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Teaching Tips 96

In at the deep end
Infinitive or gerund?
Spring breaks

 


In at the deep end

One way to approach skills & language development in class is through a Test - Teach - Test approach. Originally referred to the 'deep end' approach, the idea is that you throw the students into the deep end of the pool to see if they sink or swim, then give them the skills to swim, & then throw them in again & watch them paddle away on their own! There are two ways of carrying this out, depending on your intention.

If you feel that your group is weak on a particular area, you design a speaking activity that begs the use of the area you wish to develop. Ask the students to do the activity & note how they cope with it, with special attention to the area you originally thought of. Then, in the same lesson ,you teach/develop & practice the area, before returning to the same speaking activity which the students do again. The idea is that the students do the last 'test' activity better in the light of the previous teaching, they can see the relevance of the language you have taught as they might have been lacking the language to fully carry out the first activity, & they become much more confident by breezing through the last activity. (What a great teacher they think!)

Here's an example outline:
1. Test - a roleplay in a shop between customer & assistant. The customer is complaining about some trousers that have shrunk.
2. Teach - elicit examples of complaining, apologising + offering solutions that the students used in the roleplay. Introduce more ways of doing these. This could be through a listening. A couple of controlled practice activities follow.
3. Test - the students are given a similar shop complaint roleplay & asked to incorporate the new language.

This is not necessarily just centred around the speaking skill & language areas. You could do the same with listening skills development, or an area of phonology - any area. Some would argue that carrying this out with the writing skill might be a bit much if you ask the students to write a whole text before the teach stage, as the students might not appreciate the time & effort invested when you could have taken other routes to get to the same point.

The above description uses the approach in one lesson. On a broader level, as promoted in early writings about the Communicative Approach, one could base the course around this approach. For example, at the beginning of a period of time, a roleplay could be given & observed. The teacher records the activity & takes away the recording for analysis. As a result of the analysis, the next part of the course is planned & taught. At the end of the teach bit the same roleplay is given & afterwards analysed to show the students how much they have progressed. They could listen to the first roleplay to see the differences (you hope!!). The next part of the course continues in the same way with no coursebook being used as the course structure, as the students' needs dictate the structure.

This might be more of an authentic way of using test-teach-test. In the first way the teacher clearly knows what is going to be taught & is using this approach to show the relevance to the students. The area to be looked at could be what is coming up in the next unit, & the approach is being used for 'cosmetic' reasons. (There is also the idea that the students might not yet have assimilated the new language enough to be able to come out with it at the end of the same lesson so this last 'test' could be delayed to the next lesson or two.) The second way takes a 'process' approach to the course & the students, reacting to the students' needs as the course progresses. It obviously doesn't have to be this clear cut though.

This extended approach can be good for those students who have specific real-life reasons for learning. It would, for example, be useful for the business learner who needs to develop presentation & negotiation skills. Let the learners show what they can do, develop them in the light of this present knowledge & then show them how much more successful they are. A summer course in the UK could revolve around this as the teacher helps the learners survive outside of the class. This can all be very much related to a task-based approach to learning.

This throwing the students in at the deep end sounds a bit harsh on the students but if you explain what you are doing, they readily go along with you. It's all about relevance & seeing progress. Try it out if you haven't already.

If you've got any lesson plans based on a test-teach-test approach, please send them in & we'll put them up & link them to this Tip.

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Infinitive or
gerund?

A couple of weeks ago we looked briefly at auxiliary verbs. This week it's the turn of finite & non-finite clauses. Finite verbs express tense, person or number, such as 'He goes..' We play..'. Non-finite verbs don't express these concepts & there are three categories of non-finite verbs - infinitive, gerund, present and past participle. It is the non-finite clauses that cause our learners really big problems, the area signposted as 'infinitives' & gerunds' in coursebooks. Look at the following:

Non-finite clauses as direct objects

without a subject
1. + to infinitive
2. + bare infinitive
3. + -ing participle

with a subject
4. + to infinitive
5. + bare infinitive
6. + -ing participle
7. genitive + -ing participle

Match the examples below with a structure above

a. They let him go
b. They can't stand his fooling around
c. I felt her watching me
d. He likes running
e. He helped clean the garden
f. We want them to work harder
g. He loves to party

Answers further down the page

Here we're only concerned with infinitives & -ing participles, not past participles. Now think of some verbs & decide which combinations they can take. For example the verb 'ask' - 'She asked to go', 'She asked me to go' - numbers 1 & 4 above. The verb 'try' - 'He tried to do it', She tried doing it' - numbers 1 & 3.

