One-sided phone calls

Some of the more eagle-eyed among you may recognise the title from another lesson that we have done. This one seeks to differ though in its focus on future forms. There is also a focus pronunciation, intonation in the first listening and connected speech in the second.

The idea for this came, as so many of ideas do, when I was a little grumpy. This time i was imagining how much worse my mood would be if someone were to cancel plans I had made. If you know me, changing or cancelling of plans is one of my pet hates, unless it means I no longer have to do anything, then that is ok! However, I digress. The focus of this is to present the different structures we use for future forms within a context in which they may exist in the ‘real world’ and obviously to provide listening practice and hopefully some chances for them to use the newly acquired knowledge in a review of what was learnt from listening two at the end:

Level: Strong Int with scaffolding but prob Upper Int and above

Aims: To highlight the uses of future forms / to focus on pronunciation and intonation

Procedure:

Pre listening (optional) ask students to discuss their plans for the evening and the rest of the wk and record themselves. 1 min max recording time.

 

Listening 1:

Play the first recording once.  Ask students how the person speaking feels at the beginning and the end of the conversation.  Ask them how they can tell and what do they think caused this change?

Who is speaking to who, about what? what is the relationship between the speakers? How do they know?

*If you wanted you could board some hypothetical language of prediction for them to use: could be, sounds like / as if / I suppose/guess.

Additionally, you could add some adjectives to describe emotions to the board, for students who struggle a little more.

 

Grammar:

1. answers:

  1. fine
  2. I’m meeting Chris…
  3. We’ll maybe go…

 

2. answers and instructions:

What tense is each one? 

present simple / present continuous / will

Why was each tense used here?

This is the more interesting part, it is all about reflection on the tenses and what they know about them with regards to their function.

for me, present simple used for timetabled event

present continuous used for an arrangement

will used to imply that the event is not fixed, less certain.

What would be the difference to the meaning if any of the other future forms were used?

In the first, this is the only tense that sounds natural here.

in the second be going to’ could easily be used and this is also the case in the third example.

3. Reflection on st’s own usage – (if you recorded students at the beginning use it here, ask them to listen and write down which future structures they tend to use.)

group discussion, the rules they select are fine, try not to correct too much at this point, encourage them to think about how they differ, by all means monitor and prod them towards the right direction though.

4. This is something I call Audi Future, the idea is that we often use more than one tense for one function, but that they don’t all get used for the same things.

 

audi-future

  • Will – offers / spontaneous decision / promises / predictions
  • Be going to – plans / predictions with fact
  • present continuous – arrangements
  • present simple – timetabled events

These will be known to you and to many of your students, the whole point of the graphic though is to show how native speakers are often a little flexible with these definitions, hence the fact they overlap. Despite this though, we never really use present continuous for a spontaneous decision, so only when the two circles overlap can there be a mixture of use.

*also perhaps pointing out that often when ‘will’ is used for promises it is often pronounced fully, rather than it’s more usual contracted form.

 

Pronunciation:

A brief focus on natural pronunciation

How’s it going?

Ask students how to pronounce this – you will probably get 3 or four separate words.

Here you are trying to get them to notice that it is in fact two words

/haʊzɪt gəʊwən/

The second sound in the first could be a schwa for some, but I think I pronounce it /ɪ/.

Intonation – ask students to draw what happens to the voice during this

‘go’ has the big stress

Ask if students can think of any other examples of native speakers putting words together like this.  You might get the following:

whatcha doing / dyer like  / etc

 

Listening 2:

Prediction – this is a much neglected listening skill. We do it instinctively, but it seems to be one of those skills that students don’t use when learning English.

Explain the second conversation is the person phoning the other person, Chris, and ask the students to predict what will be said in groups.

All class feedback, board suggestions

Ask what grammar they would expect to hear.

Listen to check, ask students to take notes on what they hear then ask the following questions:

  • Is this the first time James has let them down?
  • How does the speaker feel about it?
  • What is their plan for the evening?

 

Grammar:

The focus on conditionals ties into something that we both talk about a lot, which is the limitations of putting conditionals into the 0/1/2/3 categories.

Neither of these conditionals fit neatly into those boxes, which can throw some students of the scent a little in terms of their meanings.

This aims to focus on the meaning, and when they refer to, rather than just focusing on the more traditional numbers.

 

Vocab:

There are only two things that I would draw the student’s attention to here.

