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Teaching Interaction Management Directly:
Helping Learners with Part 3 of the
CAE Speaking Exam
by Greg Gobel
- lesson plan 3 - more prelim. information

Learner Profiles:

  • The class – This particular class is pleasure to work with. The atmosphere sometimes feels like friends hanging out in a living room, just that we are in a classroom instead. That said, these learners work hard, challenge themselves continuously, rise to challenges that I set for them to push them further, give and accept constructive criticism professionally and jump at any occasion to speak. The class has wonderful rapport, even engaging in spontaneous sibling-like banter at times. They love to have a good laugh while learning. They also welcome a variety of tasks and lesson-types. There are 10 learners on the register, and we usually have 8 – 10 in any given class. However, for this particular class, there will be only a maximum possibility of 8 learners because both Eva and Nacho will be unable to attend due to recent medical operations. Also, Ana told me on Monday that she may not attend on Wednesday because of a university exam on Thursday. Eduardo told me that his brother, Emilio, may not make it on Wednesday either because of a project for work with a Thursday deadline. Their ages range from 17 – 35. All of these learners are Spanish with Castellano as their L1.
  • Nacho – Nacho will be taking the CAE in June. Nacho has been instrumental in the idea behind a few lessons already. One example was when he brought a Counting Crowes cd in and asked if we could use one of the songs in class. Nacho, Belen and Ana all go to university together and studied in the same secondary school. They handle this long term relationship maturely in class, benefiting the overall rapport rather than detracting from it. Nacho will probably get a B or C on the CAE. As with most learners, he finds the English in Use paper to be the most difficult, especially the register transfer part. He has asked that we focus on that a bit more in class before the exam. This is a good idea as it is, I feel, one of the most difficult sections in the CAE. Nacho demonstrates that he is aware of the benefits of peer teaching/learning sometimes looking to Eduardo as a mentor, asking for his advice on lexical choice. Unfortunately, Nacho will be unable to attend as he has recently had an operation that limits his mobility; because of this he has missed the six lessons prior to this observation.
  • Belen – Belen wants to take the CAE in December or June 2006. She has felt a bit overwhelmed with her university work this since the New Year and has decided it would be wiser to take the exam when she has more time to prepare more thoroughly. I think this is a good decision for that reason and also because I think she needs a little bit more time to develop her listening and writing skills required for the CAE. In class, Belen never hesitates to give her wholehearted opinion about the topics of lessons and tasks. This is most welcomed as it seems to prompt others to take a more personal look at the topics and helps prompt more personal reactions from her peers. She often tries to express what she does not know how to say lexically, but circumlocutes extremely effectively to get her meanings across.
  • Ana – Ana has also decided to push the CAE back to December because of university work and, more importantly, because of the possibility to do a study abroad programme in either Canada or Costa Rica starting in early June. She is waiting to hear about her acceptance, but had to make a decision beforehand because it was an either/or situation as if she gets accepted she will not be in town when the CAE is held this June. Ana is the type of learner who is perpetually curious about vocabulary and how to say things better. This, however, does not usually affect her fluency because she is often patient to ask after she is finished talking or after the task. I think this is a quite a good stategy as she communicates successfully first, then gets clarification afterwards to update her interlanguage. On the other hand, Ana hates doing homework, so perhaps she would develop increase her proficiency faster if she changed her attitude toward homework.
  • Alberto – Alberto has had no intention of taking the CAE this year. He has been coming to this school (Chester) for years – it is a natural part of his life. He views this course more as an intense maintenance course rather than an exam preparation course. That said, he loves to read and is very analytical and thus loves to do practice CAE reading papers, on which he has always successfully scored higher than 75%. Alberto is a quiet, stoic scientist actively observing the goings on of the classroom while participating humbly in tasks. He rarely chooses to take a long turn, but when he does he generally displays effective discoursal structuring.
  • Eva – Eva is an absolute pleasure to have in class! She has a fantastic sense of humour, the more surreal and bizarre the better. One of her favourite lessons ever was when she got to role play a Raelian priestess arguing in support of the benefits of cloning. Eva will be taking her sense of humour into the CAE exam this June and will likely pass with a C or a B. She fairs well in the practice reading, listening, speaking and writing papers, but hangs around 60% on the practice English in Use papers. Eva is definitely one of the catalysts for the excellent rapport that has developed in this class. Eva will be unable to attend because of an operation that she underwent on Friday, 13 May.
  • Eduardo & Emilio– (Perhaps it is unfair to pair them like this, but I have much the same to say about both.) The first and second, literally – the twins in this class. Eduardo will be taking the CAE in June and should get a B or an A judging by his current performance. He consistently scores in the mid to high 80% range for the English in Use paper and has an average of 94% over six practice reading papers. I have used Eduardo’s writing to model responses for an FCE class this year. Emilio will also be taking the CAE in June. He also scores in the same range in English in Use papers and averages 92% for reading practice exams. Eduardo and Emilio are quite independent in class, almost never choosing to sit next to each other. They are serious and effectively draw on their own experiences to enhance their learning. They have developed some effective autonomous learning strategies. They go see films in English once a week at an English language cinema and speak to each other in English at home several times a week. They have both recently expressed that they consider learning English their most active hobby.
  • Maria – Maria is the youngest member of the class at 16 years old. She is very mature for her age and eagerly jumps at any opportunity to improve her English. Maria has excelled through lower level young learner and teenager courses in the past and is finding some of the grammatical and other linguistic elements at this level quite challenging, but she welcomingly does not get overwhelmed or frustrated by this. Recently I asked her to bring her homework a little bit more often and she has done so very willingly. Sometimes she is a few minutes late because she is chatting with her friend, who is in the class next door. Now, Maria is applying to be an au pair in Canada for the summer.
  • Javier – Javier is in his first year of university. Javier’s older brother is a friend of Nacho, Belen and Ana and this has helped with class rapport. He is very active in standing or mingling activities and pairwork sitting, but he tends to take a backseat in groupwork sitting. Javier has been a little bit negligent in bringing in writing homework recently. I asked him about this and he said he has been busy with his secondary school work and playing basketball. Fair enough – right now for Javier, both of these are higher priorities than English. Also for these reasons, Javier is going to go for the CAE in December instead of June.
  • Victor – Victor is in his second year of university. He may be the least proficient in English in this class, but he makes up for it with perceptive insight. Victor had no intention of taking the CAE this year, instead choosing wisely to use this year as a developmental year coming off his FCE success with a go at the CAE as a goal for 2006. By nature, Victor is very calm, patient, and soft-spoken even in Spanish so he adds balance to a rather boisterous and excitable group.

Classroom Aids:

  • Whiteboard (to deal with ‘things that come up’)
  • Whiteboard pens (to deal with ‘things that come up’)
  • Blue tack (stage 1)
  • Classroom walls (stage 1)
  • Visuals representing work skills (stage 1)
  • Slips (stage 1)
  • Homemade ‘Task sheet 1A/1B’: questions and authentic tapescript of CAE learners speaking about change (stage 2)
  • CD with authentic recording of 2 CAE learners (stage 2)
  • Homemade ‘Monitor cards’ (stage 3)
  • Homemade ‘Turn-taking prompt cards’ (Stage 3)
  • Homemade ‘Task sheet 2’ with expressions (stage 4)
  • Homemade CD recording of excerpt of conversation with interruption expression (stage 4)
  • Real CAE Part 3 visual sheet (stage 5)
  • Real CAE Part 3 examiner task sheet (stage 5)
  • Take home ‘Turn-taking Tips’ consolidation sheet (end)

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