

Intro

I like to introduce this with the following discussion questions. It gets the students warmed up, gets them talking from the beginning of the lesson and can be revisited later.

  1. do you read much in English?
  2. what have you read so far today?
  3. do you read English newspapers?
  4. what are the benefits of reading English newspapers?

Feel free to do any error correction you like after this but I think question 4 is the most important. By the end of the lesson you want them to realise that articles can be used, not only for vocabulary and reading practice but also to consolidate their grammar.

I would put their answers from question 4 up on the board, or take a note of them somewhere to refer back to later.

(2)

Pre-Reading

Explain to the students they’re going to read an authentic article from the newspaper and direct them to the prediction questions a the top of the material. NB: make sure they read the second article about the lollipop man. A little bit of ICQing here is important.

Once they’ve come up with some ideas, ask them to skim the article (give them a time and stick to it or you’ll have students painstakingly trawling their way through this tiny article, underlining every second word).

Check their ideas as a class and if needs be, display an image of a lollipop man.

(3)

Vocabulary Focus

Direct the students towards the key vocabulary and allow them to work together without dictionaries to match the definitions to the words/phrases in the text.

if you like, you can allow them to check their ideas with a dictionary afterwards.

(4) 

Post-reading: Engage with the text

At this point I think it’s hugely important that students engage with the text in a meaningful way. They now know the key words and have access to the entire text but what do they think about it? I’ve avoided providing questions here as I don’t like making it an exercise as such.

I usually sit down with the students, try to get them in a circle or small groups and just chat about the article. What do they think? Do they have this kind of job in their country? Is it necessary? What are their local councils like? Do they have much contact with them? Would you find this kind of story in their newspapers?

You just want them engaging and giving an opinion. Judge it yourself and if you need to give them guiding questions, then go for it.

(5)

Language Focus:

At this point, you want to draw their attention to the passive in the text. I’ve pulled out one sentence for them. I’d start by asking them if it’s active or passive and how they know.

then let them off to answer the questions below and discuss as a class when they’re finished.

(6) 

Reflection:

Bring back out their answers from question 4 at the beginning of the lesson and ask them if there’s anything else they can use articles (or any reading text) for. At this point hopefully they’ll mention grammar and you can chat about noticing language points in texts and the benefit of taking a second to look how it’s being used.

(7)

Follow-up 1

I’ve given you some passive V active practice sentence transformation on the second page that students can do for homework or in class as immediate practice.

I’ve also given you a second article that again can be done for homework or in class. Students can immediately practise what they have learnt above and use the article to notice the passive voice.  I would also show them how it can be used to gather word chains (groups of words in a text on the same topic), in this instance it’s CRIME vocabulary.

(8)

Follow-up 2

If you’ve done the first follow-up exercise, I’d get them to do some writing practice using the passive voice and the crime vocab. What you end up with is an article based on what they’ve gleaned from the articles. The idea is that they can go out and try the same with other articles and texts.

Pronouns – giving cohesion to students’ writing

This lesson is based on something I did with an Upper Intermediate class.  With some of them it really did make a big difference to their writing, well, to the ones who took it on board and applied it.  For some of them, it was a bit of a challenge and it is not a panacea but a bit like the articles lesson we put up earlier, it just focuses students on why we use pronouns, what they do, and what they refer to, getting them to notice them.

This is also useful as a little extra for FCE/CAE students as in the long multiple choice reading activities there are often questions asking the students to choose what the pronoun in a certain line is referring to.

This lesson can be done with any text and as a follow up activity, I would recommend that you incorporate a bit of a focus on pronouns regularly after doing this lesson.

Not wanting to confuse the students or put them off, I have only focused on ‘it’ in this lesson, though obviously, if you think your class are ready for more then take the idea and expand it however you want, and let us know how it goes.

Aim: to get students to think about the use of ‘it’

Level: Upp Int + (though if you have a strong Int they might be able to do it)

Time: 45mins-1hr

Procedure: 

1. Speaking – generating interest: Get students to think about their favourite songs, what are the themes/topics in the song?  Chat and compare in pairs or small groups.  Maybe ask if anyone has ever written a song.

