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Raising student awareness of
intonation at discourse level
- by Jeanette Corbett

- Lesson Plan 1

Level: Proficiency Masterclass, Year 1


Main aim:
To develop student's listening strategy, by raising their awareness of intonation at discourse level, particularly pitch level (Stages 8-11)
Exam focus: develop their listening strategy for listening tasks- matching
Subsidiary aims:
a) Practise reading for gist and for specific information (Stages 4-5)
b) To develop student awareness of voice patterns in a dialogue between native speakers, highlighting the features of natural discourse e.g./ topic management, turn taking etc. (Stage 9-11)
c) To develop student awareness of the use of fillers in natural speech (Stage 9-11)

Timetable fit:
This lesson is the second to last in a series for Unit 15 of Proficiency Masterclass, titled The Media and the Message. For over a month we have focused on developing the student's listening sub-skills and strategies, this lesson concludes a series and focuses on the importance of the voice in a dialogue. The attached lesson rationale details my choices for this use of the material.

Assumed Knowledge
Firstly, that students have some knowledge of advertising, therefore they are able to make comparisons between advertisements. (Stage 2 & 3)

Also that, students have acquired some awareness of voice patterns in a dialogue: turn taking, use of fillers and topic management and therefore will be able to use this knowledge in the lesson. (Stages 8-11).

Finally that students will be able to evaluate the activities and apply them to their learning. Equally, that they are sufficiently interested in the lesson to complete the activities.

Anticipated problems and solutions:
As already mentioned I have assumed that students will be interested in the topic and developing their listening skills, but also this could be a problem - they may lack interest and motivation. This is solvable through the organisation of the lesson; students will work together, to gather information about their segment. When monitoring, I will encourage them and offer assistance if required. (Stages 9-11)

Already they are aware of voice patterns. Previously, we have done some work on voice quality at discourse level. However I'm unsure to the extent of their understanding at sentence level and the features of spoken discourse. I believe this is solvable by allowing them to complete the exercises and providing an explanation, as and when required.

Handout: Exercise 1,2 &3 Cassette and tape script
Board Magazine advertisements
Newspaper article, The Guardian, December 2000

Class profile
They are a general adult English class based at the school, studying on an extensive course. The course is designed as a two-year preparation course for the Proficiency exam; therefore the level of the group is defined as pre-proficiency.
The group has grown rapidly, it began in October with 5 students and by November it had eleven students. Currently twelve students are registered. However some students had to leave the group but newcomers have replaced them - two in the past month and one two weeks ago. As of yet group dynamics haven't suffered, though some students are at different stages of learning.
Students are attending the course for a variety of reasons. The majority have the CAE exam, those that have not already use English as part of their work or studies. Others are attending to supplement their academic learning. There is a wide age group in the class from 16 to early 30´s. An individual assessment of the students is as follows:

1.Jorge - one of the younger members of the class. He was brought up in Argentina, where he attended an International school. He is a strong talkative student, who will occasionally dominate the class, if allowed. He passed CAE in June. He is still at school.

2. Javier- one of the younger members of the class. He also passed CAE in June and is in his first year at university. He finds it difficult to concentrate in class, with his mind full of studies. He cites his weaknesses as writing and grammar.

3. Maite - a very quiet student, who is working as a pharmacist. She has studied in Scotland as part of her degree. When she comes to class, she is very tired and often misses class due to her work. She admits she needs to study more at home and could be one of the weakest in the group.

4. Isabel - one of the strongest in the group but often doesn't comment much in class. She works as a secretary and uses English in her work. She is concerned about her listening skills and found coming to class difficult at first. She often borrows materials for use at home.

5. Pilar - a talkative student, who has been learning at IH for some years. She willingly gives feedback in class about activities. She has no time to study outside class but admits to needing to improve her listening.

6. Jose Luis - He joined the class late in November and settled in very quickly. He works with computers but doesn't use English in his work. He has travelled to Australia and spent some time there. He took the CAE exam in December and passed.

7. Carmen - She attended class until December but has not returned due to work commitments. However her name is still on the register. She is an unconfident student who is concerned about her speaking and listening. Due to work she is unable to study outside class.

8. Francisco - the youngest student in the class (16), who joined late in November. He is still at school and took the Proficiency exam last June. Unfortunately he failed on his speaking. He has been learning English since he was three and writes very well. He is concerned about his speaking but is naturally shy and often nervous.

9. Pilar Torres Young - she is the same age as Francisco and they attend the same school. She regularly visits relatives in England and is a confident speaker. She concerned about reading and distinguishing accents when listening.

10. Jesus - a new student who only joined the group about a month ago. He had been studying in England for a couple of months as part of his degree and wishes to return there to work in the future. He is keen to learn.

11. Joao - a new student who joined the group last month. He is Portuguese and hasn't studied English since he left school. He works in Madrid for an American company; he speaks in English at work but doesn't write often. He is concerned about grammar and vocabulary.

12. Barbara- a new student who only joined the group about two weeks ago. She is quite quiet and it's difficult to comment on her abilities. She is keen to learn but hasn't been in a classroom for a number of years.

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