Grammar at Upper Intermediate Level
by Sam Smith
my experience of teaching grammar, I have realised that it has been an
area I have paid too little attention to in general.
In this paper, I hope to set out an outline of theoretical and practical
ideas for me to follow, with a particular focus at upper intermediate
level, when focusing on grammar and when practising it.
I hope to do this by answering the following questions.
Why do we need it?
Should it be taught?
What happens if we don't pay enough attention to it?
What does learning it involve?
Some points to keep in mind when teaching it.
How should we go about teaching it?
What is grammar?
definition of grammar would be 'the rules by which words change their
form and are combined into sentences' or 'a book which teaches these rules'
(dictionary definitions) but for the purposes of learning a language these
definitions are not enough.
Rob Batstone divides grammar into product: the component parts or rules
that make up the language, and process: the ways in which grammar is deployed
from moment to moment in communication. (Batstone 1994,5) While of no
doubt the rules are important to the learner, simply knowing them is a
far cry from being able to formulate or interpret complicated utterances
in the rush of real-time communication.
Scott Thornbury even introduces the term 'to grammar' implying that it
is a process that we do as we speak and makes the analogy between product
and process in terms of something finished like an omelette and the process
of making it, saying that it is impossible, if you only see or taste the
omelette, to be able to actually make it. (Thornbury 2001,2)
It is this idea of grammar as something which learners have to 'do', which
I want to focus on and help my learners improve.
do we need grammar?
At the most
basic level, we need grammar to show meaning. Through syntactic and morphologic
modifications we can give our utterances meaning. For example, 'man bite
dog' can be modified syntactically (e.g. through word order) or morphologically
(e.g. using past participle) to signify the doer, done to, time and aspect,
number and classification and question and negative. We use grammar according
to how we want to present the message, down to the subtlest of meanings,
for example, the passive to take away the responsibility of the doer.
We need grammar as well though, to signify distance. Batstone mentions
social, psychological, hypothetical and temporal distance as areas where
we implement grammar to negotiate distance. To take one example of a request
for money, ranging from '$20' in the most intimate, immediate situation,
to 'I was wondering if it might be possible for you to lend me $20' at
the other extreme. (Batstone, 1994,17) Clearly the 2nd utterance would
be more difficult to formulate.
Thornbury continues this theme, saying that the further we get away from
'the real, here, now and us' and towards 'the unreal, there, then and
them', the more we need to use grammar. (Thornbury 2001,7) From this we
can say that, the more context, the more shared knowledge, the less need
for grammar, and the bigger the knowledge gap, the more need for grammar.
It also follows that we will rely on lexis and gestures, the closer we
are in terms of distance and shared knowledge.
This idea has important teaching implications in that the typical classroom
doesn't provide much of a knowledge gap or in other words, much distance.
We therefore need to try and increase this gap in terms of using less
context, or creating some kind of distance, if we want our learners to
have a need to use grammar.
grammar be taught?
Krashen in the 1980s advocated the view that learners need to be exposed
to a lot of comprehensible input at a level just above their own for acquisition
to take place and drew attention to immersion education in particular,
where the children did achieve a level of comprehension equivalent to
that of native speakers of the same age. However the children in these
schools failed to attain the same levels productively. Why wasn't this
exceptional receptive level transferred, through a developing interlanguage,
to the same levels productively?
One answer could be that when we listen we use comprehension strategies
(for example, paying attention to stressed words and using our schematic
knowledge to understand the message) and therefore don't have to rely
on linguistic content for comprehension to take place. If this is the
way in which we listen, it follows that there is no reason to stretch
our interlanguage, and linguistic development need not happen. (Skehan
A similar idea could also be true in speech. Learners use, and are often
encouraged to use communication strategies, such as simplification or
avoidance and the more these strategies are found to be successful, the
less demand there will be to improve the linguistic system.
One more factor in the non development of the linguistic system is the
nature of conversation itself, where we operate on a 'least effort principle',
we say what we need to in the most efficient way. In normal conversation,
being long-winded would be frowned upon (breaking Grice's quantity maxim)
and we would only add to the conversation, what we consider to be necessary
or unknown. From the nature of conversation, therefore there is little
stimulus to push forward a developing inter-language.
