The Value of Teaching
Lexis in Combination
by Jake Haymes
Lesson plan - preliminary information
Time: 60 minutes
Class Profile: There are fourteen students
in the group. The majority have been coming to the school
twice a week for two hour classes since January. These classes
are offered free of charge as CELTA candidates use the group
for teaching practice. Consequently, there is some difference
in level within the group although this does not appear to
be detrimental to either individual motivation or group dynamics.There
are ten women and four men. All are Spanish except for Estér
and Jeanine who are from Mexico and Bernardo who is Colombian.
The majority are combining university courses with part-time
work. Three learners; Roberto, Saranay and Horacio joined
the group last week, they have a slightly higher level than
the other students. Bernardo moved to this group from a pre-intermediate
group last week and has settled in well. I have taught two
of these learners previously; Marián, who has progressed
from low-intermediate to upper-intermediate in the last six
months and Mercedes, the youngest and weakest member of the
group who is sometimes a little hesitant to express herself
in front of the others.Without exception these students are
keen to make progress and approach all activities with enthusiasm.
-To present and give controlled practice in ten frequently
used multi-word lexical items. (All stages)
-To provide learners with speaking practice to activate personal
engagement with the target language. (stage 3)
-To provide comprehensible input. (stage 1)
-To give practice in listening for language chunks. (stage
-To have the students express their reaction to the story
by being responsible for its completion and allow them the
opportunity to employ the target language in spoken production
should they feel ready to do so. (stage 5)
-To raise awareness of techniques for storing vocabulary.
Timetable Fit: This will be my twelfth
hour with these learners. In previous classes the students
expressed a desire to develop their listening skills and we
have therefore been focusing on the identification of prominence
within tone units which has led to some shadow reading and
awareness raising activities with regard to sounds in combination
and the chunking of speech. The general theme of relationships
was begun when a colleague presented some adjectives of personality
and I followed that up with a review of like questions. (What's
she like?, What does she like?, Who does she look like? etc.)
Before the Easter break the students were exposed to authentic
newspaper articles and poetry. In the hour before the observation
the students will be doing a reading activity taken from Headway
Upper-Intermediate which is about pre-nuptial contracts.
-Learners will be familiar with the component parts of the
lexical items to be presented.
-The learners have recently been developing their listening
skills via an increased awareness of prominence so they should
be familiar with weak forms and sounds in combination. This
should aid the drilling in stage 1.
-These learners are extremely communicative and keen to develop
their speaking skills. There is an excellent atmosphere in
class. With this in mind, I foresee no dangers in asking them
to relate personalised responses to their partners.
-These learners should respond positively to the song. In
my first class with them at the end of February I used I heard
it Through the Grapevine by Marvyn Gaye and the students said
they would be interested in using songs again. Some of the
older learners may have heard the song before and be keen
to identify the target language.
-Students have been made aware of the importance of speaking
only English in the classroom; they have been provided with
a classroom vocabulary sheet to enable them to ask questions,
request repetition, explanation etc. from the teacher and
other group members without recourse to L1.
Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Size of group (stage 1) I aim to actively involve the learners
in this stage. As this is a particularly large group and I
haven't previously presented items to them in this way, some
learners may become concerned that they are not writing down
the target language. Similarly within any group and particularly
one of this size and range of levels some learners are better
able to cope with this kind of input than others. I will therefore
reassure them that they will be getting a written copy of
the items at the end of the stage and, during the story, try
to adjust the pace of delivery and amount of back checking
according to their reactions.
To do one's best
Although the context of the story aims to illustrate the idea
of making an effort and doing everything possible, students
may well confuse this item with to do well. I will ask the
learners to compare the two items after the matching exercise
in stage 2.
Use of the definitive article instead of the possessive adjective
L1 interference may cause the students to produce utterances
such as, she changed the mind and he did the best. A list
of subject pronouns and possessive adjectives will be on the
board in order to highlight this L1-L2 difference. The inclusion
of the pronouns on the board will also aid the explanation
of the way the subject and object can be different in two
of the vocabulary items. I predict that the first two items
(to get to know someone and can't get someone/something off
one's mind ) will be the will most difficult to recall so
green rods for get will be used to aid memory. As these two
items are first to appear in the story they will be subject
to the most back checking.
