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First Certificate Speaking: Part 2. Avoiding
"ermmm": Adding coherence to spoken discourse
using discourse markers
by Jonny Frank
- lesson plan 1

Main Aim:
To heighten students' awareness of discourse markers (stages 2, 3, 4, 8) and to encourage students to use them in a semi-controlled oral practice task (stage: 7)

Subsidiary Aims:
To provide students with an opportunity to practice FC part 2 speaking where they are asked to compare and contrast two photographs while answering a question.
To encourage students to assess their peers and give constructive feedback (stage: 7 and 8)
To revise adjectives and expressions to express fear from the current unit of the coursebook:
(Appendix B)

Personal Aims:
To keep my talking as natural as possible without it being incomprehensible for students.
To remind students of their need to behave and work hard in task.

Class profile:
The motivation for doing this course for this class lies in taking the Cambridge ESOL First Certificate exam. I would say the majority of learners are instrumental-extrinsic as their parents see the FC exam as important for the future of their children. It is also worth bearing in mind that even though the class is quite young (thirteen to fourteen), there is a strong desire to take the exam before they hit "Selectividad" exams in three years time. These exams will decide which universities they will be able to study at, so their importance will precede that of extra-curricular language studies at that time.

Timetable fit
The topic of the practice part two speaking will be connected to Objective First Certificate's fifth unit, which is focussed on the lexical field of "Fear and Loathing". The class has recently been introduced to some expressions (scared stiff, spine-chilling) and adjectives (spooky, uneasy) to give variety to their discourse on being "scared".

We will be focussing on part two of the speaking, however, due to having conducted a mock test on this part of the exam a couple of weeks ago. After reviewing the answers given by the students I decided that further work was needed as their answers provided inadequate samples of language. The lesson will therefore demonstrate to students the importance of discourse markers in spoken discourse, such as part two of the FC.

After the class I am going to supply the students with their own transcript (Appendix A) and ask them to re-write their transcripts in light of the lesson. This will give them time to process the lesson, and time to reconstruct their own work (an idea purported by both Thornbury and Krashen). We will, without doubt, constantly return to this part of the speaking throughout the year to evaluate how students are coping with new lexical fields, and to see if they are still using discourse markers in spoken discourse.

To raise the students' awareness even further, after re-structuring and re-writing their transcripts, they will tell their partner what they changed and why in the proceeding lesson. Students will share their work with one another, whilst at the same time using some of the discourse markers in freer spoken discourse (in my first extract, though, I didn't contrast my ideas). I will ask the students to read each others, and then in their groups of four they will decide who has made the most progress and why.

Anticipated behavioural problems:
Problem - Maturity:
This is a very young senior group (thirteen to fourteen years old), who have all come from junior classes last year. As a consequence their behaviour since the course began, in October, has been quite immature. This is down to the junior-senior move, since junior classes are generally pitched to a younger age, using lots of games and short activities. A couple of students - Alberto and Laura – have already had to be spoken to by their parents with regards to their behaviour in class.

I will divide the class up into tables to discourage a larger social group mentality.

Problem – Time:
This class is timetabled on a Friday night and students arrive tired after a week at school. Learners can, understandably, become restless and fidgety because of the class time. It is also the only class we have on a weekly basis, so students often get to class and begin to socialise as soon as they see their friends.

I will make sure that activities are not too long, and that the students are given scaffolding speaking exercises to make the lesson both challenging and rewarding

Problem - Length of class

As if a young group on a Friday evening wasn't enough, this class is also an intensive course. That means the learners are at the centre from 18.05 until 21.00.

At the beginning of each lesson I ask learners to set goals for that lesson. I try to raise their awareness of the short amount of time that we have as compared with the great amount of work that we have to do.

Problem - Learners as people

As with any learning context, this class has learners with varying oral levels. This can make some learners feel uncomfortable when speaking, and others frustrated

I will make sure that learners are paired with partners with whom they feel both comfortable with and challenged by to meet these emotional and linguistic needs.

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