From the above, if left to fend on their own without grammar teaching,
we would expect a learner to improve their communication strategies and
discourse skills and not necessarily to improve their interlanguage or
grammar. (Skehan 1994, 180)
What happens if we don't pay enough attention to grammar?
then that if we don't pay attention to grammar, or more specifically,
creating opportunities for learners to improve their grammar, they are
likely to fossilize, or reach a point where they can cope with the level
of communication that is demanded of them by making use of their existing
grammatical resources and communication strategies and probably with sufficient
fluency to not see the need to develop their linguistic abilities any
Skehan (1994) reports on some findings from Schmidt (1983) where a Japanese
learner 'Wes' does exactly this but became accepted as a member of his
speech community in Hawaii. Wes was quite happy about this and didn't
seem to mind his fossilisation, but in my case, with my upper intermediate
students here in Spain it could be a different matter. On their needs
analyses at the start of the course they did place a high value on improving
towards native like perception and production, and yet I can see the same
happening. They are very fluent, cope with all listenings competently,
and interact well. All due to the way they've been trained (by me in part)
to use communication strategies and the amount of fluency practice they've
been given. It could also be due to the amount of lexical noticing they've
been doing, conforming with the idea that language is stored and produced
on to some practical solutions, I would like first to look at how linguistic
ability improves, or to put it another way when grammar grows.
does learning grammar involve?
again the idea of grammar as a process, or of doing it whilst interacting,
grammar is something that develops, or grows organically. Scott Thornbury
calls it a complex system and makes 4 points about its composition.
1. It is dynamic and non-linear, it doesn't develop step by step but moves
as a whole. Likening it to the way a shoal of fish moves.
2. It is adaptive and sensitive to feedback. This time likened to an ant
hive adapting their movements due to their environment.
3. It is self-organising. It wants to see and make rules. Similar to the
way a child's world and language knowledge develop.
4. Finally, it is emergent. It has the power to make connections from
component parts. E.g. it can make the noun phrase 'not all of the three
famous Andrews sisters' from individual meetings with e.g. 'both of the
men', 'two dogs', 'the Blues Brothers', 'not half' .
(Thornbury 2001, 48-52)
is therefore to facilitate this emergent, complex system to grow and to
do this in the most effective way.
A learner will acquire a structure when he or she is ready for it, by
a process that could well involve steps backwards as well as forwards.
E.g. the u-shaped curve of acquiring an irregular past tense - eat, ate
(the learner uses it as a lexical item), eated (they apply the rule for
regular), ated (maybe) and finally, ate (again). (Thornbury 2001,46)
This process is following a pattern of noticing a feature, formulating
and applying a rule, experimenting, re-noticing and again experimenting.
Batstone proposes the cycle of noticing, structuring, re-noticing and
re-structuring as the pattern that emerging grammar takes (Batstone 1994,42)
and suggests that helping learners to do this will facilitate learning.
However, more is needed to make the language fully useable. The learner
must practice to be able to use the language they have been (re)noticing
As language is stored and used in pre-composed chunks (Lewis 1993,19)
it is suggested that this is what fluency is based upon.
It is our
ability to use lexical phrases that helps us speak with fluency. This
prefabricated speech has both the advantages of more efficient retrieval
and of permitting speakers (and hearers) to direct their attention to
the larger structure of the discourse, rather than keeping it narrowly
focussed on individual words as they are produced.
(Nattinger and DeCarrico, p32, quoted from The Lexical Approach, 1993,19)
has significant implications for the learning of grammar, in that it is
not until the language has been proceduralised, i.e. stored as something
ready to be instantly produced, that acquisition can be said to have fully
taken place. (Batstone 1994,45) Another relevant point which emerges from
the above quote is that of using language whilst paying attention to the
discourse and other factors of production and comprehension such as articulation
and perception together in real-time. This synthesisation is necessary
so a learner can get on with the business of interaction without having
to worry about processing language at the same time.
To sum up:
(re)notice - (re)structure - proceduralise
points to keep in mind when teaching grammar.
like to briefly refer back to 2 previous points. The first is that of
by encouraging learners to use strategies and through the nature of conversation,
we are only really providing fluency practice, which is needed for making
language fluid and automatic, but through its nature could actually be
detrimental to the learners developing interlanguage. In most spoken activities
the pressure on the students is high, encouraging learners to rely on
lexis instead of grammar to realise interaction.
The second point is related to that of distance or a gap in shared knowledge.
Scott Thornbury uses these 2 principles to create his 2 rules of thumb
when designing grammar activities.
