Tense review with the Rolling Stones

In an attempt to claw back some credibility after ‘the script’ lesson, I bring you a tense review based on an article on the Rolling Stones.  It is a good one to use either as a diagnostic or as a review.  There are also a couple of interesting bits of lexis, should be fairly easy to do from the worksheet and as a warmer there is a listening element made from the direct speech from the text, which you can return to later if you fancy.

And as if that were not enough, there is also going to be a follow up listening lesson with Paint it Black!

This as is often the case with our lessons asks you to train students to notice the grammar and there is some vocab to work out from context.  The worksheet should be pretty easy to follow I hope.

Apologies for the listening, couldn’t find it online so had to do it myself!

Level: Int +

Aim: to review / test tense awareness

Procedure:

Picture: just follow worksheet

Listening: The idea here is to get the students thinking about what is actually being said, and so rather than standard gist questions I have made a task where they have to paraphrase what the person is saying, this will be hard as there will be some vocab that may be unknown in this context ‘cut’ for example.  However, the idea is to start to give them the tools to deal better out of class.  Don’t worry about playing the recording a few times or even, give them a time limit, send it to them via ‘What’s app’ and they can listen as many times as they need in that time.  They can then read to check if they were right.

Reading gist: 

  1. first read to check listening
  2. Read to answer gist questions – answer together

Grammar hunt:

Just as it says really, give students a time limit, you know your class! As i said above, this is either a diagnostic or revision, works for either.  I would go a bit demand high on this though during the feedback, so on the past simple, “why is it past simple? which time phrase is used?” How else could the present continuous be expressed grammatically? that sort of thing.

Reported speech:

Follow the worksheet, as a follow on, i often ask the students to find examples of direct speech by musicians they like and turn them into direct speech and bring it to class next time or email them to me to check.

Vocab from context:

More of our training, I know we put this into almost every lesson, but getting your students comfortable in working out meanings for themselves is important and the more practice they are given, the better they will get.

Listening (the return):

Now get students to listen again to the first recording, they should find it much easier.  Here is where you could highlight some of the following:

  • elision: things like “we wen in”
  • language often used in anecdotes: “we were like”
  • stressed and weak forms
  • sentence stress and where the pauses happen

 

Materials:

AUDIO FILE

 

Binomials, dictagloss and expanding range

So, a good friend of mine, Kat, has started her DELTA, so I dug out some of my books and started flicking through them and had the idea that Binomials might be quite a useful thing to help my students make their informal writing seem a little more natural and give it that extra sparkle it needs.

This lesson grew from that and starts with a dictagloss, something I am quite a fan of, before moving onto a language focus.  The text here isn’t authentic but is a series of little monologues which enabled me to emphasise the target language.

From there the lesson moves on to look at collocation building with the binomials and the construction of chunks which can be used in students own writing or speaking.  There is a little bit of a focus on punctuation too, as this is something often neglected.

Aim: raise awareness of binomials and collocations

Level: Advanced, maybe a strong Upp Int if you scaffold.

Procedure:

Dictogloss

  1. Read the 1st extract twice and ask the students to take notes and write down as much as they can, I have been known to read it three times. (recording included, but it might be more fun to read it)
  2. Ask the students how the person is feeling.
  3. Ask the students in pairs to check what they have written and see if they can make it work grammatically.
  4. Compare it to extract 1 – you could either put this on the board or photocopy half of the teachers copy and hand them out in groups.

Binomials

Give the students the sheet with the extract on and the question, page 2.

  1. Ask the students to look at the 5 questions written on the worksheet.
  2. Do group feedback, you want them to underline:

Answers below:

  • sick and tired / life and soul / ups and downs
  • they make it more informal and more natural
  • informal
  • to make their own writing and speaking more natural and more interesting
  • I’ll be honest / I mean / like everyone /

 

3. Now look at extract 2.  Ask the students if they can predict the missing words, read the text once for them to check.

4. Ask the students to try to fill in the table, the box below has the answers but tell them to try to do it without initially if you want to raise the level of challenge.

Now check together as a group and accept any others which would work, e.g. life and death as well as life and soul.

Collocations

My students struggled with this, so you could allow them to use dictionaries, looking at the examples or encourage them to look online or use something like the British National Corpus

http://phrasesinenglish.org/searchBNC.html

e.g. spick and span – usually works with the verb ‘be’

Why do this?  As well as making them more autonomous, i just think it is a far more engaging task than you telling them what the answers are, you might also get some interesting different answers this way.

Plus it will help them later on.

Punctuation

This is a really important element that students have difficulty with and since there are often a lack of rules, teachers avoid. Therefore it is something to focus their attention on, getting them to ‘notice’ the punctuation as it occurs

Follow the instructions on the sheet.  I would be tempted to get the to add them to the board if you can copy and paste into an IWB before the big test so that you can observe any errors that you can then highlight and teach.

