• Save
93613757 how-to-teach
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

93613757 how-to-teach

on

  • 4,676 views

 

Statistics

Views

Total Views
4,676
Views on SlideShare
4,676
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
15
Downloads
0
Comments
10

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel

15 of 10 Post a comment

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
  • Would you be able to send me a copy of this book? Tarnyrenee.nash@dpu.edu.tr
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
  • hi there, i've found your book very helpful, could you please send the book to my email onggay.karen@gmail.com ,.. thanks a lot
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
  • I found your book very interesting. My email address is kristy412@gmail.com. could you please send me the book? Thank you!
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
  • it's interesting book, may I get a copy?
    this is my email, uuupzh158@gmail.com
    thanks :)
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
  • @eslli116 hi i am an IELTS instructor

    my email address is ashiqur.rhmn@gmail.com. could you send the book as well.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

93613757 how-to-teach 93613757 how-to-teach Document Transcript

  • Better Language Teachingby Chris CotterCopyright 2009 Chris CotterAll rights reservedNo part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed without the prior permission of the publisher.Cover design: Simon Rudduck.Peer edited: Dana Atwell, University of Illinois, Springfield, IL USA James Farmer, Saitama University, Saitama Prefecture, JAPAN Better Language Teaching - 2
  • Table of ContentsPreface …………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………..… 6 Congratulations, reader! ……………….……………………………………………………...…………… 6 Teaching Philosophy ……………………………………………………………………..……………….... 6 How to Use this Resource Manual …………………...…………..……………………………………….. 8Book OneChapter One: Lesson Structure ……………………………………………………………..…………..…………………. 11 What Is Lesson Structure? ………………………………….…………………………………..………… 11 Component One: Goals, Objectives, and Steps …………………………………………..………….... 12 Goal ………………………………………………………………………………….………..……. 13 Objectives ………………………………………..……….………………………………..………. 13 Steps …………………………………………………………………………...…………..………. 14 Component Two: Controlled, Semi-Controlled, and Free Activities ………..……………………….... 16 Controlled Activities ……………………………………………………….……………..………... 16 Semi-Controlled Activities ……………………………………………………………..….……… 17 Free Activities ……………………………………………………………………………..……….. 18 Component Three: Time Management …………………………………………………………..…….... 19 Warm Up ……………………..………………………………………………….…………………. 19 Presentation and Practice ……………………………………………………….…..………….... 20 Application ……………………………………………………………………………..…………... 20 Wrap Up ……………………………………………………………………………...…………….. 20Chapter Two: Lesson Content …………………………………………………………………………..…..……………... 23 Warm Up …………………………………………………………………………………….……..……….. 23 Presentation ……………………………………………………………………………………..…………. 26 Method One: Explanations …………………………………………………………..…………... 26 Method Two: Visual Aids …………………………………………………………………..……... 26 Method Three: Examples …………………………………………………………………...……. 27 Method Four: Elicitation …………………………………………………………………..…….... 27 Practice ………………………………………………………………………………………………...…… 28 Choral Drills …………………..……………………………………………………………...…….. 29 Substitution Drills ………………………………….………………………………………………. 30 Interactive Drills ……………………………………………………………………..…………….. 31 Dialogues ……………….……………………………………………..…………………………… 32 Application …………………………………………………………………………………………….……. 35 Role Plays ……………………….…………………………………………………………..…….. 37 Discussions ………………………………………………………………………………..…...….. 39 Wrap Up ………………………………………………………………….……………………..………..…. 40 Correction …………………………………………………………………………..…………...…. 40 Better Language Teaching - 3
  • Review ……………………………………………………………….……………………...……… 40 Feedback ……………………………………………………………….………………………..… 41Chapter Three: Talk Time …………….…………………..…………………………………………………………..…..…. 43 Teacher Talk Time (TTT) ……………………………………………………………………..………….... 43 TTT in the Warm Up ………………………………………………………………………………. 43 TTT in the Presentation and Practice ……………………………………………………….…... 43 TTT in the Application ……………………………………………………………………...……... 44 TTT in the Wrap Up ……………………………………………………………………………….. 44 Effective vs. Ineffective Teacher Talk Time …………………………………………………...… 44 Student Talk Time (STT) …………………………………………………………………………….…..… 47 STT in the Warm Up …………………………………………………………………………….… 47 STT in the Presentation and Practice …………………………………………………………… 48 STT in the Application …………………………………………………………………………...... 48 STT in the Wrap Up …………………………………………………………………………….…. 48 Effective vs. Ineffective Student Talk Time …………….……………………………………..… 48 Use of L1 in the Classroom …………………………………………………………………………..…... 51 Advantages of L1 ……………………………………………………………………………..…... 51 Disadvantages of L1 ………………………………………………………………………………. 52Chapter Four: Correction …………………...……………..…………………………………………………………..……. 56 What to Correct …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 56 When to Correct ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 58 Correction in the Warm Up ……………………………………………………………………….. 58 Correction in the Presentation and Practice ……………………………………………………. 59 Correction in the Application ……………………………………………………………………... 60 Correction in the Wrap Up …..……………………………………………………………………. 60 How to Correct ……….…………………………………………………………………………………..… 60 Teacher to Student Correction ………………………….………………………………………... 61 Self-Correction …………………………………………………………………………………..… 63 Peer Correction ……………………………………………………………………………….....… 64 Criticism and Praise ……………………………………………………………………………………..... 65Chapter Five: Pairs and Groups ……………………………………………………………………………………...….… 69 Pair Work ………………………………………………………………………………………………….... 69 Group Work …………………………………………………………………………………………….…... 71 Concerns and Considerations ……………………………………………………………………….....… 72Chapter Six: Levels and Learning Styles ……..……………………………………………………………………..…… 76 Levels ....…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 76 Beginner Students ……………..….………………………………………………………………. 77 Better Language Teaching - 4
  • Lower-Intermediate Students …………………………………………………………………..… 79 Upper-Intermediate Students …………………………………………………………………..… 81 Advanced Students ………...……………………………………………………………………... 82 Learning Styles ……………..…………………………………………………………………………….... 84 Analytical Students ……………………………………………………………………………...… 85 Auditory Students …………………………………………………………………………………. 85 Global Students ……………………………………………………………………………………. 86 Kinesthetic and Tactile Students ………………………………………………………………… 87 Visual Students …………………………………………………………………………………..... 87Book TwoActivities ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..………… 90 How to Set Up Activities …………………………………………………………………………………... 90 Activities ……………………………………………………………………………..…………………….... 92 Complete List of Activities …………………………………………………………………….…. 92 Beginner Activities ………………………..………………………………………………………. 94 Intermediate Activities …………………………………………………………………………. 94 Advanced Activities ………………………………………………………………………….…… 96 Controlled Activities ………………………………………………………………………………. 97 Semi-Controlled Activities ……………………………………………………………..………… 98 Free Activities ………………………...…………………………………………………………… 98 Better Language Teaching - 5
  • PrefaceCongratulations, reader!If youre about to embark into the world of language teaching, then this book will give you a head start. Familiarizeyourself with its contents to make your first lessons run more smoothly.If youre fairly new to language teaching, then this book is also for you. The resource manual has been written forpeople with formal training and without formal training. It will answer many of the large and small questions you likelyhave accumulated. There is a wealth of new activity ideas to use in the classroom too.If youre a more experienced teacher, then Better Language Teaching will similarly answer questions. It will give youadded ideas, solidify existing ideas, and push you in new directions. It will provide you with new perspectives as youreflect on and reevaluate current language methodologies.Better Language Teaching has been written with each of you in mind.Ive worked in the field of education since 1995. And since 1997, Ive worked in the language field, specifically in thearea of English as a Foreign Language. Ive worn various hats during my professional career, as Ive worked indifferent aspects of the field, from kids classes to university classes; from classes with housewives learning Englishas a hobby to business persons in need of new job skills; from conversation classes to specialty courses; fromteaching students to teaching teachers; from using a textbook to designing comprehensive curriculums.During my years in education, Ive come to realize that many teachers, both newer and more experiencedprofessionals, face similar difficulties. They share similar frustrations and concerns. In addition, all teachersregardless of their level of experience need new ideas, confirmation of their current ones, and affirmation that theyredoing the right thing.Teaching can be quite a lonely business, even if many might not have initially thought it so. Consider that we workwith students on a regular basis, but we rarely get the chance to work with other teachers in the classroom. Otherfields and professions so often require collaboration. For example, the corporate world has colleagues work togetheron projects on a regular basis. Even departments within companies share resources and information. Teachers,however, generally stand alone at the front of the classroom. We have fewer opportunities to share information andideas. We lack so many opportunities to receive effective, frequent, and inspiring feedback.Hence Better Language Teaching.Teaching PhilosophyThis book focuses on general language classes, although much of the content may be applied to many otherlanguage classes. Some classes may require more explanations on the part of the teacher, or more writing on thepart of the students, or more pair work... or possibly less. Each class proves dynamic, and it remains the teachers Better Language Teaching - 6
  • responsibility to assess that dynamism, make necessary changes to the lesson, and finally asses any failures orsuccesses.The focus on communication represents my philosophy as a teacher. I prefer to allow students every opportunity touse the language in real and relevant ways. My lessons are communication driven. In particular: 1: Students need to speak and speak and speak. 2: Students need focused speaking early in the lesson. This doesnt mean boring, though! 3: Students need free(r) speaking later in the lesson. 4: The teacher should maximize group and pair work to allow many speaking opportunities. 5: The teacher should serve as language assistant or guide, limiting his participation and talk time.Does this mean that listening activities are a waste of time? Does this mean that writing activities are a waste oftime? Does this mean that students can spend less time on pronunciation and intonation?Of course not!In a general English course, most activities can be used to promote speaking. For example: Step One: The teacher reads a short passage aloud as students take quick notes. Step Two: The students speak in groups, comparing and correcting their information.And later in the same class: Step Three: The teacher has students practice the passage aloud, highlighting several key sentences. These key sentences contain the target language of the lesson, and the passage serves as a model to tie the new language in longer, more detailed conversation. Step Four: Students use the model in a communicative activity towards the end of the lesson.Students here produce language in pairs to successfully complete the activity. This creates a student-centered class,where each person takes responsibility for his learning.Accuracy and fluency serve as two major components in my teaching philosophy. Students should focus on accuracyin the early stages of the lesson, with each activity providing practice opportunities to absorb the new material.Students get confident and comfortable, which leads to getting the new material correct.In the second portion of the class, I believe fluency should take precedence. Here students work to tie the newmaterial just practiced with other grammar, vocabulary, phrases, and so on. They experiment with the language,creating personal challenges as they work to their level of ability. So a stronger student at the beginning level uses Better Language Teaching - 7
  • richer language than a weaker student at the same level, yet both students push themselves to their maximumabilities. This leads to smooth and fulfilling language production, with students capable of applying lesson contents inreal situations outside the classroom.From the teacher, I also believe in continued development and improvement. No lesson runs as perfectly as I hadhoped. No activity runs as smoothly as I had hoped. This doesnt make me a perfectionist, but simply someone whorealizes that great responsibility comes with the position.As teachers, we are partly responsible for the success of our students. The success or failures of our classes affectthe futures of our pupils. Perhaps one student wants to learn English to study abroad. Perhaps another needsEnglish to get a promotion and a better salary. Maybe a third student has a son or daughter married and living inAmerica, and this person wants to be able to communicate with her grandchildren. Without constant improvement onthe teachers part, then we limit the dreams of our charges.Much more will be written on all of these points.How to Use This Resource ManualThe manual should prove very easy to use. It actually is two books within one cover, as Book One focuses onmethodology and techniques. The chapters here have been divided into sections, complete with headers, diagrams,and examples. There are links to other ideas and activities with the sections too. Its easy to navigate, so you canquickly find the relevant information.Book Two manual focuses on activities. Each activity has been detailed, yet the step-by-step layout allows teachersto quickly read and understand how to conduct them.Have a great class!Chris Cotter Better Language Teaching - 8
  • Better Language Teaching - 9
  • What Is Lesson Structure? ………………………..……………………………………..……… 11Component One: Goals, Objectives, and Steps ……….……………………..………………. 12 Goal ……………………………….…………………………………………………........ 13 Objectives ……………………...……………………………………………………….... 13 Steps …………………………………………………………………………..………….. 14Component Two: Controlled, Semi-Controlled, and Free Activities ………………..………. 16 Controlled Activities …………………………………………………..…………………. 16 Semi-Controlled Activities …………………………………………………………….... 17 Free Activities ……………………………………………………………………….….... 18Component Three: Time Management …………...………………………………………….... 19 Warm Up …………………………………………………………………………………. 19 Presentation and Practice ……………………………………………………………… 20 Application …………………………………………………..…………………………… 20 Wrap Up ………………………………………………………..………………………… 20 Better Language Teaching - 10
  • Chapter One: Lesson StructureA lot goes into a successful lesson: activities that are fun and educational, a high student talk time, a clear objective,a classroom that is student centered, a lot of group work, and effective correction, just to name a few points. Somuch rests on the structure of the lesson, though. A poorly planned lesson that meanders from explanation to activityto feedback can seem confusing. It can result in lower rates of retention by the students. It can harm and makeineffective all the other key elements, such as correct usage of the target language, high talk time, or activeparticipation. Students may lose interest or become frustrated with either the lesson objective or the course, or evenpossibly both. It may even make the teacher look less able, thereby leading him to lose authority. Hence the very firstchapter of this resource talks about lesson structure.Lets look at two examples to further highlight the need for a soundly structured lesson. Example One: Paul is a new teacher who has put together three activities to practice the past tense. These activities have worked well in other classes, as students used and reused the language many times. However, in the classroom, he briefly explains the target language, and then jumps into the activities. There isnt enough time for examples or drilled practice because he wants to get all three activities completed within forty minutes. Unfortunately, students struggle, make many mistakes, and even lose interest in the activities. At the end of the lesson, most students cant use the new language. In addition, no one really had much fun. Example Two: Stacy understands how difficult a foreign language can be, especially with all the nuances, exceptions to the rules, and differences between "real" versus "textbook" English. In the classroom, she prefers to spend a lot of time with explanations, thereby providing detailed and thorough information for the class. Like Paul, today she also teaches the past tense, and spends most of the time talking about its usage. She also provides a long list of irregular verbs. The students dont have much time to practice because of all the new content. Whats more, they dont have much time to mix new language points with previously studied material in real conversations. Although they walk away with notebooks filled with clear and detailed information, they cant effectively use all that Stacy has provided.Both of these classes could have been successful had more consideration been given to the structure.What is lesson structure?The lesson structure guides students through the contents for a particular class meeting. It may focus on a specificgrammar point, may work to improve a specific skill like speaking or listening, or may provide some culturalcomponent like how to ask for clarification, give self-introductions, or actively participate in a conversation. Thelesson structure may also tie into past and future class meetings, as with a course syllabus.To put it in other words, sound structure ensures that the teacher successfully hits the lesson target every time. Thismeans that students learn, understand, and apply the target language in a specific activity. Students also tie the newlanguage with previously studied material, walking away with a highly personalized lesson. They can accomplish all Better Language Teaching - 11
  • of this within the allotted time of the class, and with a minimal number of mistakes because of a well-structuredlesson.A lot goes into the structure, and in short will determine how well students absorb the new material. There are threeessential components, each of which will be presented in greater detail hereafter. Component One: The lesson should move along a series of steps which build on one another. The steps lead to a final objective. Think of a staircase with lower steps supporting upper steps. Component Two: The lesson should move from heavily controlled activities which leave little room for mistakes towards activities which give greater and greater opportunities to experiment and personalize the language. The controlled nature of the initial activities allows students to specifically focus on the new material. Other language points dont get in the way. The subsequent freer activities then let students mix the new language with previously studied grammar, vocabulary, and other language points. Component Three: This component focuses more on the clock, allotting a specific amount of time to stages within the lesson. For example, students need an initial activity to start thinking in English. The teacher needs to present new material, after which students need to practice it. At the close of the lesson, students need feedback, correction, and a quick review.Its important to understand that each component must be applied in a lesson. These should not be viewed as threeseparate options to structure a lesson, but rather three interlocking layers that will result in a successful andsatisfying lesson. Students will be better able to leave the classroom and use the target language when all three getapplied. Component One: Goals, Objectives, and Steps Component Two: Controlled, Semi-Controlled, and Free Activities Component Three: Time ManagementLets look at each component in greater detail.Component One: Goals, Objectives, and StepsGoals, objectives, and steps: These words represent critical and different keys for any lesson. A goal represents thebroadest of terms, followed by a lessons objective. The steps represent the smallest unit. Consider the following: Goal: This is the overall concept. Better Language Teaching - 12
  • Objective: This is what the students will be able to do by the end of the lesson. Steps: This is what the teacher must cover for students to achieve the objective.GoalA lesson will have only one goal. It represents the concept or purpose that the teacher wants to cover. Put anotherway, it may represent a broad grammar point or language skill. Its always very, very general. Some possible goalsinclude:  the simple past tense  directing a conversation  the future tense  presentations  second conditionals  how to support an opinionThere exists a lot of options for focusing in the above examples. Whats more, several teachers who cover any ofthese topics may approach the same lesson quite differently, opting for a different vocabulary, activities, andapplication of the language. However, as each class finishes the lesson, all will be able to use the simple past tense,second conditionals, or whatever the teacher covers.Its important to note that goals may sometimes be spread over two or three sessions. This isnt necessarily a badthing, but caution is required. If too many meetings are required to cover any one goal, it might be too broad.However, in shorter classes of less than an hour, it more often becomes necessary to spread a grammar structureover two sessions. There simply isnt enough time.ObjectivesA lesson will have only one or two objectives, which should be quite specific. More objectives mean the teacher hasplanned too broadly. The objective more narrowly defines what the teacher wants the students to accomplish. Putanother way, it represents how the students will apply the new language at the end of the lesson. The class has beenworking towards a final, culminating activity here.Lets look at two examples. One highlights an effective objective. The other example isnt effective. Goal: Students will learn and use the past tense. Objective: Students will talk about past vacations. Goal: Students will learn and use the second conditional. Objective: Students will have a discussion with the second conditional.The first serves as a good example, as the teacher can easily determine if students have learned the past tense andare applying it to talk about past vacations. The second is far too broad, though. What sort of conversations will thestudents have? What are they trying to accomplish? Better Language Teaching - 13
  • Lets further highlight the difference between goals and objectives. Example One: Paul reassesses his lesson on the past tense. He realizes that his goal targeted the simple past, but the lesson needed more of a focus. He had no real objective. When he teaches the lesson again, he decides to focus son past vacations. He will still teach the past tense, but will incorporate the grammar structure and vocabulary into activities on vacations that students have taken. Past vacations, then, serves as his objective. Example Two: Stacys lesson similarly lacked an objective. Of course she also lectured far too much, but she perhaps did so because she didnt have any other purpose than to explain the past tense. She now decides to re-teach the lesson on the simple past. Her objective is for students to use the grammar and vocabulary to talk about last weekend, answering such questions as "What did you do last weekend?" and "Where did you go?" and "Who did you hang out with?"Although Paul and Stacys lessons will appear and feel quite different from one another, everyone in each class willstill learn and understand the target language. They will leave the classroom with the ability to know how and when touse the grammar point, in this case the simple past tense. Whats more, their objectives more effectively focus thecontents of their lessons on a real and readily applicable aspect. Students can and do talk about past vacations, forexample, or what they did last weekend. Another teacher who covers the same goal might focus on a lessonobjective that deals with best, worst, or memorable birthdays in the past. Another teacher just after the winter breakmight have students talk about their time off. And yet another teacher might opt to talk about childhood, with studentsasking and answering questions about where they grew up, went to school, and childhood likes/dislikes (assumingits an adult class, of course).In addition, as a side benefit to building a lesson on an objective, the teacher may more easily re-teach grammarskills, vocabulary, and other content. He may keep the same goal, but simply change objectives. The materialremains fresh, interesting, and challenging. It also makes any class feel less like a stale, rehashed textbook lesson,oftentimes which isnt so applicable to the lives and interests of the students.StepsLastly comes the steps of a lesson. The steps represent the key language that must be presented and practiced inthe first half of the class so that students can successfully use the new structures in the latter half. If students can usethe language in semi-controlled or free activities in the latter half, then the class will have successfully achieved theobjective and goal. Note: Much more will be said about semi-controlled and free activities, as well as about thedifferences between the early and latter stages of a lesson.Its important, however, to consider the steps as more than a step one, step two, step three approach. The teachershould present the information and have students practice the information in a logical progression. Subsequent stepsbuild on what came before, and more often than not utilize the contents of the previous steps. If the lesson were totalk about what students did last weekend, the lesson might look like this: Better Language Teaching - 14
  • Goal: To understand and use the simple past tense. Objective: To talk about last weekend. Steps: One: Introduce vocabulary related to weekend activities. For example: see a movie, hang out, etc. Two: Students conjugate the verbs into the past tense, as in: see >> saw, hang out >> hung out. Three: Introduce positive statements. For example: I went to a concert. Four: Introduce negative statements, such as: I didnt hang out with friends. Five: Introduce closed questions. For example: Did you hang out with friends? Six: Introduce open questions. For example: What did you do this weekend?This is a shortened outline, and the teacher will likely introduce additional vocabulary, wh-questions, and sentenceswhich best answer open and closed questions. However, it should be clear just how each step logically builds onprevious steps. All the information gets presented, used, and then reused.Lets highlight the importance of a clear and logical order. If the teacher were to introduce statements first, thenstudents wouldnt yet know the vocabulary for the lesson. In a class of beginners, as everyone practices the sentencestructure in drills and other activities, they must then also consider new vocabulary. Similarly, if the teacher were tointroduce open questions before vocabulary and basic statements, then students wouldnt yet know how to providecorrect answers. Again, in subsequent practice activities, everyone would need to consider how to form the questionand then how to answer it. In other words, they must master two language points at the same time, which would leadto poorer facilitation of the language and reduced retention rates.Its also important to highlight the need for a clear order in the steps, as it promotes automaticity. This term refers toreducing the recall time on the key language points, or getting the students to use the new structures naturally andwithout much thought. If students practice a specific word, phrase, or sentence structure enough times in activitiesthat offer challenge and promote qualitative thought, then the new material becomes automatic. Students require lesstime to think about how to produce the language, especially the structure or form. The language gets produced moreaccurately. Students also become increasingly confident.Lets use an example to further highlight the idea of a clear progression of steps in order to build automaticity. In theoutline presented above, students practice the vocabulary first. They then reinforce the new words when conjugatingthe verbs. They then further practice the vocabulary and conjugation in short positive and negative sentences. Theythen practice the vocabulary, conjugation, and sentences once more when answering questions. And so on. Witheach step, students think less and less about the various aspects previously taught. Their full attention can be placedon each new step as previous steps acquire a degree of automaticity. The repeated practice further promotesretention too.With a clear progression of steps, the benefits become clear in later stages of the lesson. Students are better able todevote more thought to providing real answers to questions, or linking gestures and facial expressions to aconversation, or pronunciation and intonation, just to name a few examples. Better Language Teaching - 15
  • Take a look at the follow diagram which expresses this concept: Open Questions + +/- Statements + Conjugate New Vocab Closed Questions + +/- Statements + Conjugate New Vocab Negative Statements + Conjugate Verbs + New Vocabulary Positive Statements + Conjugate Verbs + New Vocabulary Conjugate Verbs + New VocabularyNew VocabularyComponent Two: Controlled, Semi-Controlled, and Free ActivitiesNow that the teacher has determined a Goal, Objective, and Steps for the lesson, equal attention must be given tothe activities and their order. If a handful of activities are simply thrown at the class, then confusion or dissatisfactioncould very likely be the result. Teachers should consider which activities will be used, when they will be used, and theorder in which the activities will appear.Controlled, semi-controlled, and free activities provide a rough order for any lesson. Controlled activities generallyappear in the early stages of the class session. As the class progresses through the content for the day, they movetowards semi-controlled and free activities. Each type of activity allows increased amounts of creativity, personalrelevance, and experimentation with the language. But what exactly is the difference between the three, other thanwhen these activities will appear in the lesson?Controlled ActivitiesA controlled activity is one in which the teacher knows beforehand the answer, question, or some other languagewhich the students will produce. The teacher knows because there is only one correct response. Lets look at thefollowing activity which uses flashcards as a means to prompt sentences aloud from the whole class: Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of people playing volleyball): What did you do last weekend? Students: I played volleyball. Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of a restaurant): What did you do last weekend? Students: I went to a restaurant. ...In this simple choral drill, only one correct response exists. Students can solely focus on the new language structure(in this case, the simple past tense again) because a variety of possible answers dont get in the way. And with eachresponse, the target language becomes increasingly familiar. Increased familiarity leads to improved speed. In short, Better Language Teaching - 16
  • the teacher provides an activity with a very narrow focus, so students wont get confused, distracted, or need toconsider several new language points all at once. Substitution drills, in which students plug in new vocabulary orgrammar into an existing sentence, are another example of a controlled activity. Both are described in detail in thefollowing chapter.For information on choral drills, see: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice: Choral Drills - page 29.For more information on substitution drills, see: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice: Substitution Drills - page 30.Some controlled activities include:  Charades - page 108  Dictation - page 120  Choral Drills for Grammar - page 109  Pickle in the Middle - page 156  Dialogues - page 119  Sentence Scramble - page 165Semi-Controlled ActivitiesOf course, if the teacher were to limit the class to controlled activities, then everyone would quickly grow bored.There would be no challenge, and students would just switch off. As such, teachers must move towards activitieswhich place fewer and fewer limits on possible answers. The class must move towards semi-controlled activities and,eventually, free activities.A good example of an activity with a somewhat increased amount freedom, which we can label a semi-controlledactivity, has students brainstorm words focused on a specific topic. If the lesson were about occupations, for example,then students would work together to write down as many jobs as possible. If the lesson were about food, thenstudents would work together to write down as many dishes as possible. The teacher cant guess the specificanswers before the activity starts, even if there are a limited number of possibilities. One group of students mightcompile a list with a number of recognizable dishes, while another group has several of these same dishes plusBolognese pasta, Japanese curry, and Polish pierogi. Perhaps another group brainstorms something entirely different,sticking solely to typical breakfast foods.Another semi-controlled activity is called an interactive drill. Its also referred to as a Q&A drills, as students interactwith one another communicatively to answer questions. Students may start with a question from a flashcard or otherprompt. They then ask additional questions based on the response. The teacher cant necessarily predict the initialanswer, nor can he guess subsequent questions and answers. If two groups each began with the same question, theensuing conversations would appear somewhat different after a few exchanges. And yet, because of the theme,there may only be a limited number of possible answers. An initial question based on activities from last weekend willlikely produce such answers as "I saw a movie" and "I went out to eat" and "I met my friends." Follow-up questionsmay also be predicted to some extent, as in "What movie did you see?" and "What did you eat?" and "What did youdo with your friends?" These limits are especially true of lower-level students, who may not have extensivevocabulary or grammar abilities. Better Language Teaching - 17
  • You can find more information in: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice: Interactive Drills - page 31.With semi-controlled activities, students also have the chance to somewhat personalize the language. However, theydo so within still narrow confines, as they arent yet fully familiar or confident with the new language. For example, theteacher writes on the board the following question: "What did you do last weekend?" Students then get into pairs totalk for three minutes, asking and answering additional questions based on the initial response. Students have thechance to provide real answers with the new language just practiced. And because the material is personalized andreal, retention naturally improves.Some semi-controlled activities include:  Answer, Add, and Ask - page 103  Pass the Question - page 154  Continue the Dialogue - page 115  Summarization - page 174  Intros - page 138  Vocabulary Feud - page 191Free ActivitiesLast of the three are free activities. Here the students have complete freedom in the answers or language produced.The teacher cant predict or control possible answers. This is a good thing, although it can feel chaotic at times.Students have the greatest opportunity to personalize the language, experiment, and incorporate previously learnedvocabulary, grammar structures, and other concepts.For example, an older woman studies English as a hobby. She will better remember how to use the target languageonce the class ends if the final activity lets her talk about something interesting and relevant to her life. Compare amore controlled activity, such as a dialogue about playing golf over the weekend. This isnt so relevant to her, and sointerest and retention will naturally drop.Some free activities are:  Milestones - page 148  Round-Robin Story - page 161  None of Your Business! - page 150  Steal the Conversation - page 169  Role Plays - page 160  Teacher Speculation - page 181Lets close Component Two with a diagram and summary to highlight all that has been covered on activity types. Early in the Lesson Later in the Lesson Students Teacher Controlled Semi-Controlled FreeIn the early stages of the lesson, the teacher exercises a great degree of control over what the students will say. Better Language Teaching - 18
  • However, as the lesson progresses, this control gets handed to the students. By the end of the lesson, the teacheracts more as a monitor, offering assistance and advice when necessary. The students have more or less completefreedom in how they will correctly utilize the language. Note: Lower-level students will obviously stick more closely tothe target language in their discussions, as they have yet to learn a wide range of vocabulary and grammar. Manyactivities will fall somewhere between semi-controlled and free. Higher-level students will feel more comfortable, andbe more capable, with free activities.The idea here can be compared to when children learn to ride a bike. All kids begin with two training wheels, asopposed to simply hopping on, getting a push, and riding down the street. In the English classroom, the teacherstarts students with two wheels, or with controlled activities. As the students gather a sense of balance andconfidence, the teacher removes one wheel. Students now use semi-controlled activities. Finally, the teacherremoves the other training wheel and, in free activities, allows the students to ride by themselves.Component Three: Time ManagementThe final component in structuring a lesson comes down to time management. And although lessons vary, with someclasses thirty minutes, others forty-five minutes, and even some more than two hours, it can generally be said thatmost every lesson will contain the following stages: 1: Warm Up 2: Presentation and Practice 3: Application 4: Wrap UpMuch more will be said about each of these points in Chapter Two, including the needs, expectations, and purposes.However, the information here will be restricted to time for each stage.Warm UpThe Warm Up gets students into English mode, which is particularly important for students who may not have usedEnglish since the last class. Students need to get their wheels turning if they want to comprehend and produce thelanguage quickly and smoothly.The ideal Warm Up lasts about ten minutes. Less time may be necessary in a class that only meets for thirty or fortyminutes. The teacher doesnt want to spend too much time here because a fifteen or twenty minute Warm Updetracts from the much-needed chance to practice and apply the target language.In some lessons, the Warm Up may last somewhat longer. This occurs when the students are generating vocabulary,phrases, or ideas that will be immediately applied by the teacher in the next stage of the lesson. For example,students who brainstorm words here can easily use them in subsequent steps. Therefore a little more time for theWarm Up doesnt take away from other stages.See: Chapter Two: Warm Up - page 23. Better Language Teaching - 19
  • Presentation and PracticeThe Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson expects the teacher to present key language points one by one,and then allow the students to practice the material. The teacher should consider this stage as very closely linked tothe Steps of the lesson.For more information, refer back to: Chapter One: Component One: Goals, Objectives and Steps - page 12.Excluding the Warm Up and Wrap Up portions of the lesson, roughly half of any lesson should be devoted to thePresentation and Practice section. For example, a ninety-minute lesson would likely have about forty minutes here.Students work primarily with controlled and semi-controlled activities as a means to build automaticity and confidencewith the new language.See: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice - page 26.ApplicationThe Application stage of the lesson focuses on free use of the target language. This stage covers slightly less thanhalf of the lesson. Students need an adequate amount of time in the Presentation and Practice to make the targetlanguage automatic, which then allows the students to experiment and focus on fluency in the Application. Less timein this stage of the lesson means too much controlled practice overall. Too much time here means there likely wasntenough of an opportunity to practice the target language, which may result in a lot of mistakes.Its also important to note that the Application stage of the lesson can span more than one class meeting. A largeproject may warrant that most or all of one lesson focuses on the Presentation and Practice, with a subsequentlesson focused on the Application. This is fine, although the teacher will still require a Warm Up and a Wrap Up forboth class meetings.See: Chapter Two: Application - page 35.Wrap UpExcept in the shortest of lessons, the Wrap Up lasts about five minutes. Here the teacher provides feedback,correction, and praise to the students. This provides an opportunity to fine-tune the material, as well as to avoidinterruptions during the Application. Its often far too intrusive to stop free activities and expect students to pick up theflow of the conversation.Longer Wrap Ups generally means that the teacher has failed to budget his time. Instead of lengthening the Wrap Upor even finishing the class several minutes early, its usually quite easy and of greater benefit to add a little more timeto the Application.For more information, read: Chapter Two: Wrap Up - page 40. Better Language Teaching - 20
  • The chart below should be used as a guide rather than a rigid plan for managing the time of the lesson. However, theteacher should be aware that a Warm Up that goes over the five- or ten-minute mark takes away valuable time fromthe Presentation and Practice section, for example. And a Presentation and Practice that is too long means that theteacher likely chose too much to introduce. It also takes away valuable time from the Application portion of the lesson.And of course, too long an Application means little or no feedback in the Wrap Up. Class Warm Up Presentation & Practice Application Wrap UpLength40 min: 5 18 15 260 min: 5-10 25 20 - 25 590 min; 10 40 35 5 Better Language Teaching - 21
  • Warm Up ………………………………..…………………………………………………..…….. 23Presentation ………………………………..………………………………………………..…… 26 Method One: Explanations …………………….……………………………………..… 26 Method Two: Visual Aids ………………………………………………………………... 26 Method Three: Examples ……………………………………………………..………… 27 Method Four: Elicitation ………………..…………………………………………..…… 27Practice ………………………………………………………………………………………….... 28 Choral Drills ………………………………………………………………………….…... 29 Substitution Drills ………………………………………………………………………... 30 Interactive Drills ……………………..…………………………………………………... 31 Dialogues ……………………………………………………………………………….... 32Application ………………………………………………………………………………………… 35 Role Plays ……………………………………………………………………….……..… 37 Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………... 39Wrap Up ………………………………………………………………………………………....... 40Correction ……………………………………..………………………………………………..… 40Review …………………………………………………………………………………………..… 40Feedback ………………………………………………………………...............................…... 41 Better Language Teaching - 22
  • Chapter Two: Lesson ContentThe contents of a lesson are more than a list of activities conducted during the class. As has already been explainedin the first chapter, it takes more than a series of fun activities to generate a successful lesson. The activities must bemore than simply challenging too. A sound structure must be followed. Activities which appear in one section of thelesson will have a very different purpose from activities which appear elsewhere. This holds true even for activitieswhich are the same, but which are conducted at different stages of the lesson.What does this mean? Lets say as a warm up a teacher has his students brainstorm new vocabulary around thetheme of occupations. The primary purpose is not to generate a list of words, although this is important. Nor is thefocus on spelling, accuracy, or other factors. The primary purpose here in the Warm Up is to start thinking in English.A list of words, spelling, accuracy, and so on are ancillary purposes. And yet, if this same activity were conductedtwenty minutes into the lesson, the primary purpose would change. A list of words for the topic of the lesson whichare spelled correctly would become the purpose of the activity. Consideration must be given to when an activity isconducted in order to assess its success.Any lesson, regardless of the length, will have the following: 1: Warm Up. 2: Presentation of the target language by the teacher, as well as opportunities to practice it. 3: Application of the new language. 4: Wrap Up for correction, feedback, and review.This chapter will look at each of these lesson contents in detail, as well as provide activity ideas.For information on the time of each stage, see: Chapter One: Component Three: Time Management - page 19.Warm UpThe Warm Up has a lot to accomplish, and must do so in a short amount of time. Whats more, an effective warm upsets the tone for the remaining class time, and so generates interest, energy, and attention. Unfortunately, the WarmUp portion often receives less attention than it requires, either getting shorted in focus, time, or both.The Warm Up stage of the lesson firstly gets the students into English mode. In foreign classrooms, such as in Japanor Brazil, in which the students may only use the language for study, its likely that no one has spoken in Englishsince the last lesson. The warm up activity gives students the chance to get into the proper frame of mind forlanguage study. Actually the same holds true for any subject. For example, if you havent studied Math for a week ormore, how ready are you to walk into class and jump into the lesson? Or how ready would you be to immediately sitdown and contribute to a critical analysis of a novel? A bit of time in this initial stage allows much needed preparation,which then translates to improved receptivity when the target language gets presented.A warm up proves just as important for classes where the students regularly use some amount of English every day. Better Language Teaching - 23
  • The target of the lesson may be far different from their daily needs. This in no way suggests that classroom English isless practical, but instead that the focus simply differs.For example, one student works part-time in a bookstore in the US, and so the job largely limits his English to simplephrases and pleasantries. Another student translates medical articles into Japanese, and so is relatively poor atanything but this narrow focus where he can slowly pick apart the sentences like a puzzle. Whats more, thesentence structures are stilted to a highly-specialized form of academic writing. If both students have the chance todiscuss questions centered on occupations, then low frequency yet important words like carpenter, electrician, or oralsurgeon may get raised. Even these two students who use English most every day get the correct wheels turning viaa well-focused Warm Up.Warm ups focus on a topic or theme of the lesson rather than an activity simply offered for a fun ten minutes ofEnglish. Although the primary purpose is to get students thinking in English, its always better to get them thinkingabout the topic too. A lesson focused on grammar, such as the future tense, adverbs of frequency, or conditionalsmay also ask questions for short discussions in pairs. For example: Future Tense 1: What do you usually do at night? 2: What will you do tonight? 3: What do you usually do on the weekend? 4: What will you do this weekend? Adverbs of Frequency 1: What do you always do in the morning? 2: Do you always eat breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? 3: What do you never do in the evening?Although its likely that mistakes will be made because the students havent yet studied the target language, manymay have some knowledge of the grammar structure or topic. A warm up that gives the chance to activatepre-existing knowledge always better serves the class. It sets them down the proper path of the lesson, without anydetours. This is the second point of the Warm Up stage of the lesson.What about mistakes, though? Because the class hasnt studied the target language, mistakes will most likely bemade. In fact, the class may make many, many mistakes. Theres also the chance that students wont use the targetlanguage, even if the questions clearly expect them to do so.Mistakes are fine, because the point of the warm up falls on getting students to think in English. They dont yet knowthe target language. They will make mistakes, even with familiar material. Remember: The Warm Up seeks toactivate pre-existing knowledge and to make students more receptive to the target language in the next portion of thelesson, the Presentation and Practice. Accuracy with the language isnt important at first. Whats more, correctionhere interrupts the flow of the activity. It tends to create a teacher-centered classroom, as the teacher has Better Language Teaching - 24
  • established himself as a primary participant rather than a guide. Students wont be as quick to volunteer informationor participate in conversations unless the teacher initiates and/or runs them. This then creates more hesitantspeakers outside the classroom. Students focus more on accuracy, rather than a balance between accuracy andfluency.The third point of the Warm Up is to create a fun, positive, and energetic atmosphere. Because its the first activity ofthe class, it cant help but set the tone of the lesson. So an overly difficult warm up with which students struggle mayresult in a class without much confidence during that session. It will also mean that students havent yet fully gotteninto English mode. The teacher will have to push and prod everyone to volunteer examples or provide simpleanswers aloud in later stages.A fun activity raises energy levels. Students forget the mistakes and the general challenges of the language. Theyjust speak. This tends to produce relaxed, less inhibited students. With the right Warm Up, the teacher can moreeasily create a positive atmosphere in which students practice and experiment with the language.The last point of the Warm Up focuses on assessment. During this initial stage of the lesson, the teacher looks,listens, and takes mental notes. Although the teacher may have a lesson plan, no lesson ever goes according to plan.Flexibility is vitally important. So if the class is having a bad day, with everyone a bit tired and unfocused, then theteacher may have to scale back his objective. On the other hand, if the class is hitting the target language during theWarm Up, the teacher may have to expand on his objective to provide the best challenges for the class.The teacher must also consider who will partner well with whom, assuming that the activity has pairs work togetherrather than the whole class volunteering information, for example. Much more will be said in the Chapter Five: Groupand Pair work. However, the teacher should consider that strong students may not want to work with weak students,or some women may not want to work with men. Although the teacher wont be able to determine the bestcombination for pairs and groups here, any potential conflicts or problems will get signaled.Refer to: Chapter Five: Pairs and Groups - page 69.To sum up, the students should: 1: Get into English mode. 2: Worry less about accuracy and just produce the target language. 3: Have fun and gain confidence in an activity focused on the lesson topic or theme.The teacher should: 1: Create an energetic, fun, and positive atmosphere. 2: Avoid correction. 3: Assess the class for ability and effective pairs/groups. Better Language Teaching - 25
  • Presentation and PracticeThe Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson should be viewed as two concepts fused into single, undividablepart of the lesson. The first step is presented and practiced, then the second step is presented and practiced, thenthe third step is presented and practiced, and so on.For more information, refer to: Chapter One: Component One: Goals, Objectives, and Steps - page 12.This produces a manageable series of steps that allow quick and easy assessment by the teacher. In addition,students are better able to handle a step-by-step approach, as opposed to a ten-minute presentation of severalpoints all chunked together, which they would then be expected to practice simultaneously.In the presentation and practice then, students will have the target material introduced one by one, receiveopportunities to practice it one by one, and lastly work towards reinforcing and automatizing the grammar, vocabulary,and/or other language points together.PresentationWhen presenting the target language, the teacher has several methods. No one method proves more ably suitedthan another for the class. However, the teacher will almost always use several methods to clarify the information, asall the following methods work in tandem.Method One: ExplanationsHere the teacher talks about the target language. The explanation may appear as a short lecture of a minute or two,with students listening and/or taking notes. The teacher may also hand out the information as a printable, whichwould allow students to place the correct information into their class folder. Method One often focuses on form (thestructure of the language) and function (the hows and whys in which the target language is used). Both elements areimportant, as students need to accurately produce the language in the appropriate situations.If teacher Paul were introducing zero conditionals, for example, the explanation would likely explain that the grammarstructure is used to talk about always or almost always true statements. It consists of an if-clause or a when-clausewhich states the condition, followed by the action taken under that condition. Zero conditionals usually use thepresent tense, but can sometimes be used in the past tense too.Method Two: Visual AidsAlthough an explanation is often necessary, it also needs support. Method Two provides added support, therebymaking the target language clearer.Timelines, pictures, and diagrams all fall into the category of visual aids. The teacher can draw a diagram or timelineon the board to highlight how to use the target language. This works especially well when introducing new grammarstructures. Pictures work equally well, as they can show the meaning of the word. For example, flashcards can beused to introduce new vocabulary, or videos can be used to show gestures and facial expressions. In short, a visualaid may be anything in which the students can visually link the key language of the lesson with the explanation. Better Language Teaching - 26
  • If teacher Stacy were introducing adverbs of frequency, then she would likely draw the following on the board. Thebelow diagram clearly expresses how these adverbs are used: 0% 25% 50% 75% 100% never rarely / seldom sometimes usually / often alwaysMethod Three: ExamplesThis method is essential, and will nearly always be used. Examples clarify any explicit explanation or diagram. Theymake an abstract idea become concrete. Whats more, examples show how rather than why or when to use thetarget language.For Pauls class on zero conditionals, he might provide two or three examples on the board: If it looks like rain, I bring an umbrella.  I almost always bring an umbrella on dark, cloudy days. When it looks like rain, I bring an umbrella. I bring an umbrella if it looks like rain. I bring an umbrella when it looks like rain.For Stacys class on adverbs of frequency, she might write the following on the board: I always eat breakfast in the morning. I often dont eat lunch. I sometimes eat dinner late. I rarely drink coffee. I never eat dessert.Students can more readily see and understand the target language because of the examples. They further can seehow the target language fits into sentences and other structures.Method Four: ElicitationExamples gathered from the class provide additional information for reference in the early part of the lesson. If thestudents get stuck or need clarification during a practice activity, they can easily refer to the wealth of informationwritten on the board.The teacher may think to provide more examples, in order to provide a lot of sentences for reference and models.However, too many examples from the teacher tend to establish a teacher-centered classroom. Students will look tothe teacher for examples as a means for added clarity. They wont attempt to generate their own examples, which Better Language Teaching - 27
  • then places too much reliance on the teacher. In addition, when practicing the language, students may very well beless likely to deviate from what the teacher has given, in fear of being wrong.In addition, elicited examples allow the teacher to effectively asses if the students understand both the form and thefunction of the newly presented material. If the examples fail to use the language correctly, or stick far too closely tothe examples provided by the teacher, then this serves as a signal for the teacher to further clarify the targetlanguage. Students dont yet fully understand the form and/or meaning.Lets look at two examples. In Pauls class, he calls on the students for some sentences using the zero conditional.He writes the following on the board after making some minor grammar corrections for articles and singular/plural. If Im hungry, I go to restaurants. I play tennis if I have free time. If I work, I eat lunch.All of the sentences elicited from the class demonstrate that the structure is sound, but the meaning isnt quite correct.Does the student always go to restaurants when hungry, no matter that its breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack?Does the second student always play tennis during his free time? In other words, he does nothing else?Paul realizes that additional examples and a clearer explanation are required on his part. He returns to thepresentation before allowing the students to practice. After all, if he simply stated that the examples werent zeroconditionals, made corrections, and then began a practice activity, then the students would still likely be unable tocorrectly use the structure.Stacy elicits the following from her students: I always study for my tests. I sometimes go to bed at midnight. I never have money!Her class obviously understands the structure, and so should move on to practice it.PracticeThe practice portion here utilizes drills and dialogues, both of which are controlled or semi-controlled activities.For more information, see: Chapter One: Component Two: Controlled, Semi-controlled, and Free Activities - page 16.These sort of structured activities provide needed reinforcement, yet do so with a narrow focus.There are three drill types, each of which will be detailed below. These include choral drills, substitution drills, andinteractive drills. In any lesson, some to all of the drill types may be used, depending on the needs of the students. In Better Language Teaching - 28
