What have Pat Bonny, Paul Klee, Marilyn Monroe,
Oprah Winfrey, Jack the Ripper, Paul McCartney, Nicole Kidman,
Bill Clinton got in common?
Yes, they were/are all lefthanded. Not particularly
startling you might think but this week we are going to use
lefthandedness in some lesson ideas to coincide with Lefthanded
Day, which is celebrated on August 13th. Did you know that
10% of the general population is lefthanded, although this
is reduced to 0% in Japan, I believe due to the cultural stigma
that has been associated with lefthandedness.
Here is a procedure for part of a lesson you
might like to use:
1. Put the famous people above on the board
& get the students in pairs to come up with possible links.
2. Introduce the idea of Lefthanded Day. (Obviously find out
if there are any lefthanded students in the class beforehand
& explain there is lesson coming up on it.)
As a bit of fun, tell the students that they should write
with the other hand for the remainder of the lesson - for
help with righthanded people writing with their left: http://www.rkwest.com/left/leftwrite.shtml
3. Ask if the students do anything better with their left
rather than with their right hands - if they are righthanded,
of course. Give out the quiz to do individually & then
discuss the answers.
From The Left-Handers Club: http://www.left-handersday.com/tour3.html
YOU MAY BE MORE
LEFT-HANDED THAN YOU THINK
We all, of course, know in which hand we hold a pen,
but how far does this bias extend throughout your body?
Are you left-eared? Left eyed? Here is a simple test
you can apply to yourself.
1. Imagine the centre of your back is
itching. Which hand do you scratch it with?
2. Interlock your fingers. Which thumb is uppermost?
3. Imagine you are applauding. Start clapping your hands.
Which hand is uppermost?
4. Wink at an imaginary friend straight in front of
you. Which eye does the winking?
5. Put your hands behind your back, one holding the
other. Which hand is doing the holding?
6. Someone in front of you is shouting but you cannot
hear the words. Cup your ear to hear better. Which ear
do you cup?
7. Count to three on your fingers, using the forefinger
of the other hand. Which forefinger do you use?
8. Tilt your head over on to one shoulder. Which shoulder
does it touch?
9. Fixate a small distant object with your eyes and
point directly at it with your forefinger. Now close
one eye. Now change eyes. Which eye was open when the
fingertip remained in line with the small object? (When
the other eye, the non-dominant one, is open and the
dominant eye is closed, the finger will appear to move
to one side of the object.)
10. Fold your arms. Which forearm is uppermost?
If you have always considered yourself
to be right or left-handed you will probably now have
discovered that your body is less than total in its
devotion to its favoured side. If you are right-handed
the chances are that you were not able to be 'right'
4. Tell the students some interesting facts
From The Left-Handers Club: http://www.left-handersday.com/tour6.html
|Most left-handers draw figures facing to
There is a high tendency in twins for one to be left-handed
Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers
(particularly if they are forced to change their writing
hand as a child, like King of England George VI).
Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater.
Left-handers excel particularly in tennis, baseball, swimming
Left-handers usually reach puberty 4 to 5 months after
4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer
1 in 4 Apollo astronauts were left-handed - 250% more
than the normal level.
Left-handers are generally more intelligent, better looking,
imaginative and multi-talented than right handers ( based
on discussions among members of the Left-Handers Club!
5. Students in pairs brainstorm difficulties that lefthanded
people might come up against in daily life eg. Desks, machines
etc.. Get them to collate a list. Feedback with one list on
the board - get a student up to the board to do this, reminding
her/him to use the other hand to write with!
6. Reading - below is a rather old article but still useful.
a) Put the title on the board & get the students to predict
whylefthanders still feel left out - collate the ideas on
b) Students skim the article to see if any of their ideas
from the prediction or the problems mentioned earlier are
mentioned. Alternatively, cut up the article into paragraphs
& students sequence it as logically as they can, given
the genre, & then discuss why they made their decissions,
looking at the cohesive features of the text.
c) A more detailed comprehension task, for lower levels?
7. Response to the text - discussion - have they heard of
lefthanders being discriminated against eg. in Spain I have
heard in the past of school students having their left hand
tied behind their backs so they had to use the right. This
could lead on to a discussion of other discriminations in
society & why they might exist.
There are some interesting results of a questionnaire at The
Left-Handers Club site for discussion:
left-handers still feel left out
Angelique Chrisafis, Arts correspondent
Thursday June 6, 2002
Over the centuries they have been beaten
on the knuckles, locked up, ridiculed and prevented
from reproducing in case they spawned freaks.
Now left-handers are facing another affront.
