This can be used to give some energy to the class (it starts at 7.40 am) as well as demonstrating how simple sentences are linked together. Students can practice:
“who doyou see ?” as opposed to the general robotic, mono-toned, “Who do you see ?”
Five jobs were mentioned – which ones ? (students will be in small groups and given a writing board and marker). Then they will have to write where those people work – on the board I will write ‘airport’, ‘ship’, ‘school’, ‘fire station’ & ‘hospital’. Two people will run to the board and write where a pilot, a doctor etc works.
SHOP WORK – role play
In this activity, half the students are shoppers, the other are shop-keepers.
The shoppers will need to buy some three items: They can go to as many of the ‘sellers’ as they wish and ask for the food (this will be food from Unit 1, as well as stables such as rice, bread, cheese, eggs and milk.) If the seller doesn’t have the item they ask for, they have to move on to another ‘store’. The winner is the first team to complete their list. No doubt, the students will want to change roles.
In terms of language being produced, the students have to ask, “Do you have some or any …?” or “I would like (two) eggs, please.”
The sellers must answer, “Yes, we do, how much or many would you like ?” or “Sorry, we have sold out.”
How do I make soup ? First, I go to the shops and buy ingredients, next go home and clean them, then cook them and finally eat !
I want to study Vietnamese; what should I do ? First …
The man selling eggs is a little big. He needs to loose weight. What should he do ?
Before the bookwork, pre-teach some adjectives that one would associate with various professions, such as:
Five adjectives should be enough, and then repeated all lesson and over the coming lessons in order to help the students develop more colourful and interesting language (as opposed to an IELTS speaking test I recently monitored, where the only adjectives were ‘big’ and ‘nice’ despite the question asking the students to describe … but that is for another blog !)
And then we let the assigned book work take over, work book correction and handouts for fast finishers.
One of the best things about staying with the same company and at the same campus, is the possibility of teaching the same lesson to different students, thereby cutting out a lot of planning time. Such is the case this Sunday, when I shall re-teach a lesson I previously planned in March.
However, this is will be my last class with this group; I have a new work schedule and my manager has kindly, not to say humanely, insisted that I have at least ONE day free. She also brings me tea when I am ill (a constant threat in Vietnam where the weather switches from unbearable hot to torrential tempests … and back again. Furthermore, the corridors can be over 30 degrees, while the classrooms are cold enough to store ice cream. I tell the powers that be to turn UP the room temperature (the students also sit there shivering or wearing jackets) to 28 … I tell them every lesson … every lesson … to quote Kurt Cobain, “Oh well, whatever, never mind.”
But now, without further ado, the lesson plan. Let’s kick off with:
What can you see ? This tests the ability to form a basic “I can see a …..” sentence.
Next up, ‘When the band comes marching in ‘, a kinetic exercise and also a way to introduce new vocabulary; here it will be musical instruments:
We can use this for musical statues. The class size is very large, (20 students) the space limited, but the march tone will suit the limitations.
Moving on, back to seats, and I will teach them ‘I spy’
I look around the room and see something that they have learnt in a previous lesson (such as classroom accessories or animals), and say, “I spy, with my little eye … something beginning with …. ‘c’ “
The students then have to think of all the vocabulary they know (at this stage, somewhat limited), so the words will be ‘chair’, ‘table’, ‘pen’, ‘book’, ‘bag’, ‘teacher’, ‘student,’ and then pictures of animals that have been previously taped around the room.
Leading on from that, and time for more movement (or madness depending on your point of view), a flash card hunt. I will have various pictures of creatures taped to the wall, behind desks, under chairs … then ask, “What has eight legs … ?” then, “Six legs, four legs and a shell, four green legs and jumps ?” In twos, the students have to find said card.
Then it’s Grammar time. I drill and conjugate the verb ‘to have’
First I practice with my TA, then select some of the top students to model. They will be given a flash card and say, for example:
I have a cat
You have a dog
He has a frog
She has a spider
They have a monkey
We have a card.
By giving cards to groups of six, all the students can participate at once.
Some students can come to the front and hold their cards. I will ask, “What does he have ?” and expect the answer in a sentence, “He has a ….” and not just shouting out the single-word noun.
Moving on up, it’s time for the a /an distinction. I’ll simply board the vowels and elicit words that begin with each one. Then I’ll show the grammar, ‘It is a cat, it is an elephant.’ I’ll board ten or so words and the class must shout out whether the article is ‘a’ or ‘an’ AND say the answer as a full sentence.
Next up, a quick writing game. In small groups, the students have to write words that they have recently learnt. These will be:
bike / kite / rope / ant / bear / frog / spider / turtle
Finally, a chance to boost their use of adjectives. I’ll ask for them to describe animals, miming to help them, until we have basic words such as ‘big’, ‘small’, ‘fast’, ‘slow’ and then introduce some more: ‘tiny’, ‘scary’ and ‘massive’. They have to write down the new words in their notebooks.