1. The greater
the distance, the more grammar. (That is to say, where there is a knowledge
gap or a social gap, words alone will be insufficient to bridge that gap.)
2. The fewer the processing demands, the more grammar. (That is to say,
where there is reduced pressure and more planning time, there is a greater
likelihood of 'grammaring' as opposed to 'wording'.)
goes on to point out that combined with these 2 points, learners will
need to know how precise they have been and that feedback must be explicit
and immediate, giving 4 points to bear in mind in grammaring activities:
Low context dependence.
· High incentive for precision.
· Low pressure.
· High feedback.
(Thornbury 2001, 21)
How should we go about teaching grammar?
we do to encourage the process of (re)noticing, (re)structuring and proceduralisation?
Firstly, the language needs to be made available, a lot of input must
be provided and awareness raised to linguistic features to turn it into
intake, following the principle that once something has been noticed,
it is likely to be noticed again and repeated noticing leads to acquisition.
Thornbury suggests consciousness-raising or grammar interpretation.
Among the characteristics of consciousness-raising (C.R.) there is:
· The attempt to isolate a specific linguistic feature for focused
· The provision of data which illustrates the target feature, as
far as possible from texts which have already been processed for meaning.
· The requirement that learners utilise intellectual effort to
understand the targeted feature. Learners are encouraged to hypothesise
and test these hypotheses.
(Willis and Willis 1996,64)
of C.R. exemplified by Thornbury is that form should matter to meaning
in solving the task, for example, using answer phone messages from his
friends who are either still on holiday or already home students are forced
to pay attention to the use of either past simple or present perfect to
decide which. For this and more of this type of exercise see appendix
C.R. activities of this type 'are designed to raise learners' awareness
regarding specific grammatical items in order to promote the 'restructuring'
of their mental grammar'
of activity is valid at all levels. At upper intermediate level it can
be particularly useful for raising awareness to the finer points of grammar
and lexical grammar that are quite likely to go unnoticed as the students
are happy that they understand without taking the chance to develop further
by paying attention to the language.
Three types of activity which work well for this purpose are retranslation,
reformulation and dictogloss or grammar dictation where high feedback
is provided in the comparison of the students' version and the 'ideal'
version. For examples of this type, see appendix 2.
students need to produce the language to help them proceduralise it. When
designing tasks for this purpose we need to refer back to the ideas raised
about processing demands and distance.
to increase distance are:
· reduce the students shared knowledge, e.g. giving them different
pictures to tell a story together without showing each other the pictures.
· Increase formality, e.g. getting them to write a formal report
of the task they have done.
· Bend their schema, e.g. writing something in the style of a newspaper
report, where the chronological order and written order do not coincide,
or just change things away from the usual way of their happening.
For examples of this type see appendix 3.
Some ways to reduce processing demands we are:
Repeat a task. Martin Bygate demonstrates some excellent improvements
in accuracy, range, complexity, repertoire and lexical selection and collocation
when learners do this. (Bygate, in Challenge and Change 1996, 142)
Give preparation time before a task. Pauline Foster demonstrates surprising
improvements in fluency, syntactic and lexical variety, complexity and
accuracy. (Foster, in Challenge and Change 1996,134)
· Change the medium from spoken to written, or mirror an internet
chat room in a slow motion conversation. (Thornbury 2001,25)
Uncovering Grammar, Heinemann, 2001
Scott Thornbury, Reformulation and Reconstruction: Tasks that Promote
'Noticing', ELT Journal Volume 51/4 October 1997, Oxford University Press
Rob Batstone, Grammar, Oxford University Press, 1994
Rob Batstone, Key Concepts in ELT - Noticing, ELT Journal Volume 50/3
July 1996, Oxford University Press 1996
Peter Skehan, Second Language Acquisition Strategies, Interlanguage Development
and Task Based Learning, in Grammar and the Language Teacher, edited by
Martin Bygate, Alan Tonkyn and Eddie Williams, Prentice Hall, 1994
Michael Lewis, The Lexical Approach, Language Teaching Publications, 1993
Martin Bygate, Effects of Task Repetition: Appraising The Developing Language
of Learners, in Challenge and Change in Language Teaching, edited by Jane
Willis and Dave Willis, Heinemann, 1996
Pauline Foster, Doing The Task Better, How Planning Time Influences Students'
Performance, in Challenge and Change in Language Teaching, edited by Jane
Willis and Dave Willis, Heinemann, 1996
Dave Willis and Jane Willis, Consciousness-raising Activities, in Challenge
and Change in Language Teaching, edited by Jane Willis and Dave Willis,
David Nunan, Language Teaching Methodology, Prentice Hall, 1991
David Nunan, Teaching Grammar in Context, ELT Journal Volume 52/2 April
1998, Oxford University Press, 1998
Helen Johnson, Defossilizing, ELT Journal Volume 46/2 April 1992, Oxford
University Press, 1992
Martin Bygate, Alan Tonkyn and Eddie Williams (editors), Grammar and the
Language Teacher, Prentice Hall, 1994
Jane Willis and Dave Willis (editors), Challenge and Change in Language
Teaching, Heinemann, 1996
31, originally from Bradford in the UK, has been teaching for 5 years,
in Ukraine (2 years), Poland (1 year) and Spain (2 years) and also
at summer schools in Folkestone and London. He currently lives &
teaches in Madrid.
