Teaching Tips 123
This week we have some ideas for teaching the younger learner through storytelling. This is one of the main vehicles for the very young learner, 4 to 6 years old. Here are a few reasons for using storytelling:
- it is enjoyable for both the learner & the teacher
- they can open up the imagination
- the stories can be authentic
- they contain repetitive language
- they can be used again & again
When choosing a story make sure that it can be told easily, is interesting to the group, is not above them in terms of concepts, that it includes lots of repetition & can be backed up with visuals & gestures.
If it is above the level of the group, grade the language down, simplify it & use visuals & realia to reinforce meaning. It makes all the difference to practise telling the story beforehand, so you are sure about getting across the more difficult vocabulary. Set up the story by introducing the topic, sinking the learners into the area & helping them to become receptive & comfortable for the story. While you are telling the story make sure that you have eye contact with all. If not they will fidget & ultimately lose interest. Think about dealing with the different stages of the story - most tend to follow the following pattern: opening > problem > events leading to a solution > resolution > closing.
Helen told me about the story she has been doing over the last two weeks, 'Little Tiger goes shopping'. Here's what she said:
'This is a story about Little Tiger who wants to make a cake with his Mummy but finds he hasn't got any eggs. They decide to go to the shop to buy some & on the way meet various other animal characters who are also trying to make different recipes & have found they are missing a vital ingredient. So Little Tiger suggests they all go to the shop but it's closed. Then Little Tiger has the bright idea of swapping the ingredients each has so all end up with what they need for their recipes. Little Tiger goes home, makes his cake & invites all the other animals to come round for tea.
So to begin with I teach the animals & the missing ingredients through pictures & realia. The ingredients include flour, eggs, apple, sugar & butter. For example, for the flour, I sprinkle some flour on them to great amusement & for the sugar, all ask 'Can I have some sugar please' to which I give out a pinch to each student, & they respond 'It's delicious!'.
As I tell the story I elicit 'Little Tiger hasn't got any eggs' & subsequently with each animal. I drill & get them to repeat with the prompts. As I go along I check comprehension through English & Spanish, their mother tongue, reinforcing grammatical patterns.
At the end of each telling - I do this over two weeks - they draw a picture of one of the scenes & write a sentence, reinforcing the visual aspect of the language, & read it aloud to their partner. And then in pairwork I elicit, drill & practise the question form that goes with their sentence.
After a few tellings the children start to tell the story with me, & bit by bit they start telling the story themselves.
At the very end we all make a cake with a Little Tiger furry toy. It doesn't have to be a cake, sometimes it's biscuits. Whatever we make, all have great fun.'
Here's the link to the Little Tiger book:
Little Tiger Goes Shopping - V.French & A.Cooke (Candlewick Pr)
And here's the biscuit recipe:
It takes about 10 minutes to make, 10 minutes cooking time & makes 16-18 biscuits.
What you need:
125g of unsalted softened butter
50g of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
150g of self-raising flour
1. Preheat the oven to 190C - mark 5. Put the butter in a bowl & gradually beat in the sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, then gradually stir in the flour.
2. With floured hands, divide the dough into pieces the size of walnuts & roll into balls. Put them on two baking sheets, spaced well apart.
3. Flatten the balls into discs using a fork dipped into water, pressing down to make a pattern. Bake for 10-15 minutes until pale golden. Use a spatula to lift the biscuits carefully on to a wire rack to cool.
If you can't make them with your students, make them at home & take them in.
Some more of Helen's favorite storytelling books for the very young learner:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle (Picture Puffin)
My Dad Is Brilliant - Nick Butterworth (Walker Books Ltd)
My Mum Is Fantastic - Nick Butterworth (Walker Books Ltd)
Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars - Debbie Tarbett (Little Tiger Press)
Ten Tiny Tadpoles - Debbie Tarbett (Little Tiger Press)
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Love is in the
This year February 7, 2008 is Chinese New Year - for lesson material see:
Valentine's Day, the great February rip-off, is difficult to avoid. If you & your partner try to ignore it, it doesn't usually work out. It's one of the few occassions where, however much you hate it, you have to bite the bullet & go with the flow. So as resignation prevails, here are some lesson ideas, material & links, not least the chance for you & your students to have a good grumble:
A Love Story lesson plan
Love & money are in the air Valentine's Day lesson plan
Chocolate lesson plan
- Students design a series of tips for lovers on Valentine's Day.
