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After selling my bed in preparation for the upcoming move, I hadn’t had much sleep the previous night.  Hopefully this didn’t overly affect my class, but I’m sure it wasn’t my finest hour…

Courts and pitches and rinks, oh my

Walking into the class, the three early students were, not surprisingly, talking about the national football championship game that had just taken place.  One learner immediately asked whether the correct term was soccer field and we took it from there:

  • Elicited types of sports grounds onto board – field, court, rink, etc.
  • Students boarded sports played in each
  • As a class clarified meaning and drilled pronunciation

Serious recycling

Now that we had some language to work with up on the board, I thought we could practice some of the lexis from previous lessons.  In particular, it was a chance to work on exponents for giving opinions and giving reasons from last class, and the comparative structures from a couple of weeks ago.  In groups of 3…

  • Students tried to remember phrases from last class, wrote them on mini whiteboards, and checked their notes to see if they had forgotten any
  • Student A chose two of the sports from the board for his group members
  • Students B and C argued the merits of their respective sports
  • At random intervals, Student A held up a mini whiteboard and the speaker had to try to incorporate the lexis

At this point nothing new to work on had jumped out at me, but luckily I had some backup…

Phelps

Having been talking about sports, it seemed like a good moment to bring out an article about the swimmer Michael Phelps that a student had emailed me a few weeks ago and that I hadn’t had a chance to use in class yet.

  • Gist task – Ss quickly read article and wrote possible titles.  During feedback they chose their favourite (Phelps, the road ahead was the winner)
  • Detailed reading – As there was a lot of biographical information, I had groups try to create timelines of his life
  • Inferring meaning – Each student chose one unfamiliar word and the class tried to work out the meaning from context

The students seemed to enjoy the reading tasks and the article and were very interested in Phelps’ suspension for getting caught using a bong.  This also tied in nicely with the discussion from last class involving the ethics of drug use.

Reporting verbs

In the article there were a number of direct quotations, and I noticed that no one was reporting them using any verb other than said.  So…

  • Students underlined all the quotations
  • Put first sentence on board and elicited how they would report it (with said)
  • There were no issues with changing the tenses or pronouns, so we went straight into looking at other reporting verbs
  • Elicited and checked meaning of reporting verbs used in the article (acknowledge, add, clarify) and a few others I thought might be useful (decide, threaten, beg, request, remind, promise, admit)
  • Students went through article and wrote reported the direct quotations using appropriate reporting verbs

Unfortunately, this took longer than anticipated and there was no time for freer practice of the language.  I would have liked to play a material-free version of one of Hadfield’s games, in which two students play angry neighbours/friends/etc. and need a mediator to go back and forwards between them.  This will have to wait for next time I suppose.

Upon reflection

Looking back over my lesson summary, I like it on paper much better than I liked it at the time.  I don’t have any real issues with any of the tasks I selected or the execution, but the class wasn’t as dynamic or enjoyable as it normally is.  This could well have been due to my own energy level, or maybe there’s something else I’m missing.  Any ideas?

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