This lesson comes about 5 months into a general English extensive course.
The group meets twice a week for one and a half hours, so we have been
together for about 65 hours. The course book we are using is Cutting Edge
Upper Intermediate and we are now in unit 8. It is a supplementary lesson,
connected with and adding to units 7 and 3 where the focuses were annual
events and past tenses respectively. In unit 7 the only focus on 'used
to' and 'would' was a couple of exercises in the work book, which will
be done for revision of this lesson at a later date. It also connects
with the topic of verb forms (unit 8) and modal verbs in the past and
present (unit 9). It's main purpose, though is to extend the students'
linguistic precision when talking about their lives, a topic which is
relevant throughout the course as the students' (and teacher's) personal
experience has been one of the main ideas, central to the classes. It
will be followed up at home with written homework from the content of
the lesson and relevant exercises from the students' work book and in
class with a further spoken fluency exercise and a reflection exercise
a week later. As Scott Thornbury (Uncovering Grammar, 41) suggests maybe
production activities should be delayed as 'Learning is remembering you
have understood something'.
Throughout the course, we have been focusing on communication, due to
a noticeable difference in the students' level, enabling the weaker students
to feel part of the group, breaking down barriers of shyness and feelings
This may have been to the detriment of some of the better students' developing
interlanguage. By encouraging strategies for communication in listening,
speaking and reading, I may not have been pushing the students to try
out, hypothesise and structure and re-structure their language.
I feel that I have been trying too hard to get the students to simply
communicate, and through their success they have not felt enough the need
to develop and refine the grammar they are using to get their message
across. While we have made considerable progress lexically, the students'
vocabulary and ability to notice and use collocations has improved considerably,
and they are all much more fluent than at the start of the course, the
students need to improve their use of grammar as a process when speaking,
particularly in the finer points of grammar.
The methodology behind this lesson is aimed at redressing this balance,
by making focusing on form important to meaning, not putting too much
pressure on students when producing the language (by giving enough preparation
time), by helping students notice the target language in a naturally occurring
context and that its use does have an effect on meaning and by repeating
the production tasks (or similar ones) in later lessons so as to revise
the structures or help students 'remember they have understood something'.
So far in the course we have looked at the larger area of tenses, past,
present and future and more recently we have begun to look at more intricate
points, specific verb structures, clauses and word order in them and soon
will move on to modality, realised verbally and lexically and then hypothetical
The chosen language, that of 'used to' and 'would' for past reference
is a similar area where the students can realise their meaning in communication
more exactly and efficiently. It is something that has not been represented
in any significant way in the course book and is also something I have
noticed to be lacking in these particular students and in general in my
students up to proficiency level. To highlight this point, I recently
taught this language point to a 'First Certificate' group and was unpleasantly
surprised to find that half the group claimed never to have met 'would'
as used to talk about a past habit before.
will begin this lesson by predicting and then me telling the students
about the differences in my everyday life between living in Ukraine and
in Spain as a way to interest the students, give them an example to work
from and setting up the context, i.e. when something was different in
a past period in life.
The students will then prepare their own version based on their real experiences
but the actual telling or doing of the task will be delayed to a later
stage to allow a chance to provide input of the target language. Thus,
creating a need for the target language as opposed to just presenting
it and practising it with no need having been created as in a PPP approach
or putting in the input when it is already too late, i.e. after the production
stage as in Test Teach Test or the Deep End Strategy.