  • addition, there are so many variations to these drills that they remain fresh and challenging, even when used andreused with the same group of students in the same lesson.Choral DrillsChoral drills require the class to repeat after the teacher. These drills can also be used among pairs/groups, wherestudents repeat after one another.Many teachers move through choral drills too quickly or skip them altogether because they fear patronizing the class.They couldnt be more wrong, though! For native English speakers, the language may appear simple, yet non-nativespeakers may be learning and using it for the first time. It will naturally prove quite difficult. Whats more, the learnersmay understand the target language, but may not be able to produce it accurately or quickly. As such, choral drillsallow students to become familiar with a new language pattern.Lets look at the following example: Teacher: I always eat breakfast Students: I always eat breakfast. Teacher: I sometimes go to bed at midnight. Students: I sometimes go to bed at midnight. Teacher: I rarely drink coffee. Students: I rarely drink coffee. ...Its important for the teacher to realize that although choral drills are important and challenging, they can still becomeboring and repetitive. Imagine going through the above drill for five minutes or more. Students would still quite easilybe able to repeat after the teacher, but would do so without any qualitative thought at all. The thinking parts of theirbrains would simply turn off. What began as a meaningful drill would become a meaningless time-waster becausestudents wouldnt absorb the language nor establish automaticity.The teacher can provide some variation, though, which will keep interest high and maintain the much neededopportunity for tightly controlled practice. Variation One: The teacher arranges students into pairs, with one student providing the sentence for his partner to repeat. After several sentences, partners can switch roles. Variation Two: The teacher can dictate three or four sentences for students to write down. When checking the answers, everyone reads the first sentence aloud twice. Corrections are made, if necessary. Students next read the second sentence aloud, again with corrections made. This process continues with the third and fourth sentences. Better Language Teaching - 29
  • Variation Three: Students work in pairs to produce one sentence with the target language. The pairs then say their sentence aloud to the entire class, and everyone repeats in unison. This continues around the room.Here are additional activities to try:  Choral Drills for Grammar - page 109  Memory (Version Two) - page 147  Choral Drills for Vocabulary - page 110  Pickle in the Middle - page 155Substitution DrillsSubstitution drills require the students to plug a vocabulary word or phrase into a sentence, conjugate a verb tense,or otherwise substitute one language part with another. Where choral drills simply require students to listen andrepeat, substitution drills expect additional qualitative thought. However, the teacher should definitely not viewsubstitution drills as better or more productive than choral drills. They are simply separate steps to familiarizestudents with the target language.Lets look at an example of substitution drills: Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of a baseball game) Students: I always play baseball on the weekend. Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of a pizza) Students: I always eat pizza on the weekend. Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of people on the beach) Students: I always go to the beach on the weekend. ...Here the students substitute a word into an existing sentence, thereby giving thought to the vocabulary and the targetstructure. The teacher may further make the substitution drill more challenging, assuming that he wanted to practiceadverbs of frequency with previously introduced vocabulary: Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of a coffee) sometimes Students: I sometimes drink coffee on the weekend. Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of friends) usually Students: I usually meet friends on the weekend. ...The teacher may also structure the substitution somewhat differently, as in the following: Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of a baseball game) What do you always do on the weekend? Students: I always play baseball on the weekend. Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of a pizza) What do you always do on the weekend? Students: I always eat pizza on the weekend. Better Language Teaching - 30
  • Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of people on the beach) What do you always do on the weekend? Students: I always go to the beach on the weekend. ...Here the drill appears as questions and answers, so there is further context to link the target language to aconversation. However, if the teacher were to initially present new vocabulary in such a manner, then students couldvery well get confused. The teacher should consider substitution drills a step-by-step process. Therefore the teachermay want to follow the outline provided above: first prompt for complete sentences, then rotate in the grammar,followed by framing the drill with questions.As with choral drills, the teacher will want to provide variation to maintain interest and challenge. For example: Variation One: The teacher places flashcards with pictures or words at the back of the class. One student (working in pairs) goes to the back, turns over the flashcard, and remembers it. He then returns to his partner and uses the word in a sentence. Partners switch roles and repeat as many times as needed. Variation Two: Students get into pairs. The teacher distributes a deck of flashcards to each pair. Students take turns asking and answering questions with the cards as prompts. The teacher can use the same activity with a printable which lists different words. Variation Three: If the students have brainstormed vocabulary as a pre-step, they can then work in pairs and use the new words in sentences. For stronger students, partner A gives a sentence and partner B paraphrases it to demonstrate meaning.Here are additional activities to try:  Charades - page 108  Memory (Version One) - page 146  Grammar Brainstorm - page 131  Substitution Drills - page 172Interactive DrillsThese drills get students to ask and answer questions with the target language, and so may also be referred to asQ&A drills. In other words, the students are interacting with one another to produce language in the context of aconversation. For example, the teacher writes the following on the board for students to ask/answer with a partner: 1: What do you always do at night? 2: What do you never do at night? 3: What do you usually do on the weekend? 4: Do you sometimes sleep until noon? Why/not? 5: When do you usually take a vacation? Why? Better Language Teaching - 31
  • Interactive drills can be viewed as semi-controlled activities because the question allows only a limited number ofresponses. However, these responses are entirely up to the individual student, giving a great deal of personalizationand connection to the language. They differ even from substitution drills which may pose a question, as the answerisnt prompted with a specific flashcard or key vocabulary word or phrase.Some activity ideas for interactive drills include:  Answer, Add, Ask - page 103  Find Someone Who... - page 125  Back to Back Discussions - page 105  Interview Bingo - page 137Many teachers incorporate activities which, when broken down, can be viewed as drills. These activities further fallinto one of the three types of drills, thereby allowing gradual progression from controlled to semi-controlled activities.Drills make the language increasingly automatic and familiar, which makes possible a limited amount ofexperimentation, personalization, and linking to previously studied language points by the students.The drills are usually best used when the teacher progresses from easier to more difficult. Choral drills allow nodeviation from the target language, and so allow the students to get used to the new language pattern. Next theteacher gives some freedom with substitution drills. Lastly students receive increased freedom with interactive drills.If the teacher fails to use enough drills, or use them effectively, then students wont be able to apply the languageduring the Application portion of the lesson. Students will struggle with the material, make many mistakes, and growdiscouraged. In addition, students wont be able to effectively connect the new language with past language points,not to mention personalization and experimentation.DialoguesA dialogue is a scripted conversation for students to practice the target language. Its often best to introduce adialogue after all the target language has been presented and practiced because it ties all the information togetherinto a conversation. In short, a dialogue shows how the individual parts just studied through drills can be linkedtogether into the context of a real conversation. A dialogue: 1: Shows students such incidental but important language points as rejoinders, how to start/end a conversation, differences between formal and informal conversation, and so on. 2: Allows students to focus on intonation, word stress, pronunciation, and other prosodies because its a conversation to be practiced more than once. 3: Allows gestures and facial expressions to be added as essential components, particularly for classes with stronger students. 4: Can be used to work on all four skills - listening, speaking, reading, and writing.Despite the benefits, its important to note that dialogues are an optional activity in any lesson. Some lessons maysimply not require or tie well with a scripted conversation. For example, an article on a news topic likely wont use adialogue, nor will a lesson showing students how to give a presentation. The teacher shouldnt feel that a dialogue Better Language Teaching - 32
  • must be included. However, drills often have the tendency to make language feel short, abrupt, and more reactionarythan participatory. Dialogues enrich a lesson by connecting the sentences practiced in drills, as well as mixing inother ideas too.Note: The term "dialogue" here refers only to a scripted and controlled conversation. A dialogue often appears in thePresentation and Practice portion of the lesson. Any activity which has students assume roles without a preparedscript can be referred to as a "role play." Role plays almost never appear outside the Application portion of thelesson.  Dialogues - page 118  Role Play - page 160For more information on role plays, see: Chapter Two: Application: Role Plays - page 37.A dialogue is most often distributed as a printable or appears in a textbook. However, the teacher may dictate thedialogue to the class (if particularly short). Paired up students may receive different halves of the dialogue and thendictate the missing lines to their partners. Alternatively, the teacher can elicit a dialogue from the class, writing thelines on the board as provided by the students. All work equally well, and so may be used as interesting alternatives.Each provides a very minor detour into other skills, such as listening, writing, etc., but without detracting from thecontents of the dialogue.However its introduced to the class, a dialogue requires several key points for it to be considered successful. Itneeds clear characters, a situation, and a purpose. The teacher must also set up the activity effectively, which meansintroducing the characters and situation. If the teacher just hands out the printable and expects the class to readthrough the roles, then students have to figure out the characters and their relationships; the context of theconversation; the situation that brings the characters together; the vocabulary, grammar, and other target language;incidental language; and how all of this ties together into a conversation. Its far too much for the students to absorbright away. And valuable class time, as well as the focused concentration of the class will be wasted.For example, a teacher may set up a dialogue with the following short, concise explanation: Teacher: There are two friends at the coffee shop. Their names are Alan and Frank. They have been waiting for five minutes for their orders. Alan thinks that five minutes is too long and wants to complain.Now students can anticipate the contents of the conversation, thereby focusing on other key elements. The abovesetup can also be elicited with a few questions, as in: Teacher: There are two friends. What are their names? Students: Alan and Frank. Teacher: Good. <He points to a picture of a coffee shop on the printable> Where are they? Students: Maybe they are at a coffee shop. Better Language Teaching - 33
  • Teacher: Thats right. Alan and Frank are at a coffee shop. They have ordered but have been waiting for five minutes for their coffees. Is this too long? Students: <Some students think so, others dont mind waiting for five minutes.> Teacher: Alan wants to complain. He thinks that five minutes is too long.Both methods work well, although the latter more effectively engages the students. Its important to note thatbeginner students may not have the language skills to answer such questions. They may become frustrated ordiscouraged at the questions, focusing on how to provide answers rather than focusing on the content or purpose ofthe dialogue.For more information about how to set up activities effectively, see: Book II: How to Set up Activities - page 90.The purpose of the dialogue is also important. It refers to the reason(s) for students to practice the scriptedconversation. If a purpose cant be found, then the activity is largely ineffective. In fact, its far too easy for a dialogueto become a time-waster, especially if it doesnt connect with the contents of the lesson.The general purpose of a dialogue shows the target language in context. If the scripted conversation doesnt use thelanguage, or doesnt use it naturally, then the teacher should question including it in the class. The teachers rationalefor using the dialogue may be multipronged, such as tying together language and gestures; improving fluency,pronunciation, and intonation; or demonstrating other language points. While the teacher doesnt need to explain thepurpose to the class, he should definitely have it in mind when selecting or creating a dialogue for classroom use.A few final points: 1: The teacher should make the language realistic, or at least as realistic as possible given the level of the students. An unnatural dialogue is just as ineffective and problematic as one that has no purpose. 2: The language needs to be comprehensible for the level, so vocabulary should be targeted for the class. New words will of course appear, which the teacher may cover before progressing through the activity. But if there are too many new words, then the activity becomes less tightly focused. Comprehension may also suffer. 3: New grammar should never be introduced nor taught here. Remember: The purpose of the dialogue is to show the target language in context, which means that any included material should have already been taught. Its important to realize that a phrase or idiom doesnt constitute new grammar. For example, in a role play between a clerk and a customer, the clerk would likely say, "How may I help you? or "Can I help you find anything?" In a class of beginners, modals may not have been taught. Yet both are natural examples of real language. The trick, then, is to balance realistic language with the skills and abilities of the students. 4: The characters should be briefly introduced. For example, Japanese culture reverses peoples names, so the family name always precedes the given name. If a Western name isnt familiar to the class, then they may Better Language Teaching - 34
  • wonder which name is which. They may not know how to pronounce the name, nor know if the character is male or female.You can find some examples of dialogue activities below:  Continue the Dialogue - page 115  Dialogues - page 118  Dialogue Speculation - page 117  Interactive Gap Fill - page 136With all of this in mind, the teacher reads the dialogue aloud to the class. This proves important because studentsmay not understand the pronunciation of some new words, nor instinctively know the proper intonation and wordstress in sentences. Alternatively, a CD may be used. The teacher or CD should serve as a model. In addition, theclass repeats after the teacher, and does so more than once. This repetition aids retention, again making the targetlanguage, phrases, and responses more automatic. To combat boredom, the class can read the dialogue together,followed by men assuming one part and women another. Alternatively, the left side/right side of the class (orfront/back) can assume different roles for another round of practice. Only after going through the scriptedconversation several times should students get into pairs/groups to practice the dialogue together.Before closing the explanation on dialogues, its important to address one final problem: What if the teacherdetermines during a class that a dialogue would be helpful for the students to see and use the language in context,but hasnt prepared one beforehand?This actually occurs quite regularly. Perhaps the students are struggling with the target language, for example, and adialogue would help. Perhaps the students need to see the language in context of a conversation. Perhaps there area few vocabulary words, phrases, or other language points which would really come together in the heads of thestudents if practiced with a dialogue. All are apt reasons, as well as ones that the teacher may likely conclude duringthe Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson.The teacher can quite easily dictate a short dialogue to the class, developing it as he goes along. He reads one linealoud two or three times. As students are listening, thinking, and writing the line, the teacher can then prepare thesecond, third, and/or fourth lines of the dialogue. Alternatively, the teacher can develop the dialogue with the class.He writes an opening phrase or phrases on the board, elicits a likely response, and continues on through thedialogue. Of course, any grammar or contextual mistakes should be corrected. In addition, any key phrases orelements can be written on the board and/or prompted. Once finished, the class can read together.ApplicationThe Application portion of the lesson allows students to practice the target language and other key elements of thelesson in a largely free manner. Free doesnt mean chatting, as in a free conversation! Instead it means that theactivities give students the chance to use the newly acquired language in conversations that mix other languagepoints learned in the past. It also allows students to personalize that language, steering the conversation towardspoints of interest. Better Language Teaching - 35
  • Refer to: Chapter One: Component Two: Controlled, Semi-Controlled, and Free Activities - page 16.If the teacher doesnt incorporate interesting and free activities in the latter half of the lesson, then the quality of thelesson suffers. There simply isnt enough challenge or self-direction. If students dont have the chance to mix newmaterial with the old, then retention suffers. There isnt a chance to establish connections between new and oldgrammar, vocabulary, and so on. Whats more, its important to note that the Application receives roughly the sameamount of time in the class as the Presentation and Practice.Of course, beginner students may struggle with fully free activities. Therefore, the teacher should make any activityhere as free as possible. The students need to experiment with the language, but shouldnt struggle withexpectations above their ability level. For example, discussions among low-level students may have a limited numberof follow-up questions, yet everyone still challenges himself with the language produced in the shorter, freerconversations.Students further work at their own ability level in the Application, be they beginning or advanced students, which isperhaps the best aspect of this stage of the lesson. In general, weaker students stick more closely to the targetlanguage, perhaps incorporating fewer ideas, grammar points, and vocabulary from past lessons. Their answers maybe shorter. They may ask fewer follow-up questions too. However, they are still challenged, engaged, and workinghard in the activities. Stronger students provide longer answers, mix more language points, and experiment with thematerial, and do so according to their level of ability. All students take the risks allowed by their abilities. In thePresentation and Practice portion of the lesson, such freedom isnt usually practical or possible. All students need anamount of repetition, although stronger students may sometimes feel a bit bored with too much. Weaker studentsmay sometimes want additional practice.With regards to the activities, they should be reused within a class period, rather than have the teacher throw oneactivity after another at the class. Reused activities let students hold the same conversations or perform the samerole plays with different students. And because the activities are free, each conversation will be different enough fromthe last. This maintains interest and flow, as well as allows students to increasingly experiment with the languagebecause some of the conversational territory remains familiar. Weaker students become increasingly confident withthe language too, and are thus more likely to try limited experimentation in subsequent pairings. Some goodexamples of these sorts of activities include:  Ask and Ask Again - page 104  Talk and Trade - page 179  Scheduling - page 163  Thats the Best! - page 182Regardless of the level, though, students should make a limited number of mistakes with the target language. Thereshould be a level of confidence and correctness in the language they produce, as the lesson has built up towards thisstage. Numerous mistakes means that the teacher didnt present the material clearly enough, didnt practice itenough, or presented too many language points. Theres also the chance that the teacher has misjudged the abilitylevel of the students, and presented material far too difficult for the class. Whatever the reason for the mistakes,though, the class cannot use the new language effectively. Better Language Teaching - 36
  • And what does the teacher do during this stage of the lesson? The teacher primarily monitors for correct use of thelanguage. Because he shouldnt interrupt the free flow of activities, the teacher takes notes for later feedback andcorrection in the Wrap Up stage. Its unfair to expect students in the middle of a role play to stop, get correction, andthen smoothly resume where they left off. In fact, its unfair for them to resume at all. Hence is it especially importantfor students to master (as much as possible within the allotted Presentation and Practice) the new material.For more information on the previous lesson stage, see: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice - page 26.To sum up the key points, consider the following in the Application portion of the lesson: 1: The Application allows opportunities for challenge and self-direction. 2: Students should experiment with the target language, working to the level of their abilities. 3: Activities may be reused. Students will see improved fluency and confidence, leading to richer and more details conversations.Role PlaysA role play fits very well into the Application portion of a lesson. Its a simulated situation in which students use thetarget language freely and meaningfully. It differs from a dialogue, which is a scripted conversation that demonstratesone possible way for the language to be used dynamically. A role play, however, is experiential, bringing in theintellectual, intuitive, and physical. Because of its nature, a role play may be repeated more than once, and withvaried conclusions. Its important for the teacher to realize that whenever he incorporates a role play into a lesson, heshould also incorporate a dialogue in the earlier stages. The dialogue should be considered a stepping stone to therole play.For information on dialogues, see: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice: Dialogues - page 32.A role play allows students to practice and internalize the English that they have just studied. There can often exist abarrier between English in the class and real-world English, which sometimes prevents students from activelyemploying material. However, role plays encourage real use of the language, which improves retention andapplication. In other words, the topical and student-specific natures of role plays provide realism and relevance. Thisin turn makes it more interesting, which in turn makes it easier to recall the various language elements.A role play also requires input and output. Students receive information, process it, and produce appropriateresponses. Other aspects that naturally result from a role play include opportunities to incorporate body language,gestures, and facial expressions. There are opportunities for improved voice, such as volume, speed, pronunciation,intonation, and other prosodies too. And in connection with voice, students may employ such speaking strategies asmaking requests or demands, persuading, and so on.Although a role play is a free activity, it does require some setup for success. The teacher simply cant expect theactivity to bestow the above benefits if he misses three essential must-haves of a role play. Better Language Teaching - 37
  • 1: Roles: Each student must be assigned a clear role to assume. For example, one student takes on the role of aclerk in a store and the other student is the customer. Or perhaps in a larger role play, such as a family discussionabout vacation plans, a group of students assume the roles of dad, mom, siblings, and grandparents. The teachershould present the characters, their gender, explain how to pronounce the names, and other small details of whichforeign language students may not be aware.Additional information should be given for each role too. The customer is demanding, for example. Or the clerk isnew on the job and cant answer the customers questions very well. In each case, how would these points affect thelanguage produced? If there were a family discussion for vacation plans, a few sentences about personality and thedesired vacation spot enriches the activity, providing better opportunities for realistic and relevant languageproduction.Different roles allow students to use the language differently. The language a customer uses will differ from that usedby the clerk. How mom and dad speak to the kids in the role play on a family vacation will similarly differ. This isimportant, as successful application in the classroom means better receptive skills outside the classroom. Forexample, although students may not work as store clerks, they must nevertheless understand what a clerk says, howhe might respond to problems or other requests, and so on. When it comes time to use the language outside thepractice environment, students are better able to predict and understand the responses.2: Setting: Where does the role play take place? Students need to envision the conversation, moving it from theclassroom to the real world. A setting links the conversation to the target language or focus of the lesson, making itseem less abstract and more immediately applicable. Students realize the how, where, and when of the targetlanguage.For example, if a group of students were discussing where to go for vacation as a family, they need to know wherethe discussion is being held. Is it at home? In the kitchen? Driving in the car? Desks can easily be positioned tomimic seats around a dinner table or in a car, thereby breathing a level of reality into the activity. Props may also beused for added realism and enjoyment.3: Goal: What are the students working towards in the role play? There must be some meaningful resolution to thediscussion or problem, otherwise it becomes just an activity to use the target language rather than a chance for realand relevant language production. Why are the clerk and customer talking? What does the customer need? Whathappens if he does/doesnt get that item? Or how about the family? Are they simply going to talk and talk and talk?What do they need to accomplish? Each group of students should work towards a goal, which generally means aproblem or dilemma to resolve.Lets put all of the above together. In a class of intermediate students, for example, the teacher sets up the following.The information may be on the board or in a printable; it may be on cards; it may presented aloud; or it may be givenin any of these combinations. Better Language Teaching - 38
  • Roles: Dad: He wants to take the family to Washington DC for vacation. He wants to see the museums and history of the US. Mom: She wants to stay closer to home. A quiet trip would be best. Older Brother: He wants to fly by plane. Hes never been on a plane. The place is less important. Younger Sister: She wants to go somewhere fun, someplace like Disneyland. Setting: The family is at the dinner table. Its night. Goal: Dad and mom want to decide on vacation for this summer. They need to look at prices and tour plans, so everyone needs to agree on a couple of places.DiscussionsDiscussions serve as another example of an effective free activity in the Application. Students hit all the keycomponents of the Application, such as working to their level of ability, receiving ample chances to experiment withthe language, and mixing new material with old material, just to name a few points.Discussions work with all levels of students. At the lower levels, the class will ask fewer follow-up questions. Theymay stick more closely to the target language too. This generally means a more reactionary approach to theconversations. In other words, students provide answers to the questions, but dont incorporate other elements oradditional information so successfully. At higher levels, students engage in rich and detailed conversations. Yet alllevels apply the language to the best of their ability, as well as turn the discussions to their interests and opinions.Its important to emphasize that discussions don’t mean free conversations. Students should be given questionsbased on the topic/theme, as opposed to just being allowed to chat about such broad concepts as vacations,weekend plans, or the environment, for example. Alternatively, the class may generate questions for discussion.The teacher must therefore provide purpose to the discussions. Should students be expected to naturally incorporatethe target language? Should they try to use key vocabulary as much as possible? Should students strive forimproved fluency or prosodies, or perhaps use specific speaking strategies? These all important questions helpprovide focus. They drive the discussions towards a specific goal.Some ideas for discussions include: Idea One: Each student selects from three to five key vocabulary words from the lesson. Each person then consciously strives to use these words in the ensuing discussions. Idea Two: Students are given a question or statement for debate. They prepare for several minutes, and then assume positions for or against the idea. This activity requires quick thought, good fluency, and use of speaking strategies to agree, disagree, and confirm information. Better Language Teaching - 39
  • Idea Three: Students work in pairs discussing a series of questions for a predetermined length of time. Students want to continue each conversation for as long as possible. This works well with lower-level students who dont ask follow-up questions or provide additional information/detail.Wrap UpLast comes the final five minutes of the lesson, which consists of wrapping up the day. Along with the Warm Up, bothserve as bookends to the lesson.The Wrap Up isnt a time for cleaning the whiteboard, nor is it a time for students to put away pens and pencils,receive homework, or return flashcards and other realia to the teacher. All of these tasks can really be viewed astime-wasters, and are better left for after the lesson. Of course, after the lesson means after the Wrap Up.In just about any lesson of just about any length, the final five minutes or so should allow the teacher to providecorrection, review, and/or feedback to the class.CorrectionCorrection should focus on mistakes made during the free activities in the Application. As explained, its oftenintrusive for the teacher to jump into a role play, discussion, debate, or similarly free activity. No matter how importantthe correction may be, its unfair to expect the students to then smoothly resume the activity. Furthermore, ifcorrection were given only to one group during the Application, then other students in other groups wouldnt benefit.And chances are that if one group has made a mistake with the language, another group has made a similar mistake.However, correction isnt merely limited to the focus of the lesson. The teacher can provide correction onpreviously-learned target language, for example. In fact, any language point studied in the past may be addressed.The teacher can bring up words and phrases which students know but which were produced with poor pronunciationor intonation. The teacher can correct words which didnt quite match up contextually, or which have nuancedmeaning, or just about anything that didnt sound right. Whats more, this point in the lesson provides an ideal chanceto quickly teach incidental language, such as more natural phrases or expressions than the ones used during thefinal activity.This may seem like a lot. Hence the teacher must be judicious and choose which points to mention. Of course,priority should be placed on the target language of the lesson, as well as other points heavily studied in past sessions.If time allows, high-frequency or especially problematic mistakes can be considered next on the list, although itsreally up to the teacher from here.For more information on providing correction, see: Chapter Four: Correction - page 56.ReviewReview focuses specifically on the lesson material of the day, regardless of the mistakes students may or may nothave made with the target language. This area thus allows the teacher to look again at difficult words and sentences,particularly ones which the class struggled with during the early portion of the lesson. Sentences or questions may be Better Language Teaching - 40
  • read as prompts, synonyms given to elicit key words, and phrases and sentences may be picked from dialogues andother worksheets. In short, review allows the teacher to check that as many students as possible will shortly leavethe classroom able to understand and use the target language.Review also clarifies the lesson contents for the class, as well as boosts confidence. It sort of explains to everyonewhat was done during the class session, and so serves to highlight all that the students have accomplished.Hopefully, students can now see a new structure, a series of words, a specific skill, or some other language pointwhich most may not have been aware of or werent able to previously use. This naturally boosts confidence.FeedbackLast comes feedback, which may be directed to individuals or to the class as a whole.In larger classes, a general comment on the performance can easily be given. In addition, the lesson can be tied intolarger goals, such as being able to actively participate in a conversation for more than five minutes. In smallerclasses, these sorts of comments can also be given, as well as more specific one-to-one feedback. For example,perhaps one student made repeated mistakes with the target language, and so should go home and review morethoroughly than usual. Or perhaps another student had trouble with his pronunciation, and so should pay extraattention to specific phonemes during the next lesson. The teacher can go around the room quickly and provide suchcomments. To complicate the situation, the teacher should consider how the class will react to feedback in front oftheir peers.In the last stage of the lesson, students: 1: Receive focused correction for overall improvement. 2: Review the target language. 3: Receive feedback on what was done well and what needs improvement.The teacher focuses on several points here, namely: 1: Raising important mistakes made during the Application. 2: Teaching incidental language which was perhaps raised during the Application. 3: Reviewing the target language. 4: Providing individual or group feedback. Better Language Teaching - 41
  • Teacher Talk Time (TTT) ………………………………………………………………………... 43 TTT in the Warm Up …………………………………………………………………..… 43 TTT in the Presentation and Practice ……...………………………………………..… 43 TTT in the Application …………………………………………………………………... 44 TTT in the Wrap Up …………………………………………………………………...… 44 Effective vs. Ineffective Talk Time …….……………………………………………..… 44Student Talk Time (STT) ………………………………………………………………………… 47 STT in the Warm Up …………………………………………………………………….. 47 STT in the Presentation and Practice …………………………………………………. 48 STT in the Application …………………………………………………………………... 48 STT in the Wrap Up …………………………………………………………………...… 48 Effective vs. Ineffective STT ……………………………………………………..…..… 48Use of L1 in the Classroom …………………………………………………………………...… 51 Advantages of L1 ……………………………………………………………………...… 51 Disadvantages of L1 …………………………………………………………………….. 52 Better Language Teaching - 42
  • Chapter Three: Talk TimeTalk time refers to the amount of speaking done in the classroom. Some classes may have a lot of talk time, such asin a conversation-based lesson. Other classes may have significantly less talk time, such as in an academic writingcourse. However, the teacher should still provide students with as much opportunity as possible to speak, and tospeak effectively. He wants to create a student-centered class for several reasons, all of which will be outlined below.However, a big reason should be mentioned here: The best way to acquire a language within the classroom is to usethe language in dynamic and realistic communicative activities.The chapter will examine Teacher Talk Time (TTT), Student Talk Time (STT), and the desired ratio between the two. Itwill also examine effective and ineffective uses of speaking by the teacher and student.Teacher Talk Time (TTT)Of course the teacher needs to speak. There are explanations and examples with the target language to convey tothe class. There are instructions for activities. There are moments when correction and feedback must be given. Butif the teacher monopolizes speaking in the classroom, then students simply lack the opportunity to absorb thelanguage during the Presentation and Practice. This then translates to a lesser ability during the Application, whichthen further translates into a lesser ability in the real world. In short, the students havent absorbed the material wellenough to effectively use it because the teacher talked too much!The teacher should limit his speaking to 20% - 30% overall. In some areas of the lesson, he will speak more. In fact,in some areas, he will speak much, much more. Yet in other portions of the lesson, his speaking role will be virtuallynonexistent.TTT in the Warm UpTeacher Talk Time is largely restricted to setting up the activity with clear, concise instructions. The teachersspeaking is at a minimum, primarily because the Warm Up isnt a time to teach, correct, or provide advice to the class.In addition, the teacher should never ask and answer questions with the students one by one around the room.Remember: The students take center stage here. A ten minute Warm Up might have the teacher talk for one or twominutes at most.See: Chapter Two: Warm Up - page 23.For a comparison of Student Talk Time, see: Chapter Three: STT in the Warm Up - page 47.TTT in the Presentation and PracticeThe teachers talk time is quite high during the Presentation and Practice, although he shouldnt be required to give alecture. The teacher must explain the target language, provide examples, and call for (and possibly correct)examples from the students when presenting the new material. Because students must comprehend and be able touse the language in controlled and semi-controlled practice opportunities, explanations must cover the form andmeaning of the target language. The teacher must also clearly set up the activities with clear instructions, questions,and possibly demonstrations. He must further provide correction during and between activities to ensure that Better Language Teaching - 43
  • everyone acquires the target language. All of these points combined raise talk time.See: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice - page 26.See also: Chapter Three: STT in the Presentation and Practice - page 48.TTT in the ApplicationHere the teachers talking is minimal. He shouldnt interrupt the activities for correction or advice. He may correctbetween activities, but this largely comes in the form of a quick reminder regarding the target language. Its alsocommon to provide a review of the grammar point with one or two sentences when correcting here. There should belittle need for lengthy or explicit explanations. A specific grammar point may even be covered or revisited in futureclasses rather than increase TTT.In addition, the teacher sets up activities here. But because the activities run much longer, given their open endedand free nature, theres little need for several sets of instructions. And if the teacher opts to repeat the activity,perhaps with different groups, then theres even less need to provide extra instructions. This all translates to low TTT.See: Chapter Two: Application - page 35.See also: Chapter Three: STT in the Application - page 48.TTT in the Wrap UpThe talk time is very high here. In fact, TTT may be higher in the Wrap Up than in any other portion of the lesson. Theteacher needs to provide the correction that he was unable to give during the Application, for fear of interrupting theflow of the activities. Correction may focus on the target language, as well as incidental but important languageoutside the scope of the lesson. The teacher needs to give feedback, coming in the form of criticism and praise.Lastly, he needs to review the target language here too.See: Chapter Two: Wrap Up - page 40.For a comparison of Student Talk Time, see: Chapter Three: STT in the Wrap Up - page 48.Effective vs. Ineffective Teacher Talk TimeSome teachers tend to take a very high participatory role in the class, which raises their talk time. However, with theexception of some lecture-based courses, courses that focus on English for Special Purposes, or immersion-basedprograms, there rarely is much need for the teacher to maintain a high talk time. This is usually an ineffective use ofspeaking. Remember: The students should be given every opportunity to get their English wheels turning during theWarm Up. The students should be given every opportunity to absorb and automatize the target language during thePresentation and Practice. They should also be given every chance to apply the language in as realistic a context aspossible during the Application. If the teacher speaks too much, then these primary needs for each portion of thelesson cant be met.There are additional problems when the teacher monopolizes the speaking time too. He should always strive tocreate a community in the classroom that is learner-centered, collaborative, and supportive. A low-talk time on his Better Language Teaching - 44
  • part helps achieve these points because students will instinctively work together to solve problems and overcomeobstacles. When the teacher does speak, its as a guide with a very light touch.What does "light touch" mean? If the teacher is ever-present in the background with answers, jumps intoconversations as the expert, or provides lengthy monologues not fully understood, then its far too heavy handed.Students cant help but begin to doubt their English ability because the teacher has cast himself as an all-knowingauthority figure. Students also see the teacher provide correction and information easily and eloquently in English,something with which they struggle. It becomes psychologically more difficult to do anything but repeatedly turn tothe teacher with questions or for assistance.Whenever the teacher speaks too much, students tend to turn to him for answers rather than develop self-reliant,problem-solving skills. Important skills needed by students include checking words in dictionaries, circumlocution,guessing the meaning via context, and asking peers for clarification, just to name a few. Everyone everywhere usesthese skills on a regular basis. However, a teacher who talks too much stunts the individual development of his class.Once the students find themselves outside the class and beyond the immediate help of the teacher, they lack theskills or the confidence to solve communication difficulties on their own.The teacher also monopolizes class time if he speaks to each student one by one. Although he may be able to checkcomprehension of the target language, offer correction and feedback, or even provide individual attention, otherstudents are simply waiting for their chance to speak. Most are turned off and tuned out. This can be furtherhighlighted with a class of ten students in which the teacher spends ten minutes asking questions around the room.Each student speaks for only one minute (10 minutes ÷ 10 students = 1 minute of conversation per person). Actually,each student spoke for less than one minute, as the teacher asked questions, provided clarification and correction,gave praise and criticism, and even answered some questions asked by the student. In short, the fewer and theshorter the opportunities for students to speak mean they are less able to use the target language in the lesson andlater.Low TTT cannot necessarily be viewed as effective talk time, though. Less speaking on the part of the teacher andmore speaking on the part of the students simplifies TTT and STT far too much. There are other factors to consider,such as anecdotes, off-topic stories, slang, fillers, or anything which isnt appropriate for the level of the class.Personal anecdotes distract students. If the teacher has just presented the target language, then students are solelyfocused on the contents of the lesson. If the students have just completed an activity and are awaiting feedback, thenagain they are solely focused on the contents of the lesson. A story, no matter how short, about what the teacher didduring the weekend proves distracting, as does any anecdote, aside, or comment not connected to the lesson. Thiscan all be saved for before or after the class, or similarly brought up during the lesson break if there is one.Of course, if such an aside ties into the lesson contents, then it can effectively serve as a real and relevant model forthe language. A lesson on the past tense, for example, may be served well with a few sentences about the teachersweekend. An aside can occasionally demonstrate how conversation sometimes moves from one tangent to another,which may be good for intermediate or advanced students. In short, though, its important to understand that talk time Better Language Teaching - 45
  • should not only be low, but also focused on the lesson.Slang, fillers, and any level-inappropriate language may also be considered ineffective. For lower-level students, a lotof "ums" and "ahs" affect comprehension, as does most anything that fails to neatly fit into their existing grammar andvocabulary abilities. Lets look at the following to highlight this idea: Teacher: I... um... I went to the store for... like... um... pizza and ice cream.Lower-level students would have heard the key words only. Unfortunately, their concept of key words gets restrictedto familiar words, not necessarily the ones important to the sentence. In the example, students would likely havepicked out "I," "went," "like," "pizza," and "ice cream." The rest sounds like static, so gets ignored. The students putthe words together to fit into a familiar sentence structure, "I like pizza and ice cream." ("I went pizza and ice cream"wouldnt fit their known structures so well, which might result in it getting dismissed.) Higher-level students may needsuch examples of real English, but never when they are being introduced to the target language or when they arebeing given the instructions for activities. Real language is great, but not at the expense of students missingexamples, explanations, instructions, or any other key points of the target language.So what can be considered effective talk time? The teacher of course needs to present the target language. He willdo this clearly and concisely, without excess phrases that a native speaker might use. In addition, he will speak at aspeed slower than the classs comprehension ability. They key here isnt to demonstrate natural language, but ratherto impart information. If students fail to understand the target language, then they wont be able to effectivelyparticipate in the lesson.The same holds true for setting up activities. Clear, concise, and a somewhat slower speaking speed provenecessary. Heres an example of what to avoid: Teacher: What I want you to do is to first get into pairs. Then I want you to think of five questions...Students dont need the instructions softened by a cleft sentence ("What I want you to do is..."). It gets in the way ofthe directions, even for higher-level students. Directions cast in the imperative mood are often easiest to understand,even if they may sound abrupt and rude to a native speaker. Compare the previous example with the following: Teacher: First, get into pairs. Then think of five questions about...The second set of instructions is clear and concise. Its easy to understand. As such, the teacher wont wasteclassroom time with additional explanations. The class can quickly jump into the activity. The teacher wants to avoida mixed bag of problems here. For example, some students have correctly begun the activity. Some students haveincorrectly begun the activity. And some students dont know what to do. When this happens, the teacher must stopthe class and re-explain.The teacher should also consider regularly checking comprehension each step of the way. Although he may have Better Language Teaching - 46
  • presented the information clearly and concisely, it doesnt always mean that everyone understands it. So its often agood idea for the teacher to provide the target language, and then call for examples. The teacher can similarly giveinstructions to an activity, and then ask questions to check comprehension. For example: Teacher: What will you do first? Students: Get into pairs. Teacher: Good. What will you do next? Students: Think of five questions about...All of these habits go a long way to establishing effective talk time on the part of the teacher.See: Book II: How to Set Up Activities - page 90.Student Talk Time (STT)Student Talk Time (STT) refers to the amount students speak. A good ratio is 70% - 80% of the class getting devotedto language production by the students, with the teacher assuming the remaining 20% - 30% for explanations,examples, instructions, and so on.For information on Teacher Talk Time, look at: Chapter Three: Teacher Talk Time - page 43.However, its very important to note here that the teacher shouldnt view the students as a single entity in relation totalk time. He must also consider how much each person speaks. In other words, its not class talk time but studenttalk time. If ten students each speak one by one for one minute, such as to individually answer questions from theteacher, then the class as a whole speaks for ten minutes. Each student, however, actually speaks for just oneminute. (10 minutes ÷ 10 students = 1 minute of student talk time.) For students to build fluency and accuracy, andreach the lesson objective, then each person needs to speak much more than one minute out of ten minutes.For more information, see also: Chapter Five: Pairs and Groups - page 69.Student Talk Time varies through the course of any class meeting. Some portions of the lesson expect students tospeak a great deal. Other portions of the lesson require the teacher to speak more, such as when he introducesgrammar or vocabulary.STT in the Warm UpStudents talk a lot during the Warm Up stage of the lesson. The teacher will largely limit himself to setting up theactivity, with the full five or ten minutes for students to communicate in pairs or small groups. Pairs/Groups maximizethe amount of individual talk time per student. Remember: Students need to get their English wheels turning, so theteacher should strive for an STT of 90% or higher here.See: Chapter Two: Warm Up - page 23.See also: Chapter Three: TTT in the Warm Up - page 43. Better Language Teaching - 47
  • STT in the Presentation and PracticeBecause the teacher must present the target language in this stage, students have fewer opportunities to speak. Inaddition, much of the speaking often takes the form of drills, dialogues, and discussions which are short and narrowlydefined. In other words, students speak in controlled and semi-controlled activities. STT is lower here than elsewherein the lesson, save in the Wrap Up. However, students shouldnt be required to listen to lectures, or have talk timeminimized with overly long and detailed explanations by the teacher. The class needs as much time as possible toabsorb and accurately use the target material.See: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice - page 26.For a comparison of Student Talk Time, see: Chapter Three: TTT in the Presentation and Practice - page 43.STT in the ApplicationAt about 80%, students have the greatest overall opportunity to speak here. Students use the target language largelyuninterrupted, the exception being when the teacher sets up activities and provides minimal correction. Studentsneed to take risks with the language in free activities. They mix the lesson material with previously learnedinformation. They personalize the language, steering communication towards topics of interest and relevance in linewith the activity.It should be noted that repeating activities increases the amount of talking accomplished. If students do the sameactivity once more, perhaps with new partners or with the objective slightly tweaked, they receive a secondopportunity to improve fluency. Students experience increased confidence and comfort level with the language,thereby leading to more risk taking and experimentation. This is a good thing.See: Chapter Two: Application - page 35.For a comparison of Student Talk Time, see: Chapter Three: TTT in the Application - page 44.STT in the Wrap UpIn this final stage of the lesson, students have little opportunity to speak. The teacher provides feedback andcorrection, as well as individual praise and criticism. Therefore STT is largely relegated to information prompted bythe teacher, such as questions/answers, explanations, or other sentences.See: Chapter Two: Wrap Up - page 40.See also: Chapter Three: TTT in the Wrap Up - page 44.Effective vs. Ineffective Student Talk TimeAs with teacher talk time, effective speaking shouldnt simply be measured by the amount of opportunities to speak. Ifstudents speak with many mistakes, for example, this must be viewed as ineffective student talk time. The sameholds true of activities either too controlled or too free, depending on the stage of the lesson. The teacher mustconsider these factors, as well as others, in order to maximize the results of STT. Better Language Teaching - 48
  • Mistakes prove an easy first point that can contribute to ineffective student talk time. Mistakes are welcome in theWarm Up because students might not have used English for several days. Theyre warming up, after all. Whats more,any incorrect use of the target language is to be expected because it has yet to be studied. A more limited number ofmistakes in the Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson are okay too, although too many mistakes indicatethat students havent yet absorbed the material. The teacher can easily remedy the problem in the early stages of thelesson by providing additional activities to improve accuracy.Mistakes later in the lesson cause the most problems, leading to ineffective STT and students walking out of theclass unsure and unconfident with the new material. At worst, students walk out with an incorrect phrase, sentencepattern, or vocabulary fossilized in their heads.For more information on mistakes, see: Chapter Four: What to Correct - page 56.Teachers should also consider fluency. It goes hand in hand with accuracy, and refers to the smooth and quickproduction of language. In the early stages of the lesson, students primarily focus on learning and using the targetlanguage correctly. Speaking slowly, self-correction, and long pauses are normal here. However, in the Applicationportion of the lesson, students should focus on fluency. If students continue to speak slowly or have long pausesbetween responses in the latter stages of the lesson, then the teacher should consider this ineffective student talktime. Additional practice was needed in the early stages of the lesson to build automaticity. The teacher may need toscale back the pre-planned lesson objectives in order to get students speaking with improved fluency.In the different stages of the lesson, the types of activities selected can determine whether STT is effective orineffective too. In the Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson, the teacher presents the target language andstudents receive opportunities to practice it. Here the activities will be controlled or semi-controlled, allowing studentsto solely focus on the new material. Free activities in the early stages of the lesson allow too many choices in theconversation. This increases the likelihood of mistakes. It also lowers retention because students cant focus onparticular aspects one at a time to build automaticity. For STT to be considered effective in the first half of the lesson,students should be limited to controlled or semi-controlled activities.In the later stages of the lesson, students need to practice with free(r) activities. This allows experimentation with thelanguage. If the class finishes with a controlled activity, such as a dialogue, retention drops because students cantmake the much-needed and important connections between their lives and the target language. Effective STT in theApplication means moving away from controlled and semi-controlled activities.It should also be noted that ineffective student talk time can result when the language appears forced. If the targetlanguage only gets used in printables, dialogues, or discussions unnaturally, then students learn to use the languageunnaturally. Activities should be more than a means to practice the target language. They should also provide real,relevant examples for communication. For example, lets look at the following conversation between two students inthe Application: Student A: Where have you been for your vacations in the past? Better Language Teaching - 49