2. Reading – context and content: What advice is given by the writer, do the students think it is good advice?

3. Vocab – synonym hunt: Ask the students to try to match up the words, explain that the words are in order in the text.

4. Pronouns – what are they doing: Firstly ask the students to underline ‘it’ in the text.

Then ask them to answer the question at the bottom of the page about what the first ‘it’ refers to, the answer is writing in this case.

Now ask the students to think about what each of the other 8 examples of ‘it’ refers to.

5. Pronouns – function: Ask the students whether each ‘it’ in the text is used to help avoid repetition or introduce an idea?  Check as a class

Materials: pronouns worksheeets

 

Follow up activities

1. For homework you could ask the students to find a text and repeat the activities on pronouns, what do they refer to and what is the function?

2. Set students some writing and before they hand it in, get them to examine their own work for pronouns, and to check what they are replacing, or what they refer to.

Filling out a form – Job applications

So, every Monday we get another bunch of lovely students coming through our doors and the first thing we do is ask them to fill in a form with their personal details. Having done this in another language, it’s not always the easiest thing to do at low levels.

This lesson is quick and easy but can really help any low level students you have who might be interested in getting a part-time job in English or just with filling in forms in general.

Level: Elementary / pre-intermediate

Materials:

  1. Job advertisement
  2. APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENT

Time: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Procedure:

(1)

Intro

I  like to start off slowly with this lesson by asking students to think of all of the different jobs they could physically do with their current level of English and then discussing the kinds of duties each role would involve. You could also talk about their jobs or the jobs they’d like to have, anything to get them thinking/talking about jobs.

(2)

Pre-Reading

I tell the students they’re going to read a job ad but first they should think with their partners about what kind of info they’d expect to see in this ad.

(3)

Reading

Get the students to skim through the job ad and tick off the information they had correctly predicted would be there. Then discuss as a class.

Direct the students to the comprehension questions and then let them work through the vocabulary exercise. It’s quite nice even at this level to encourage them to notice and analyse language instead of reading for their dictionaries every five seconds.

(4) 

Post-reading

First of all I like to have a chat about the job itself and give the students a chance to discuss it. Any discussion questions you like would be appropriate but I usually go with these ones:

  • Have you ever worked in a restaurant? How was it?
  • Do you think you’d be a good waiter?
  • What was your first job?
  • Have you ever done a job you hated?

After the discussion I tell the students they’re going to apply for this job and I hand out the application form for them to fill out by themselves but I give them a minute first of all to look at the headings with their partners and decide what information would go in each section and then we discuss it as a group so that they’re all prepared.

(5)

Follow-up

When all the students are done, I like to put them up around the room and have them move around in pairs and decide who was most suitable for the job. While they’re doing this, I take any mistakes or issues and board them for correction when they’re all done.

(6)

Other possible activities

If you like you could go into a bit more detail with the job ad itself:

  • You could analyse the question forms at the beginning?
  • You could have a look at the conditional sentence: if you answered yes to these questions, then don’t stop reading. which is very interesting as it doesn’t fall neatly into the strict first or second conditionals they made already come across. It’s always good to show them this variety and move away from rigid conditional forms that don’t allow them to express themselves fully.
  • You could look at the phone number (020 2555 7653) and look at how it would naturally be pronounced. There’s a rhythm that numbers follow and also explaining that “0” is pronounced “oh” instead of “zero”. You could also look at double 5 and triple 5.
  • Once you’ve analysed the type of language you might find in a job ad, you could give each group a job and have them write the advertisement.

Film Reviews: A Diagnostic Listening exerise

A long time ago I came across an article that argued that a Dictogloss would be used in class to assess a student’s listening ability, that it could be used as a kind of diagnostic listening and the results could inform your following lessons. Sadly I have lost the article and forgotten the name of the author…which is pretty crappy of me.

At the time, I remember thinking that it was quite an interesting idea. OK, we all know dictoglosses as a great way of introducing a topic, as a nice listening exercise and as a way of working on a student’s general knowledge of English syntax…but, with a little twist it can work as a diagnostic! I’ve only ever taught this lesson once or twice and it’s always been quite interesting. I could see why people might disagree with the idea above but try it out and let us know how it goes.

