an approach to the teaching of grammar, which is both more
learner-centred and more effective in terms of the learners'
long-term acquisition and deployment of the structures concerned
by Nicola Holmes
Plan - 1
practice of past simple question and short answer forms and
initial introduction to regular past simple positive forms
and to some selected irregular past simple verb forms
Beginners - English File One
of the lesson:
Review and consolidate past simple yes/no question forms and
short answers, extending their use to a variety of different
regular and irregular verbs
Initial introduction to and familiarisation with past simple
positive and negative forms:
regular 'ed' endings /I/ and /t/ pronunciation only at this
stage) and with six common irregular verbs (including 'went'
and 'had' which were introduced in the previous lesson). Some
initial controlled practice little production at this stage.
Review and consolidate verbs and expressions already seen
in previous lessons, including some 'have', 'go' and 'get'
Practice of spoken fluency.
Practice of listening for specific information.
Fit and General Rationale:
class attends the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2.55
to 3.55 in the afternoon. There are six students in the class,
who have all been together since October with the exception
of Tomás, who joined in the new year, moving down from
the level above, where he had been struggling. The students
are highly motivated and get on very well with each other.
They are supportive and helpful if one of them is finding
something difficult, but they also have a very good sense
of humour, and enjoy teasing each other and competing against
each other. This generally makes for a relaxed and productive
atmosphere in class, and makes this group a pleasure to teach.
All of the students also work very hard at home. I set a lot
of homework, and they always find time to do it, something
with is reflected in the progress they have made since the
beginning of the course.
coursebook we are using is English file One, a book which
I enjoy using very much. I find it very well thought-out,
with good integration of skills, phonology work and learner
training, and excellent complementary resources in the Students'
book, Teacher's book and Workbook. The book also has excellent
in-built recycling of language and structures, and presents
language in an adult, engaging, and sometimes amusing context,
usually exposing students to new structures first and then
guiding them into their own analysis and rule formation, before
providing them with ample opportunities for practice both
in class and at home. I feel very comfortable with this approach,
and, as the course book provides a lot of varied and interesting
activities and materials, I generally do not feel the need
to supplement it as much as I would with a different book.
observed lesson is the second in a series of lessons focusing
specifically on the past simple, although students have already
had some passive exposure to it in the listening and reading
texts in their book in the run up to these classes. The previous
units of the book also introduced students to was/were and
to a number of past time expressions via a very engaging murder
mystery story, which created a context for more exposure to
other past forms and has lead very naturally into the current
series of lessons.
the previous lesson, students encountered past simple yes/no
question, short answer and negative forms, as well as the
past simple positive forms of 'go' and 'have' via another
engaging and entertaining story, which reviewed common 'go'
and 'have' collocates encountered earlier in the course. I
feel that the focus on just two common irregular verb's freed
the 'students' attention to concentrate on the more generalisable
question, short answer and negative forms, without having
to actively produce a great number of positive past simple
forms at the same time. this approach has worked well, in
allowing the weaker students to develop their confidence without
feeling under pressure, whilst giving the stronger students
scope to say more if they like, a situation facilitated by
the small size of the class, which usually enables me to attend
to individual queries quite easily.
first part of the observed lesson will consist of the activation
of and expansion on the students' existing vocabulary of weekend
activities, and further revision and practice of past simple
yes/no question and short answer forms, where the patterns
students have encountered in the previous lesson with the
verb's 'go' and 'have' will be generalised to other verbs.
Although I have already pointed out to the students that these
forms are the same for all verbs in the past simple (with
the exception of the verb' to be), they have so far only produced
them with the verbs 'go' and 'have', so I feel that this part
of the lesson is important in consolidating the general rule,
as well as providing an opportunity to actively practise the
vocabulary of weekend activities and a lead-in on which the
rest of the lesson will build. I also have a slight problem,
in that two of the students missed the previous class. Miguel
is a strong student, and will probably have talked to his
friend Javier about what we did in the lesson, but will nevertheless
need practice in the oral production of the forms studied.
