Christmas Invite: “will” & participle clauses

This one is quite grammar heavy but there are a lot of skills in there as well. The biggest one is analysing grammar in context and this lesson draws heavily on Danny Norrington Davies’ idea of asking students “why” a particular language point has been chosen in this particular situation. We’ve really found that doing this little and often encourages our students to ask the same question of the language in the world around them.

Try it out and let us know how it goes.

  • Level: Intermediate / Upper Intermediate
  • Time: 90mins – 2 hours
  • Age: Adults
  • Objective: To be able to write an engaging invite to an event

 

Material:

This time for the material, I’ve gone with a presentation instead of a worksheet. I’ve tried to make the slides as intuitive as possible but let me know if you have any questions.

Email invite

 

 

Editing Texts – Exam Classes

I don’t know about you but I have had awful trouble in the past, trying to get my exam students to think beyond grammar and spelling when it comes to editing texts. I completely understand it, every writing exercise they’ve done in every language class ever has essentially been a language test and nothing more. Most of our correction keys (if we even use them) revolve around language errors and maybe paragraphing if they’re lucky. Then suddenly they rock up to an exam class and we start banging on about style and register.

Luckily, my girlfriend produced this email from her inbox the other day. And what a treat it was. Having kindly ordered some toys for our cat (in the hopes that it would play with them and not our ankles or toes) online, she patiently waited for a month before saying: “ehhhh…China, where are my toys?”. She received the email below. And it is fantastic!

cat toys

This is a quick and simple lesson, using a real email that just didn’t nail their communicative aim. It’s a nice way of highlighting to students that it’s not just about the spelling. The phrases you use can really miss the mark if you’re not careful. my favourite is: “we’re always here for you”.

Dear Customer.

Thanks for your e-mail, these are imported products,  under normal ,it will take 15-20 working days to arrive, I’m sorry to hear that you still have not received it , we contact with Logistic agent today, and have Urged them to send this package as soon as possible, now could you please check the delivery address:

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

If the address is correct, could help you to wait 2 days, when 2 days have passed, in normal it will be put in your  mail box directly , could you please atttention for this , my customer ,if days past , you still have not received, send me an e-mail, we will issue refund to you immediately, that’s ok? if you have something to this purchase, please send me email, we will solve it immediately. we are always here for you.

Keep in touch!

Best regards,

  • Level: Int and above
  • Time: 60 – 90 mins (this may take longer if you feel you need to teach a lot about punctuation. This lesson is designed more to raise awareness than to teach but it may be necessary depending on your group).
  • Objective: to encourage students to consider more than language errors when editing their own texts.

 

Materials:

  1. online shopping (word document)
  2. online shopping (pdf document)

Procedure:

This is a simple one as the students do all the work really.

  1. Discussion: activate a bit of schemata with a nice opening discussion on online shopping. Add in any questions you like.
  2. Gist reading: Sts skim the letter to find the purpose of the email.
  3. Second reading: Sts read it again and discuss how successful the writer is in getting their point across and whether or not it’s an example of “good” or “bad” writing. I suppose what you’re looking for here is that communication occurs and the fundamental information is there but that’s not enough. This text doesn’t read well and is largely inappropriate. 
  4. Pre-editing: Discuss as a class, what aspects of this email you might think about edting. Draw their attention to the editing tip below the email if they’re having trouble.
  5. Editing: sts edit in small groups.
  6. Comparing: I would put them up around the room gallery-style and let sts move around and compare each other’s work. Feedback as a whole class and take bits and pieces from each one.
  7. Comparing 2: reveal the sample answer on the back of the sheet and compare with sts answers. Did they miss anything? Were their ideas better than mine? Were there any sentences they should have deleted because they were irrelevant that they didn’t?
  8. Feedback as a whole class.
  9. Reflection: how can they apply this to their own writing.

 

Informal, formal and semi-detached-formal emails

In my current position I spend a large portion of my time speaking to students by email…which is great.

What I’ve noticed is that in general, my students tend to be either overly formal or overly informal or an odd combination of both. I also find ridiculously inappropriate sentences nestled in amongst otherwise normal emails.

In an effort to get them thinking about this issue, I came up with a quick and easy lesson for any level from pre-intermediate upwards. It’s can be used as an introduction to a larger lesson on formality in writing or it can be expanded and be a lesson in itself.

This lesson works particularly well with older students who are already using English at work but doesn’t need to be.

Time: 30minutes – 90 minutes

Materialsinformal semi-formal formal emails

Procedure:

(1)

As an intro, I like to ask sts to discuss some the questions on the top of the page. It gets them thinking about how they use English in their countries and what they find difficult.

(2) 

I always introduce this honestly, telling them that I find students often miss the level of formality. I tell them we will analyse two emails and decide on the formality.

(3)

I display the first one on the board, explain that both emails are between 2 colleagues (but they aren’t very close) and ask students to answer the following 2 questions:

  1. what is the objective of this email?
  2. is it formal, semi-formal or informal?

Without checking, I move on to the second one and repeat the questions.

We then discuss both of them and come to the conclusion that they are both looking for details of Friday’s meeting but the first is overly informal and the second overly formal.

(4)

Focus on language chunks:

Next, I hand out both emails and let students discuss in small groups which words/phrases are too informal / too formal or just downright inappropriate (I’m thinking of “I fell asleep” and “Proudly attended”).

After a few minutes we check this as a class.

(5)

Writing practice:

I then get the students back into their groups and have them write their own version of the email in an appropriate, semi-formal register.

(6) 

We then combine the answers and write one definitive answer which sts can take a photo of on their phones and take away with them.

(7)

Homework:

The homework is the reply to the email in an appropriate register.