  • Student B: I have been to Spain and France. Student A: Thats great. What have you done there? Student B: I have visited Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. I have seen Gaudis famous church, La Sagrada Familia. I have seen the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I have eaten paella...Although both students have used the target language (the present perfect), neither has really used it as would anative speaker (with the ability level of the students taken into consideration). Their conversation appears more aspractice for the sake of practice. Had the teacher explained that conversations with the present perfect generally fallinto the simple past tense after the initial use of this grammar structure, then students would have been better servedwith the chance to use the language as follows: Student A: Where have you been for your vacations in the past? Student B: Ive been to Spain and France. Student A: Thats great. Ive never been to Spain or France. What did you do there? Student B: I only visited Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris on a package tour. I saw Gaudis famous church, La Sagrada Familia. I also saw the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I ate paella in Spain...This represents a more natural use of the target structure in a relevant and readily applicable conversation.Lastly, effective STT develops speaking strategies. In everyday conversation, speakers must adjust their rate ofspeech for clarity. They also adjust intonation to provide added meaning and nuance. Theres formality to consider.Speakers must also ask for clarification or confirm information. Then theres conversation cues, like "Uh huh" and "Isee," as well as fillers and pauses between thoughts and ideas. Students must also learn to paraphrase unknownvocabulary, grammar, and sentence structures. When the teacher maximizes effective STT, students build thisessential component of oral communication.Even beginners can employ some of these speaking strategies, which are a necessity of conversation. Although theteacher may or may not explicitly focus on any of these strategies in a lesson or activity, use of these should beviewed as effective STT. Each one promotes improved comprehension and communication.Effective student talk time can thus be summarized with the following three points: 1: Students receive the chance to practice the target language in challenging and interesting activities. Early in the lesson, this most often means controlled and semi-controlled activities. These build accuracy and automaticity. 2: Students receive the chance to experiment and personalize the target language in realistic communicative activities later in the lesson. They are also able to mix previously learned material with the target language of the day. 3: Students of any level can develop and improve speaking strategies. Better Language Teaching - 50
  • Use of L1 in the classroomIts important to examine the use of L1 in the class. Use of the L1 by either the teacher or the students can contributeto effective or ineffective talk time.L1 refers to the first language, or native tongue, of the students and/or teacher. (L2, or second language, can beviewed as the target/foreign language.) There are positives and negatives for use of the L1 in the class. There arealso positives and negatives for avoidance of the L1 in the class. It should be understood that many institutions andprivate language schools prefer to institute a 100% English only rule, which fails to consider the positives of using L1in the classroom. Each teacher should assess how to best use the L1 in his classroom, particularly to balance TTTand STT. However, care should be taken if the teacher allows the L1. Its very easy for it to become a crutch whichcan limit the improvement of students.L1 in the classroom can be divided into advantages and disadvantages. As a final comment before examining use ofthe native language of the students in greater detail, the teacher should always consider the reasons for his use ofthe L1 before weighing any positives or negatives. If he wants to practice his foreign language skills, speaking the L1of the students, then this ultimately fails to serve the class. Students should always come first.Advantages of L1The focus of the class often determines how much emphasis gets placed on using or limiting L1 in the classroom. Aconversation class may often be better served if students try to use English as much as possible. When a studentcant understand a word or phrase, or cant follow some aspect of a spoken conversation, then he has the chance toemploy speaking strategies. Yet in another class which focuses on business skills, for example, then the focus maynot be on English. Its on a particular skill, such as how to give presentations or conduct business with Americans.Technical or cultural explanations in the L1 of the students may be more useful in these lessons. Students practice inEnglish with the information provided by the teacher.When students can use their L1 to ask questions and confirm comprehension, it often leads to a clearer realization ofthe form and meaning of the language. Students may ask either their teacher or peers. Although students can asksimilar questions solely in English, lower-level students may need further clarification on some point or aspect of thenew material. They may not know how to phrase the question to the answer they seek. Without this opportunity toask in their L1, some students may get frustrated with their inability to receive improved comprehension andlanguage production. Some types of students need to understand the details in order to use and link the targetlanguage correctly, and so will very much need the chance to seek clarification in their L1.It should be noted that the teacher can sometimes use the L1 to help students provide sentences beyond their ability.Students say a sentence in their native tongue, which the teacher translates for future use and/or reference. Thisproves especially beneficial with incidental language, such as a singular phrase or sentence. The teacher may haveotherwise ignored the opportunity, or perhaps only addressed it in the Wrap Up portion of the lesson. Students maysimilarly do this, as in looking at a text in their native language and translating it (or summarizing it) into the targetlanguage of the class. Better Language Teaching - 51
  • The teacher might also consider using the native tongue of the class to quickly start an activity. Lengthy andcomplicated explanations beforehand can raise teacher talk time. It can also detract from the purpose, namelybuilding accuracy and fluency. If the teacher wants to jump into the practice session without wasting valuable studenttalk time, a thirty-second explanation in the students L1 may accomplish this best. An explanation in the nativelanguage of the students may be necessary with a class of false beginners where no one speaks any English at all.Conversely, if the teacher opts not to use the L1, then clear and concise language is a must to keep TTT low.Gestures and visual aids, such as diagrams or sentences on the board, should accompany explanations. This ofcourse assumes that the activity is appropriate for the level of the class. If the instructions seem too complicated forquick comprehension, perhaps a different, more appropriate activity should be used.For more information on setting up activities, see: Book II: How to Set Up Activities - page 90.Use of the mother-tongue can further benefit students in accuracy-based tasks. When the teacher gets involved andprovides translations of what students want to say, they receive additional examples. These examples can then beused elsewhere, thus aiding their overall output. In addition, students feel more able to hold lengthier conversationslater in the lesson.Its also effective for students to provide an occasional word or sentence in their native languages, especially duringactivities which focus on fluency. A student may get stuck in a conversation and find themselves unable to expresstheir opinions, answers, or questions. Most often, the student passes up the question, answer, etc. and restricts theirconversation to previously studied, comfortable language. Limited approval to use their L1 allows for longer andricher discussions. However, limited and occasional use of the L1 is the key idea here. To restrict excessive use ofthe L1, the teacher can simply allow only two opportunities to use the native tongue per person in a five minuteconversation, for example.Lastly, use of the L1 can effectively prevent misunderstandings and repair any communication breakdowns. It canalso promote increased awareness of the differences between English and the native language of the students.Disadvantages of L1There are also disadvantages for the L1 in the class, from both the perspective of the teacher and the students.For students, an entire class in English offers additional opportunities to hear the language. The English used forexplanations and instructions represent "real" English because students actively listen how to use a grammar point orvocabulary word, or how to conduct an activity, for example. When they use the new material or complete the activitycorrectly, this boosts confidence. They can measure comprehension through success. (Note: Although the teachershould always strive to make activities representative of real and relevant English, students may sometimes seeactivities as something slightly less than real. They still question how much theyve achieved. The teacher can pointto explanations and instructions that were understood as proof of ability.) Better Language Teaching - 52
  • Some teachers fear that tacit approval of L1 will result in its heavy use in the classroom. Students will rely on it,especially if allowed to occasionally insert a word or phrase in their native tongue. This can be true, such as whenstudents fail to develop speaking strategies. They thus shouldnt resort to their native language immediately, butshould strive to ask questions, provide explanations, or give information in English. In most classes, it doesnt takemuch effort for the teacher to encourage students to do so. However, it should be noted that some students maywant to speak and speak and speak, resorting to their native tongue when any difficulties arise. They dont viewcommunication as a balance between fluency and accuracy. They use the teachers policy of occasional L1 use alittle too liberally.There is also the concern that the teacher wont understand what the students are saying, assuming that he doesntspeak the same language well or at all. In student-centered classes where everyone is interested and activelyengaged, though, students are focused on the target language, not the teacher. Use of the L1 among students onlypresents a problem when students have sought to confirm information via their peers. The explanation givenbetween students may not be correct, which the teacher would miss. Or if the teacher opts to explain in the L1 of thestudents, and again is not very adept or fluent in their language, then he could easily miss much-needed nuance. Hemay even provide the incorrect meaning of a word or grammar structure, thereby causing greater confusion.It should be understood that students may feel discouraged or resentful if the teacher resorts to the L1. For example,lets say the teacher has spent several minutes trying to explain an activity in English. No one understands, and theconfusion is clearly written on the faces of the students. The teacher sighs, rolls his eyes, and provides a shortexplanation in the L1 of the class.In the above example, when the teacher switches from one language to the other, it indicates that the students havefailed to understand. Some students needlessly shoulder much of the blame, so may feel discouraged. Otherstudents may think the teacher just didnt explain clearly enough, so point accusatory fingers towards the front of theclass.Although the above example may seem somewhat on the extreme side, its also important to understand thatstudents are very much dependent on visual cues to comprehend the oral information. Think of the last time youtraveled abroad or spoke in a less-than-familiar foreign language. You focused a great deal on other aspects tounderstand the question, answer, or conversation. You picked up many of the smallest gestures, facial expressions,and intonation. The same is true of students in the classroom. In addition, these visual cues can easily bemisinterpreted. In the example, perhaps the teacher sighed at his own inability to set up the activity, not at thestudents inability to understand the activity. Perhaps he didnt roll his eyes, but instead looked up as he consideredhow to best provide the information. Misinterpretation can easily result at even innocuous moments.Lastly, its generally agreed that the L1 shouldnt be used except in homogenous classes where everyone speaks thesame native language. If the class consists mainly of Spanish students, along with a few Japanese and Chinesestudents, the teacher shouldnt give an explanation in Spanish. The other Japanese and Chinese students wouldntunderstand. Better Language Teaching - 53
  • To close out this chapter on talk time, its important to reiterate the importance of TTT and STT. Too much, too little,and the effectiveness of all the talking should be carefully assessed. Assessment can be done during or after theclass to strike the best balance. Some ideas for improved TTT and STT include:  The teacher records the lesson. He can then analyze the balance and effectiveness of the talk time, as well as how much L1 is used (if any). He can then make any needed improvements in future lessons.  The teacher can measure how well students understand explanations with comprehension questions. Correctly answers questions demonstrate that students understand the information. With assessment and refinement, the teacher can improve how clearly he gives information.  Students get one "use your native tongue" card at the start of the class (which the teacher has prepared beforehand). Students may use the card one time for questions of comments in their L1 anywhere in the lesson, handing the card to the teacher. Slips into the L1 also require students to hand over the card. Better Language Teaching - 54
  • What to Correct ………………………………..…………………………………………………. 56When to Correct ……………………………………………………………………………….…. 58 Correction in the Warm Up ……………………………………………………………... 58 Correction in the Presentation and Practice ………………………………………..… 59 Correction in the Application ……………………………………………………….…... 60 Correction in the Wrap Up ……………………………………………………………… 60How to Correct ………………………………………………………………………………….... 60 Teacher to Student Correction ……………………………………………………..…... 61 Self-Correction …………………………………………………………………………... 63 Peer-Correction ……………………………………………………………………….…. 64Criticism and Praise ……………………………………………………………………….…… 65 Better Language Teaching - 55
  • Chapter Four: CorrectionImagine some lower-intermediate students have the following conversation: Student A: What are you going to do at Saturday? Student B: Im going to go to shopping. Student A: I understand. Do you knows what are you going to buy? Student B: Not really. I love shopping, but I love to look at clothes. But I maybe want to buy some jeans.There are more than a few problems with the above conversation. Should the teacher correct each problem? If no,then what should be corrected? Does the stage of the lesson affect what the teacher does or doesnt point out? Whocan offer the correction? Why is correction important?These are all critical questions which the teacher must consider whenever he opts to provide correction. This chapterwill examine what, when, and how to correct, as well as examine the important tools known as criticism and praise inthe classroom.What to CorrectLets look at the above conversation, but with highlighted words and phrases to denote what the teacher will likelycorrect at some stage in the lesson. Student A: What are you going to do at Saturday? Student B: Im going to go to shopping. Student A: I understand. Do you knows what are you going to buy? Student B: Not really. I love shopping, but I love to look at clothes. But I maybe want to buy some jeans.These four points have been selected by the teacher for correction because they represent language previouslystudied. Specifically, the mistakes can be viewed with the following reasons: 1: at Saturday: The student has made a mistake with the preposition "at." Time-related prepositions are often learned at the beginning levels, so the student should be aware of the correct preposition here. 2: to shopping: The student has mistaken shopping as a place. He has substituted the pattern "go to (place)," which has resulted in "go to shopping." Shopping and other gerunds dont require a preposition. 3: knows: The student has made a mistake with third-person subject-verb agreement. Again, this is studied at the beginning levels. 4: but: The student means "because" here. This conjunction will likely have been learned early in the students studies. Alternatively, the student may use "so" as a logical connector.The problems which the teacher chooses to mention all deal with previously learned material. These are referred toas mistakes, and can cover grammar points, vocabulary words, phrases, pronunciation, intonation, etc. The studentshave studied the material, but simply produced it incorrectly. Perhaps the wires got crossed in their brains. Perhaps Better Language Teaching - 56
  • they slipped back into an old habit. Perhaps they are so focused on producing the new target language accuratelythat a slip of the tongue has appeared elsewhere. However, all the mistakes listed above are within their productiveand receptive levels of ability, or their abilities to say/write and understand.There are other problems in the above example, but the teacher recognizes that they probably havent yet beenstudied. These lower-intermediate students likely dont know that "Im going to go shopping" for future actions isnt asnatural as "Im going shopping." They also likely dont know that "I understand" is an unnatural speaking strategy.Students may not know about correct word order when using "maybe." They wouldnt have learned word order forembedded questions. Some of these problems may be above the level of student (such as embedded questions),while some problems may just have not yet been studied. But because all of this material is unfamiliar, students haveno ability to recognize it as wrong. These problems are referred to as errors.The types of mistakes can thus be viewed as: Mistakes: These are problems with previously studied material. Errors: These are problems with any material not yet studied.Both mistakes and errors determine what, when, and how the teacher will address the specific problems. Forexample, mistakes get addressed according to the stage and content of the lesson. In addition, mistakes with thetarget language take precedence over mistakes with any language outside the scope of the lesson. Its important forthe teacher to consider how much input the class can handle. So a particularly difficult grammar structure or skill, forexample, may require more of the classs attention. If the teacher opts to correct other mistakes, it could detract fromacquiring the new material.Errors, on the other hand, generally arent corrected or even addressed during the Presentation and Practice orApplication stages. Errors are above both the productive and receptive ability levels of the class. If the teacher wereto correct the error on embedded questions from the above example, student comprehension and application wouldbe quite low. The teacher hasnt provided an explanation with examples, elicited examples, drilled the structure, norgiven students the chance to practice it freely. A two-minute explanation simply isnt enough for the class to nowcorrectly use embedded questions. In addition, a longer explanation would take time away from the main point of thelesson. The class would be better served with a future lesson specifically devoted to embedded questions.If the error can be quickly addressed and likely to be understood and correctly applied, then a limited number may becorrected by the teacher. Again, its important that any explanation doesnt detract from the main point of the lesson.In the above example, the teacher can quickly explain that "I understand" is unnatural. More effective phrases toindicate active listening include: "Really?!" or "I see" or "Uh-huh." Listeners can even repeat the information, as in"Shopping? Do you know what you are going to buy?"Most errors, if mentioned at all, get brought up in the Wrap Up. Its the ideal stage of the lesson, as pointing out anerror or two here doesnt distract students from the target structure. Some errors need to be addressed, particularlyones that represent culture. Consider the following small list of errors as candidates for the final stage of the lesson: Better Language Teaching - 57
  •  Is a name from a role in one of the activities a family name or a given name? This can be tricky in cultures which reverse names, such as in Japan. People are often addressed by their family name followed by their given name. Students may be unfamiliar with which name is which.  Is the language appropriate? A nineteen year old student and avid music lover may enjoy translating and studying lyrics. He may also be unaware that native speakers generally dont use expletives in class.  Is the language too formal or informal? Students who have only studied general English may have trouble adjusting the language for business, and vice-versa. For example, a foreign executive ends an important business cal with, "Bye-bye."  Abbreviations, idioms, and slang.When to CorrectThere are times to correct mistakes and there are times to ignore the mistakes. On the surface, this may seemcounterproductive. Shouldnt every mistake be pointed out to the students? After all, if the teacher doesnt providecorrection, then how will students be able to improve? How will students be able to become better, more accuratespeakers?As teachers, we must decide when and how much correction to offer in each and every class. Appropriate correctiondeserves as much attention as lesson structure or drills, for example. Correct too much and the fluency of the classsuffers. The students become overly concerned with grammatically correct responses and produce lengthy pausesbefore answering even the simplest of questions, worrying about word order, verb tense, and the like. Swing thependulum in the other direction and correct too little, and words tumble out of the students mouths. What comes outis chocked full of problems. Poor fluency and poor accuracy both hinder communication.If the students were directly translating text, then perhaps a singular focus on accuracy is needed. But language isabout communication, and the different stages of the lesson seek to systematically produce students able toeffectively communicate.The contents of each lesson stage have a different focus. The Warm Up gets students into English mode. ThePresentation and Practice gets students familiar with the target language, which leads to automaticity and improvedaccuracy. The Application allows students to mix new language with old. The Wrap Up gives the teacher the chanceto provide feedback, as well as to review the target language of the day. Because the contents differ in each stage,the need for and amount of correction differs too.Correction in the Warm UpThe teacher shouldnt provide any correction at all in the Warm Up. Students will make mistakes with even familiarand well-known language because theyre just getting started. Most of the mistakes made here by the students willdisappear once everyone fully gets into English mode. Think of these mistakes as simple slips of the tongue,something that happens even to native speakers. Better Language Teaching - 58
  • Curious students may ask specific questions to the teacher. For example, "How do you say (word/grammar)?" or"What does (word/phrase/sentence) mean?" or "Which is correct, (grammar structure A) or (grammar structure B)?"Although students often ask these questions, the teacher needs to be cautious on the answers provided. Anoccasional and quick answer here or there isnt perceived as correction. Nor does it prove disruptive. However, toomany answers, explanations, or even outright participation by the teacher in the Warm Up tend to create ateacher-centered class. In terms of feedback and correction, the students will only look to the teacher.It should also be noted that some Warm Up activities may encourage students to try the target structure orvocabulary in advance of the lesson. Because the teacher cant expect students to produce accurate language, heneeds to further restrain himself from providing any correction with these unknown structures. (Note: A nice, but notnecessarily essential, segue into the lesson may be to point out the language used in the Warm Up.)For example, Stacys lesson on adverbs of frequency might begin with a few questions to discuss with a partner. Q1: What do you do in the morning? Q2: What do you do at night? Q3: What do you do on the weekend?Its okay if students happen to use adverbs of frequency in the discussions. Its okay if they dont use adverbs offrequency, or even if they use them incorrectly. The students havent yet learned or practiced the material, and anyuse of the target structures is simply drawn from pre-existing knowledge. This pre-existing knowledge may or maynot be correct.For more information, see: Chapter Two: Warm Up - page 23.Correction in the Presentation and PracticeA lot of correction takes place during this stage of the lesson. After all, students must learn how to correctly producethe target language of the lesson. The teacher should focus on key elements, such as vocabulary, grammarstructures, or other skills.It should be noted that pronunciation and intonation are important elements too. For example, students will need tocorrectly pronounce the new vocabulary words. Or students should be aware of rising or falling intonation withquestions sentences (depending on the type of question asked). Although a lot of time doesnt need to be spent withexplanations, pronunciation, intonation, skills, etc., each can be addressed as asides. Drills, such as choral orsubstitution drills, allow an adequate number of models for pronunciation, intonation, etc. for the students. Andbecause drills tend to be quite short, they also allow the teacher adequate and unobtrusive correction opportunities.Students can get the needed feedback in order to get the language right.The teacher may also correct other mistakes outside the scope of the lesson, especially if they hinder communication.However, he should do so only as long as these dont detract from new words, structures, skills, or whatever the Better Language Teaching - 59
  • main focus. After all, students can only handle so much input. The teacher should focus on the target language firstand foremost. To keep the lesson on course, mistakes with other structures or words can be raised in the Wrap Up.Frequent or serious mistakes can even be covered in subsequent lessons. For example, a class of intermediatestudents has made many mistakes with modals, which werent the focus of the lesson. Instead of interrupting theclass, the teacher decides to spend the next lesson on this grammar point. The students have already studied thisgrammar, but an extensive review and practice session seems necessary.For more information, see: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice - page 26.Correction in the ApplicationCorrection here is minimal. If students make a lot of mistakes here with the target language, then it should serve as aclear signal. The teacher didnt present the information clearly, didnt offer enough opportunities for practice, planneda lesson that contained too many key points, or some combination of the three.Mistakes excluding the target language are fine. Students will mix previously learned target language, pre-existingknowledge gained from self-study, and the target language of the day to experiment with English. As a result, theywill cover new ground, thereby giving rise to mistakes.Even when there are noteworthy mistakes, the teacher should avoid interrupting the activity. Correction may beoffered between activities, but not during the activities of the Application. Its unrealistic for the teacher to assume thatstudents will be able to smoothly continue a free activity if interrupted. In addition, chances are that one group whomakes a mistake means another group is making a similar mistake. Therefore, the teacher should let the activitycome to an end and point out the problems he overheard. If there were quite a few mistakes, then he can repeat thesame activity, allowing students to practice once more. With another opportunity, and with the mistakes explicitlyhighlighted, the second run through will see more accurate language production.For more information, see: Chapter Two: Application - page 35.Correction in the Wrap UpThe Wrap Up will contain a lot of correction. Any mistakes noticed by the teacher during the Application should bebrought up here where the stage shifts from fluency to accuracy. In addition, looking at mistakes made with the targetlanguage provides a good chance for review too. The Wrap can also be used to correct incidental language.For more information, see: Chapter Two: Wrap Up - page 40.How to CorrectIts important to distinguish the various methods of correction available in the classroom. The three methods are asfollows:  The teacher provides correction to the class as a whole or to individual students.  Students correct themselves. Better Language Teaching - 60
  •  Students correct one another in groups or pairs.No one method proves better than another. In fact, each has pluses and minuses. Whichever the teacher opts to usein his classroom, its important to note that consideration and application of all methods in combination throughoutany lesson works best. Sole reliance on only one method ultimately harms the students language development.Lets look at an example. If the teacher is regularly the sole source of correction, then students wont learn torecognize their mistakes. They wont gain the level of language awareness needed to edit and correct themselves.And yet, it the teacher simply leaves all correction to the class, students similarly wont develop language recognitionskills. They will generally work towards fluency, which means students speak and speak and speak with little regardfor accurate language production.Teacher to Student CorrectionWith this type of correction, the teacher corrects mistakes made by students. He may provide correction to anindividual, to a group of students, or even to the class as a whole. He may provide correction in the middle of or afteran activity, as well as after any particular stage in the lesson. Teacher to Student Correction is vital in the classroom,although the negatives are noteworthy. Yet it must be actively employed in any class because its absence provesdetrimental. Correction here may come orally in the lesson. It may also come as written feedback, such as withhomework assignments and journals.Accuracy and appropriateness are the two key points in Teacher to Student Correction. The correction provided bythe teacher is always correct (or may be after a reference source is consulted). The correction also directly applies tothe needs of the class and the lesson at hand, which means some mistakes may be ignored in favor of ones dealingwith the target language, recently studied material, or whatever else is deemed important by the teacher. Therefore,with this type of correction, the teacher can handle mistakes effectively and efficiently, allowing him to impart thenecessary information without hindering the lesson objective. Time doesnt get wasted with large detours becausethe teacher fully controls the flow of information.When correcting, the teacher may provide instant correction, as in: Student: I goed to the store yesterday. Teacher: Went. I went to the store yesterday.With direct correction as above, the student might ignore the correction, particularly if he were completely unawarethat a mistake had been made. Or the teachers comment could easily be misconstrued as a means to check theinformation, or even be viewed as a conversational reply, as if he had said, "Ah, so you went to the store yesterday."Or if the student wants to add information to his sentence above, hes then focused on putting together specificvocabulary and grammar. He simply doesnt hear the teacher provide the correction. This proves especially true inclasses and activities which focus more on fluency and conversation. The focus isnt on form, so students pay moreattention to creating longer, more detailed, and realer utterances. And yet, it should be understood that this implicitcorrection shows students how their language differs from the model. Better Language Teaching - 61
  • The teacher may also wait until after the activity, maybe commenting on a sentence with a meaning different thanwhat was intended, a word that was misused or mispronounced, or any other area deemed important. If studentsrepeatedly make a mistake and the teacher needs to build awareness, he can monitor and count each time thespecific mistake is produced. After the activity, he reports the information. Teacher: Group A spoke for five minutes, which was very good. They forget the past tense fifteen times.He can also provide a translation for unknown words, sentences, or any material above the level of the students. Hemay do this during or after an activity. Lastly, he can fill in the gaps, as in the following: Student: last Saturday... go shopping... Teacher: So, you went shopping on Saturday? Student: Yes, I went shopping... on Saturday.Another option for correction has the teacher write mistakes on the board. For example, as the teacher monitors adrill, he hears several students make mistakes with the target language. After the drill ends, he writes one of theincorrect sentences on the board with the mistake for the class to see. He corrects it on the board with a brief oralexplanation, and then provides a few more examples also on the board. I goed to the beach yesterday.  I went to the beach yesterday. I eat a hamburger for dinner last night.  I ate a hamburger for dinner last night. I see a movie on the weekend.  I saw a movie on the weekend.Its important to note that Teacher to Student Correction can produce teachable moments, which are a good thing. Ateachable moment means any event unplanned by the teacher. However, it immediately becomes apparent that theevent provides an ideal opportunity to cover new and important ground. The students are actively interested, andtherefore especially receptive to learning. Unfortunately, teachable moments cant be created or planned. They aremost likely get noticed when a student makes a mistake that the teacher must address.Some teachable moments include:  As the teacher presents a series of verbs, he realizes that students are struggling with /l/ and /r/ sounds. He takes a few minutes to explain how to accurately pronounce these sounds, leads a few drills, and once more goes through the new verbs. He also readdresses the point in the Wrap Up.  The class doesnt understand past participles in a lesson on the present perfect. As such, the teacher must spend ten minutes presenting past participles, providing/eliciting examples, and drilling the material before proceeding to an explanation of the target language.  In a lesson on weekend activities, students dont know what their peers in the US tend to do on the weekend. The teacher spends some time providing background information on this culture point.  Its the third week of the class, and everyone remain shy and reserved. Students are silent much of the Better Language Teaching - 62
  • time in fear of making any mistakes. The teacher opts to spend the lesson with activities for students to develop trust through teamwork. A positive and supportive atmosphere will produce better, more enjoyable lessons for all.The teacher must always take care in how much correction he provides. Too much increases his talk time, especiallywhen explanations accompany the correction. Students may continue to make the mistake because too much timewas devoted to TTT. The students didnt have time to practice the new language and improve accuracy, even if theyregistered and understood the information. Retention can also suffer if the correction appears incidental.A final point comes down to producing a class where the students are responsible for their learning. They need todevelop skills to notice mistakes in their language production, as well as to become independent speakers outsidethe classroom. Correction solely from the teacher stunts these skills. Correction solely from the teacher can alsoseem somewhat intimidating. As a result, students tend to passively look to the head of the class rather than activelyassess their own language.Self-CorrectionSelf-correction demonstrates comprehension of and responsibility for the language. It builds awareness of thelanguage, in turn leading to more self-sufficient speakers. It makes students more confident speakers too. With thelarge effect of these positives, teachers should want to strive towards students who can correct themselves.Students who can self-correct obviously understand the mistake, catch it, and make the necessary adjustments totheir language production. It thus allows the teacher to gauge understanding and application of the target language. Ifa student can make the necessary correction to newly taught information, then it demonstrates he has absorbed theinformation. Next he needs to apply the target language in real conversation.Students accept responsibility for their language production too. They rely on current skills to correct the mistake. Yetthey also further hone their skills to produce the language more accurately. They become less reliant on the teacherwhen self-correction gets employed, which in turn develops self-sufficiency skills for use in the real world beyond thehelp of the teacher and classroom.With self-correction, there also comes an increased awareness of the language. Students can better notice andcorrect problem areas, whether these problems result from personal weaknesses or ones connected to their L1. Forexample, Japanese speakers often drop articles (a, an, and the), as well as confuse gender pronouns (he and she).These sorts of mistakes occur not only with beginners, but with advanced-level students too. In fact, self-correctionand increased awareness work in tandem, as consideration of one activates the other. In other words, if studentsfocus on accuracy and correction, perhaps in an activity or exercise set by the teacher, then they monitor theirspeaking. This improves awareness. If students become more aware of the language, remembering the rightgrammar, vocabulary, and so on, then they have a greater chance to notice mistakes.Its important to note that self-correction comes from the individual. Therefore correction can occur during a speakingor writing activity. Students may immediately provide the correction in the middle of a conversation, as when a Better Language Teaching - 63
  • student says, "I goed to... I mean, I went to the beach yesterday." This is obviously ideal, but it also requires a greatdeal of awareness of the target language, weaknesses specific to the person and/or his L1, and so on. The teachercan also write mistakes on the board or in a worksheet for students to independently correct.The teacher doesnt have to wait and hope that students spot their mistakes. He can provide a minor prompt topromote self-correction. He could raise his eyebrow, or say, "Excuse me? What was that?" Such methodsunobtrusively and quickly signal a mistake, allowing the student to independently recall what he said and provide thecorrection. In more extreme cases, perhaps when the teacher needs to develop awareness of a specific problem, hecould raise his hand every time the mistake is produced. For example, every time a student fails to conjugate a verbinto the past tense, the teacher raises his hand for the student to go back, assess, and correct.Despite the benefits, there are a number of negatives. Self-correction may require a great deal of time, especially ifstudents struggle to identify the mistake. They may even wrongly identify a correct sentence or phrase, spendingtime on an area that doesnt need correction. They may even be completely unable to spot the mistake, even whenits level relevant and previously studied. In terms of errors, even ones that the teacher identifies as important andprime for a teachable moment, students wont catch them. Lastly, if students try to correct too much, then fluencysuffers as they solely focus on accuracy, monitoring all language produced.It should be noted that all of the above negatives can be exasperated if the teacher pushes for self-correction buthasnt engendered a student-centered class. If students are more familiar with the teacher almost always providingexamples, feedback, and instructions - in other words, leading the lesson - then any early attempts at self-correctiontake much longer to resolve. Students will be unused to analyzing the language they produce. It will take longer forthem to find the mistakes. The teacher should work towards a student-centered class, allowing everyone to takeresponsibility for their learning with high STT via questions, examples, and self-assessment.Peer CorrectionThe last type of correction comes via students peers in the classroom. Peer correction proves effective because itmaintains high student talk time, as well as encourages students to closely monitor and analyze the language.However, the teacher must first have set the expectation of a positive and supportive learning environment. Ifstudents dont feel comfortable with their peers, then peer correction loses much of its effectiveness. Students wontfeel comfortable in providing feedback to one another.Students work in pairs or groups to provide correction, with one or more students monitoring the conversation andthen providing feedback. Students may also receive a passage of text with mistakes from the teacher, which thepair/group discusses and corrects. Another opportunity for peer correction comes when students receive work writtenby another student. They then read, correct, and provide useful feedback.When students work together, it benefits the whole group. It encourages communication between and support amongthe students. Whats more, correction comes from within the student, not the teacher. Peer correction therefore hasmany of the same positives of self-correction. Retention of the target language improves, confidence increases, andstudents develop self-sufficiency skills vital for language use beyond the classroom. Better Language Teaching - 64
  • Peer correction further benefits weaker students. These students often need more time to process the new material.If working in pairs, a partner can easily help with mistakes. Compare a class activity, in which case the weakerstudents wouldnt get the much-needed personal assistance. In addition, the stronger student better understands thetarget language because he offered correction and feedback to his peer.Weaker students can also listen to the correction offered in group activities. For example, if students worked togetherto correct a series of sentences provided by the teacher, the student can quietly process all the communication goingon. Although silent, he is still actively listening and synthesizing the information. Much of the pressure to produce newmaterial is lessened, and the weaker student has added time to absorb the content before he feels comfortable andcapable of joining the activity.A lot has been said about weaker students. Yet when peers help peers, all of the above positives still apply, no matterthe ability level. After all, each student has strengths and weaknesses, and not just with specific skills like speaking orlistening. Each student has different strengths and weaknesses within each skill too. Two students who regularlymake different grammatical mistakes, for example, have the chance to help one another via peer correction.The negatives of peer correction come down to a few points. First, not every activity, nor even every lesson, allowspeer correction. Although activities should maximize student talk time through pairs and groups, some activities dontfocus on accuracy. These activities might work towards improving fluency, specific speaking strategies, or prosody, orkey use of key vocabulary, grammar, or phrases, just to name a few examples.Another negative occurs when students misidentify something as a mistake, incorrectly correct a mistake, or perhapsentirely miss the mistake. In groups of several students, the chances for correction rise because one or morestudents should spot the problem and be able to provide the correct answer. After all, two or more heads are betterthan one.Lastly, peer correction can prove time consuming. Feedback must be given, which then lengthens the amount of timeneeded for activities. However, the teacher has deemed other areas to be more important, such as added drills forimproved automaticity, or a focus on applying the language more freely and fluently. In some lesson, the extra timejust isnt available.Some activities which encourage Peer Correction include:  Find the Mistake - page 126  Grammar Brainstorm - page 131  Free Writing - page 130  Sentence Scramble - page 164Criticism and PraiseBoth criticism and praise also constitute effective talk time, provided that the teacher doesnt over-criticize and that healso gives sincere praise. In fact, both are so important that they deserve a separate heading under Teacher TalkTime. Better Language Teaching - 65
  • Praise and criticism are invaluable tools in any classroom. Both direct students towards their goals. Both also directstudents towards the teachers expectations and goals, whether the teacher wants students to improve fluency for afive-minute conversation, acquire survival English skills, or develop presentation skills for business purposes. Praisetells students exactly what they did well, which means they have a better understanding of what to repeat. Criticismtells students what they didnt do well, which means they know to avoid similar problems in the future.All teachers should praise their students. In fact, well-received praise can get students to put in a superiorperformance even for a novice teacher, while his more experience colleague in the classroom next door cant get theclass to meet his expectations. Why? Perhaps because the more experienced teacher may not be offering the rightsort of praise, if offering praise at all. In addition, he may have effectively put into practice all other aspects ofeffective teacher talk time, but a failure here has affected the overall lesson. In short, praise is that important.Criticism is equally important, providing a balance to praise. It can be viewed as advice or commentary on mistakes,poor performance, or on any point in the lesson in which the class fails to meet expectations. The students requirethis sort of information. Whats more, if the problem is large, such as repeated mistakes with the target language,then the teacher should allow students to repeat the activity. The criticism pushes the students in the right direction,and the second run through of the activity builds confidence. Everyone will do better the second time around. In short,the teacher should definitely be unafraid of criticism, provided that the problems dont stem from the teacher.This last point proves especially important, so it deserves a bit more expansion. There are many reasons formistakes, too many to list in this guide. However, lets select two examples to highlight when criticism may be unfair: Example One: In an activity during the Application, most of the class continues to make mistakes with the target language. They do so because the teacher failed to provide enough activities in the Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson. Students couldnt adequately absorb the new grammar and vocabulary. This problem, then, is the fault of the teacher. There simply wasnt enough practice. Example Two: The students dont really participate in a role-play activity. In fact, they just sit in groups and chat in their mother tongue. This happened because the teacher didnt fully and clearly explain what needed to be done, so students gave up and lost interest. This is similarly the fault of the teacher, and it would be unfair to criticize the students here.When the teacher offers either praise or criticism, he must always make the comments genuine. This may sound likean obvious point, but many teachers nevertheless let false comments slip out.In general, whenever students did well on an activity, then the teacher should say so. If the students didnt do so well,then the teacher shouldnt offer praise. He needs to instead explain what went wrong, answer any questions, andrepeat the activity. However, what about an exceptionally difficult activity? Or what about an activity that everyonebreezed through because it was too simple? Better Language Teaching - 66
  • If the students struggled because of the difficulty of the activity, then the teacher most definitely should offer praise.After all, the class perhaps met or exceeded expectations, even if they couldnt successfully complete the activity. Ifthe students quickly finished up an activity that offered little challenge, then praise shouldnt be offered. It just soundsfalse, perhaps even patronizing. Hence the teacher should always strive to make his comments sincere.In addition to sincerity, the comments should also be personalized whenever possible. A generic and oft-repeated"good job" or "great" sounds phony. It doesnt motivate or encourage students in the least. Instead, the teachershould provide praise and points to work on, giving this information in the Wrap Up. He can further tie the goals of thedays lesson with overall course goals too. For example, compare the following: Paul: Everyone did a great job today. Stacy: Everyone did well with todays lesson. It was very hard, and there were still some mistakes at the end. Please review todays notes at home because I dont want you to forget this important target language. It will help you link sentences and ideas together, which means you will soon be able to have a conversation for more than five minutes with a partner!In classes with only a few students, the teacher can and should consider one-on-one praise and criticism. Although itmay not work in every class, and personality and background must be considered too, praise and criticism here alsoconstitute effective talk time. If one student needs work with pronunciation, for example, then the teacher can easilypoint out the problem to work on for the next class meeting. If another student still has lengthy pauses while buildingsentences in his head, he should work on fluency for quicker and quicker responses. Better Language Teaching - 67
  • Pair Work ………………………………..………………………….…………………………….. 69Group Work ………………………………………………………….…………………………… 71Concerns and Considerations ………………………………………...…................................ 72 Better Language Teaching - 68
  • Chapter Five: Pairs and GroupsThe teacher must utilize pairs and groups in the class as much as possible, from the Warm Up through to the WrapUp. However, its important for the teacher to understand how to best conduct pair and group work. If he simplyarranges students to work together without consideration or purpose, then he loses so many of the available benefits.Lets look at Paul, one of the example teachers mentioned in this resource manual. He decides to place students intogroups of five to complete a printable. He randomly counts off the groups, distributes the printable, and tells thestudents to work together. Everyone starts to work alone, though. They write, check dictionaries, occasionally lookover to a partners page for confirmation, and ask for clarification here and there. Paul does walk around and providecomments when needed. However, he also reminds the students again and again to share information and worktogether, which doesnt have much effect. After several minutes, Paul gives up, sits at the front of the class, and letseveryone quietly finish the printable. He lastly checks the answers with the class, one-by-one.The above example demonstrates exactly what not to do in the classroom with pairs and groups. Consider thefollowing questions that might have allowed the students greater benefit:  What thought did Paul give when he arranged the students into groups?  Were five students per group too many?  Why was there so little communication during the activity?  Why did students largely work alone instead of cooperatively?  What did Paul do during the activity?  Were the answers checked in a way that encouraged additional communication?The activity could have been accomplished as homework, especially because no meaningful communicationoccurred between the students. The worksheet wasted valuable classroom time.This chapter focuses on explaining the benefits of pair and group work. Because of the close connection betweenpair/group work, Teacher Talk Time (TTT), and Student Talk Time (STT), its advised that Chapter Three be reread forfamiliarity.See also: Chapter Three: Talk Time - page 43.Pair WorkPairs can be viewed as small groups of two people. However, its important to distinguish between groups of two andgroups of three, four, and more. The dynamic of any activity changes if students work in pairs or in groups (of three,four, and more). Hence, pairs should denote two students working together and groups should denote more than twostudents working together.Pairs allow students a great deal of talk time. In a five minute activity in which both students ask and answerquestions, each effectively talks for about 2.5 minutes. In addition, pairs create a non-threatening atmosphere for Better Language Teaching - 69
  • language practice. Students can work on accuracy and/or fluency, make mistakes, share information and ideas, andeven correct one another with little fear of embarrassment in front of the class. There certainly wont be any ridiculeeither, as pairs support one another when faced with the same needs and concerns (namely improving theirlanguage skills).Talk time proves an especially important factor of pair work. In fact, most benefits in the classroom result from a highquantity of talk time through pair work. It allows students to talk face-to-face with one another, sharing and solvingproblems through real and meaningful communicative activities. And to successfully complete these activities,students must take responsibility for their language production. They cant hide behind worksheets, multiple choicequizzes, endless listen-and-repeat exercises that seem more like busywork because they dont translate to realcommunication outside the classroom. Whats more, everyone has ample opportunities to absorb and reinforce thetarget language, as well as experiment, take risks, and work at their personal level of ability.Pairs also allow students at different ends of the same level to help one another. The stronger student helps theweaker student through the activity, offering correction, advice, and any other help. Of course, this only works wheneach student must produce the language independently yet also share the information with a partner. A substitutiondrill serves as a good example, as does any discussion activity. Students do the drill or ask/answer questions backand forth with the target language. In activities that require collaboration, such as a storytelling exercise, the strongerstudent often dominates. The same holds true of a worksheet that both students complete together. In general, theweaker student takes a more passive role. He defers to the stronger student and just observes.The stronger student also serves as a role model for the weaker student. When the two work together, the weakerstudent now has a peer with whom he can compare skills. In addition, those skills are easily attainable with morework and effort. This can motivate and mobilize the weaker student towards improvement. For the stronger student,he receives a chance to explain, correct, etc. In effect, he teaches his partner specific points of the language. Thestronger student immediately puts to use real language. He also solidifies his understanding through teaching. Thisgreatly boosts confidence.It should be noted, though, that stronger and weaker students partnered together for too long negates any benefits.The weaker student grows discouraged, especially when there are many speaking activities. He simply cantcommunicate at the same level as his partner. He may also feel frustrated because he cant understand everythingthe stronger student has said. And as for the stronger student, he cant challenge himself and work at his appropriatelevel of ability. He instead casts the information in sentence structures and vocabulary that his partner will readilyunderstand.Lastly, pairs also allow students of the same level but with different learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses tomore successfully complete activities. For example, if an auditory learner with particularly good listening skills and aglobal learner with particularly good speaking skills work in pairs, the two students more successfully complete alistening/speaking activity. Students share information, which effectively brings different strengths together tominimize or cancel out different weaknesses. Better Language Teaching - 70
  • For information on levels and learning styles, see: Chapter Six: Levels and Learning Styles - page 76.Group WorkThe above benefits of pair work also apply to group work. Students have increased chances to speak, although talktime drops a little when compared to a task of two. Students also effectively share information, cancel out anyweaknesses, and bolster any strengths. They also develop autonomy with and responsibility for the language outsidethe classroom, as students independently solve problems together to complete the assigned task in the classroom.So why should the teacher place students in groups and not pairs, particularly when talk time is concerned?Some difficult tasks require students to process a lot of information. For example, some listening activities work betterin smaller groups than in pairs. This is especially true when students dont simply answer a handful of comprehensionquestions, but instead must reconstruct the key ideas as best as possible. Three or four students who work togetherwill hear different pieces of the puzzle, so to speak. They share different information through each step of the activity,thereby more quickly completing the task with better comprehension for all the parts.Group work also allows for larger, more complex discussions, debates, and role plays. Although student talk timemay be higher in pairs, many real-life situations involve groups of speakers. More information gets shared in groups,which may be especially useful on topics that require students to tap into and share pre-existing knowledge.Consider a lesson on the environment, for example. Because of the breadth of the topic, the chance to hear manyopinions on the subject serves the students well. Or take a role play in which each student must adjust their languageto the character. Different roles often require different uses of tone, register, vocabulary, and even speakingstrategies. In addition, students get exposure to varying tones, registers, etc. from their peers.For more information on discussions, see: Chapter Two: Application: Role Plays - page 37.See also: Chapter Two: Application: Discussions - page 39.In addition, students can monitor for mistakes more effectively. In groups of three, for example, two students speakfor several minutes on questions set by the teacher. A third student takes down mistakes from the conversation,which he later reports and discusses in the group. This promotes active listening skills and an improved awarenessof the language. Students also take more responsibility for the language. After all, they must report the mistakes totheir partners. They want to provide accurate and beneficial information.Perhaps the best aspect of group work comes when the teacher actively switches between the groups and pairs. Atask begins with pairs but finishes in groups, or vice versa. Each supports the other. Lets look at two examples: Example One: Stacy begins an advanced lesson on capital punishment in groups of four. Each group discusses two broad questions, which thus exposes students to a variety of opinions. Some students favor the death penalty, and others disagree with the policy. Each student supports opinions with evidence on the subject. When it comes time to later debate the topic in pairs, students can draw on the information gather Better Language Teaching - 71
