A web site for the developing language teacher

Paparazzi passives lesson plan
by Nigel McGloin
- preliminary information


Level: Intermediate

Time: 60mins

Main aim:
To present the passive through a text and then heighten students' awareness
of why and how the passive is used (stage 3)
To introduce some new vocabulary items (stage 1)

Subsidiary aims:
To give some initial controlled practice (stage 4)
To give some extensive reading practice (stage 2)
To provide practice of spoken fluency (stage 5)

Timetable fit:
In the last few classes we have been focusing a lot on improving the students listening and speaking skills, so I felt students would benefit by spending more time looking at some grammatical structures. In the last class students were introduced to some examples of the passive from a listening text and then looked at how the the different tenses of the passive are formed, they also completed a transformation exercise. In this class we are continuing by looking more closely at why and when the passive is used, using a reading text, and in the following class I aim to give students a summary of today's text using a dictogloss; in this way the students will be reviewing much of the language from this class. Therefore, the idea of recycling is present in the class, keeping with the need for a syllabus to be cyclical. In the hour before the observation my colleague will have introduced the topic of cinema and the Oscars. I hope the topic of this class will provide a link in the theme of the class.

Assumed knowledge:
I expect many of the students will have some knowledge of the topic, as there are many magazines and television programmes on the topic, and I hope they will be sufficiently interested in the subject to speak about it.

Students have a fairly clear idea of the forms of the passive and can recognise the structure, partly as they are the same in Spanish, but may not be so clear on the uses, or employ the passive with consistent accuracy. I am assuming that the text will not present any real difficulties for students. These students are very keen to develop their speaking skills so I expect them to participate in the speaking stage.

Anticipated problems & solutions:
The text chosen should not be particulary demanding as a reading text as it is reasonably short and clearly organised, however, students may be unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary items. I hope to solve this by pre-teching the items I suspect students may not know and which are also not easily guessed from the context.

The stronger students may already have a degree of familiarity with some of the uses of the passive, although they may not use them in either their own writing or when speaking. I hope the grammar analysis stage of the lesson will allow them to draw directly on what knowledge they have, while at the same time not proving too difficult for the weaker students. Students may not be able to think of many reasons why the passive is used in their answers to the questions in stage 3, I will monitor and try to help, and in the feedback stage students will be sharing their ideas and I will help clarify the uses, using concept questions and writing on the board. The back of the handout also has a grammar summary.

The exercise where students classify the examples according to their use may prove to be confusing as with some examples the distinction is not so clear cut; we often use the passive for more than one reason, for example, to move the theme to the beginning of the sentence and also when the agent is obvious, therefore I will point this out to them before they begin; the overiding aim is to allow them to see the main uses at this stage. The feedback stage may prove difficult if students have not been able to complete it successfully, if this is the case I will attempt to clarify their doubts, and point out that we will be looking at the passive in future classes, and that they are not expected to be able to know everything about the passive in just one class.

When asking students to translate some sentences I am slightly worried that they may revert to Spanish, so I will monitor and remind students that they do not need to speak in Spanish to complete the exercise.

The students may feel that there has been a lot of reading and writing in the class, therefore I hope the final speaking activity will go some way to giving them some fluency practice, and to round of the class on a lighter note.

Class profile:
The class is a general adult English class. The class takes place twice a week for two hours and began in the middle of January. There are now twelve students on the course, some of them have been in the class since the beginning of the course, whilst two students Gabriel and Mayte began at the beginning of March, and Antonio only began two weeks ago. At the start of the course we carried out a needs analysis, from which we found that many of them shared similar reasons for taking the course; they wanted to get a lot of practice to improve, firstly their speaking skills, and then their listening comprehension, as these are the two areas they have most difficulties with. It seems that as the course does not lead to any exam and, perhaps, that students have had classes where the focus was on a structural syllabus they want to take advantage to really practise these two skills. Most of the students have also mentioned the fact that they may need English for work, indicating more instrumental motivation, though only Mayte is currently in this situation: she is looking for a job at the moment and has sent a letter of application in English.

Nerea- She is studying enviromental sicence at University and needs English for her studies and for work in the future, she can seem slightly shy at times but she participates well in all the activities and seems to use grammatical structures fairly well.

Soraya- She is also studying at university and will need English for a job in the future.
She is strong in all the skills and as the rest of the students particularly likes doing listening activities and speaking practice.

Carmen- She is the oldest member of the class and is a housewife. She needs English because she teaches young children, in her needs analysis she commented that she would like to focus on speaking activities as she finds this the most difficult area. She does seem to enjoy speaking but is sometimes concerned about her accuracy. She has an excellent control over grammatical structures at this level.

Irene- She studies at university as well. She is very keen, though she is one of the weaker students in the class,especially her listening comprehension. She also has more difficulty with structures and pronunciation. However, she has mentioned that she thinks her level is below that of the other students, though she prefers this as she is able to learn from her peers.

Victoria- She mentions that she wants to improve her English to be able to read books and to watch original version movies, she also spoke about wanting to travel a lot and therefore English would come in handy. She is strong talker, though she makes frequent errors of syntax and lexis.