After running through a few verbs you'll soon realise that there are lots of different combinations for different verbs. And then there is the difference or similarity in meaning when a different form is used - sometimes it makes a difference & sometimes it doesn't! For example 'I helped him to move' & I helped him move' - numbers 4 & 5 - can be used interchangeably.

All very confusing for us, let alone our students, & no wonder that the area is generally badly handled in coursebooks. In upper intermediate books, there is usually a couple of pages where all combinations are thrown in together with the teacher having to sort it all out.

Rather than deal with all of these combinations at once with our students, which could easily put them off learning English for life, a better approach would be to sort them out as vocabulary items in lexical sets, playing down the complexities. And as we deal with them, ask the students to get a feel for them by encouraging them to say whether a combination 'sounds right'. It is this intuitive feel that can save some work.

We'll look at some combinations in a future Tip but as teachers we need to aware of the language we are teaching, the complexities, & anticipate the problems our students may encounter so that we can show them how best to overcome the hurdles.

Answers to the task above
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
g
e
d
f
a
c
b

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Spring

Spring breaks

This week we're continuing the Spring theme with a look at using an article from The Observer. Here's the article.

50 fabulous things to do this spring

Winter's over and now's the perfect time to get out and explore Britain's beautiful coast and countryside. We show you how ...

Sunday April 2, 2006 The Observer

Get close to nature events

Bluebell walks, nationwide

1 Strolling through sun-dappled, bluebell-carpeted woods is one of spring's most magical experiences. Bluebells flower in April and May, although this year's late cold spell may delay them. The National Trust publishes details on its website of where to find the best bluebell walks in its properties.

Cost: Normal admission charges apply
Details: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events

Woodland Lodges, Norfolk

2 Stay in a stylish wood cabin in the grounds of the beautiful Somerleyton estate on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Some of the lodges boast floor to ceiling glass windows with views of the forest. Enjoy miles of footpaths and a pint at the the Duke's Head.

Cost: From £125 a night for a honeymoon cabin; £215 for a three-day weekend in a two-bedroom lodge
Details: 01493 488666; www.somerleyton.co.uk

Sleep in a tree, Cornwall

3 New for this spring, sleep in a hammock suspended from the treetops in a forest near Newquay. After a candlelit dinner in the forest, you climb the tree, clip on a safety harness and settle into one of the suspended 'tree boats'. Wake up to a dawn chorus and a treetop breakfast.

Cost: From £140pp
Details: 01637 880466; www.mighty-oak.co.uk

Wordsworth's daffodils, Cumbria

4 The 'host of golden daffodils' immortalised by Wordsworth can still be seen on the shores of Ullswater. Throughout April the Rothay Garden Hotel, near Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, is offering reduced prices to guests who wish to follow in the poet's footsteps.

Cost: From £199pp for three nights' dinner, B&B
Details: 01539 435334; www.rothay-garden.com

Farmer for a day, Cheshire

5 It's the British equivalent of the American ranch holiday. Swap suits for Barbour jackets and play at being a farmer at Gorstage Green Farm in Northwich, Cheshire. Learn to milk the cows and stack straw bales.

Cost: £100 full day/£60 half day
Details: 01606 853193; www.farmer4aday.co.uk

Island retreat, Outer Hebrides

6 Convenient timetables have brought these remote North Atlantic islands within easy reach for a long weekend. Leave Heathrow at 7am on Friday and at 11.30am you'll be touching down at Stornoway on Lewis. Stay at Gearrannan, a traditional 'blackhouse village' of dry-stone walled and thatched cottages overlooking the sea.