  • during this initial activity as they assume for and/or against roles. Example Two: Paul has students work in pairs to answer several questions about vacations. He also switches pairs regularly during the activity, so students have a lot of chances to share information. This not only increases talk time, but also raises the opportunities for improved accuracy and fluency. After ten minutes, students get into groups. They report the information from their previous conversations, which offers yet another chance to reuse key language points. In the final step, students process and assess the information when they vote on the best vacation.In both of the above examples, students dont simply use pairs and groups to improve talk time. When studentsswitch between the two as an integral aspect to the task, students get prepared for richer use of the language. Theyalso take information in previous steps and actively apply it in subsequent steps.As a final important aspect, any one weaker student also has the chance to collect information from his group, whichhe then reuses when moved to work in pairs. If the tasks has students move from pairs to groups, any one weakerstudent has one or more chances to refine and enrich his speaking. He then shares the information with betteraccuracy and fluency.Concerns and ConsiderationsDespite the benefits outlined thus far, some teachers fear pair and group work. They avoid it, preferring to conduct ateacher-centered class for control purposes. Although a teacher should always strive for a student-centered class,which means a lot of activities requiring pairs and groups, some extreme situations may demand less collaborativeactivities. For example, discipline may be a problem. Or sheer class size at fifty or one hundred students makes itvery time consuming to arrange students into groups. Or the administration of the school believes worksheets andquizzes serve as the best tools in learning a foreign language.Yet even in these two extreme examples, the problems can be overcome. In large classes, students can still easilywork in pairs. The teacher needs to simply say, "Work with the person next to you to..." or "Find a partner and..." Inclasses with discipline issues, the teacher must slowly gain the trust and respect of his students, establish hisexpectations for the class, and gradually introduce the idea of pairs/groups for increased autonomy and responsibility.And in old-fashioned administrative environments, a nod to set rules every now and then, plus pair and group work insupport of the worksheets and quizzes, often works well.A key concept when it comes to pairs and groups is: Controlled Chaos. In so many pair/group activities, studentsstand up, move around, talk loudly, use gestures, ask questions, and laugh, just to name a few aspects. This can allseem very unclassroom-like. Learning is very serious business!This chaos is in fact controlled, assuming that the teacher has clearly laid out the steps and expectations for theactivity. Students each work towards a set goal assigned by the teacher. Whats more, students employ so many ofthe key skills needed for successful language learning. They are actively engaged with language production, react tothe information from their partner, negotiate meaning, repair communication breakdowns, and experiment and take Better Language Teaching - 72
  • risks by incorporating the target language of the lesson with material previously learned.Some teachers also fear that without proper monitoring, students will make and reinforce mistakes. Some teachersalso fear that students will overuse their native tongue. These concerns can be swept away, though.Mistakes should be viewed as part of the language learning process. Mistakes often mean that students are mixingtodays target language with target language from previous lessons in new and novel ways. As for an overabundanceof mistakes, particularly with the target language, these can be reduced in the early stages of the lesson withcontrolled and semi-controlled activities. Evidence also indicates that mistakes dont get reinforced even when theteacher doesnt provide constant monitoring and correction.Limited use of the native tongue of the students also shouldnt be viewed as a negative. It can help reinforce andclarify new language, for example, as students get an improved understanding of the material. This proves especiallytrue with beginners. In addition, if the teacher has clearly set up the activity, established a purpose, and made surethe goal falls within the language ability of the class, then students wont feel the need to resort to their L1.See: Chapter Three: Talk Time: Use of L1 in the Classroom - page 51.Lastly, the success of the controlled chaos of pairs and groups owes a great deal to how the teacher arranges thestudents. Who will work with whom? This proves a final and very important question when it comes to pairs andgroups. The teacher may simply place students together out of convenience, such as when students who sit nearone another form pairs. The teacher may simply have students find a partner at random. The same options applywith groups too. But this fails to consider levels, learning styles, personality, and background.The teacher wants to maximize the effectiveness of the pairs/groups. He must therefore consider: Skill Levels: In any class of beginners, for example, some students are stronger than others. They are just about ready to advance to the next level. There are mid-range students and very new beginners too. Although stronger students can help weaker students, its important to pair up students of similar ability for lengthy and complex tasks. This is especially true in the Application portion of the lesson, where the focus rests on so many free activities. See: Chapter Six: Levels - page 76. Learning Styles: Every student learns differently, with various strengths and weaknesses. Some students like to analyze language at their own pace. Others just want to jump into the activity and speak, speak, speak. Consideration to learning styles helps expose students to alternative methods and techniques for language learning. It pushes them beyond their comfort zones, which can be a positive. It also shores up any weaknesses and better maximizes effective participation in an activity. Background: Some students just dont like one another. Perhaps it comes down to background, interests, Better Language Teaching - 73
  • likes and dislikes. And although the teacher doesnt want to simply allow friends to work together all the time, he also doesnt want to pair up students who will finish the activity as quickly as possible to avoid one another. This may seem extreme, but it does happen. There are instances where a female student prefers not to work with a male student, for example. There are instances where a housewife doesnt particularly want to work with a businessman. There are instances where a middle-aged student doesnt want to work with a twenty-something.So how does the teacher manage to juggle the personalities to maximize pairs and groups?In any class, monitoring proves key. In the Warm Up, the teacher listens and assesses not just language ability, butwho will partner well with whom later in the lesson. In the Presentation and Practice, the teacher listens andassesses for who will partner well with whom in the Application. He does this each and every lesson, thereby gaininginsight into the personalities and backgrounds and skills of his class.Lastly, the teacher moves pairs and groups around several times each lesson. This exposes students to manydifferent strengths and weaknesses as everyone shares information to complete the task. It also minimizes anyproblems that might arise from mismatched students. For example, if a stronger student works with a weaker studentfor one or two tasks, then both benefit from the experience. If the stronger student works with the weaker student foran hour or more, then both become frustrated. Both lose much of the benefits of pairs/groups. Both also lose acertain level of enjoyment in the class. Better Language Teaching - 74
  • Levels ……………………………………………...…………………………………………….... 76 Beginner Students ……………………...……………………………………………..… 77 Lower-Intermediate Students …………………………………………………….…..… 79 Upper-Intermediate Students ………..…………………………………………………. 81 Advanced Students …………………………………………………………………....... 82Learning Styles ………………………………………………………………………………....... 84 Analytical Students …………………………………………………………………….... 85 Auditory Students …………………………………………………………………...…... 85 Global Students ………………………………………………………………………..… 86 Kinesthetic and Tactile Students ………………………………………………….....… 87 Visual Students ………………………………………………………………………...... 87 Better Language Teaching - 75
  • Chapter Six: Levels and Learning StylesStudy and eventual mastery of any language consists of more than a series of grammar structures and vocabularyfor students to drill, practice, and use. Theres pronunciation and intonation, for example. Fluency and use of thelanguage must be given attention. Register, such as formality, is yet another factor. Each point and many more gointo the creation of a successful speaker of a foreign language.A series of lessons must expose and provide opportunities to acquire the above points. However, the teacher mustalso consider the level of the class and the individual learning style of the students. Both will affect not only whatinformation is presented, but also how it is presented.LevelsOf course, the needs of a beginner and the needs of an advanced student greatly differ. Students at the lower-levels,for example, cant be expected to support their opinions because they lack the vocabulary and grammar to do so. Ifthe teacher were to incorporate a debate in the Application portion of the lesson for beginners, students would bediscouraged and frustrated at their inability. Similarly, too many tightly controlled activities that dont allow advancedstudents to mix and experiment with the language will be met with boredom.The following diagram explains the focus of the lessons based on the level of the class. The square represents thetarget material as a whole for the different levels. The left side charts the amount of time devoted to how thelanguage is used. The right side charts the amount of time devoted to grammar and vocabulary acquisition. Use of the language Advanced Upper-Intermediate Lower-Intermediate Beginner Grammar & VocabularyAt the beginner levels, most lessons more heavily focus on grammar and vocabulary. The teacher pays less explicitattention to how the language is used, such as tone, register, and skills like circumlocution, skimming, or scanning.(Note: The teacher can still implicitly build these skills. For example, he can instruct beginning students to speak inpairs for three to five minutes. This encourages everyone to provide lengthier, more detailed answers thatincorporate language points in addition to the target language of the lesson.) At the upper-levels, most lessons focusless on grammar and vocabulary, and more on important language skills. For example, upper-level students likelyneed English for professional or academic purposes, so they need to understand cultural elements. They also mustunderstand how to support opinions, persuade, negotiate, and adjust the language to suit the situation and audience. Better Language Teaching - 76
  • It should be noted that the above chart makes no distinction between receptive and productive levels of language,though. Yet both deserve a brief note here.Receptive levels refer to the ability of students to take in language. The information can come via the written orspoken word, such as with an article or when the teacher reads aloud. Productive levels refer to the output of thestudents. This means speaking and writing.In general, students have higher receptive levels than productive levels. Students can understand a word previouslystudied but not used very often. They may similarly understand a phrase or grammar structure when used in context,but which falls just beyond their ability to use it. In both cases, students wouldnt use the material in conversation.The information that follows in this section focuses on student classifications according to level. There are beginner,lower-intermediate, upper-intermediate, and advanced students outlined below. The section describes the abilitiesand skills these students should acquire at their level, as well as provides a few language points for study. Theinformation focuses largely on speaking and, to a lesser extent, listening.Beginner StudentsBeginners span a wide gamut of ability. There are students with absolute zero language production. They haventstudied the language whatsoever, or at least have studied it in such a limited fashion as to be unable to recognizeand/or use anything but a handful of words. It can be said that their productive and receptive levels are nonexistent.For other students, some prior study exists, perhaps years and years ago. Although unused to speaking English,these students can still recall the occasional sentence, phrase, or vocabulary word. The learning speed at the initialstages for this group moves along more quickly because of the familiarity that comes with past study. Past study alsomeans a level of familiarity with the types of activities conducted in the class, as well as a certain understanding ofthe effort and commitment it takes to study a foreign language. On the down side, these students may also possessineffective study habits specific to language learning which the teacher must identify and fix.Lastly, there are students who have been enrolled in a language course for some time and fall within this level ofability. It doesnt matter so much where they have started their studies skills-wise, only that theyre currently aware ofclass expectations and personal strengths and weaknesses. The teacher should be aware that a number of thesestudents are nearing the next level. Think of them as experienced beginners.A class with a mixture of these students, all correctly classified as beginners, makes for a challenging series oflessons!In general, beginners focus on high-frequency phrases and vocabulary. The phrases are often limited to elementarygrammar structures into which students plug words. Experimentation and word play is limited, even in the final stagesof the lesson, because they cant yet move from inflexible to flexible knowledge. In other words, students canteffectively apply the language to less familiar or novel situations, even if they fully understand the specifics of thetarget language. So a lesson focused on the weather may result in students comfortable and capable of discussing Better Language Teaching - 77
  • todays weather, yet be unable to apply that knowledge to talk about typical weather in their home country, or eveninclude a comment about weather during their last vacation.Its important to note that the teacher must still provide free activities in the Application portion of the lesson, though.Yes, the richness and creativity remain limited. Yes, the experimentation contains a lot of phrases and sentencesdirectly from the Presentation and Practice. But students still work at their level of ability, finding interest andchallenge and opportunities to try a new word/phrase here and there. Free activities also set effective classexpectations for when students become more capable English speakers.In terms of speaking, sentences often remain short. Language exchanges feel very abrupt without the ability to addinformation or link ideas. Unless told otherwise, conversation between students tend to be question-and-answersessions, something akin to verbal ping-pong. Student A asks a question and student B answers it. Student A asksanother question and student B answers it. This back-and-forth continues until students switch roles. Any expansionin the conversation often remains restricted to the concrete and familiar. In addition, speaking may plod slowly along,contain numerous pauses, and lack a coherent connection of ideas.Beginners restrict vocabulary to everyday objects, actions, and simple adjectives for description (big, small, heavy,etc.). These words appear in the everyday lives of the students, and so are easily learned, retained, and put to use.However, students still frequently search for words, and may even misuse these basic words. Whats more, studentsmay apply words directly translated from a dictionary, which means a lack of understanding and incorrect usage.Because these words lay outside their level of ability, they are often quickly forgotten. Students wont use the words,nor even recognize when the words are used elsewhere.The mother tongue greatly affects pronunciation, which in turn affects speaking and listening. An English speakerunfamiliar with the usual errors of the non-native speaker may find communication difficult. The non-native speakermay also have a different image of how words sound in his head. When encountering the word spoken by a nativeEnglish speaker, it doesnt match the image. This affects listening ability.The mother tongue also affects intonation. Errors in rhythm and stress can cause communication breakdowns. Thissimilarly affects listening ability with native speakers because, as above, the language expected differs from thelanguage produced. In addition, because the beginner student regularly searches for words, a halting, word-for-worddelivery flattens any intonation that does exist.Lastly, communication may suffer because of the need for mental translation. English hasnt yet become automatic,not even basic phrases. Repetition fosters a degree of automaticity, but response time remains slower as a questionor answer gets broken down, translated, and analyzed to produce a correct response.The teacher should consider teaching the following language points for beginning students. Note that this is only avery short list. In addition, the teacher should be aware that different nationalities may require more or less study inthese areas, thereby affecting when he teachers the structures. Better Language Teaching - 78
  •  Common, concrete nouns with high frequency, such as foods, family members, jobs, weather, etc.  Subject pronouns (I, you, we, etc.).  Common, high-frequency verbs, such as "play" or "read" or "study."  Basic adjectives that describe tangible objects.  Adverbs of frequency to describe recurring actions/events.  Basic verb tenses (past, present, and future).  Closed questions (also called yes/now questions) and open questions (also called wh-questions).  Days, months, dates, and time.  Numbers and prices, as well as "How many...?" and "How much...?"  Conjunctions (and, but, & or) to build lengthier, less disjointed narratives.  Conjunctions (because & so) to provide reasons/results for actions/events.  Speak for one to two minutes about familiar topics.  Be able to ask a limited number of follow-up questions.  Compare two or more items.  Talk about daily schedules.  Talk about likes and dislikes.Lower-Intermediate StudentsLower-Intermediate students perhaps can best be summarized with the following statement: They are in a state oftransition, having acquired many of the basics of the language yet unable to use these elements consistently andaccurately.The weakest of the lower-intermediates can handle short, basic conversations relegated to work, family, hobbies,and other areas of interest. Vocabulary usage remains quite low, and suffices for simple conversations. However,because of a better grasp of and degree of automaticity with key grammar structures, students many times want touse richer vocabulary in their conversations. They dont need to singularly concentrate on basic sentence structure.In many cases, a lack of vocabulary sends the students scurrying for dictionaries because they dont yet possess theability to explain around unknown words. Yet this is a good thing, as it represents an awareness of and activeimprovement towards this specific weakness.Unfortunately, unless the topic is quite familiar, conversations still tend towards the reactive rather than theparticipatory. Students ask and answer questions, but little additional information or follow-up questions voluntarilyoccur. The conversations remain better than the verbal ping-pong of beginners, but richness deteriorates rapidlywhen faced with difficult or less familiar topics/tasks. This problem can be somewhat mitigated if the teacher hasclearly established that activities should mimic real conversations, namely students share information, provide details,and ask many questions. If the teacher has clearly established this expectation, then students tend to be more vocaland participatory in the activities.When students do form narratives, the development tends to be clear but simple. They also heavily rely on repetitionof key information. Theres less justification for opinions or reasons unless the interlocutor asks, "Why?" In addition, Better Language Teaching - 79
  • when faced with topic shifts or unexpected information, weak lower-intermediate students lose the thread of theconversation.The strongest students at this level react far less to conversations, and instead actively participate in discussions,role plays, and other free activities. However, with unfamiliar topics, the lack of language skills becomes obvious.Conversations contain lengthier pauses. Students need to consider how to apply grammar structures to the new topic,as well as check dictionaries to complete their thoughts. When asked to paraphrase information, again the pausesbecome evident. Adequate preparation time is thus necessary.Topics for these stronger students can focus on aspects like travel, friends, and work. Its especially important for thestudents to support information for opinions and reasons too. Although students may be able to read short andsimplified articles on politics, the environment, and some current events, such topics generate only the mostelementary of discussions. This can lead to frustration rather than a meaningful opportunity to practice the language.With all students at this level, though, there exists a number of problems of which the teacher must recognize. First,simpler sentences are often quite accurate, perhaps only suffering from the occasional slip of the tongue or mistakeunique to the students L1. More complex sentences tend to be inaccurate, which requires significantly more effort onthe part of the listener. He may need to ask follow-up questions or recast the information in a new sentence forcomprehension. However, if too many communication breakdowns occur, the listener may simply feigncomprehension rather than repeatedly ask questions or confirm information.Openings and closings of sentences and ideas, as well as the conjunctions/phrases linking the information into asingle narrative, tend to be abrupt or misused for the situation (such as too formal for the setting/context). Studentsoverly rely on a few specific language prompts or phrases, which lead to their overuse and abruptness. The poor useof openings, closings, and links may also affect how successfully groups talk about different views and points on thetopic, as the conversation shifts may not be clear. Organization of the information may also suffer.Pronunciation problems may likely hinder comprehension both for the native speakers in the conversation and for thestudents. For native speakers, unless familiar with the usual mistakes associated with the mother tongue of thestudents, misunderstandings will arise. For the students, the actual pronunciation of the word doesnt match thesound in their heads, and so an inability to easily follow conversations then occurs.Here are several of the more important language points that lower-intermediate students must acquire. This list ismeant to supply some suggestions, and shouldnt be considered complete.  Present continuous tense versus the simple present tense for ongoing actions/events.  Past continuous tense to relate interrupted actions in the past.  Present perfect tense versus the simple past tense.  Passive voice versus active voice.  Clauses of purpose (to & for) as a means to support reasons.  Tag questions for confirmation. Better Language Teaching - 80
  •  Imperatives for advice, directions, and warnings.  Various relative clauses.  Adverbs of manner and comment for richer meaning.  Introduce/close topics, as well as provide transitions between ideas.  Link information and ideas with conjunctions and phrases.  Sequencing information for clarity with discourse markers.  Provide added detail and clarity to ideas.  Speak for three or four minutes with a variety of verb tenses on familiar topics.  Support information and ideas.  Skimming and scanning techniques.Upper-Intermediate StudentsUpper-Intermediate learners have taken great strides in mastering English. Vocabulary and grammar from thebeginning stages of learning have become largely automatic, and students can thus talk about a variety of everydaytopics with relative ease. In fact, when talking about the weather, hobbies, work, or subjects of personal interest, theysound much stronger ability-wise than in truth they are. Discussions on difficult, unfamiliar topics are achievable too,although students need some minor preparation to do so. So what differentiates upper-intermediate languagelearners from students a few rungs down on the skills ladder? And what makes them different from advancedlearners?Like any student, upper-intermediates can understand far more than they can say. This may lead to frustration.However, they can now explain around words or phrases unknown or a bit beyond their productive levels. Somestudents explain slowly but accurately, with frequent pauses. Some students explain more fluently but with moremistakes. Such explanations for both sorts of students may suffer from a lack of clarity too, stemming from gaps invocabulary and grammar knowledge, fluency problems, and/or over simplification that hinders nuance. This problemis worsened with more challenging topics, which often requires use of unfamiliar vocabulary, or when the teacherpushes students to speak at a more natural rate.Even more vexing, though, is the fact that their skills arent yet up to the task of quickly reading newspapers,magazines, and other real sources covering current events. Students need a dictionary, time, and patience, and willencounter many new words and phrases beyond their productive and receptive abilities. Any nuance gets lost, aswell as other subtleties of language in these cases. In addition, even after careful study, upper-intermediate studentsmay only understand the big picture plus a few key details. They wont feel comfortable with the article or topic todiscuss it at length with evidence pulled from the piece for support. This may similarly lead to frustration, particularlyin adult learners who want to go beyond the surface details.Ideas now get presented clearly with upper-intermediate students. Clear organization and topic development exists,although this may seem on the simple side if students lack adequate time to prepare. However, they can alsoeffectively elaborate on these ideas, as well as paraphrase and summarize information to support opinions indiscussions. Paragraph-long narratives can be successfully achieved, and with less harm to fluency than whatlower-intermediates might face. Better Language Teaching - 81
  • Conversation strategies have begun to find their way into their speaking too, as upper-intermediate students havebecome increasingly aware of intonation; rates of speech; polite versus less formal English; English for generalconversation; making requests; or complaining. Despite awareness, inconsistency remains evident. The studentsfirst language still influences their abilities with effective use of these strategies.Prosodic features, such as word stress and intonation, are applied from time to time, thereby adding a new level ofrichness to conversations. This ads meaning, and may even be done to help the listener understand the meaningand/or nuance. This awareness of the listener, as opposed to a strict focus on language production, is a new featureof upper-intermediates.When it comes to writing, upper-intermediate learners can handle simple stories, ideas, and declarations. There willbe a noted misuse of vocabulary, as they look up and experiment with new or uncommon words. There will also be anumber of grammar mistakes and an unnatural use of the language. More time to think about each sentence oftenleads to over analysis, which in turn causes the above problems with vocabulary and grammar. Reading, as hasbeen mentioned, allows students to understand the big picture, but a lengthy article from Time or Newsweek, forexample, would be beyond their ability.Classes at this level should focus on the following language points. Note that the below list comprise only a few ofmany possible topics.  Conditionals, both real and unreal.  Future continuous tense.  Future perfect tense.  Embedded questions to soften requests/statements.  Reported speech as a tool for relating information and stories that happened in the past.  Past perfect as a tool for relating information and stories that happened in the past.  Non-defining relative clauses for writing.  Adverbial clauses.  Summarize and paraphrase information.  Different forms of register, such as formal versus casual.  State and support preferences.  Circumlocution.  Prefixes and suffixes to assist students in breaking down unfamiliar words.  Active listening skills through responses like, "Uh huh" or "Really?!" or "Hmmm."  Natural fillers, particularly in order to gain time to think.  Cultural aspects limited to requests, clarification, confirmation, and so on.Advanced StudentsQuestions and concerns often arise among teachers when it comes to advanced learners. Just what can anadvanced student do? Better Language Teaching - 82
  • Advanced students have cleared the hurdle of fluency problems, as much of the language has become automatic.This includes both simple and more complex grammar structures. They also dont pre-translate and then speak. Theydont get hung up on specific words, and instead can explain around unknown vocabulary. When listening or reading,they dont need to translate, and can often guess the meaning of a new word, phrase, or difficult sentence throughcontext or by breaking down the components of the sentence.Students at this level can summarize concisely and accurately. They can also pull relevant material from news,articles, and other sources to support opinions coherently and logically. Advanced students are further aware of thelistener, which allows them to better adjust their speech to the audience and situation. This means improved skills tojustify opinions, persuade, and negotiate, just to name a few tasks they can successfully address.Herein lurks the problem. The above explanation almost suggests that advanced students have just about reachedthe level of a native speaker. They are fully capable and competent to work or study in English. And although thelatter statement may be true, they arent yet equal to native speakers. Advanced students simply hide theirdeficiencies, some intentionally and others unintentionally, when communicating.For the teacher, then, it becomes difficult to clearly determine what an advanced student needs, especially asindividual students often require fine tuning of a particular skill. Compare this with lower-level learners who sharemany universal weaknesses and need to build skills as a whole. Its often important for the teacher to determine whystudents need English, assess an individuals skills based on that need, and then construct lessons that effectivelyallow the students to reach new goals.Firstly, advanced students still lack sophisticated cohesive devices that result in a smooth connection of ideas. Theydo get their point across with adequate support, but structure may need improvement. This is especially true whenasked to present information with little to no preparation, such as in a debate or spontaneous presentation. Theirspeaking also lacks effective nuance, humor, and sarcasm.Mistakes with vocabulary stem from language slips, primarily from a misuse of prefixes and suffixes. Errors withvocabulary stem from experimentation with newly encountered words. However, the primary problem results instudents circumlocution abilities. To the interlocutor, the speaking appears coherent and smooth. But students usefar less new vocabulary, preferring to explain rather than use a single, apt word for the situation. This means thatvocabulary skills tend to stagnate unless the teacher forces the improvement of everyones productive levels.Lastly, students at the advanced level must improve their understanding of cultural elements that go along with thelanguage. For advanced students who have lived in an English-speaking country for some time, this may be less ofan issue. For students who have only studied English as a foreign language, unnaturalness may appear in writtenand spoken communication. The unnaturalness results from using language and cultural rules from their L1 andapplying it to the target language. Students will benefit from lessons that incorporate information and practiceopportunities that also contain cultural information, such as when used for specific purposes. For example, thisincludes how to write essays and reports, or how management is effectively conducted. Better Language Teaching - 83
  • Classes at the advanced level may focus on the following points.  Rhetorical questions to assert or deny information/ideas.  Mixed conditionals.  Embedding information for richer description.  Cleft sentences for emphasis.  Fronting for emphasis.  Subjunctive mood.  Active use of advanced vocabulary, particularly related to specific purposes/situations.  Cohesive devices for a smoother connection of ideas.  Use analogies, metaphors, and idioms for richer meaning and descriptions.  Use nuance, or at least understand/recognize when its used.  Use humor and sarcasm, or at least understand/recognize when its used.  Cultural aspects like essay writing, report writing, business communication, and so on.  Give, substantiate, and defend opinions with a variety of techniques.  Prefixes and suffixes to assist students in breaking down unfamiliar words.  Walk into the middle of a conversation, pick up the thread, and participate.  Deal with native-level materials and resources (web sites, books, newspapers, etc.).Learning StylesThe teacher must recognize that every student learns differently. A successful lesson requires attention to structure,target language, and activities to absorb and apply the information, just to name a few of the ideas so far presented.However, the teacher must also realize that one lesson doesnt fit all students or all classes. The teacher mustconsider the preferred learning styles of the students too.Learning styles describe a very general approach students take to acquire new target material. Students rely on theirlearning styles to quickly and efficiently process and apply new information. For example, some students do best withmany opportunities to see the information, perhaps written on the board or in notebooks. If all the information getspresented orally, comprehension and retention suffer. Other students do best with many opportunities to listen andspeak. They quickly become disinterested and disconnected when faced with long and overly detailed explanations.And still other students do best with many activities that use physical movement to support the language learningprocess.No class has only one style of student. Therefore, the teacher should provide a balanced approach to his lessons. Ifhe sticks to one kind of activity, then it hinders any students who rely on other learning styles. It also doesnt givestudents the chance to stretch their weaker abilities. The teacher should remind students that learning outsidepersonal comfort zones from time to time helps language learning too. So students who like preparation beforespeaking should occasionally be challenged with less preparation. Or students who only look at the big pictureshould be encouraged to consider the details too. Better Language Teaching - 84
  • Its important to note that students possess traits of several styles in varying degrees. Students still prefer one styleover another, and tend to rely on that style. In addition, cultural beliefs and backgrounds influence students styles.For example, there are few auditory learners among Japanese language students. They tend to be much strongervisual learners, requiring information to be presented on the board, in printables, or via realia. Conversely, Spanishspeakers learning a foreign language thrive in classrooms that allow physical, hands-on activities.Brief descriptions follow on the various learning styles with a few tips targeted to the specific learner.Analytical StudentsThis type of learning style is also known as linear or left-brained. Analytical students take information, line it up withexisting information, and then fit it all together to arrive at the conclusion. Details are very important, as are facts, lists,and organization. Sequential steps and a clear progression during the class prove important.These sorts of students are easily identified through their notebooks and textbooks. They often have highly detailedand organized notebooks, perhaps with page references and information copied from the textbooks. The textbooks,especially grammar resource books, have key information clearly highlighted.Because of their organization and attention to detail, analytical students might be somewhat introverted. Althoughthey may enjoy the classroom, they nevertheless like to work alone to break down and analyze information at theirown pace. This means they often spend a lot of time outside of class ordering and detailing the target language.Despite the extra work, analytical students advance less quickly than their peers in the early stages of languagelearning. So singularly focused on accuracy and not fluency, they miss opportunities to speak. They also prefer not tovolunteer answers or information unless confident in the accuracy of their response. They tend to dislike free,open-ended and free-flowing activities too. However, at higher-levels, the students have a firm grasp of languagerules, and so possess the skills needed to break down and understand difficult sentences and phrases.For improvement, analytical students must:  Find opportunities to speak in English, even if not fully comfortable with the new material.  Take risks with the language. This means students should experiment more in the Application stage of the lesson, even if it means less accurate production.  Accept a level of ambiguity. Everything doesnt need to detailed and ordered.Auditory StudentsAuditory learners prefer to collect and confirm information via listening. Some of these students learn best when theteacher explains orally. They can quickly process and act upon the information. Other auditory students learn bestwhen participating in speaking activities in pairs/groups. These students more effectively absorb and retain theinformation with dynamic use of the language.A singular focus on listening to and acting on oral information actually becomes a weakness for these students. First,auditory students tend to pull only the relevant information that they hear, yet not glean some of the finer points. In Better Language Teaching - 85
  • other words, the students act on the gist of the information or instructions. This is especially true at lower-levels,which may result in less than complete comprehension of the target language or incorrectly conducting a step in anactivity. Its often best for the teacher to present information with additional methods. For example, he can supplyvisual aids in conjunction with oral explanations for improved comprehension.Information written down has less meaning until auditory students also hear it. This affects overall comprehensionand success, particularly with homework, tests, and other activities that dont allow students to also aurally take in theinformation. In upper-level classes that regularly include newspaper and magazine articles, as well as other realia,students may be less adept at pulling out and applying the information and ideas in the initial communicativeactivities.Auditory students should:  Read information aloud, such as instructions. They can even read aloud articles from magazines and newspapers at home or in the class. Choral reading activities work very well with these students.  Listen to CDs, podcasts, and broadcasts for language study.  Find opportunities to communicatively use English.Global StudentsGlobal students look at the big picture, often concerning themselves less with the fine points. Intuition plays a keyrole in their learning, as they connect chunks of information without necessarily comprehending the details. Becausethey focus on the whole and not the individual parts, these students are also known as holistic learners. They standin direct contrast to analytical learners.As global learners prefer the big picture, they also tend to want the big picture explained first. For example, what isthe focus of the lesson for the day? Why and how is a particular grammar point used? What does the teacher wantthe class to accomplish over a given number of weeks? These questions take center stage. Global learners prefer toreceive these answers first, not steps disconnected from the main purpose or goal.Global students can grow bored quickly as well. They care less about analysis and lengthy explanations, and preferto jump in and use the language sooner rather than later. As a result, the teacher must present information and ideasin interesting and novel ways. He must also provide interesting and challenging tweaks to activities that allowmuch-needed reinforcement. (Note: Its often better to redo an activity with a tweak or two, as opposed to cyclingthrough four or five activities in a single lesson.)Less attention to acquisition and reinforcement results in poorer accuracy with the language. There are a greaternumber of mistakes in the Application portion of the lesson. It also means a weaker grasp of the particulars, so thesestudents lack well-developed skills to break down and analyze unfamiliar language. Global learners findself-correction and peer correction difficult too. At higher levels, they yet possess many of the small mistakescommonly made by lower-level students. Better Language Teaching - 86
  • For improvement, the teacher should:  Get global students to realize that proficiency needs both accuracy and fluency.  Set goals for everyone to work towards, as well as steps to measure success.  Encourage global students to use creativity when speaking. This will keep students who otherwise get bored to remain interested and engaged.Kinesthetic and Tactile StudentsKinesthetic and tactile students share a number of similar traits. However, it should be noted that kinesthetic studentsneed physical movement to connect with the learning process. Tactile students prefer hands-on learning. They learnbest when allowed to experience the language in real and relevant communicative activities.These students grow disinterested if expected to sit at their desks for long periods. Fortunately, its relatively easy forthe teacher to incorporate some movement. For example, he can adjust activities so that students dont just sit atdesks, but instead must find a partner and remain standing during an activity. The teacher can also incorporategestures and facial expressions. In role plays and dialogues, props may be used. Even something which seemsinsignificant, like taking notes, doing dictation exercises, or labeling objects, has real benefits too.Imitation and practice prove important when acquiring new material. When kinesthetic and tactile students recalllanguage or information, they cast their minds back to the moment. If the activity involved movement, flashcards, orsomething similar, then retention improves. These students may struggle with reading activities, analytical activities,or activities which require listening for information.Kinesthetic and tactile learners should:  Apply new language in real situations. In other words, they should use English as much as possible outside the classroom.  Sit at the front of the class, as this will require the student to be more engaged. Its much easier to tune out in the back of the room.  Write lists of words again and again. Another option is to create flashcards with key words for repeated study. The action of writing the vocabulary on the card and tactilely using the card aids retention.Visual StudentsVisual learners need to see the information. The whiteboard, texts for reading, or information on the computer all helpthese students succeed in the classroom. Its important to distinguish that some visual students prefer the writtenform of the language, such as a book that explains grammar or vocabulary. This preference is similar to an analyticalapproach. Other visual students prefer diagrams or charts that illustrate grammar or vocabulary. This preference issimilar to a global approach. Better Language Teaching - 87
  • Both types of visual students need to write down information in order to remember it. Although most people believenotes aid memory, visual learners see notes as a prerequisite to memory. In other words, if they dont write down theinformation and/or draw charts and diagrams, then they wont remember the information.In practice, information or ideas heard may not be retained as well as if the student had been able to take notes.Visual learners should be allowed to write notes in the class, perhaps with the teacher providing a minute or two afteran explanation or presentation to take down the information. Longer recall times to activate the language will provenecessary if visual imagery doesnt accompany explanations.The teacher should remember that:  Listening skills are a primary component of oral communication. Extra opportunities should be given to build listening ability, with many opportunities for visual students to hear and process the information.  Flashcards with pictures and/or words are an excellent tool for visual learners. If flashcards arent available, then students can make their own. Alternatively, when encountering new words, students can picture the object in their heads.  Visual learners may struggle with pronunciation, intonation, tone, register, and other aural skills. Better Language Teaching - 88
  • Better Language Teaching - 89
  • ActivitiesIn the subsequent pages of Book II, there are one hundred activities listed. Although some activities focus on specificlevels, skills, or target language, the majority are purposely very, very flexible. The teacher can easily work in tweaksand more major changes to best meet the needs of his class. Providing more or less support, for example, orallowing more or less time for students to work effectively adjusts the range of students who can do the activity. Anactivity listed for beginners can thus be used with intermediates too.Many activities are also flexible enough that they may be used earlier or later in the lesson. Degrees of control canlimit or expand an activity, making even a number of free, discussion-based activity suitable for the Presentation andPractice portion of the lesson. A drill can be shortened and used for review in the Wrap Up. Specific steps may bepulled and used elsewhere too.Going through the activities, it should quickly become apparent that they focus on practice through oralcommunication. There are some listening activities, as well as some reading and writing activities. But these alsopossess communicative elements, allowing students to analyze, discuss, and share the information in pairs andgroups. This creates a student-centered classroom. It also allows for a positive and supportive environment in whichstudents can orally practice the language.As a final word, its important for the teacher to assess the success of each activity. What worked well? What didntwork so well? Why? These critical questions allow the teacher to better understand his class, their needs, and whichactivities will resonate most. It also allows him to better understand how to tweak and change the activities, again toresonate with his class and best meet their needs. This critical assessment requires careful observation during thelesson, and honest assessment after the lesson.For an alphabetical listing of the activities, see: Complete List of Activities - page 92.How to Set Up ActivitiesThe effectiveness of activities depends on many factors. The teacher must clearly present the target language. Thematerial must also be level-relevant to the class. The teacher must limit the amount of new information, else the classwont be able to process it all. And later in the lesson, the students need to be comfortable with the target language,which means adequate practice earlier in the lesson. These are but a few, more obvious examples.How activities are set up also determines the effectiveness of activities. Although somewhat less obvious, a poor setup can waste valuable class time. Even worse, it may require the teacher to stop and re-explain the activity. Criticalquestions to set up activities include:  How clearly has the teacher explained the steps of the activity?  In addition to an oral, step-by-step explanation, how else has the teacher supported the explanation?  Do all of the students know precisely what to do and how to do it?  What are the students working towards in the activity? Better Language Teaching - 90
  •  How has the teacher checked that students fully understand the steps and end goal?If the teacher hasnt covered these points, then the activity could very likely fail.For activities to run without any (or fewer) problems, the teacher should consider the five points below. Not all needto be incorporated when setting up activities, and the teacher should assess the class to select the ideas mostneeded. After all, each class proves unique.1: The teacher explains clearly and concisely. He should also speak somewhat slower than the level of the class. Thepurpose isnt to demonstrate real language, which may warrant quicker, more natural speaking. Natural speech canbe presented elsewhere in the class, or even before, after, or at the break (if there is one). Here the teacher wants toensure that the whole class fully understands how to successfully conduct the activity.The teacher also frames the instructions with the imperative mood, especially with lower-level students. Sequencingadverbs ("first," "next," "then," and so on) clearly outline each step of the instructions. Teacher: First, write three questions. Use todays grammar, the future tense.Of the five ideas, this is the most important.See also: Chapter Three: Teacher Talk Time - page 43.2: Limit the instructions to the immediate task at hand. If an activity has several steps, the teacher explains only thefirst step. Students complete the first step, then the teacher explains the second step. This limits the amount ofinformation students need to process. It also limits the amount of information students need to remember, which isespecially important with lengthy, multi-step activities. Its a bit unrealistic for everyone to remember all theinstructions given at the start, especially when the activity may run for ten, fifteen, or even twenty minutes.However, if action or information in one step is directly applied to a subsequent step, then the teacher should providethat information. Students need to know the purpose of what they are working towards. For example, if students areexpected to quickly read a short article (step one) and then summarize it with a partner (step two), the teacherexplains both steps because the class needs to focus their reading and remember the key information. Teacher: First skim the article for key information. You have two minutes. Try to remember the information to summarize it with a partner.3: Model the activity in order to provide clarity. The teacher does part of an activity with a student, which then allowseveryone to understand the activity. If the students were to use flashcards for a substitution drill, for example, theteacher partners up with a student and runs through the activity once or twice. He holds up a flashcard, his partnerprovides an example sentence with the vocabulary on the card, and the two switch roles and repeat. The studentnow holds up a flashcard for the teacher, who provides an example sentence. The class now has a model of the Better Language Teaching - 91
  • activity to go along with any oral and/or written instructions.Its important that the teacher select a stronger student for the demonstration. The teacher wants to quickly andclearly demonstrate the activity, after all. Whats more, the student may be embarrassed if he cant understand whatto do or if he makes many mistakes with the target language.4: Comprehension questions help confirm for the teacher that everyone understands the steps of the activity. Afterthe teacher explains what needs to be done, he can ask such questions as, "What do we do first?" and "What do wedo next? Why?" and so on. Should he hear an incorrect answer, or if students take a long time in providing theanswer, then a clearer explanation and/or demonstration may be needed.5: Visual aids or references greatly help too. The teacher can write the steps on the board, for example. He canprovide sentences needed for the activity on the board as well, in which case he will also want to drill them aloud withthe class. Lets say that in a class of beginners, students dont know how to ask a partner to repeat a question. Theteacher therefore writes "Excuse me, can you repeat that?" on the board, explains the meaning, and choral drills itwith the class a few times. Students now have a communicative tool needed for the activity.ActivitiesThe activities which follow have been alphabetically listed. Several lists appear below, arranged by level and type ofactivity. There is also a complete list of activities.Complete List of Activities - page 92.Beginner Activities - page 94.Intermediate Activities - page 94.Advanced Activities - page 96.Controlled Activities - page 97.Semi-Controlled Activities - page 98.Free Activities - page 98.Complete List of ActivitiesThe activities below are listed alphabetically.Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy …………………….. 100 Build a Sentence ……………………………………. 107Add an Emotion ……………………………………. 101 Charades ……………………………..……………… 108Amnesia …………………………………..…………. 102 Choral Drills for Grammar …………...……………. 109Answer, Add, and Ask ……………………………… 103 Choral Drills for Vocabulary ………………………. 110Ask and Ask Again ………………………………..… 104 Collocates ……………………………………………. 111Back to Back Discussions ………….……………… 105 Comprehension Questions …………….…………. 112Back to Back Negotiations ……………………….... 106 Comprehension Questions Simplified …………… 113 Better Language Teaching - 92
  • Connectors …………………………………………... 114 Pickle in the Middle …………………………………. 155Continue the Dialogue ……………………………... 115 Prompted Dialogues ……………………………...… 156Definition Word Search …………………………….. 116 Quiz Time! …………………………………………… 157Dialogue Speculation ………………………………. 117 Reading for Gist …….………………………………. 158Dialogues ……………………………………………. 118 Reading for Specifics ………………………………. 159Dictation ……………………………………………… 119 Role Plays …………………………………………… 160Dictation Race ……………………………...………. 120 Round-Robin Storytelling ………………………….. 161Directing the Conversation ……………………….... 121 Same and Different …………………………………. 162Discussions ………………………………….………. 122 Scheduling …………………...……………………… 163Explanations ……………………………...…………. 123 Sentence Scramble ………………………………… 164Fantastic Tales ………………………...……………. 124 Sit Down! …………………………………………… 165Find Someone Who... ………………..…………….. 125 Six Sentences …………………………………….… 166Find the Mistake …………………………….………. 126 Songs ………………………………………………… 167Finish the Sentence ………….…………………….. 127 Slap …………………………………………………... 168First Sentences ………………………..……………. 128 Steal the Conversation …..………………………… 169Four Boxes ………………………………………..… 129 Storytelling …………………...……………………… 170Free Writing …………………………………………. 130 Stranded! …………………………………………….. 171Grammar Brainstorm ………………….……………. 131 Substitution Drills …………...………………………. 172Have You Ever...? ………………………………...… 132 Substitution Drills (with flashcards) ……………….. 173How Do You...? ……………………………………… 133 Summarization ……………...………………………. 174How Well Can You...? ……………………………… 134 Synonym Brainstorm ……………………………….. 175Instructor Interrogation …...………………………… 135 Synonym Match …………………………………….. 176Interactive Gap Fill ………………………………….. 136 Synonym Word Search …………………………….. 177Interview Bingo ……………………………………… 137 Taboo ………………………………………………… 178Intros …………………...…………………………….. 138 Talk and Trade …………………………………….… 179It All Starts with a Picture …………………………... 139 Talk and Walk ……………………………………….. 180Last Words ………………………………………...… 140 Teacher Speculation ……...………………………… 181Listening for Gist ………………………………….… 141 Thats Not Important ……………………………...… 182Listening for Specifics ……...………………………. 142 Thats the Best! ……………………………………... 183Magic Wand …………………………………………. 143 Translate and Translate Again …………………….. 184Make It Unanimous! ………………………………… 144 Twenty Questions ………...………………………… 185Match the Phrase …………………………………… 145 Two-Minute Conversations ………………………… 186Memory (Version One) ……………………………... 146 Two-Minute Debates ……………………………….. 187Memory (Version Two) ………...…………………… 147 Video, No Sound ……………………………………. 188Milestones ………………………………………….... 148 Video Speculation ……...…………………………… 189Mind Maps …………………………………………… 149 Vocabulary Brainstorm ……………………………... 190None of Your Business! ……………………………. 150 Vocabulary Feud ……………………………………. 191Odd Word Out ………………………………………. 151 What Happens Next? …………………………….… 192One Truth, One Lie …………………………………. 152 Whats Missing? …………………………………..… 193Order, Order …………………………………………. 153 Whats the Order? ………………………………….. 194Pass the Question …….……………………………. 154 Whats the Question? ………………….…………… 195 Better Language Teaching - 93
