(Note on the image: Some people tie strings on their fingers to remind them to do something)
I’m finally posting another lesson on dogme, so this is a post lesson plan again. Rather fortuitously, it ties in with Kalinago’s current dogme blogging challenge on scaffolding. You’ll notice the sections where I used the conversations to build on the students’ vocabulary, grammar, and learning strategies.
This lesson was done a few days ago with a group of 3 private students I have who are at an intermediate/upper-intermediate level.
As we all ordered our coffee and doughnuts (yes, teaching is tough ) one of the students started talking about a training she had received that day on how to remember things better.
Decision: Everyone seemed interested and it’s a very useful topic for language learning as well. Let the conversation play out and see where it goes.
The other students and I were quite curious about the training so we had a nice discussion on the subject for about 10 minutes. During the discussion we slowly built up vocabulary related to the topic like short-term/long-term memory, mnemonic device, chunking, etc.
Decision: The student who had done the training had been doing the lion’s share of the speaking in the activity so I wanted to open it up more to the other students and the conversation was slowing down, so it seemed like a good time. In the previous lesson we had looked at suggestions and recommendations using the present subjunctive (e.g. I recommend that you be here ten minutes before the meeting starts).
I asked, “What about you two? Do you have any recommendations or suggestions regarding memory tricks?” hoping to prompt some language from last week. Sure enough the students remembered the structure without further prompts. There were a couple slip ups but one of the students who was listening always prompted a correction.
This set the discussion off for another 15 minutes as we talked about other memory tricks & tips we used along with examples our teachers had taught us as children.
Then one student chimed in, “My grandmother is always calling me and she uses a picture of the Turkcell logo because I work there.”
Decision: “She’s calling” is a typical Turkish mistake because present continuous is used where English speakers would often use present simple. To drive home the point of why choosing the correct tense is important and to probably introduce something new, I decided to make a small divergence here and look at the language.
I wrote 2 sentences on the paper.
She always calls me…
She’s always calling me…
I then asked the students to look at them and ask what the difference in meaning was, if any. They responded that the 2nd sentence was incorrect. I said that actually both were correct. I asked them to give some example endings for the first one.
They came up with “She always calls me on Mondays/after work/before she goes to bed.”
I then gave three examples to end the 2nd one: “She’s always calling me at the worst possible time/when I’m in the shower/when I’m in a meeting.”
I then asked the students to determine the meaning of these sentences. They responded that the sentence carried a negative meaning.
We then talked a bit about the meaning of present continuous with always for annoying habits, the importance of choosing the correct tense in this instance, and came up with a number of examples from our lives.
Decision: Include a story from my life as it builds rapport and is good for a laugh.
I included the sentence “My wife is always setting her alarm for earlier than she gets up and hitting the snooze, so she’s waking me up two or three times instead of just once in the morning.”
This prompted a whole bunch of responses on annoying habits friends, relatives, and co-workers had. This all lasted about 10 minutes.
Decision: That bit of the discussion was running its course and I wanted to connect the previous discussion to language learning.
I said, “Alright, going back to the memory tricks, what was some of the new language we used regarding it” so as to review and consolidate new vocabulary we’d already covered.
Then I asked how what we had discussed concerning memory connected to language learning and study techniques. We then had a whole discussion on chunking, the importance of context, relevance and even course books . This discussion continued for about 15 minutes and we had a really good look at different study techniques, learning strategies, and how I/we tried to incorporate these ideas into my/our lessons.
The last 5 minutes we talked about the lesson and what had been learned in terms of language.
In the end, the entire lesson lasted for 55 minutes.
Reflecting on things learned/practiced:
1) Vocabulary relating to memory
2) Lots of listening and speaking practice in the form of a conversation, telling stories, and explaining how to do something
3) Review of the present subjunctive with “suggest” and “recommend”
4) Introduction of present continuous for annoying habits
5) Discussing effective learning, study, and memory techniques
6) Review of the methodology behind our lessons.