Cost: Flights from London from £195. Cottage sleeping two, from £35 a night.
Details: 0870 850 9850; www.ba.com. 01851 643416; www.gearrannan.com

Log cabin, Carmarthenshire

7 Caban Cariad is a woodland cabin in beautiful countryside at Cenarth. It sleeps up to four, but is perfect for romantic breaks for couples. It was imported from Sweden in 1973 and refurbished last year in 1960s retro style. There's a famous waterfall nearby.

Cost: From £139 for three nights
Details: 01239 851410; www.underthethatch.co.uk

On the food and drink trail

The culinary hotspot, Devon

8 Torquay, which received two Michelin stars in this year's guide, is rapidly gaining a reputation as Britain's latest gastro destination. The first star was for the fish with a French twist at the stylish Elephant Restaurant (01803 200044; www.elephantrestaurant.co.uk), whose head chef Simon Hulstone won gold at the world Chef Championships in France. The Orestone Manor hotel (01803 328 098) also won a Michelin star. A fashionable new restaurant with rooms, English House (01803 328760; www.english-house.co.uk) is attracting rave reviews, and The Orchid Restaurant (www.orchidrestaurant.net) has three AA rosettes.

Cost: Two-night packages at Orestone Manor, £200pp
Details: English Riviera tourism 0870 707 0010; www.englishriviera.co.uk

Scenic drives to pubs

9 A 60-mile route through the Peak District starting in Bakewell is described on the website, with suggestions for pit stops at various pubs, farm stores and attractions en route. Alternatively, three drives through Cornwall and a list of great pubs are described at www.cornwall-calling.co.uk. Take the north coast route, stopping in Padstow at one of Rick Stein's restaurants (01841 532 700; www.rickstein.com).

Surf and scoff, Cornwall

10 Work up an appetite for a gourmet meal at Jamie Oliver's new West Country outpost, Fifteen Cornwall, with a spot of kite-surfing or mountain boarding. The restaurant is due to open in May in Watergate Bay, near Newquay.

Details: 01637 860840; www.watergatebay.co.uk

Short pub walks in the country

11 The perfect weekend activity for spring, when it's not too hot for a walk, but not too cold to sit outside in a beer garden. The AA publishes two popular books to guide you: 50 walks to Country Pubs (£7.99) and the hardback 365 Pub Walks and Cycle Rides (£30).

A gourmet weekend, Wales

12 With its fabulous food, scenery and a clutch of stylish hotels, including Neil Morrissey's Hurst House (01994 427417) and The Cawdor (01558 823500), which opened last August in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire is the new destination for urban cool-hunters. Everyone's talking about the Fig Tree Restaurant (01558 668187) in Dryslwyn too.

Cost: Double rooms at the Cawdor from £80 a night; Hurst House from £85.

A canalboat pub crawl, Wiltshire

13 Travel from Kintbury towards Hungerford on a horsedrawn narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon Canal, with pub stops en route.

Cost: £6.60 per adult, £5.60 per child for two hours. Private charter: £380 for two hours, up to 50 people
Details: 01488 658866; www.kennet-horse-boat.co.uk

Cream teas, nationwide

14 The Tea Guild's undercover inspectors announce the winner of this year's best teashop award on 21 April. If you can't wait that long, last year's joint winner was the Ollerton Watermill Teashop (01623 822469) in Newark, Nottinghamshire. The cream teas, crab dishes and meringues at The Tea Tree (01797 226102) in Winchelsea, East Sussex, and the Victorian recipes and fine brews at Elizabeth Botham and Sons (01947 602823) in Whitby, North Yorkshire, are also highly recommended by the guild.

Details: www.tea.co.uk

Vineyard tours, Kent

15 Most homegrown vintages come from the area around Tunbridge Wells, Kent. There are several vineyards to fill a couple of days with tastings and tours. Check out the UK's largest producer, Chapel Down Wines (01580 763033; www.chapeldownwines.co.uk).

