Signs, symbols and icons: information and worksheet

21st August 2019

I actually prepared this for my top students in a Young Learners’ Level 3 (ages from 9 – 11) class; university-level semiotics. While most of the class just do the assigned work – no more, no less – others make no effort at all and are unable or unwilling to answer a question to which I have just given the answer. Then we have the top cats … I’m lucky to have two exceptional students in my class as well as two others who, with some effort, could also reach those Olympian heights.

The following is a very simplified, breakdown of everyday signs, symbols and the modern use of the word ‘icon’ as related to technology. The original categorisation into ‘icon, index & symbol’ was devised by Charles Sanders Peirce, and more information can be found on this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiotic_theory_of_Charles_Sanders_Peirce#II._Icon,_index,_symbol

The following I have printed out as a three-page activity worksheet for my top cats (who generally finish bookwork before others have even started).

A sign uses pictures to give information or to tell people what they can or can not do:

What do these signs mean ?     ///   The first sign means no smoking.

The second sign means … /// The third sign means … 

A symbol is a picture or things that represents a place, city or country.

The ao dai and non la are symbols that represent Viet Nam

What do these symbols represent ?

Icons are used on computers and smartphones. For example, this icon:

  represents a dictionary. How about these ?

Draw two more icons from a computer or smartphone.

Draw two signs that could be used in Vietnam

What do these signs from Singapore mean ?

What do you think of these signs ?

Do you agree ? Do you disagree ? Tell me why …

Young Learners, Level 5: Feelings (nothing more than feelings)

20th August for 25th August 2019. E Up 5 U1, L2 pp 6 – 7

A new class (for me) which I hope to be substituting, not taking full-time (this is an afternoon class and I already work all morning with young learners, and THAT is enough in spades). I will need to assess the levels of ability and motivation, as well as spot the trouble-makers, the big mouths and those who are committed to disrupting the lesson (believe me, there’s always at least one).

Last week they learnt some past tense, mostly irregular verbs. As our text books are published by the USA office of Oxford University, they favour American spelling i.e. learned as opposed to the more commonly used learnt in British English (both are correct). Furthermore, the books are printed in China, making this a real global enterprise, so that will form part of our activities.

Warm Up: A kinetic run ‘n’ write exercise. I will say a simple sentence in the present tense; students have to write the past tense. Class can be split into two or three, depending on size, each with a different colour marker.

You act in a play / I ride an elephant / She win a competition / He read a big book / We learn English / … and what happened here :

And yes … I DID ride an elephant:

With my friend in Thailand

Information gathering:

Last week, the students were introduced to the continents. Now I will develop that further by focusing on four different countries: Brazil, Canada, Egypt and South Korea. To give an example, I will use Vietnam:

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

95.54 million people live in Viet Nam. The population is 95.54 million.

The government of Viet Nam is in Ha Noi. The capital city is Ha Noi.

People speak Vietnamese. The language of Vietnam is Vietnamese.

Vietnam is very hot but also has a rainy season. The weather is very hot then very wet.

Ladies in Vietnam wear ao dai and non la. Ho Chi Minh is the most famous Vietnamese person.

Related image
Vietnam is famous for beautiful ladies in the traditional dress, the ao dai.

First, elicit comments about the four countries; where are they, in which continents ?

Image result for Brazil postcard
Canada
Image result for egypt pyramids
Egypt
Image result for South Korea
South Korea

The class will be split into four groups, each representing one country.

One member can draw the county’s flag, the others have to gather information. Around the room I will stick information sheets. One member has to run to the sheet, then tell his team the information. This practises reading, talking and writing skills and most importantly, allows the students to communicate with each other in English.

The drawing is also useful, as the students are still children, attending classes on weekend, so they need some diversion from book work.

As such, and as a way of introducing new vocabulary and expressions, I will show a children’s guide to London, my hometown and the UK’s capital city.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrJNIUp2izQ&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=24&t=0s

Image result for duck tours london
Duck Tours, London … a bus that turns into a boat – it’s brilliant.