A second prediction and listening stage (this time from a tape of a colleague
who lived in Zimbabwe) will then serve as a vehicle to introduce the target
language through a noticing and analysis activity after the text has been
first processed for meaning.
Once the meaning of the target language has been made salient, we will
briefly focus on its perception and pronunciation through a teacher led
dictation and drill before going on to some practice activities. Firstly,
in a gap-fill exercise where the form is vital to the meaning of the sentences
and secondly, in a jigsawed mini-task where the students have to prepare
and then pass on some information using the target language as a deciding
factor in the making of a decision based on their shared information.
Finally, the content, prepared near the beginning of the lesson will be
used in the final task of talking students about themselves, comparing
life now with a time in the past. This is aimed at providing some sort
of freer practice where the target structures are likely to occur and
also to serve as the basis for the students' homework which will be writing
a summary of what their partners have told them.
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
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.
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
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.
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'
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 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
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.
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
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
Self-made interpretation exercise based on teacher's and his brother's
Self-made information sheet on teacher's previous experiences in different
of the Lesson
Warmer - To introduce the topic and begin the lesson.
try and predict what used to be different when I lived in Ukraine.
T writes on board - money, food, sport, times, night-life.
2. Listening - To practice listening and check predictions.
- 5 mins
students about how life was different for him, sts check predictions and
ask questions as they want.
3. Preparation for speaking - To give students time to prepare
content and language of what they want to say.
- 4 mins
of a time when their life was different (T suggests ideas) and spend a
couple of minutes preparing what they want to say about how life was different.
(again list of headings on board)
T then explains that this speaking task will be delayed till the end of
the lesson as we are going to look at some areas of language to talk about
usual things in the past 1st.
4. Listening - To practice listening to check predictions.
/ pairs - 9 mins
T sets the
scene and asks students to make predictions about a colleagues typical
Sunday living in Zimbabwe. 'What does he usually do?', 'What does he enjoy
most?' and 'What doesn't he like?'. Sts listen to check their predictions
and compare answers in pairs.
5. Discussion - To provide opportunity for a personal reaction
to the listening.
T asks sts
if they would enjoy Michael's life in Zimbabwe. Why (not)? Sts discuss
6. 2nd Listening - To focus on the structures used and their
/ pairs - 6 mins
T asks the
students if the typical Sunday is in the past or present, what is usual
and what is unusual and what structures can tell them this? Sts listen
and then compare in pairs before whole class feedback.
7. Analysis - To focus on the structures used and their meaning
whole class - 11 mins
the tape/script and answer questions to clarify the meaning of the structures
present (used to and would, for past reference) and complete a table,
concentrating on their form in positive, negative and interrogative forms.
8. Spoken perception and oral practice - To focus on the pronunciation
of the targeted structures in fast connected speech.
- 6 mins
some sentences at natural speed, which sts transcribe, followed by paired
and whole class drills. 'In Ukraine I'd go cross-country skiing in the
winter.', 'We used to go to more late night clubs than we do in Madrid.',
'I wouldn't spend half as much on food in Ukraine as I do in Madrid.',
'I didn't use to eat as many fresh vegetables in Ukraine.'
9. Written controlled practice - To provide practice in inferring
the need for 'used to', 'would' and the past simple in a controlled, written
/ pairs - 4 mins
a gap-fill exercise focused on the meaning of 'used to' and 'would' in
the context of his experience compared to his brother's.
10. Preparation for spoken practice - To give students a chance
to prepare their language
sts that he is trying to decide where to go back to if he ever leaves
Madrid, but can't make a decision about which place he liked living in
asks sts to help him decide. Sts in pairs are given 3 separate information
to use to help decide. In the subsequent speaking they will not be allowed
11. Spoken interpretation practice - To provide spoken practice
of the target language in which attention to form is vital in doing the
3 - 6 mins
their information and come to a decision about which place was the best
to live in.
12. Preparation for spoken free practice and setting homework
- To provide freer spoken practice.
/ individually - 4 mins
task ,and that writing a summary of it (beginning with e.g. 'Anna was
a (adjective) girl.') will be for homework, in which sts will do the task
prepared in stage 3 and give them a minute to think about what they will
13. Spoken free practice - To facilitate 'proceduralisation'
of the target structures.
students repeat the task from stage 4.
14. Reflection - To give students time and opportunity
to review and reflect on what they've done in the lesson.
menu on the board, sts review the lesson, followed by brief class feedback.
