A letter from God to man

God to man pic

Here is a quick writing lesson idea which I recently put together. I received some really good feedback from my students about it so I thought it was only fair to share it with you.

The lesson was originally designed for my ILEC (International Legal English Cert) students and the task rubric takes the form of part 1 of the writing exam. The recommended level for this material is Strong upper-intermediate (B2+) and above.

The text for the lesson is a set of lyrics by Scroobius Pip from the UK hip hop duo Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. A link to the YouTube video can be found here.

The main theme of the lesson is God, religion and what you would say to him if you had the chance. Clearly, this is a difficult subject for some students, so think carefully about whether it can be used in your classroom.

The lead in is entirely up to you. I simply began by asking who believed in God and who didn’t. I then announced that God had written a letter to mankind and that I had a copy. The reason I had a copy was because the people in the room had been tasked with the job of replying to him.

I then distributed a copy of the task rubric to each student;

God has recently contacted the people of Earth and he is not happy with us.

There has been much debate as to who should reply and how to answer. The world’s leaders have elected you to respond, therefore creating a buffer zone between them and any potential blame for the onset of Armageddon if it all goes wrong.

Choose your words carefully.

Read the letter carefully, on which you have made some notes. Then using all the information in your notes, write a letter to God on behalf of the entire population of the Earth.

Good luck.

Write a letter of between 150180words in an appropriate style. Do not write a postal address.

Once the students had read the rubric and were clear on what they had to do, I showed them the letter and the notes that had been made. Click here to open the word document. A copy of the rubric is on the second page.

We dealt with any unknown vocabulary and then talked about how the students might respond. I mentioned that they might want to think about their own relationship with God and how this might affect their response, as well as the register they think would be most appropriate.

The students really enjoyed the process and their finished letters were funny, touching and cleverly done. They commented on how difficult it was to begin the letter and how they had to think a lot more about the style they wanted to use, compared to that of the normal coursebook tasks. Overall, it was a successful departure from the standard course material and a fun writing exercise.

Please feel free to edit the word document as you see fit. The comments I made were appropriate to the class and the time, but you may feel the need to change them.

Please comment on the lesson if you used it and let me know how it went. Enjoy!

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Equal Pay Day (It’s a hashtag)

Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

One of those times my old foe, the hashtag, is useful is showing trending events. Thanks to the #EqualPayDay hashtag I now know this is the day of the year when women start working for free compared with men thanks to unequal pay. I’m not in possession of enough information to say whether this affects ELT directly or not. As far as I know teachers earn the same, pitifully low, pay regardless of gender but I could be wrong. I also don’t know the stats to show the gender make up of managerial, higher paid positions and the equality of those salaries.

I do know, though, how one pay inequality happens in ELT.

Conferences.

famous-faces

It struck me the other day that the continued inequality of plenary/keynote speakers at ELT conferences actually has a financial implication. That unfairness means men have more chance of receiving some kind of financial benefit from…

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Choosing not to strike

Sam Shepherd

You’d have hoped things would have changed but no. FE is still being squeezed, pay is being frozen, and generally things are looking bleak. It’s no surprise, then, that my colleagues in UCU went on strike today. I chose not to, and as I was informed, somewhat spikily, by a committed Union member that the decision about going into work yesterday was a “moral” one, I thought I might explain why.
For one, I’m not a union member, and as such I am a free individual without commitment to any politically motivated organisation. Therefore the decision, for me, is entirely personal. I owe no moral obligation to the union: I made use of their services on two occasions and did so as a result of my then fully paid up membership. I’ve never been a great one for arbitrary loyalty. I paid my dues, I received a service: simple.

Back…

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Scott Thornbury

NNEST of the month Blog

October, 2015 guestScott Thornbury

Photo by Martin Seck

Scott Thornbury is a teacher and teacher educator, with over 30 years’ experience in English language teaching, and an MA from the University of Reading. He is currently Curriculum Coordinator of the MA TESOL program at The New School in New York. His previous experience includes teaching and teacher training in Egypt, UK, Spain (where he lives), and in his native New Zealand. HIs writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology, as well as authoring a number of papers and book chapters on language and language teaching. He is series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Teachers (CUP). He was also the co-founder of the dogme ELT group (see Articles). And, currently, he is an associate of the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi), an online campus dedicated to teacher development.

Interviewed by Isabela Villas Boas

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“Sod off, Reported Speech!” she exclaimed.

Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

I’ve spent the past two weeks in turns delighting and dismaying my FCE students with Reported Speech.

God, I loathe Reported Speech.

It’s everything I hate about everything all backshifted into one pointless morass. It’s prawns, brussel sprouts, hashtags, people who talk about themselves in the third person, carrot jeans, touching people I don’t know and Croc footwear.

It’s completely feckin’ made up. Reported Speech barely exists and barely matters when it does.

In class, I keep forgetting to backshift, particularly between past simple and past perfect when we’re doing endless FCE sentence transformation tasks because it just doesn’t bloody matter. Meaning my Native Speaker correct-because-I’d-say-it sentence is textbook wrong, confusing the students and confusing me as I try to “correct” my speech, so as not to sound natural but to fit the book.

reported-speech1

At first students love RP. There are rules, logic (once you get past the fact…

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Stiff little fingers

image taken from www.healthtap.com

image taken from http://www.healthtap.com

We’ve all got them. We all use them. Most of the time without thinking. But how do you use them in your classroom?

On Friday night, I found myself teaching a 3 hour one-to-one with an A1 student. Almost immediately, my fingers began taking on a life of their own. Every time I asked my student a question, I would use a finger to represent each of the words in the question. Nothing ground breaking and I had done it before with my YLs but in this lesson I took it to a whole new level. All my questions were accompanied by my fingers, often bringing them together to indicate a possible contraction. When we reformulated my student’s responses to the questions, again the fingers were used to help the student along. I would keep them hanging there, and waggle the finger to indicate that the student hadn’t pronounced it correctly or that they had missed it out. I could see the student following my fingers as they came up and I genuinely believe that their employment was useful and I hope to continue using this in the subsequent classes. More importantly, I will ask my student if the fingers are useful or if she thinks I’m mad.

Does anyone else do the same thing? If so, what’s your reasoning behind it? Have you discussed it with your students? Do you have any tips? (pun intended)