Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

No-tech school: Reading + Discussion

Image credit: thelondonacornschool.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a reading and conversation lesson plan for high B2+ students, based around an article in the guardian newspaper about the acorn school in London which has a no technology policy for students, both at school and at home.

Download the abbreviated version of the article and the lesson plan here:

Tech free school article

No tech school LP

Warmer

Describe the classroom in our first school. Did it have a blackboard? Decorations? Computers? What were the desks like? How were they arranged?

How did the teachers present information to you? On the board? With a projector? Flipchart? Powerpoint?

How have new technologies changed education?

Do you think they have changed it for the better?

Article

What technology do schools use nowadays?

In what ways does technology help/hinder learning?

At what ages do you think children should start using the following things?

  • the internet
  • smartphones
  • tablets
  • computers
  • tv
  • watching films
  • games consoles

Give out the article and have students read it and underline any vocabulary they have problems with. They should then ask their partner for help with the vocab.

What do you think of this idea?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of this approach?

How do you think children would react to this approach?

Would you consider sending your children to this school?

Debate

Motion for debate:

“Children should not use any technology until the age of 12”

Put the class into 2 teams, try to choose the teams so that students have to argue against their own beliefs.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Ageism and Retirement: CAE/CPE Lesson Plan

Student Onno Selbach does activities with two of our inhabitants. Photo courtesy of Humanitas.

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Photo credit: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/dutch-retirement-home-offers-rent-free-housing-students-one-condition/

This is a conversation activity for adults (B2+) based around an article about a Dutch retirement home where university students can live rent free in exchange for spending time with the senior residents. It also includes  Cambridge exam style open cloze and word formation exercises.

Lesson Plan:Dutch nursing home lesson plan

Article:Dutch nursing home offers rent

Open Cloze: Dutch nursing home open cloze

Word Formation: Dutch nursing home word formation

Key:

You can either split the class into groups to discuss the questions or conduct the discussion as a class. Warmer questions:

  • What is ageism?
  • Have you ever experienced it or seen an example of it?
  • In what ways/situations are people discriminated against because of their age?
  • Do you think older people are treated well in your society?
  • What type of problems do elderly people face in modern society?
  • How could this be improved?
  • Do you think the way in which older people are treated has got better or worse in your lifetime?
  • Are young and elderly people well integrated in modern society? If not how can we improve this?

Give out article and have students read it, clear up any vocabulary issues. Then give out the open cloze and word formation exercises.

Discussion questions:

  • What do you think of the program?
  • What are the potential advantages and disadvantages?
  • Why would this program appeal to the students?
  • Why would this program appeal to the elderly people?
  • What would the students get out of the program?
  • What would the elderly people get out of the program?
  • Would you have liked/like to spend your university years living in a retirement home?
  • Would you like to live in a home like this when you retire?

Follow up activity: Students write a CAE style essay, report or proposal on the topic of ageism and the retirement home program outlining pros and cons or highlighting advantages and disadvantages for the students and the elderly people.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Reading Classes

The Spanish Timetable: Reading and Speaking Activity

siesta

 

This is a reading and speaking activity based around an article from the New York Times about possible changes to the Spanish working say timetable. The original article is quite long so I have edited it down a bit, it should be suitable for B2/FCE upwards. Here is a link to the edited version and the discussion questions:

Spain time article

Start by asking students to tell the class about their average day with specific focus on the times at which they get up, eat, go to work, go to bed etc. Ask them if they follow the typical Spanish timetable outlined in the introduction to the article. Do they eat late? Do they have a siesta?

Once they have shared their different schedules set the class a time limit depending on their level to quickly read the article and underline any unfamiliar vocabulary. This could include:

To hunker down – to meet up/get together

a boon – a bonus

a lag – a delay

Go over the new vocabulary on the board, then either split the class into small groups and give out the discussion questions or hold a whole-class discussion. Below are the discussion questions from the hand out:

What’s your initial reaction to the article?

Do you agree with any of the opinions stated? Which ones?

Describe your daily routine; does it follow the “Spanish” timetable?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of both the Spanish and the “European” timetable?

How difficult would you find it to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think changing the timetable would affect the country’s culture?

Do you think most people would find it easy of difficult to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think the current system helps people be efficient?

 

When you have finished the questions you could organise a class debate for/against the idea of changing the Spanish timetable to be more in line with the rest of Europe. Sometimes when organising debate teams it’s a good idea to force your students to argue for a point that they don’t actually agree with. Debate structure should be as follows:

  • Each team presents their argument (3 uninterrupted minutes per team)  – the other team must remain silent but can take notes for the rebuttals later
  • Rebuttals (10 minutes) – Teams can attack the opposition’s arguments based on statements made in the presentation of their argument.
  • Result – Teacher can decide which team has the most coherent argument.

