Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 2: Solid Objects by Virginia Woolf

Iron_Lump

This is the second part of a series of posts based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A.S Byatt. This particular class is based on “Solid Objects” by Virginia Woolf, pages 205-209.

As before set the story as reading homework for the week before.

If you don’t have a copy of the book someone has helpfully uploaded it in pdf here:

http://inkandblotter.com/catalog/pdfiction/SOLID%20OBJECTS,%20Virginia%20Woolf.pdf

This analytical essay by Sam Mitchell about the works of Virginia Woolf may prove useful. It’s a little heavy as it’s an honours thesis but has some useful insights into the story.

https://dspace.lasrworks.org/bitstream/handle/10349/958/2011ENG-MitchellSam.pdf?sequence=1

Lesson Plan:

Start by asking the students for vocabulary problems. Woolf’s style can be confusing so some sections could require a little explanation. Some vocabulary that might cause problems is listed below:

lunging – to lunge, to move towards in a swift movement

tweed – woven material used to make clothes

to fling – to throw without care

to be to hand – to be within reach

to slash – to cut or mark something

to skim – to touch the surface of something lightly

slate – material used to make rooves

to hitch up a sleeve – to roll up or move higher to protect

moat – water around a castle

mantelpiece – surface above a fireplace where objects are kept

on the brink – on the edge

trifling – unimportant

to be cast down – to be depressed

matted – tangled into a lump

Lots of the vocabulary in the story can be used in various contexts, be sure to explore these fully. For example: fling – to have a fling (short sexual relationship)

Once you have cleared up any vocab issues hand out the following discussion questions:

1. Can you describe the characters?

2. What happens in the story?

3. What was your initial reaction to the story?

4. Did you feel sorry for John? Or bemused?

5. What strikes you about the introduction?

6. How can you explain John’s behaviour?

7. What do the objects represent?

8. Do you have any lucky charms? Did you have any when you were a child?

9. Do you collect anything?

10. Did you collect things when you were a child?

Either put the students into small groups to discuss the questionsand then feedback or have an open class discussion.

Here are some ideas and themes that could help fuel discussion:

Story written in 1918 towards the end of World War one. The idea of objects lasting longer than men, so many people died in the war and all that came back were objects: letters, belongings, clothes etc.

The idea of the permanance of objects and the transcience of people. The desire for permanance, ever lasting life.

The simplicity of the objects as pure pieces of different materials and also the mystery surrounding what they used to be.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

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Posted in Writing Classes

Follow up: Homework composition about travelling

travelwriter

This is a homework activity written to follow my previous lesson plan about holidays and traveling here is the link to the original lesson plan:

https://freeenglishlessonplans.com/2013/01/30/holidays-and-travelling-conversation-class/

Here is a link to download the handout for homework:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!300&authkey=!AMJLj8z2NbQgFFI

A travel magazine is running a competition for travel articles about different types of holidays / ways to travel for young people.

Choose 1 type of holiday / way to travel from the class handout and write an article about why it’s good for young people. Include:

  • An interesting introduction to catch the reader’s attention. Include direct questions.
  • Pros and cons of your chosen subject.
  • Reasons why you recommend it to other young people.
  • You can include (invented) anecdotes.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

 

Posted in Conversation Classes

Ice breaking activity: My life star

star

Thanks to my Spanish teacher Montse for this activity.

This is a good activity for the first class of a course to break the ice. The students learn a bit about their teacher and then about each other.

It is suitable for levels A2 – C2.

You will need this handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!297&authkey=!AOyUfMWbXMGz2Uw

Preparation:

Draw or project the star from the handout on to the board. Write a different word or phrase related to your life at each point of the star. For example, you could write your partner’s name, your pet’s name, your favourite band etc.

Lesson plan:

Tell the students that each point represents something important from your life. Put them in small groups, they then have to discuss what each word or phrase represents. Encourage them to use modal verbs of deduction:

“Fido” could / might be his dog’s name. It can’t be his wife’s name.

When they have finish have them put forward their ideas, tell them if they are right or wrong and explain a little about each subject.

Put the students in pairs or threes and give out the handout. Give them 5 minutes to write something at each point. Students then ask and answer questions about each others lives and share information to get to know each other. Tell them to try and remember as much information as possible.

Students change partners or groups. They must then tell their new group as much information about their old groups as the can remember. This is a good way for the students (and the teacher) to use and remember all the other students names.

