Teaching Tips 80
Speed dating has become popular recently. Here's what Wikopedia has to say about it:
Speed dating is a formalized matchmaking process or dating system (a variant of a meeting system where the purpose is to enjoy romantic or friendship dates rather than decide anything). It originated in Jewish circles in the United States as a way to ensure that more Jewish singles met each other in large cities where they were outnumbered by non-Jews. It has been made more popular by its use on dating game shows, e.g. Fifth Wheel, and has recently become popular in the gay community. Supporters argue that speed dating simply saves time, as most people decide if they are romantically compatible very quickly, and first impressions are usually permanent.
In the original idea of speed dating, men and women are rotated to meet each other for only eight minutes each, are forced to the next round no matter how much they are enjoying the interaction (or dread the next one), then submit to the organizers a list of who they would like to see again (a form of approval voting since any number of suitors can be approved). If there is a match, phone numbers are forwarded. They cannot be traded during the initial eight-minute meeting, to reduce pressure especially on women) to accept or reject a suitor to their face.
Critics of speed dating say it's shallow and tends to reinforce first impressions, which are often shallow to begin with. A scientific view of speed dating is that eight minutes is more than sufficient to determine if the range of a mate's hormones, a key indicator of immunities, is complementary (different) from one's own. This is claimed by some researchers to be the key factor in the so-called "first impression", and since it is olfactory (smell-based), there is no need for two individuals considering child-raising to spend more time on first impressions, it being more important to "sniff out" other mates.
This view is often rejected by critics as reducing humans to dog-like status, sniffing each other and then running off to sniff others. Another objection is that dating has more purposes than the raising of children, and that the invention of speed dating by a religious minority intent on resisting assimilation (and thus resisting cross-breeding) is a cynical move to increase their own population relative to the majority.
Another criticism of speed dating is that it tends to put less extroverted subjects at a disadvantage, while those with low self-esteem have been known to experience depression or even attempt suicide if their efforts at speed dating are unsuccessful.
None of these views seem to contradict each other, and speed dating grows in popularity perhaps due to the very objections that have been raised to it.
So what's all this to do with teaching?
Leaving out the olfactory aspect, & with the right group, a simulation of this can be lots of fun & provide lots of language practice. The timetable fit would be within the theme of relationships, descriptive adjectives & getting to know people for the first time. You could use the above text as a reading before the listening, integrating the skills nicely.
In order to set this up right & get the most from it, it would be a good idea to have a tape of two people going through a simulated speed date - get a couple of colleagues to make a tape for you. You could give them a script or to make it more authentic, give them ideas you want them to mention or simply leave it as a spontaneous conversation & see what they come up with.
Use the tape for content first - do you think they are attracted to each other, what topics are mentioned. Then go on to the language focus - possibly pick up on question forms, answering techniques (eg. delaying techniques while you think 'Let me think for a moment..' & avoidance eg. 'I'd rather not get into that at the moment.'), ways of getting more information, interrupting politely, etc...
Role cards would be essential so that at the end there is a matching of people in the group. Make them as complicated as you want to suit the aims of the activity. I should mention that the sex of the participants is not an issue in the activity.
Having primed the group for a few language areas, set up the task. Explain the task & give out the rolecards with a couple of minutes to think about what they might say. Also give them a paper with a chart for them to make notes on each conversation so that they can refer to it later when deciding on suitable dates.
Then form an inner & outer circle of chairs so that the inner are looking out & the outer are paired up with an inner & looking inwards. Assign students to a chair & start them on the speed dating. Give them 3/4 minutes for each conversation & after the time is up, get the students in the outer chairs to rotate to one chair on the right. This avoids all having to move seats & makes the change orderly.
At the end ask the students to decide who they have most in common with & why. If you have planned the cards well, there should be a complete matching up. If you have odd numbers then make a three that matches.
Then, if time allows, you could have another roleplay with the matching couples having further conversation to give some extra oral fluency practice.
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Among the features of spoken discourse that need attending to is the adjacency pair. The 'Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics' defines this as:
‘a sequence of two related utterances by two different speakers. The second utterance is always a response to the first.’
In the following example, speaker A makes a complaint, & speaker B replies with a denial:
A: You left the light on.
B: It wasn’t me!