Cost: entry is free but tours cost £6.50 per adult, £1 per child
Details: 01892 515 675; www.visittunbridgewells.com

Plot to plate events

16 To promote local and seasonal produce, 45 National Trust properties are participating in From Plot to Plate 2006. Gardening and cooking events run at Upton House in Warwickshire (27 April); there's a Bees, Beekeeping and Honey day at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire (17 May); and a seed sowing workshop at Barrington Court, Somerset (18 May).

Cost: from £4
Details: 0870 458 4000; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plottoplate

Get active

Walking Festival, Cumbria

17 The first Ullswater Walking Festival runs from 12-14 May with a plethora of guided walks. Hardy mountain leaders will take hikers off to tackle the Lake District's higher fells, while entertaining speakers will lead the way on gentler lower paths.

Cost: Free
Details: 01768 482414; www.ullswater.com

Get high in the forest

18 Negotiate rope bridges and Tarzan swings at one of seven Go Ape centres around the country. Suitable for adults and children over 10. Two new centres have opened in Delamere Forest, Cheshire, and the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

Cost: £20 for adults, £15 for children
Details: 0870 444 5562; www.goape.co.uk

Hire a skiff on the Thames

19 One of the most relaxing ways of exploring the river is to hire an Edwardian-style camping skiff. Explore attractions such as Hampton Court, Cliveden, Marlow and Henley. At night, unroll the canvas awning and the boat converts into a floating tent.

Cost: from £200 for four days
Details: Tom Balm, 01932 232433; www.skiffhire.com

Coasteering, Cornwall

20 A high-adrenalin take on the coastal walk, involving jumping off cliffs, swimming and scrambling over rocks. Penhale Adventure Centre, near Newquay, is one of the most popular centres.

Cost: From £40 a day
Details: 08007 816861; www.penhaleadventure.com

Mountainboarding

21 Now the winter sports season is drawing to a close, snowboarders are having to look to grassy hills for their thrills. Mountainboards are big skateboards with foot straps and large, all-terrain wheels. There are centres springing up with tracks, swooping turns and jumps.

Cost: Typically £9 an hour including board hire
Details: 01453 519113; www.ridethehill.com

Dry-stone walling, Derbyshire

22 Pick up a new skill, enjoy the countryside and do your bit for the environment. Dry-stone walling classes are available through BTCV in Ashbourne, Derbyshire (27-29 May); and Bangor, Co Down (19-20 May). The conservation organisation also runs short courses in country-based skills such as map-reading in Kendal, Cumbria (12 May).

Cost: £35 for one-day ; £80 for two days
Details: 01302 572244; www.btcv.org

Gardening classes

23 The Royal Horticultural Society has a variety of springtime gardening classes and garden open days. Ness Botanic Gardens in Cheshire hosts a garden walk followed by coffee on 8 April. A lecture on the legends of herbs is at Lodge Lane Nursery and Gardens, Warrington, on 19 April, or there's a 'blossom day' stroll at Norton Priory near Runcorn on 30 April.

Cost: from £4 for members, £5 for non members
Details: 0845 062 1111; www.rhs.org.uk

Campervan surf trips, Devon and the South Coast

24 To surf in style you need to arrive at the beach in a vintage campervan. Two companies are offering VW campervan hire for surfers. O'Connor's Campers, Okehampton, Devon, gives access to West Country beaches and new for this year is VW Camper Adventures in Brighton.

Cost: From £75 a day
Details: 01837 659599; www.oconnorscampers.co.uk. 01273 770671; www.vwcamperadventures.com

Hiking in the Highlands

25 One train can take you from central London to Corrour station, an isolated building more than 1,000ft up on Rannoch Moor. Leave Euston on the sleeper at 9.15pm on Friday and just before 9am on Saturday you step out into the wilderness. After two days of Munro bagging, reboard at 8pm and turn up back in the capital at 8am.

Cost: From £38 return
Details: 0845 601 5929; www.firstscotrail.com

Push the boat out

Classic sports cars, Cotswolds

26 A bright spring day and an E-type Jag with the roof down - what could be better? Classic Motoring arranges two- or three-night breaks with classic car hire staying at Cowley Manor, the Bathurst Arms or the Dial House Hotel.

