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Teaching Tips 15

Just write it!
A many-headed interview
Bizarre consequences

Just write it!
To sink our students into a topic, a favourite way is to ask them to brainstorm all they know by shouting out all the words connected to an area. How about getting them to write down what they think about a topic as fast as they can without stopping.

Give them 2-3 minutes to write their opinions about an area you are going to look at - be strict with the time limit you set - keep it short. They shouldn't worry about grammar or spelling problems - just write & don't stop! Tell them that no-one is going to look at it & when they come to a word they don't known they can leave a blank or write in the word in their own language.

This is sometimes known as 'fastwriting'. This is writing for
fluency. If you want to go back afterwards, they could look up the words they had difficulties with but I tend to use it just for brainstorming. The more you use it the more spontaneous writing practice they get & the easier it is to then integrate other writing activities into the lesson. Writing becomes another essential ingredient. Try it & see.

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A many-headed interview
This is a very nice way of having lots of fun & really getting
your students to think about what is being said. Divide the class into groups of five & in each group assign an interviewer & four students who are the combined interviewee. The interview could be about anything, fitting in with the theme you are dealing with.
The interviewer asks a question & the interviewee people take it in turns to say a word each.

Interviewer: Could you tell me how you started out in                       this job?
std 1: Well
std 2: I
std 3: first
std 4: discovered
std 1: I
std 2: was
std 3: interested
std 4: when
std 1: I
std 2: saw
std 3: my
std 4: first
std 1: film

Then the interviewer asks another question & the interviewees answer in turn again.

The students rotate when they supply the next part, listening very carefully to the other students & directing the conversation as they wish. The replies must make grammatical sense. Try it - it's great language prediction & manipulation practice & lots of fun.

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Bizarre consequences
As Valentine's Day is nearly here, this week is a good time to do the 'Consequences' activity - an any level activity. I'm sure that quite a lot of you will know this activity but for those of you who don't here's how to do it. Then there are ideas for variations & how you might follow up the activity.

By way of a lead in, think of two well-known people of very different character type & ask your students to imagine how they might get on.

The activity
Each student has a blank piece of paper & on instructions from you, they write a piece of information at the top of the paper & then fold the paper so the info can't be seen & hand it on to the person on the right. Then you ask them to write something else & the same happens.

Here are the instructions:

1.write down the name of a famous woman
2.write down the name of a famous man
3.write down a public place
4.write down a quote
5.write down another quote
6.write down an action
7.write down another action
8.write down an outcome

When you come to the end the papers should have been written on eight times by different students as they rotated them. You could join in as well. In the feedback you begin reading out the whole of the story that you ended with. Then each student reads his or her bizarre fun story.

e.g. Bill Clinton met Margaret Thatcher at a cinema. She said to him 'Would you like a coffee' & he said to her 'I'm just going to take my dog for a walk'. She ate a pizza & he watched TV. The consequence was that they lived happily ever after.

You could change the different instructions to suit e.g. he gave to her... she gave to him..../she was (adjective) ..he was (adjective).. Design the activity to bring in language you've recently been looking at.

If you give the class in a corporate setting you could base it on companies. Substitute the people for companies & change the rest as necessary. Students could discuss how the companies mentioned combine & then roleplay a merger negotiating meeting. This could be used as an introduction to a text about mergers.

Younger learners could substitute the people for cartoon characters or animals.

Follow up
After this the students could decide on the best story & write it out with more detail & then put the stories on the walls for all to see. This could be coupled with a review of past tenses, in/direct speech.....

The students could roleplay the people in the original stories, imagining they are in the scene mentioned.

A discussion could centre on compatibility & the degree of this needed for a successful relationship. Then on to the other ingredients of a good romantic relationship.

You could do the above as a lead in to the Valentine's Day lesson.

There are ideas for the theme of romance & Valentine's Day at last February's Newletter.

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