Follow on activities

The obvious ways to go, would be to get students to record little monologues or dialogues, where they have to use 3 of the binomials.

Alternatively, and this is what I did, ask your students to write a blog about something, e.g. living in their home town, whatever topic you have been doing recently will be fine.  I was teaching a Cambridge exam class and so we focused on article writing.

Materials: 

 

Today you might meet a tall dark stranger – Horoscopes for Modals

So as you know, we try, as much as possible, to use found authentic sources here, though sometimes we do write them ourselves.  This is in the former category, as I don’t fancy myself as a mystic meg.

Why horoscopes, well, basically, because one day as I was flicking through the paper I noticed they contained a lot of modals.  I’m not a big horoscope reader, but I’ve found that it is something that some, not all, students enjoy and can get into.

I would obviously recommend using the days horoscopes but have included two example ones taken from the independent to show what I mean.

I use this as a revision exercise of modals, so from Int upwards really.  I always try to get students noticing grammar in the real world.  The vocab is often very challenging but can be really good for working out meaning from context as hopefully I’ve shown in the worksheet.

For this you will either need copies of the days horoscopes or let them use their smartphones to access one, I used the Independent’s ones as they had quite a lot of good language in them and seemed to avoid lots of mentions of phases of the moon and other lexis that isn’t so high frequency.

Procedure:

Introduction

  1. Basic question to introduce topic
  2. Ask students to find their horoscope for the day, what does it predict? (if you have a really large class, you could start off altogether with one persons on the board and use that for the following exercises, before moving to students looking at other horoscopes.

Language analysis

  1. Ask Students to underline the modals in the text, there are normally a few. – see example worksheet
  2. Ask the students to match the modals to their function, are they talking about possibility / advice / prediction, etc.  Monitor and help sort out any problems / confusion.
  3. Synonym hunt, I have scaffolded it here, and as long you are all using the same paper, then you can do the same.  Otherwise, encourage students to write down the words they don’t know, and ask them to predict the meaning by substituting other words in their place.  Again, this will involve you monitoring and again, using one example with a large class may be more beneficial.

Possible extra:

You could, with higher levels, examine the other language that is contained in the examples.  Virgo contains lots of relative clauses, which could be good for Ints / Upp Ints.  Virgo also contains ‘Not only…, but also…’ good for higher levels.   Aries has some lovely ‘passives’ and ‘imperatives’.

Production:

  1. Ask the students to write / and/or record a horoscope, get them thinking about the style that is used and encourage them to use the appropriate modals and other language.
  2. If you have asked them to record it, then you can really work on pronunciation, getting them to think about the way it might be said, the added pauses to increase tension etc

Follow on:

  1. Ask the students to find a horoscope as homework and to underline the modals as they have done in class.  Also ask them to try to predict any unknown lexis.  Just to give them some extra noticing and vocab from context practice.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t see this as being a lesson for everyone, I predict some classes will like it while others won’t, which is ok.  You know your class, try it out on the classes it might work with.

I’m going back to my runes and crystal ball.

Using Articles for Articles

So here is another activity that can be used more as revision, or even to test knowledge of a grammar point, to see if it needs teaching.

It is something I tried out a couple of weeks ago and my class responded really well to it.  Since then, there has been a noticeable improvement in their work with articles. They don’t always get them right, but they are much better at self correction.  In my view, that is a big step in the right direction, plus it encourages learner autonomy, which is always a good thing.

I set this as homework, but you could ask students to do it in pairs too and I have added a couple of follow on activities that you could do to make it a whole lesson rather than just a practise activity.

Procedure

1. Give the students a set of rules for when to use articles (this one is adapted from one in the back of Gold Advanced).

The definite article (1)

1.1 when there is only one of something

1.2 to talk about previously mentioned things

1.3 to talk about a generic class of things

1.4 with national groups

1.5 with adjectives used as nouns

The indefinite article (2)

2.1 with singular countable nouns referring to something general / non-specific

2.2 to replace one with numbers e.g. a hundred

Zero article (3)

3.1 uncountable, plural and abstract nouns in general

3.2 countries, continents, cities

3.3 mountains and lakes

 

2. Ask students to find a short article from a newspaper, or online, paper is better though for this.

3. Tell them that they have to underline all of the examples of articles in the text and then match them to one of the numbers above.

4. Ask them to show a classmate and they can compare, while you monitor to assist as needed.

5. Group feedback and check in case of any difficulties.

Extension activities

a) To encourage critical thinking skills you could ask students to summarise the text within a set word limit, e.g. 50 words.  The could plan it by selecting the key points and focus on writing those.

They could also tell a partner about the article or peer teach any interesting vocab they have found.

b) Ask students to look back through their own work and to try to correct mistakes.

 

So there it is, try it out and let us know what you think.