IMPLICATIONS OF TEACHING CONVERSATION IN THE CLASSROOM WITH
SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO ADVANCED LEARNERS AND GENRE by Emma
- lesson plan 1
Speaking: To practice expressions used for telling a story
or presenting facts in an interesting or dramatic way in the
context of life as a teenager. The expressions include the
You'll never believe this it, but
This is hard to believe, but
Believe it or not
Can you imagine?
I couldn't believe my eyes/ears!
Do you know what happened then
And then do you know what he said/did?
What do you think he did/said?
You'll never guess what!
And then, to add insult to injury
As if that wasn't enough
Listening for gist and for specific information.
Some vocabulary (mainly colloquial)that could be connected
to 'teenagers': stroppy/snog/to suck/mumble.
My previous lesson looked at the Secret Diary of Adrian
Mole Aged 13 3/4 the life of a typical teenager has been looked
at. The group have also recently been looking at short stories
(written) so it seems logical to practice telling stories
orally and looking at expressions that will help the students
to do this.
I have decided to look at the skill of speaking with this
advanced group because it is an area that I find particularly
challenging. I have taught advanced groups over the last year
and I have found that, although a lot of speaking takes place
in class, it is actually quite a challenge to give advanced
students new language input because they can say pretty much
exactly what they want. I have therefore chosen an area where
the speaker takes a longer speaking turn: that of telling
a story or describing something that happened. I have chosen
this because it is a difficult task to do and I want to give
the students something challenging and also give each student
an opportunity to speak for longer in class.
have decided to begin the class using the video of Kevin the
stroppy teenager because I looked at The Secret Diary of Adrian
Mole in the previous class. I have used this video before
in other classes I have taught and students have always found
it funny. This is a nice way to start off the lesson. Some
tricky vocabulary also comes up in the video such as mumble
and snog so I have decided to look at them briefly.
questions that will be given after the video clip are connected
to being a teenager and, because all the students have been
teenagers before and have perhaps experienced some of the
feelings seen on the video, it is a good idea to personalise
it. Also, because the warmer is quite a 'silent' activity,'
this is a good opportunity to let the students speak.
reason why I want students to discuss the questions after
the video is because this will be followed by another listening.
The video and then listening straight after might seem a bit
too much. I have tried to make the people on the tape similar
to those seen on the video, therefore continuing with the
stroppy teenager theme. A listening seems the best way to
present the language I eventually want the students to produce
and the video has already provided the context. It also seems
appropriate that teenagers exaggerate things to make everything
more dramatic. I want the students to listen out for any of
the expressions and write them down as they hear them. This
is quite a difficult task so I will play the tape twice and
ask students to compare their answers. Because I have included
the expressions in the listening, I have not included any
complex vocabulary although I have recycled some language
that has come up in previous classes such as do my head in.
I will also provide the students with the tapescript after
the listening activity because they can see the expressions
used in a particular context - the tapescript provides them
with a reference they can take home and look at in their own
have decided to look at sentence stress with the expressions
because it is important that the students get the stress right
in the expressions when telling their stories. Otherwise the
expressions used will sound 'odd' or forced. This is again,
quite a difficult task and probably one the students are not
used to. This is why I will ask them to work in pairs. I also
feel this is an area that I have neglected in my classes and
one I would like to look at more often. Things like sentence
stress and intonation are areas where advanced students can
start to think more about as these are the subtle differences
that separates a good speaker of English from a highly proficient
speaker of English.
want to give the students some controlled practice before
they go into the freer practice. Thus, I have asked students
to re-write a dialogue - making it more interesting. I will
then ask the students to read out the dialogues so that I
can check they know how to use the expressions, and also,
how to say them. If these expressions are said in a monotone
voice, they will sound strange.
freer practice allows students to plan what they are going
to say. This reflects story telling in gereral because most
stories are told more than once, and therefore planned. I
want the students to plan in pairs simply because this makes
the task a little more communicative. I also want students
to think about how they will react when listening to these
stories, which emphasises the reciprocity of speaking. The
students have already looked at ways of showing interest,
back-channelling and so on. The stories they will tell are
all related to being a teenager in one way or another.
students should hopefully enjoy the topic area and the activities
but still feel they have 'learnt' something to help them improve
their speaking skills.
The students should not find the listening (either the video
or the cassette) too difficult because they have a good level.
They all speaki fluidly (and some almost fluently) so the
speaking activity at the end should not be too challenging.
I am presuming however, that they will either not have seen
or thought about using these expressions in this way. Telling
stories in a foreign language is a hard thing to do and they
will need practice at it.
problems: Students may have difficulty with the stress
and intonation of the expressions. I want to give the students
an opportunity to work out the main and secondary stress on
the expressions for themselves but I will check and drill
any problem areas if necessary. Students may also find it
difficult to incorporate the expressions in the speaking activity.
I will make sure that while they are telling their stories,
they have the list of expressions with them as a reference.
profile: Class generally made up of young professionals,
although one older man, Troyano, is present. Students often
arrive late and tired because they have been working all day.
It is important to keep the pace up in class, changing activities
fairly frequently to make sure they do not 'drift off. Students
are also receiving the lessons for free,therefore it may be
tempting to skip a few classes. The group, so far, consists
of the following:
A lawyer who mainly uses English when reading legal documents.
She appears quite serious but participates well, especially
with pair work,
Montse: Works in an electical company. Very happy and responsive
student, often the first to volunteer an answer. Pronunciation
Troyano: Eldest in group but works well with peers and can
be very funny! Has quite a wide range of vocbulary but often
not appropriate to context. Has a tendency to ask a lot of
questions and can sometimes interrupt and talk over other
Beatriz: Fully participates in activities though sometimes
does not listen to teacher. Very bubbly. Fluent but this presides
over accuracy. Very motivated.
Antonio: Works well in group and a very good level. Asks intelligent
questions and is happy to explain things to peers if they
have any problems. Has lived in Britain for one year.
Africa: Good level and likes grammar! Also interested in business
English. Again, works well with peers.
Pablo: Good level. Reads a lot of English. Gives the impression
that he is a busy business man so maybe time to study may
be a problem for him.
Yolanda: Very personable. Colloquial/informal vocabulary very
good as lived in London for a while. Has a Greek boyfriend
with whom she communicates in English because he does not
Rocio: Recently joined group. Very good level. Has travelled
to Britain and to Ireland and wants to return to Britain once
she has finished her degree. Extremely motivated.
David: Also recently joined group. Excellent level of English
(probably the best in the group) and studies English and American
literture at the Complutense in Madrid.
Language input taken from Dornyei, Z. & Turrel, S., Conversation
and Dialogues in Action, (Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead,
Video: Harry Enfield
Cassette: Home recording
the lesson plan procedure
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