The project was well and truly under way, so I decided that it might be a good time to dip into ‘Teaching unplugged’ (Thornbury&Meddings, 2009). I picked out two activities. As a warm up, ‘something we did’ (pg36), and as a main activity Three wishes (pg46).
I decided to use ‘something we did’ as an alternative way of finding out about each others weekend, rather than the open class discussion which is the norm in some of my classes. I wrote out the three sentences I wanted the students to use and split the group down into pairs. The idea was to use the sentence to talk about something they did since the last class and their partner would then quiz them further to get as much information as possible. This way they could revise the Q&A session from the previous lesson.
Something you did with someone else
Something you did that you don’t usually do
Something you didn’t manage to do.
The last sentence immediately throw up the question “What does manage mean?” On the board I re-wrote the question to help with the explanation. Something you didn’t get done, something you didn’t do that you wanted to do and something that you didn’t get to do. This seemed to do the trick and we went back to it. After the first session I boarded one of the things I heard from one of the pairs.
“What have you done on Saturday?”
We talked about the difference in using the past simple and present perfect. As a class we changed the initial question into the past simple. I asked what the original answer was and boarded that too. I then asked how we could follow-up the answer with a question in the present perfect, instantly the answer came. We talked about the difference and why now was a good time to use the present perfect and then we repeated the exercise this time swapping partners and choosing another sentence.
“What did you do on Saturday?”
“I played football”
“How long have you been playing football?”
After the second round one other major point came up. I should point out that during the exercise I am correcting on the spot supplying and writing down new vocabulary. The major point was again related to one of the original sentences. A mixing up of the meaning between ‘usually’ and ‘used to’. Again to the board, using a mixture of example sentences and asking the students to offer their own interpretation of the differences, we managed to highlight the difference and iron out the problem.
I felt that the activity had run its course and worked well as a warm up, so I moved onto the main activity. On the board I had drawn 5 concentric circles and labelled them me, family, work/study, town and world. The idea was that the students had to come up with one wish for the first three labels (me, family, work/study). I demonstrated what I wanted them to do by simply reading out my own wishes and then the students started on their own. The main points that came up were;
Using ‘I want’ instead of ‘I wish’ or ‘I would like’ etc.
This for some reason was difficult for one of my students to comprehend. We talked about what it meant to make a wish and the possibility of it happening and this then lead onto the student asking,
” what about saying ‘I wish to………?”
Again further discussion about it being a more formal way of saying that you want something. The student seemed perplexed so I wrote up the wishes I had read out at the beginning of the activity and highlighted the language I had used to formulate my wishes. After this he seemed content and set about rewriting his sentences.
“I wish that I is pay better”
Some of the students weren’t back shifting the tense. I put the above sentence on the board and changed it so that it was correct. I highlighted the past simple tense. I asked for some examples from the other students who had used it correctly, wrote up their sentences and again highlighted the use of the past simple.
With all of these points covered, I wanted to consolidate the language, so I put the class into three groups and asked them to work together to write out a wish each for both their town and the world. The students managed to write the wishes and the idea was to vote for the best wish of the three for each town and world. Unfortunately we didn’t get to the final part. Below are the wishes.
I wish there were more activities in Santander. I wish the economy was better.
I wish that Santander had the AVE station I wish that the economic crisis would end.
I wish that there were more concerts here. I would like people in the world to not be poor.
I enjoyed the class and the students seem to be settling into the idea of the project and a different way of teaching. I’m feeling more confident and less nervous than before and I think this showed in the lesson. Both activities worked well and I will be using them again in other classes. I hope that breaking the lesson down this way and actually including the language used in class is useful. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to include everything but as time goes by I hope to get as much in as possible.