Grammar at Upper
by Sam Smith
- Lesson Plan 2
The group is an open group in the general English school.
Their level is upper-intermediate, however as always there
is a significant difference in levels within the group, different
students being better and worse in the various skills and
in language and learning ability.
Their reasons for, goals in and experience in learning are
also diverse, the group comprising of school and university
students and working people, either paying for themselves
or their company paying.
Their reasons for learning range from work / self to living
in an English speaking country.
Their learning history is, of course, significantly diverse,
however after being together now for over 5 months we have
a good, supportive environment and students do want to learn.
One worrying point though is their tendency to miss classes,
usually about 8 turn up. I understand that they are working
and have other commitments and they do generally tell me if
they will be missing for a few lessons due to a business trip
or something predictable.
is generally good all round, her spoken English is quite slow
and deliberate and her listening is a bit lacking however
she has a good attitude to learning, and will try her best.
She still has some problems keeping up with some activities
in class and I sometimes have to explain to her what she should
be doing again.
Anna (1) was at first one of the weakest in the group in terms
of her overall level, but she methodically applies herself
and has improved more than everyone else, particularly her
grammatical knowledge. She now, takes part well in class in
Anna(2) has little problem in any skills work, her grammar
and vocabulary are weaker though. Unfortunately, due to work,
she attended poorly in December and January and fell behind
a bit. Recently, however, she has been to every lesson and
is quickly catching up.
Valle struggles a little bit with grammar and her listening
and speaking skills are quite poor, however she copes well,
making use of what she knows. She missed a lot of classes
in January and February due to an injury but really surprised
me when she came back, having kept up at home with her English
and using her time off work to really study.
Patricia is very strong and outspoken. She participates fully
in all activities and is happy to help other students in the
class. Her English in general is very good in all areas.
Maria did 2 intensive courses last summer, is also doing a
conversation course, and has increased her level very noticeably.
She attends well and works well in class and at home and has
a very sound grounding in English on which to build.
Carmen is the youngest in the group, still at school, but
is very mature and makes the classes more lively. Her English
is good in all areas but particularly in speaking and listening.
Joaquin is probably the best student all round, speaking quite
fluently and understanding very well and helping others with
explanations of grammar and vocabulary.
Carlos is Maria's brother and has followed the same route
as her, however while his sister has attended well, he has
not and relies on his existing knowledge to progress. His
vocabulary is now slightly lacking but he employs coping strategies
Maru is be fine all round, though a little bit shy. She has
shown herself to be very good receptively and productively
and is very serious about her English. She has only been in
the group since January but now seems happily settled in.
Veronica has been in the class since the middle of February,
but seems fine, showing her spoken level of English to be
very adequate and like Maru adapting well to the group.
The most recent edition to the group came at the end of February
in the form of Marguerita, she is Italian and therefore brings
a spark of interest for us all. Her English is very good,
especially in terms of her language knowledge and wide vocabulary.
Her skills work is also fine and doesn't seem afraid to express
her opinion in front of her classmates.
To raise awareness of 'would' and 'used to' signify repeated
actions and habits in the past, 'used to' for states and past
simple for 'one off' events.
To provide receptive (aural and written) and productive (spoken)
practice of above forms.
To highlight the difference between 'used to' in the past
and the present.
To practice listening for checking predictions and for overall
To practice perception and production of target language in
connected speech, with attention to weak forms.
To provide personalised spoken practice in the context of
past habits and repeated actions.
Students will be interested in the topics of their teacher's
previous stages in life, their own lives, and the life of
a colleague in an interesting environment (Zimbabwe).
Students will have previously met the target language structures
but haven't really assimilated them into their productive
Students will perceive the difference between their own interlanguage
and the target language as a gap worth bridging.
A guided discovery approach, involving noticing and grammar
interpretation activities should make the target language
salient and through recognising a need for the language through
its possible difference in meaning with the past simple eventually
The repetition of the speaking task should facilitate more
attention to the language used as the content will have been
dealt with the first time around and changing the speaker's
partner should provide some motivation to repeat the task.
Giving preparation time before a spoken task should reduce
the pressure on the speakers allowing them to pay more attention
to the actual language.
Problems and Solutions:
· The students may have difficulty in thinking of a
time in life when life was different. - Providing the students
with a variety of ideas (university, a different city, different
school, life with or without their present partner etc.) should
help them come up with something.
· Again students might have difficulty imagining life
in different countries like Ukraine and Zimbabwe. - Providing
prompts (food, social life, difficulties, prices etc.) should
· Students may have difficulty noticing the target
language in spoken form. - Looking later with the tape-script
should solve the problem.
· Students may have problems with the idea that 'used
to' is only used in the past in English and that 'I'm used
to doing something' in English, has a different meaning as
in Spanish the same verb 'soler' is used in both past and
present. - Pointing out this difference and keeping the context
of the lesson in the past should help.
· Students could have problems catching the contracted
forms in fast connected speech. - Providing a written version
of the pronunciation exercise after listening should help
students and also highlight the fact that it is a difficult
area and context can help when perception fails.
· Students may be tempted to use numbers when discussing
the teacher's previous life. - Providing a small amount of
time for planning, highlighting that this would be unnatural
and banning the use of numbers should solve this problem.
Aids and Materials:
The students' knowledge and experience.
The teacher's experience.
A cassette recorder.
A recording of a colleague's experience of living in Zimbabwe.
Self-made exercises for noticing and analysing the target
language in the tape-script.
Self-made interpretation exercise based on teacher's and his
brother's exam results.
Self-made information sheet on teacher's previous experiences
in different countries.
the lesson procedure
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