Time: 1- 3 hours (depending on which activities you choose to do)

MaterialsSafe House – Dictogloss

Level: Pre-int + above

Procedure:

(1) Intro

I suppose it’s good to get the ould schemata activated so any little discussion question on films will do here. “what’s the last film you saw?” “Would you describe yourself as a film buff?” “Can you describe the plot of a famous film from your country?”

If you’re giving feedback at this point, I’d focus on gathering adjectives to describe different films as this will be useful later.

(2)  Dictogloss

Hand out the page with the “Notes” box facing up. Make sure you tell the students not to turn over the page until you tell them to (if they do, give them a little tap on the nose, bad student!)

Let them know you’re going to read a description of a film to them but you’re going to read it at the normal speaking speed of a native speaker. Tell them to write down any words they hear in the “Notes” box. Read the description twice at normal speed and then allow students to check their answers.

(3)  Reflection

This is where the dictogloss changes into a diagnostic. The theory being that everything the students have written down is what they heard and everything else is what they have missed and therefore their notes can be used as a diagnostic of sorts.

Have the students turn over the page and compare their notes with the actual text. I usually get them to circle the words they got correct. Then direct them to the reflection questions below the text. This is the really interesting part. Encouraging your learners to think about why they found a listening task difficult and going beyond “You speak too fast” can be really useful for them.

Once they’ve done it, it’s important that you sit down with them and talk it through. Their answers should give you the information to plan what is taught in future lessons. For example:

  1. if they have combined two words into a new word, perhaps you need to focus on linking between words.
  2. if they have focused on grammar words and missed out on the important words, then you need to encourage them to focus on content words.
  3. if they’ve completely ignored any content words that were new to them, then perhaps you could help them with writing what they hear or raise their awareness of common English pronunciation Versus spelling rules.
  4. If it was a speed issue, perhaps this type of exercise should be repeated more often so that they’re more confident with taking notes while someone is talking.

At the very least, the students will be able to focus on their own issues. Let them know that you will be using their answers to inform their future lessons.

(4) Engaging with the text

We always think it’s important for students to have a real response to a text and not just do TEFLy exercises. At this point, following the quite heavy reflection stage, I usually get them to read the text very briefly one more time and then discuss the questions at the bottom of the page.

When you’re listening to them, think about the kinds of things you might say in this situation and then correct them based on that instead of just looking at grammar errors. Think of the natural pieces of English you would use. E.g. “It sounds…” , “I’m not really into / a fan of…”.

(5) Language Focus:

Even though this is a tiny little paragraph, you’ve got quite a bit to work with here. I usually pluck out one or two features and, instead of doing an entire grammar lesson based on it, just use it to train students to notice language in context.

For example, you could choose to focus on present perfect continuous versus present perfect by highlighting the sentence: “Frost has been working with the CIA for years but has recently changed sides” and asking them to compare the two forms and discuss why each was used in this situation. You could also briefly examine the passive “Frost is marched” or you could look at reduced relative clauses: “Frost, played by Denzel,…”. You’re spoilt for choice.

(6)  Writing follow-up

I think after all of this it’s nice for students to go back to the beginning of the lesson and think about the plot from a famous film in their country and write their own mini review. Limit the number of words and highlight the adjectives from the beginning of the class.

A nice idea once they’re finished it to put them up around the room and have students move around in pairs and discuss which films they’d be interested in seeing and which review grabbed their attention. Meanwhile you can be pulling out a few of the common errors and boarding them for a final feedback stage.

Writing skills: Punctuation

So if you’ve read many of our other blog posts, you’ve probably come across one or the other of us banging on about how writing skills don’t necessarily translate from a student’s L1. In my experience this is never more true than with punctuation, which strangely enough is something that we tend to ignore for the most part in the classroom. It’s something small and easily teachable that can have a huge effect on the target reader. Incorrect punctuation is immediately noticeable for a reader and can be quite off-putting (hahahaha, I hope I remember to read over this post very carefully before I put it up, it’s probably riddled with bad punctuation).

Just the other day I taught a lesson containing some phrasal verbs. As an optional revision exercise, I asked the students to write a short story containing 5 of the phrasal verbs. I did say it was optional but being the motivated little wonders they are, they all did it and had emailed me by the end of the day. Thankfully, they’d done really well and they’d nailed the usage of the phrasal verbs (more or less) but what stuck out in every story was the punctuation. It wasn’t that there was a lack of it, it was everywhere, as if they’d arbitrarily just flung commas and fullstops at their page after they’d written it.