I will then ask them to describe an ant, an elephant, a spider, a cheetah
Furthermore, I want them to start using the common adverb ‘very’ – a spider is very small and very scary !
We then have our school’s spelling contest, student book work, workbooks and worksheets for the quick-finishers.
And then … lesson over and I say goodbye to this class. They can be VERY noisy … but also a lot of fun.
Lesson Notes for Saturday 25th May. I’m going to be buzzin’ for this lesson, on cloud nine, ripped and raring to go. Also, a big shout out to my teaching colleague Ms Han, who incidentally is as cute as a button, for being so friendly, so positive, so darn wonderful.
As you can see, the above paragraph was full of vernacular, similes, modern slang and idioms (and ended with some poetic repetition). It’s not the kind of language one would encounter in a school book, but it’s exactly the kind of talk that takes place every day on the streets of London, of New York, Melbourne, Singapore … all over the world where people try to emulate the language of English-language TV, film, music and the internet.
Taking my cue from David Crystal and his magnificent book ‘The Stories of English’, I use the classroom to teach Englishes; that is, both standard and ‘natural’. What qualifies as natural would fill not just a blog page, but an entire book, probably without a satisfactory resolution, but let’s take it to mean what would be heard in my home town, London.
A great boost for students is to learn expressions as opposed to just single words. This helps them develop a natural flow, and introduces them to the treasures of language available. So how to develop these ideas into practical activities … piece of cake !
This class have an average age of 11, so they have quite a good command of English without the teenage moodiness (that will come, have no fear). Our theme over the last weeks is ‘creativity’, and my aims are to greatly expand their vocabulary and the opportunities of speaking English to each other.
Therefore, I always board new words or phrases, then allow time for the students to write them down. As previously stated, this is not a common practice in Vietnam, so I have to encourage the students to find paper, take out note books, writing implements, sharpen pencils, in short, everything to do with writing except actually writing.
My board can look like this:
The students have to write down these words and then learn the meaning and be prepared to USE THEM. Both the TA (again, a first-rate chap, top notch) and I will then say these words endlessly, to help them sink in, and encourage the students to use them whenever possible. Therefore … our first warm up game is …
Here, I will just reinforce the new words: / useless / bland / genius and our friend Dali.
I will then hand out boards and, in small groups, the students must write four positive adjectives (e.g. handsome, pretty, clever, etc) and four negative adjectives for a bad student (e.g. talkative, noisy, sleepy etc).
Last week they learnt some new words. For a more kinetic exercise, I shall describe a type of art (painting, sculpture, mosaic, photograph) and two students have to run to the board and write the word. This is fun if I assign a certain colour marker to a team, then hide the markers around the room, pretend to throw them out of the room etc.
Last week, the students were split into small groups and had to produce a short, illustrated story. They can continue this, and it will give us a chance to enforce appropriate classroom behaviour, namely, listening politely when other students are presenting work. This is also not a popular activity in Vietnam, from children to adults: if THEY are not involved, they have no interest. It’s not just the teacher that gets ignored.
Our centre is having a major spelling contest, and this will occupy the quarter hour before break. After said break (when something is guaranteed to be broken), we do book work which, this week, is rather minimal; it’s basically a list of jobs and asking what people want to be when they grow up. Some of the jobs are in the arts such as actor or musician, so … to engage the students and get them producing English and having fun, we can make a US-style talk show:
I use this sheet for many classes, usually for personality adjectives, as well as occupations. It’s adapted from a class I took at International House, London.
For higher level classes, you could also use this to illustrate the adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’
The students have to guess the personality of my friends, just by looking at them; their expressions, posture, dress sense, hair style etc. Then they have to try to guess the occupation.
This is a great way to introduce new vocabulary and job titles. Additionally, students can learn that many adjectives are not necessarily positive or negative, for example ‘serious’. Being serious could be very positive (in a professional context) but negative in other situations.
I’ve put some sample adjectives and jobs after the last photo, as well as the answers to their current occupations.
Occupations: estate agent plumber DJ mechanic bouncer surgeon accountant actor cook/chef removal man insurance agent bank clerk detective business man barista lawyer shop manager unemployed slacker
Peter is unemployed. He has an MA in Business Studies and is currently looking for work, so he is sending out his CV and photo.
David is a DJ
Alex is an actor. He is also a Buddhist so normally has shaven hair. However, he is very big and strong, so he gets cast as gangsters or bad men, despite being very gentle and soft-spoken in real life.
Victor is a self-employed plumber.
Simon is a doctor. He is highly professional and serious, but is seen here on holiday, after a few sangrias (wine cocktails). Someone took a photo with a flash, so his eyes look wide and big.