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Developing Grammar at Upper
Intermediate Level
by Sam Smith
- Lesson Plan 2

Preliminary Information continued

Class Profile:
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.

Blanca 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 all activities.
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 well.
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.

Main Aims:
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.

Subsidiary Aims:
To practice listening for checking predictions and for overall understanding.
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 interlanguage.
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 aid acquisition.
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.

Anticipated 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 help.
· 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 board.
The students' knowledge and experience.
The teacher's experience.
A cassette recorder.
A recording of a colleague's experience of living in Zimbabwe.
The tape-script.
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.

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