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First lesson of the new year

It’s Thursday tomorrow so it will be my first lesson of the new academic year, back to see my class of the last few years (the class of the emails earlier in my blog). They are a rather ‘special’ class, they love English, none of them want to pass exams in it but they love it – some of them translate, some of them teach some of them have no need whatsoever, what unites them is being housewives, learning a language and enjoying it.  It’s the kind of class you don’t really need to prepare for  – the opening hello could have enough in it to keep them talking for the whole class – they sure keep you on your toes. Over the last few years I have been using the internet based materials (youtube, bbc, etc )for lessons – I do make a lesson plan just in case there is no topic from them for the day – hey if i don’t use it this week it’s always there for next or whenever or I can simply email them what I have found and they can look at it on their own.  Anyway over the summer I listened to Fry’s English delight when it was on Radio four. It’s a programme right up  my classes street – it’s about English for starters 🙂 so with that in mind I had a look on the interweb thingy to see if there was anywhere that they could listen to it and of course youtube has it and what’s more it’s broken into the youtube ten minute chunk which makes it ideal for class. So what follows is what I might do with my class tomorrow, depending on if they let me 🙂  Not only is it a nice challenging listening on a relevant topic but also the class can go home, listen again for themselves and use the links provided to extend the topic. If you have a suitable class you could use it with please feel free to download and use.

This is the plan you’ll need the slides here for it to make sense

Here is a description of how I used the first part in class along with the slides and links should you want to use it.  I use slides so I can both save paper and time (in not having to write on a board). It also means my students can be sent it by email.  I guess the lesson aims are speaking and listening.

Since it is the first lesson back after the summer break (during which we were emailing each other as class pointing out things on the web etc and discussing English), the lesson begins by discussing interesting language they had heard / come across during the summer. [Mine was He may be a number 9 but he is no bunny  – which is pretty meaningless to anyone who doesn’t watch cricket]. This leads into the first slide where I have three chosen bits of language for them to discuss. From there is it into slide 2, which is merely the title of the programme for the class to discuss and decide what can be so wrong it’s right.

Slide 3 is the business jargon mentioned at 2minutes in. I show the slide and get them to think about words – this helps check they understand them (should they think they are important) and sets up the first part of the listening task, the question for which are slide 4.  Play the first bit of the youtube clip (about 3mins 30 until) and let students, listen, answer and discuss.  Follow up with slide 5 for further discussion (Czech is one of those languages that does have a body that regulates what’s right or not – there is very little grey all has to be black or white)

Slides 6 to 8  – set up the next part of the programme which discusses the split infinitive.  Work through these with the students, asking what they think of the split infinitive then play from about 3m 50 to 5m 12.  Ask the class to listen to see if the author shares the same opinions and also why the split infinitive is an issue in English (because of Latin)

I omitted  a couple of minutes here and move onto 7minutes 18 merely to keep the listening time down. We pick up at ‘spelling’ . Slide 10 has a quote from the speaker, students discuss this quote then listen to hear the woman’s opinion and answer the questions on slide 11. (Play clip to about 9m 05)

The final part of part one is the schwa, slide 12 asks the question posited in the listening. Ask students to discuss then play for them to find the answer.

That’s the first ten minute clip of youtube done.  Now it’s up to them, if they want to do the rest in class then I’ll prepare the rest of episode one for future lessons. They can of course go and listen themselves (which is what I would hope they’d do) and they can use the links to follow up any points of interest.

The links:

1. Episode One of the Stephen Fry broadcast can be found in three parts on you tube:




2. The youtube councillor’s ‘Taste the Strawberry message’ can be seen in full here

3. The full list of banned words plus a new article can be found the bbc website

4. The split infinitive – askoxford, wikipedia and a third source

5. Jeremy Butterfield – author

6. Regard or regards

7. Helman Melville or try this

8. Scott Fitzgerald or try this

9. Pease Pudding

10. King Knut

Phew that turned into a long post,  hope you found it useful, have a good lesson

Categories: Teaching
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