You may find my activity on language of agreement/disagreement useful for the debate.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Reading Classes

CAE Reading Part 7: Exam Technique (Update)

exam student

This is a lesson plan designed to help students complete the CAE reading paper part 7 gapped text task. Many students struggle with this part so I have designed this power point to try to help them find the “anchors” that will help them rebuild the text.

Below is the reading task, print out 1 copy for each student: readingcae0001

Here is the power point:

cae-reading-part-7-1

Key:

7-g

8-f

9-b

10-e

11-c

12-a

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Proficiency Book Club: The Waterfall by H E Bates

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

The Waterfall tells the story of a repressed reverend’s daughter trying to cope with the emotions and sentiments of life and love. These feelings are symbolised by the waterfall in her garden which is being renovated. The breaking of the damn and the water surging down the waterfall could symbolise the release of all her bottled up affections and feelings towards her husband and the jovial Mr. Phillips who has been staying with the family.

Download this lesson plan here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!383&authkey=!AJRdYjvoRf1OhyM

Vocabulary

First copy to the board or project the vocabulary table in the attachment above, students must try to match the new vocab to the definition.

Key: 1 – g, 2 – d, 3 – a, 4 – b, 5 – j, 6 – e, 7 – f, 8 – I, 9 – h, 10 – c.

Once they have matched the vocab give them 5 minutes to find the vocabulary in the text, make it a race, the first team to find all 10 wins.

Then discuss the following discussion questions:

Discussion Questions:

  • What happens in the story?
  • How would you describe the characters? Straight-laced. Prim and proper, repressed, damaged,
  • What does the waterfall represent?
  • How do you feel about Rose? Do you sympathise with her?
  • How do you think she feels about her new husband?
  • How do you think she feels about Phillips?
  • Do you think people are more or less emotionally repressed these days?
  • Do you think this is a good or bad thing?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: A Widow’s Quilt by Sylvia Townsend Warner

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

Vocabulary

Here is some vocab that your students might have trouble with:

page 243

  • the box – the television
  • parlour – a room in a kitchen where food is stored and prepared
  • applique quilts – patchwork quilts

page 244

  • rook – black bird and chess piece
  • blacking out curtains – heavy curtains used during world war two to block light from the windows of the houses
  • taffeta – material made from silk

245

  • to snatch – to take something from another person aggressively
  • jolt – a sudden violent movement

248

  • drudgery – a boring, difficult job
  • fidgeting / to fidget – to move comfortably and nervously
  • to thwart – to prevent the completion of something
  • a harlot – a whore / prostitute
  • to grimace – to make an angry / annoyed face

Discussion

Have your students discuss these questions in small groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. Can you describe the characters?
  3. What do you think of Charlotte?
  4. How do you think she feels in her marriage? Trapped?
  5. What do her actions say about the position of women in the time the story was written?
  6. What do you think of Everard?
  7. How do you feel for him at the end?
  8. How do you feel for Charlotte?
  9. How can you explain the ending?
  10. Charlotte takes on the challenge of making the quilt, how important is it to have challenges and things to focus your attention on in life? Different stages of life. Things to look forward to etc.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: The Troll by T. H. White

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

Vocabulary

Here is a matching exercise for some of the more difficult vocabulary in the story. Have the students complete the exercise in pairs.

a. Ungainly 1. the back of a boat
b. Blurry 2. A mental institute
c. Beside the point 3. clumsy / moving without grace
d. A bog 4. to squeeze material to extract water
e. To ford 5. to begin to deal with a problem in a sensible way
f. Bow 6. dry and wrinkled
g. To wring out 7. irrelevant
h. Stern 8. the front of a boat
i. To come / get to grips with something 9. To designate for a specific purpose
j. Wizened 10. To cross a river
k. To earmark st 11. unfocused
l. Loony-bin 12. a wet, muddy area of ground

Here you can download the table to print:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!358&authkey=!AOgTwYv1J95mH4E

Here are the answers:

  • a – 3
  • b – 11
  • c – 7
  • d – 12
  • e – 10
  • f – 8
  • g – 4
  • h – 1
  • i – 5
  • j – 6
  • k – 9
  • l – 2

Here are the locations of the words in the text and some sentence examples:

  • ungainly – bottom of pg 346
  • blurry – actual reference is blurring at the bottom of pg 347
  • beside the point – middle of pg 348, other sentences example: “He is a nice man, but that’s beside the point; he’s rubbish at his job.”
  • bog – bottom of 348
  • to ford – bottom of 348
  • bow – bottom of 348 in relation to a “bow wave”
  • stern – isn’t in the text but is a counterpoint to “bow”
  • to wring out – top of 349, wring is irregular – wring wrung wrung.
  • come to grips with something – middle of 351, other sentence examples: “We must all get to grips with this tragedy” “If you are going to be an executive you need to get to grips with your fear of public speaking.”
  • wizened – middle of 351
  • to earmark st – bottom of 351, other sentence example: “this money is earmarked for the Christmas party”

Ask students for any other vocab issues they have.

Discussion Questions

Discuss these questions in groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What does the troll represent?
  3. Why does the story have a framing device? (a story within a story) What does it add to the story?
  4. Some analysts say the story is religious, the character’s latent Christianity defeating the Troll, do you agree?
  5. What do you think of the gory imagery of the troll?
  6. How do you explain the ending?
  7. What other mythical creatures can you think of? (vampires, werewolves, zombies etc.)
  8. Why do you think these monsters are so popular? Why do people keep writing stories about them?
  9. Which ones frightened you most as a child? Which ones still scare you now?
  10. What do you think are the origins of these creatures?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 5, The Letter

persepolis pic

This is a series of lesson plans based around “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Each plan deals with the next chapter of the book, students read a chapter a week and bring any vocabulary questions they have to class.

Vocabulary

Here are some things that may cause problems from chapter 5.

a porter – a person who carries bags in a hotel or hospital

weave – wove – woven = in relation to the weaving of carpets on the first page.

maid – a cleaner / person who helps maintain a house or cleans a hotel room.

to get along with somebody – to have a friendly relationship

to lace a shoe – to tie a bow to keep a shoe on

to slap – to hit with an open hand

Discussion Questions

  1. What happens in this chapter?
  2. What new characters do we meet?
  3. What does Marji learn in this chapter?
  4. Are there distinct social classes in your country?
  5. Can people marry people from other social classes?
  6. Have you ever sent love letters?
  7. Did you have a crush / infatuation when you were growing up?
  8. We see Mehri telling Marji scary stories about jackals, what scary stories do you remember from you childhood?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: An Englishman’s Home by Evelyn Waugh

short stories

This is the latest in a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories edited by A. S. Byatt. This one is based on “An Englishman’s Home” by Evelyn Waugh, you can read the story for free here:

http://novel.tingroom.com/html/29/149.html

As with the other plans in this series, students read the story for homework and then bring any vocabulary queries or new words they discover to class. Start by asking for these queries. Here are some pieces of vocabulary that might come up in class:

I opened the class by teaching the following 2 expressions: “An Englishman’s home is his castle” and “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) two expressions which neatly sum up the various themes in the story.

aphorisms (page 295)  = sayings / idioms

to wreak stark havoc (296) = to cause chaos

ha-ha (296) = a type of fence built at the bottom of a ditch so that it’s not visible from the house’s windows

Crown Derby (297) = A type of expensive ceramic, plates etc.

impecunious (297) = poor, no money

to pull your weight (298) = to do your share of communal work

to eschew (298) = to avoid

The Peace Ballot (298) = a national survey carried out in 1934-35

jerry builders (302) = cheap unskilled builders

to put / pull a fast one over on somebody (309) = to trick / cheat somebody

to mope (309) = to complain and be worried about something

to fret (309) = to be worried and nervous

Discussion Questions:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What do you think of the characters?
  3. What does the story say about people?
  4. Does anybody come out of it looking good?
  5. The story talks a lot about manners and maintaining appearances, do you think these things are as important in your country?
  6. We see Mr. Metcalf trying to follow the instructions on how to live as a country gentleman should. Do you think lots of people act like this in real life? Do they try to act as society expects them to act? Can you think of any examples?
  7. The story reflects English village life very accurately, can you see parallels with villages in your country?
  8. What does the expression NIMBY mean? Do you see examples of NIMBY attitudes in your country? Can you think of any examples?
  9. In the book we see the residents of the village cheated out of their money, what other similar confidence scams and tricks can you think of?

Students may be interested to read about the life of the writer Evelyn Waugh, here is his wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Waugh

His most famous book “Brideshead Revisited” has been adapted for the screen twice, the 1981 small screen mini series garnered an excellent response from critics.