Listening (Stage 4) Some of the weaker learners may not recognise
all the items from the song. The learners will therefore be
asked to identify the items in groups of three or four. Similarly,
I have extended some of the items in order to make the task
a little more achievable and illustrate a context. (e.g. if
you need me, let me know)Some learners may become a little
discouraged if they have failed to recognise the items from
the song. After all the target vocabulary has been sung at
least once, I will give the learners the opportunity to read
from the OHP whilst listening to the final part of the song.
Although language which is sung is perhaps not an ideal model,
I think this activity can go some way towards raising learners
awareness of sound / spelling relationships.
10 Cuisenaire rods
Song - Take A Chance On Me - ABBA 1977 Polar Music International
All other materials are home-made and included.
The lesson aims to present and give controlled practice
in ten multi-word vocabulary items while raising learners
awareness of the meaning creating potential of de-lexicalised
verbs when used in combination with other familiar items.
The vocabulary has been selected as I believe it is relevant
to all learners in a variety of situations and its ultimate
production will allow them to communicate the meanings they
wish to express more succinctly. Although the lexis will be
presented in the context of a story, learners will be given
the opportunity to engage with the target language as it pertains
to their own lives, circumstances and opinions.
I have chosen to contextualise the lexis in
the story of a relationship as I believe these learners will
have the schema in place to be better able to associate these
meanings with their own world knowledge. As the target language
is most frequently employed verbally, the items will be presented
in this way. Verbal presentation will also allow the drilling
of the vocabulary as chunks of language which incorporate
weak forms of pronouns thereby reinforcing the students' awareness
of this aspect of spoken language.
Cuisenaire rods will introduce a visual aid
to memory and then be used as a reference for back checking.
I've decided to use a single rod for each item as I want the
learners to see the them as whole entities.
The controlled practice activities will provide
the learners with the security of a written record and, at
this stage, attention will also be drawn to the form of the
items. The transformation tasks should help to reinforce meaning
in different contexts and provide learners with examples which
are frequently used in oral communication, let me know if
you change your mind. The double gap fill transformations
have been included to draw the learners' attention to how
these items can be used in combination.
In the next activity the students will relate
the target language to their own lives and opinions. This
should aid retention and start learners thinking about how
they themselves could use this vocabulary. Sharing reactions
to the questions should also promote group dynamics while
providing me with the opportunity to check understanding unobtrusively.
I believe the song should make the target language
more memorable. Some learners may well recognise it and I
have often found that students tend to value new vocabulary
more if they are exposed to it creating meaning authentically.
It also provides the continuation of the story presented at
the beginning of the hour. Putting the first two lines on
the board and then having learners predict the sentiments
of the song should create more interest and motivate learners
to listen to confirm their expectations. The listening task,
in which the students must hit the target language written
on a card, has been chosen to highlight the sound/spelling
relationship between the items and their delivery as chunks.
As all the target language is delivered in the first three
minutes of the song, I have decided to give the learners the
opportunity to read the final part from the OHP as they listen.
Bearing in mind that there is some difference
in linguistic ability within the group and that this will
be my final lesson with these students, I do not want to deny
them the opportunity to produce the target language if they
feel ready to do so. However the main aim of this stage is
to have the learners incorporate their own reactions to the
preceding parts of the story by making them responsible for
its completion. Giving the learners time to consider the language
they wish to employ before starting this activity should enhance
linguistic performance. Feedback will be student led and the
learners will be asked to tell others what decision was made
The final encounter with the target language
at the end of the lesson will be phonologically induced; some
items share vowel sounds (take your time, waste your time,
change your mind etc.). The homework will serve to provide
another encounter with the target language and should raise
awareness of ways of storing collocates.
the lesson procedure
to the articles index