While mulling over what to put in the Tip
this week I was looking at 'Their Circular Life - An exploration
About Human Behaviour' http://www.theircircularlife.it/
This is a site that shows 24 hours of life from a camera
at five different Italian scenes. You are given a circular
control to move through the 24 hours & each scene
also comes with audio for the different sounds in the
cycle. Lovely site, well worth checking out.
This then took me to a listening idea in
'Listening' by Goodith White (OUP) - an excellent book
full of practical listening skill ideas. The activity
is called 'Sounds of my Day' (no. 2.3) in which students
are asked to make a sound diary of a typical day. This
could be a short period such as the morning before going
out. All bring their taped diaries to class & exchange
them so that at home they listen & work out what is
happening. In the next lesson they report their ideas
to the original recorder to see if they were right. Alternatively
in class they could swap tapes around in small groups
to find any similarities & differences, with lots
of speaking practice.
This then led me to a book I used to use
a lot called 'Sounds Intriguing' by Maley & Duff (CUP)
which contains a sequences of sounds on tape. The students
have to figure out what's going on. For example Sequence
1 has the following sounds:
Water (lapping) - humming
- water (gushing) pause -
humming - silence - water lapping - sudden shout
For each Sequence the teacher's book gives
possible lines of questioning, suggestions for oral work,
suggestions for writing, vocabulary & finally possible
So what to do with sequences of sound? Here
are a few aims:
For specific language practice:
- To practise the language of present/past deduction -
it could /must /might be.....
- To practise the language of sequencing - first there's
a man..., then he..., & after that he...
- To practise the language of negotiation - dis/agreeing,
giving opinions etc...
To provide content for a
writing task - a story, a short script, a report, a letter
- of explanation, apology..., a poem etc...
- To provide content for speaking tasks - story
& anecdote telling, reporting....
You could ask the students to write a series
down a series of sounds, swap them & work out a story
that connects the different sounds. Or with what they
have at hand, tape a series of sounds for use by others
in the class.
If you don't have access to Sounds Intriguing,
it is very easy to tape a sequence of sounds yourself.
It's also a good idea to hand over the tape machine to
the students for them to replay when necessary. An imaginative
way of promoting speaking & writing. Try it out.
And then I was thinking about exploiting
the 24 hour cycle from Their Circular Life in class..........
Listening (Resource Books for Teachers)
Goodith White (OUP)
buy this book at Amazon.com
buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
Sounds Intriguing Alan Maley, Alan
buy this book at Amazon.com
buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
The 12th May is Limerick Day, the birthday
of Edward Lear. Last year we had a
Tip about limericks, 'There once was an English teacher..'.
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It is a fairly standard procedure to take
a couple of notes when listening in to some freer speaking
activity in class & then give the students feedback
on a few areas that they had problems with. This could be
through putting on the board three sentences said well &
three that need correcting & getting the students to
decide on the incorrect & sort them out & then you
give them a pat on the back for the good utterances. Typically
the errors would be things that when the see they can easily
Is this really enough though? What about those
other stages in the lesson where the students were discussing
different things: brainstorming, working out rules, comparing
answers etc.. These activities are just as important &
possibly more so if the class is not in an English-speaking
country as the classroom might well be the only place they
speak English, making the classroom language the most relevant
language for their immediate needs. There's an awful lot
of language that students need to function well in class
which can continually be refined & developed, and then
it is all useable in other contexts outside of class.
There's also the selective picking up of mistakes
by the teacher that can be doubtful at times. We tend to
become immune to certain mistakes if we teach a nationality
for long enough, living in the students' country. Perhaps
it might be best to take notes at regular intervals, when
you are free to do so, of anything that was said & analyse
it all later on at your leisure. This distancing allows
you to time to think of alternatives that might be useful,
rather than going with the first thing that comes into your
A notebook for each group is a good idea.
You can see how the group & individuals are getting
on by looking back through your notes. And this information
can then be fed into future timetables & lesson plans
as you really deal with their immediate needs. And then
how do you organise your notes? - more on this in a future
From the students' point of view it also looks
good to have the teacher taking notes on what they say.
They feel that they are being noticed & the speaking
they are doing monitored at all times, maximising the time
available in class. Feedback & a relevant course are
a couple of the main things they are paying for after all.
World Red Cross Day is
Lots of info & texts to plan an
interesting lesson, or two, around:
World Red Cross Day falls each year
on the birthday of Henry Dunant, the Swiss citizen who founded
the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in
1863. Since the time that Dunant first conceived of the
idea of the Red Cross, the Movement has grown to become
the largest international humanitarian aid organization
in the world.
of World Red Cross Day
Committee of the Red Cross
From 12 June to 4 July, Europe's premier football championship
being held in Portugal will be dedicated to one of the ICRC's
most important campaigns. Four leading referees are acting
as ambassadors for "Protect Children In War" which
will focus on reuniting children with their families, assisting
them in their physical and psychological recovery, meeting
their basic needs and campaigning against the use of child
"Protect children in war!"
of links to different countries' Red Cross sites
If teaching a monolingual group, choose
a short extract for translation
Red Cross site
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This week we have a brief look at transitions
within a lesson plus a few links for May Day-related lessons.