Bail – to cancel at the last minute (in this context)

This could be a good opportunity for students to see how dictionaries really don’t always have the answers they are looking for. You could get the students to look in their dictionaries and then listen for the word and see if it fits with the meaning in the situation.

Alternatively, you could ask them just to work out the meaning of the word from the context. Make sure that they have considered register here.

Fancy – ask them to listen and to see what they think the meaning is in this context.

Draw attention to the register difference of ‘fancy’ / ‘would like’ / ‘to be up for it’ see in which situations they think they would be used. maybe ask if they can think of any other ways of saying this and ask them to create a cline from formal to informal.

 

Pron:

Just to draw some attention to some common features of connected speech. You can drill it, but for me the focus hear is very much preparing them for what happens in the real world, rather than trying to get them to take on all the features of connected speech in their own pronunciation.

“guess what”

/geswɒ/ – the ‘t’ isn’t pronounced

“he always”

/hɪjɔːleɪz/ – the /j/ sound connects the two vowel sounds, students are probably not aware of this. Ask the students if they can think of other examples of this.

“to be honest”

/təbiːjɒnɪs/ – the to uses the schwa and as above there is an intrusive /j/ sound and the /t/ is dropped from honest

“if we fancy it”

/fwiːfænsɪjɪt/ – ‘If we’ becomes one sound – /fwiː/ – this frequently happens when native speakers are using conditionals.

Grammar (revision):

Ask students to listen and note down future forms they hear, and ask them to reflect whether the use of them connects to what was examined earlier in the class.

Place them in groups and ask them to discuss this together.

 

Materials:

Audio 1

Audio 2

 

 

 

 

Paint it Black – Listening lesson

I wrote the ‘tense review with the stones’ lesson a couple of weeks ago:

https://textploitationtefl.com/2016/05/09/tense-review-with-the-rolling-stones/

and here, as promised, is the follow up!

It is intended as a short follow up, so shouldn’t take too long, but focuses on listening and picking things out from the song.

Rather than picking this song for its specific merits, I picked a song I liked and then looked for what was there.  Hopefully some of the ideas here can be applied to songs you or your students like too.

enjoy,

now where is my black paint?

Level: Int (and surrounding levels)

Procedure: A lot of this is just following the worksheet.

Discussion: – warmer – associations with the colour black, think about collocations as well, get as much as you can from the students.

Listening: Play the song twice or as many times as needed for students to complete the table.

Answer – the girls are walking by – not painted or want to paint

Grammar: Highlighting causatives

follow the exercise, you could always revise this later in the wk / class.  This is more a case of exposing students to it, getting them to think about it and showing them that get can also be used.

Vocab: Here you can either do this as a reading or a listening, but I would go for a listening and then read to check.

Once they have completed the phrases put them in groups and ask them to work together to think about the meaning.

Check it as a class.

Pronunciation: This section is just to draw attention to natural features, something that we think is important for students to enable them to listen well outside the classroom.

You could drill them and ask them to think of other words that like ‘happening’ are written with what seems like 3 syllables but often pronounced with 2.

For the linking /j/ you could follow this up with the maze activity from pronunciation games by Mark Hancock.

https://unihub.mdx.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0031/187618/5-Link-Maze.pdf

Materials: 

Word: Paint it Black worksheet

PDF:   Paint it Black worksheet

Song without lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPVUa29kHu8

Song with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4irXQhgMqg

 

 

Low-level Past Simple Story Lesson

THE WAKE-UP CALL

I’ve been working out of New English File Elementary recently and it’s a great book but as often is the case with a book, it never really 100% gets the challenge right for your particular group. Sometimes it’s too easy, sometimes it’s too hard. At the moment it’s a smidgen too easy for my group and we are absolutely motoring through it.

This lesson was basically a bit of an extension after we’d studied the Past Simple in the coursebook. It’s got some revision and it pushes a bit extra as well. We’ve also been talking a lot about language chunks / collocations / pieces of language / items of lexis (whatever you want to call them) so it looks at that a bit too.

Plus, it gets them using their imagination a little bit too, which never hurts…unless they say, “teacher I don’t have an imagination” and then we despair, oh yes we do.

  • Level: Elem / Pre-int
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Procedure: see below

Materials:

  1. Wake-up call (word worksheet)
  2. Wake-up call pdf (PDF worksheet)
  3. Wake-up call procedure
  4. Wake-up call – teacher’s copy

 

TIP: So, I’ve been teaching a lot of low level classes at the moment and they’ve been mostly smaller groups (2 – 4 students). One thing I’ve found is that when the group is this small, any worksheet or coursebook you break out means utter silence as they disappear into its depths. Or, it’s awkward because they’re too aware of you.