A psychology professor told the Guardian Hay festival
yesterday that society will never stop being biologically
and culturally dominated by right-handers at the psychological
expense of those who hold their pencil in their left
Chris McManus, a professor of psychology
and medical education at University College London,
trawled thousands of years of the history of cells and
culture - from "left-handed" amino acids,
to stone age tool-making practices and Giotto frescos
- and found that "right equals good and left equals
bad" in common perception.
In his book Right Hand, Left Hand, he
noted how expres sions for the word "left"
had become terms of abuse in every culture - something
that New Labour might already be aware of.
"Our society is organised according
to right-handers. Left-handers are the last of the great
neglected minorities," said Prof McManus, who is
a right-hander with a left-handed mother and daughter.
In Britain around 13% of men and around
11% of women are left-handed, compared with 3% before
1910. Left-handedness coincides with high incidences
of genius and creativity, and also autism and dyslexia.
"The one thing that will change the
suffering of left-handers is to get engineers to see
that for 10% of users, their designs are still back
to front. Scissors, microwave doors, power saws and
water gauges on the side of kettles are a constant reminder.
Psychologically, left-handers still claim to have problems.
The social consequences are immense."
Here are some links on lefthandedness to follow
up for more material & classroom ideas:
The Lefthanded Universe.
Even get your own lefthanded piano
For righthanded people learning to write with their left hands.
Lefthanded Liberation Society
to the contents
There is a tendency for teachers to treat
pronunciation work as something different so that when
phonology work is carried out in class, the whole lesson
is taken up with it. This can result in overload, with
phonology being seen as a chore for both students &
Phonology is extremely important, both receptively
& productively, & does need attention in class.
There are three areas when this can happen; as it crops
up, in awareness activities & as an integrated part
of the lessons.
To introduce students
to the different aspects of phonology, there have to be
activities to get these ideas across. Awareness of stress
& tone units, particular sounds, word stress, pitch
etc.. are needed so that they can then be integrated.
Phonology can crop up at any time in the form of correction,
students' questions or an unanticipated feature arising.
It is the integration
of the different aspects of phonology that we're going
to have a quick look at. Here are a few areas where phonology
can easily be integrated systematically & smoothly:
- vocabulary work -. eliciting the number
of syllables & the stress placement, stress rules, spelling
rules, the highlighting of sound features eg. schwa, consonant
- listening - working on different features
either directly from the tape or the script. Students identify
tone units & tonic syllables, attitude through pitch,
understanding tones, sounds in combination; linking, intrusion,
- presentation - highlighting phonological
features in the target language.
- controlled practice - drilling - highlighting
relevant features first & then beating the stress while
carrying out a drill. When they sound boring as they carry
out a practice activity, tell them so & encourage them
to be more enthusiastic.
- speaking - monitoring of pronunciation
during freer activities with feedback afterwards.
- dictionary work - word stress & sounds
being integrated in any activity that requires a dictionary.
- written records - encourage them to be complete
with the phonological analysis included. Go round &
check as they copy from the board, making sure they include
everything & that it is accurate.
- include phonology in progress assessments.
As you set goals for work on bigger language areas, set
goals for areas of phonology.
- talk about it & encourage student
contributions so that it does become another part of the
to the contents
of the pleasures in life...
One of the pleasures in life for me, & many
people, is music. In class though, it seems to be generally
used as a special activity, & sometimes as a kind of a
treat for the students! Seems a bit mean.
So how about integrating it more & more.
This can be in the form of using background music when the
students are on task. I wouldn't use it for a reading or individual
writing tasks as it can distract & concentration lost.
For speaking activities, it can help all to become more involved
as they won't be heard by others & there is a lot more
volume as a result. And ask the students if they like the
background music & change to suit.
Another aspect is listening for pleasure in
class. We use songs because we like them & we know our
students like them but unfortunately as soon as a song is
mentioned, the gap fill comes out! There are many activities
to use & we'll look at some in a future Tip.
How about simply playing a song & asking
the students beforehand to decide if they like it or not as
they listen. And then leave it at that. It doesn't have to
be linked in to the theme of the lesson but can act as a relaxing
change of pace & focus in a movement between stages of
the lesson or a cooler at the end. Not any old song will do
though. It has to be understandable for the group. If not
it will be demotivating - a case of listening to how much
they don't understand! It's not as if there is a shortage
of songs so if it is comprehensible then it can be fun, relaxing
& confidence building.
For the intensive course, try a song every couple
of days & for the longer course, a song each week. As
well as choosing the songs yourself, consult the students
& ask them which they have heard recently that they understood
& liked & then play them for the others. Music is
one of the pleasures in life, & students are exposed to
English songs outside the classroom, so we can make the classroom
& learning more pleasurable by incorporating these carefully
to the contents
the Past Teaching Tips