Tomás, however, is a much weaker students, who moved
down from the level above partly because he was struggling
with the past simple. I am hoping that the opening activities
in this lesson will help Miguel and Tomás to catch
up on what they have missed, whilst providing the other students
with stimulating further practice.
approach I am taking in this class is that of a relaxed 'guided
discovery' of past simple forms, rather than a traditional
'ppp' format. The way the course book and workbook is structured
gives me a lot of scope for planning over a series of lessons
rather than trying to pack all the aspects of one grammar
point into one class. I feel that, whilst the past simple
is, of course, one of the least difficult forms for students
to master, it is also one of the most important forms for
them to master well. Therefore I plan to work on different
aspects of it over the next four or five classes, whilst also
introducing other vocabulary and structures. In the lessons
to follow, students will work on months, years ordinal numbers
and dates, more complex wh- past tense question forms, more
past time expressions and sequencers, and the vocabulary of
this particular lesson, I will be concentrating on just six
relatively high frequency irregular verbs and a number of
regular verbs with the /d / and /t/ pronunciation of their
endings. This is guided by the approach of the book, but I
feel that it is a good idea to give students a lot of exposure
to /d/ and /t/ endings before they encounter /Id/ endings,
the most common error for students in general and Spanish
students in particular being the pronunciation of the 'e'
in all forms. I do not plan to focus heavily on pronunciation
in this class, or even to talk about the /t/ and /d/ endings.
However, by just presenting these two types of verbs here,
I will be able to focus on the silent 'e' quite clearly. The
students will focus on the pronunciation rules in more detail
in a later lesson.
of the more relaxed, 'guided discovery' approach I have chosen
to take in this lesson, there will be more passive exposure
of students to past simple positive and negative forms, and
less active production of them at this stage, except in the
final two activities. In the introductory activities the students
will enter into the past context of last Saturday, and familiarise
themselves with the vocabulary which will come up later. I
then plan to give them initial aural exposure to the past
simple forms, before they see the written forms, both in an
attempt to introduce the forms in a relaxed, non-pressurised
manner, and in an attempt to focus on the sound and pronunciation
(of the regular forms in particular) from the outset. Subsequently,
the students will read and listen to the forms at the same
time, hopefully drawing their attention to the differences
between the sound and spelling of the regular forms in particular,
and giving them plenty of passive exposure to the forms before
the analysis and active production stages. After, this, with
the aid of the texts used, students should be able to easily
complete the grammar analysis handout with the positive and
negative forms of the verbs concerned, formulate the basic
rule for positive regular forms, and reach some logical conclusions
about the questions asked about the spelling of 'studied'
and 'danced'. Finally, I plan to use the information gathered
in the survey in stage 6 of the class for initial controlled
practice of the positive forms, an activity which will hopefully
prove relatively communicative and stimulating, as students
should be working with a partner who had different initial
the last five minutes of the lesson, at the same time reviewing
past time expressions already encountered in previous classes,
I hope to give the students more scope for freer practice
and generalisation of past simple forms in a more highly personalised
discussion, which will hopefully include calling upon more
vocabulary, and generalising the rules studied in this class
to apply them to different verbs. I do not expect a high degree
of accuracy here. I simply hope to provide some opportunity
for the students to experiment more freely with the forms
they have been studying, hopefully stimulating the stronger
students and the weaker students alike.
the twenty minutes after the observed hour, I may choose to
extend the five-minute freer discussion if it is proving to
be highly productive. Then I plan to work on a few more regular
and irregular verbs (walk, talk, buy and get) by means of
a short reading and listening activity based around the third
text on page 77, whereby they read the description of Sylvie's
Saturday and then listen to her speaking and identify six
errors in the text.
the next lesson I plan to provide much freer practice of the
forms looked at here, via a listening of two friends talking
about their weekend, and work on more complex wh-questions.
followed by work on months, ordinals and dates.
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