  • Whats the Reason …………………………………. 196 Write on Your Partners Back …………………….... 198Word Association ……………………...……………. 197 Your Pace ……………………………………………. 199Beginner ActivitiesThe following activities are best suited for low-level language learners. The activities take into consideration thelimited language skills of the students, as well as their need for repetition to build accuracy, automaticity, and fluency.For more information on Beginners, read: Chapter Six: Beginner Students - page 77.Add an Emotion …………………………………….. 101 Memory (Version One) ………...…………………… 146Amnesia ……………………………………………… 102 Memory (Version Two) …….……………………….. 147Answer, Add, and Ask ……………………………… 103 Odd Word Out ……………...……………………….. 151Back to Back Discussions …………………………. 105 Order, Order …………………………………………. 153Back to Back Negotiations ………………………... 106 Pass the Question ……………..…………………… 154Build a Sentence ………………………………..….. 107 Pickle in the Middle ………..……………………….. 155Charades ……………………………………….……. 108 Prompted Dialogues ………...……………………… 156Choral Drills for Grammar …………………………. 109 Quiz Time! …………………………………………… 157Choral Drills for Vocabulary …………………….….. 110 Role Plays ……..…………………………………….. 160Comprehension Questions Simplified ………….… 113 Sentence Scramble ……...…………………………. 164Continue the Dialogue …………………..…………. 115 Sit Down! …………………………………………..… 165Definition Word Search …………….………………. 116 Songs ………….……..……………………………. 167Dialogues ……………………………………………. 118 Slap ……………………..……………………………. 168Dictation ……………………………………………… 119 Substitution Drills …………….…………………… 172Dictation Race ……………………………...……….. 120 Substitution Drills (with flashcards) ……………….. 173Discussions …………………….……………………. 122 Talk and Trade ………………………………….…… 179Find Someone Who... …………...…………………. 125 Talk and Walk …….…..…………………………… 180Find the Mistake ……………………….……………. 126 Teacher Speculation …….….…………………….. 181Four Boxes ……………………………………..…… 129 Thats the Best! …..…………………………………. 182Grammar Brainstorm ………………..……………… 131 Twenty Questions ………...………………………… 185How Well Can You...? ……………..……………….. 134 Vocabulary Brainstorm …...………………………. 190Instructor Interrogation ………...…………………… 135 Vocabulary Feud …………….……………………… 191Interactive Gap Fill …………………..……………… 136 Whats Missing? ………………………………..…… 193Interview Bingo ………………..……………………. 137 Whats the Question? ……..……………………….. 195Intros …………………………….…………………… 138 Word Association ……………………......…………. 196Last Words ……………...…………………………… 140 Write on Your Partners Back ……..….………….. 198Listening for Specifics …………...…………………. 142Intermediate ActivitiesDistinction should be made between lower-intermediate and upper-intermediate students. Although they possess anumber of similar strengths and weaknesses, the language acquired by upper-intermediate students allows for richer, Better Language Teaching - 94
  • more detailed, and lengthier conversations. The conversations better incorporate the target language of the lessonwith pre-existing knowledge in upper-intermediate lessons.The activities here may be used for both lower-intermediates and upper-intermediates. However, lower-level studentsmay find difficult some activities that require extensive vocabulary and/or grammar usage. Additional preparation time,such as checking dictionaries or jotting down notes, may be needed. For any activities that expect students todiscuss a series of questions or statements, lower-intermediates may also require more initial questions/statementsto generate the conversations because speaking tends to be shorter. They arent yet ready to speak inparagraph-long thoughts, unlike upper-intermediate students. They also cant effectively link ideas and informationtogether.For more information on lower-intermediate students, see: Chapter Six: Lower-Intermediate Students - page 79.See also: Chapter Six: Upper-Intermediate Students - page 81.Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy …………….………. 100 Four Boxes ……………………………………..…… 129Add an Emotion …………………..………………… 101 Free Writing …………………………………………. 130Amnesia …………………………………………..…. 102 Grammar Brainstorm ………..……………………… 131Answer, Add, and Ask ……….………..………….. 103 Have You Ever...? ……..………………………….. 132Ask and Ask Again ………….…………………….. 104 How Do You...? ………….………………………….. 133Back to Back Discussions ……………………….. 105 Instructor Interrogation …...….…………………… 135Back to Back Negotiations ………………………. 106 Interactive Gap Fill ……….……………………….. 136Build a Sentence …….……………………………… 107 Interview Bingo ……….………………………..…. 137Charades …………….……….……………………. 108 Intros ……….……………….……………………… 138Choral Drills for Grammar ……...………………….. 109 It All Starts with a Picture …………….…………... 139Choral Drills for Vocabulary …………...…………… 110 Last Words …….…...……………………………… 140Comprehension Questions ……………………...…. 112 Listening for Gist ……….…………………….…… 141Comprehension Questions Simplified ………….… 113 Listening for Specifics …………………………..….. 142Connectors ………………………….…………..…… 114 Magic Wand ……….………………………………. 143Continue the Dialogue ……………………………… 115 Make It Unanimous! ………………………….…… 144Definition Word Search ………………………..…… 116 Match the Phrase ……….………………………… 145Dialogue Speculation …….………………………. 117 Memory (Version Two) ……….…………...……… 147Dialogues ………………………………...………….. 118 Milestones …….…………………………………… 148Dictation ………………………..……………………. 119 Mind Maps …………………………………………… 149Dictation Race …………………………...………….. 120 None of Your Business! ………………………….. 150Discussions ……………….…………………………. 122 Odd Word Out …….….…………………………… 151Explanations ………………………………………… 123 One Truth, One Lie ………...……………………….. 152Fantastic Tales …….…..………………………….. 124 Pass the Question ……………………………….…. 154Find Someone Who... …….……………………… 125 Prompted Dialogues …………………………….….. 156Find the Mistake ………..…………………………… 126 Quiz Time! …………………………………………… 157Finish the Sentence …….………………………… 127 Reading for Gist …………………………………….. 158First Sentences …………...………………………… 128 Reading for Specifics ……...………………..……… 159 Better Language Teaching - 95
  • Role Plays …………………………………………… 160 Talk and Trade ………….…………………….…… 179Round-Robin Storytelling …….………………….. 161 Teacher Speculation ………………………………... 181Same and Different …….……………………….... 162 Thats Not Important …………………………...…… 182Scheduling ……….……..…………………………. 163 Thats the Best! ……………..………………………. 183Sentence Scramble …....…………………………. 164 Translate and Translate Again ….…………………. 184Six Sentences ……….………………………….… 166 Two-Minute Conversations ………………………… 186Songs ……….……………………………………... 167 Two-Minute Debates ….………………………….. 187Steal the Conversation …..…….………………… 169 Video, No Sound ….………………………………. 188Storytelling …….……………………………….….. 170 Video Speculation ….…..…………………………. 189Stranded! ……….……….…………………………. 171 What Happens Next? …….…………………….… 192Substitution Drills ………..………………………….. 172 Whats Missing? …….………………………..…… 193Substitution Drills (with flashcards) …….……..… 173 Whats the Order? …….……………………….…. 194Summarization ….………………………………… 174 Whats the Question? …………….…..……………. 195Synonym Brainstorm ……….…………………….. 175 Whats the Reason? …….………………………... 196Synonym Match …………..………………………… 176 Word Association ….……………...………………. 197Synonym Word Search …….…………………….. 177 Your Pace ….………….…………………………… 199Taboo ……….……………………………………… 178Advanced ActivitiesAdvanced students often need to fine tune existing skills. They may also need to build skills used less frequently orless effectively by their L1. The activities here provide extensive opportunities to use the language, experiment with it,and apply it in challenging and fresh ways. The activities may be used in most any lesson that seeks to add culturalinformation, an area with which advanced students need improvement.For more information on Advanced Students, see: Chapter Six: Advanced Students - page 82.Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy …..………………… 100 Finish the Sentence ……..…………………………. 127Build a Sentence …….……………………………. 107 First Sentences ………...…………………………… 128Choral Drills for Grammar …….…………….…… 109 Free Writing …………………………………………. 130Collocates ………………………………………….... 111 Instructor Interrogation …….………………….….. 135Comprehension Questions ………………………… 112 Interactive Gap Fill ………….………………….…. 136Comprehension Questions Simplified …….….… 113 Last Words …………...……………………………… 140Continue the Dialogue ………………………….….. 115 Listening for Gist ……………...…………………….. 141Dialogue Speculation ……….……………………. 117 Listening for Specifics …………………………..….. 142Dialogues …….…………………………….……… 118 Magic Wand ……….………………………….…… 143Dictation ……………….…………………………… 119 Make It Unanimous! ……….……………….…….. 144Directing the Conversation ……….……………… 121 Match the Phrase …….…………………………… 145Discussions ……….…………………………..…… 122 Milestones ………………………………………..….. 148Explanations ….……...……………………………. 123 Mind Maps …………………………………………… 149Fantastic Tales ……………………………………… 124 Reading for Gist ……………………………..……… 158Find the Mistake …….……………………….……. 126 Reading for Specifics ………………………………. 159 Better Language Teaching - 96
  • Role Plays …………………………………………… 160 Talk and Trade …………..………………………….. 179Round-Robin Storytelling ………………………….. 161 Thats Not Important …………………………...…… 183Same and Different ……………………………….... 162 Translate and Translate Again ………………..…… 184Scheduling ………………...………………………… 163 Two Minute Conversations ………………………… 186Six Sentences …………………………………….… 166 Two-Minute Debates ……………………………….. 187Steal the Conversation …………………………….. 169 Video, No Sound ….………………………….…… 188Storytelling ……………..……………………………. 170 Video Speculation ….……………………………... 189Stranded! ………………………………………..…… 171 What Happens Next? ………………………….…… 192Summarization ………...……………………………. 174 Whats the Order? ……………………………….…. 194Synonym Brainstorm ………………………….……. 175 Word Association …………………...………………. 197Synonym Match ………….…………………………. 176 Your Pace ………………………………………….… 199Controlled ActivitiesControlled activities generally appear in the early portions of the lesson, just after the teacher has presented thetarget language. However, some activities listed below may be used elsewhere in the lesson, perhaps as a means tocheck comprehension, to review, or to provide additional reinforcement before continuing on to free(r) activities.Many may be adjusted to fit in the Wrap Up stages of the lesson too.See also: Chapter One: Component Two: Controlled Activities - page 16.Charades ………………………………………..…… 108 Memory (Version One) ….………………………….. 146Choral Drills for Grammar …………………….…… 109 Memory (Version Two) …………………………..…. 147Choral Drills for Vocabulary ….…………………….. 110 Mind Maps …………………………………………… 149Comprehension Questions ………………………… 112 Odd Word Out ……………………………………..... 151Comprehension Questions Simplified ………….… 113 Order, Order …………………………………………. 153Definition Word Search ………………………..…… 116 Pickle in the Middle ……………………………….... 155Dialogue Speculation ………………………….…… 117 Quiz Time! …………………………………………... 157Dialogues ………………………………………….… 118 Reading for Gist ……..……………………………… 158Dictation …………………………………………..…. 119 Reading for Specifics ….…………………………… 159Dictation Race ……………………………...……….. 120 Sentence Scramble ………………………………… 164Explanations ………………………………………… 123 Slap ……………………………………………..……. 168Find Someone Who... …...…………………………. 125 Songs ……………………..…………………………. 167Find the Mistake ……….……………………………. 126 Substitution Drills …………………………………… 172First Sentences ……………………………………... 128 Substitution Drills (with flashcards) …………..…… 173Grammar Brainstorm …….…………………………. 131 Synonym Match ………….…………………………. 176How Well Can You...? …...…………………………. 134 Synonym Word Search …………………………..… 177Interactive Gap Fill ………………………………….. 136 Translate and Translate Again …………………..… 184Interview Bingo ……………………………………… 137 Twenty Questions …….…………………………….. 185Listening for Gist ………………………………….… 141 Video, No Sound ……………………………………. 188Listening for Specifics …………………………….... 142 Video Speculation ………………………………..…. 189Match the Phrase …………………………………… 145 What Happens Next? ………………………….…… 192 Better Language Teaching - 97
  • Whats the Order? ……………………………….…. 194 Whats the Reason? ……..…………………………. 196Whats the Question? ………………………………. 195 Write on Your Partners Back ……………………… 198Semi-Controlled ActivitiesThe semi-controlled activities listed here provide students with increased freedom to practice the target language.However, the activities still exercise a large degree of control as students continue to absorb and automatize thelanguage. Many of the activities listed below can easily be tweaked to increase or decrease the control, based on theneeds of the lesson.For information on semi-controlled activities: Chapter One: Component Two: Semi-Controlled Activities - page 17.Add an Emotion ………….…………………………. 101 Prompted Dialogues ………..………………………. 156Amnesia ………………..……………………………. 102 Sit Down! …………………………………………..… 165Answer, Add, and Ask …………………………….... 103 Stranded! …………………………………………….. 171Back to Back Discussions …………………………. 105 Substitution Drills ………………………………..….. 172Back to Back Negotiations ………...………………. 106 Summarization ………..…………………………….. 174Build a Sentence ………………………………….... 107 Synonym Brainstorm …………………………….…. 175Collocates ………………………………………….... 111 Taboo ………………………………………………… 178Connectors ….…………………………………..…… 114 Talk and Trade ………………………………….…… 179Continue the Dialogue ……………………………… 115 Talk and Walk …………………………………..…… 180Discussions ……………………………………….…. 122 Thats Not Important …………………………...…… 182Explanations ………………………………………… 123 Thats the Best! ………..……………………………. 183Find Someone Who... ……………………………… 125 Twenty Questions …………………………………... 185Finish the Sentence ………………………………... 127 Two-Minute Conversations ………………………... 186Four Boxes ……………………………………..…… 129 Two-Minute Debates ……………………………….. 187Grammar Brainstorm …………………………….…. 131 Video, No Sound ……………………………………. 188Have You Ever...? …………………………...……… 132 Video Speculation ……………………………….….. 189How Do You...? …….....…………………………….. 133 Vocabulary Brainstorm ………………………...…… 190How Well Can You...? ……………………………… 134 Vocabulary Feud ……………………………….…… 191Instructor Interrogation ……………………………... 135 What Happens Next …….………………………….. 192Interview Bingo ………………………………..……. 137 Whats Missing? ………………………………..…… 193Intros …………………………………………………. 138 Whats the Question? ………………………………. 195Last Words …………...……………………………… 140 Whats the Reason? ……..…………………………. 196Mind Maps …………………………………………… 149 Word Association …………………...………………. 197None of Your Business! ………………...………….. 150Free ActivitiesThe following activities are best used during the final stages of the lesson, when students must apply, experiment,and personalize the target language. The activities provide rich opportunities for lengthy discussion, no matter thelevel of the class. They shouldnt be used in the Presentation and Practice stage of the lesson. Better Language Teaching - 98
  • Many of the activities can also be used in the Warm Up portion of the lesson, although their scope must beextensively narrowed. For example, the teacher can provide fewer questions for discussion, or he may limit thenumber of partners with whom students work. Remember: Restrict the Warm Up to roughly ten minutes of class time.See also: Chapter One: Component Two: Free Activities - page 18.Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy ………………….…. 100 Role Plays …………………………………………… 160Answer, Add, and Ask ……………………………… 103 Round-Robin Storytelling ………………………….. 161Ask and Ask Again ………………………………..… 104 Same and Different ……………………………….... 162Back to Back Negotiations …...……………………. 106 Scheduling …………………………………………... 163Build a Sentence ……………………………….…… 107 Six Sentences …………………………………….… 166Directing the Conversation ……………………...…. 121 Steal the Conversation ..…………………………… 169Discussions ……………………………………….…. 122 Storytelling …………….…………………………….. 170Fantastic Tales …………………………………...…. 124 Stranded! ………………………………………….…. 171Free Writing …………...…………………………….. 130 Talk and Trade ………………………………………. 179Instructor Interrogation …..…………………………. 135 Talk and Walk ………..……………………………… 180Intros ……………………………………………...….. 138 Teacher Speculation ………………………………... 181It All Starts with a Picture …………………………... 139 Thats Not Important …………………………...…… 182Magic Wand ……………..………………………….. 143 Thats the Best! ……...……………………………… 183Make It Unanimous! …………………………….….. 144 Two-Minute Conversations ….…………………….. 186Milestones ………………………………………….... 148 Two-Minute Debates ……………………………….. 187None of Your Business! ...………………………….. 150 Whats the Reason? ……..…………………………. 196One Truth, One Lie …………………………………. 152 Your Pace ……………………………………….…… 199Pass the Question ………………………………….. 154 Better Language Teaching - 99
  • Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy!Purpose: To promote better grammatical accuracy.Info: Some students just like to speak and speak and speak. They give little consideration to grammatical accuracy.This activity places emphasis on this essential component for success. However, Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy isnot recommended for beginners because of their inability to speak at length. The activity isnt recommended forclasses with more than ten students.Step One: The teacher prepares a list of questions around a topic or grammar structure before the start of the class.There should be at least five questions. However, if the students are lower-level, there should be as many as tenquestions because conversations will tend towards the short side.Step Two: Its recommended that the teacher arranges the class as below. He should also select one student ineach group to begin the discussion. Less than eight students in the class: Keep everyone together in one large group. 8 - 10 students: One group together or two equal groups which the teacher can monitor.Step Three: The teacher writes the first question on the board. One student begins the discussion. If he speaks forthirty seconds without any grammar mistakes, then he receives a point. If he speaks for another thirty seconds, thenhe receives a second point. This continues until another student begins speaking. If at any time the student makes amistake, then no points are awarded and the clock is reset.Its important for the teacher to accurately monitor how long students talk so as to correctly award points. In addition,any error above the ability level of the student should be ignored. For lower-level students, thirty seconds can bereduced to ten or fifteen seconds.Step Four: The teacher continues with the question until the conversation begins to lag or moves far off topic. Apre-decided amount of time may also determine a new question. The teacher writes a new question on the board andStep Three is repeated.Note: If the class is arranged into groups, the teacher wont be able to monitor everyone easily. One person fromeach group should monitor and award points in lieu of the teacher for his respective group. The teacher overseesboth groups and comments/corrects if necessary. When it comes time to talk about another question, students rotateand a new person monitors and awards points. Better Language Teaching - 100
  • Add an EmotionPurpose: To add an element of emotion to a dialogue/conversation.Info: Students will often focus on new grammar and vocabulary in a dialogue, role play, or conversation, especially atthe lower ability levels. Yet emotion is an important facet of communication. Tone of voice, emphasis, facialexpressions, and gestures all add a meaning and richness to conversation.Step One: The class goes through a dialogue, role play, or other conversation. If the teacher is using a dialogue,then the class should read through it for comprehension, then read aloud together, and finally find a partner topractice. The objective is to have students remember most of the dialogue. For a role play or other conversationalactivity, the students should do the activity once for familiarity.Step Two: The teacher now provides an emotion to be added to the activity, such as happiness, sadness, anger,depression, etc. Only one emotion should be added at this point in the activity.Step Three: Students briefly consider how to use the emotion in the activity. They then get into pairs and practice atleast once. However, its recommended that students switch roles, practice again, and then find a new partner to tryonce more. With more practice comes improved fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. It also means that the tone,facial expressions, gestures, etc. are used more naturally.The teacher should monitor students during the activity, taking notes of well-used tone, gestures, etc. for the emotionselected. Once the activity stops, the teacher comments on these for improved application. If the emotion is repeated,then the students will more fluently use the emotion.Step Four: The teacher selects another emotion, and step three is repeated. Better Language Teaching - 101
  • AmnesiaPurpose: To practice yes/no questions and/or understand key vocabulary.Info: Students ask yes/no questions as a means to identify key vocabulary and practice structure and pronunciation.As more and more questions are asked, additional clues are provided to help identify the topic. Students must retain,analyze, and recall vocabulary to come to the correct answer.Step One: The teacher writes a name, place, or action on a Post-it note. Each Post-it note is placed on a studentshead, and the student should not be aware of what it says. Here are some possible topics:  Famous people  Vacation activities  Weekend activities  Jobs  Vacation places  Favorite foods, fruits, etc.Of course, its always best for the teacher to select a topic appropriate to the theme or grammar of the lesson. Inaddition, students should be aware of the topic. For example, if the Post-it notes contain different jobs, then studentsshould be aware of this topic so as to correctly focus their thoughts and questions.Higher-level students could focus on regrets, dreams, advanced adjectives, or other similarly difficult vocabulary. Inthis case, yes/no questions arent the point of the activity. Instead students must remember key vocabulary.Step Two: Students stand up and mingle into pairs. Student A asks a yes/no question in an attempt to guess theword stuck to his head. Only yes/no answers may be given, although "I dont know" is acceptable if the persondoesnt know the answer. Student B responds. Heres an example: Student A: Do I work outside? Student B: No, you dont work outside.With lower-level students especially, or with a new grammar point, students should use complete sentences.Although this sounds unnatural and awkward in real conversations, it does allow students to improve accuracy here.Step Three: After each student asks his partner a yes/no question, then new partners are found to repeat Step Two.Step Four: Students continue to ask/answer questions until they can guess the word. When providing a guess, thequestion should similarly be phrased as a yes/no question. For example: Student A: Am I an English teacher? Student B: No, youre not an English teacher. Better Language Teaching - 102
  • Answer, Add, and AskPurpose: To develop and participate in a conversation.Info: Students must participate in a conversation, not react to it. This is an especially difficult task for lower-levelstudents who often just answer a series of questions. This activity shows how students participate in a conversation,namely by answering questions, adding information to the answers, and then asking questions in return.Step One: The teacher writes the following on the board: 1: Answer: You must answer questions. 2: Add: You must add information. = REAL CONVERSATION 3: Ask: You must ask a question in return.Step Two: The teacher then explains and demonstrates the activity. The following isnt a conversation, but rathermore like an interview. A: What did you do yesterday? B: I went to the beach yesterday. A: What did you do last Saturday? B: I saw a movie last Saturday.Students should strive to answer, add, and ask. For example: A: What did you do yesterday? B: I went to the beach yesterday. There were many people there. I had fun. What did you do yesterday? A: I studied for my test yesterday...Step Three: Students get into pairs and receive a set of questions. The questions may be written on the board ordistributed as a printable.Step Four: Student A begins the activity. He asks a question to his partner, who answers it, adds more information,and then asks a question in return. Students should continue with the same question as long as possible. They nextmove on to the second question, third question, and so on.Step Five: At the end of five minutes, the teacher stops the activity. Pairs count how many questions from theboard/worksheet they used. Each question represents a restart of the conversation. The fewer restarts the better.Step Six: Students switch roles and repeat with a new set of questions. As before, students talk for five minutes andtry to use as few questions from the board/worksheet as possible. Better Language Teaching - 103
  • Ask and Ask AgainPurpose: To focus on fluency instead of accuracy when producing answers.Info: Students have more than one opportunity to answer a set of questions, so receive several chances to practiceand improve responses. This builds confidence. This activity works particularly well with students who hear aquestion, mentally translate it, think of and translate an answer, and finally produce a response.Step One: The teacher arranges students in pairs and distributes a worksheet with up to ten questions for eachperson. Its advised that all the questions are centered on a singular theme.Step Two: The teacher explains that one student asks questions from the worksheet (student A) and the otherstudent answers the questions (student B). In addition, student A keeps a record of how many questions are asked,including follow up questions. Students have a fixed time to go through as many questions as possible, ideally two orthree minutes.Step Three: The activity begins. Students ask/answer the questions as the teacher keeps time.Step Four: At the end of two or three minutes, student A counts the number of questions covered. This figurebecomes the target number. The same questions are asked again, and student B expands on the answers as muchas possible. The teacher allots more time to conduct this step, about five minutes.Step Five: At the end of five minutes, student A counts the number of questions covered. The new figure should bemore or less equal to the previous figure, even with the added time. This indicates improved performance. However,the past steps havent been a real conversation per se. Its now time for the pairs to exchange information together.Student A goes through the same questions once more, but both students ask follow-up questions to generate aconversation. Students limit the talk to three minutes, marking only the questions asked from the handout. Additionalfollow-up questions arent counted to the total.Step Six: Pairs count how many questions were asked from the worksheet in Step Five. The pairs should only haveused one or two questions from the worksheet, with the remaining questions based on responses.Step Seven: Students switch roles and repeat the above steps. Student B selects different questions from theworksheet for his partner.Variation One: This activity can be used in private lessons too. All the steps remain the same, and again the focus ison improved fluency. Accuracy also improves, although the teacher shouldnt focus on correction because this willfurther hinder speaking speed. Better Language Teaching - 104
  • Back to Back DiscussionsPurpose: To engage in discussions without the benefit of nonverbal conversational cues.Info: This activity works as a great tool to improve listening. Without the benefit of nonverbal cues, students focusmuch more intently on listening to the conversation. In addition, when students miss a word here or there, they makeintuitive leaps based on the context of the sentence/conversation, not on gestures, facial expressions, etc. Real worldapplications include listening to the radio, following online podcasts, and lectures at school.Step One: Students get into pairs and arrange their chairs to sit back to back.Step Two: The teacher distributes a worksheet with a series of ten questions. The worksheet for student A hasdifferent questions from the worksheet for student B. This prevents pairs from preparing or thinking about possibleanswers while their partner speaks. They must listen to get the needed information and answer the question.Students take several minutes to read through the questions for comprehension. The teacher monitors and offershelp and clarification where needed.Step Three: Students ask and answer the questions back to back. All but the weakest class of students should askat least one follow-up question. Higher-level classes must ask follow-up questions and add information to theconversation. Continue through the questions, alternating roles from question to question. In other words, student Aasks his first question and his partner answers it. Then student B asks his first question and student A answers it.Step Four: Students switch partners and repeat the activity. This improves fluency because students have thechance to engage in a new conversation yet reuse much of the material in the previous steps.Variation One: In lieu of questions to answer, students describe one another. In this variation, partners face oneanother for one minute to mentally record information about the other person, such as clothes worn, eye color, andother features. Partners then sit back to back and take turns describing one another. Incorrect answers should benoted and corrected.Variation Two: Students describe their weekend, likes/dislikes, or any other level-related topic to a partner. StudentA begins with a two minute monologue on the topic. Student B takes notes, although this isnt a dictation activity.After three minutes, student B reports the information. Corrections should of course be made if needed. Switch rolesand repeat. This activity works especially well when focusing on reported speech. Better Language Teaching - 105
  • Back to Back NegotiationsPurpose: To negotiate without the benefit of nonverbal conversational cues.Info: Many students struggle with telephone conversations because of the lack of nonverbal communication cues.Yet so much communication gets done over the phone, particularly when making plans. This activity improveslistening which is essential for successful negotiations via phone.Step One: The teacher writes the following sentences on the board. He also reads through the information aloudwith the students for practice.  Are you free this weekend?  Im sorry, but could you say that again?  Im sorry, but Im busy then.  That sounds great.With higher-level students, these phrases should already be known. Therefore, this step is only necessary in classeswith beginning and lower-intermediate students.Step Two: Students decide on a fun activity with a friend for the weekend. Students think about the meeting time,place, people who will go, etc.Step Three: The teacher elicits from the class how to start a phone conversation with a friend. He writes thisinformation on the board and practices it once aloud with the class. This step may not be needed with upper-levels.Step Four: Students get into pairs and arrange their chairs back to back. This simulates a telephone conversationbecause students cant see one another. The teacher directs student A to phone his partner and arrange plans forthe weekend. The start of the phone conversation has been practiced, as has the key phrases.Step Five: Students switch partners and repeat the activity.Variation One: To make the conversation more challenging, students receive specific points which prevent themfrom immediately agreeing to the plan. This necessitates some negotiation through the activity. Ideas which may beselected by the teacher before the start of and incorporated into the activity include but arent limited to the following:  The partner isnt interested in the activity, so suggests another place.  The partner cant meet at that time, so suggests another time.  The partner wants to do something afterwards, so offers another suggestion.Variation Two: Students will conduct the same activity, but in groups of three. Students will need to negotiatetogether as a group over the phone, successfully deciding on plans for the weekend. If this variation is chosen, thenstudents present their ideas to one another, select the best, and decide on a meeting time and place. Better Language Teaching - 106
  • Build a SentencePurpose: Build a Sentence requires students to focus on the target language as they collaboratively constructsentences.Info: Students provide words one by one to build a sentence in small groups. Speed is important, as mulling overwhat word should come next limits the effectiveness of the activity. However, accuracy is also important. The activityworks well for beginners and lower-intermediates as a means to practice the target language. Upper-level studentsmay use the activity as a warm up, especially in connection to the theme of the lesson. In this case, the activity willlargely be free.Step One: Students get into groups of four or five students. One student is selected to begin the sentence. Playproceeds clockwise.Step Two: The first student starts the sentence by saying a single word aloud. The goal is to make the sentence aslong as possible, yet maintain grammatical accuracy. Students should also build a sentence focused on the targetlanguage of the lesson.The teacher may want groups to write the sentences. If so, then the person who starts the sentence should also takedown the sentence. Note that this may slow the activity, though. As such, its effective to run Build a Sentenceseveral times. The first two times, students write down the sentences and check for grammatical accuracy. The thirdand subsequent times, students dont write the sentences in order to focus on speed.Step Three: The second student in the group adds a word, followed by the third student, fourth student, and so on.Students one by one build a sentence around the group.Step Four: Once the sentence comes to a stop, perhaps because of a grammatical problem or students just dontknow how to continue the thought, students start a new sentence. Steps Two through Four continue until the teacherstops the activity.Step Five: Optional. If students wrote the sentences, then the teacher should allot about two or three minutes forgroups to check for accuracy. Each group should correct any mistakes in their sentences, with particular attention onthe target language of the lesson. Better Language Teaching - 107
  • CharadesPurpose: To reinforce new vocabulary or grammar.Info: Charades is a fun activity that allows students to identify and reinforce new vocabulary, grammar, or both. Themovement required to play charades also aids retention. This activity works well with beginning level students.Step One: The teacher makes a list of vocabulary for the activity. All the words should be centered on a theme, suchas weekend activities. A specific grammar structure may also be used, allowing students to reinforce the targetgrammar. As a third option, the teacher may focus the activity on a grammatical element, such as adverbs, adjectives,or verbs. Each word should be written on a slip of paper.Step Two: The teacher places students into groups of four. One student selects a slip of paper (student A). He actsout the information as his teammates try to guess the answer.Step Three: Students guess, but all guesses should be in complete sentences. The teacher should decide andexplain before the start of the activity how to provide guesses. For example: O You are going to go bowling this weekend. O I’m going to go bowling this weekend. X Go bowling.In the above examples, the focus of the lesson may be weekend plans or the future tense with going to. Completesentences provide additional context for the students, thereby improving retention.Step Four: After a teammate has guessed the word, play rotates. Student B now selects a slip or paper. The grouprepeats Step Three. Play continues until all members in the group have had the chance to act out a word.Variation One: Students get into pairs. One person (student A) receives a list of not just one word, but three to fivewords. He then has two minutes to act out the words on the list one by one. As explained above, his partner shouldprovide the guesses in complete sentences. After two minutes, the activity stops. Pairs look through the list,specifically the words that student B couldn’t guess. Students rotate roles and repeat the activity with new words. Foradditional practice, the teacher can later ask students to find a new partner, and then repeat the activity too.Variation Two: This variation should only be used in smaller classes, otherwise students will have less individual talktime. Prior to the start of the class, the teacher writes key words on slips of paper (as explained above). In the class,the teacher arranges students into two teams. One student from each team comes to the front of the class, takes aslip of paper, and acts out different words for their respective teams. Once the word is guessed, the team receivesone point and the student takes another slip of paper. At the end of three minutes, students rotate. Anotherteammate comes to the front of the class and the whole process is repeated. Better Language Teaching - 108
  • Choral Drills for GrammarPurpose: To improve accuracy, fluency, and pronunciation.Info: Choral drills, in which the class repeats words, phrases, or grammar structures aloud, are an integral step inlessons. An explanation and a few examples are never enough for students to immediately use new language in anactivity. Choral drills thus improve familiarization, automaticity, accuracy, and fluency. There are fewer mistakes later.Step One: The teacher presents the key grammar structure for the lesson. The information is written on the boardwith examples. In addition, the teacher elicits additional examples from the class as a means to get participation andto gauge comprehension. If there is more than one grammar structure, its best to present and practice theseseparately. In other words, present and practice the first structure, then present and practice the second structure.Step Two: The teacher says aloud complete sentences one by one. The class repeats in unison. Use moresentences for more practice, such as when the class is slow to comprehend or accurately use the target language.Step Three: The teacher prompts for the sentences with vocabulary. Students now have to consider the full andcorrect structure. Its advised that after the teacher gives the prompt, he allows one or two seconds to pass beforethe class says the sentence together. This will allow the weaker students time to think and then participate. Forexample, if the grammar were on the present perfect: Teacher: visit Australia Class: <short pause> I have visited Australia. Teacher: go rock climbing Class: <short pause> I have gone rock climbing.Step Four: Students now get into pairs and repeat Step Three together. One student plays the role of the teacherand provides the prompts. His partner provides complete sentences. After three minutes, students switch roles.Variation One: The teacher prompts more than one part of the sentence. Students remember the information. Teacher: visit Australia Class: I have visited Australia. Teacher: he Class: He has visited Australia. Teacher: every year Class: He has visited Australia every year.This variation should only be used sparingly. It adds challenge and can be fun, but is quite difficult. In addition, itfocuses a little more on short-term retention rather than the new structure. Better Language Teaching - 109
  • Choral Drills for VocabularyPurpose: To improve accuracy, fluency, and pronunciation.Info: Teachers use choral drills as a means to make new vocabulary automatic. Students gain familiarity with newwords, which they later incorporate into their language repertoire. Its important to keep choral drills limited, or to addan element of challenge, otherwise students will grow bored and go through the activity with little qualitative thought.Step One: The teacher presents the key vocabulary for the lesson. These words may be written on the board, shownas flashcards, or written on a worksheet.Step Two: For each word, the teacher says it aloud for students to listen and repeat. The teacher goes through thenew material at least twice, paying careful attention to pronunciation and comprehension. The teacher should alsonote any difficult words to be reviewed at the end.Step Three: Optional. The teacher places students in pairs. Student A says half of the words, and his partnerrepeats the words. The two switch roles and continue through the second half of the words.Step Four: The teacher now takes the words and plugs them into sentences. If the lesson is centered around aparticular grammar point, then he says the sentence with the word. This will reinforce the words and show theirusage in context. However, the sentence should be simple and short. At this stage of the lesson, the focus is onvocabulary, not grammar. The teacher should go through roughly half of the words. Remember: If choral drills arelimited, students grow bored from too much repetition.With the same sentence each time, the teacher says the vocabulary word aloud and the class says the word in thesentence.Step Five: Review the words which the students found difficult. The teacher should review the words alone, followedby a review of the words in sentences. Better Language Teaching - 110
  • CollocatesPurpose: To build vocabulary connections.Info: A collocation is two or more words that appear together more frequently than would happen by chance. Forexample, collocates of "book" include: hardback book, second-hand book, book lover, comic book, and reprintedbook. This activity encourages students to think about collocations. Knowledge of such words in turn improvesreading speed, as prediction abilities improve. This activity is best used with advanced classes.Step One: The teacher provides a word focused on the theme of the lesson. He should also write up a list ofcollocations for the word, as these will serve as examples for the class. For example, if the theme were the globalwarming, he might start the following list on the board: environment natural environment local environment damaged environment environmental groupMost electronic dictionaries have a collocation function, allowing the teacher to easily select a word before the classthat offers many possibilities. The dictionary is also particularly helpful in quickly providing a list of collocates.Step Two: Students get into pairs/groups.Step Three: The teacher writes the word on the board, as well as provides a few examples of collocates. It may benecessary to explain the meaning of collocations to the class too.Step Four: Students brainstorm possible collocations for several minutes. At this stage, they shouldnt usedictionaries.Step Five: The teacher calls for examples, writing these on the board. Most students will write the collocationsvolunteered by their peers in their notebooks. However, not every word from every list needs to be presented. Eachgroup should volunteer at least one or two words.Step Six: Students may now check their dictionaries. One dictionary may be used per group, which will encouragestudents to collaboratively look at and discuss the information, as well as check the words from previous steps. Better Language Teaching - 111
  • Comprehension QuestionsPurpose: To check understanding in a listening or reading activity.Info: Comprehension questions ensure everyone understands the article, monologue, or dialogue. Its not enough forthe teacher to simply ask, "Do you understand?" Open-ended questions check comprehension of key points whenpresented after the material. When presented before, then questions direct students to identify the important points.Step One: The teacher distributes the article, monologue, or dialogue. Students read the information for severalminutes. The time allotted depends on the ability level of the class and the length of the realia. One minute roughlyequals 100 words. If the activity is focused on listening, then the teacher plays the audio. Notes should not be taken.Step Two: Students get into pairs/groups and discuss what was listened to or read. They dont need to reconstructthe article, monologue, or dialogue, but should be able to talk about the general content.Step Three: The teacher plays the audio once more or allows students to read the piece again. Again, studentsshouldnt take notes.Step Four: Students once more return to their pairs/groups and briefly confirm, correct, or add to their previousdiscussions. This step should be kept to several minutes only.Step Five: The teacher reads aloud one comprehension question. In pairs/groups, students try to answer it withoutlooking at the article. Notes may be checked, but students should try to answer from memory alone. Students haveone minute. The teacher continues this process until all the questions have been asked.Step Six: Students now get into larger groups and compare answers to the questions. Any differences should bediscussed and the correct answer decided upon.Step Seven: The teacher calls for answers from the class. He should correct or add information to the answers.Step Eight: Students now go back to the article or the audio. They read/listen for the answers as a final check.Variation One: This adds an element of competition to the activity. Students read or listen to the piece once, thendiscuss its contents in pairs. The teacher next asks a comprehension question, and the first pair to correctly answer itreceives a point. The questions, answers, awarding of points continue through all of the questions. Students thenreceive the chance to again read/listen to the piece. Any mistakes from before should now be corrected.Variation Two: The teacher may provide the questions to the class before they read/listen to the article, monologue,or dialogue. If the teacher opts for this variation, students imagine and discuss possible answers to the questions.This variation focuses their reading, which may be good if students need practice identifying the main idea. Better Language Teaching - 112
  • Comprehension Questions SimplifiedPurpose: Comprehension Questions Simplified quickly checks comprehension in a listening or reading activity.Info: Comprehension questions ensure that everyone understands the key elements of an article, monologue, ordialogue. A simple "Do you understand?" doesnt adequately gauge comprehension, especially as so many studentsanswer "yes" to hide embarrassment when they dont understand.Step One: The teacher distributes the article, monologue, or dialogue. Students read the handout for severalminutes, depending on the length of the article and the ability of the class. In an activity focused on listening, theteacher plays the audio or reads the piece aloud.Step Two: As the students are reading the handout, the teacher prepares several comprehension questions on theboard. The questions should be a mix of yes/no and wh-questions.Step Three: Students get into pairs. They answer the questions together. Its also important that they find therelevant/supporting information in the article. Allot roughly one minute or less per question for students to find anddiscuss the information in the article.Step Four: The teacher calls for the answers aloud from the class. Any mistakes should be corrected. Supportinginformation should also be provided, allowing weaker students to locate and indentify the key information.Variation One: Pairs ask one another several different comprehension questions. One set of questions are providedon one printable, and the other set of questions on the other printable. Alternatively, the teacher may write thequestions on the board as two separate sets of questions.Students read the article, monologue, or dialogue alone, and then answer their set of questions. When in pairs,partners ask and answer one anothers questions, again providing relevant/supporting information. As a final step,the teacher checks all of the answers aloud.Variation Two: This variation has true/false statements in lieu of questions. As above, students answer true or false,and also find the relevant information in the article. False statements should be corrected. Better Language Teaching - 113
  • ConnectorsPurpose: To link together ideas and information.Info: Lower-Intermediate students especially have trouble linking sentences and ideas into longer narratives. Whenthey speak, it can feel disjointed because they present information as a series of statements. This activity requiresstudents to use conjunctions and other phrases.Step One: The teacher prepares a list of connectors that link sentences and/or support information. Based on theability of the class, the teacher can prepare a few to many for use. Some suggestions include:  although  fortunately / unfortunately  because / so  one example of this is  for example  such asThese connectors may be written on the board in the class, dictated, or distributed as a printable. Each connectormay be used only once, unless it appears multiple times in the list. For example, the teacher dictates "for example"three times and "such as" once. The former may be used by the pairs/groups three times and the latter only onetime.Step Two: The teacher provides a topic for students to discuss in pairs/groups for several minutes. He may narrowthe topic with several questions, in which case students may more easily speak at greater length. This step activatespre-existing knowledge on the subject and gets the class thinking about vocabulary, phrases, and ideas on the topic.Step Three: The teacher gives the connectors to the students. He should explain their usage and provide examples.Step Four: The teacher now tells the class a sentence. This starts the conversations. For example, "Everyone mustlearn English these days" or "The best vacations are in tropical resorts." Students have a minute or two to silentlyconsider the information. During this time, they should consider if they agree or disagree, as well as how to supportthe statement.Step Five: Student A of the pair/group (determined randomly) says the teachers sentence. He then says a sentenceof his own, and uses one of the connectors to link both sentences. He places a check beside the connector he used.Step Six: Student B of the pair/group gives a sentence of his own, which he similarly links to the previous sentenceswith one of the connectors. He can only use connectors not checked on the list. This continues until all thepairs/groups have used all the connectors or the students get cant continue the narrative.Step Seven: After several minutes, the teacher provides a second sentence on the topic. Students repeat theactivity. Better Language Teaching - 114
  • Continue the DialoguePurpose: To see the target language in context, and then create a conversation with the new material.Info: This activity builds on an initial dialogue in which students assume roles in a pre-written conversation. As such,it incorporates the benefits of a dialogue (seeing the target language used in conversation). It also gives students thechance to use their creativity, interests, and other language points in a free(r), follow-up activity. Lastly, it allowsstudents to consider pronunciation and paralinguistic features like pauses, intonation, stress, and tone.Step One: Students receive a dialogue (pre-written conversation) which has been prepared by the teacher beforethe start of the class. The dialogue should present the target language in a natural, conversational context. In otherwords, the teacher should write a conversation where questions are asked and answered, and information is added,all with natural phrasing (appropriate to the ability level of the class). Its also important to avoid a reactiveconversation, or verbal ping pong, when students simply toss questions back and forth.Step Two: As with any dialogue, students receive several minutes to read through the conversation. Students alsounderline or mark the target language in the dialogue. Lastly, unknown words may be checked in dictionaries.Step Three: Students get into pairs and briefly discuss/summarize the conversation. In addition, any unknown wordsand or phrases previously looked up are taught to one another, as this promotes retention and builds fluency. Theteacher also asks some comprehension questions to ensure everyone understands the material. This step isimportant because it ensures that students arent simply parroting the material, but actually comprehend it. They arethen better able to add pauses, word stress, and so on.Step Four: The teacher reads through the whole dialogue aloud with the class at least once. Students need to hearpronunciation, pauses, word stress, and so on.Step Five: Students get into pairs and practice the dialogue. Each person should read each role at least twice.Partners then switch roles and repeat.Step Six: Students continue the dialogue. The conversation may take place immediately after the dialogue preparedby the teacher, or it may take place several days/weeks later and make reference to the earlier conversation. Theteacher determines the time. Lower-level students should write out the new conversation. Higher-level students maysimilarly write out the dialogue, or they may adlib the conversation like a role play. Its important that students receiveample time to complete this last, important step. Better Language Teaching - 115
  • Definition Word SearchPurpose: To reinforce key vocabulary.Info: Word searches help reinforce new vocabulary. By including the definitions, students must first link key wordsand then find them. This two-step process requires analysis, which is always good for improved word retention.Step One: Before the lesson, the teacher creates a word search with the key words. For the clues, he should providethe definitions in English. For example: definition: ( ) is a popular American sport. It’s played outside in summer.Step Two: The teacher provides a list of target words. There should be extra words in the list that arent in the wordsearch, thus forcing students to first match the definitions and words. The list of words should be limited to about tennew, completely unfamiliar words. Words from past lessons may also be included as a means for review.Step Three: Students get into pairs or groups of three. They look through the list of words and discuss these.Dictionaries may be used. Note: Its very important students discuss the words and not work silently. To encouragethis, the teacher may limit each group to one dictionary, which results in better sharing of information.Step Four: Students next match the words with the definitions in pairs/groups. The teacher orally checks theanswers, eliciting the matches from the class.Step Five: Students look for the target words in the word search. Note: This step can be assigned as homework,which provides a good opportunity for review at home.Step Six: The teacher reviews the key words. He says a definition, and the class provides the correct key word.Students shouldnt look at the information. As an optional step, the teacher may also ask how the word is spelled.Variation One: In this variation, the teacher provides a sample sentence with a blank space in lieu of the key word. sentence: Last week I played ( ) with my friends. I hit a home run!Students read through the sentences in pairs/groups, and match the target language correctly. The answers areorally checked as a class, and then students complete the word search.Variation Two: The word search may also be used to review previously studied material. If the teacher selects thisvariation, then a list of words shouldn’t be provided. The class works in pairs, discussing the definitions or examplesentences, looking through notebooks and textbooks for information, and selecting the correct words. The teachermay or may not opt to check the answers before students search for the words. Better Language Teaching - 116
  • Dialogue SpeculationPurpose: This activity requires students to deal with ambiguity as they anticipate the contents of a dialogue.Info: Students receive several sentences from a dialogue. This activity may be used by any level of class, althoughlower-level students may need to speak in their L1. As the primary purpose is to speculate, which calls on successfulnegotiation of ambiguity, limited use of the L1 to speculate about the dialogues contents is acceptable.Step One: The teacher selects several sentences from the dialogue before the class. These sentences should allowthe class to speculate on the contents. The purpose is for students to assess the information provided, connect it topre-existing information, and form conclusions on the dialogue. A tolerance for ambiguity and guesswork is essential.Step Two: The teacher writes the sentences on the board or dictates them aloud. If the former, students shouldreceive a minute or two to look up any unknown words and/or ask questions for improved comprehension. If the latter,then students get into pairs/groups to compare answers after the sentences have been dictated. They may also lookup any unknown words.Step Three: The teacher writes the following questions on the board: 1: What is the dialogue about? 2: Where does the dialogue take place? 3: Who is speaking?Students get into pairs or small groups to answer the questions. Opinions should be supported with reasons. Detailsshould be added whenever possible. Additional questions that fit the contents of the dialogue may be added by theteacher, such as: 4: What is the problem in the dialogue? 5: What is the solution? 6: Is one of the characters angry, happy, or some other emotion?Step Four: The teacher distributes the dialogue to the class. Students receive several minutes to read theinformation and compare it to their previous discussions. Stronger classes receive somewhat less time.Step Five: Students return to their same pairs/groups to confirm, correct, and compare their earlier discussions withthe actual dialogue. They should also discuss why their initial conversations were the same as and/or differed withthe contents. Better Language Teaching - 117
  • DialoguesPurpose: To see the target language in the context of a conversation.Info: Although dialogues are quite a controlled activity, they do show the target language in context. Dialogues allowthe teacher to show how to start and end a conversation, how to use natural idioms and/or phrases, and how torespond to these particular points.Step One: The teacher prepares a dialogue in advance of the class. He should try to balance realism with thelanguage and accessibility for the level of students. For example, although complete sentences may not be natural,these show how to construct grammatically correct sentences at the lower-levels. Similarly, higher-level studentsshould see incomplete sentences, interruptions, and other advanced points.Step Two: The teacher writes several questions on the board to check comprehension. This will ensure that studentsunderstand the conversation, and thereby better apply it in later steps of the lesson. Students brainstorm possibleanswers to the questions in pairs.Step Three: Students receive a copy of the dialogue. They should quickly read through it and answer thecomprehension questions in the previous step. Students first check answers in pairs, then as a class.Step Four: The teacher reads through the whole dialogue aloud with the class at least once. Students need to hearpronunciation, pauses, word stress, and so on. For additional practice, the teacher may opt for one of the following:  The teacher assumes one role and the class assumes the other role. Both read aloud, back and forth.  The left side of the class assumes one role, and the right side of the class assumes the second role.  Men assume one role and women the other.The purpose here is to maintain interest as students gradually become familiar with the key language and otherphrases or key points selected by the teacher.Step Five: Students get into pairs and practice each role at least once.Step Six: Optional. Students get into pairs. Student A reads his role from the worksheet, as student B tries toreproduce as much of the dialogue as possible from memory. Student A may offer prompts/hints whenever needed.Switch roles and repeat.Variation One: Students return to the dialogue and talk about intonation and gestures. Pairs write these cues intothe dialogue and then practice once more. Better Language Teaching - 118
