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Exploring Strategic Competence
by Sarn Rich

lesson plan - preliminary information

Time: 1 hour

Level: Elementary

Make it easier for the class to manage and to communicate in class and outside without resorting to Spanish, focussing on
- language for agreeing, disagreeing and asking opinions (Yeah, Yes,
Of course, Mm, Well.., Hmm.., I don't know.., Maybe.., What do
you think?, Well?) (Stages 4,5,7)
- language of paraphrasing (See Handout)
- language for use when thinking (fillers) (Hmm.., You know, Er..)

Develop listening skills
- for context (1)
- for specific language (4,6,8)
Build Ls' confidence in their ability to communicate only in English.

Timetable Fit: This lesson is near the beginning of the course and has been devised in response to Ls' overuse of Spanish.
The language for agreeing and disagreeing will be reviewed and recycled in a discussion in 3 lessons time.
Paraphrasing will be used in a lesson on jobs which follows that.
When drawing up the course programme we wanted to develop
speaking and listening in conversation as an interactive process, and have timetabled a lesson on backchannelling and showing reactions to follow this one.
The last lesson to develop listening skills concentrated on determining speakers' feelings and relationships. The next will be concerned with information transfer.
There is a learner-training thread to the course. The learners will be encouraged to use paraphrasing and co-operative strategies in peer teaching.

Assumptions: The Ls are used to speaking Spanish, and in some tasks probably resort to Spanish as a way of gaining security because the tasks are unfamiliar.
The language in the paraphrasing section is probably familiar in
different contexts.

Anticipated problems & solutions: Unfamiliarity of the idea of communicating entirely in English - I will encourage the Ls to realise that this is within their capabilities.

Materials: Board, tape recording (unscripted dialogues), game boards, labels, bits of paper, counters, HO, realia: 3 X lemon, balloon, playing card, garlic, child's fork, plastic cup, mask, silver foil, bead (in a cloth bag)

Lesson Rationale:
At the beginning of the course all the learners said that their priority was to improve their speaking. We have therefore included opportunities for practice, and lessons devoted to developing speaking skills, but found already that the learners resort to Spanish more often than might be expected.

This lesson is intended to encourage the idea that resorting to Spanish is unnecessary, and to start the habit of using English in all classroom activities.

An element in this is the use of paraphrase when the learners do not know the exact language for what they want to convey. This communication strategy demands the exercise of some imagination, which wil be stimulated by the following elements in the lesson:
- unexpected seating arrangement.
- music.
- lots of realia, of different textures and colours.
- example sentences (on the handout and in the game which refer to different senses (taste, sight, hearing, touch) and disparate possibilities.

My intention is that the learners should use the target language communicatively and for an authentic purpose. The language for agreeing and disagreeing is to be practised in discussing questions where the learners might genuinely have different opinions (stages 5, 6 and 7), and fillers are to be practised when they need time to think (stage 8).

The intention in the final activity is that the learners should use and listen to paraphrasing language out of necessity, being unable to point to the objects being described and not knowing their English names. Should they want to know an object's English name after the lesson the learners can practise their communication strategies again with English speakers and other learners to ask for it.

Class profile:
There are twelve learners in the class seven men, five women, all Spanish and aged from
23-30. Their previous learning experiences are very varied, as are their strengths and weaknesses. All appear to regard English classes as a social event, and get on well with each other.

Eva, 24, biology student, currently unemployed, has attended classes at the school before but claims not to enjoy learning English because 'very different for me'. Generally her level is lower than the other members of the class and she is quite reticent. However, she is considerate and helpful in pair and group work and a popular member of the class.

Miguel, 27,industrial engineer, keen on Real Madrid and the Beatles, claims to be very lazy, but contributes well in class, having a wide vocabulary and confident speaking ability.

Alfonso, 30, sculptor, always smiling, appears to enjoy classes at the school. He says English was his worst subject when he was a child, and his vocabulary and speaking are quite poor for the class.

Esther, 27, physiotherapist, one of the more fluent learners, wanting to improve her English before travelling to India to work with survivors of the Gujerat earthquake.

Magdalena, 28, clinical research, an attentive and alert learner. She likes to know the meaning of every word. Has a good memory, and is always cheerful.

Maria, 26, law graduate but wants to improve her English to help get a job in international sales. Her vocabulary and grammar are very good and she occasionally becomes frustrated with other learners at a lower level.

Nuria, 23, trainee infants' teacher, sometimes perhaps intimidated by the higher level of the rest of the class, but enjoys pairwork.

Rocio, 24, trainee infants' teacher, enthusiastic and talkative.

Javier, 24, chemist, quiet and contemplative but happy to make a contribution when encouraged.

Eva, 27, chemistry graduate, despite weaknesses in her pronunciation and grammar she manages to be quite voluble in speaking activities.

Juan Jose, 24, law student, a quiet and popular learner. Has only attended two lessons.

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