This is Varinder Unlu’s account of her 4th Day using the coursebook.
Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder…
26th April 2012
Today we had four observers visit us during the class.
To revise countable/uncountable nouns
To increase knowledge of abstract nouns
To practise reading
To practise speaking
Pages 82, 83 and 144 from Global Int
A few students were late coming to class as there were problems with the underground. We talked briefly about the weather and transport system with the students that were there on time.
The lesson today was around a reading about motivation and what motivates people. It was also introducing/revising countable and uncountable nouns. On first look at the two pages, it doesn’t look as if there is enough to last a three hour lesson and I think if it were an inexperienced teacher sticking to the book, without exploiting the materials to the full, they would probably get through it in about an hour.
I, however, did it in a three hour lesson with my class:
- For the lead-in I took the idea given in the teacher’s book: ________ is/are the most important thing(s) in the world. I had this sentence on strips of paper to give to each student to fill the gap in however they wanted.
- In small groups the class compared what they had written down on their bits of paper and explained why they had done so. This was followed by very brief class feedback.
- I then asked students to open their books to page 82 and focused their attention on Exercise 1 in the Vocabulary section. Students filled in the missing letters to complete the words (abstract nouns). They checked their answers in pairs before I played the listening for them to check their answers. I then asked two students to come to the board and write the words. We checked for spelling mistakes. (There was one – Wellthy).
- Students then read the Language note in the grey box about abstract nouns and completed the 5 sentences below it so that they were true for them. In groups I asked them to discuss their answers and ask questions about why they had written what they had. We conducted a brief class feedback.
- I put “Meeting our demands” on the whiteboard” and explained to the class that they were going to read a text with this title and asked them to predict what it might be about. One student volunteered something about supply and demand (which we did in yesterday’s lesson). Another student said something along the same lines. I told the students that they had three minutes to read the text and answer the following question: “What is the author’s intention in the text?” (I didn’t focus their attention on the 3 options given in the book because I wanted them to figure out the answer without the options). Students read the text, some took a bit longer as they were trying to understand every word. I stopped class after about three minutes and asked them for the answer to the questions. They were all able to tell me what the text was about but could not tell me what the author’s intention was. I eventually managed to elicit the answer from them. I felt that I needed to speak to the class about the importance of reading new text all the way through for the first time without worrying about the unknown words. I explained that it was good to get into the habit of not getting stuck on every word and taking their dictionary out to check meaning and that this way of reading was particularly important in exam situations. (During this stage I also found out that one of the students is a psychologist and was very familiar with the theory being described in the text).
- Next I asked the class to look at the words in the grey box and in pairs explain any words they knew to their partner. Students read the text in more detail and completed the pyramid with the words from the box. One of the Japanese students was very interested in what people had put in the top part of the pyramid and really wanted to discuss this in detail.
- When I grouped the students for the next activity, I made sure that the Japanese student mentioned above was in the same group as the psychologist so that he could ask questions. This worked really well during the discussion activity when the students talked about the theory and whether they thought it was a good explanation of human motivation. He was able to ask questions about the theory and the psychologist was able to explain it to him.
- We discussed their answers as a class and it was apparent from what they said that there were differences in their views about this theory. The Asian students felt that for them the top part of pyramid was not as important as the bottom part and the European/Brazilian students thought the opposite. We got on the topic of respect and the Asian students said that this was not something that motivated them as they were taught this from young age and the rest of the class felt that respect was very important as you had to earn it – be worthy of respect came out of this discussion. The psychologist then told us that this theory was based on studies done with Western society and based very much on Western culture – which explained a lot about why there were differences. During the discussion stage I had noted down student errors and we did some error correction.
- After the break we looked at page 83 – grammar section. I wrote up all the words in white in the text on the board and asked the students to work with their partner to decide which was countable or uncountable. As they were discussing their answers I realised that there were quite a few disagreements. These were clarified during feedback and I asked the students to read the grammar explanation. They then completed the sentences. We checked the answers which raised more questions.
- I asked the students to complete the exercise on page 144 for homework.
- We moved onto the final activity of this lesson which was speaking – I asked the students what motivates them. Then asked them what demotivates them. After this I asked them to think about one time when they felt very motivated and to look at the questions in the speaking activity and make notes of their answers.
- In groups students discussed their stories and asked each other questions. I conducted a brief class feedback.
- To wrap up the class I went through the lexis that had come out of discussions and checked if students remembered meaning and pronunciation.
- Finally we checked what we had done in today’s lesson.
The topic of this lesson was of interest to the students and they had their views on the theory which generated discussion. At the end of this lesson, I heard one of the students say how good the lesson was.
As for the countable / uncountable noun tasks – these went down very well with the learners – they asked lots of questions to clarify. My Dogmetician friends will obviously have strong opinions about why grammar, especially countables /uncountables should not be taught in this way. It worked, the students were engaged, learning and asking questions and surely that’s more important than what we think we should be doing according to Dogme, ELF or any other approach/method. This lesson and my discussion with Chia after the lesson left me thinking one question: What do the learners want?
We as teachers, trainers, writers, educational specialists and academics talk about what is the right and wrong way of doing things all the time. We have conferences/events/seminars/workshops where we have people who have done tremendous amounts of research into something telling us that this or that is what we should be doing or that we have been doing things all wrong. If the learner is happy and learning is taking place, does it matter?
I’m tired and rambling now so I shall stop here!