The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 2

This is Varinder Unlu’s account of her 2nd Day using the coursebook.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder…

24th April 2012

These were my objectives for today’s lesson:

  • To introduce/revise language to describe objects
  • To introduce/revise defining / non defining relative clauses
  • To improve when writing a description  of an object
  • To improve students’ reading skills – gist and intensive
  • To improve students’ speaking skills when describing things

The class profile has changed slightly since last week.   We now have:  5 Japanese, 2 Brazilians, 2 Koreans, 1 Italian and 1 Iranian.  There are four women and seven men.  I noticed in yesterday’s lesson that one of the learners has a problem with his vision and this became more apparent in today’s lesson as he takes twice as long as the other students to read a text or when writing something.  He has to hold the page really close to his face when he reads and is almost touching the desk with his nose when he’s writing.  I’m going to photocopy some of the pages from the book onto A3 paper from tomorrow to make it easier for him to read.

I had planned a lesson around pages 78, 79, 144 and 145 of Global.  The two activities I left out from the book were Vocabulary and Speaking on page 79 as I felt that there was quite a lot to cover in the lesson and I would not have time to get to these.

When I entered the classroom today there was a much more relaxed atmosphere and I felt confident that I had a good lesson for the learners.  We talked a for a few minutes about what the students had done the previous evening and once most of the students has arrived I boarded my lesson aims so that they could see what was going to be covered.

  1. I started the lesson by using an activity from Reward Resource Pack Intermediate – How many uses can you think of?  Each student was given a card with an object written on it: an old toothbrush, a teaspoon, an old newspaper, a lipstick, a saucepan etc. I asked the students to write down as many uses for their object they could think of and emphasised that they could be as silly as they wanted to be with their answers.  Feedback generated laughter as students gave their answers because they had some funny ideas.
  2. Next I asked if anyone knew what an auction was. One student gave some examples: e-bay, Christies, Sotheby’s and another student tried to explain it by saying “you bid for things”. Looking at the students’ faces I could see that some had still not quite understood what it was so I gave another example and they all started nodding.
  3. I asked the students to think of an item then would like to sell and gave them a piece of card to write a description of it.  As I went round monitoring I could see that the descriptions were quite minimal and as each student finished their description,  I asked them to open their book to page 78 and focused their attention on the “Useful phrases” .  I suggested that they look at the description of their item and add some of the phrases to it so that it was a bit more detailed.   They all really appreciated having the phrases to refer to and before long we had some very detailed descriptions.
  4. Students were put into two groups and they had to read out what they had written and try and sell their item to the rest of the group and try to get as much money as possible from their “sale”.  Everyone managed to sell their items.  The highest bidders explained why they bought the item.
  5. I wrote: “A good swap” and “Trash or treasure” on the board explained to students that they were going to read a text each.  I elicited what they thought the texts were going to be about.  “Changing things” was one reply.  I set up the jigsaw reading and explained that they needed to complete the table in exercise 2.  After the reading I asked the students to tell their partner about their text from their notes.
  6. While students were talking I put the following questions up on the board: What do you think of the two systems?  What disadvantages can you think of?  We discussed these questions as a class.  The following lexis came from this part: can be misleading, antiques, unfair.  We also got on the subject of buying second hand and ex-display goods. Students were quite vocal about why they would/wouldn’t buy these.
  7. After the break we looked at the grammar section – students read the explanation for defining and non-defining relative clauses and completed the gaps in the texts below on page 78.  A check with their partner and class feedback generated quite a few questions about the grammar so I asked the students to turn to page 144 and students read a more in-depth explanation.   Once they had finished reading I asked students to tell me the differences between the two types of clauses and how you can see when it is non-defining relative clause. They explained fairly accurately and I asked them to do Exercise 1 & 2 on page 145 for homework for consolidation.
  8. As a final activity I too another activity from Reward Resource Pack Intermediate – Holiday crossword.  In two groups students had to write clues for their words using defining relative clauses.  Then I asked the two groups to sit in two rows facing each other. I elicited how they would ask for the clues to complete their crossword: What’s ___ down/across? Students spent 15 minutes asking and answering their questions.  I did notice that once they had read out their description they would use another way of explaining if their partner had not understood.
  9. At 12.05 (lesson ends at 12.00) we had a quick recap of the lexis that had emerged in today’s lesson – pronunciation and meaning and asked students to tick off the aims, put on board at start of lesson,  they thought we had achieved in this lesson.  They ticked them all.

I think that I can safely say that this was a course book led lesson with little adaptation and supplementation in which the students were able to express themselves freely whenever they wanted to.  We had a vocabulary column on the board with about 15 new items of lexis which had emerged from their speaking activities.

The Teach-Off – Introducing the Coursebook Round

It’s round two of the Dogme-versus-Coursebook Teach-Off, and today, my General English DOS, Varinder, starts teaching the same group I had for the last two weeks using the coursebook Global.

Varinder kindly volunteered to tell us a little bit about herself before embarking on posts about her coursebook-based lessons.

So, here’s introducing Varinder Unlu:


Thought I had better introduce myself to everyone.  I work at IH London and I am the one who very foolishly challenged Chia to a Dogme v coursebook teach-off.    Just a little background information about me:

I’ve been in the world of EFL for about 20 years and started teaching in Turkey.  After five years of teaching there, I returned to the UK and began working in a private language school in Greenwich where I spent twelve years, eight of which were as a DOS and Trinity teacher trainer.  I’d always had an interest in ESOL and wondered how it was different to EFL teaching and so in 2009 I thought I’d try my hand at ESOL and got a job at Greenwich Community College.  It was a really developmental time for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it every minute of it.   I learned that, yes, ESOL teaching is different in many ways but there are also many similarities to EFL.  Just as I was settling into the world of public sector teaching and environment, the private sector enticed me back with the role of DOS at IH – an opportunity that could not be overlooked and I’ve now been working here for just over eighteen months.  It’s an amazing place to work and I’m surrounded by so many talented and creative people with a real passion for teaching and developing. Oh, and I’m also an examiner for Cambridge ESOL, ESB and an inspector.

Dogme is something that raised my interest as an approach because I’ve never really followed one method or approach in my teaching.   I’m curious as to why some people feel so strongly about using it exclusively in their teaching.  So I hope some of the following questions will be answered for me:

Is it the best way to teach?

Does it work better than course books and materials for teachers? What about newly qualified teachers?

What do students think?  Do they/can they see the difference?

Are the learning outcomes increased by using this approach?

Is it good to use just one method/approach  in teaching?

Does it matter which approach you use?

Of course there are many more questions in my mind and there are many factors involved in why the results/answers will be what they are.  However, I am really excited and a little nervous to be teaching with Chia.


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