The sequence of Complaint-Denial is an adjacency pair. Other examples are Greeting-Greeting, Question-Answer, Invitation-Acceptance/Refusal, Offer-Decline, Complaint-Apology.
Adjacency pairs are part of the structure of conversation’
An additional aspect is that usually there are two different responses to the first utterance. These are called ‘preferred’ – the polite expected response, & the ‘dispreferred answer’, the unexpected response.
We usually deal with the preferred answers in coursebooks, dialogues, matching pairs. The following task is fairly typical:
|Match the following pairs:
|Would you like a drink?
||Every half an hour, I think.
|Lovely day, isn't it?
||Don't worry, No harm done.
|What time does the bus come?
||Here you are.
|Oh, I am sorry.
|Could you pass the salt, please?
||Yes, please. A pint of bitter for me. Thanks.
But what of the dispreferred answers? These are more difficult to produce as a degree of sophistication is needed to be appropriate. They might also mean more language as reasons might be needed.
So how to develop these with our students? A couple of ideas:
1. Listening & more listening – pick up on this aspect in the text analysis stage - noticing. If you had the following:
A: Could you give me a cigarette, please?
B: Sure, here you are.
ask the students to storm as many alternatives to the second utterance as they can think of. Eg.
- I’m afraid I’ve only got a couple left.
- You really shouldn’t. It’ll make your cough worse.
- That’s rude. Why don’t you buy your own?
In the feedback, discuss the situation of each. eg. the last one is culturally inappropriate in the street in the UK but not in Spain.
2. Using the matching task above, first get the students to match up & then they think of other ways to respond, together with the situation.
3. Develop the manipulation of the language through spontaneous roleplays. Give out the first part of adjacency pairs. The student with the utterance says the sentence & the partner has to respond immediately & carry on the conversation for a couple of minutes. Have a different starter sentence for each student in half of the class. After each conversation rotate the starters to different people.
That’s my seat you’re sitting in.
Do you mind!
Would you leave me alone?
4. A slight variation on the Train Compartment activity in that you give out sentences & the student has to try to make the other say the first utterance that is in response to their utterance. So say one has ‘I’d rather not.’, this student has to either simply wait to say the utterance at a suitable time or direct the conversation so that a request is made by the other. Try to encourage the proactive approach. Tricky but fun.
For the Tip 'Stranger on a Train':
5. Choosing the Correct Response. In the excellent book Conversation by Nolasco & Arthur (OUP) there is the activity ‘Do you come here often.’ (No. 11) The students have rolecards & choose the best option to respond with. Students are given the following rolecards:
A: You are by the swimming pool of an exclusive club. You start the conversation:
A: Do you come here often?
Now choose the best reply in response to B
Strange, I’ve never seen you here before.
Are those the people you’re with?
Oh, just curious. It’s always nice to see a new face.
Well perhaps we’ll see each other again.
Oh, how fascinating. I’m an artist.
No, but I’d love to meet him.
B: You are by the swimming pool of an exclusive club. Choose the best reply to A.
Why do you say?
Yes, I’m a member.
No, I’m here with friends.
No, they’re inside, Do you know Sir Charles Stutton?
Well, I’m afraid I must go. My friends are waiting.
I don’t have time to come too often. I’m a model.
Well, come on in & join us. I’m sure Sir Charles would be delighted to meet you. What’s your name?
That’s funny, my husband’s as artist too. Here he is now. Hello, John.
I doubt it.
Easy to design your own rolecards.
Conversation by Nolasco & Arthur (OUP)
6. Use lots of flow charts, a very underused activity, see the Tip ‘Going With The Flow’:
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Pigs can fly
|The first of April is the day we remember
what we are the other 364 days of the year.
It's April 1st this week, April Fool's Day. Last year was the DHMO - Dihydrogen Monoxide - fun material for class:
There is a lesson plan from a couple of years ago at:
Before that we had a couple of April Fool Tips ourselves:
Stirring It Up:
& Cognitive & Affective Confusion:
The material in the plan is taken from a list of the 'Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time':
Below is a history of April fool's Day from Wikipedia:
The origins of April Fool's Day are unknown, although various theories have been proposed. It is considered to be related to the festival of the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 21. Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, it was observed as New Year's Day by cultures as far apart as ancient Rome and India. New Year was originally celebrated from March 25 to April 1, before the Gregorian reforms moved it back to January 1. The English first celebrated the day on a widespread basis only as late as the 18th century, though it appears to have reached England probably from Germany in the mid-17th century. Its first known description in English originates with John Aubrey, who noted in 1686: "Fooles holy day. We observe it on ye first of April. And so it is kept in Germany everywhere."
