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Teaching Tips 29

Before I forget...
Student-generated situations
Christmas lesson plan

Before I forget...
I think most would agree that having a good memory is near the top of the list of skills necessary for 'good language learning'. Do we look at this enough in class? Do we pass on enough tips on how to memorise efficiently?

A nice way into this is by giving a memory test & analysing the results. Hand out a list of words such as the following - change to suit the group so that they are all known words:


Give the students one minute to remember as many as possible. They then turn over the papers & individually write out their memorised list. When they have dried up, get them in small groups to share their memory techniques.

Some of the strategies that might come up in the discussions could include remembering words with similar meanings, words that look the same, words that stand out because they look different eg. long or short words, words that sound different/nice/ strange, words that can be associated through a story (get them to re-tell their stories) etc.

It's not a test to see who can remember the most but to collate the different strategies they have used, learn from each other & generally raise awareness of the importance of memory & the conscious use of strategies.

We'll look at some different memory techniques in future Tips.

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Student-generated situations
This is a simple idea that helps promote autonomy & maybe saves you a little work. When you need to practise some language area why not hand it over to the students & ask them to think of a natural situation in which one would use the language. This then checks they have understood the language area, helps them to extend their ideas about the area, gets away from the coursebook feeding in all of the ideas & provides more variety of activity.

Get the students in pairs to brainstorm different areas, go round & check they are on the right track, providing ideas if they don't have their own & then get them to write a dialogue for one of their situations, incorporating the target language. Again while they are writing the dialogues, go round & help out & corecting as necessary, & then the pairs read out their dialogues in front of the class, the rest guessing what the situation is. A more spontaneous way would be for them to simply have the dialogues without writing them out beforehand. It depends on the aim of the practice activity.

You would need to introduce this gradually as you might initially get little response, especially if your students are not very independent & autonomous learners.

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Christmas lesson plan
This week's Teaching Tip takes the form of a lesson plan centred around Christmas things. It is an upper intermediate level lesson but it would be easy to adapt it to lower levels by re-writing the texts.

The plan consists of the following stages:

- warmer/sinking in to the theme - Xmas jokes & local traditions

- vocabulary brainstorm

- reading

- information exchange

- discussion

- follow up ideas: letter writing, roleplay, present giving

Hope your students enjoy it.

Also check out last year's Xmas ideas.

Click on your present to get to the plan!

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