It was my fault really as I’d never taught them anything about punctuation. So for the next class I went in with the following  lesson and their next piece of writing was much better.

Level: Elementary and up

Time: 1 hour

MaterialsPunctuation (City or Country)

Procedure:

(1)

Get their juices flowing:

Just to get them thinking about it, give them a minute to discuss the city versus the countryside. Then hand out the sheet (you might want to fold it so that they can only see the text at the top) and ask them if they agree with the opinion in the box. This should lull them into a false sense of security before you spring the writing skills part on them.

(2) 

The Text:

Now that they’ve read and discussed the little text, get them to take a slightly closer look at it. Have them discuss the questions underneath. What you’re going for here is that it’s just one long sentence with no clear point and too many commas. This can be quite common in student writing.

I’d discuss this a little as a class then at this point I think it’s important to clear up the name and use of common features of punctuation. Direct the students to the box at the bottom of the page and have them match up the names. They can often have trouble with this. I’d then take a few minutes to discuss their uses and allow students to take notes. Some interesting things that may come up are:

  • In a lot of languages ellipsis (…) can be used to mean etc. However, in English it’s used to signal a long pause or interruption.
  • Colons are often used in stories to signal direct speech. This is less common in English.
  • Semi-colons are sadly dying out in English, especially everyday writing but they can be a lot more common in language like Spanish or Italian. This can lead to overly lengthy sentences, which doesn’t come across well in English writing.
  • Students will often want to put full stops before “and”, “but” and “because”. While this is obviously not impossible in English, it can lead to short and unnatural sentences in student writing.

(3) 

Rewriting:

In pairs get your students to decide how they could improve the short text b punctuating it. Tell them that if they like they can remove or alter contractions to make it read better but that they shouldn’t change any other language. When they’re finished, discuss as a class.

I’d imagine you’re hoping for something like this:

The best thing about cities is the night life because you can go out and you can go to the pubs any time you like. Also, if you want to, you can get a night bus home at 4:00 in the morning if you have stayed out late. However, sometimes the night buses are very slow so you don’t get home until about 5:00 in the morning and that’s almost the next day.

But you may decide that another variation works better.

(4)

Practice:

Get the students to write their own opinion in the space at the bottom focusing carefully on punctuation. when they’re finished, let them compare with a partner and encourage peer correction. You could even put them up around the room and allow students to move around in pairs commenting on the punctuation and then feedback as a class.

The idea is to really get them thinking about how it can have a negative affect on the reader or make a text flow more easily.

Narrative tenses

This lesson is a nice follow up after you’ve taught the narrative tenses. I dug it out the other day and taught it to a class and it went really well so I thought I’d share it here. It’s pretty straight forward procedure-wise but it does look at the difference between different text types and allows for student creativity as well…which is always nice.

You could change it around a little and make it easier for lower levels by removing the past perfects and also, there’s a cheeky little passive in there as well to push the higher levels. I like to do it a week or so after I’ve taught the narrative tenses as a nice little review and consolidation but you can do it immediately afterwards as practice as well.

Level: Pre-intermediate and above

Materials: Cinema Queue – Narrative Tenses

 Procedure:

(1)

Intro

It’s simple really, the idea is that you want them to have really thought about the story first before they tackle the grammar. You’ll really have to check your instructions here because in my experience students physically cannot ignore a gapfill exercise if you put it in front of them.

Tell them you’re going to give them part of a whole story and you want them to read through it, ignoring the gaps and then decide what happened to James. Encourage them to be as imaginative as possible as this will help later.

Let them discuss it in groups and then feedback as a whole class. Feel free to put their ideas on the board and feed them some language they’re struggling with as it will all help them later on.

(2) 

Narrative Tenses

At this point, I now let them tackle the gaps. I encourage them to do this in pairs or small groups and be very emphatic about the fact that if they disagree, they’re to explain why and discuss it as a group. You could also let them know that in some situations two answers might be possible. (e.g. “Was being shown” could be “was showing” in the cinema).