One way I’ve found of avoiding this is writing my worksheets up on the board, more or less how I’d have them on the sheet.

the students go up and work on the board as a whole or in pairs on different sections and you monitor from behind them. It really makes a difference.

you can always give them the worksheet afterwards. Here’s a pic of my board for this lesson. You might notice there are some mistakes on the board. Their first task was to correct the errors and then later I gave them the worksheet with the corrected version to check it, which is a slight variation on the procedure above.

Here’s a shot of my board. I like to think that my distinctive cursive script adds an extra layer of challenge to the lesson and is, of course, completely intentionally awful

wake up call boardwork

Office Politics – Listening

So, this is a little listening lesson, pretty tricky unless it is scaffolded properly.  It also shows students some conditionals in a natural situation, which is always a plus in my book, it can conveniently fit into either a lesson on work or comedy, but for the purposes of this, it is as a bit of a break from a unit/week on work.

Do let them listen a few times, especially at the beginning, as it is pretty fast.  Your job as teacher is to stop them getting discouraged and to explain that the reason for this is to try to bridge the gap between what they do inside the classroom and what happens outside those walls.

Enjoy

Aims: expose students to real conversation, show grammar, conditionals, in a real context, focus on pronunciation, sentence stress.

Time: 1hr +

Level: High int +

Procedure:

The worksheet should be fairly easy to follow so the procedure would be to follow that, rather than me writing a lengthy one here.  But do have a look before you go into class as i’ve tried to really mix the activities, listening as the main background activity with lots of things coming off it

I would recommend putting in the time for students to reflect on what they have seen as for this I think it is important for all lessons, but especially this one.

Here are the answers to the word stress exercise at the end, feel free to disagree but this is what I hear.

T. Hey dude

G. Give it back

T. I’m just using it for a second

G. It’s got my name on it, Gareth

T. No, it says Garet, actually, but

G. Ask if you want to borrow it.

T. Yeah, you always say no mate, so what’s the point

G. Perhaps that’s why you should ask

T. Gareth it was just there ok

G. Yeah, that’s its home, leave it there.

Also, you could obviously go onto connected speech at this point or other pronunciation features, depending on how your students are feeling.

Materials

Worksheet: the-office-worksheet

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1PHpkdvNOs

When is the future not the future? When it’s in the past of course!

Apologies for the title…couldn’t resist. 

So, this is a lesson I taught recently and had a lot of fun doing it. The idea was to encourage students to use the future in the past to justify their actions but also to work on comprehension. So often our comprehension exercises are based largely on a student’s ability to skim and scan. I wanted to get them looking further, to read between the lines, to really identify the subtleties of language and to understand exactly what the speaker was saying.

Level: Intermediate and above

Time: 1 – 2 hours (depending on error correction and level of the group)

Materialsargument

Procedure (I think the worksheet is pretty self-explanatory but I’ve highlighted a few ideas you can try out when you’re teaching it)

1

Tell the students you’ve just had a fight with your boyfriend / girlfriend (you may need to change the text slightly depending on your situation). Ask them to think of some of the typical arguments couples might have. (It’s probably useful to start building “argument” language and vocab here, using what the students give you. I find that constructions such as, “he’s always leaving the toilet seat up” tend to come up at this point).

2

Students read the text quickly and discuss the problem in small groups.

3

At this point, tell the students you want them to imagine that they are no longer your students, they are your friends. You have just told them what they have read and they are free to ask you any clarification questions they want but no language questions. This encourages them to dig deeper without focusing on what each word/phrase means. You can make up the answers for yourself and feel free to alter the text to make it suit your needs.

       e.g.

– Did you intend to tell your girlfriend about the meeting?

– How did she find out you had met her?

4

Now that students have clarified what they wanted to, leave them to deal with the comprehension questions and then discuss as a class. These questions are open to interpretation.

5

Get students to underline any examples of future in the past (e.g. was going to / was about to). Pull them out and have a look at the structures together. I wouldn’t worry about pronunciation at this point as it will come up later. You might want to get them to write a few sample sentences to ensure they understand it. I use the example from earlier in the lesson.

– “Why did you leave the toilet seat up?” / “Well I was going to put it down….”

6

Let the students work away on the vocab questions, really digging deep into the text and then discuss as a class.

