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The Value of Teaching Lexis in Combination
by Jake Haymes

Lesson plan - preliminary information

Time: 60 minutes

Level: Upper-Intermediate

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.

Main Aims:
-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)

Subsidiary Aims:
-To provide comprehensible input. (stage 1)
-To give practice in listening for language chunks. (stage 4)
-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. (homework)

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.

Assumptions:
-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:
(stage order)
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.
Linguistic
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.

Materials:
Whiteboard
OHP
10 Cuisenaire rods
Song - Take A Chance On Me - ABBA 1977 Polar Music International
All other materials are home-made and included.

Lesson Rationale:
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 and why.

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.

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