- Short mystery stories, with a touch of romance connected to Valentine's Day can be found at http://www.mysterynet.com/love/valentine
- Debate on Valentine's day - commercialism v romance.
- Who to send a Valentine's card to - personal/the famous.
- The above could be extended to students deciding what presents the famous people give each other, where they go to eat, what they eat, what they say to each other (reported speech) etc. Or the game 'Consequences' - name of famous woman (met) name of famous male (at) place ..(he said to her).. (& she said to him) . (& the consequence was) .- each piece of information is written on a paper which is folded over each time obscuring all that came before so that at the end when all is written it is unfolded & read out - lots of fun.
- Anti-Valentine's Day campaign - discuss reasons & plan a campaign > Buy Nothing Valentine's Day - what could you do without spending any money?.
- Romantic films - students make a list of the top ten romantic films e.g.. Love Story, Casablanca, An Affair To Remember, The Piano, Brief Encounter, DR Zhivago, Now Voyager, Four Weddings & A Funeral, Gone With The Wind, When Harry Met Sally ...
- Lexical set: like, fancy, love at first sight, chat up, ask out, go out with, get on well, fall/be in love, 'go steady', live together, get engaged, get married, have children, go off, split up, get divorced ..rather heterosexual so change to suit.
- Heart to Heart/Lonely Hearts ads, the more diverse the ads the better - first decide which sex is advertising for which sex in each - they could put a M-F code next to each ad & then compare ideas before general feedback - Then onto some scan reading; you ask a question e.g. who is looking for a red head & students quickly look & when found answer put hand in air & when half group got hands up ask one for the answer & locate for those that didn't find it. Could do this with about ten questions. Could then get them to see if any of the advertisers could be matched up or do the students like the sound of any of them - write their own ads or for others in the group.....
- Language of physical & character description could be related to Blind Dates which could be in the form of a letter describing self, where to meet, etc..
- Language of chatting up - could come from a tape of mini conversations & then pull out the different language being used >> practice with mini-roleplays. Useful & lots of fun for a youngish group.
- Speed dating - check out the Tip at:
- The BBC has some very good material on 'love':
- Language of invitations.....could combine with a What's On Guide to use for scan reading & the language of preferences before going onto invitation role-plays, maybe on the phone which then involves telephone language.
- Romeo & Juliet - resources:
- Roleplay about parental disapproval - Mum, Dad, brother & girl who is going out with older boy. Dad is dead against it, Mum too but is more delicate, brother sides with sister & girl determined to carry on seeing boyfriend - do battle!
- Roleplay - couple, with one forgetting VDay.
- Marriage: vocab - bride, groom, vows, reception etc.
- Discussions on: British v students country wedding traditions compare/civil v church weddings/sex before marriage/alternative weddings/gay weddings/debate: live together v marriage/4 Weddings & A Funeral - the reception speech is very exploitable & enjoyable for higher levels - could lead on to a writing task.
- Problem page - there are many ways to use these e.g.. give out problem & students write answers/ give half students problems & other half advice & they write the opposite & after the written problem is read out to see if it matches they read out new written advice/ match up half a dozen short letters with the advice given leading on to a discussion of whether the advice given was the appropriate & if not any better.. role-plays from these: writer with friend, couple with marriage guidance counselor. Advice language e.g..: It might be an idea to. Why don't you .?, etc.
- Hypothetical relationship situations - 2nd conditional practice - What would you do if ..all related to romance.
- The 'Couples' activity in 'Discussions That Work' by Penny Ur (CUP) works very well (well worth checking out if you haven't already!).
- Divorce - discussion on associated topics e.g.. stay together for sake of children v split up - Life after marriage / sex before marriage/life as a single person.
- Love poems: http://www.lovepoetry.com/ eg: Love's Philosophy - by Shelley:
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle;--
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven,
If it disdain'd its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
This would lend itself to being cut up, every line or every two lines, & the students put into a logical order. A glossary of synonyms for the difficult old-fashioned words would be necessary. And then on to a comparison with the original & a discussion of the content. A follow up could be writing a few more pairs of nature-related lines.