Cost: From £620 for two nights for two, including accommodation and car
Details: 01452 864050; www.classicmotoring.co.uk

Balloon flights, Hampshire

27 Grange Air operates daily balloon rides with champagne across southern England. For a really romantic trip, you can pay extra to have the balloon basket to yourselves.

Cost: From £130pp or £575 for two
Details: 01420 520717; www.hotairballoonflights.co.uk

Join the yacht set, Devon

28 Twelve luxurious new apartments with views over the water have opened at the Dart Marina in Dartmouth. Guests can use the spa and smart restaurants of the Marina's hotel or charter a yacht to explore the estuary.

Cost: £850 for a week in an apartment that sleeps four. Yacht hire: £225pp
Details: 01803 839600; www.dartmarina.com

Utopia Spa, West Sussex

29 Opening this month at the 17th-century Alexander House hotel, near Turners Hill, the Utopia Spa is set in 170 acres of parkland, has three pools and 25 treatment rooms.

Cost: Day visits including lunch, facial and massage cost £140pp
Details: 01342 714914; www.alexanderhotels.co.uk

Supercars

30 Why not hire one of the latest supercars? A Mercedes McLaren SLR costs £313,000 to buy, but you can hire one for a spring weekend for about £5,000. The Ferrari F360 is yours for £1,700 for a weekend.

Cost: From £700 to £5,000
Details: Dreamcarhire.com, Oxfordshire (0844 800 0195; www.dreamcarhire.com). Supercar Experiences, Herts (0845 602 2113; www.supercarexperiences.com). Aston-Hire, Humberside (0845 8382 007; www.aston-hire.co.uk

For families

The Big Sheep, Devon

31 Children will love the sheep racing and Ewetopia Adventure Zone indoor playground at this farm-themed attraction in Bideford. Dads can visit the sheep brewery with tours and tastings. See wild horses being trained. The EWEro is legal tender here.

Cost: adults £7.95, children £6.95
Details: 01237 472366; www.thebigsheep.co.uk

Tented Lodge, Pembrokeshire

32 Opening mid-May, the Forest Tented Lodge is in 45 acres of West Wales woodland. It's a safari-style camp that recreates the feeling of being in the bush. For families there is an adventure area, woodland trail and cycle track.

Cost: £300 for a pitch per week
Details: www.tentedlodges.co.uk

Alnwick Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

33 Harry Potter fans should head for Alnwick Castle, where 'Harry Spotter' tours will take place throughout April; magic will be performed by some familiar Potter characters in the grounds. In Alnwick Gardens, spring flowers are in full bloom.

Cost: Harry Potter tour, £8.50 adults; £3.50 children
Details: Castle: 01665 510777; www.alnwickcastle.com. Garden: 01665 511350; www.alnwickgarden.com

Lambing, nationwide

34 Throughout April, National Trust-owned farms and stately homes give visitors the opportunity to get close to spring lambs. Visitors to the Malham estate in the North Yorkshire Dales can feed the lambs from 11am-3pm on 17 April.

Cost: normal admission prices apply
Details: 0870 458 4000; www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Beekeeping, Derbyshire

35 Beekeeper Mark Dennison will show you how the hives work, how to identify buzzes and how to spot the Queen Bee. Early evenings in May at Beechenhill Farm. B&B is available at the farm.

Cost: £25 for a group (maximum six)
Details: 01335 310274; www.beechenhill.co.uk

Bowood House and Gardens, Wiltshire

36 Bowood House and Gardens, near Calne, Wiltshire. Walk through 60 acres of gardens while the children enjoy the adventure playground.

Cost: adults £7.50; children £3.80
Details: 01249 812102; www.bowood.org

Giant Easter bunnies, Kent

37 Down in the mysterious Enchanted Forest of Groombridge Place house and gardens in Tunbridge Wells, giant rabbits, alpacas, goats and one of Britain's two 'zeedonks' hide. Adventure boardwalks, rope swings, scramble nets and an aerial runway offer a thrilling challenge on the Dark Walk.