  • DictationPurpose: To improve listening skills, with a focus on grammar, vocabulary, constructing a narrative, and/or spelling.Info: Dictation is often considered a passive activity because students dont stand up, communicate, or move aboutthe classroom. Yet its quite difficult to catch the words, link the words into sentences, and then link the sentencesinto a narrative. This activity adds a communicative element, though, which will further reinforce the target language.Step One: The teacher prepares a story before the class begins. For a class of lower-level students, he should keepthe story to four or five sentences. For intermediate or advanced classes, the story or monologue may be as long asa paragraph. Its important to consider the following points for an effective story:  The best monologues are real and relatable to the students.  Stories or monologues should incorporate key grammar and/or vocabulary from the lesson. this will give students the chance to see the target language linked with other ideas and information.  Stories or monologues should show how to use the language later in the lesson.Heres an example for a class consisting of strong beginners: Im going to go skiing this weekend with friends. I usually go skiing a lot in the winter. But I only went once this year because its been too warm. There isnt much snow in the mountains. My friends and I plan to stay for three days. I hope its fun!Step Two: The teacher reads the story once at a pace just above the level of the students. If read too slowly, thenthe activity isnt challenging. If read too quickly, then the activity becomes far too difficult. Students just listen at thisstage. They should not take notes because this will limit how much of the story they hear.Step Three: Students form groups of three or four and discuss what they heard. Students will have caught differentwords and sentences, and a collaborative effort helps them understand the complete monologue. Students worktogether for several minutes.Step Four: The teacher reads the sentences again, but at a slower pace. Its important to read each sentence twice.Students now take dictation, writing every word if possible.Step Five: Students form groups once more and discuss/compare the sentences for a few minutes. Together, theyshould be able to recreate most of the story.Step Six: Students should come to the board and write the sentences from the story. Correction (if necessary) canbe accomplished by the class. If there are too many students, or time is limited, the teacher may simply write thesentences on the board. Better Language Teaching - 119
  • Dictation RacePurpose: Dictation Race requires students to take dictation, thereby improving listening skills. It also encouragesstudents to pay equal attention to function words (articles, prepositions, pronouns, etc.) and content words (nouns,verbs, etc.).Info: This activity adds a competitive element to standard dictation. Students must quickly and accurately write thesentences provided by the teacher.Step One: The class breaks into teams of four or five students. Each team decides the order each teammate willcome to the board.Step Two: The teacher twice says a short sentence aloud. The first person from each team must race to the board,grab a marker, and write the sentence. The teacher should periodically repeat the sentence, giving studentssubsequent opportunities to listen for the information. (Note: If some students are somewhat older or moreconservative (perhaps business professionals), or if the some wouldnt respond well to running in the class, studentscan start the dictation race at the board. They race to correctly finish writing the sentence.)Step Three: The team whose student correctly completed the dictated sentence receives a point. The students atthe board return to their teams, and the second set of students get ready.Step Four: The teacher again says a short sentence aloud two times. The second person from each team races tothe board, grabs a marker, and writes the sentence. Again the teacher should repeat the sentence from time to time.Step Five: Steps Two and Three are repeated until everyone on the teams have had at least one chance to race tothe board. The team with the most points at the end wins.Variation One: This activity may be done with words as a means to improve spelling. Although it may be used withany level of student, perhaps using quite difficult words with advanced classes, it works best with beginners. Better Language Teaching - 120
  • Directing the ConversationPurpose: To direct the conversation onto specific topics.Info: This activity develops the ability to control topic shifts, as well as to follow those shifts. Its a difficult activitybecause of the fluency required, so its best recommended for upper-intermediate and advanced students. Thisactivity attempts to simulate conversations among large groups, such as might be found at a party. Non-nativespeakers often find the topic shifts and concurrent conversations difficult to follow, let alone join. If a student candirect the conversation, then he becomes more comfortable with the topic shifts and overlapping conversations.Step One: The teacher writes the following topics on the board. These are only a handful of ideas, and others canand should easily be generated to keep the activity fresh and interesting if reused. Student A Student B Student C  football  politics  your friends  work  school  your hometown  your dream vacation  your neighbors  regrets  favorite TV programs  your family  hobbiesThe teacher may also elicit additional topics from the class, writing these on the board too. The elicited topics shouldbe distributed equally as written above.Step Two: The teacher arranges students into groups of four students. Groups of three are possible in small classes,although the activity isnt nearly as enjoyable. Larger groups are ill-advised because talk time significantly drops. Ifthe teacher opts for smaller or larger groups, adjust the columns of topics accordingly (two columns = groups of three-or- four columns = groups of five).Step Three: Students A, B, and C are the discussions participants, as student D monitors. Each time one of thestudents naturally shifts the conversation to one of the topics in his column, student D awards him a point. However,the key word here is natural. If student D deems the shift in topics unusual and unnatural, then a point isnt awarded.Student A begins the conversation with "A funny thing happened to me the other day..." The conversations shouldcontinue for a pre-determined length of time, which is anywhere from three to five minutes.Step Four: At the end of three to five minutes, student D reports on why the shifts werent natural.Step Five: Students rotate roles. Student A becomes student B, student B becomes student C, student C becomesstudent D, and student D becomes student A. This rotation is important to shift the conversation topics for eachperson. Continue the activity until all students have had the chance to participate as speakers and to monitor theconversations. Better Language Teaching - 121
  • DiscussionsPurpose: To talk about a series of questions focused on a single theme or idea.Info: Discussions can serve as Warm Up activities, activating pre-existing knowledge on the topic. In so doing,students prepare for the upcoming focus of the lesson. Elsewhere, discussions can give the class the chance tofreely use the target language. They can experiment with it and mix it with other previously learned material.Step One: The teacher writes several questions on the board for discussion. Alternatively, he may distribute ahandout with prewritten questions. Students briefly may need some time to understand the questions. They shouldalso spend time considering the answers. For higher-level students, follow-up questions should be imagined too.Step Two: Students get into pairs or small groups to discuss the questions. The teacher may assign a number ofquestions for discussion, as well as the timeframe. For example, students must answer five questions in fifteenminutes. Lower-level students will naturally talk less because of poorer abilities with vocabulary and grammar.Higher-level students can and should talk more.Step Three: Optional. After students have discussed the questions, the teacher may add some or all of the followingquestions to consider and/ or discuss:  What was the most difficult question to answer? Why?  What was the easiest question to answer? Why?  What was the best comment or idea you had? Why do you think so?  What was the best comment or idea your partner(s) had? Why do you think so?  What did you want to say but couldnt? Why couldnt you say it?These questions promote analysis of individual strengths and weaknesses.Variation One: Discussions may also be used to practice new vocabulary. For this variation, students write downthree to five vocabulary words in their notebooks to use in the conversations. When pairs/groups are formed, thenstudents exchange notebooks. Each time the person uses one of his selected words, his partner places a checkmark beside the word. Students may use each word more than once.Variation Two: The teacher writes different questions on slips of paper. He posts these on the wall around the roomat even intervals before the start of the class. Students stand and move to the questions, with two students perquestion. Students read their question on the wall, think about possible answers, and then discuss for severalminutes. When the teacher says stop, one student moves clockwise and the other student moves counter-clockwiseto new questions and new partners. The process is repeated as many times as the teacher deems necessary. Better Language Teaching - 122
  • ExplanationsPurpose: To build fluency and comprehension via description and explanation.Info: This activity works well in classes of most any size, as the teacher can either focus on the listener who gathersthe information or the speakers who provide the information. Students must be quick to speak and quick tolisten/understand the explanations. Circumlocution also improves.Step One: One or more students are selected to sit in the hot seat.  In small classes, only one student is selected. He sits at the front of the class with his back to the board.  In somewhat larger classes, the teacher moves students into two or three groups of five people (maximum). One student from each group sits at the front of the class with his back to the board.  In large classes, students get into groups of five (maximum). One student from each group is in the hot seat. Because of class size, he remains with his group at their desks.Step Two: The teacher provides a key vocabulary word and writes it on the board. The student in the hot seatcannot see the word, and so must guess based on descriptions and explanations provided by his teammates. Theteammates may not say the word, may not spell the word, and may not say something along the lines of "it rhymeswith..." In short, descriptions and explanations are key.In small classes, as there is no competition, the focus is on teamwork and support among all students in the class.When there are multiple hot seats because of multiple groups, then groups are competing against one another. Thevolume and energy can get quite high. When there are many groups because of a large class size, the teachershould provide slips of paper with key words written on each piece. The group looks at one word, and then providesexplanations to the person in the hot seat.Step Three: Once the student guesses the word, another teammate comes and sits in the hot seat. The teacherwrites a new word on the board, and play continues.If there are several groups competing at the same time before the board, then the team which guessed the wordreceives a point. All the students at the front of the class change to begin round two.In very large classes, the teacher monitors for participation and the clues provided. However, groups work at theirown pace. Once a student guesses a word, then only that group rotates hot seats. Other groups continue providingclues until their word is guessed. With the exception of the new student now in the hot seat, his group looks at one ofthe slips of paper, confirms they understand the word, and then provides clues to their teammate. This continues untilall the words have been used, all the groups have finished, or the teacher stops the activity. Better Language Teaching - 123
  • Fantastic TalesPurpose: Students use their creativity and imaginations to answer questions, thereby gaining confidence withunexpected answers in real conversations.Info: Students sometimes understand the grammar and vocabulary of a question, answer, or even conversation, butdoubt their comprehension because of the unexpectedness of the information. This activity allows students to gainsome confidence with the unanticipated answers. The wild and creative answers are also a lot of fun!Step One: The teacher prepares a series of questions before the class begins. The questions may be level relevant,so that beginners receive easier questions and upper-level students receive more difficult questions. However, as thepurpose is to produce creative answers, some upper-level students can be given easier questions.A lot of questions prepared beforehand by the teacher allow greater flexibility. The teacher can monitor for the type ofquestions that produce the most interesting responses, and then provide additional questions in the same vein. Inaddition, as students answer more and more questions, they become increasingly comfortable with the idea of wildand creative thought.Step Two: Students get into small groups. Groups of four work best, as students have the chance to hear severalfantastic tales for each question. Talk time remains high too. Students have less chance to speak in large groups.Step Three: The teacher writes one question on the board. Everyone has one minute to think of a fantastic andinteresting answer.Step Four: Each student provides his answer to his group. Additional information may be given too. The talescontinue around the table.Step Five: So as to encourage all students to listen, understand, and think about each tale, students vote on themost fantastic answer. The student whose answer was deemed the most fantastic receives a point. If two studentsreceive an equal number of votes in their group, then both receive a point. Each group should keep track of thepoints they award.Step Six: The teacher writes the next question on the board and the process is repeated. At the end of the activity,groups tally the points to determine who provided the most fantastic tales in each group. Better Language Teaching - 124
  • Find Someone Who...Purpose: To interview students in the class with the target language of the lesson.Info: This activity allows students to practice the target language, reusing the structure again and again. Thisreinforces the information and leads to improved accuracy and fluency. It may also be used as an easy Warm Up forintermediate students, provided everyone offers follow-up information. Here use of the target language isnt required.Step One: Students write three to five yes/no questions on a piece of paper. The questions should relate to the topic,theme, and grammar point of the lesson. For example, a lesson on adverbs of frequency (always, sometimes, never)may produce the following questions:  Do you always wake up at noon?  Do you sometimes walk to school?  Do you always eat healthfully?In larger classes or classes with a limited amount of time, the teacher may prepare a printable with questions. Thereshould be two or three different printables each with different questions so students are exposed to many questionsStep Two: After students have written or received the questions, they must interview their classmates. Each studentasks one question to a classmate, then finds a new partner and repeats the process. The objective is to find studentswho will answer "yes," after which the student may cross off the question. For example: Student A: Do you sometimes walk to school? Student B: Yes, I do. I sometimes walk to school. <Student A crosses off the question.> Student B: Do you always eat healthily? Student A: No, I dont. I never eat healthily. <Student B doesnt cross off the question. Both students find new partners.>Step Three: After a student has crossed off all the questions, he has completed the exercise and may sit down. Theteacher may time students to encourage a quick exchange of answers.Variation One: When answering the question, the student must also provide at least one sentence of additionalinformation. This will make the conversations more realistic, as well as incorporate grammar and vocabulary frompast lessons. For example: Student A: Do you always wake up at noon? Student B: No, I rarely wake up at noon. I usually wake up very early. Better Language Teaching - 125
  • Find the MistakePurpose: To improve grammar awareness and promote self-correction.Info: Use this activity after students have practiced the target language. The Wrap Up at the end of a lesson is alsoideal. This activity helps students become more aware of grammar structures, which leads to more accuratespeaking and self-correction.Step One: The teacher writes from three to five sentences on the board, with at least one mistake in each sentence.Some mistakes should center on the target language of the lesson, and other mistakes should revisit previouslystudied material. The teacher may also consider linking the sentences together to form a narrative or story. Take alook at the below example. The mistakes have been highlighted for convenience here: Global warming are a serious problem which effects everyone in the world. If temperature continue to rise, and glaciers melting and sea levels rising. But there will be less water and less food. Diseases spreading too.Step Two: Students write the sentences in their notebooks exactly as they appear on the board. This meansstudents include all the mistakes and dont correct at this point.Step Three: Students work individually for several minutes to identify and correct the mistakes.Step Four: Students get into pairs and compare the corrections from the previous step. If any answers differ, theyshould discuss the differences in an attempt to reach the same answers. Although English should be encouraged,lower-level students may discuss the corrections in their L1. The focus of the activity is on correction, not fluency.However, higher-level students should discuss the mistakes in English because they have the ability to do so.Step Five: The teacher now writes how many mistakes the sentences contain as a whole. As students will havemissed one or two corrections, this step will force the class to return to the sentences for a second, closer look.Step Six: After several minutes, the teacher writes how many mistakes are in each sentence. Students again look totheir sentences and make any needed changes. As in Step Five, everyone again closely examines and discussesthe sentences, target language, and other grammar points.Step Seven: Pairs of students form groups of four and compare answers.Step Eight: The teacher takes the corrections from the students and writes these on the board. With any mistakescommon to the class, nationality, or with the target language of the lesson, the teacher should prompt for the reasonand/or additional examples. Better Language Teaching - 126
  • Finish the SentencePurpose: Finish the Sentence focuses on grammatical accuracy. However, it can also be used to introduce anddiscuss the theme of the lesson.Info: Students are prompted for answers with incomplete sentences. The activity may be used in the Warm Up, tocheck comprehension of the target language in the Presentation and Practice, or to generate discussions amongstudents in the Application.Step One: The teacher prepares a series of sentence prompts based on the grammar of the lesson. There should beat least five such prompts. Although the teacher gives the students only two or three sentences to work with, theextra ones provide material for examples when setting up the activity.For example, if the focus were on conditionals:  If I had a million dollars...  If my IQ were over 200...  If I spoke English fluently...The teacher may alternatively prepare prompts based on a theme. For example, if the focus were on vacations:  My worst vacation was...  My best vacation was...  On vacation, I really like to...Step Two: The teacher says only one sentence prompt aloud for the class. Students have thirty seconds or less tocomplete the sentence. They may do so in their heads or in their notebooks.Step Three: Students get into pairs and present their sentences. An added sentence or two should be given tosupport and enrich the answers whenever possible. As an option for short discussion, students may ask one anothermore follow-up questions. However, if the teacher chooses to provide students with discussion opportunities, heshould limit each conversation to two minutes.The teacher monitors for correct use of the language during the conversations. Any problems with key language mayeither be addressed between each prompt or at the end of the activity.Step Four: The teacher repeats Steps Two and Three. Better Language Teaching - 127
  • First SentencesPurpose: To deal with ambiguity as students anticipate the contents of an article.Info: Students receive the first sentence to each paragraph of an article. This activity works best with intermediateand advanced students, although lower-intermediate classes can benefit too. The article selected by the teachershould be limited to two or three hundred words, else the class wont have the opportunity to apply the information inmeaningful activities.Step One: The teacher writes the title of the article on the board. He may alternatively dictate the title. However, allfuture information should be placed on the board if initially written there. If the title is initially dictated, then all futureinformation should be similarly given orally.Students work in pairs or small groups to discuss the possible contents of the article. The teacher should allot severalminutes for the conversation.Step Two: The teacher now writes or dictates the first sentence of the first paragraph of the article to the class.Students work in the same pairs or groups as before. Although the first sentence may provide limited information,students nevertheless need to discuss the possible contents. A certain tolerance to ambiguity and guesswork provesvery importantStudents should try to remember the information for subsequent steps. This will help them speculate on the contentsof the other paragraphs. If necessary, one student may jot down a few notes for later reference.The teacher should allot roughly three minutes for this step, so students can effectively discuss and add detail to theiropinions. Reasons should also be given for their opinions.Step Three: The class repeats Step Two with the second paragraph, the third paragraph, and so on. Once thestudents have received and talked about the first sentences for each paragraph, they should have some idea of thecontents of the article.Step Four: The teacher distributes the article to the class. Students receive about five minutes to read theinformation and compare it to their previous discussions. Stronger classes may receive less time.Step Five: Students return to their same pairs/groups to confirm, correct, and compare their earlier discussions withthe actual article. They should also discuss why their initial conversations were the same as and/or differed with thecontents. Better Language Teaching - 128
  • Four BoxesPurpose: To present information around a singular theme, particularly effective for a first class meeting.Info: Four Boxes requires students to draw four pictures. They then must explain the pictures and provide supportinginformation and ideas. Because the visual aids provide support for the students, some of the pressure of speakinggets relieved. The activity works with any level of student, although less concrete topics may be selected forhigher-level students.It should be noted that this activity requires a lot of preparation time on the part of the class, especially whencompared with the amount of speaking it generates. However, it allows a creative aspect that some students enjoy. Italso is sufficiently different from so many other activities that interest and participation tend to be high.Step One: Students take a sheet of paper from their notebooks and divide the sheet into four equal boxes. They foldthe paper once horizontally and once vertically.Step Two: The teacher selects a topic for the first box, which he says aloud. Students then draw a picture whichaddresses the topic. For example, if the topic were favorite food, students draw pictures of food or a dish they love.The teacher allots only a few minutes for everyone to complete their pictures.Step Three: The teacher selects a second topic for the second box. He again says it aloud, and students againreceive a few minutes to draw. This is repeated for the third box and the fourth box.Note: Although not necessary, the activity works especially well if all the boxes are on a similar theme. For example,favorites (food, seasons, sports, classes) or food (likes, dislikes, childhood treat, tonights dinner). A singular thememore effectively allows students to reuse language in the discussion for Step Four.Step Four: Students get into pairs/groups. They present each box one by one. All the students in a group talk aboutthe first box, then the second box, and so on. Additional information should be added, and students in thepairs/groups should ask additional questions. Better Language Teaching - 129
  • Free WritingPurpose: Free writing serves as a good activity for students who overly focus on detail and accuracy. Here studentsmust steadily produce language, without the option of returning and checking content.Info: Students write in their notebooks, but cant edit the material in the initial steps. As students find writing quitedifficult, they usually want to edit and edit and edit what they write. Free Writing forces students to link ideas in asmooth narrative, yet also do so while planning ahead. This activity may be wholly used in the classroom. It may alsobe used as a pre-step to a take-home writing assignment.Step One: Students are given a question, statement, or phrase as a prompt for their writing. The teacher may decidewhether the writing focuses on fiction or nonfiction. They key is for students try to write as much as possible in thetime allotted. Note: Fiction tends to be a much more difficult task.Step Two: The teacher gives the class five minutes to write as much as possible. Although accuracy is important,students shouldnt dwell on perfect of perfect grammar, spelling, etc. Therefore students may not check dictionaries,nor may they go back and rewrite, edit, or add to what has already been written.Step Three: After five minutes, notebooks are exchanged between students. Here dictionaries may be used. Anytype of correction may be given, such as grammar, word choice, spelling and so on. The teacher should similarly allotfive minutes for this step.Step Four: Notebooks are returned. Students reread what they had written in Step Two, as well as the commentsfrom Step Three. If there are any questions, students may ask the person who checked their notebook forclarification.Alternatively, students may get into pairs. Rather than written feedback, the comments are provided orally.Step Five: Students now rewrite the information, making any necessary edits. This step may be assigned ashomework, especially if students need more time to adequately answer the question, provide their opinions, orcomplete their story.Variation One: This variation has students work collaboratively. In Step Three above, students exchange notebooks.However, rather than correct what has been written, students instead read the contents and continue where the otherperson left off. The same rules in Step Two apply, namely that students may not return to earlier portions toedit/rewrite the sentences. After five minutes, the two students who exchanged notebooks come together, discusswhat each wrote, and make corrections. Better Language Teaching - 130
  • Grammar BrainstormPurpose: To brainstorm sentences with the target language.Info: This activity takes relatively little set up, but can be used to generate sentences on the lessons grammar point.Students also discuss and correct the generated sentences, which leads to improved awareness and application.Step One: The teacher introduces the grammar point and goes through any drills or steps necessary for students tounderstand the form and meaning.Step Two: Students get into pairs or small groups or three. Each group is handed a picture, such as from amagazine or flashcard.Step Three: In the pairs/groups, students have two minutes to write as many sentences about the picture aspossible. Of course, the sentences must use the grammar point of the lesson. After two minutes, the teacher stopsthis step.Step Four: Students present the sentences to their partners/groups. Others will listen and offer correction whenevernecessary (but especially important for the key grammar point). Switch roles and repeat.Step Five: This step is optional and assumes that each pair/group received a different picture. Students write on theback of the picture how many sentences they initially generated, then exchange the picture with another pair/group.Each group works to write more sentences.Variation One: Each pair/group receives several pictures, all face down. Student A selects a picture and orally givesas many sentences as possible to his partner. His partner listens and notes the number of sentences made. He alsooffers correction of any sentences. Students then switch roles and repeat after two minutes.Variation Two: This activity is the same as the previous variation. However, each correct sentence receives a point.If student A uses the target language incorrectly, then student B stops him, corrects him, and doesnt award him apoint for the sentence. When the activity stops after two minutes, students switch roles and repeat.Variation Three: Students get into groups of three or four, and each group works as a team to generate as manysentences as possible. Student A starts with a sentence based on the grammar point, and then student B followswith another sentence, and then student C does the same. This rapid fire grammar brainstorm usually generatesquite a few sentences, so its important for students to keep a tally. At the end of two minutes, students announcehow many sentences they generated.Variation Four: This activity is the same as the third variation. However, one group monitors another group formistakes. These mistakes are noted and presented to the first group. The groups switch roles and repeat. Better Language Teaching - 131
  • Have You Ever...?Purpose: Students practice the present perfect grammar structure in this activity.Info: Have You Ever...? focuses specifically on the present perfect tense. Students must quickly ask questions toothers in the class based on past experiences. Have You Ever...? is somewhat limited in scope, so works well as asemi-controlled activity for the middle stages of the lesson.Step One: Students write five questions with the present perfect tense. Each question should be based on an activitythat the student has done in the past. For example, if the student has traveled across Russia by train, then he maywrite, "Have you ever traveled by train across Russia?" If the student hasnt done this, then he may not write thisquestion.Students should also consider activities that others havent done. Points are awarded for unique activities. Therefore,the Russian train trip in the example is perfect for this activity.Step Two: Students find a partner. Each student asks one question from his list, hoping that the other person hasntdone the activity. If the partner has, then no points are awarded. If the partner hasnt, then one point is awarded tothe student asking the question. For example: Student A: Have you ever traveled by train across Russia? Student B: No I havent. That sounds very interesting... Student B: Have you ever gone waterskiing? Student A: Yes, I have. I went waterskiing in...Here student A receives one point. Student B receives zero points.Its also important that students try to make a brief conversation based on the answer. The person providing theanswer should give additional information whenever possible.Step Three: After each pair has asked one question, the students find new partners and ask a new question.Questions previously asked may not be asked again. This ensures that students carefully choose which partnerreceives which question.Step Four: At the end of the activity, students tally their points. The student(s) with the most points win(s).Variation One: Additional points are awarded in this variation. Students are able to score up to fifteen points here. Ifthe answerer hasnt done the activity, then the asker gets two points (rather than one point as explained above).However, if the answerer has also done the activity, then he (the answerer) receives one point. Better Language Teaching - 132
  • How Do You...?Purpose: To improve the clarity of directions/instructions.Info: This activity introduces adverbs of sequence to provide clear step-by-step instructions for a task or activity.Step One: The teacher writes on the board several adverbs and phrases to sequence events. A complete andexhaustive list isnt necessary, but the teacher should limit the words to what the class will be able to readily digestand put into practice. Some suggestions include:  first, second, third, etc.  Before (action), (statement).  next, then, after that, finally  After (action), (statement).The teacher says each one aloud with the class and provides an example sentence. Its best to link all the examplesentences to a single task, if possible. This will allow students to see the words used in context.Step Two: The teacher writes two actions on the board that require step-by-step instructions. Here are some ideas:  take a bus, train, taxi  brush your teeth  polish shoes  send an email  tie a necktie  how to shave  cook breakfast  iron a shirt  make coffeeIts important for the teacher to select only two actions at this stage of the lesson. In the next step, students willbrainstorm the required vocabulary and steps for the instructions, then compare and refine with another group. Ifthere are too many activities, students lose the valuable chance to compare information.Step Three: Students get into pairs and think of the required vocabulary for each action. Dictionaries may be used,and the teacher monitors and offers help whenever needed. Pairs then take the vocabulary and create instructionsfor both actions. Students should complete this step within ten minutes.Step Four: Students get into groups of four and present their set of instructions. Next groups talk about anysentences or information that wasnt clear, as well as how to improve the instructions given.Step Five: Students return to their pairs and think of an activity requiring instructions. The activity/task should haveat least five steps to complete. Students then write down or discuss the steps required for the activity.Step Six: Students find a new partner and explain the activity. However, he should not explicitly state the activity,and rather his new partner must make a guess at the end. If incorrect, then addition clarification is needed andshould be explained. Switch roles and repeat. Better Language Teaching - 133
  • How Well Can You...?Purpose: Students practice the modal can with reference to ability in this activity.Info: How Well Can You...? focuses on how well someone can do an activity. The activity allows a basic follow-upquestion appropriate for beginners. The teacher will need to pre-teach answers to "how well can you..." Answer: I can (activity) very well. A: I can (activity) a little. A: I can (activity) well. A: I cant (activity) so well.Step One: Students write five questions with the modal can. Each question should be based on an activity thatdemonstrates ability. For example, "Can you ride a unicycle?" or "Can you play tennis?"Students should be given several minutes to write the questions. Dictionaries may be used, although students shouldstrive to fashion questions without checking words. Because this activity is for beginners, their limited vocabulariesmean that most words checked by one student wont be known/understood by other students. In subsequentquestions and answers with partners, this will hinder communication.Step Two: Students find a partner. Each student asks one question from the list, hoping that the partner can do theactivity. If the partner can do the activity, then the asker receives one point. If the partner cant do the activity, thenthe asker receives zero points. For example: Student A: Can you sing songs? Student B: Yes, I can. Student B: Can you play baseball? Student A: No, I cant play baseball.Here student A receives one point for the "yes" answer. Student B receives zero points. In addition, if a studentanswers "yes," then his partner should follow with the question, "How well can you...?"Step Three: Students find new partners and repeat Step Two.Step Four: At the end of the activity, students tally their points. The student(s) with the most points win(s).Variation One: When a student answers "yes" to a question, his partner responds, "Prove it!" The student must thenperform the activity, if possible. Any activity that can be done in the class awards one point to the performer (becauseit may be somewhat embarrassing) and two points to the asker.Variation Two: Here students ask about frequency with the follow-up question: "How often do you...?" Better Language Teaching - 134
  • Instructor InterrogationPurpose: To practice a specific grammar point from the lesson and build accuracy.Info: Students have the chance to ask all sorts of questions to their teacher in this activity, but only receive ananswer if the grammar is correct. Students focus on the structure, which leads to improved accuracy.Step One: The teacher allows students one or two minutes to prepare questions based on the grammar point. Thesequestions will be asked to the teacher. Some effective grammar points for this activity include:  conditionals  past tense  embedded questions  past perfect tense  future tenseThe teacher should keep the preparation time very limited.Step Two: Students put away pencils and pens to prevent further preparation. The class then asks questions to theteacher using the grammar point of the lesson. The teacher must answer these questions, but only if the sentence isfree of mistakes. Note: The teacher may limit the perfect grammar rule to the target language only. However, he mayalso decide on perfect grammar as a whole for any question asked.If the sentence contains a mistake, then the teacher doesnt answer the question. Instead, the student who asked thequestion must answer it. Moreover, if the question doesnt contain the grammar point taught in the lesson, then theteacher similarly doesnt answer the question. The student who asked the question must give an answer.Step Three: The activity continues for five minutes, with the teacher providing truthful answers.Variation One: This variation adds an opt-out rule for any uncomfortable questions that may be asked. The teacherhas the right to veto five questions (or more). If any question is vetoed, then the student who asked it must providean answer, regardless of accuracy.Variation Two: This activity can be conducted exactly as above, but in small groups. One student will beinterrogated by his group instead of the teacher. Of course, careful monitoring for accuracy is a must. Limit eachinterrogation to three minutes, then rotate roles in each group. Continue through the activity until all group membershave had the chance to be interrogated. Better Language Teaching - 135
  • Interactive Gap FillPurpose: This activity reinforces specific grammar points, vocabulary, and/or phrases.Info: Students receive a text, such as an article or scripted conversation. Students exchange information to fill in theblanks with the correct words, phrases, or even sentences.Step One: The teacher prepares an article or dialogue prior to the start of the class. This may be written by theteacher or selected from a textbook, newspaper article, etc. The teacher erases words or phrases from the text,based on the following:  If the purpose is to practice new vocabulary words, then key words will be omitted.  If the purpose is to practice a specific grammar point, then words or phrases will be omitted.  If the purpose is to practice specific phrases, then key phrases will be omitted.Additional words and phrases may be omitted as well as the above key language.Although a gap fill may have a word or phrase pool for the students to fill in the blanks, an interactive gap fill requiresstudents to exchange information to complete the printable. In other words, student A has the missing informationneeded by student B, and vice versa. Two worksheets must be prepared with different information omitted on eachone.Step Two: Students get into pairs. Student A receives worksheet A and student B receives worksheet B. Althoughthe contents of the article or dialogue are the same, the missing words/phrases are different. This allows student A toprovide the information to his partner and vice versa.Step Three: Student A reads his printable aloud to student B. Because he doesnt know which information hispartner needs, student A will read the entire text. Student B listens and completes the missing information. This stepmay be repeated more than once.Step Four: Student B now reads his printable aloud. As with his partner, the entire text should be read aloud. Thisstep may be repeated more than once.Step Five: Students confirm that the information they heard and wrote down. They should do this orally rather thanshow one another the worksheets. The teacher may want to introduce the following phrase for students to check theirinformation: For the (first blank), you said...Step Six: The teacher elicits the missing information from the class, correcting any points if necessary. Better Language Teaching - 136
  • Interview BingoPurpose: To drill target structure(s).Info: Bingo provides the opportunity for students to practice the target language, and to do so in a fun,communicative way. Additional follow-up conversations based on the target language are also possible. The activityis best with beginner to lower-intermediate students focusing on a specific grammar point.Step One: The teacher creates and distributes bingo cards for each student. Five squares by five squares worksbest, offering enough opportunities to practice the target language. The teacher may opt for one of the following:  All the cards have vocabulary pre-written in each box. Students will use these words to ask and answer questions for bingo.  All the cards have a portion of the boxes pre-filled, allowing students to imagine other vocabulary words to write in the blanks and use in the following steps.  None of the boxes contain words. Students imagine words from todays lesson and past lessons to write in the blank boxes.Step Two: The teacher writes a short conversation on the board which uses the target language of the lesson. Forexample, the following min-conversation shows the simple past tense for beginners. Student A: Did you play tennis yesterday? Student B: Yes, I played tennis yesterday. Did you see a movie yesterday? Student A: No, I didnt. I didnt see a movie yesterday. <change partners>Students practice this conversation aloud several times with the teacher to make it as familiar as possible. As in theabove example, the underlined sentences represent portions where the students may change the questions andanswers. The teacher should go through a few additional examples.Step Three: Students find a partner to ask and answer questions as in the dialogue. They should ask questions thatuse the words on their bingo cards and that will likely receive a "yes." If a partner answers "yes" to a question, thenthe student crosses out the box. If a partner answers "no," then the box remains open.Step Four: Although the first student who blocks out all the boxes in a row or column wins, the teacher should set afixed time for completion. The activity continues until stopped, allowing ample practice with the target language.Variation One: Full bingo requires students to fill every box on their cards. Students ask and answer as in the stepsabove. This variation can be used from the start of the activity. It can also be added as a challenge for students whofinish early. Better Language Teaching - 137
  • IntrosPurpose: For students to get to know one another and improve fluency.Info: Although this lesson works well when students dont know one another, it may also be used to segue into thetarget language of the lesson. And because everyone repeats the conversation several times, fluency improves.Step One: The teacher writes two questions on the board for self-introductions. For example:  What are your hobbies?  Where did you go for your last vacation?Of course, the questions can be slightly more difficult if students are more advanced. In addition, questions can focuson the topic of the lesson. If the lesson were on regrets for higher-level students, these would make good questions:  What is a regret?  What regrets do you have in life? Please explain.Step Two: Students line up in two rows (row A and row B). Students from row A face students from row B, and thisforms each students initial partner.Step Three: Students take turns asking and answering the questions in pairs. Follow-up questions are a must, andstudents continue speaking until the teacher says, "Stop!"Step Four: After several minutes, one row of students shifts to the left. Each student now faces a different person.Thus new partners are formed. The students ask and answer the questions again until the teacher says, "Stop!"Although answering the same questions, a part of the conversation will differ. This not only means that fluencyimproves with the repeated portions of the conversation, but that interest in the activity remains high.Step Five: After several minutes, one row of students again shifts to form new partners. The students repeat theconversation one final time.Variation One: In larger classes, its difficult to impossible to line up all the students. If such is the case, thenstudents should simply stand and find a partner with whom to ask and answer the questions. After several minutes,the teacher says, "Stop!" Students then find a new partner in the class and repeat the process. This variation soundsa little chaotic (and looks chaotic too), but it achieves the same results as outlined in the steps above.Variation Two: Students talk to a partner for a few minutes, as per the steps above. When pairs change, studentsdont ask/answer the questions again. Instead each student tells his new partner about the previous conversation. Ifthe teacher opts for this variation, then he must tell the students beforehand to remember the information. Better Language Teaching - 138
  • It All Starts with a PicturePurpose: It All Starts with a Picture encourages creativity and narration of an idea.Info: Students develop a story based on a picture. In short, they provide a lengthy answer to the question, "Whathappens next?" This activity works well with lower-intermediate and upper-intermediate students.Step One: The teacher searches for and prints out several pictures, preferably unusual ones. A search on theInternet usually quickly provides the needed realia. Its recommended that there are at least five pictures.Step Two: The teacher arranges the class into pairs/groups of three and distributes one picture to each group. Inlarger classes where this isnt possible, the teacher should tape the pictures to the board. Pairs/groups in largerclasses then come to the board and select one picture to write about. Note: Students shouldnt take the picture fromthe board. If needed, they may return to the board for a second look, a third look, etc.Step Three: The teacher asks the class, "What happens next?" In pairs/groups, students have ten minutes toanswer the question. The pictures serve as the starting point for the sentences/stories. Each pair/group should writedown the information to later present.Step Four: Students find a new partner and present their stories to one another. This step may be repeated severaltimes with several partners for improved fluency.Variation One: The class goes through all of the above steps. However, here students use the picture as the end ofthe story. They must develop sentences/stories that leads up to the picture provided. Better Language Teaching - 139
  • Last WordsPurpose: Last Words expects students to write five sentences, with the last word serving as a prompt.Info: Students collaborate in pairs to provide five sentences. There are a number of simple variations, each allowingthe activity to better meet the level and needs of the class.Step One: The teacher prepares five words to end five sentences. For example: 1: _________________________________ yesterday. 2: _________________________________ unbelievable. 3: _________________________________ home. 4: _________________________________ accident. 5: _________________________________ lost.For upper-level students, the five words should allow students to write a very short story. This means the teacher willneed to consider how the words might be linked. For lower-level students, five sentences with the words correctlyand naturally used is an adequate enough challenge.Step Two: The teacher writes the five words on the board. Students get into pairs and work together to write fivesentences. The teacher should allot five minutes or less here.Step Three: Students get into new pairs and present their sentences/stories to one another.Variation One: The activity proceeds exactly as described above. However, the teacher provides the first words forfive sentences, not the last words. This tends to be somewhat easier, making the activity suitable for some strongerclasses of beginners too.Variation Two: Here students receive several key words based on the theme of the lesson. As with Variation One,the key words should appear as the first words of the sentences. Students work in pairs to generate five sentences.The sentences dont need to be linked together as a story, as the purpose is to activate pre-existing knowledge/ideason a topic. For example, in a lesson on natural disasters, the teacher might give the following: 1: A earthquake _________________________________. 2: Floods_________________________________. 3: Global warming _________________________________. 4: I _________________________________. 5: The future _________________________________. Better Language Teaching - 140
  • Listening for GistPurpose: To acquire general understanding of a monologue or dialogue.Info: The big picture can be just as important as the specifics. With an activity devoted to listening, students too oftenattempt to understand every detail. Then there are students who absolutely must hear everything clearly, both thelarge and small points, before moving on to the next step. Both examples hinder communication. When studentslisten for just the gist, they come to realize that a general understanding is often enough.Step One: The teacher explains the purpose of the activity: to listen for general comprehension. There are nocomprehension questions, and students shouldnt take notes.Step Two: Students listen to the teacher read the article, monologue, or dialogue (or listen to a recording). Thereading speed should be just slightly above the ability of the class. If the teacher reads a passage once and mosteveryone understands most everything, then the activity was far too easy. In short, the time is wasted and noimprovement in listening is conferred to the students.Step Three: Students get into pairs. Working together, students provide a one or two sentence summary of whatthey heard in the previous step. Note that the summary ensures that everyone more or less has the broadestcomprehension.As an added option, after pair has provided summary, they share it with another pair of students. If necessary,correction/suggestions should be offered.Step Four: Students remain in or return to the same pairs. They now provide a more extensive recap of theinformation heard from Step Two. Students should focus on the big picture, although some details may be added.Step Five: The teacher reads the piece aloud once more. Students listen without taking notes.Step Six: Students get into pairs again and confirm, correct, and add to the information provided in Step Four.Step Seven: The teacher distributes the article, etc. to the students. They receive a few minutes to go over the piecesilently, after which they once more confirm, correct, and add to the information previously discussed. When talkingabout the contents of the article, monologue, or dialogue in this last step, students should try not to look at the piece. Better Language Teaching - 141
  • Listening for SpecificsPurpose: To listen for details in a monologue or dialogue.Info: Details are important, as most everyone would agree. This activity allows students to listen for key information,which can then be used for better comprehension. The opportunity to listen, discuss, and listen again buildsconfidence, as well as focuses on what key information demands the attention of the students.Step One: The teacher explains the purpose of the activity: To listen for specific details. A list of comprehensionquestions (either true/false or open-ended) for the article, monologue, or dialogue are dictated aloud. If time is short,the questions may be written on the board or distributed as a printable.Step Two: If the teacher dictated the questions, then students get into pairs and compare and correct thecomprehension questions. This ensures that everyone will focus on the same points in subsequent steps.Step Three: Optional. In the same pairs, students imagine possible answers to the questions. Although they haventheard or read the article yet, this step helps focus listening.Step Four: The teacher now reads the article aloud. Students shouldnt take notes, but instead remember theinformation that directly answers the questions.Step Five: In pairs once more, everyone answers the questions. Any differences are discussed in an attempt tocome to the same answer.Step Six: The teacher reads the article once more to confirm the answers discussed in Step Five. In addition,students listen for information around the sentences. This provides a more detailed picture of the piece.Step Seven: Students regroup and correct any information previously discussed. They also add to the information.Step Eight: The teacher distributes the article. Students read through the piece, then answer or correct anyremaining comprehension questions.Variation One: Rather than the answers to comprehension questions, students focus on key vocabulary. Thevocabulary is first dictated to the class, and students check dictionaries and discuss in pairs for understanding. Theteacher then reads the piece aloud as students listen for and remember how the key words were used in context. Asdetailed above, the listening and discussion steps are repeated for improved understanding and focus. Better Language Teaching - 142
  • Magic WandPurpose: Magic Wand allows students to think critically about a topic, but also with some degree of imagination.Info: Students are required to discuss a specific topic selected by the teacher. Because students must presentinformation to one another, this activity may take up to twenty minutes. In addition, it works best with intermediatestudents and up.Step One: The teacher arranges students into small groups. Three or four students work quite well.Step Two: The teacher explains that students have found a magic wand which will grant three wishes. However, thewishes are limited to a specific area. For example, they are only able to affect the environment, school, or work.Note: The teacher must choose the area affected by the wishes before the start of the class. It should tie in with thetheme of the lesson.Step Three: Students work in groups to discuss what changes they would like to make. For example, in the realm ofwork, what changes would they make for themselves, their coworkers, the structure of the company, and so on.Students must choose three answers together as a group. Each answer should be supported by reasons.Step Four: Students break from the groups and find a new partner to form pairs. Each student presents his ideaswith the reasons.Variation One: This variation adds an extra step to the activity. Following Step Four, students remain in pairs andselect their best two answers. They then present the answers to the class, with the teacher writing the idea andinformation on the board. Students are given five minutes to discuss the additional answers in pairs, talking aboutany pros or cons. As a final step, the teacher then takes a vote for the best answer. Students may not vote for theanswer they provided, though. Better Language Teaching - 143
  • Make It Unanimous!Purpose: To foster conversation, questioning, the supporting of viewpoints, and negotiating.Info: This activity should be used with upper-level students, as the idea of defending ones opinions can prove quitedifficult. However, teachers can use this activity with lower-intermediate students if the topics are concrete and easilydiscussed, such as vacation plans, favorite restaurants, and so on.Step One: The teacher arranges students in groups of four or five to brainstorm solutions, answers, or activitiesaround a theme. The theme should be related to the topic of the lesson. For example:  Brainstorm five ways to limit global warming.  Brainstorm five reasons that the death penalty works.  Brainstorm five ideas for a perfect vacation.  Brainstorm five ways to stay in love with your partner... forever.If time is somewhat limited, the teacher may prepare five solutions, answers, or activities before the lesson ratherthan allow students to generate a list. Students discuss and debate the information in Step Two.Step Two: Students in each group now discuss, debate, negotiate, and cajole one another in an attempt tounanimously agree on the best answer. At the end of five minutes (or some other, longer predetermined time), all thestudents in a group should have agreed on the best solution, answer, or activity. This is considered a win. If everyonecant agree, then this is considered a loss.Variation One: Students must rank the solutions, answers, or activities in order, from best to worst. Of course, all thestudents in a group must also unanimously agree on the order. This promotes even greater discussion and carefulconsideration around a particular topic. It also requires a considerable amount of class time. As such, the teachershould allow students at least ten to fifteen minutes to complete this activity.Variation Two: Students discuss, debate, and disagree as previously explained. After five minutes, the group takesa vote on the best answer. If no answer receives a majority vote, discussion continues for another five minutes.However, the group eliminates from their discussion any answers which didnt receive a vote. This whittles down andfocuses the conversation. A second vote is taken to select the best answer after five minutes. Repeat this discussion,vote, and elimination process as many times as needed to result in a single, unanimous answer. Better Language Teaching - 144