Wrap up:

At the end of the class have the students recall as much of the information they learned about you as possible. Put them in groups, give them a star they have to remember all your points.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 1: The Destructors by Graham Greene

short stories

This is the first in a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around short stories from the book:

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories edited by A. S. Byatt.

Short stories are perfect for the ESL classroom because as the name suggests they are short. They are also an excellent way to introduce students to a wide range of authors and literature. This particular collection contains works from some of the greatest English writers. Including Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf and the author with which I’m going to start this series Graham Greene.

The hope is that by introducing students to these authors in this short format (some of the stories run to only 4 or 5 pages) their interest will be piqued and they will go on to attempt the longer, more well-know works. Even if they don’t these stories are a fantastic way to introduce vocabulary and stir discussion.

Class structure

This series works, as the title suggests, like a typical book club: Each week you set a different story for homework to discuss the following week. The majority of the stories can easily be read in under half an hour

The Destructors

If you haven’t bought the book don’t worry because somebody has helpfully posted  a pdf of the story:

http://100mudcats.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/destructors.pdf

I chose to start with Graham Greene’s “The Destructors” for the simple reason that he is one of my favourite authors. It is also a story which stirs a lot of opinions. The main theme is the mental scars left on the survivors of the the London blitz during the second world war.

A good analytical essay of the story can be found here:

http://www.helium.com/items/1389999-analysis-of-graham-greenes-the-destructors

The essay: “The effects of war in The Destructors, by Graham Greene” by Holly Huffstutler gives a good analysis of the socio-political background of the story. Here is a link to a copy with some key parts underlined:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!284&authkey=!ANvo-Ct70jFmtb0

Lesson Plan

The students will have read the story for homework so start the class by asking for any queries on vocabulary. Some examples of things that might come up are listed below:

  • (pg 311) Ignoble
  • (pg312) crippled, lav – toilet, to pinch – to steal, to be in a bleeding funk – to be stressed or angry)
  • (pg 313) bribe, to draw lots.

Then put the students into groups and give out the following discussion questions:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!285&authkey=!AD2MBt2sCAB27pQ

  • What was your initial reaction to the story?
  • What’s the story about? What happens?
  • Describe the different characters.
  • Where and when does the story take place?
  • What are your feelings about the boys at the end of the story?
  • What good qualities do the delinquents have?
  • Explain Blackie’s motivations for re-joining the gang after losing the leadership.
  • What does Mr. Thomas (Old Misery) represent in the story?
  • Why are the boys suspicious of Mr. Thomas’ generosity with the smarties?
  • What are Trevor’s reasons for wanting to destroy Mr. Thomas’ house?
  • How do you explain the burning of the money and the way they treat Mr. Thomas?
  • What is the importance in the ending of “The Destructors”?
  • Does “The Destructors” portray a world without hope?
  • In what ways are the boys in “The Destructors” by Graham Greene isolated?
  • Is destruction a form of creation?

After the discussion have a feedback session so students can share their opinions. You may want to explain a little about the London Blitz:

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

You might like to point out that the story features in the film “Donnie Darko” in one of the first English class scenes. You could show a clip of the scene to the students and see if they agree with the main character’s assessment of the story.

Next week: Solid Objects by Virginia Woolf

 

 

 

 

Posted in Conversation Classes

Fun role-play and discussion class.

roleplaypic

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

https://soundcloud.com/2tspod


https://www.facebook.com/2tspodcast/

Role-play and Discussion Class

This is a fun conversation class for teens or adults.

Here are the handouts:

Role cards and situations:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!261&authkey=!ALtvuUfRiWhHcbQ

Discussion questions handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!215&authkey=!AM0F1hFf5Tlvv3o

Sometimes some students have have trouble or feel embarrassed expressing their own opinions in class. Role-plays are an excellent solution to this situation. They can also be used to introduce different issues or topics.

I stole the role-play scenarios from another site (thank you, sorry) but I added another element; between the different role-plays there are some simple discussion questions based on the situation explored in the role-play. You can either have the students do the role-plays and then discuss the issues that come up or vice versa.

Instructions:

First ensure that the students understand what a role-play is.

These role-plays all work best in pairs. However, if you have some 3’s extra characters can be added.

Put the students in pairs and distribute the roles for the first scenario; one person is the daughter the other is the mother.

Explain that they are going to play out the situations on the cards but that at some point (after 2-3 mins) you are going to shout “swap”. They will then have to change roles, mother becomes daughter and vice versa, BUT they do not start the scenario again, they must continue from the same place. This makes it more fun and forces the students to think on their feet.