I will play the video once, writing down new words. I will then make the students write them down and then, when I replay the video, they can shout out when they hear the new vocabulary spoken. These will include:

loads and loads / I reckon / really / very / amazing

And so .. to book work. The theme is ‘feelings’ and then using them in basic sentences.

With six flash cards, I will drill the pronunciation and meaning. One game is to pass the first card to a top student and let the student say the word out loud before passing on to the next student; when the third student has said the word, I pass the first student the second card and so on …

Additionally, there is (for Johnny Cash fans) ‘Walk the line’: I spread the six cards out on the floor, in a line. Two students, one at each end has to say the word then move on to the next. First to finish is the winner – or even have the whole class line up, in two teams, so everyone gets to join in.

Finally, once students are confident (one of the feelings) of meaning, we can have a game where I tell a student a feeling and said student must mime or act out for the class.

At this level, I’m hoping for good speaking abilities and students able to form basic sentences and read short passages.

As usual, I’ll be supplied with some additional worksheets about feelings for those who finish the workbook section quickly. These can easily be found online – the British Council have a great supply on their website: https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/worksheets

Adult Class, Level 3 (class 1): Stereotypes.

16th August for 19th August 2019. AEF 3B pp. 28 – 29

Review: comparatives and superaltives

Theme: stereotypes

Objectives: increase vocabulary and sentence building skills. Encourage more talking, especially between students, using target language.

Warm up: Just to get the student’s settled in (and to allow for students arriving up to an hour late) and to help them build longer sentences. Compare the following:

Image result for bus in singapore
Image result for bus in sai gon

We have two public transport vehicles, two buses. The first is from Singapore, the second from Sai Gon.

EXAMPLE: The bus from Singapore is cleaner than the Sai Gon bus.

To extend this, using a relative clause:

The first bus, which is from Singapore, is cleaner than the second bus, which is from HCM City.

To further extend, using relative clauses and discourse markers:

The first bus is from Singapore, which is known for its cleanliness, and is the most attractive as well as looking the most modern of the two. Having said that, buses in HCM City, despite being somewhat dirty, are remarkably cheap, just 2 000 VND for students, 6 000 for adults.

Try making complex sentences from these pairs of images:

Image result for winter in scotland
Winter in Scotland
Image result for street scenein hcm city
December on the streets of Sai Gon
Image result for playing chess
Playing chess
Image result for bungee jumping
Bungee jumping
Image result for Harrods food hall
Harrods food hall, London, UK
Image result for bread sold on street in vietnam
Street seller in Vietnam

Now compare these two songs: The former (first) is British from the 1980s. The band is The Specials, the song is called ‘Stereotypes’, the latter (last) is a modern pop song from Vietnam.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGxSP98ymw8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz4FbACtfd0

And that leads us into tonight’s theme: stereotypes. This means having an idea what people will be like because of where they are from, how they look, how they speak etc.

EXAMPLE: what do you think of this man:

Image result for Bob dylan in hoodie

What do you think of him – how he looks, how he’s dressed. What job do you think he does – does he even have a job ? Where does he live ? Is he, in fact, homeless and sleeps on the street ?

The answer …

He is music legend and Noble-prize winning writer and poet Bob Dylan

Image result for Bob dylan lp covers

Discuss these stereotypes (noun) and stereotypical (adjective) images:

All Vietnamese men are lazy and constantly smoke
Image result for asian maths students
All Asian children are excellent at maths
Image result for women shopping
All woman are obsessed (absolutely love) shopping
Image result for fat eating americans
All People from USA are obese (too fat) and talk too much and too loudly
Image result for english people drinking tea
All English people drink tea … ALL the time

To what extent do you agree ?

I agree / I agree 100% / I agree to an extent / There may be some truth there /

I disagree / I totally disagree / That is very unfair / That is offensive /

That’s just a stereotype / I know for a fact that isn’t true !

Try to explain in full sentences giving reasons and using discourse markers.

Quick fire: In groups, discuss; what do you think of when I say:

Made in China

Thailand

People in Hanoi

Apple iPhones

What do you think of this image ? Does it represent the real Vietnam, or is it just to attract tourists ?

Related image
Related image

Adult Mechanics: Olympics – going for gold.

10th February 2019

This is a lesson plan for an adult class I teach comprised mainly of professional engineers and mechanics. The level is mixed, as is natural with all classes, but I would place most students at Intermediate level. In order to boost them to the next stage, I will introduce more expressions, higher vocabulary and more student talking time.

I’ll be trying to implement a CELTA-style plan: ‘Present, Practice, Produce’ (PPP) which basically means I demonstrate some new language, allow the students to practice and then use the language on their own, checking for pronunciation, intonation and context. The key word is PRACTICE; whatever your field, whatever natural talent you may possess, you have to be disciplined and work, train … which brings us (neatly, I thought) to our subject – the Olympics.

Aside – the themes aren’t really that important, they are merely a starting point for learning. Having said that, they have to hold some measure of interest for the student. Allow me to quote the C15th monk John Lydgate, “You can’t please all the people, all of the time.” Even if some of the students aren’t big sports fans, they will at least be aware of the Games, and should find the videos interesting and beneficial.

I’ll begin with a video about the Olympics. It’s aimed at young native speakers, which is helpful for English – learners as the language will be easier to follow. Additionally, it will introduce some European history to my Vietnamese learners, and afford them the chance to listen to native speakers at a natural pace. And now, without further ado, the video:

Video: Listening practice

Try to watch before the lesson, and make a note of any new vocabulary.

listen for: gather together/ for the length of the games/ common ground/ truce

in honour of/ originally/ ancient/ off and on/ alternating / interlocking/ myth/

Questions – Ask each other Speaking practice

When were the first Games ? When were the final (ancient) games held ?

Who was Zeus ?

How many events were there at first ? What events were later added ?

What were winners given ? 

Where and when were the first modern games staged ?

What are the Paralympics ?

What are gold medals made of ?

Why were the five colours of the rings chosen ?

What is the goal of the Olympics ?

“The most important thing is not to win but to take part.” Do you agree ?

Video:

What do you think of the video ? Give positive and negative reactions.

Try to use some of the following expressions:

specular / impressive / co-ordinated / visually stunning / well-organised / you get what you pay for

a waste of money / a drain on natural resources / spectacle but no substance

Team work speaking practice

The Olympics are going to be held in Vietnam. Is this good or bad ?

Divide the class into two teams, one ‘for’, the other ‘against’.

Points to consider:

The cost – how will it be financed ?

How can it generate revenue for Vietnam ?

Impact on the environment 

Does Vietnam have the infrastructure to cope ?

Is south-east Asia a good choice in terms of climate ?

Is Vietnam a good choice ? 

Does it have big cities ? 

Does it have space for an Olympic village ?

What about crime and petty theft ? 

Are the police able to deal with the influx of crowds ?

Do the Vietnamese people care enough about sports ?

Is Vietnam enthusiastic about sports ?

Politics – people from all different countries and political beliefs will arrive. Could that be an issue ?

The legacy – what will happen after the Games are over ?

Raising awareness of Vietnam on the world stage. 

What do people think when they hear ‘Vietnam’ ?

Encourage overseas investors

Is the cost worth it ?https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/oct/23/london-2012-olympics-cost-total

This is from a ‘high-brow’ newspaper and quotes a figure of £8.921 billion. Can Vietnam afford this kind of money ? In China, a lot of money went on infrastructure such as improving airports, subways and roads, and it has been claimed that a profit of $146 was generated. However, Montreal took over 30 years to pay off debts incurred by hosting the Olympics.

Part of the London Olympic complex with the athletes village and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium, now home to West Ham football club.
Sir Paul McCartney at the Olympic opening ceremony in London 2012

What could Vietnam organise for an opening ceremony ?

Make a plan for the next lesson. Think about celebrating the country’s traditions, nature, economy, history, beauty. What would attract people to Vietnam ?

Welcome to Vietnam – the image
Welcome to Vietnam – the reality