The custom of playing practical jokes on April Fool's Day is also very widespread and of uncertain origins. The victim of a joke is known in English as an April Fool; in Scots as a gowk (cuckoo or fool); and in French as a poisson d'avril (April fish). It has been suggested the custom may have had something to do with the move of the New Year's date, when people who forgot or didn't accept the new date system were given invitations to nonexistent parties, funny gifts, etc. Originally, April Fool's Day jokes concentrated on individuals (sending someone on an absurd errand such as seeking pigeon's milk) but in the 20th century it became common for the media to perpetrate hoaxes on the general population.
Here are some ideas on using the above text:
- present it as a cloze - take out every nth word & the students fill in the gaps from the contextual clues. Cloze tests were first designed to check the readability of texts & they can be quite hard, so have a go at completing it yourself first. Also there might be more than one right answer. After the task, you could pick up on one or two of the answers & give further practice.
- for free software so that you can create cloze tests on your computer, ready to print off:
This is a very small download that doesn't need installing - just click on it. You need to create a text file with the text you want to use in it eg. text.txt. Then create an empty file eg. text1.txt . Double click on the programme & first enter the interval number - every nth word you want omitting eg. 9, then press 'enter', then write text.txt, then 'enter', then write text1.txt , then 'enter'. Finally go to your text1.txt open it & see the cloze text you have just created, together with the answers - very easy! Keep it all in one folder for ease of use. See below for a cloze I created of the History text. If your students find it difficult, have the answers at hand - jumbled up! - to give out while they are completing the task.
- present it as a selective cloze - take out all of the verbs or all vocab connected to a certain field. Nice for reviewing an area.
- after dealing with the text, the students could think of tricks they could play, the most imaginative being the 'winner'.
|The origins of April Fool's Day are (1)____________, although various theories have been proposed. It (2)____________ considered to be related to the festival (3)____________ the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 21. (4)____________ to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar (5)____________ 1582, it was observed as New Year's Day (6)____________ cultures as far apart as ancient Rome (7)____________ India. New Year was originally celebrated from (8)____________ 25 to April 1, before the Gregorian reforms moved (9)____________ back to January 1. The English first celebrated (10)____________ day on a widespread basis only as (11)____________ as the 18th century, though it appears (12)____________ have reached England probably from Germany in (13)____________ mid-17th century. Its first known description (14)____________ English originates with John Aubrey, who noted (15)____________ 1686: "Fooles holy day. We observe it on (16)____________ first of April. And so it is (17)____________ in Germany everywhere."
The custom of playing (18)____________ jokes on April Fool's Day is also (19)____________ widespread and of uncertain origins. The victim (20)____________ a joke is known in English as (21)____________ April Fool; in Scots as a gowk ((22)____________ or fool); and in French as a (23)____________ d'avril (April fish). It has been suggested (24)____________ custom may have had something to do (25)____________ the move of the New Year's date, (26)____________ people who forgot or didn't accept the (27)____________ date system were given invitations to nonexistent (28)____________, funny gifts, etc. Originally, April Fool's Day (29)____________ concentrated on individuals (sending someone on an (30)____________ errand such as seeking pigeon's milk) but (31)____________ the 20th century it became common for (32)____________ media to perpetrate hoaxes on the general (33)____________.
On the same page as the History text there is mention of some notable April fool's jokes, for example:
|Television licence: In another year the Dutch television news reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions (in many countries in Europe, one must pay a television licence to fund public broadcasting) by simply driving through the streets with a new detector, and that the only way to keep your television from being detected was to wrap it in aluminium foil. Within a few hours all aluminium foil was sold out throughout the country.
A couple of ideas for using this:
- Give out or dictate the first part up until '...broadcasting) ' & the students work together & complete the text, reading them out & deciding on the most interesting, & then reading the remainder of the original.
- Use the text as a dictation & then focus on the tenses - past perfect, past simple - & past passive.
- you could use the text as a running dictation - see:
Any more ideas on April Fool's Day material or cloze tests? Please post
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