7

To practise all of the language from the lesson, tell the students they’re going to have the argument with their partners. Give each person a role and then give them a few minutes to prepare some sentences they will say to their boy/girlfriend in the argument. Encourage them to use any language that was on the handout or that has come up in the lesson.

8

Get them out of their seats and let them argue away. Note errors of the target language on the board. Once the arguments are finished, students return to their seats and correct the errors as a group.

Now it’s time for pronunciation. Have a look at the chunks of language below and drill them with your students.

“I was going to” = /əwəzgənə/

“I was about to” = /aɪwəzəbaʊtə/

Now get them up to have the same argument with another student and when they’re finished you can choose to give feedback on errors, vocab, pron or whatever your heart desires. Feel free to change the roles/situation and have them repeat similar arguments. This slight change will keep the activity from becoming tired and boring and will allow them to really focus on upgrading their language with the new language and the pronunciation, something that they won’t do if they haven’t had a chance to try the activity a few times.

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/.

 

You’ve got Voicemail

So this lesson is based on something I did for my DELTA many years ago.  Back then I had to phone each of them and leave them all a little voice mail message.  Now, just create a what’s app group and share it.  Much easier, and less time consuming.

Why make it a voice mail, well a lot of the listening practice that we do as teachers involves us playing the text to them, in the real world they normally only hear things once, unless watching T.V. The exception is voice mail, I think everyone has had to listen to a voice mail a few times to get a long number or to catch a name.  So in this lesson, students can listen as many times as they want, the power is in their hands. Literally!

The context for this is looking for a flat, which is something many students may have had some personal experience of, especially living abroad.  One of the main focuses here is on prediction and script work, getting students to think before listening about what information they really expect to hear.

Also be prepared for the fact that a lot of house vocab can come up in the discussion stage, monitor and board the language that you think would be beneficial for the whole class.

  • Time: 30-60mins + follow on activity
  • Level: Int +
  • Aim:  To help students listen better for specific information in a natural context
  • Sub aim:  To raise awareness of stressed and weak forms in natural speech patterns.

 Procedure

Before going into the classroom you will need to have recorded the text, either yourself or using someone else – it is important to make sure it is natural sounding.

1. The context: Explain to students that the context is that they have contacted an estate agent looking for a flat for them and a friend. They have been told about two, property A and property B.  You can show them the details to the property at this point and ask them to discuss with partners what they think and which place they would prefer to live in and why.

2. Prediction: Tell students that they are going to get an answerphone message in a minute about another house on their phones.  Get them to predict what might be said, what vocab they expect to hear and also if there is any grammar that they think will be used in the recording.

3. Strong and weak forms: Write the first line of the message on the board

“Hi , this is (name) calling from Fairhouse”

Ask the students, in pairs/groups, to think about which words they would expect to hear clearly, if you have done some work with them previously, they should be able to identify them, if not, then give them time and help when monitoring.

Play the 1st line of the recording only and ask students to see which words are stressed

Hi , this is (name) calling from Fairhouse

Say only the stressed words and ask if they can understand the meaning of the sentence

Hi, (name) calling Fairhouse

Get the students to reflect on why those words are stressed and why the others aren’t – ie, it gives meaning, the others don’t.

Tell students that it will be important to listen out for only the key information while doing the task.

4. Note taking: Get students to reflect back on what information they expect to hear and then share the message with them using what’s app or another similar method.  Hand out the questions on the worksheet and let them listen for the answers. Give them 3-5 minutes, remember the whole point is that they can listen as many times as they want.

Hand out the final property information sheet (C) and now ask the students if they would change their first choice of property and in pairs/groups ask them to discuss this and why?

5. Language focus:  Ask the students to listen again and make a note of any grammar structures they hear used.  They should hopefully notice the repeated use of conditionals.

Then ask if they can write them down – a bit of dictation.  Encourage them to listen only twice and then try to reconstruct the rest of the conditional with a partner (dictagloss).

Then pass on the small section on function or put the information on a board.

(this section is short as I don’t want conditionals to be the focus of the lesson, if you want, feel free to go into much more detail on them)

6. Pronunciation: Ask students what happens to the first ‘I’ in if when saying a conditional.

Write this on the board

/faɪ wə juː/

explain that the first sound often vanishes when native speakers talk quickly.  Highlight the fact they therefore need to be prepared for this while listening.

Get them with partners to practise the pronunciation of the three conditional sentences or drill chorally, whichever you prefer or more importantly your class respond best to.

