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Well tonight’s class definitely had a different dynamic, although I’m not sure that this was necessarily an improvement.  But more about that later…

Student compositions

After the usual chat to start, I handed back some student compositions.  I had decided to only underline the errors and write some comments at the end without any correction codes as they’re a pretty strong group:

  • Pair students and hand back compositions
  • Monitor and answer questions while students peer/self edited their work
  • Board a few examples of good language use and a few of the common problems to clarify as a class

At this stage it was clear that word formation was definitely an issue as there were numerous errors that they couldn’t correct including things like ‘to safe’, ‘to success’, ‘a prestige university’, etc,  so this is what I decided to focus on.

That being said, there was no real context as the language point came out of various disparate individual texts rather a class discussion.  As a result, the next stage focussing on language felt drier and more academic than I (or the students) would have liked.  How could this have been more engaging, motivating, cohesive?

Playing Gato

To get a better sense of what knowledge the learners already possessed, I decided to have a little impromptu test-teach-test sort of cycle (the kind which @ChrisOzog avoids!).

  • Groups gave me one noun, one verb, and one adjective from their compositions
  • Class played tic-tac-toe (U.S.) / Noughts and crosses (U.K.) / Gato (Costa Rica)
  • In each square was a word, e.g. religion and to get the X or O the team had to first tell me the other form of the word (I decided which part of speech) and make an example sentence.  If no one knew, I would replace the word with another and we would keep going
  • At the end we drew a grid on the board with all the words from the game and their compositions and the learners tried to complete it (see pic)
  • For a bit of practice, we played Two truths and a lie with each statement using at least one of the words and the conditional structures Chris had looked at in the previous class

Useful?  Maybe.  Magical and uplifting?  Far from it.

All you need is love

Thankfully one of the students had emailed me a Beatles tune and I had brought the lyrics, so we delved into an enjoyable bit of music for the last 30 minutes of class.

  • Mind map on board with brainstorming about the Beatles
  • Listened to the first verse, students wrote down 3 important words, then compared (I’ll freely admit this was a terrible and poorly-conceived gist task)
  • Listened again and fixed all the errors with verb patterns and conjugations I had included in the lyric sheet
  • Quick discussion about their interpretation of the lyrics

*    I was running short on time but was eager to do an activity suggested in the comments of an earlier blog post involving having students script a music video for the song.  I think this will be the intro/review for next class.

All you need is love Part 2

With 10 minutes left I looked at the window and saw that my wife had come early to pick me up and was waiting in the car.  Earlier we had been talking about how my wife will adjust to living in Dubai, so I decided to invite her in as a guest resource.  Everyone was eager to ask questions to a fellow Tica moving to the Arab word and it was a nice, meaningful way to end the lesson.

This class was definitely a tale of two halves.  For next week I’ll focus on making sure that I don’t sacrifice conversation and contextualised lexis for the sake of an obvious nugget of language work.