Have the students do the same role-play simultaneously. This leads to interesting discussion in the feedback session after the role-plays.

Give the students as long as they need to try and reach a resolution to the problem, swapping the roles as many times as you like.

Once they have finished have a feedback session:

What happened here?

What was the resolution?

What do you think will happen?

Then ask the students to draw comparisons between what happened and the differences between the characters that were created in each role-play.

Then give out the discussion question sheet handout. Students then discuss the questions related to the roleplay in small groups.

There are 3 different role-plays, each with it’s own discussion questions so you could split them up and do them as an end of class treat over several classes or have one long marathon drama class!

Discussion questions:

Moving out / moving in together

When did you move out of your parent’s house?

Why did you move out of your parent’s house?

What problems did you encounter immediately after moving out?

Did you get homesick?

What advantages did you discover when you moved out?

What do you think is the average age at which people move out of their parent’s house?

How long do you think a couple should be together before they move in together?

How does a relationship change after you move in together? How does it change for the better? How does it change for the worse?

If you live with your partner how long have you lived together?

What problems did you encounter when you first moved in together? How did you solve these problems? What compromises did you have to make?

Partying husband role-play

What would you do in this situation?

If you have a partner (husband /wife) do you have very different hobbies and interests to them?

How important is it to have similar interests in a relationship?

How important is it to have different hobbies or activities in a relationship?

Have you ever tried to persuade a partner to take up one of your hobbies? What happened?

Has a partner ever tried to persuade you to take up one of their hobbies? What happened?

Hospital role-play

What would you do in this situation?

Have you ever had to give a very important speech / presentation?

Who did you have to give it to? What was it about? How did it go? How did you feel before and after?

Have you ever had to work when you were very ill? What happened?

How many sick days do you take in the average year?

Posted in Writing Classes

FCE film review composition task

This is a homework task for FCE students based around film reviews.

Here is the handout to download:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!253&authkey=!AFM9pLBigh4FSh0

Here you have a template:

Paragraph 1: Describe genre, actors and a personal opinion

“The Matrix is one of the most entertaining science fiction films I have seen.”

“It has great special effects and action sequences”

“It stars Keanu Reeves as Neo.”

Paragraph 2: Talk about setting, brief plot description and opinion on acting.

“the film is set in the future, in a world controlled by machines”

“the plot is a little complicated and confusing”

“Keanu Reeves is surprisingly good as Neo.”

Paragraph 3: Talk about Special effects or action sequences.

“the special effects are stunning”

“the action scenes are very well choreographed”

Paragraph 4: Would you recommend this film? Who to?

“I would recommend this film to anyone who likes science fiction because…….”

Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Vocabulary upgrade for impressing examiners

speaking exam

Here are some different ways to talk about your hobbies and interests to slip into conversation in speaking exams to earn extra points.

Here is a link to download the handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!249&authkey=!AIM8OXlG3ratQOc

FCE

CAE

I like ………………………….. I’m keen on / fond of……………………….
I like / enjoy + action

I like swimming.

I enjoy playing the guitar.

I like travelling.

I’m a keen / avid + noun

I’m a keen swimmer.

I’m an avid guitarist.

I’m an avid traveller.

I like reading. I’m a (bit of a) bookworm.

I’m an avid reader

I like / am interested in  cinema / music / history / art / etc. I’m a (bit of a) film / music / history / art buff.
I like computers. I’m a (bit of a) computer geek.
I like shopping. I’m a (bit of a) shopaholic.
I work a lot. I’m a (bit of a) workaholic.
I like dangerous sports I’m a bit of a risk taker / adrenalin junky / daredevil.
I like relaxing at the weekend. I like to recharge my batteries at the weekend.

I like to get away from the hustle and bustle of my job / school / the city.

I can’t remember the word for….. The word is on the tip of my tongue

The word escapes me at the moment but….

I’m addicted to (chocolate, a television series) I’m hooked on
(Girls) I like shopping, make-up, fashion and romantic comedies. I’m a (bit of a) girly girl.
(Boys) I like sport, beer, and women. I’m a (bit of a) man’s man.
I’m very fit. I’m in tip top condition.
I don’t drink alcohol I’m teetotal.
I am / was very good at school. I am / was a teacher’s pet / top of my class at school.
I need English for my course / job. English is a requirement of my course / job.
I need English for my career If you want to get ahead in life you need English.
I’ve been studying English for a long time. I’ve been studying English for ages.

I’ve been studying English for as long as I can remember.

I speak English every day at Uni / work. English is an essential / key part of my everyday life.