Jordi- He has just finished his degree in Business and is presently finishing his project. He is one of the strongest students in the class, in so far as his use of structures and vocabulary is concerned. Generally he is a quiet student, who likes to listen and participate rather than take the lead in group or class discussions. He has mentioned that he would like the listening texts to be more challenging.

Gabriel- Gabriel is from Colombia and is now living in Spain, he is presently studying for his doctorate. He participates well in the class and is not shy to talk, however, he makes numerous gramatical errors, seemingly caused by negative transfer.

Maria Teresa- She is very keen to improve her English as she hopes that it may help her find a job. She often brings a list of questions to the class concerning her doubts about grammar, vocabulary, or expressions, at times she stops doing an activity to ask the teacher one of these questions, therefore, I have had to ask her to wait until the end of the class, where we can spend five minutes to help her clear up her doubts rather than interrupt the class.

Antonio- Antonio has been in the class for two weeks. He seems to be very keen and very talkative, he participates very well in all the activities and is quite strong in all skills.

Elsa- She is perhaps the strongest student in the class, she makes very few errors and is very fluent and confident when talking, I sometimes feel she may find the level of the class not challenging enough for her.

Cristina- She is presently studying at university and needs English for instrumental reasons. She is very enthusiastic and has been improving, however, I feel she needs to spend more time working on both her level of vocabulary and grammar.

Elena- She is new to the class, she seems to be settling in well, and is of a similar level to the rest.

Reading text/ vocabulary handout
Grammar exercise handout with summary of uses
Sentences for translation
Handout for speaking practice

Lseeon rationale:
This lesson's focus is on the structure of the passive, I have decided to focus today's class on grammar as much of the coursework we are doing has placed an important emphasis on both listening and speaking skills; most of the students have talked about their interest in improving these skills. However, it is clear that many students still need to work on structural areas if they are to avoid fossilisation, therefore, in trying to maintain the communicative value of the class and at the same time give students some useful practice in manipulating grammar I will be using a skills focus to present the items.
I often feel that helping learners take in new language can be made easier if we can get their attention using material that engages the student while at the same time motivates them, in this sense I hope the topic of the class, the text and the visual aids will do this; the topic is quite controversial in Spain at the moment with so many television programmes and magazines dedicated to gossip. I also felt it necessary to provide a link between the two hours of the class, and try to follow on from the first hour rather than change track completely.

The text is taken from the 'Inside Out' Intermediate coursebook, it is fairly short and not beyond the learners level. An important aspect if we want to focus students attention on a particular language item is that the surrounding language should not impede the student from being able to see how the structure is used, therefore I have made some slight changes to the text mainly changing vocabulary items as they may have distracted students attention away from focusing on the general meaning, and I also did not want to get bogged down with too much new vocabulary. In the pre-reading stage I intend to arouse students interest and schema in the article by discussing the idea of paparazzi and tabloids, I may also mention the court case Catherine Zeta-Jones is involved in, thus, providing a type of link from the previous class, I intend to pre-teach some vocabulary items using situations, and then give students a matching exercise as reinforcement which will serveas a vocabulary record, many of the items will come up again in stages 3 and 4 and, perhaps, brought out in the final discussion.

In the reading stage I have decided only to do a more specific comprehension task and leave out a gist reading, this is because I assume that the text should not pose too many difficulties for the students. Students will compare their answers so helping each other.

In the third stage students we will begin by reviewing the passive form, before they decide why the passive is used; this serves as revision from the last class. After this students will see some examples from the text and discuss why they have been used, I will then elicit or lead students to see the reasons why, and write the three main reasons on the board, the grammar summary on the back will serve as a record. Students will then think about the use of the examples from the text and perhaps place sentences under the reasons for using the passive, this will serve as reinforcement of the uses and as a grammar record, however, I will tell them that sometimes there may be more than one reason. Above all, this lesson aims to raise students awareness of the passive rather than expect immediate production, as I have mentioned I feel this to be a gradual process and students will need to 'notice' it more times, however, I hope that this class will encourage students to think more about why the passive has been used when they come across it, and in future classes I will be incorporating activites where students will need to write using the passive. I would also point out that with this particular group the idea of asking them to discuss grammar rules is not one we have focused on a lot, however, when we have they seemed to find it more challenging than merely being presented with rules.

The controlled practice activity aims to highlight the differences or similiarites between the students own language and English, the sentences to be translated are from the text, therefore they will also be recycling some of the vocabulary. I have chosen this type of exercise, as it may help students to 'notice' more about the passive, translation also seems to be a natural process when thinking about many grammatical structures; something students seem to be doing all the time. This writing stage also allows for important planning time and does not ask for immediate oral production of the structure.

The final stage may allow students to use the passive in their discussion, but more importantly it will give them some oral fluency practice, helping to achieve a balance of skills across the lesson. In the following class students will be reviewing the text and they will also be looking at a letter of opinion referring to libel actions and the popular press's invasion of privacy, and then, to practise the passive they will be writing letters in reply to the article. Finally I intend to give the students some homework and a grammar summary to help reinforce the structure in this class.

To the lesson procedure

To the lesson materials

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing