Young Learners, Level 2: Focus on Sweden

17th May 2019

Lesson plan for Saturday afternoon, 18th.

Recent lessons have introduced items of clothing, furniture and being healthy so, as a way of introducing the students to new cultures, today we can look at life in Sweden – Välkommen

First, a short introduction (we can end the video around 1:30 at the coffee shop): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMphA2kldT0

Board new words, then allow (or force) students to write them down and reuse throughout the lesson.

Sweden is home to many global companies including Spotify, H&M, IKEA, Volvo, and Skype was co-founded by a Swede. There are branches of H&M in HCM City, but Swedes need much warmer clothing:

The students, placed into two teams, can run to the board and write items of clothing, one team member, one word, then exchange the pen with another team-mate. They can also write other items, not shown in the picture. Bonus points for those who can give the most detailed descriptions e.g. she wears a lovely purple coat (at this level, the students just use present and past simple, no continuous verbs).

Next, what are these buildings and who works there ?

Moving onto IKEA. What items of furniture can the students identify ? Which would they like – they have to select what they would buy for their home. They may choose different colours:

The Swedes are famous for their healthy lifestyle. What makes people healthy ? Here, I encourage, or demand, sentences, not just single words shouted out. To make it more kinetic, I can select some students and give them an activity to mime, such as exercise, eating healthy food and getting enough sleep. The students can be asked what food is healthy ? This leads into the next and final section, Swedish food:

Swedish meatballs, potato & berry sauce
Sill (herring) and fresh vegetables
Selection of different types of sill (herring) in different sauces
Cheese, Swedish caviar and crispbread (knäckebröd)
Midsommar (Mid summer) smorgasbord
Semla – as delicious as it looks … but is it healthy ?

After this cultural trip to north Europe, it’s time to get back to spelling tests, unit work and bookwork.

Hopefully, the students will have learnt something about a different culture, a country where English is not the mother tongue, but is widely spoken, and taught from an early age. In face, many Swedish singers even sing in English; here’s an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OwPHD61Y3s

Abba – Sweden’s most famous musical group.

Young Learners, Level 4: Art for art’s sake.

16th May 2019

This is for Saturday morning’s class, 10.10 – 12.10. Seventeen students, a little noisy and raucous but a breeze compared to Levels 1 & 2.

Today, there is a a lot of work already set for the students, including a major spelling contest, and a story-writing project. Additionally, I always over-plan the lessons, meaning that they will always be work that I can use in subsequent lessons. Such is the case today.

We can start with descriptions of people:

Warm up: Student description

In a previous lesson, the class learnt about basic adjectives to describe appearance. I will therefore choose a student and describe the physical characteristics, e.g. this student has long straight hair, is not very tall, and wears black glasses. I will choose some students and give them a student to describe, while promoting the value ‘be polite‘.

To continue the theme of Art and creativity, I will show some artists. The class already met Frida Kahlo but I thinks it’s time they met Dali !

Dali normally get a reaction (especially when we have fun elongating his name as long as possible). It’s also a chance to learn a few new words:

creative / genius / unusual / strange / surreal

The last word maybe a little advanced, but it’s a good way to introduce new words; inside the word is ‘real’ so surreal has something to do with reality … but what ? Here’s a clue:

This is a mixture of reality and fantasy. The students can say which is which … and why does Dali give the elephants tuba faces … is there a reason or is it just crazy ?

I will then expect the student to form basic sentences using these new words, and not forgetting new vocabulary from previous lessons.

Next up, is a scene from the popular Children’s classic, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Again, a mix of reality and fantasy. How would the students describe this ? It could be turned into a game … students put into small groups and given boards and markers. Points for the best vocabulary. What is happening ? Also, how to tell a story – an introduction and then mentioning items point by point, linking with appropriate discourse markers. YES ! I’m going to make the students study hard today.

Always good to give a model answer, tell the students what I expect to hear, or WILF as I’ve heard it termed in some schools (What I‘m Looking For).

Now, to continue the theme and introduce some listening and reading skills, a video. This is the singer-songwriter Don McLean with ‘Vincent’, about the artist Vincent Van Gogh:

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

This version also has the lyrics, as well as various paintings by the artist such as:

Then, with time against us, and a lot to get through, we’ll turn to the book work. They will watch a video which also shows sculpture, mosaic and photographs. The book also mentions Van Gogh, and a sculpture based on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from ‘Alice’.

A useful lesson will be the subjectivity of art – it is a chance for the student to think and to give their views, and to try to develop the English skills to express their thoughts. Clearly, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce some fixed expressions to express opinions:

In my opinion …

I feel that …

For me …

And even an idiom – it’s not my cup of tea !

Finally, to wrap up after the spelling tests and writing projects, a little bit of fun. Who better than Dali (or at least a great actor playing Dali) ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q1V_xjHhLM

Classroom Games.

I’ll be using abbreviations throughout these blogs so for clarity, here’s a short run-down of the most common ones:

Back to Board (B2B). Any activity where a student can’t see what is behind them, but has to guess or deduce from clues by the other students. It could be the name of a famous person, or a small YouTube clip. I often show a funny film and drill students how to describe what they see using the subject – verb – object formula. 

Call My Bluff (CMB). Based on the British TV show, students are put into groups and given a list of higher-level words. Each word has three definitions, two false, one true. The students have to read out the word, maybe varying the pronunciation each time, state the type of word (noun, verb etc) and a definition. The other team has to guess the correct answer. This can be a fun way to introduce new vocabulary.

Family Fortunes (FF). This works well with larger classes. Students are put into small groups and given a board and marker. The teacher then asks for four answers to a general question. The students ‘win’ imaginary money for each answer that matches the teacher’s four. Example: I have been to four places in Viet Nam, not counting HCM City. What are those four places ? Other good questions are my four favourite Vietnamese dishes, four things I like (and dislike) in VN and favourite types of films or music.

Snakes and ladders (SNL). Based on the popular children’s board game, ideally, space permitting, I use the floor of the classroom. With markers (NOT permanent markers, mind you), the students mark out a board, a large square. On some squares there is a red dot meaning go back 2 spaces, or a blue square, go forward 1 or 2 squares. One square is ‘haha’ – the player has to return to their original place. In a big enough room, I use students who begin at opposite corners, and have to complete one circuit to win. I ask questions which any one in the team can answer – or you could ask students individually – and then they roll a die. In a smaller room, I just make the game on the whiteboard. This can be very exciting and it’s a good idea to establish the rules first i.e. is it first past the end square OR exact number to finish. This game can sometimes be too popular and become too boisterous.

Stop the bus (STB).  This is a simple question and answer games, used to warm up or wind down classes. The teacher asks a question, the students shout out the answer, but first have to shout, “Stop the bus !” If they answer without the STB, no points are awarded. The game can be slightly varied, using different nouns e.g. Stop the Taxi, Stop the Grabbike or even, with a lively class, make them get up and sing, “Stop in the name of love.”

Word Battleship (WB). I often use this as a warm-up exercise. On the board draw a 4×4 grid, labeled A – D and 1 – 4. Assign different scores to each square on a separate sheet. Ask sixteen questions (can be general knowledge or a review of recent lessons, grammar, vocabulary). If the student gets the answer right, they can choose a square and you write in the number. I usually have 5 as the lowest, then 10, 20, 50 and one 100-pointer. To engage all students, you could ask them questions individually.

Word cards. I got this from an IELTS website. Make a list of recently – learnt words and expressions. The number and complexity will depend on the level of the class, but at least five or six but no more than ten. Print out and cut into individual word units. Put them in a small container. The students are placed in small groups and given the container with words. Each student has to speak on a basic theme using as many words or cards, as possible, within a set time. They can spread the words in front of them and drop them back into the container once they have been uttered.