Now I like to switch the groups around a bit and get them to reconsider their answers as very often students tend to do things they “know” are wrong. e.g. using the present simple when they clearly know it’s the past. Mixing up the groups gives fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. Again, highlight that if the answers are different they should discuss them.

finally, allow them to turn over the page so that they can check their answers. Get them to highlight the ones they got wrong and discuss why they got them wrong. Then deal with these issues as a whole class.

(3) 

The Text Message

This section can be done before the previous one if you like but I usually do it in this order.

Going back to their ideas of what happened to James, get your students to write the text message from James to Ben in the box provided. At this point I wouldn’t give them any pointers just let them at it, using any language you fed them earlier.

You’ll notice they probably use overly formal language or write overly long texts but it also gives them a chance to practise their narrative tense should they choose to.

Correct the texts as a class, focusing on formality and highlighting the differences between a text and a story.

(4) 

Follow-up / Homework

Finally, send them off for homework to write the story from James’ point of view. I’d recommend a little bit of peer correction at the beginning of the next class to really nail down these tenses as we tend to find it very difficult to find our own mistakes in a second language.

(5)

Optional Extra Activities

So, if you find they’re not too bored with the story by now. Here’s a few extra things you could look at:

  1. Turning direct speech into reported speech.
  2. Examining punctuation in stories, direct speech.
  3. Look at the features of connected speech in the direct speech. I suggest the weak forms e.g. “Are you talking to me?” becomes /əjuːtɔːkɪntəmiː/.

 

Writing a Film Review – Low level

I recently did a CPD session on teaching writing skills and dragged out all of my old writing lessons. This was a lesson I did with a PET class once but it works for any elementary or pre-intermediate class. A low elementary group might have some trouble with it but with some scaffolding they would cope. Also, it works with any review you could find or write yourself so please do feel free to change the film, I just always liked the idea of a butch Santa Claus.

What I’ve found over the years is that very often we assume writing sub-skills like paragraphing, organisation and punctuation will naturally translate from a student’s own language. However, this is not always the case. Too often, students see writing as a vehicle for showing off their vocabulary and grammar and ignore what they know about good writing in their own language. This lesson draws attention to structure and paragraphing at a low level which I feel is extremely important.

The worksheet is laid out quite easily for teaching so I’ve just added some tips and ideas for teaching in the procedure instead of going into massive detail.

MaterialWriting a Film Review – Rise of the Guardians

Level: Elementary – Intermediate

Procedure:

(1)

Getting them interested

The opening discussion questions here should serve to get the students interested in the topic. By monitoring carefully you can also be filling the board with errors and interesting language that emerges and will be useful for the students later on. Really focus on descriptive adjectives and nouns to describe films.

(2)

Activate Ye Olde Schemata

I think it’s important to get them thinking. In question 2 on the worksheet, the students are essentially preparing themselves to read by predicting what kind of information will be in there.

(3)

Engaging with the text

It’s important to give them a chance to not just read the text for language but to read it critically. The discussion questions in Q3  are designed to encourage this.

You may also notice I haven’t really given any comprehension questions. You could add them if you wanted but I don’t think that’s really the aim here. I want them focusing on content, organisation and thinking about the text as a whole.

(4)

Vocabulary focus

I do think it’s important to highlight that reviews will be rich in adjectives and adverbs. At this point I usually go back to the board from the beginning of the class and highlight the adj and adv that came up in Q1. I also encourage them to give me synonyms and opposites of the adjectives we have. It’s all preparing them for what’s to come later / for homework.

(5)

Organisation

Q5 + 6 can be done together but I think it’s nice for the students to go back and see that their predictions were correct and then to really focus on the order.

(6) 

Follow-up

Obviously we now want the students to go off and write a review. This can be done for homework if you like or it can be done collaboratively in class. If it’s done for homework, I would set aside some time for peer-correction at the beginning of the next lesson. I would prepare a review checklist to encourage students to edit their work. something like this;

  • Have you used appropriate paragraphs?
  • Have you used appropriate adjectives?
  • Does your title catch the reader’s attention?
  • Did you give your opinion at the end?
  • Did you give some information about the film?

The idea being that if they have answered YES to all of the questions, they have an appropriate review. If they haven’t , they have some editing to do before they give it in as a finished piece of work.

