As long as you don’t think about its origins too much, this is a nice idea for a lesson.
The overall aim is to get students into the frame of mind that English is everywhere (if your teaching in an English speaking country that is), it’s all around them and they can/should be noticing it…even if they’re in the bathroom.
This is a quick lesson based on a half-ripped sign on the cistern of the toilet in school. It could be done at the beginning or end of a lesson. These sorts of mini-lessons could be done regularly (here’s another one on using a text message) to keep students thinking and noticing the language around them. They take very little prep but over time you can train your students to analyse chunks of language and hopefully they will start bringing in their own signs, emails and text messages for you to exploit in class.
Level: Pre-int and up
Procedure: You could do some or all of these.
- Identify the origin: get students to try to decide what kind of a text it is and where it came from. As a class discuss how they figured it out (language / register / how it looks).
- Gapfill: the sign is half-ripped. Get your students to fill in the blanks. The clues are all in the text. Encourage your learners to use them. (answers below).
- Grammar grab: Get your learners to identify the passive voice in the sign. Find a prefix (what is its meaning). Why is “must” used instead of “have to”
- Reformulation: Rewrite the sign as a conditional sentence. Rewrite it in the active voice. Rewrite it as spoken advice to a friend.
Last year while looking at a well known coursebook I was struck by the number of quotes that started each unit. I was also struck by the fact that these contained a lot of good language that wasn’t being used. There were lots of nice discussion questions, but nothing on the vocab or grammar the quotes contained. So, I started to try to focus on these and encourage my students to notice what grammar was being used in them and to talk about why?
That’s what this mini lesson does – you could use it as a warmer, a flexi-stage, or just take the approach and apply it to quotes as you find them.
- Time: 20-30 mins
- Level: Upp Int and above
- Aim: To look at a model of Inversion
- Sub aim: To encourage students to notice and be aware of grammar and reasons for using it
- Worksheet 1
In one of my previous jobs, teaching teenagers in Spain, I was forced to accept something: 15 year old girls don’t want to read newspapers, stories or other long texts. They receive their input through their phones and I-pads and if I didn’t accept and adapt, I was never going to get very far with them.
So I started bringing in text messages and encouraging them to WhatsApp each other in class and to write comments on Twitter in English. I definitely wasn’t going to be able to beat them and although I didn’t really feel like joining them would be appropriate, I was able to get a lot of new language and error correction up on the board…which was nice.
Here’s one of the texts I brought in for them and a couple of suggestions for exploiting it.
“Alright mate, I’m gonna be nearby later on. I might pop in and say hi if you’re around.”
- Focus on the register. Get students to rewrite it as a more formal email.
- Examine the informal language. Pull it out and look at the different ways you can use it. “Pop” is the obvious choice here. Not one you tend to see in your average coursebook, but a lovely piece of language all the same.
- Give students a post-it note and get them to reply to the message. Take in the notes and examine the messages, focusing on register and interesting language that comes up.
- Perfect for a bit of connected speech analysis. At the very least you have “gonna”.