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Promoting fluency and accuracy through planning, telling, transcribing and noticing
by Scott Shelton
- lesson plan 1

Please note that for this lesson you will need 'Inside Out Advanced' coursebook pp. 106 & 'Inside out Advanced' coursebook tape

Level: advanced

Time:This class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. The experimental portion of the lesson will be between 7:30 and 8:30 PM.

Aims and objectives:

Main aim: To promote fluency through planning and noticing language though transcribing and correcting recorded anecdotes.

Subsidiary aims: Provide opportunities for long turns in speaking and give intensive listening practice.

Timetable fit:
Up to this point we have been working through unit 11 of our course book, Inside out advanced, in which the theme of 'things not working out as they are planned', or 'things not being as they first seem', has been explored through a reading text and subsequent vocabulary work. This lesson stays with the theme in order to present structural forms to refer to 'the future seen from the past' as well as related vocabulary items.

The initial presentation is dealt with through comparing the scheduled events for the millennium celebration described in an adapted newspaper article from The Times, and the resulting outcomes presented via a radio program broadcast from the following day (see attached material). The planning and telling of anecdotes follows, as well as the transcribing and noticing activities, which are the core of this experimental lesson.

Homework, which looks closely at the grammar structures presented in this lesson and provides controlled practice, will be checked in the next lesson via a listening and pair work. We will begin a new unit in the course book next lesson and review work done in this lesson through students re-telling what they remember from the transcribed stories and having the author comment on whether or not they are on the right track.

Assumed Knowledge: A general familiarity with story telling

Anticipated problems and solutions: Students may have trouble coming up with a clear memory to base their story on or find they do not have much to say. Providing three different models before they are asked to even plan and providing them with three different areas to choose from, should help them immensely with ideas to base their story on and jog their memories sufficiently. Providing time to plan should help them in this area as well.

There may be reluctance on the part of the students to record themselves telling a story. First of all, I will explain the reason for the request to record and explain what we will be doing with it afterwards and how it will help them improve their English. Having them tell the story once before recording should help them feel more confident. Asking for a volunteer from a group of four will ensure that they are supported by their classmates and feel less threatened. In the same way, by working in groups of four, the person who will record his or her anecdote will not be the center of attention and will be preceded and followed by peers re-telling their story as well.
When asked to transcribe and amend their classmates recorded anecdote, students may feel overwhelmed and under-qualified for the task. Having the class work in groups of four will allow everyone to help each other and asking them to only transcribe one minute of the story will make the task more suitable to their abilities. When they are to amend the text, I will remind them that they need only repair the parts which are obviously incorrect speech because of either grammar errors, wrong syntactical form, or inappropriate vocabulary and to be aware that they want to keep it sounding like spoken language and not written prose.

Aids and materials:
Inside out advanced course book pp. 106
Inside out advanced course book tape
One microphone
Two cassette recorders and two blank tapes

Class profile:
There are eleven students in this class. Many of them have been together since October. Among them are two students named Raul, Aranzazu, David, Leticia and Sandra (who had a two-month absence and has just returned to class). The remainder have been with the class several months, most of them since before January. Both of the Rauls are among those at the top of the group along with Aranzazu, Lecticia, David, Dario, and Begona. Both students named Carlos are quite chatty and 'fluent' in that respect but have problems with control and accuracy. Javier has problems with spoken English more so than written English and sometimes his pronunciation is quite hard to understand. He should benefit from the focus on speaking and listening in this lesson. The majority of the class are doing quite well at their present level. Lecticia, Diario and David are among the better writers of the group along with Carlos G. who is a professional writer for a Spanish Women's magazine. David is quite good at this level in most are

The group gels together quite well and overall there is pretty good attendance. All of them are young professionals who work hard and often come tired to class. They are used to working in pairs and groups although there are a few with quite strong personalities that tend to dominate group work and I have to keep a close watch on them sometimes to encourage turn-taking and to 'agree to disagree'. We have engaged in group work quite a lot over the months and I am generally pleased with how they conduct themselves. They often become genuinely interested in whatever topic or task they are asked to deal with and generally use only English with no prompting or reminding on my part. This is the fruit of many months of getting them used to working autonomously and using their second language as the primary vehicle for class work.

Lesson Rationale:
I have been working on improving both fluency and accuracy in spoken English with this group and think that they would benefit from a lesson based on these aims. As I have mentioned before, the group is of somewhat mixed abilities in these areas, some being more 'fluent' or in other words, having less problem stringing together a coherent stretch of spoken English, but not controlling the accuracy of their speech. Others are less fluent but at times more accurate.

At the onset of this lesson they will receive a model through a listening text of what they will be later asked to do. This should help activate their schematic knowledge and set the conditions for this background knowledge to aid them in setting up the framework or script for their own productive work later on. We will have previously done other related work as well with a newspaper text and a radio program broadcast in which they will have met useful vocabulary words that they will have an opportunity to use in this lesson. In the lesson, there are two central activities, both experimental.

The first is the planning, telling, and re-telling of a personal anecdote. As stated in the background assignment for this lesson, it has been shown that by allowing time to plan and repeating the telling, speakers will often use more sophisticated and more accurate language the second time around. The incentive to concentrate on using more accurate language is also raised by effectively 'raising the goal posts', and adding a new dimension to the activity. This is done by informing the class that they will be recorded the second time.

To ensure that student motivation is as high as possible, the task is arranged in a way that each student can choose the theme they would like to use but they are also provided with guiding questions to help them recall details and specific points of their memory. Allowing student choice is an important element in maintaining motivation.

The second central element to this experimental class is the post-telling analysis of the language used to convey the story. Because of class size, time available and availability of resources, I have arranged to record only one student from each group of four. This will not only allow for a supportive environment for all and especially the one being recorded, but also allow all four students to work together on transcribing, amending and noticing the language used and the language use that can be improved on.

In doing this together, there will be considerable negotiation of what was said and later, what should or could have been said. In this kind of environment, with students working together, negotiating meaning and form and making what they consider to be appropriate amendments, they should, through active reflection and construction, notice the connections between meaning and form thus becoming more aware of possible mistakes they themselves make (or have made) as well as store away this information for future use.

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