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An individual approach

Love & money are in the air!


An individual approach

Man juggling

Have you ever left a language lesson, as a student, feeling that the content of the lesson wasn't relevant to you? Maybe sometimes our students feel the same. One of the jobs we have when dealing with groups is to cater to the individual within that group. We need to work on meeting each individual's language needs & interests. You might help by;

- trying to meet each individual's needs & interests at some time & try & make them aware that you are doing it. When planning think carefully about the individuals you have in the group.

- correcting the individual in oral activities.

- giving feedback on written work - make it more than just correction & add in a few comments about progress or something that came up in the last lesson.

- writing comments on learner diaries - create a dialogue.

- giving tutorials & spending time with each individual. It is their time with you.

- 'micro-teaching' - when the students are involved in a task, take the opportunity to go round & do some teaching to the pairs & teach them different ways of saying what they're saying or introduce some vocabulary that they might find useful in that particular discussion.

- letting your students work at their own pace - can be tricky if all working through the same material or activity but ...

- giving individualised homework - direct the individual to different sources so they can work on areas of weakness or interest.

Each individual is different so try not to be misled by the coursebook culture that clubs everyone together.

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Arouse, confront, dare, stimulate, provoke...

1. v. accost, arouse, beard, brave, call out, claim, confront, dare, defy, demand, dispute, face off (Sl.), impugn, investigate, object to, provoke, question, require, stimulate, summon, tackle, tax, test, throw down the gauntlet, try

from the Collins English Thesaurus

Questioning head

Are you challenging your students to think enough in class? What do you mean by challenge, you think, there are several kinds of challenge. 'Mental effort' - is there a lot of mental effort on the part of the learner? Sounds obvious really but think about it. How much do you plan this into your lessons? It is quite easy to run through a lesson & hand it all on a plate, just as it is easy to make everything too difficult & consequently frustrating for all. Planning is the key.

Here are a few areas where mental effort can be incorporated:

1. Get your students to work out rules for themselves - guide them towards the rules. If in doubt get a colleague to work out the rules from your examples to see if it's possible. Some rules you just have to give but for the majority the students can be

2. Getting the students to think when involved in the practice activities rather than reading aloud a dialogue on the board or from the coursebook. Give prompts instead.

3. Give the students time to think about what they are going to say in freer speaking activities. See the Tip 'Promoting specific language use in freer oral activities'.

4. In reading activities, if appropriate, get the students to work out the meaning of the vocab from the context. Get them to work out their own tasks to give to each other.

5. With listenings, give the tapescripts & hand over the tape recorder for the students to work our where they had problems. See the Tip 'Listening Analysis'.

If presenting language from the tape see the Tip 'Lifting It Off'.

6. Clearly, as mentioned above, too much mental effort will have the opposite effect & fry their brains by the time they leave the lesson. A judicious balance of heavy & lighter activities is needed.

7. Correction - in both speaking & writing, instead of you giving the correction, get the student to think about it & tell you.

One way of maximising the effectiveness of your students' time in class!

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Love & money are in the air!
This week there's a lesson plan centred around the 14th February. The lesson begins with some Valentine card verse, which would be ideal for working on rhythm. The reading from the Guardian wesite is titled, 'Avoid the great Valentine rip-off', & is about the price rises in this romantic week & the huge amounts that we spend. The text can be exploited for the vocabulary, the tenses & some conditionals. Follow up activities include roleplays. Click on the image:


Valentine's plan


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