7. Reflection: Place students in small groups / pairs and ask them to think about what different aspects of listening skills they have focused on and why.  Then share as a group discussion.

Optional

8.  Follow up: Ask students to make notes for a reply to the estate agent explaining which house(s) they would like to view and putting forwards ideas for a time. Remind them of the use of conditionals for giving choices. Once they have ideas, get them to record it, don’t worry about mistakes at this point.

Ask them to listen, focusing on their pronunciation and get them to think about two parts they could improve.  Ask them to record again, trying to improve those two things. When they have done this and are happy, ask them to send the recordings to you.

Listen to them, make some notes on the different recordings and work on any issues in forthcoming lessons.

 

Materials:

Property details

worksheet 1

 

Video lesson – catch it if you can – connected speech

Last year I attended a really good CPD session given by a colleague on using video clips in the classroom, I’ve never been a fan of using whole films in class, as I have always seen it as a cop out, but the focus on using short clips or parts of films really struck a chord with me and so I started thinking about how I could use them not just to stimulate interest in a topic or for comprehension questions but how it could be used for pronunciation practice.  So, this lesson focuses on connected speech and listening skills using video. It uses a clip from Catch me if you can, which you may have been able to guess from the title.

  • Time: 30-60mins
  • Level: High Int +
  • Aim: To raise awareness of how spoken English sounds
  • Sub aim: To highlight stressed and unstressed words

This mini lesson can work in a couple of contexts:

  • as a follow on to indirect questions practice
  • as an extension from FCE Result p58-59 (reading on cons and tricks)

Materials:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiXTwfipyqk
  2. Worksheet

Procedure:

1. Listening: Students watch and listen to get a general idea of what is happening.  Some of the students have probably seen the film and they can help those who haven’t, explaining the context and the situation.

2, Vocab building (optional): Encourage students to think about how they would describe the two characters and their behaviour. Board interesting vocab and push students to use more interesting words to describe them, e.g. calm, stressed, hesitant, looks annoyed.

3. Listening (Test): Tell students they are going to watch a very small clip of the film and you want them to copy down the words (dictation/dictagloss if they are familiar with the terms).

Play the recording from 43 seconds where Leo says: “Do you mind taking that gun out of my face please, really, it makes me nervous.” When you have played it once, ask them to compare together, then you can play it again to help them if you want, or use the worksheet with the option to cut the words up to reconstruct the sentence if you want to scaffold the task a little.

(Teach) Students may have had problems hearing the “do you mind” so focus on this and explain the way it is pronounced and drill /ʤə mɪnd/ or /ʤuː mɪnd/ whichever you yourself normally use, personally I am the former and think that is what is on the recording.

(Test) Play students a different clip of the film at 1.35 – 1.58 and ask them to listen for the two polite questions that are used in the clip you show.  Ask them to check with partners and then listen again if necessary.  Hopefully this time they were able to pick up the question forms, so this time highlight what happens to ‘mind if I’ – /maɪnɪfaɪ/ and drill this.

4. Practice: 1.Give the students the block of text and ask them to record themselves saying it.  Then ask them to highlight which words are stressed, ask them to predict and then play it to check and you can either use the board to show them or use the answers provided here. Ask them to think about what happens to words like ‘and’, ‘a’ – if they know the schwa they should be able to see this, if not, here is a good moment to introduce it.

Also ask them to focus on what happens to groups of words like ‘look at’, ‘would have been’ and ‘got to’.  Show them the clip again and ask them to identify the sounds and how they join together and which sounds are used. See below.

look at – /lʊkət/, would have been – /wʊdəbɪn/, got to – /gɒtə/ 2. Now ask them to say the text in pairs using the correct stress and also trying to join the words together where they are in the recording.

3. Ask the students to think about the adjectives they used earlier and think about how this might influence the way they speak. Ask the students to try to do the text again, taking both the stress and the emotions into account.

4. Ask them to stand up and do it, so that they can really get into it.

5. Ask them to do it without the script, tell them to adlib if they forget parts 6. Ask them to sit down and to record it again.

5. Reflection: Ask the students to listen to both recordings and in pairs discuss how they differ.  Ask them which was better and why.  Also explain that knowing the pronunciation is really useful for their listening, as if they don’t know what to hear, how will they hear it?

Many of the ideas for this lesson stem from sessions given by Gillian Lazar and Martin Parrott, so thanks to them!