A lesson may have several stages to it &
there are transitions from one stage or activity to another.
Some ways of making a transition could be:
Stopping the lesson &
stating the aims of the next activity before proceeding.
Changing the direction so
that the current stage simply flows into the next.
Students rearrange their
seating, grouping & interactional positions.
The real difference is how obvious the change
is. From a teacher's point of view we might think that
the more seamless the transition the better. The more
the lesson links & flows, the better.
However, this is not necessarily the case
for students. Apparently, the more experienced teacher
does, in fact, make transitions clear so that the students
can see where they are & where they are going. Sometimes
the flow can work so well that the students might miss
the point of the stage i.e. the language introduction.
The argument is that the clearer the transition, the clearer
the student is going to be.
Do you agree? Any other ways of making transitions?
Let us know what you think on
Among the different topics you could choose
to coincide with May Day are the following:
the addition of 10 new member
states to the European Community on May 1st.
the celebration of Labour
Day in most of the world, coinciding with the Haymarket
the pagan origins of May
Morris dancing around the
- Scott Fitzgerald's short story ' May Day'
Here are some links & excerpts that I have
Labor Day / May Day - The observation of
Labor Day on the first Monday in September is usually
attributed to the Knights of Labor who held their first
parade on September 5, 1882. But far more important is
the Haymarket Riot/Massacre of 1886. There are several
interpretations of what occurred, and monuments have been
constructed to both the demonstrators and the police.
A reasonable summary is that the labor organizers were
peacefully demonstrating for an eight hour day, an anarchist
threw a bomb in to the crowd, which killed a policeman,
the police killed several demonstrators and some policemen,
the powers that be arrested the labor leaders.
The Haymarket Martyrs - The
Martyrs' Monument by sculptor, Albert Weinert, takes its
inspiration from "La Marseillaise", the national
anthem of France. It was a favorite of Albert Parsons
and he sang it in his cell just prior to his trip to the
gallows. A laurel wreath is placed on the brow of the
fallen hero, as the figure of Justice advances, resolutely
toward the future.
The story of the Haymarket Martyrs,
and their monument in Forest Home Cemetery, begins at
a convention of the Federation of Organized Trades and
Labor Unions in 1884. The Federation (the predecessor
to the American Federation of Labor) called for a great
movement to win the 8-hour workday, which would climax
on May 1, 1886.
The plan was to spend two years urging
all American employers to adopt a standard 8-hour day,
instead of the 10 to 12, even up to 16-hour days that
were prevalent. After May 1 of 1886, all workers not yet
on an 8-hour schedule, were to cease work in a nation-wide
strike until their employer would meet the demand.
'Welcome to the party - and EU shells out
6m euros to prove it Brussels has laid on concerts and
fireworks displays to celebrate the arrival of 10 new
members.The European Union is not an organisation to do
things by halves, particularly when it comes to a celebration.
This time Europe will party like it's 1999. Or more precisely
1 May, 2004.'
'The Pagan Origins of May Day - Mayday
was a rite of passage custom that marked an important
seasonal transition in the year. Putting a maypole up
involved taking a growing tree from the wood, and bringing
it to the village to mark the oncoming season of the summer.
Mayday used to be a period of great sexual licence. People
would go off into the woods to collect their trees and
green boughs, but once there, would enter into all sorts
of temporary sexual liaisons which society did not normally
'What is Morris Dancing? - Morris dancing
is a form of ritual folkdance which comes from the Cotswold
region in western England, between Oxford and the Welsh
border. It is ritual as opposed to social dance, that
is, it is danced with purposes beyond fun, although it
'"May Day," Fitzgerald's
first great novelette--published during his first year
as a professional writer--appeared in July 1920. Fitzgerald
presumably sold it directly to Smart Set editors H. L.
Mencken and George Jean Nathan without offering it to
The Saturday Evening Post, or any other magazine, because
the material was too strong or realistic for the slicks.
"May Day" was the most successful work inspired
by Fitzgerald's temporary interest in the school of naturalistic
or deterministic fiction. Although it was read by the
people Fitzgerald wanted to reach, The Smart Set paid
him only $200 for this masterpiece.'
"May Day" drew upon Fitzgerald's feelings of
failure during the spring of 1919 when he was working
for a New York advertising agency. He provided this comment
when the story was collected in Tales of the Jazz Age
(1922): "This somewhat unpleasant tale, published
as a novelette in the "Smart Set" in July, 1920,
relates a series of events which took place in the spring
of the previous year. Each of the three events made a
great impression upon me. In life they were unrelated,
except by the general hysteria of that spring which inaugurated
the Age of Jazz, but in my story I have tried, unsuccessfully
I fear, to weave them into a pattern---a pattern which
would give the effect of those months in New York as they
appeared to at least one member of what was then the younger
- to download the story
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