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Lexis: changing attitudes
by Jane Herbertson
- Lesson plan 1

Preliminary information

Duration 60 minutes

Level Upper Intermediate

Main aims
1. To direct students to noticing lexical items as chunks of language (Stage 2)
2. To sensitise students to the grammar/usage of multi words (Stage 4)
3. To introduce students to a lexical set connected to money (Stage 2)

Subsidiary Aims
1. To develop students' reading sub-skills to extract implicit information (Stage 2)
2. To give students the opportunity to peer teach and learn from each other (Stage 3)
3. To encourage students to use dictionaries (Stage 2)
4. To provide opportunities for students to meet and try to use some of the new vocabulary - assisting the process of converting input to intake - see rationale (Stages 2 - 7)

Assumed Knowledge
The students should be able to get the gist of the reading texts and may be able to guess the meaning of some of the phrases from context or because of their similarity to L1 (to get to the end of the month). They may know parts of phrases such as a loan (in take out a loan) but they will probably not be familiar with the whole phrase and producing these phrases is not quite so straightforward - students are reluctant to employ delexicalised verbs in this way.
The idea of using words together is not completely new to this group - they have met the more common make/do phrases and dependent prepositions depends on (but have problems with accurate production). They will not be completely familiar with the nature of these phrases ie fixed: To make (both) ends meet, semi-fixed: Money's a bit tight (little/scarce/short) or more flexible and generative 'frames': I couldn't afford to………
The theme of managing/spending money is something students will be able to comment on - as they will all have experienced this.

Anticipated problems & solutions
1. Problem: (Stage 4)
Not knowing exactly what phrases will be chosen by students from their texts when we focus on the usage of lexis as a whole class.
Solution:
Ensure I have researched all the likely phrases beforehand.

2. Problem: (Stage 5)
Lexical consolidation - again dependent on what students select themselves. It could be potentially confusing to present students with a huge number of sentences - covering all possible options.
Solution:
I have made the majority of the sentences open, students can choose how to complete them - using the new lexis. If certain phrases are not chosen by students at Stage 2, I will either:
- ask students NOT to tackle certain questions, looking at them in the next class, after the homework has been done
- or give students the answer with a short explanation

3. Problem: (Stage 5)
Students may confuse some of the items in the consolidation gap fill eg make a few cuts/put some money to one side
Solution:
Discuss in feedback - however this problem will serve to show that we have a choice of phrases at our disposal

4. Problem:
Timing: the class is student centred and during the main lexical focus, the stages may take longer than anticipated.
Solution:
Stages 6/7 (relating to the role play) can be done after the observation.

5. Problem:
Students' tiredness in a four hour class (with only break). The observation takes place in the third hour.
Solution:
Whilst I do not wish to radically change the structure of the class for the observation, they will be having their break earlier today to accommodate the observation and should start this part of the class with fresh impetus.

Class profile
Ten students who meet once a week for four hours on a Saturday afternoon and are very enthusiastic. The group bonded well from day one and have continued to do so, as new students have joined. Most of the them are fluent speakers and whilst launching themselves happily into nearly all activities, speaking in L2 is the skill they especially enjoy practising. The majority are university students and young professionals. About half the group hope to do FC in December, whilst others plan to skip the exam, going on to advanced level studies.
· A. is one of the strongest, using English regularly outside class. Has an easy-going nature and happy to help other students or model language/tasks.
· A.M. is the least proficient. Lacks self confidence and is not prepared to take risks in class.
· B. joined the group in March. Very confident and enthusiastic. Whilst she has integrated into the group, she has missed about half the classes and I do not know her as well as I know the others.
· C., confident, with a good level. Unafraid to challenge language points -even if everyone else disagrees. Going to the UK soon to improve his English.
· E. is also very strong and tries to use new vocabulary. Is currently looking for a job abroad where she would be able to use her English.
· F. joined in March. Would probably lapse into L1 but is gradually being 'trained' by his peers to use English all the time. Is confident, relaxed with a good level. He is weakest in writing.
· I. joined in March and has missed some classes because of very serious family problems. Enthusiastic - his knowledge of the world usually compensates where his language skills fail.
· I. lacks some confidence but, despite this, she manages well and is able to express personal opinions.
· M. takes L2 very seriously. She is extremely enthusiastic. Has family in the US and is used to American expressions. Whilst she is a strong student, she does make basic errors which are often due to transfer from L1.
· R. is a quiet student and very able. An all round good performer.

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