and Conversation with a
Focus at Elementary Level
by Sam Smith
- lesson plan 2
To raise awareness of and practice features of conversation
for showing interest in what another speaker is saying.
To practice narrative skills in the form of an anecdote about
a childhood memory and help students tell it better by giving
them preparation time, an example to compare with and follow,
and a 2nd chance to tell the anecdote.
To practice listening skills of: making and checking predictions;
listening for specific functional and discoursal exponents.
To raise awareness of students' own performance through self
evaluation and peer evaluation.
The majority of the students have a good enough knowledge
of past tenses to be able to tell an anecdote about their
childhood and I will be able to spend a lot of time helping
the students who most need it.
The activity of speaking about yourself should provide students
with the motivation to do so with a relative degree of success.
The fact that the story is about a classmate should provide
the motivation to listen, along with the fact that the listener
must decide if the story is true or false.
After self and peer evaluation of the 1st speaking task the
students should be aware of the need for the components of
conversation presented later.
The listening provides good, contextualised examples of the
features of conversation in focus and the 2 'jigsaw' noticing
tasks differ slightly in difficulty so the more difficult
can be given to the stronger students.
The students should be able to cope with the controlled practice
as it is tape-script led in the 1st stage and then immediately
demonstrated after students attempt to predict in the 2nd.
The last speaking stage should improve the students' performance
whilst maintaining their motivation as it is with a new group
and they will know that someone is monitoring their performance
and will give them feedback.
Problems and Solutions:
The main problem I am expecting is a lack of creativity when
recalling a childhood memory. All people are different, some
are more willing to talk about themselves than others, people's
mood on a particular day can also affect their ability to
talk about themselves.
To help students, firstly I will provide a good anecdote about
myself, which does not paint a good picture of the way I was
as a child. Secondly I will be prepared to suggest many different
contexts as to where their anecdote could come from: school;
their first day at school or when they changed school; a time
they were in trouble; a success; a story about a relative
or friend; a holiday; the 1st time they....; a sport; meeting
someone important and any more as necessary. Thirdly I will
tell students that it doesn't have to be amazing. Fourthly
I will monitor and help individual students as much as possible.
Lastly by asking students whether they think my story is true
or false, I will present them with the opportunity of telling
a false story about themselves, a poorer solution, but a last
could and probably will have problems being able to tell their
story due to lack of language knowledge and vocabulary.
I will give them enough preparation time, monitor and help
individually, and dictionaries will be available.
listening might be difficult for some of the learners, but
by providing lots of key words and pictures to help them predict
the story and then check predictions, the task should be easier,
and by providing a chance for students to compare with their
partners and then full class feedback, the whole story should
emerge before moving on to successive listenings and finally
checking with the tape-script the full story will become clear
2nd controlled practice stage may prove difficult for the
students but I will tell them that there are no correct answers
and they will hear the real version of the phrase shortly
after making their prediction.
the whole problem of timing may be a problem. Their is a great
difference in levels within the group and some students still
have problems understanding instructions which often have
to be repeated and re-explained more than once, thus activities
can take longer than expected.
I have taken this into account in my lesson timings and deliberately
made the timings longer than for other classes. I have also
provided written instructions on most of the handouts where
I feel it has been necessary. Lastly, if things do take too
long, the 1st controlled practice stage can be taken out and
the students can repeat the intonation of the interviewer
during the 2nd stage. I do not want to do this however as
I feel, for the level of the group, both stages are valid
The teacher - telling an anecdote.
The students' own memories.
Self-prepared (by teacher) task sheets: for self evaluation;
for predicting the story of the listening; for observing partners
when speaking; for self evaluation and feedback on the lesson.
A 2 minute 15 second listening extract about meeting a long
lost relative - from Cutting Edge Intermediate Students' Book,
unit 2 - not included here.
The tape-script of the extract.
the stages of the lesson
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