Cost: £8.70 per adult, £7.20 per child
Details: 01892 861444; www.groombridge.co.uk

Llama trekking, Surrey

38 Llama trekking through the Surrey Hills, near Chilworth, will give the kids something to tell their school chums.

Cost: £57 for adults, £29 per child
Details: 01483 890555; www.surrey-hills-llamas.co.uk

Knight school, Warwickshire

39 Warwick Castle will be staging pitched battles daily until 23 April. Attend Knight school with combat training, armoury, weoponry and sword play.

Cost: £15.95 for adults, £9.95 for children
Details: 0870 4422375; www.warwick-castle.co.uk

Wild West show, Kent

40 Go wild west at the Hop Farm Country Park in Kent from 29 April-1 May. See spectacular re-enactments and watch fun cowboy shootouts set in a western town.

Cost: £8.50 for adults, £6.50 for children if you book in advance
Details: 0870 0274 166; www.thehopfarm.co.uk

Sexy new hotels

Hambrough Hotel, Isle of White

41 The Isle of Wight is trying to launch itself as a stylish destination as well as somewhere to take the kids. Leading the way is the elegant Hambrough Hotel.

Cost: From £82 per person per night
Details: 0870 458 6392; www.thehambrough.com

Smiths, Gretna Green

42 Now you can go to Gretna Green for a romantic break that does not involve getting hitched. Smiths is Scotland's newest boutique hotel and has hip fireplaces, flat TVs, broadband, suites and a penthouse.

Cost: Doubles from £125 a night
Details: 01461 337007; www.smithsgretnagreen.com

Endsleigh, Devon

43 Standard-bearer for the new breed of unstuffy country house hotels, Endsleigh opened last summer to great acclaim. It looks down over beautiful gardens to the river Tamar and beyond.

Cost: rooms from £210 a night
Details: 01822 870000; www.hotelendsleigh.com

Zanzibar International Hotel, Hastings, East Sussex

44 By far the best place to stay in town is the Zanzibar, which has six rooms with high ceilings, white walls, cool artwork from around the world.

Cost: Sea-view rooms from £130 for first night, £99 thereafter; others from £85
Details: 01424 460109; www.zanzibarhotel.co.uk

The Forbury, Reading

45 The Forbury opened in February after a £6m refit and is already calling itself 'the UK's sexiest townhouse hotel'. The 24 rooms look fabulous, there's a cool restaurant and bar and the Fat Duck and Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons are within a short drive.

Cost: rooms from £150 a night
Details: 08000 789789; www.theforburyhotel.co.uk

The Punchbowl Inn, Cumbria

46 A 300-year-old inn at Crossthwaite on the edge of the Lake District, the Punchbowl was revamped and reopened towards the end of last year. It now has nine smart rooms, a slate-floored bar with candlelit tables and a smart restaurant with rave reviews.

Cost: From £100 per room per night
Details: 01539 568237; www.the-punchbowl.co.uk

Spring festivals

Jazz festival, Cheltenham

47 Highlights of this year's festival, from 27 April-1 May, include Dianne Reeves, Lee Konitz and Claire Martin.

Cost: concerts cost from about £8; and there are fringe performances
Details: 01242 227979; www.cheltenhamfestivals.com

Shakespeare's birthday, Stratford-Upon-Avon

48 The Bard celebrates his anniversary on 23 April and the residents of his home town will join a special parade.

Details: Parade - 01789 204016; www.shakespeare.org.uk/bdayceleb

St George's Day, Scarborough, Yorkshire

49 English Heritage recreates the atmosphere of a medieval crowd for the celebration of England's patron saint, at Scarborough Castle on 22 and 23 April.

Cost: Adults £4, children £2
Details: 01723 372451; www.english-heritage.org.uk

May Day Spring festival, Hastings

50 From Friday 28 April, the town hosts live music, ceilidhs and traditional dancing, culminating with the May Day Jack of the Green festival, a pagan celebration of the coming of spring.

