The Teach-Off – Dogme Day 2

I have always found Day 2s quite hard.

You kind of know the students’ names but you haven’t got to know them yet. They have kind of been introduced to your rogue way of teaching but they aren’t quite convinced yet.
Day 2 is often the day my insecurities speak to me the loudest. I look at the students faces and wonder if they are thinking, ‘Why have we come all the way to London to be given this Asian-looking English teacher?’
Day 2 is often the day I start to do recall sessions, and the students are clueless as to what I’m trying to achieve.
Day 2 is often the day I feel most on edge…

But this Day Two was made even harder not only by the implicit knowledge of the teach-off happening, but also by the fact that there were a couple new students in the class, and I had to integrate them.

We started off with me asking students to recall yesterday’s lesson to their partners. As on every Day 2, despite my specific instructions not to only focus on the lexico-grammar notes they took, but to also look at the discussions and the contexts that arose, many of the students often draw a blank, staring at the page of their notebook, tempted to simply read off what they have written.

I went round the groups, encouraging them to remember the subjects we discussed, the topics involved, the questions asked and the things their classmates said…but to no avail…

Okay, it is Day 2.

So I brought students back to open class and prompted them further, finally eliciting the information that I blogged about yesterday. Special attention was paid to the mention of the perfect aspect and the present perfect continuous, and throughout the lesson, whenever the opportunity for self-correction arose, I grasped hold of it and had students practising the use of the perfect aspect in the contexts of whatever they were talking about.

Seeing that we had not really done a get-to-know-you session yesterday, I had all the students stand up and instructed them to arrange themselves in alphabetical order of their names. After some negotiating, students put themselves in their respective places, and took turns saying their names and the city they were born in.

We then repeated the same activity using ‘the city you were born in’ and then the ‘last film you watched’. The latter offered several opportunities for students to expand on the films that they had watched and to decide on whether they would recommend said film to their classmates or not, and why.

They then arranged themselves in chronological order of the time they went to bed the night before and then in alphabetical order of the country they would most like to visit. A quick round of sharing revealed that the countries that some of the students wanted to go to were countries others have been to, and so it made sense for them to sit with their new partners and exchange travel tips on where to go and what to eat.

Then in a carousel fashion, I moved the pairings so that everyone was now with a different partner. They then recounted the recommendations they were given by the previous partner. I find that any chance for students to practise recounting and reporting what others have said is a chance to emulate an activity that we often carry out in real life.

More get-to-know-you activities followed as I got students to sit in a circle and toss a ball around, stating the name and an interesting fact about the person they were tossing the ball to. Students of the class seemed to struggle remembering facts about their classmates, but in a very cool turn of events, a students mistakenly says the name of a classmate and then asks a question instead. I quickly changed the nature of the game and had everyone practising their question forms and answers instead. Once it became clear that everyone in the class knew each other’s name and felt slightly more comfortable with each other, I gave them a 15-minute break.

I came back from the break to find some students talking about where they lived in London and how they got to school. The conversation went on to be about the London transport system and then the fact that there was no free wifi in the London underground and most of the city.

At this point, the Iranian student started to say that Internet access was restricted and forbidden in her country, which led to some language work as student reformulated the sentence using the words ‘allow’, ‘prevent’ and ‘ban’. I drew the students’ attention to the fact that both ‘forbid’ and ‘allow’ share the same structure as the previously encountered ‘recommend’ eg allow sby to-infinitive, while ‘prevent’ and ‘ban’ take prepositions followed by noun/-ing.

We started talking about the strange things that were prohibited in our countries and I told students about the banning of chewing gum in Singapore, while the Brazilians spoke about the ban on outdoor advertising in Sao Paulo.

In a delayed correction stage, I decided to highlight the difference between /r/ and /l/ as it seemed to be a consistent problem amongst 4 (out of 6) of the students. We first looked at the position of the tongue in the mouth when producing the English /r/, and then the /l/. Following that, I said a few minimal pairs and students had to guess which sound they have heard, so as to encourage recognition of the different sounds. Students then had to produce the sounds themselves with the tongue twister ‘Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’.

The delayed correction then led on to work on Prepositions of Time, and I gave them a rule I had made up for the occasion.
‘on + one day’
‘in + more than one day’
‘at + special periods of time e.g. Christmas’

Try it! It works!

A bit more delayed correction brought us to the end of today’s lesson.

Day 2 is always hard…but we can try to make the most of it.

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