  • Match the PhrasePurpose: To improve grammar awareness.Info: Match the Phrase requires students to look at and analyze the finer details of sentences. Students becomemore capable of breaking down sentences for comprehension when they encounter something particularly difficult.Step One: The teacher prepares a list of five (or more) key sentences from an article. He then divides the sentencesinto phrases, such as the following: a: The teacher prepares a list of... q: ...such as the following. b: He then divides the sentences into phrases... r: ...five key sentences from an article.When dividing the sentences into two phrases, the teacher should consider grammar. For example, one phrase hasthe noun clause "a list of." so it must be followed by a noun. Of the two choices above (q and r), only one fits.Step Two: The teacher distributes the printable to the class. Students first work alone to match the phrases.Step Three: Students get into pairs and compare answers. They should discuss the reason for their answers,scrutinizing grammar when needed. If their answers differ, then they should discuss those differences. At the end ofthis step, each pair of students should have matched the same phrases.Step Four: The teacher calls for the answers aloud as a final means for correction.Step Five: The teacher distributes the article and students scan the contents for the phrases they just linked. Theythen read the article and conduct any other tasks assigned by the teacher.Variation One: The teacher prepares a list of sentences and breaks them into phrases. The teacher only writesdown the first phrase, though. As an initial task when students get the article, they scan the contents for the keyphrases. This improves scanning ability, and also helps students gain a general understanding of the contents.Variation Two: Students receive the article, read it, and do any activities set by the teacher. Once the class isfamiliar with the contents, students use the phrases as prompts to complete the sentences (preferably from memory). Phrase: The teacher prepares a list of... Students: ...five key sentences from the article.Variation Three: Students receive the phrases before the article. They discuss possible conclusions for each phrasein pairs. They receive the article, scan the contents for the phrases, and discuss the accuracy of their initial guesses. Better Language Teaching - 145
  • Memory (Version One)Purpose: To promote vocabulary retention.Info: This activity improves retention and usage of new vocabulary words. Students work in small groups and provideoriginal sentences, so talk time is high.Step One: The teacher makes a list of vocabulary he wishes to use in the lesson. He then writes each vocabularyword on two slips of paper. Because the students are placed into groups, the teacher must complete a set ofvocabulary words for each group. Ten new words for the lesson require twenty slips of paper per set. If there arethree groups in the class, then three sets of words equals a total of sixty slips of paper.Flashcards may be used in lieu of the slips of paper, but the teacher will need matching sets for each card.Step Two: Students are arranged into groups of four. The teacher distributes a set of paper slips to each group, andthese are place faced down on the table and spread out.Step Three: One student in the group turns over two slips of paper in an attempt to match the words. If he makes amatch, then he must give a grammatically correct sentence using the word. Other students listen and check hisgrammar. He then keeps the match slips of paper and tries for another match.If the student doesnt make a match or says a grammatically incorrect sentence, he places the slips of paper facedown once more. Play continues clockwise around the table. Any disputes between the students should be refereedby the teacher.Step Four: Once students match all of the words, they count their slips of paper. The person in each group with themost matches is declared the winner. Better Language Teaching - 146
  • Memory (Version Two)Purpose: To promote retention of sentence structures and they accuracy.Info: This version of memory is quite different from the traditional matching game. It also adds dictation to the mix,which gives students an added challenge.Step One: The teacher prepares two sets of sentences (set A and set B) prior to the start of the class. Each set ofsentences should be typed on separate pieces of paper, preferably in an easy-to-read font because students willneed to refer to these often. Each set of sentences should also be clearly labeled as set A or set B.Step Two: The teacher places each set of paper on a table outside the classroom. The back of the classroom worksjust as well, as long as students must get out of their seats to read the sentences.Step Three: Students get into pairs. Student A gets up and go to set A of the sentences. He reads the first sentence,tries to remember it, and returns to his partner. He then dictates the sentence. If he forgets any of the information, hereturns to the piece of paper, reads it, and returns to his partner to continue giving dictation. Student A repeats thisprocess until he has dictated all three sentences.Step Four: Pairs switch roles. Now student B repeats the activity with set B of the sentences.Step Five: After all pairs have dictated both sets of sentences to one another, pairs merge into groups of four andcompare answers. If there are differences, these should be noted.Step Six: The teacher elicits the answers and writes these on the board. Any differences and/or questions shouldalso be addressed by the teacher. Better Language Teaching - 147
  • MilestonesPurpose: To talk about important, life-changing events.Info: This activity is intended for students to use the second conditional, as they speculate on what their lives mightbe like had particularly important, life-changing events never happened. However, if students havent yet studied thesecond conditional tense, then this activity may be used to talk about important events.Step One: The teacher writes on the board the following word: Milestone. He asks for the meaning from the class. Ifno definition or example is forthcoming, then students get into pairs, check their dictionaries, and discuss themeaning. After several minutes, the teacher asks for the meaning once more and writes the definition on the board.Step Two: The teacher provides an example of a milestone in his life. It should consist of the milestone itself andthen a reason for its importance. For example: I came to Japan after graduating university. It changed my life because it was the first time to live abroad. It was a different culture and a different language that I had to learn.Step Three: Students take several minutes to think of three milestones in their lives. The milestones dont need to bein any particular order, but each should represent life-changing events. Reasons should also be provided. Note: Ifthe teacher wishes to spend less time on this activity, then students may think of only one milestone to discuss.Step Four: Students get into pairs and talk about their milestones. Each partner asks additional questions to gathermore information, thus making the conversation more rounded and fulfilling. The pairs should talk for fifteen minutes.Step Five: The teacher now asks, "How would your life be different if you had never...?" The teacher provides anexample based on his earlier milestone. If I hadnt come to Japan, I would never have become a teacher. I would never have met my wife, so I would probably be married to someone else!Step Six: Students receive several minutes to think of how their lives would be different had their previouslydiscussed milestones never happened. Students string together as many different subsequent events as possible.Step Seven: Students get into the same pairs and talk about how their lives would be different. Again, to provide arich and interesting discussion, as well as to improve talk time among the pairs, students ask one another follow-upquestions. Better Language Teaching - 148
  • Mind MapsPurpose: To brainstorm words associated around a specific topic.Info: Mind Maps is a word association activity that effectively activates pre-existing vocabulary on a topic. Becauseall the information is written down, this creates a visual reference that some learners very much need.Step One: Students get into pairs or small groups. One person in each pair/group should take notes, although allstudents will volunteer vocabulary words.Step Two: The teacher explains the idea of a mind map, namely a series of words connected to one another whichradiate out from a central, key word. Mind maps aid retention and application of words or themes because of theorganization provided.Step Three: The teacher provides students with a topic, such as money. Students have five minutes to develop amind map in pairs/groups. Heres an example:Step Four: Two pairs merge. Each pair presents their mind map, which also allows students to compare ideas andinformation. If the activity were conducted in groups, then groups merge.Variation One: Students develop mind maps for key vocabulary words. If this option is used, then the teacher writesthe words on the board. He allows students several minutes to check the words in dictionaries, after which studentswork in pairs to develop mind maps. Students should receive about two or three minutes per word. Better Language Teaching - 149
  • None of Your Business!Purpose: To provide reasons for actions and events.Info: Intermediate students get the most practice out of this activity, as they need to quickly provide answers.Lower-level students may find this difficult because a lack of vocabulary and grammar structures. Advanced-levelstudents may find this somewhat easy because of the short answers typically provided.Step One: The teacher writes up to ten questions on the board. These questions should focus on the students andtheir lives, such as:  What did you do last weekend?  What are your plans for this weekend?  What countries have you visited?The teacher also writes the following mini-dialogue on the board: Student A: <asks a question> Student B: <answers the question> Student A: Why did you...? Student B: None of your business! -or- Just because!Step Two: Students get into pairs. As per the mini-dialogue above, student A asks a question and student B answersit. Follow-up questions with "Why?" are asked again and again, as student B provides answers. Its important thatstudents ask questions with complete sentences, as this will force them to practice key structures.Step Three: When student B can no longer answer the question, he answers, "Just because!" When he doesnt wantto provide an answer, perhaps because its too personal, then he answers, "None of your business!" The teachershould explain the meaning of both phrases before the activity begins.Step Four: Pairs switch roles and repeat the activity. Heres an example conversation: Student A: What did you do last weekend? Student B: I saw a movie last weekend. Student A: Why did you see a movie? Student B: Because my girlfriend wanted to see the new movie with Brad Pitt. Student A: Why did she want to see the movie? Student B: Because shes in love with him. Student A: Why is she in love with him? Student B: Just because! Better Language Teaching - 150
  • Odd Word OutPurpose: To identify associated vocabulary.Info: This activity offers a lot of possibilities. It can review previously studied words, present new vocabulary, orreinforce material. The activity may also incorporate a competitive element, awarding points for quick thinking andspeaking.Step One: The teacher prepares several lists of objects before the class begins. Each list should contain four items,three of which match a theme or idea. The words may be from previous lessons, in which case the activity reviewsmaterial. The words may be key vocabulary from the lesson, in which case students will need to spend more timechecking dictionaries and discussing the words. For example: List One: beach, mountain climbing, scuba diving, and sunburnIn the example, all words refer to vacations, but only beach, scuba diving, and sunburn refer to a tropical vacation.Step Two: The teacher arranges students in pairs. He then says the words quickly, and students discuss themismatched word. Of course, students must talk in English. If the words are new to the class, then students shouldwrite them in their notebooks, check spelling and meaning in their dictionaries, and then also discuss.Step Three: One pair of students tells the odd word, as well as the reason, to the class. In larger classes, pairs canmerge into groups to quickly compare answers and reasons in English.Step Four: The teacher moves on to the second list of words and repeats Steps Two and Three.Variation One: This variation incorporates a competitive element. The previously outlined steps work well as ameans to introduce vocabulary and get students to employ critical thinking. Once the vocabulary has been introducedand practiced, perhaps using Odd Word Out as initially explained, then students can work towards earning points.The teacher arranges students into teams of two. Students line up in front of the table opposite the teacher (see thebelow diagram). The teacher reads a list of words out loud. The student in the first row nearest the table hits it andprovides the odd word. This scores one point. A second point is awarded if he can also provide the reason. The rowsof students switch positions, so that the students in the back now have the chance to guess. The teacher repeats theprocess. For any list of words provided by the teacher, teams may quickly discuss in order to provide the answer. S S S S S S S S teacher Better Language Teaching - 151
  • One Truth, One LiePurpose: To improve response time and fluency.Info: Students need to answer quickly to participate in any conversation. This activity has students ask and answerquestions to ascertain the truthfulness of two statements. Quick, creative responses are a must.Step One: The teacher selects a topic for the class to answer with two sentences. One sentence is the truth and theother sentence is the lie. Some possible topics include:  What is your favorite sport?  What is your greatest regret?  What was your best vacation?  What would be your dream job?  What bad habits do you have?  Where would you like to live in the future?Step Two: The teacher allots five minutes for the class to prepare answers. Equally important, the five minutesshould be used to anticipate follow-up questions, as well as to then imagine answers to these possible questions.Notes may be taken during this time.Step Three: Students get into groups of four. Student A says his two sentences aloud. For example: Q: What is your favorite sport? A (truth): My favorite sport is baseball. A (lie): My favorite sport is volleyball.Step Four: Other students in the group have three to five minutes to ask follow-up questions and guess the falsestatement. Here the previous preparation and note taking prove important, especially for lower-level students.Step Five: After the allotted three to five minutes, students in the group guess the true/false statements.Step Six: Student A announces which sentence was true and which was false. Based on interest in the real answer,the students in the group spend a few minutes asking additional questions.Step Seven: Repeat the previous steps for student B, then student C, and so on.Variation One: Rather than only one true and one false sentence, each student prepares four sentences. Of thesefour sentences, three are true and one is false. Students prepare for the conversation as above, then find a partnerrather than work in groups. The sentences are presented and additional questions are asked to determine thetrue/false statements. After ten minutes, student A reveals the answer. The two switch roles and repeat. Note: Thisactivity works best around a grammar point, such as the present perfect. Focusing the conversation around a specificgrammar point allows more flexibility in the subject of the sentences. Better Language Teaching - 152
  • Order, OrderPurpose: Order, Order requires students to ask/answer quantifiable questions and correctly order the results.Info: This activity works best with lower-level students, particularly beginners. It can be used to practice numbers,dates, and most anything quantifiable. With lower-intermediate students, Order, Order works best as a warm-upactivity, or as a quick review of comparatives/superlatives.Step One: The teacher provides a point of reference, such as height, age, birthday, and so on. The point ofreference should allow students to line up in order from shortest to tallest, youngest to oldest, the earliest birthday tothe latest birthday, etc. The point of reference is written on the board.Step Two: Optional. Because this activity is generally used with beginners, some additional language may need tobe taught. Students should learn the appropriate question to gather the needed information. For example:  How tall are you?  How old are you?  When is your birthday?  How much money do you have in your wallet/purse?Answers should be orally practiced as well.Step Three: Everyone in the class stands up. They ask and answer the question in order to get in line at the front ofthe classroom. The line should be ordered according to the point of reference. Its essential that students only Englishduring the activity.Step Four: After the class has formed a line, each student in order answers aloud the key question. Completesentences should also be provided. For example Student One: My birthday is January 12. Student Two: My birthday is January 16. Student Three: My birthday is February 2. ...If there are any mistakes in the order, then students will need to readjust the line. Better Language Teaching - 153
  • Pass the QuestionPurpose: To brainstorm questions around a topic.Info: Students ask and answer questions in groups. This serves as a pre-step to later discussions, and helpsstudents of all levels improve their question-forming skills.Step One: Students get into groups and form a circle. Although this activity may be adopted in large classes, itsrecommended that the teacher limits the groups to six at most. This will ensure that ideas are exchanged andstudents maintain a higher talk time. If at all possible, the teacher should try to keep the groups to an even number.Step Two: The teacher writes a topic idea on the board. Its important that the topic be able to provide discussion.For higher-levels, controversial topics often work well. For lower-levels, more concrete topics like vacations, weekendplans, foods, etc. are recommended.Step Three: Any student in the group begins the activity by asking a question related to the topic. This is student A.The person to his right (student B) must answer the question. Student B then asks the person to his right (student C)another question related to the topic and/or the previous question. Play continues round and round for severalminutes.Step Four: The teacher stops the activity. Students now try to remember the questions just asked. Although theymay very well forget some, this recall is important as a means to revisit the questions, structure, topic, and answers.Students in the groups write the questions in their notebooks.Step Five: With a number of original questions on the topic, students select someone from their group as a partner.Pairs generate a more detailed and lengthy discussion based on the questions previously brainstormed as a group.Additional follow-up questions of course may be asked during the conversation.Variation One: In the middle of the activity, the teacher says, "Switch!" The rotation now reverses, and students askquestions to the person to their left. The teacher may say this several times during the course of the activity to ensurestudents are actively engaged and not passively waiting (or worse, daydreaming!) until their turn comes around. Better Language Teaching - 154
  • Pickle in the MiddlePurpose: To improve accuracy and assessment of the language through listening.Info: Students work on several skills with this activity. They must listen carefully for more than the content words, asthey must also pick up articles, prepositions, and so on. They must assess what was heard, filling in any of thesmaller words which may have been missed. They must then accurately relay the information to a third student.Step One: The teacher prepares several sentences before the class which use the target language of the lesson.However, in classes with fewer students, each person may write two sentences of his own. The teacher shouldmonitor and offer correction to ensure grammatical accuracy.Step Two: Students are arranged into groups of three. Student A quietly tells his first sentence to Student B, who isthe pickle in the middle. Student B may not take notes and must remember the information. Student B then relays thesentence to Student C. Student C finally writes the sentence. Student A repeats this with his other sentences.Note: For classes with lower-level students, the teacher should pre-teach, "What did you say?"Step Three: Student C checks the sentences with Students A and B. Any corrections are discussed and made.Step Four: Students rotate roles. Student B tells his information to student C, who is now pickle in the middle.Student C then relays the information to Student A. Student A writes the sentence.Step Five: Student A checks the sentences with his partners. Corrections are discussed and made.Step Six: Students rotate roles once more and exchange information.Variation One: Students ask one another questions, relaying the information through the person who is pickle in themiddle. Student A says the question to student B. Student B asks the same question to student C, who then providesan answer. Student B lastly reports the answer to student A. For example: Student A (to student B): What time do you usually wake up in the morning? Student B (to student C): What time do you usually wake up in the morning? Student C (to student B): I usually wake up at 7:00. Student B (to student A): He usually wakes up at 7:00.Students rotate roles within the group, allowing everyone the chance to be pickle in the middle. Better Language Teaching - 155
  • Prompted DialoguesPurpose: To create a dialogue for the class when no dialogue has been pre-written by the teacher.Info: This activity proves ideal whenever the teacher hasnt prepared a dialogue before the class, but realizes thatone would perfectly suit the lesson. Although he sets up the context of the scripted conversation, the class volunteerswhat is said in the dialogue. The activity works in classes of any size and any level.Step One: The teacher explains to the class that together they will create a dialogue. He sets up the characters,setting, and problem to be overcome for the scripted conversation. These points should be written on the board.Step Two: The teacher writes the first line of the conversation on the board. He then prompts the class for a secondline to the conversation. Any grammar or content mistakes should be corrected.Step Three: The teacher continues to elicit the dialogue from the class. For example, if the dialogue involved acustomer and a clerk in a department store, then the teacher can direct the conversation via the following: Teacher: What does a store clerk usually say when a customer enters the store? -or- Teacher: If the store doesnt have the item, what should the clerk say?The teacher may also add lines and/or key phrases. This continues until a complete dialogue has been produced bythe class and written on the board.Step Four: Optional. The teacher checks comprehension with several questions.Step Five: The class reads the dialogue aloud several times, paying attention to content and target language at first.In subsequent readings when the scripted conversation becomes more familiar, then students should considerpronunciation, intonation, and other prosodies.Step Six: Students get into pairs and practice the dialogue. Each student assumes each role at least once. Theyswitch roles and repeat. Better Language Teaching - 156
  • Quiz Time!Purpose: To improve the fluency and speed related to specific grammar points or with vocabulary.Info: Competition almost always improves participation in an activity. Quiz Time! improves accuracy and speedbecause teams whose answers come slowly or incorrectly dont receive a point. This activity puts a fun spin onotherwise boring drills, and also works as a review prior to a quiz or test.Step One: The teacher divides the class into four or five teams of two or three students. Larger classes can havelarger teams, although this does reduce talk time essential to reinforce/review the grammar or vocab. Students lineup in front of a table opposite the teacher. The diagram below shows teams each with two students. S S S S S S S S teacherStep Two: The teacher asks a question aloud related to the target structure of the lesson. Any student nearest thetable on a team hits the table and answers when he knows the answer. If correct, the team receives one point. Ifincorrect, no points are awarded. Students in the rear can help their teammates.Step Three: After the question is successfully answered, the rows rotate. The back row switches with the front row.Step Four: The teacher asks another question for the students to answer. Again, any student in the front row hits thetable when he can provide the answer. The teacher continues through the activity as many times as needed forstudents to improve their accuracy and speed.Step Five: Optional. After several rounds, the teacher doubles or triples the points. Of course, the difficulty of thequestions also increases. Continue through this step of the activity for several more rounds.Variation One: Instead of only adding points, the teacher may also subtract points. Any answer that is incorrectloses one point (or more points if the optional fifth step is used). This variation can be implemented at any time, andis particularly recommended if students are just throwing out answers without thought towards accuracy.Variation Two: If students generally have trouble forming questions, then the teacher can reverse the activity. Hesays a short sentence, which is the answer. Students rush to hit the table and provide a grammatically andcontextually correct question. Better Language Teaching - 157
  • Reading for GistPurpose: To skim an article or other realia for general information.Info: Skimming is an important skill used in all areas of life. People regularly pick up a newspaper or magazine andbriefly dip in and out of their contents. The same holds true of Internet content, reports, business memos, and so on.This activity focuses on reading quickly and understanding the gist, or big picture, of printed matter.Step One: The teacher asks the class to define "skim." Students may work individually or in pairs to provide adefinition. This step should be kept short, at about two minutes only. The teacher elicits some definitions, clarifies anypoints, and provides the reason for the importance of skimming.Step Two: Students receive an article or worksheet face down. Students should not begin reading the articlebecause the following step is timed.Step Three: The teacher allows roughly two minutes to read through the realia. The time allotted may be adjustedaccording to length and ability of the students, although one minute per one hundred words is usually quite sufficient.Students dont take notes, and make every effort to complete the article.Step Four: When the teacher stops the previous step, students mark the point where they stopped. This provides agauge for improvement when they read it again. In addition, when this activity gets used again in subsequent lessons,this step also provides a simply measure of reading speed. If students read 50% one day, 60% with another articleon another day, and 70% with another article on another day, students can then track improvement with each article.Step Five: Students get into pairs and discuss the contents of the article. Complete and detailed understanding isntso important. Of course, students shouldnt look at the article during the discussion.Step Six: Students receive a second opportunity to read as much as possible of the realia. This step allowseveryone to confirm/correct what was previously discussed in pairs. Again, two minutes (or thereabouts) are allottedby the teacher, and students mark how much they could read once the teacher stops the activity.Step Seven: Students again get into pairs and discuss the contents. Any previous information should be confirmedand/or corrected too.Step Eight: In the same pairs, students work together to provide a two to five sentence summary of the piece.Brevity, clarity, and accuracy are all equally important.Step Nine: Pairs get into small groups of four to six students. Each pair presents a summary to the group.Comments, corrections, and advice are offered. Better Language Teaching - 158
  • Reading for SpecificsPurpose: To scan an article or other realia for specific details.Info: Scanning material for specific information is an important skill. Students should be capable of dipping into anarticle, newspaper, or report and pull important, relevant information. This activity focuses on reading for specificinformation, which can then be used by the teacher in subsequent activities.Step One: The teacher asks for a definition and/or example of "scan." Students may work individually or in pairs for aminute or two to complete this step. The teacher then elicits some definitions/examples, clarifies any points, andexplains why scanning is such an important skill.Step Two: The teacher provides a series of questions. The answers are contained in the article/realia. Although hemay write these on the board or distribute them as a worksheet, he may also choose to dictate the questions.If the teacher opts to read the questions aloud, then students get into pairs and compare and correct their dictationtogether. This ensures that everyone will read for the same information in subsequent steps.Step Three: Students receive a copy of the article or realia face down. Students shouldnt yet look at the piecebecause they will be timed in the following step.Step Four: Students begin the article, with two minutes to read as much as possible. Notes should not be taken asthe answers are found, but instead students should try to remember the information. The time for this step may beadjusted as needed.Step Five: Students get into pairs and answer the questions. Any differences are discussed in an attempt to arrive atthe same answer.Step Six: Students get a second opportunity to read the article, again with only two minutes. They should confirmand/or correct the answers discussed in the previous step.Step Seven: Students regroup and correct any information previously discussed.Variation One: Students focus on key vocabulary. A list of words is provided to the class, and students checkdictionaries and discuss in pairs for understanding. The students then read the article, find the words, and see thewords in context, all within two minutes. Students get into pairs once more and discuss how the key words were usedin the article. Repeat at least once more as above, which will provide improved understanding and focus. Better Language Teaching - 159
  • Role PlaysPurpose: This free activity allows students to assume roles and apply newly learned language.Info: A role play works towards a defined objective, which students may or may not achieve. In addition, as studentsassume new roles, they have chances to use new/different styles and patterns of English. For example, a housewifeplaying the role of a business executive may use stronger, more direct language.Step One: The teacher arranges students into groups. The number of roles should determine the size of the groups.For example, a role play which requires three roles will see students form groups of three.Step Two: The teacher sets up the role play. First come the roles, which may either be assigned by the teacher orselected by the students in each group. Students should receive an short explanation of each role, such as name,relationship with the other characters, personality, etc. Some role plays require more explanation than others.The teacher next explains the setting. This establishes the environment in which the characters will interact. Forexample, a discussion at a family dinner table might use different language than a discussion at a restaurant.Lastly the teacher establishes the goal of the role play. Depending on level and target language of the lesson, it couldbe a family discussion to select a vacation spot, or a business meeting to discuss a new advertising campaign, or afight between a boyfriend and a girlfriend. There are many, many options.Step Three: The class receives several minutes to prepare for the role play. This means students should considertheir character, the necessary language for the activity, etc. Brief notes may be jotted down as a quick reference fordifficult vocabulary, phrases, and/or grammar.Step Four: The groups begin their role play. The teacher should monitor during this time, but not interrupt the activity.A predetermined length of time should also be followed.Step Five: The teacher stops the activity. He should check to see how many groups reached their goal, as well asany problems they faced. In large classes, this step may be assigned as a short discussion among the groups. Thefollowing questions work well: 1: Did you reach your goal? Why/not? 2: What was the most difficult part of the role play? 3: What was the easiest part of the role play? 4: What would you change if you had the chance to do it again?Step Six: Optional. The students form new groups, assume new roles, and repeat the activity. This secondopportunity will run more smoothly, have with fewer mistakes, and see richer use of the language. Better Language Teaching - 160
  • Round-Robin StorytellingPurpose: To use the target language of the lesson in a group, collaborative effort.Info: Teachers should use this activity at the end of a lesson, as it allows students to use the target language andmix material from past lessons. It also allows weaker students to participate and get assistance from strongerstudents. Although at least fifteen minutes are needed to complete the activity, Round-Robin Storytelling may becontinued over more than one lesson.Step One: The teacher should select several story ideas before the class begins and write these on the board. Someideas include:  last / next vacation  meeting someone famous  a great / terrible day  an embarrassing situation  the perfect birthday  last / next weekendDepending on time, students may volunteer additional ideas. These are written on the board too.Step Two: Arrange students in groups of four. Although all students will participate in the activity, assign one personfrom each group to write the story generated with his respective group.Step Three: The teacher writes on the board a phrase which begins the story, such as "Once upon a time..." or "Oneday..." One student from each group completes the sentence, and so begins the story. The person to his right addsone or two sentences, followed by the person on his right, and so on around the group. For example: Student A: One day I bumped into someone famous. It was George Clooney. Student B: George was in town for a new movie. At first, I didnt recognize him. Student C: He had a fake beard and mustache. Student D: He had shaved his head too. Student A: I said, "Youre George Clooney!" Student B: ...Step Four: Although spelling and grammar are important, students should pay more attention to the storysdevelopment. Its difficult to generate a interesting story and to pay attention to structure. After ten to fifteen minutes,students wrap up the story, make a few changes for style, and correct any grammar or misspelled words.Step Five: Present the story to the class!Variation One: After five or ten minutes, groups swap stories. Each group reads, corrects, and completes the newstory. Once finished, students read aloud to the group that initially began the story. Better Language Teaching - 161
  • Same and DifferentPurpose: To discover common and unique strengths and other qualities/traits.Info: Same and Different serves as a great team-building exercise. For new classes or large projects that requiregroups of students to work together, this activity allows everyone to learn about their class/groupmates. They learnhow to support one another, as they realize how their abilities best contribute to the class and/or project.Step One: Students get into groups of four or five. As one person in each group takes notes during the activity,groups elect a student to do so.Step Two: Students in each group discuss common traits or qualities they share with one another. Although thestatements can be open-ended, its often best to provide some direction. Perhaps the students can talk about theirEnglish abilities. This works well in the first lesson. Perhaps students can talk about their skills and abilitiesconnected to a project the teacher has assigned.Students should strive to move beyond the superficial, such as "We are all studying English." The teacher may needto provide a few more meaningful examples to set the class moving in the right direction. Example: We all think listening is the most difficult part of English. Example: We all use our dictionaries when we dont know the meaning of a word.Students have ten minutes to develop a list of common points.Step Three: Students now discuss how they are different. On another sheet of paper, each student volunteersunique qualities that others (or most others) in the group dont possess.Step Four: Optional. The person who took the notes presents the information to the group once more. If there arenttoo many groups in the class, then the note-taker can present the information to the class as a whole. Better Language Teaching - 162
  • SchedulingPurpose: To use persuasion, negotiation, and creative quick thinking in conversation.Info: Students talk a lot in this activity. Some aspects of the conversation get reused, but students will definitely needto think quickly and use a variety of language skills. The activity works best with intermediate students and above.Step One: Students first imagine a plan for Saturday, such as seeing a movie, going to a sporting event, or hosting aparty. Any activity is fine, as long as students focus on something fun. Students also need to provide more detail, sothe teacher should allot several minutes for this step. For example: Student A: Lets see a movie on Saturday. Theres a late show of the new Will Farrell comedy. Before the movie, lets get some burgers. We can get some coffee after the movie.Step Two: Students pair up and try to persuade the other person to change his schedule. Each student can askquestions to come to a conclusion, and each should provide/make up additional information as needed. The object isto have the most fun on Saturday, so a student can (and should) abandon his plans for something more enjoyable. Student B: Im not sure how much money I have this weekend. Can you pay for the burgers? Student A: Sure, no problem.At the end of several minutes, students decide what to do on Saturday.Step Three: Students repeat Step Two. Each finds a new partner and tries to persuade him to join the activity. If oneof the students changed his schedule in Step Two, then he now presents the new plan to his new partner. In addition,more information can be added. For example: Student B: Were going to eat some burgers before the movie. Im sure student A will pay for you too. Student C: If student A plans to pay for everyone, then Ill see the movie too.At the end of several minutes, students again decide what to do on Saturday.Step Four: Students repeat the steps several times. Although conversation is the key to the activity, the teachershould ask the class about their plans for Saturday. This is the final step, and will allow the class as a whole to findout the most popular activity. Better Language Teaching - 163
  • Sentence ScramblePurpose: To focus students attention on specific grammar points and/or collocations.Info: This activity gives attention to specific grammar points, especially ones which may easily get overlooked bystudents. Determiners (a, any, some, the) or prepositions (in, at, on) serve as good examples. In addition, theteacher may construct sentences with phrasal verbs and collocations to develop awareness and automaticity.Step One: The teacher writes a series of sentences prior to the start of the class. These sentences should focusaround the lessons grammar point or topic, but may also include other target language from past lessons. Here aresome examples for an intermediate lesson on conditionals. The lesson also focuses on allergies:  If you have an allergy, then you may have a symptom like watery eyes.  If you are allergic to mold, you should avoid any place that is damp.  If you sneeze in the spring, then you may have developed an allergy to pollen.The teacher should write one sentence for each group of students, and each group will receive a different sentence.Step Two: For the first sentence, the teacher writes each word on separate slips of paper. He then places the papersfrom this sentence into an envelope. He repeats the process for the second sentence, the third sentence, and so on.Again, this should be completed before the start of the class.Step Three: In the class, students get into groups of three or four (depending on class size) and sit around a desk ortable. The teacher distributes one envelope to each group.Step Four: As a team, the students arrange the slips of paper with the words to form the correct sentence. The slipsof paper promote discussion among the students, and rearranging the papers allow students to quickly and easilysee different word combinations. This helps students to correctly visualize the language and then self-correct.Step Five: After the sentence has been arranged correctly, one student from each group writes the sentence on theboard. All sentences are checked as a class, with any corrections similarly made together.Variation One: If the teacher wishes to spend more time on the activity, groups can rotate envelopes. Each groupreceives one envelope initially, arranges the words to complete the sentence, writes the sentence in their notebooks,and then passes the envelope and re-scrambled slips of paper to the next team. This allows students to discuss andbecome familiar with many sentences, all of which can be used elsewhere in the lesson.Variation Two: In particularly large classes, or ones in which the teacher is unsure on the number of groups, thenthe scrambled words from each sentence may be written on the board. Students get into groups and similarly discussand arrange the words to complete the activity. Better Language Teaching - 164
  • Sit Down!Purpose: To practice basic question patterns.Info: Sit Down! works best as a Warm Up with beginners. However, it may also be used as a fun activity forreinforcement and review of a specific grammar point, especially when the class isnt in the mood for a worksheet.Note that ideal class size ranges between eight and fifteen students.Step One: Students arrange chairs into a large circle. There should be one less chair than the number of students inthe activity. If there are ten students, for example, then there are only nine chairs.Step Two: The teacher selects one student random to stand in the middle of the circle. As this is the first round ofthe activity, its often best to choose a stronger student. This ensures that the activity starts smoothly. All the otherstudents sit down.Step Three: The student in the middle asks a question. The question should be a closed question. All students whoanswer "yes" to the question must stand and quickly change seats. The student who asked the question similarlyrushes to sit down. Some sample questions include: Question: Do you have a pet? Question: Did you eat breakfast? Question: Do you like English?Step Four: The student who couldnt sit down now asks a closed question, thus repeating Step Three. The roundsmay continue until the teacher stops the activity.Variation One: Here any student who answers "no" stands up and changes seats. This variation may be used inconjunction with the above positive answers. After several rounds, the teacher switches to this variation.The teacher can also solely run this variation, which tends to produce interesting and creative questions after severalrounds. Better Language Teaching - 165
  • Six SentencesPurpose: To focus on accuracy as students provide a narrative of only six sentences.Info: This activity requires students to write their answers. Speaking activities allow students to quickly repair anycommunication breakdowns with requests for additional information/clarification. Written activities dont allow easyrepair, so students must focus on accuracy as well as narrative.Step One: The teacher selects a topic before the start of the lesson. The topic should be relevant to the level of theclass. It should also allow natural use of the target language, assuming the class focuses on a specific grammar orlanguage point.Step Two: The teacher provides the topic to the class as a question. Students must write an answer, but with onlysix sentences. For example: Question: How would you describe yourself in six sentences?Although any level-relevant topic works well, a question that allows students to answer something about themselvesoften generates more interest and better participation.Step Three: Students spend about five minutes answering the question. The answers should be rich and interesting,but six sentences also require some brevity.Step Four: Students get into pairs and exchange the written answers. Pairs read the information, and thenask/answer the one question they most want to know.Step Five: Optional. Students work in pairs providing correction to one anothers written answers. Dictionaries maybe consulted. The teacher may also provide one-to-one assistance when needed. Better Language Teaching - 166
  • SongsPurpose: To practice listening, pronunciation, and intonation.Info: Songs in the classroom work well on many levels. They first help to improve listening skills, as students listenfor content. They also listen to pronunciation, word stress, and intonation. If the teacher opts for students to sing thesong in the classroom, then there is further practice of pronunciation, word stress, and intonation.Step One: The teacher selects a song before the class. Some important criteria to consider include:  Length: Three to four minutes or less is ideal. The teacher needs to play the song many times and students need to sing it. A song that is too long makes the activity less effective.  Lyrics: The lyrics should be repeated several times. This allows repeated and improved listening.  Tempo: Songs with a fast beat are more difficult.In addition, the teacher needs to prepare a copy of the lyrics for easy reference during the activity, and then as aprintable for students to follow as they sing. Complete song lyrics can easily be found online.Step Two: In the class, the teacher presents the title of the song. He also asks if anyone has heard of it before. Thisgets the wheels turning in the heads of the students, thereby focusing their attention.Step Three: The teacher instructs the class to listen for any word or phrase. This isnt a dictation exercise, sostudents dont need to write down complete sentences in order. Again, to reiterate, students should listen for anyword or phrase in any part of the song. The teacher plays the song, and students take down notes.Step Four: At the end of the song, students get into groups to share the words they wrote down. The discussionscontinue for several minutes, after which the teacher elicits the words/phrases from the class. The teacher writesthese on the board, trying to roughly spatially arrange words into phrases/sentences wherever and wheneverpossible. In addition, he writes words/phrases from early in the song on the left side of the board. On the right sideare words/phrases from later in the song. This helps students see the lyrics in (more or less) the order they appear.Step Five: The teacher plays the song again, and Step Four is repeated. This continues for three or four times, untilmuch of the song is understood, or whichever happens first.Step Six: The teacher distributes the printable with the lyrics. The class reads and repeats the lyrics together. Anyexplanations of vocabulary or grammar may also be provided (or assigned as homework).Step Seven: The class sings the song! Note: The same song may be used as a Warm Up for several weeks. In sodoing, intonation and pronunciation improves as the class becomes more familiar with the lyrics. Better Language Teaching - 167
  • SlapPurpose: This activity improves vocabulary recognition and speed.Info: Slap gets students not only thinking, but moving as well. It works very well as a Warm Up, such as whenreviewing material from past lessons. However, the activity may also be used to reinforce newly taught vocabulary inthe Presentation and Practice stage of the lesson.Step One: The teacher arranges students into groups of four or five. He then distributes a set of flashcards. Thecards should be spread out on the table with the picture up.If flashcards arent available, the teacher can write the words on slips of paper before the class. With this option,students also improve their spelling recognition.Step Two: Student A (randomly chosen by the teacher) from each group says one of the vocabulary words from theflashcards. The other students in the group must race to grab (or slap) the appropriate card.Step Three: Play continues clockwise. Student B now says a word and the group races to grab/slap the appropriatecard. Continue around the table through all the cards.Step Four: Students in each group count their cards. The student with the most cards is the winner.Variation One: This variation is mostly the same as above, but the teacher says the word for the class. This allowsall the students in each group to participate. The teacher may also say words not among the key words to encouragecareful listening by the students.Variation Two: This variation adds a level of challenge. When a student grabs a card, he must also provide acomplete sentence. If he cant do so, then the card remains on the table. For example: Student A: bus stop Student C: <grabs the card> There is a bus stop near my house. Student B: ATM Student A: <grabs the card> I use an ATM every day.The focus is first and foremost on vocabulary recognition and a general understanding of how the word should beused. Therefore, unless the grammar structure has already been taught, less attention should be given to correctgrammar. Better Language Teaching - 168
  • Steal the ConversationPurpose: To promote more realistic participation in conversations.Info: Different cultures have different rules when talking. For some, its polite to wait for the other person to stopspeaking. For others, its polite to limit disagreement or requests for clarification. This activity is designed for cultureswhich follow these rules, as most speakers of English interrupt, disagree, ask for clarification, and so on.Step One: The teacher prepares a list of questions around a topic before the start of the class. There should be atleast five questions so that the class can go through the activity more than once.Step Two: Its recommended that the teacher arranges the class into the following groups: Less than eight students in the class: Keep everyone together in one large group. 8 - 10 students: Keep everyone together or break the class into two equal groups. More than ten students: Divide the class into groups consisting of four or five students.Step Three: The teacher writes the first question on the board. One student begins the discussion. If he speaks forthirty seconds, he receives a point. If he speaks for another thirty seconds, then he receives a second point. Thiscontinues until someone steals the conversation. Its important for the teacher to accurately monitor how longstudents talk so as to correctly award points.Step Four: A student who successfully steals the conversation interrupts the initial speaker. In so doing, the personwho steals the conversation now receives a point. Whats more, he receives an additional point for every thirtyseconds that he speaks. This continues until another person similarly steals the conversation.Step Five: The teacher continues with the question until the conversation begins to lag, it moves far off topic, or for apredetermined amount of time.Note: If there are several groups, the teacher wont be able to monitor each conversation. One person from eachgroup monitors and awards points for his respective group. When it comes time to talk about another question, a newperson becomes the monitor and awards points. Better Language Teaching - 169
  • StorytellingPurpose: To create a story with the target language of the lesson.Info: Students work together to write a story. The activity can take anywhere from twenty minutes to a full class orlonger. Because of the large amount of additional vocabulary and grammar structures needed for storytelling, thisactivity shouldnt be used with lower-level students.Step One: Students get into groups. The groups brainstorm possible story topics, such as:  My terrible weekend.  Something unbelievable happened to me the other day!  Im in big trouble!There are an infinite number of possible ideas, but the teacher should encourage imagination. In addition, if the storyis expected to incorporate the target language of the lesson, then this should be mentioned. It may or may not affectthe ideas generated, but the context will nevertheless prove helpful to the students.The class receives two or three minutes to brainstorm story topics, with groups then volunteering the ideas aloud.The teacher writes these ideas on the board. Note: In smaller classes, students can brainstorm ideas as one groupand then volunteer the ideas.Step Two: Students remain in the same groups. They discuss and choose one of the topics written on the board.However, if there were several groups in Step One, then students shouldnt select a topic their group hadbrainstormed. They instead select a topic volunteered by others.Step Three: The teacher explains that most stories have characters, a setting, and a climax. Some stories also havea problem to overcome. It often proves helpful for the teacher to provide some examples from well-known movies orbooks. Students spend five minutes talking about the characters, setting, and climax of the story they will soon write.Step Four: Students begin the story. Although everyone in the group provides ideas and sentences, one studentshould write down the information. This guarantees everyone communicates. During this time, the teacher monitorsthe groups and offers advice, correction, and any help needed.Step Five: After a predetermined amount of time, students complete their stories. These are then handed to theteacher for correction. At the next lesson, the teacher returns copies of all the stories to all the students. Everyonecan read the stories written by other groups. Discussions, questions, and comments can follow as students read andthink about all the stories. Better Language Teaching - 170
  • Stranded!Purpose: Stranded! activates higher-level English skills. It requires students to state opinions, then discuss, debate,and negotiate.Info: Students are presented with a scenario for discussion and debate. The activity requires a high level of English,so should only be used in upper-intermediate to advanced classes in the Application portion of the lesson.Step One: The teacher sets up a somewhat realistic scenario in which students might find themselves stranded. Forexample:  You decide to go hiking in the woods one Saturday but lose your way. There is no cellphone signal, and night is only a few hours away.  There is a hurricane approaching and you choose not to evacuate the city.  Youre at an airport when a snowstorm grounds all the planes. There are no hotel rooms available, and hundreds of people are sleeping on benches. The storm is expected to last for days!Although more creative situations are certainly available, the teacher should maintain a level of reality. This helpsstudents understand how to apply the language to similar situations outside the classroom. However, if the teacherneeds an activity to wake up and/or engage the students, then more unlikely and wilder scenarios may be used.Step Two: Students at first work alone. In the situation presented by the teacher, each student brainstorms five itemshe considers most essential. Reasons for the importance of each item should also be provided.Note: The teacher may change the number of items needed. Fewer items mean a quicker activity with fewerchances for discussion/debate. More items mean more discussion, although this could prevents students fromsuccessfully completing the activity in the time allotted.Step Three: The teacher arranges students into groups of three or four. Pairs arent recommend for this activity, asstudents have fewer opportunities for negotiation. Students present their answers to one another.Step Four: Each group now decides on the five most essential items. In order to do so, negotiation, discussion, anddebate are necessary. The teacher should allot ten to fifteen minutes for this step. If more time is needed, and itsavailable, the teacher can extend the activity.Variation One: Here students take the same idea to negotiate essential ideas/items on a specific theme, like:  Youre looking for the perfect hotel for a business conference (or wedding party, etc.). What are five things that are absolutely necessary?  You have to give some tips on how to give a presentation. What five ideas are the most important? Better Language Teaching - 171
  • Substitution DrillsPurpose: To reinforce the target grammar or theme of the lesson with pair drills.Info: Students prompt for language production with a partner. Student Talk Time remains high as students worktogether in the substitution drills. A level of challenge and creativity also exist for stronger students, as they receivethe chance to make original sentences.Step One: Students volunteer words around a particular topic. This may be done as a whole class or as groups whothen volunteer the information. All the vocabulary is written on the board. Alternatively, the teacher may prepare a listof words, which he writes on the board for the class.Step Two: The teacher allows students to check dictionaries for any difficult words. Students may work at their ownpace here for several minutes.Step Three: The teacher choral drills the vocabulary. He may say the words aloud without context or he may say thewords as a prompt for complete sentences. For example: Teacher: swim Students: swim Teacher: <written on the board for the sentence pattern> I __________ every weekend. Teacher: swim Students: I swim every weekend.If time is an important factor, the teacher should drill through the more difficult words to save time.Step Four: Students get into pairs. Student A says a word from the board and student B provides a sentence. Forthis step, the students plug the word into a set sentence that has been previously written on the board. Studentsswitch back and forth until each person has given five sentences.Step Five: Students prompt partners for sentences with the vocabulary as in Step Four. But now students makeoriginal sentences. If the vocabulary is part of a specific grammar point, then students should use the targetlanguage. Student A: swim Student B: I swim in the ocean every summer.Students switch back and forth until the teacher stops the activity, usually after everyone has presented at least fivesentences to one another. Better Language Teaching - 172