Details: 0845 274 1001; www.visithastings.com

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/travel/story/0,,1744812,00.html

Interesting, isn't it? Which of the activities would you like to try? Quite a few I imagine. This kind of 'list article' clearly offers many classroom possibilities. Among many aims are the following:

1. To provide reading practice - scan & intensive reading skills.
After an introduction to the season of Spring, the text could be used for reading skills in different ways.
You could have a list of questions that the students have to scan the text to answer. For example, find a break that involved drinking, another one that involves a risk sport etc. The teacher reads the questions, the students scan for the answer, put their hands up when found, not shouting it out, & when half to three quarters have their hands up, elicit the answer & clarify for those still struggling. This procedure allows you to see the different scan reading abilities in the group.
Alternatively, you could cut the article up, form groups with each looking at different sections of the article eg five groups look at ten breaks each. Give out a worksheet that leads the students to a detailed view of the texts with each section, the students in each group collaborate with the tasks, with you monitoring & helping out where necessary, & then form new groups so that there is one person from the original groups in each new group. They then exchange information to accomplish a communicative purpose. For example they could find the top ten that they collectively themselves would like to do. This would involve explaining their choices & persuading each other. Another purpose might be to find the most, least active, fun, expensive etc breaks.
There are general headings through the article: Get close to nature events, On the food and drink trail, Get active, Push the boat out, For families, Sexy new hotels & Spring festivals - an initial task could be for the students to match the general heading to the breaks. Tell the students where the headings come in the text to make it a bit more manageable. 'Push the boat out' will need explaining.

2. To use the article as a vehicle to cover general geographic regions of the UK.
After the reading stages, with the aid of a map, the students could find the different geographical areas mentioned in each of the breaks, helping them to become more familiar with the UK. You could just choose a selection rather than all of the fifty breaks. After they have found them, you could go through them discussing the areas, providing more information.

3. To look at some cultural & historical aspects of UK.
This relates to a couple of aspects of the text. The first is the information given - gardening, Shakespeare, dry-stone walling, walking, sports etc.. . And then there is the audience that the article is aimed at which reflects the readership of the Observer - fairly liberal & well off. Tasks focusing on these could be given.

4. To provide freer speaking practice through an information exchange task.
This is covered in no. 1 above & can also be manifested in a personalised discussion of the article. If you hadn't covered their own personal preferences, you would need a slot on this before the end of the lesson.
Other speaking-related tasks could be roleplays; travel agents' selling the breaks, clients complaining to travel agents after the disastrous break, again deciding on where to go but the students are given rolecards with information that will dictate their preferences or are given the profiles of people & have to find suitable breaks for them, phone calls requesting information on the breaks combined with no. 7 below when the students are armed with more information.

5. To review specific functional language - eg. the language of persuasion.
Again, no. 1 covers this. Before the info exchange, look at some language for expressing choice & persuasion. This could be ten jumbled up sentences that the students categorise into the two categories, followed by attention to the phonology highlighting different features & drilling the trickier to say sentences. Before they do the speaking task, ask them to individually use at least six of the exponents in their discussions.

6. To introduce & review specific language.
Stately homes, high ceilings, combat training, local & seasonal produce are just some of the collocational items in the text. There is a lot there so think of the usefulness of the language you are going to focus on & whether the time spent on it is valid & whether they will be using it in follow up stages of the lesson. What will you do if the students ask you the meaning of certain words? Tell them it doesn't matter, explain them, pre-teach crucial items, have a vocab spot with dictionaries, ask them to look them up later - lesson preparation decisions.

7. To provide material for further internet exploration.
There is a link with each break. You could assign different breaks to the students who then go away & do some internet research to find some more information. they then come together to exchange this new information with a view to making a particular decision.

8. To provide follow up integrated skills work based on the same theme but with reference to the students' own countries.
Having looked at the article, the students devise their own Spring breaks around their own countries. If a multilingual group, students from the same country get together & then they might do a presentation on their classmates. In same nationality groups, they could work on their regions.

The article can be used at many levels, from elementary upwards. For the low levels, you would need to adapt the text, choosing the more accessible activities & possibly re-writing the descriptions.

Even if you don't use the article, I hope we've shown that a little thought can go a long way in exploiting materials. There's enough here for one or two weeks of lessons.

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