- To practice speaking and prepare the content for later speaking.
in pairs tell each other how their life was different. T sets listening
task of 'What's the biggest change in your partner?' Followed by brief
16. Reflection - To allow students to think of the language they
used in the previous task.
/ pairs 2 mins
on board 'How well did you speak?' and 'What tenses did you use?'
Sts 1st in pairs answer the questions, then discuss with their partners.
typical Sunday in Zimbabwe
a typical day, um, I used to have to walk to the well, err, to collect
water, because we had no running water in the house, um, and I really
didn't enjoy doing this, um, so anyway, I would go there, I would
take a wheel-barrow with me, and usually it would be fine, but,
I remember on one occasion, I went to the well and there was no
water so I had to walk a further three kilometres to get some more
and it was very disturbing, it was horrible, um, anyway, that wasn't
very usual, it only happened a couple of times, um.
Anyway, after collecting the water, I would return home and Anna
would be cooking and she would've done the washing and, so I would
come home with the water, and then we would prepare lunch and we
would eat, um, which was always very nice, I really enjoyed the
meals we used to cook because of the time and effort that went into
After lunch we used to relax, maybe listen to the radio and perhaps
sleep for a couple of hours, and then the eve, in the evenings we
would usually go for a walk and I used to love that very much, because
we would visit some of the local bars nearby, and perhaps, just
have a couple of drinks and then we would usually come home and
prepare for the evenings, um, all ready for tomorrow and our new
week of teaching.
Is the story in the past or present?
· What did he usually do on a Sunday? What was an unusual occurrence?
· How do you know?
1. What structures does Michael use to talk about the past?
2. What does he use in lines 12 - 15? Why?
3. In lines 24 - 25 he says "I used to love that very much"
is it possible to say "I would love that very much"?
What sort of verb is 'love'? An action or a state verb?
4. Does Michael still live in Zimbabwe?
5. Complete the rules -
Use ________________ to talk about past habits/repeated actions
Use ____________ to talk about past habits or repeated actions but
Use _________________ to talk about one off events in the past.
Complete the gaps
Michael _____________ love going for a walk on Sunday evenings.
- He ____ ____________ have running water at home. ? Why________________
walk to the well? - To get the water.
Michael___________ take a wheel-barrow to the well.
- He _______________ usually have to walk the extra 3 kilometres.
? __________________ Michael or Anna prepare lunch? - Anna.
· How would you say "In the mornings we used to get
up about eight o'clock" in Spanish?
· How would you say "In the evenings, we would usually
go for a walk" in Spanish?
· How would you say "Suelo regresar a casa sobre las
10" in English?
· How do you say "I'm used to getting up early"
· Why do you have to be careful with 'soler' in English?
lived in Ukraine for 2 years and often went on holiday to Crimea.
His brother Simon, came to visit him for 10 days in the summer of
the sentences with either Simon or Sam.
would watch Kharkov Metalist play football.
__________ watched Kharkov Metalist play football.
camped in Noviy Svyet, a nature reserve in Crimea.
__________ used to camp in Noviy Svyet, a nature reserve in Crimea.
__________ loved sitting on the beach at night, drinking a beer.
__________ used to love sitting on the beach at night, drinking
wouldn't get badly sunburnt when it reached 50 degrees.
__________ got badly sunburnt when it reached 50 degrees.
slept overnight on a train, on a journey lasting 32 hours.
__________ used to sleep overnight on a train, on a journey lasting
trying to decide where to go back to if I ever want to leave Madrid.
Can you help me decide?
are some statistics from my diary for:
Months in Folkestone (England) -
Cycle - 60
Football - 24
Bar - 36
Night Club - 1
Work on Saturday - 3
Trip to capital city - 2
Party at a friend's house - 0
I'm trying to decide where to go back to if I ever want
to leave Madrid. Can you help me decide?
Here are some statistics from my diary for:
2 Years in Kharkov (Ukraine) -
Cycle - 250
Football - 1
Bar - 3
Night Club - 25
Work on Saturday - 80
Trip to capital city - 10
Party at a friend's house - 45
I'm trying to decide where to go back to if I ever want
to leave Madrid. Can you help me decide?
Here are some statistics from my diary for:
7 Months in Bielsko-Biala (Poland) -
Cinema - 30
Cycle - 1
Football - 0
Bar - 50
Night Club - 0
Work on Saturday - 1
Trip to capital city - 1
Party at a friend's house - 3
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