  • Substitution Drills (with flashcards)Purpose: To reinforce the target language of the lesson.Info: Substitution drills are an important part of any lesson because they allow students to practice the new languagein a controlled (or mostly controlled) manner. This means students can at first focus more on the target languageinstead of juggling new vocabulary and/or grammar with other information and skills. This singular focus on the targetlanguage leads to improved fluency and accuracy later in the lesson.Step One: After the teacher has introduced the vocabulary or grammar point, its time for students to practice withthe new information. The teacher arranges students into pairs and distributes ten flashcards. The teacher shouldidentify a student A and a student B in each pair, which will be important for the next step.Step Two: If the focus is on new vocabulary, student A holds up the flashcard and student B says the word aloud forvocabulary recognition. For example: Student A: <Holds up the flashcard.> Whats this? Student B: play tennisIf the focus is on new sentence structures, student A holds up the flashcard and asks a question which uses thetarget language. His partner plugs the word/action from the flashcard into a sentence. For example: Student A: <Holds up the flashcard.> What are you going to do this weekend? Student B: Im going to play tennis this weekend.The teacher should write the above mini-dialogue on the board and practice once or twice with the class. This willensure that everyone focuses on the target language, and not waste energy trying to remember the dialogue.Step Three: After the pairs have gone through the deck of flashcards, they swap cards with another pair of students.Student A and student B also switch roles, and student A says the word or answers the questions. Pairs continuethrough their deck of flashcards again.Step Four: Although this step is optional, it allows additional reinforcement. Each pair of students again swaps cardswith another pair. If the focus is on vocabulary recognition, then student A holds up a card. Student B says the wordin a complete sentence. If the focus is on a grammar point, then student A holds up the card and asks a question.Student B gives an answer and provides additional information. After five Q&A exchanges, students switch roles andfinish with the remaining five cards. Better Language Teaching - 173
  • SummarizationPurpose: To exchange information accurately and thereby foster comprehension.Info: Teachers should use this activity for intermediate to advanced learners. Lower-level students will likely growfrustrated with the difficulty because they must provide coherent summaries, understand and use a variety ofgrammar and vocabulary, and use circumlocution. This activity effectively prepares students for discussion anddebate exercises.Step One: The teacher selects an article or passage before the start of the class. The article/passage should be onepage only, and about two or three hundred words. In addition, the article should be easy to cut in half, with roughly anequal amount of information in the first and second portions. The teacher cuts the article into a Part A and a Part B.Step Two: The teacher breaks the students into two groups - Group A and Group B. In particularly large classes,there may be several A groups and several B groups. The teacher then distributes the first half of the article to allstudents in Group A and the second half of the article to all students in Group B.Step Three: Students in each group read and discuss their part of the article together. Unknown words, phrases, orsentences should be checked and understood as a group. After ten minutes (depending on the length and difficulty ofthe piece), students in each group work together on a coherent summary for their portion.Step Four: Students from opposite groups pair up, so that a student from Group A works with a student from GroupB. Student A explains the contents of his half of the article for several minutes. Its important that he hits on the keyideas and provides supporting information. Next, student B explains the contents of his portion of the article, andsimilarly provides key ideas and supporting information.Step Five: Now that all students understand the key information for the whole article, the teacher asks a series ofquestions to gauge comprehension. If necessary, students may regroup to ask about and discuss the informationonce more.Variation One: The activity above offers only a general understanding of the article/passage, which serves as aneffective pre-step to discussion and debate activities on a particular topic. If the teacher desires greater, morein-depth comprehension, then students can work together in respective groups to understand the piece. Groups worktogether to also explain unknown words, phrases, ideas, and so on. This includes grammar usage, word frequency,pronunciation, etc. Students get into pairs (A students with B students) and receive the complete article to quicklyread through. Student A then provides a summary of the first half, and answers any questions his partner may haveon the first half of the article. Students then switch roles and repeat. Better Language Teaching - 174
  • Synonym BrainstormPurpose: To improve vocabulary.Info: Students spend time looking up and discussing new words in pairs. They also receive a set of synonyms, whichaids retention as they match old, familiar words with new ones.Step One: The teacher prepares two lists of words before the class. One set of words lists the target vocabulary forthe lesson. It’s recommended that target vocabulary be limited to ten completely new words to ensure high retentionrates. However, the teacher may also include several additional words which were studied in past lessons, therebybringing the total to fifteen new words or so.The second set of words lists synonyms to the target vocabulary. These words should be well-known.Step Two: The teacher lists the second set of words (synonyms) on the board or via dictation. Both methods workequally well, and it’s the teacher’s decision if the class requires listening practice in this activity.Step Three: Students get into pairs or small groups. They provide additional synonyms to the list of synonyms.Dictionaries should not be used in lieu of discussion and thought. However, if needed, students may look though theirnotebooks or textbooks for ideas.Step Four: Students now receive the list of target words. Students work in pairs and first circle the words that theydefinitely know. They match these words to the synonyms.Step Five: Students next circle the words they might now. Again, they match the words to the synonyms.Step Six: Students look at the remaining words, check their dictionaries, then discuss possible matches from thesynonyms. In addition, any mistaken matches made in the previous steps should now be corrected too.Step Seven: The teacher reviews the key words. He says a synonym, and the class provides the correct key word. Ifpossible, students shouldnt look at the information. As an optional step, the teacher may also ask how to spell theword. Better Language Teaching - 175
  • Synonym MatchPurpose: To improve vocabulary.Info: Students spend time looking up and discussing new words in pairs. They also receive a set of synonyms, whichaids retention as they match old, familiar words with new ones.Step One: The teacher selects a list of key vocabulary words for the lesson. If all the words are unfamiliar, then heshould limit the list to ten words total. The teacher dictates these words to the class, but doesnt provide the spellings.Step Two: Students get into pairs and compare answers. Spelling is important, so every attempt should be made toget this aspect correct too. Students can and should discuss this together.Step Three: Students continue to work in pairs. Each pair is given five minutes to talk about and look up the words indictionaries to improve comprehension. Lower-level students may use a dictionary that provides translations, such asan English-Japanese dictionary or an English-German dictionary. Upper-level students should first use anEnglish-English dictionary, followed by a dictionary in their own tongue if further clarification is needed.Step Four: The teacher now reads aloud synonyms. Students must match the key vocabulary with the words.Step Five: Students return to their pairs and compare answers. Did they correctly match the new words with thesynonyms? Any answers which differ should be discussed and corrected.Variation One: This variation provides an additional step. Students receive an article, monologue, or dialogue withthe key words and synonyms. Once students have completed Step Five, they then receive the realia and scan for thevocabulary. This allows everyone the chance to see the words in context, and in turn leads to improvedretention/usage later in the lesson. Students circle the words and compare their findings with a partner. Briefdiscussions of the sentences should follow. Better Language Teaching - 176
  • Synonym Word SearchPurpose: To reinforce key vocabulary.Info: The word search can be a great tool to introduce and reinforce vocabulary. The synonym word search linksknown words with new words, which promotes retention. The extra steps of looking for and discussing the key wordsfurther improve retention rates.Step One: The teacher prepares a list of key vocabulary for the lesson. The list of new, completely unfamiliar wordsshould be limited to roughly ten. More words than this will be too many to process and use in the lesson. Words frompast lessons may also be used in the list as a means to review.Step Two: The teacher creates a word search with the key words. For the clues, he should provide synonyms.Step Three: In the classroom, students get into pairs or groups of three. They look through the list of synonyms andbrainstorm additional synonyms. Allot about five minutes for this step.Step Four: The teacher dictates or writes the key words on the board. Students continue to work in pairs/groups,linking the words with the synonyms brainstormed. Dictionaries may also be used. Students should talk about thewords and combine their knowledge.Step Five: The teacher elicits which key words match which synonyms. He does this orally with the class.Step Six: Students continue to work in pairs/groups. They now find the words together in the word search. Theteacher should limit this step to five or ten minutes, depending on the number of words.Step Seven: The teacher reviews the key words. He says a synonym, and the class provides the correct key word. Ifpossible, students shouldnt look at the information. As an optional step, the teacher may also ask how to spell thewords.Variation One: In this variation, students dont brainstorm additional synonyms. The printable lists synonyms of thetarget vocabulary and a word bank with the key words. In addition, the word search contains both sets of words.Students first match one key word with its synonym, then look for both words. Next, students match a second keyword with its synonym and again look for both words. At the end of the activity, the teacher reviews the words asdescribed in Step Six above.Variation Two: The word search may also be used to review past vocabulary. In this variation, the teacher writesseveral synonyms for the key word, but doesn’t provide a word bank with the target vocabulary. Students work inpairs and discuss possible answers. Students may also check their notebooks and textbooks for answers. Theteacher may or may not opt to check answers before the class begins searching for the words. Better Language Teaching - 177
  • TabooPurpose: To reinforce target words and/or other vocabulary in the lesson.Info: Taboo is especially effective when focused on a theme, such as jobs or weekend activities. Students provideclues for key words, with teammates listening, processing the information, and linking it to the correct answer. Theactivity may be used with most any level of student, although it by far works best with intermediate classes.Step One: The teacher prepares a series of words written on slips of paper before the start of the lesson. Each slipof paper has a main word, with two to four additional key words. The additional words are ones which describeand/or are closely linked to the main word. For example: Main Word: car Additional Words: vehicle, drive, and gasStep Two: The class is divided into groups of four or five students. In this version of the activity, students dontcompete with other groups. However, as described in Variation One, an element of competition can easily beintroduced.Step Three: Each student receives a slip of paper. If any of the listed words arent known, then the student maycheck a dictionary. Allot two minutes for this step.Step Four: One student in each group starts the activity. He prompts his teammates to say the main word. Hecannot say or spell the main word, nor give such hints as, "It starts with the letter c." or "It has three letters." He alsocannot say the two to four additional words on his slip of paper. All of these are taboo.If the teacher is concerned with time, the teacher can limit the length of the activity to two minutes. This will preventthe activity from running too long, as when one group takes an inordinate amount of time. The teacher may simplyallot two minutes per turn, after which he says, "Stop!" In each group, if the answer hasnt been guessed, thenstudents provide the answer to their teammates. However, if the group did guess the word before the teacherstopped the round, then they should wait for the next turn.Step Five: Once a student guesses the word, then the student to his right repeats the process with his wordlist. Playcontinues around the group until everyone has had the chance to give clues.Variation One: This adds an element of competition. The class gets divided into equal groups who compete with oneanother. The steps are the same as above, but the first team to provide the answer receives five points. The secondteam to do so receives three points. The third team to provide the answer receives one point. All other teams receivezero points. Play rotates to new students in the group after the word has been correctly guessed. The team with themost points at the end wins. Better Language Teaching - 178
  • Talk and TradePurpose: To answer questions, recycle and reuse information, and provide clearer information.Info: This activity works well when discussing current events, although it can also be used for any conversation ortopic. It can also be used for any level of class. Students talk about a question or statement for several minutes, thenrepeat the conversation with new partners. This improves fluency and accuracy. It also improves structural clarity.Lower-level students think about basic topics.Step One: The teacher prepares a list of questions or statements on slips of paper. There should be one questionper slip, and all questions/statements should be related to the topic or grammar structure. In very large classes,some questions may be reused rather than providing thirty or more original questions.Step Two: Each student receives one slip of paper and a few minutes to think of answers.Step Three: Students find a partner. Student A reads his question and provides an answer. A conversation shouldfollow, so student B must provide additional comments and questions. The discussion continues for two or threeminutes. Note: Although students will likely be able to speak much longer, the teacher also wants students to haveseveral conversations with several partners. Hence the activity imposes a time limit.Step Four: Student B now reads his question and provides an answer. As in Step Three, a conversation follows fortwo to three minutes.Step Five: The teacher says, "Stop and change!" Both students in each pair exchange the slips of paper with thequestions/statements. Students now find new pairs.Step Six: In the new pairs, student A reads his new question. He also gives an answer or opinion, and a newconversation ensues. He will use much of the same information from his previous discussion, even if theconversation with the new partner differs. Students talk for several minutes and then change roles.Step Seven: The teacher repeats Step Five as many times as he desires. Students are able to more succinctlysupport key ideas as they recycle and refine their answers. If used as a Warm Up, then students should change pairsonly once to keep the time limited. Better Language Teaching - 179
  • Talk and WalkPurpose: Talk and Walk requires student to hold a conversation while performing an unrelated but simple task.Students must talk and walk. The movement proves slightly distracting, particularly so for beginners, which meansthey must more intently concentrate on language production.Info: Students hold short conversations in pairs. They do so while walking, which adds an effective physical elementto the activity. Talk and Walk works best with lower-level students in the Application portion of the lesson.Step One: The teacher writes two questions on the board. One question starts the conversation. The other questionserves as the emergency back-up question should students get stuck and their conversation lags.If necessary, the teacher should check comprehension of the questions. He may also want to provide a sampleanswer for the class.Step Two: The teacher establishes a start and end point for the walk. Students should be able to walk for at leasttwo minutes, guaranteeing ample time for a real, albeit short, conversation. A hallway proves ideal, but any large,open space will work almost as well. The classroom can also be used, but desks may need to be moved to providethe needed space.Step Three: Students get into pairs. One student asks his partner the first question from the board. The partneranswers it, as well as provides additional information, follow-up questions, and so on. This is done as the twostudents are walking side by side. Conversations should continue until the pair of students reach the end pointindicated by the teacher in Step Two.Step Four: The teacher wants to ensure enough space between pairs. Once the first pair of students gets ten orfifteen steps ahead, then the second pair of students begins to talk and walk.Step Five: Steps Three and Four continue until all the students have talked and walked. The teacher may opt torepeat the activity with new questions, new partners, or both. Better Language Teaching - 180
  • Teacher SpeculationPurpose: To learn more about the teacher.Info: This activity works very well in the first or second lesson, when the students dont yet know the teacher. Theactivity also works in a class with some free time, perhaps a day with nothing scheduled on the syllabus. Studentsspeculate about the teachers age, interests, hobbies, etc.Step One: The teacher arranges the class into groups. The groups should contain no more than five students inorder to maximize talk time for everyone.Step Two: The teacher assigns the students to speculate about him and his life. Students should strive for accurateanswers, as each correct guess will receive one point. Groups work for five minutes, making notes about their ideastogether.Step Three: The teacher divides the board into columns, with one column for each group. Students then come to theboard and write the information in their column.If the board is too small to allow columns, then the teacher can simply call for guesses from the class.Step Four: The teacher corrects the answers on the board. For each correct answer, a point is awarded. Theteacher goes through all the answers, providing additional information when appropriate or desired. The team withthe most points wins.Variation One: This adds more focus on correct answers. For each correct answer, the group receives two points.However, for each incorrect answer, the team loses one point. If the guesses are often incorrect, then negativescores can and do quickly add up. At the end of the activity, any points may be used to buy additional information.One point allows the group to ask one direct question to the teacher, preferably in relation to information on theboard.Variation Two: Although the above activity focuses on the teachers real life, he can also encourage students tocreate the wackiest speculations possible. If this variation is chosen, then score shouldnt be kept. The purpose issimply to have fun. Lower-level students may struggle with this activity, as they often do best with concrete ideas.However, higher-level students will find this variation challenging and interesting. Better Language Teaching - 181
  • Thats the Best!Purpose: To allow students to share, reuse, and vote on information on a topic of interest.Info: Students first share information in this three-part activity, then present the information, and finally take a vote.Lower-level students have opportunities to listen and exchange information, so they improve fluency and accuracy.Higher-level students do the same, but also add an element of persuasion and negotiation to the final conversation.Step One: The teacher writes three questions on the board centered on the theme or the target language of thelesson. As an example, here are some questions related to vacations. Students also focus on using the past tense:  Where did you go for your last vacation?  What did you do there?  How long was your vacation?If the teacher wants to give students a greater amount of freedom, then he can allow everyone to add an originalfourth or fifth question related to the topic too. Some other topic ideas include:  last weekend  a regret  a great date  plans for next weekend  a terrible experience  the worst illnessStep Two: Students find a partner and spend five minutes answering one anothers questions. Each student mustwrite down the answers, although a word-for-word record isnt necessary. Follow-up questions are encouraged.Step Three: The teacher says, "Change!" Students find a new partner and repeat the question-and-answer sessionfor five minutes. Again, students take notes. The teacher will repeat this step at least once more, but in very smallclasses (for example, a class with five students), then everyone can be given the chance to talk with everyone.Step Four: Students select the best story. The reason may be based on interest, or humor, or any point that appealsto the student. However, each student must be able to offer at least one sentence to explain his reason.Step Five: Students get together in small groups of three. Each student relates the best story to the group, as well asoffers a reason.Step Six: The group votes on the best story. To better ensure that students dont simply vote for themselves, eachperson must select another persons story. Higher-level students can persuade and negotiate here.Step Seven: This step is optional. Two or more groups come together and relate the story selected in the previousstep. Again, groups then vote on the best story. This step may be repeated several times until one story remains. Better Language Teaching - 182
  • Thats Not ImportantPurpose: To build lists and support the information.Info: Students write a list of objects, characteristics, etc. based on the topic, determine their importance. They thenshare the information with a partner. The list provides a good pre-step to discussions, especially lower-level andanalytical learners. It also leads to richer debates among intermediate students.Step One: The teacher distributes a printable with the following categories:  Very Important  Somewhat Important  Not ImportantStep Two: The teacher gives a topic relevant to the level of the class. Lower-level students might do well with "thingsyou need for a vacation," for example. Upper-level students might do well with the "hot to protect the environment" or"how to improve education."Step Three: Students work in pairs to provide five words or ideas per category. They should place the words/ideasgenerated in the specific categories. For lower-level students, this serves as an effective and collaborativevocabulary exercise. For upper-level students, it requires debate and discussion. Note: The teacher can lessen theneeded number of words/ideas. Fewer words needed translate to a shorter activity.Step Four: Optional. Students present their information to another pair of students. Intermediate students shouldcompare ideas, discussing differences, surprises, etc.Variation One: The teacher provides the printable with categories, as well as the topic. He also gives a list of keyvocabulary words, phrases, and/or ideas. Students arrange the words on the list in pairs, discussing and debatingreasons as they do so.Variation Two: For more flexibility and/or a different focus with the activity, the teacher can change the categories.Some ideas include:  Very Desirable / Somewhat Desirable / Not Desirable  Very Delicious / Somewhat Delicious / Not Delicious  Very Interesting / Somewhat Interesting / Not InterestingAlmost any adjective that allows students to consider new words, phrases, and ideas works well. Better Language Teaching - 183
  • Translate and Translate AgainPurpose: Translate and Translate Again requires students to translate a passage from English to their L1 and backagain. It focuses on improving awareness of language, especially nuance and meaning.Info: This activity should only be used if all students share the same native language. With upper-level students, a lotof time is needed to complete the activity because of the analysis and discussion. With lower-level students, lesstime is required because they need less time for discussion. Low levels can do this activity in the Presentation andPractice portion of the lesson.Step One: The teacher provides two passages in English. Each text should be about one hundred words at most,although far shorter passages work just as well. Sentences on a specific grammar point may also be used.Step Two: Half of the class receives one passage and half of the class receives the other passage. Students quicklyread through the material for a general understanding.Step Three: Students translate the English passage into their native tongue. Dictionaries may be used for unknownwords. The teacher should allot five or ten minutes here, depending on the length of the passage.Step Four: Its now time to discuss the translation. Students get into pairs or small groups of four based on thepassage received. Students in each pair/group should have translated the same passage. They compare translations,discuss differences, and make any corrections to words, sentences, nuance, and so on. This step improvesawareness of the language and its specifics. Note: Lower-level students may not be able to effectively discussreasons. Less time will be needed here.Step Five: Students exchange the translated version of the text. So if one student received passage A and anotherstudent received passage B, the two trade translated texts. Neither student should see the original English version.Students translate the new text back into English. Again the teacher allots five or ten minutes here.Step Six: The students who exchanged texts get into pairs. For each passage, they look at the original English, thetranslation into the students L1, and the translation back into English. Students compare and discuss the differences,again as a means to improve awareness of the language and its specifics. Pairs do this with both passages.Variation One: Here the class receives the same passage. Students translate the English into their L1. They thentranslate the text back into English without referring to the original version. Both steps here should be given fiveminutes or so. Finally, students get into pairs/groups and discuss their differences.Variation Two: This variation follows the same steps as above. However, the original text is in the native languageof the students. The class translates this passage into English and back again. Better Language Teaching - 184
  • Twenty QuestionsPurpose: To practice yes/no questions.Info: Although the activity limits the grammar structure of the questions and answers, students have freedom withvocabulary and with working towards the correct answer. This activity works best with beginning andlower-intermediate students.Step One: Students think of an answer around a topic pre-selected by the teacher. Some topics include:  What I did last vacation...  A famous celebrity...  The best/worst movie I have ever seen...  What I plan to do next weekend...  My bad habit...The teacher may select one topic or several topics. If several topics are chosen, they should all focus around a singlegrammar point (the past tense, second conditional) or a single theme (vacations, food). This will allow students toform related questions which may be used elsewhere in the lesson.Step Two: Students get into pairs. Student A asks yes/no questions to his partner. Only yes/no questions areallowed to find the correct answer, and only twenty questions may be asked. If student B doesnt know the answer toa question, he may answer, "I dont know." This doesnt count to the twenty question total. Both students should keepa tally of the number of questions asked.Step Three: When student A thinks he knows the answer, then he may provide the answer as a statement. If correct,then students switch roles. If incorrect, play continues. Only three guesses are allowed.Step Four: Students switch roles and repeat the previous steps if: 1) student A correctly guesses the answer, 2) hemakes three incorrect guesses, or 3) he doesnt provide an answer within the limited twenty questions. Better Language Teaching - 185
  • Two-Minute ConversationsPurpose: To introduce a topic or theme.Info: Two-Minute Conversations allows students to activate pre-existing knowledge on a topic or theme. The quickconversations get the class focused. This then improves receptivity and comprehension of the material because theyknow what to expect regarding the topic. This activity works especially well as a Warm Up.Step One: The teacher prepares five questions on a specific topic before the lesson. The questions should allowquick conversations to ensue between partners, so questions that are easy to understand and dont require deep,careful analysis work best. Remember: Students need to be able to read the question and immediately jump into adiscussion. Some ideas for upper-level students include:  Global Warming  Politics  The Future  RelationshipsStep Two: Students get into pairs for the discussion. The teacher should announce the topic, again as a step toprepare and focus the class.Step Three: The teacher reads aloud the first question. Students discuss the question in pairs, speakingcontinuously for two minutes.Step Four: The teacher says, "Stop!" He then reads a second question. Students begin their conversations anew.Step Five: After two minutes, the teacher again stops the students and reads the third question. This continues untilall five questions have been read aloud and discussed.Variation One: In this variation, the teacher reads aloud questions which an article, dialogue, or monologue willanswer. These two-minute conversations allow students to speculate on the article, etc., and so serve as a pre-stepto the material. Of course students wont be able to answer the questions without having looked at the piece.However, when they read the content, they will be better able to find the relevant and important material whichanswers the questions. Better Language Teaching - 186
  • Two-Minute DebatesPurpose: To introduce a topic or theme.Info: Two-Minute Debates requires focused discussions on a specific topic. Their short nature activates pre-existingknowledge on the topic, so serve as an excellent Warm Up. Intermediate and Advanced students possess thelanguage ability needed for this activity.Step One: The teacher prepares five statements on a topic before the lesson. The statements should be somewhatcontroversial, as opposed to moderate and middle of the road. For example, if the topic were education:  Formal education is a waste of time!  Teachers dont receive enough training.  All learning will be conducted online in the future.Keep in mind that students need to read and understand the statements quickly, and then jump into the debate.Step Two: Students get into pairs for the debate. One student is student A and the other is student B. As an optionalstep, the teacher announces the topic as a means to prepare and focus the class. This proves helpful for any topicsthe class may find difficult.Step Three: The teacher reads aloud the first statement. Student A supports the statement and begins theconversation. Student B disagrees with the statement. Pairs debate for two minutes, each providing information andanalysis. Quick conversations are key.Step Four: The teacher says, "Stop!" He then reads the second statement for students to debate. Students nowswitch roles. Student B supports the statement and provides the opening information. Student A disagrees.Step Five: After two minutes, the teacher again stops the students and reads the third statement. Students againswitch roles. This continues until all five statements have been read aloud and debated.Variation One: This variation has students switch partners and roles. In the first round, student A supports thestatement and student B disagrees. After two minutes, students find new partners to debate the same statement.However, student A now disagrees and student B agrees. After two minutes, the teacher reads a new statement andthe process repeats. Better Language Teaching - 187
  • Video, No SoundPurpose: This activity focuses on learning visually. It allows students to examine the setting, gestures, facialexpressions, etc. for information and content.Info: Video, No Sound works best with intermediate and advanced students because of the realia. The speaking inmany programs and movies may be too quick for lower-level students. Students watch the clip without sound severaltimes, engaging in discussion between each viewing.Step One: Before the start of the lesson, the teacher selects a short video clip, something about two or three minutes.The clip should not only be chosen for the level of English used, but also for the ability to speculate on its contentswithout sound.Step Two: In the classroom, the teacher arranges students into small groups. Throughout the activity, studentsremain in these groups for speculation, discussion, and practice.Step Three: The teacher writes the title of the program or movie on the board. If its a well-known program or movie,students may spend several minutes in their groups discussing what its about, whos in it, and so on. A program ormovie that isnt so well known will require the teacher to provide some background information.Step Four: The teacher provides questions for the class. These are written on the board and bring focus to theactivity. Some ideas include: 1: Where does the scene take place? 2: Who are the people in the scene? 3: What are the people doing in the scene? 4: What are they feeling/thinking?Step Five: Students watch the clip without sound. They next talk about the contents in their groups, providingreasons for opinions whenever possible. The teacher should allot five minutes for this step.Step Six: The teacher plays the clip again and Step Five is repeated. With this second viewing, students can correctand confirm their previous discussions. This step may be repeated up to three times.Step Seven: The teacher plays the clip with sound. Students can now correct and confirm their previous guesses.For intermediate students, it may be necessary to play the clip several times with sound so that everyone can catchall the information.Step Eight: The teacher returns to the initial questions. To check comprehension, he asks the questions aloud to theclass. Students answer and, if necessary, receive correction. Better Language Teaching - 188
  • Video SpeculationPurpose: Video Speculation helps students with listening. It also forces students to use intuitive guesswork.Info: This activity has students watch a video clip, but with half the screen covered. They gather visual and auditoryinformation in order to construct the missing contents.Step One: Before the start of the lesson, the teacher selects a short video clip. Two or three minutes of materialworks best, as the teacher plays the clip many times. Longer clips mean less time for discussion. When selecting theclip, the teacher should also consider the level of ability of the students.Step Two: In the classroom, the teacher arranges students into small groups. Throughout the activity, studentsremain in these groups for speculation and discussion.Step Three: The teacher writes the title of the program or movie on the board. If its a well-known program or movie,students may spend several minutes in their groups discussing what its about, whos in it, and so on. A program ormovie that isnt so well known requires the teacher to provide some background information.Step Four: The teacher covers half of the TV screen with paper or cardboard. When he plays the clip, students mustconsider the actions/contents off screen for comprehension.Step Five: After students have watched the clip, they speculate on the contents for five minutes. Of course, theyshould also support their opinions.Step Six: The teacher plays the clip once more. Students confirm and correct their assumptions in a groupdiscussion. Less time may be allotted for the discussion here, about three minutes.Step Seven: The teacher moves the paper/cardboard to the other half of the TV screen. Students watch the cliponce more, linking what was previously missing with what they remember from the initial viewings.Step Eight: The students discuss the clip in groups.Step Nine: The teacher removes the paper/cardboard and plays the clip once more. If necessary, the teacher mayask several comprehension questions to the class. Better Language Teaching - 189
  • Vocabulary BrainstormPurpose: To share vocabulary and activate pre-existing knowledge/words on the topic.Info: This activity works well as a pre-step to introducing the target language. Students work in groups andbrainstorm words on the lesson topic, such as vacations, shopping, food, the environment, and so on.Step One: The teacher places students in pairs or small groups of three. If the groups are too large, then one or twostudents may only listen rather than actively volunteer words. This most often happens with weaker students placedin groups with stronger students.Step Two: The teacher writes the topic or theme on the board. The topic or theme can focus the attention of thestudents. For example, if students were to study the future tense, then they could brainstorm vocabulary aroundvacations to later talk about future vacation plans. The words may then be used when introducing the grammar,when practicing the target structure, or in conversations/activities at the end of the lesson. The teacher shouldprovide a few examples and write these on the board for clarification. Some additional topic ideas include:  weekend plans  foods  jobs  hobbies  words associated with directionsStep Three: Students work together and brainstorm vocabulary words. One student should write the words aseveryone volunteers vocabulary for the list. Dictionaries should not be used, as students must brainstorm and sharepre-existing knowledge. The teacher should allot three to five minutes for this step.Step Four: The teacher may ask for students to say the words aloud as he writes them on the board. Alternatively,students can come to the board and write the words themselves. The teacher may also merge pairs/groups, witheach pair/group presenting the information to one another. The vocabulary will be used and reused for subsequentsteps in the lesson. If pairs/groups merge more than once, this ensures everyone has an identical list of words.Variation One: In smaller classes, students brainstorm the words as above. One student then comes to the boardfrom each group. His partners say the words aloud to him, and he must write the words on the board. If he doesntknow the spelling of the word, he should say, "How do you spell that?"Variation Two: Award points for each word written down. The pair/group with the most points wins. Of course, pointswill be deducted for any words misspelled and/or unrelated to the topic. Better Language Teaching - 190
  • Vocabulary FeudPurpose: To allow students to brainstorm and increase vocabulary.Info: Students brainstorm words around one topic or series of topics. A competitive element, as well as speculation,promotes creative and careful thought. Any of the words brainstormed can be used later in the lesson.Step One: The teacher selects a topic centered around himself before the class begins. More topics are okay ofcourse, but students should be able to reuse the words elsewhere in the lesson. Too many topics could mean lessfocused conversations later. Here are a few topic ideas:  food the I like  my favorite movies  countries visited  sports that I hate  chores I do every day  my hobbiesBecause the topics are framed in relation to the life of the teacher, this adds an element of interest and carefulthought. Students are usually curious about their teachers and will want to brainstorm correct answers.Step Two: Before the class starts, the teacher brainstorms five words for each category used in the lesson.Step Three: Students get into groups of four. The teacher writes the category on the board. Groups brainstorm thefive best answers for each category. Allot at least two minutes per category for this step.Step Four: One representative from each group writes the brainstormed words on the board. Students should workquickly so that ample time can be devoted to vocabulary usage later in the lesson.Step Five: The teacher writes his list on the board and compares answers. For each word on the teachers list andthe groups list, a point is awarded to that respective team. Tally the points at the end to determine which group ofstudents had the most correct answers.Variation One: If the teacher prefers not to use topics related to his life, then celebrities or other teachers serve asadequate substitutes. Of course the teacher must research the answers for accuracy.Alternatively, the teacher can brainstorm a list of words without the personalized connection. This lessens thecreative aspect. It also feels more like an activity to generate vocabulary. Yet teachers may opt for this variationwhen time is limited, with a class size too large, or for other considerations. Some possible topics include:  food  jobs  school subjects  sports  movies  chores Better Language Teaching - 191
  • What Happens Next?Purpose: What Happens Next? improves students abilities to follow information to a natural conclusion. They musttake the information presented and speculate on a logical conclusion.Info: Students watch a portion of a video clip of a TV program or movie in this activity. However, the teacher stopsthe scene before it finishes, allowing students to work in groups to discuss possible endings. This activity works bestwith intermediate and advanced students.Step One: Before the start of the lesson, the teacher selects a short video clip. Two or three minutes of materialworks best because the scene will be played several times. In addition, students should be able to understand thecontents of the scene without having watched earlier scenes of the program or movie.Step Two: In the classroom, the teacher arranges students into small groups. Throughout the activity, studentsremain in these groups for speculation and discussion.Step Three: The teacher writes the title of the TV program or movie on the board. If its a well-known program ormovie, students may spend several minutes in their groups discussing what its about, whos in it, and so on. Aprogram or movie that isnt so well known requires the teacher to provide some background information.Step Four: Optional. The teacher prepares a short explanation of the program/movie up to the clip. He may writefour or five sentences (about half a page), distribute the printable, have students read the information, and checkcomprehension with questions. Students may also get into pairs to discuss the contents explained in the printable.Step Five: Students watch the clip. However, the teacher stops the DVD in the middle or so of the scene. In groups,students discuss what has just happened.Step Six: The clip is played once more for the class to confirm and correct their previous discussions. After theteacher has stopped the DVD again, students may briefly discuss their past conversation.Step Seven: The teacher now asks the class, "What happens next?" In groups, students present ides and discuss.All opinions should be supported. Each group should agree on single conclusion to the scene among the ideaspresented in their respective groups. The teacher should allot five to ten minutes for this step.Step Eight: The teacher plays the full scene from the start for the class. With lower-intermediate students, theteacher may want to play the scene twice to foster improved comprehension.Step Nine: Students return to their groups to discuss what they got right about their speculation, what they got wrong,and why. Better Language Teaching - 192
  • Whats Missing?Purpose: To connect ideas and narratives together.Info: Whats Missing serves as a great tool for intermediate students who often have trouble linking together ideasand extended narratives. An element of creativity also keeps participation and interest high.Step One: The teacher selects a story, scene, or happening for the class. There should be three events described.Heres an example for a lower-intermediate class of students: Event #1: Alex always had big dreams. Unfortunately, he was very, very poor. He delivered pizza for a living. And because the pizza was free, he ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Event #2: One day a customer didnt have enough money for a tip. He apologized and gave Alex a lottery ticket. He said, "If you win, you can keep all the money." Event #3: He became a fabulously wealthy musician. He traveled the world, had millions of fans, and become known as the "Prince of Pop."A story, scene, or happening all work equally well in getting students to provide links. Longer narratives can be usedas a listening or reading activity too. The teacher can present the information orally or as a printable.Step Two: Students get into pairs. They receive the first event. Lower-level students should focus on comprehension.Upper-level students, if given a somewhat narrative than the above example, should talk about the information.Step Three: Students receive the third event. Again, lower-level students focus on comprehension. Upper-levelstudents discuss the information.Step Four: Students now link the first and third events. Students work together to create a narrative. The teachershould assign a minimum number of sentences to link the information, such as three sentences. He may also requirestudents to use specific grammar, a minimum number of adjectives or adverbs, etc., which will push studentstowards improved use of the target language and/or greater creativity.Step Five: Pairs form groups of four. They each read their narratives to one another.Step Six: Optional. The teacher reads aloud the narrative that he prepared for the class. Upper-level students candiscuss the differences, as well as what they liked or didnt like. Better Language Teaching - 193
  • Whats the Order?Purpose: To improve listening skills.Info: This activity requires students to listen for key vocabulary words. They first place the words in order, and thenlisten for context. The two step process focuses listening skills.Step One: The teacher provides a list of vocabulary words from an article, monologue, or dialogue. The wordsshould not be in the order that they appear in the text.Step Two: Students work in pairs. They discuss the meanings of the words, checking dictionaries if necessary. Withupper-level classes, students may also want to give an example sentence during their discussions. The teacher canprovide assistance whenever necessary.Step Three: The teacher reads the realia aloud (or plays the CD for the class). Students listen and order thevocabulary words as they are heard.Step Four: Students merge back into pairs. They share answers, discussing any discrepancies.Step Five: The teacher reads the realia or plays the CD again. Students confirm and correct their previous answers.In addition, students listen for how the words are used. Notes may be taken.Step Six: Students get back into pairs one final time. They again compare answers with one another, both the orderand context of the words. Discrepancies should also be discussed.Step Seven: The teacher distributes the article, monologue, or dialogue for students to check information gathered inprevious steps.Variation One: The teacher focuses on sentences, not vocabulary. The teacher provides a number of sentences tothe students, preferably key sentences for the article, monologue, or dialogue. Students check and discuss themeaning of the sentences in pairs. When the teacher reads the information aloud or plays the CD, students order thesentences as above. They then pair up and discuss their findings. When the teacher reads the information aloud orplays the CD again, students listen for the context in which the sentences appear. Better Language Teaching - 194
  • Whats the Question?Purpose: To practice and improve question generation.Info: Students of all levels sometimes take a less participatory role in conversations. One reason comes down to alack of surety on how to correctly ask or structure questions. This exercise allows students of all levels the chance toimprove their ability to generate questions.Step One: The teacher writes from one to several sentences on the board. For very low-level classes, its best tostick to one sentence, although this may be longish. For upper-level classes, several long, grammatically difficultsentences are fine. Heres an easy example: Last weekend, my girlfriend and I had some free time, so we went to see a movie. We went to the late show and saw an action movie. It was great.Step Two: The teacher allots several minutes for students to read and understand the sentence(s). Dictionaries maybe used for unknown words. Students complete this step in pairs, discussing and summarizing the sentences toincrease comprehension via communication.Step Three: In the same pairs, students write down as many questions as possible which answer portions of thesentence(s). In the example sentence above, students might create the following questions: What did you do last weekend? Where did you go? Why did you see a movie? Who did you see a movie with? What kind of movie did you see? What did you think of the movie?In very large classes, students may form groups of four to complete this step.Step Four: Students switch partners or form new groups. The questions are read aloud in the new pairs/groups tocompare. Corrections to grammar should be made, if necessary. Any questions not directly answered by thesentence(s) should be discarded.Step Five: With the questions generated, checked, and corrected, students now have a real and original discussionwith the questions as a starting point. Although some questions may not be applicable to the conversation, these caneither be discarded or adjusted to fit the current conversation. No matter the class size, students talk in pairs tomaximize talk time. This step may be repeated with a new partner after several minutes to better promote use of thequestions. Better Language Teaching - 195
  • Whats the Reason?Purpose: To provide reasons for actions.Info: This activity is quite flexible in the grammar points with which it may be used. Therefore, this activity may beeasily applied as a controlled, semi-controlled, or free practice for a variety of levels.Step One: Before the start of the class, the teacher thinks of situations that require a reason/explanation for theaction. Here are some example situations for upper-level students:  You yell at your boss.  You re-gift a present you got last Christmas.  You take a two-month vacation.  You steal some food from the grocery store.  You go on a date with your best friends ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.The teacher should brainstorm at least twenty situations/actions. This will provide enough sentences to use asexamples and enough sentences for students to practice.Step Two: The teacher presents and practices the target language as usual. Some grammar points that workparticularly well with this activity are:  because/so  clauses of purpose  conditional clauses (first, second, or third)The teacher writes one of the sentences from Step One on the board, then an example reason. If covering thesecond conditional clause, for example, he might write, "If my boss yelled at me, I would yell at my boss." Additionalexamples should be offered to clarify the activitys expectations.Step Three: The teacher now elicits examples from the class and writes these on the board. In quieter classes whichdont regularly volunteer information, the teacher may allow students several minutes to think of at least one example.These will then be elicited and written on the board.Step Four: Students get into small groups. The teacher writes down additional sentences, and students take turns totalk about reasons for each situation with the target language. Each student should present at least one reason, thenmove on to the next situation/action. The group monitors and offers correction for any mistakes with the grammar.Step Five: In the same groups, students brainstorm additional situations, as well as the reasons. Better Language Teaching - 196
  • Word AssociationPurpose: To brainstorm words associated around a specific topic or theme.Info: Students provide words/thoughts from an initial word provided by the teacher. This activity works especially wellas a warm-up activity because it focuses the students on the topic. It may be used with any level of student too.Step One: Students get into pairs or small groups. The teacher may need to rearrange some pairs/groups to ensureeveryone is roughly the same ability level.Step Two: The teacher writes a word on the board. The word relates to the topic or theme of the lesson, such aspolitics or the environment for upper-level students. Topics for lower-level students include likes/dislikes, jobs, food,and vacations, just to provide a few ideas. The word should broadly cover the topic/theme.Step Three: One student in the group begins the activity. He says the word provided by the teacher. The student tohis left says the first word that comes to mind. The next student to his left then provides another word based on theresponse. Students continue to take turns, ensuring everyone participates equally. For example: Student A: environment Student B: greenhouse gases Student C: pollution Student A: smog ...Step Four: Play continues until the teacher says stop. Its possible that students may move off topic, but thats okay.The teacher should allot about five minutes for the activity. Better Language Teaching - 197
  • Write on Your Partners BackPurpose: This activity improves spelling, especially of newly learned words.Info: Write on Your Partners Back gets students to spell words on a partners back. The physical movement, writingin a different medium, and concentration greatly helps retention.Step One: Students get into pairs. Each student receives a different list of five to ten words. These words shouldhave been studied in previous steps of the lesson. However, if the teacher wishes to review important or difficultvocabulary from previous lessons, then he may do so too.Step Two: Student A stands behind and faces the back of his partner. He selects a word from his list and, with hisindex finger, writes it on his partners back. Its important that student A write each letter separately and slowly, andthat he also uses the entire "writing space" of his partner. Student B wont be able to correctly guess the word if theletters are written too small or too quick.Step Three: Student B guesses the word. If correct, the two students switch roles. If incorrect or he doesnt haveguess at all, then student A rewrites the word. If student B again cant provide a guess, then student A should givethe answer and spell the word.Students continue through all the words until finished.Variation One: Students stand in a line of four or five, much like a conga line. Each student faces the back of theperson in front of him. The person at the back of the line writes letter by letter on the next persons back, who thenwrites letter by letter on the next persons back, and so on down the line. When the word gets to the front of the line,then the first student says the word aloud. If correct, then he moves to the back of the line and the whole process isrepeated. If incorrect, then students receive one more try.Variation Two: This variation is similar to Variation One, just with an element of competition. Each line of studentsrepresents a team competing with other teams for speed.The students at the back of each line begin with the same word. When the teacher begins the activity, then eachteam writes letter by letter as quickly as possible on the back of the next person, who then writes on the back of thenext person, etc. When the word reaches the front of the line, then the first student whispers it to the teacher. Ifcorrect, the team receives a point. If incorrect, they must try again. Only the first team with the correct answersscores a point. Longer or more difficult words may be worth more points, which further increase the competition.The team with the most points at the end wins. Better Language Teaching - 198
  • Your PacePurpose: This activity allows students to discuss a series of questions at their own pace, mimicking a real-lifeconversation.Info: This activity lets students work at their own pace, discussing questions in pairs/groups. Students may talk asmuch or as little about any question, as long as the conversation continues until the teacher stops the activity. Thismimics real-life conversation, as well as focuses on fluency. It further gives students the chance to employ speakingstrategies because of the length of the conversations.Step One: The teacher writes several questions on the board, then allows students a minute or two to checkcomprehension. Dictionary use is fine for any unknown words, as is directly asking the teacher for clarification.If possible, all the questions should be around a singular theme. This leads to richer, more connected conversations.Its important to note that more questions may be needed for lower-level classes, as conversations at this level tendto be on the short side. Higher-level students should be comfortable with fewer questions. Consider the following: Beginning students: Five questions for ten minutes of discussion. Intermediate students: Three questions for ten minutes of discussion. Advanced students: Two questions for ten minutes of discussion.Step Two: Students get into pairs or small groups, which allows everyone the chance for a high talk time. It alsorequires students to provide longer, more detailed answers, as well as ask follow-up questions. Large groups meanless individual chances to speak.Students use the questions as a starting point for the conversation. They must ask additional questions. However, itsentirely up to the students what questions they will discuss. For example, if the first two questions dont interest thegroup, they can immediately jump to the third question. In addition, students decide what follow-up questions they willask, and how long the conversation for each question will continue. Again, for example, the group can talk about allthe questions, or even just one of the questions. In other words, students work at their pace until the teacher stopsthe activity.Step Three: The teacher monitors time. If necessary, he also encourages students to continue speaking or to moveonto another question whenever the conversation begins to lag. There should be no or little need for the teacher tocorrect, guide, or otherwise interrupt the conversations. Better Language Teaching - 199