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Teaching Tips 26

Lifting it off
Extended sentences
Sweet motivation



Lifting it off
You're using a listening text & you've done an extensive listen followed by an intensive listen, both focussing on the content of the text. You now want to highlight some useful language in the text, how do you go about it?

You could give out the script & ask the students to listen to the tape & read at the same time. You stop the tape just after the language you want to highlight. You then focus on the language by checking form & meaning.

You could give out the script & ask for examples of  'X'  language. The students find it & give it to you & then you can focus on it. The problem here is that they might not be able to find it in the first place. Depends on what you ask them to look for e.g. 'Find examples of 'could' or 'Find examples of polite requests.' From the first you then move to the 'polite request' idea in your checking.

You could play the tape & stop after the interesting language & elicit it from the students. You would need to stop immediately after the utterance, ask them to listen carefully for that bit & play it again. Then you could model the form on your fingers to show them the component parts & get into the meaning & form some more.

This last way is more taxing as the visual aspect is missing. It is an appropriate way of introducing functional exponents - the context is there, the intonation is clear within the context & a constant model is given (from the tape, rather than the teacher repeating it & varying the intonation) - it is easy then to drill from the tape - play it again & ask the students to repeat the utterance, possibly then using a substitution drill.

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Extended sentences

You've just presented a language item & you need to check that the students understand the concept. You could ask concept questions - more on this in a future Tip, or, depending on the item in question, you could check by eliciting the extension of a sentence stem.


With 'used to' for talking about past discontinued habits & states you might give the following stem & ask a std to continue it, assuming that s/he did play football before.

Tch: I used to play football but now......

Std A: But now I play tennis/I don't do any sport/I don't anymore.

Std B: But now I play football.

The stds must be encouraged to answer truthfully for the check to have any personalised meaning. Assuming that you know that Std A does play tennis, then you know the concept is understood. You could check the tennis by asking 'when do you play?'. Std B clearly hasn't got the idea unless s/he it trying to express the idea that the activity never stopped, & needs '& I still do now'.

The stds could continue the above sentence for you, changing the pronoun, using information you've given them about yourself.

Std C: But now you go running.


Or from using a situation:

'They used to live in London.... (but now they live in New York)'


Other language items you can check this way:

- You don't need to go to work tomorrow because.... (it's Saturday)

- By the time he arrives... (Pete will have arrived)

- You've got to arrive on time, if not.... (we won't get the contract)

- If it's raining tomorrow, (from a list of alternatives - 'we might go to the cinema' - not the beach!)

- He hasn't finished yet, but.... (he'll be done in an hour)

- They managed to get there, although.... (it was very tricky)


You could do this orally or give out written prompts for an individual thoughtful activity. If written, stds could then compare their ideas to see if they have any similarities.

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Sweet motivation
Clearly connecting to the learners' interests, the more engaging, enjoyable & rewarding a lesson can be. This is even more important when dealing with the younger learner.

Food & sweets tend to be near the top of their 'like' lists. Watch them sit up when you get out a packet of sweets!

When teaching/revising offers - 'would you like'/'do you want' & the short answers - take in & use a packet of biscuits or sweets. Sweets, in particular, are excellent for teaching colours, preferences, numbers, comparatives & superlatives etc. With the preferences you could organise a 'sweet tasting' where a variety of sweets are tasted 'blind' & then the results can be expressed with the language of quantity - all of us like.., a few of us...etc.

Even the quietest & most reticent of children will make a real effort to come out with English in order to get a sweet reward, bringing what is perceived by the younger learner as a rather academic subject very much alive!

Although other realia don't have the same pay off, it is well worth making the effort to take in food & clothes, etc. when you are practising shopping language. Interest & motivation levels shoot up when you've got the real thing.

Why not use the same for older, more adult learners, even the corporate class? Competition prizes of chocolate bars go down very well with all ages as they add more of a fun spirit to the activity. Chocolate, sweets, biscuits or crisp variety tastings are lots of fun & make the accompanying language very memorable.

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