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)
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.