Better Language Teachingby Chris CotterCopyright 2009 Chris CotterAll rights reservedNo part of this publication may be re...
Table of ContentsPreface …………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………..… 6      Congratulations, reader! ……………….…………………...
Review ……………………………………………………………….……………………...……… 40          Feedback ……………………………………………………………….………………………..… 41Chapter Three:...
Lower-Intermediate Students …………………………………………………………………..… 79           Upper-Intermediate Students ………………………………………………………………...
PrefaceCongratulations, reader!If youre about to embark into the world of language teaching, then this book will give you ...
responsibility to assess that dynamism, make necessary changes to the lesson, and finally asses any failures orsuccesses.T...
richer language than a weaker student at the same level, yet both students push themselves to their maximumabilities. This...
Better Language Teaching - 9
What Is Lesson Structure? ………………………..……………………………………..……… 11Component One: Goals, Objectives, and Steps ……….……………………..……………...
Chapter One: Lesson StructureA lot goes into a successful lesson: activities that are fun and educational, a high student ...
of this within the allotted time of the class, and with a minimal number of mistakes because of a well-structuredlesson.A ...
Objective: This is what the students will be able to do by the end of the lesson.       Steps: This is what the teacher mu...
Lets further highlight the difference between goals and objectives.        Example One: Paul reassesses his lesson on the ...
Goal: To understand and use the simple past tense.       Objective: To talk about last weekend.       Steps: One: Introduc...
Take a look at the follow diagram which expresses this concept:                                             Open Questions...
the teacher provides an activity with a very narrow focus, so students wont get confused, distracted, or need toconsider s...
You can find more information in: Chapter Two: Presentation and Practice: Interactive Drills - page 31.With semi-controlle...
However, as the lesson progresses, this control gets handed to the students. By the end of the lesson, the teacheracts mor...
Presentation and PracticeThe Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson expects the teacher to present key language p...
The chart below should be used as a guide rather than a rigid plan for managing the time of the lesson. However, theteache...
Warm Up ………………………………..…………………………………………………..…….. 23Presentation ………………………………..………………………………………………..…… 26       Method One: E...
Chapter Two: Lesson ContentThe contents of a lesson are more than a list of activities conducted during the class. As has ...
The target of the lesson may be far different from their daily needs. This in no way suggests that classroom English isles...
established himself as a primary participant rather than a guide. Students wont be as quick to volunteer informationor par...
Presentation and PracticeThe Presentation and Practice portion of the lesson should be viewed as two concepts fused into s...
If teacher Stacy were introducing adverbs of frequency, then she would likely draw the following on the board. Thebelow di...
then places too much reliance on the teacher. In addition, when practicing the language, students may very well beless lik...
addition, there are so many variations to these drills that they remain fresh and challenging, even when used andreused wi...
Variation Three: Students work in pairs to produce one sentence with the target language. The pairs then        say their ...
Teacher: (holds up a flashcard of people on the beach) What do you always do on the weekend?       Students: I always go t...
Interactive drills can be viewed as semi-controlled activities because the question allows only a limited number ofrespons...
must be included. However, drills often have the tendency to make language feel short, abrupt, and more reactionarythan pa...
Teacher: Thats right. Alan and Frank are at a coffee shop. They have ordered but have been waiting for five       minutes ...
wonder which name is which. They may not know how to pronounce the name, nor know if the character is       male or female...
Refer to: Chapter One: Component Two: Controlled, Semi-Controlled, and Free Activities - page 16.If the teacher doesnt inc...
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  1. 1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 8. Better Language Teaching - 9
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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

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