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The Development of Interactive Oral
Proficiency in the Classroom
by Jake Haymes
- lesson plan 2

Lesson Rationale
The lesson aims to provide the learners with an opportunity to combine previously studied language with some of the sub-skills of speaking to prepare and deliver an anecdote. It is to be hoped that the students will find the class challenging, achievable and beneficial. If successful, the learners will begin to transfer some passive language into oral production, thereby consolidating knowledge whilst communicating their own ideas and memories. The speaking activity should also make the learners aware of the value of student-student interaction and help to create positive group dynamics.

The lesson can be divided into six main stages, the first four aim to prepare students to be able to achieve the speaking activity.

In stage one, the students are given the opportunity to start the anecdote checklist with their L1 knowledge of the skill. By allowing the learners to express their feelings towards the subject, I hope to engage their interest and make them receptive to the later stages of the class.

By showing how this class fits in with previously acquired knowledge it is hoped that students will see the relevance of the following stages. The students are then asked to consider important first experiences. This should prepare the group for the listening activity which follows and provide ideas, should they be required, for their own anecdotes.

In order to be successfully exploited, the coursebook listening (pp 22-23 Cutting Edge Pre-Intermediate) requires vocabulary input, lead-in, intensive and extensive questions. As the main aim is extended oral fluency I feel the focus of the lesson may become confused were the class to follow the material in the students' book. The home-made listening text is intended to provide students with an anecdote model.

By starting the language focus at a text level the learners should become aware of a fairly typical pattern of anecdotes and this may well be copied by the students in their own anecdotes thereby extending speaking time. While moving directly from aural to oral skills is perhaps the most natural approach, I feel there is a greater possibility that students will grasp the key ideas if they are given the opportunity to analyse the features of an anecdote on paper. Having them mark past tenses and intensified adjectives with highlighter pens should facilitate the transfer of these language areas to their own anecdotes

Students' attention is then drawn to intensifiers such as really, quite and very. I feel that learners could easily combine these words with the adjectives of mood to substantially increase their active language.

While students will be made aware of fillers, I believe that drilling at this stage could be counter-productive and may lead to stilted and unnatural production

Interaction between speaker and listener will be the next focus. In order to be truly communicative the anecdotes must include listener reaction and perhaps some negotiation of meaning. Indeed the learners will be made aware that communicative interaction is a vital part of the activity.

The preparation time affords the learners an opportunity to combine all the relevant components of an anecdote and include any areas of language they feel are necessary for the following activity. I will monitor progress and provide help when required. If students appear slow to start, I may encourage them to discuss ideas in pairs.

The students will be reminded of the importance of the communicative element before beginning the fluency activity. This should promote more interaction.

During the production stage I shall unobtrusively monitor performance and I will not intervene unless there is a complete breakdown in communication.

After completing the activity students will be encouraged to evaluate their own performance via an exchange of views with other learners. The final stage, in which the learners reflect on the morning's work is essential to show what has been achieved and the place of the lesson in their learning programme.

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