The Foolproof Lesson

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13 Responses

  1. David says:

    Wow! Wonderfully “communicative”.

    I see so many so lessons paraded as “communicative” but are really just activities to be done and finished with…. I like how you put the emphasis on the teacher NOT intervening too much and allowing students to try and communicate for themselves and negotiate/struggle to arrive at mutual understanding.

    Equally wonderful is that you are using real things and text (to a large degree). That’s a truly functional approach.

    I’ve been focusing lots on gap and especially these 2 way task activities with teachers this year. I’ll be sure they read this! Thanks Barbara.


    • Barbara Barbara says:

      At first, it’s hard for a teacher to not jump in to “fix” language–makes us feel like we’re slacking off on our jobs 🙂

      But, fixing every error reinforces the idea students get that they can’t use English until they’re much better, which often means they’ll never try using English outside of class (where they have someone to rescue them).

      I’m glad you enjoyed the lesson idea.

  2. Anne Hodgson Anne Hodgson says:

    I really like the way you do this with real things (instead of rods and drawings). I’ve never done anything with a group like this, only pairwork, but the dynamic is great!

    • Barbara Barbara says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Anne.

      I’ve done this with rods and drawings, and they allow for some advanced distinctions that some learners appreciate (the red rod is at a 45 degree angle to the blue one). But, I found it too easy to forget the box of rods before class, and got tired of putting them back into the box after they’d been knocked over….again. And, while rods are real objects, there’s something different that happens when you use every day real objects.

      With higher level students, it’s fun to include similar objects that students will have to distinguish between in their explanations (the red mechanical pencil, the whiteboard marker, the thick paper plate).

      Two things I’ve found that I appreciate about the group dynamic—it encourages students to share knowledge and it decreases the concern about failing. If the group puts the eraser in the wrong spot, no one person made a mistake. I’ve found it makes it easier to talk about where things broke down when I’m not talking about any one student’s error.

  3. I think this was a lovely post Barbara. All the things you talked about – developing confidence, tasks that allow students to participate at their level, a strong sense of accomplishment at the end, and materials light – are excellent. Definitely the kind of foolproof lesson all teachers should have.

    I use the create a country lesson on my site with all but absolute beginners. Always a winner.

    Having students bring in a picture of their family and talking about it is another one where students always rise to the occasion although you need a day’s notice.

    Cool post and nice lesson 🙂

    • Barbara Barbara says:

      Thanks, Nick. I just popped over to your blog to check out the create a country lesson. You’re right–that qualifies as a foolproof lesson, too!

      (It’s #11, here if anyone else wants to check it out)

      I like the idea of family photos, too. Another fun twist a friend taught me is to let students “borrow” a family to talk about. I’ll either put together some “snapshots” of people cut out of magazines (regular folk, or celebrities) or let students make their own.

      Students can exaggerate and use vocabulary talking about these fake family members that they don’t usually feel comfortable using with their real families (rich, ugly, fat, famous), and everyone knows it’s all in fun.

  4. Hi Barb!

    Thank you so much for another winner- a lesson versatile and useful enough for almost every age and level of student, and quick enough to prep on a moment’s notice! I’ll be trying it out with my kids soon enough, especially those who are going to the US this summer. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, and I’ll try to incorporate Let’s Go chant “Where’s the Classroom”!

  5. Sputnik says:

    Fantastic idea and great videos, especially the first one where you can see how much fun they’re having. I really like your made-up family idea too as it never ceases to amaze me how involved students get with role-play situations. Cheers!

    • Barbara Barbara says:

      Thanks, Sputnik. I’m glad you enjoyed the ideas! I’m lucky my students are so willing to let me share videos of them.

  6. tatiana says:

    Thank you, Barbara! I’m looking forward to using it in class. I’m pretty sure my four-year old puils will love it.

  1. March 22, 2010

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  2. March 23, 2010

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