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:

Click to access 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.
 
Posted in Grammar Classes

Grammar Activity Future Perfect / Future Continuous

mourinho

This is an activity for teenagers to practice:

The future perfect, to talk about completed actions in the future:

By 12 o’clock I will have finished my homework.

The future continuous, to talk about actions that will be on going at a specific time in the future:

At 12:30 I will be walking the dog.

The activity is based around football manager Jose Mourinho’s plans for the day.

Here is the handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!245&authkey=!AAMJUCn1Yk4RqsA

Posted in Conversation Classes

Holidays and Travelling Conversation Class

travelling

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/

Holidays and Travelling Conversation Class

This lesson works well with a range of levels, from A2- C1. It can be used to practice for the FCE or CAE speaking exam collaborative task section. Everybody loves talking about travelling and holidays.

You will need these pictures:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!239&authkey=!ADvu5kRUUPylICk

And this handout:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!240&authkey=!ABZL5DMHal7REDA

First put students in groups to discuss the following questions:

When was your last holiday?

Where did you go?

Who did you go with?

How did you get there?

Then brainstorm different types of holidays and different ways to travel on the board.

Project the pictures from the file above and elicit the vocabulary. This can be fun with lower levels, going from backpack to backpacking to backpacker. Hitchhiking – hitchhiker etc.

Once you have pre-taught all the vocabulary put the students in groups to discuss the questions on the handout.

Wrap up:

Students report back to the class about other group members responses. A chance to practice reported speech for higher levels.

Posted in Conversation Classes

National Identity Lesson Plan

catalonia-independence

Note: This lesson plan was written for the unique socio-political environment of Barcelona in Catalonia in Spain. However, the questions can be adapted for any nationality.

Do you think of yourself as Catalan or Spanish?

Do you feel a strong connection with the rest of Europe?

What does it mean to be Catalan? Or Spanish?

Can you be Catalan if you weren’t born in Cataluña?

OR if you don´t speak Catalan?

Can you become Catalan by living in Cataluña and absorbing the culture?

In groups SS discuss next question in English and write a list with reasons.

What are your strongest symbols of national identity?

If they need help give them some examples of your own symbols, for example:

England: Tea, the Royal Family, fish and chips, bad weather, self deprecation, Shakespeare, dark humour, The Battle of Hastings in 1066, Henry VIII.

Write Catalan symbols on the board.

Why are these so important? What do they symbolise? Which are most important?

Citizenship Test

What happens if a person from outside the EU comes to Spain and wants to get citizenship?

What do they have to do? Do they have to take a citizenship exam?

Because in the United Kingdom they do. Here are some example questions from the old citizenship test (it has now been updated):

Put the questions on the board or copy and paste them and hand them out. Correct answer are in bold.

In which year did married women get the right to divorce their husband?

1837, 1857, 1875, 1882

Which of the following statements is true?

The governing body of the EU is the Council of the European Union

The governing body of the EU is the Council of Europe

How many parliamentary constituencies are there?

464, 564, 650, 664

Ask student’s to guess the score Tim (me, a 29-year-old British native) got when he did the test, out of 24.

I scored 13 out of 24 so I failed and if I were an immigrant from a country outside the EU I would not be given citizenship.

Do you think these are the most relevant (pertinent) questions?

What should people know about a country to be a citizen?

Tell students that the citizenship test has been changed because of complaints about the relevance of the questions. Here is a link to download a section of the new UK citizenship test.

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!229&authkey=!AFcpZe_NcbPS4Mc

Depending on the level you can actually have the students answer the questions, or do it as a whole class quiz in teams. The test includes some interesting historical information (if your students are into that sort of thing) if not you can just ask a few of the questions to give the students an idea of what they’re like.

Here is the link to the guardian website where you can find the answers:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/quiz/2013/jan/27/british-citizenship-test-quiz-new

Students write their own citizenship tests for the teacher.

What I want you to do in your groups is write a short Catalan or Spanish citizenship test. 5 questions which you think are the most important and which would help with integration. Cultural, political, history, economic questions etc.

You can discuss them, in English and obviously you have to write them in English. You then have to explain why they are important and we will try and make a Catalan Citizenship test. The teacher can help with the question structures but can’t know the answers because at the end he / she will try to complete the test and get over 75%.

Do you agree with the idea of citizenship tests?

Do you think it´s easy to integrate into a new country or culture?

1 minute to think of the biggest challenges 

Put challenges on board and students discuss them.

Wrap up:

Do you think Cataluña is well integrated? If not how can we change this?

Posted in Recommended Websites

Other recommended blogs.

Hitch-Hikers Handbook

A great site full of excellent travel writing, photography and top tips for travelling on a budget.

http://robbiodobbio.wordpress.com/

A blog comprised of short stories and articles.