- Love quotes - http://www.romantic-lyrics.com/lovequotes.shtml eg:
'I love you - those three words have my life in them.' by Alexandrea to Nicholas III
'The courses of true love never did run smooth.' by William Shakespeare
'There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.' by George Sand
- All You Need Is - a song, songs & more songs. For a huge list of romantic song lyrics: http://www.romantic-lyrics.com/
Here's a text about the origins of Valentine's Day:
5th Century, Rome
Mid February was traditionally the time of the Lupercian festival, an ode to the God of fertility and a celebration of sensual pleasure, a time to meet and court a prospective mate. In AD 496, Pope Gelasius outlawed the pagan festival. But he was clever to replace it with a similar celebration, although one deemed morally suitable. He needed a "lovers" saint to replace the pagan deity Lupercus.
The martyred Bishop Valentine was chosen as the patron saint of the new festival.
Saint Valentine had been beheaded for helping young lovers marry against the wishes of the mad emperor Claudius. Before execution, Valentine himself had fallen in love with his jailer's daughter. He signed his final note to her, "From Your Valentine", a phrase that has lasted through the centuries.
Pope Gelasius didn't get everything he wanted. The pagan festival died out, it is true, but he had further hoped people would emulate the lives of saints. Instead they latched onto the more romantic aspect of Saint Valentine's religious life. While not immediately as popular as the more passionate pagan festival, eventually the concept of celebrating true love became known as Valentine's Day.
Ideas on using this text:
- as a straightforward dictation task - read through first, students listen. Dictate each tone unit, repeating if the students want. Read again for all to check. Give out the text & students self-correct.
- elicit if anyone knows the origins of Valentine's Day. Then give out choices for students to discuss & choose possible stories. e.g. Valentine's Day comes from the romantic character in Shakespeare's play 'Much Ado About Valentine'.
- put key words on the board & students try to predict the story, then read to verify.
- cut up the text into the paragraphs & students put in order.
- give out the first two paragraphs cut up, line by line, & students order the text. Then use the third paragraph as a dictogloss activity - read the text at normal speed & students take notes - the stressed words. Then together they reconstruct the paragraph from their notes. It's not necessary for it to be the same as the text so long as it is a coherent paragraph that fits with the preceding two paragraphs. Then give out the last paragraph to read & see if their own paragraphs fit in.
- could follow up with the letter from Valentine to his lover before he was beheaded (!) - could be fun(!).
- discussion on any current festivals they would like to replace - with what?
Valentine's Day page at Wikipedia:
Love at Wikipedia:
Lots of links from the Kids Domain:
History Channel Valentine history:
Valentine's Day clip art:
Yahooligans links page:
Virtual chocolate site:
Cadbury's Chocolates site:
How chocolate works:
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Do you keep hearing about 'Coaching' & 'Life Coaches' & not really understand what it all entails? Well, you're in luck as this week we reveal all & give you some excellent lesson material.
This week celebrates the tenth 'International Coaching Week', Feb 3-9:
|'Its purpose is to provide a week each year to educate the public about the value of working with a personal, business or executive coach and to provide an opportunity for coaches and their clients to acknowledge the results and progress made through the coaching process.'
Last year's Tip about Coaching, 'All Aboard' looked at some of the competencies involved in Coaching & how we use these as teachers. To see the Tip:
This week we have some lesson material, designed by Séamus O'Muircheartaigh, a qualified & practising Coach, that explains the area of Coaching. This is interesting for us in itself, & also interesting for our adult learners. It would be appropriate for a good intermediate & above.
There are two interviews with Coaches in mp3 format, the two tapescripts & a series of listening, reading, vocabulary & discussion tasks.
If you would like to follow up on this, at the end of this page there are a series of recommended books about Coaching & do check out Séamus' offer of free sessions in his ad above.
Here are the tapescripts & tasks - all downloadable in mp3 & pdf format:
The interview with Cheryl:
The interview with Cheryl - in two parts: http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/coach/cheryl_pt1.mp3 (3.86mb)
The Tapescript of the interview with Cheryl:
The interview with Michelle:
The tapescript of the interview with Michelle:
The lesson tasks:
The teacher notes together with the tasks:
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