If you decide to do it in class collaboratively, you could choose a film they’ve all seen and assign each pair of students a paragraph. Then put them all together at the end. This really highlights the importance of paragraphing and having one point per paragraph.

A nice and easy recipe for a simple lesson.

I’ve always liked this lesson. It’s simple and there are no frills or anything. It just works every time and students seem to enjoy it. I decided to do it after I asked a Thai student to explain how to cook a Pad Thai. Basically, he started a game of charades interspersed with odd instructions and food I’d never heard of…he was an upper intermediate student.

This lesson can be done with any level from Elementary upwards but I would expect it to be revision for your average upper int or advanced student. My favourite thing about it is that there’s very little teacher talking time other than giving instructions, most of it is students working away and chatting…whoop whoop!!!

Materials:

  1. Yummy chicken in my belly – Recipe (You can use any recipe really and just change the pics)
  2. cooking vocab pictures – Photos (if you don’t like them, feel free to choose your own)

Procedure:

(1)

Test

Ask your students to think of a traditional dish from their country and to explain how they make it to their partners. Let them have a few minutes of this while you sit back and enjoy as the charades unfolds, then stop them and say OK OK OK, let’s come back to this later on guys.

(2)

Teach

  • Display the cooking pictures on the board and in pairs ask the students to think of the verb.
  • After a few minutes, hand out the recipe. Get them to check their verbs and add/correct any they didn’t know.
  • Don’t let them use their dictionaries. They should be able to work most of it out based on context and their knowledge of the genre (are recipes a genre? hmmm…today they are).
  • Meanwhile, write up all of the phonemics on the board for the verbs and any other pieces of vocab they are having difficulty with.
  • When they’re ready you can check they’ve got the verbs and pictures correct and then get them to match the phonemics on the board to the words in the recipe. A nice bit of drilling never goes astray either.

(3)

Test

Bring them back to their first activity and ask them now with their new-found verbs to explain how their dish is made to their partner. Choose one from each group to share with the class and do any error correction you so desire.

(4) 

Follow Up

What I find is that even though by the end of the lesson the students have been staring at the recipe for ages, they very often ignore the imperative nature of recipes. This is not something that needs much teaching but it’s good to draw their attention to it. Just ask them what grammar is used in the recipe and in what other situations can we use it.

After that I like to get the students to write up their recipes and make a class recipe book for the noticeboard in the class. It’s nice to have something at the end that they have produced and can look back on.

These recipes can be used to encourage peer-correction, collaboration, independent research skills or planning and editing skills.

If you’d like any more detail on any of this just leave a comment and I’d be happy to reply.

A bit of appropriacy please!

So, I’ve had a little obsession with using text messages / whats-app style messages in class over the past few weeks, hence this is the second lesson I’m putting up about texting. Soz!

The main reason for this is that we tend to focus on language in classes and very often miss out on appropriacy. Trust me, as someone who spends a lot of their time in correspondence with students, appropriacy is something we need to be looking at. What I’m talking about here is both style (levels of formality) as well as register (the right words for the right context).

Just the other day a student started a spoken conversation with my by saying: “Dear David,”

This cannot continue. Something must be done. It starts here. Actually that’s probably a little bit too extreme but it’s definitely something to think about.

 

Procedure:

I think the procedure for this one is pretty self-explanatory as you just follow the worksheet but the really interesting thing is focusing on the features of a text message. Think about examining the following:

  1. Informal vocabulary
  2. Lack of punctuation (but not in all instances e.g. we’re could look like were)
  3. Omitted words (e.g. You free on Tuesday?)
  4. Shortened words (e.g. Tue / Fri)

A lovely follow up for this exercise for this is, once they have got the appropriate text message language down and have practised with one of their one, give each student a pile of post-it notes and tell them they are going to have a whatsapp group chat, making plans for the weekend. One person starts off the conversation by writing a message and placing it on the wall in front of the group. From then on the conversation happens in real time. Each student can reply to the message(s) that came before but they have to keep an eye on the thread as their partners may send the message they had planned to send. It’s quite fun but also ties the lesson together and makes error correction quite easy at the end as you have all of the physical messages.

Let us know how it goes, if you’d like a more detailed procedure, leave a comment and I’ll put something together.

Material:

A) Making plans Text messages worksheet