Back to Basics

After a really long, long time I’m back to teaching A1+ learners (up until recently, the lowest level I had ever taught was A2+). To make things even more interesting, I don’t know a single word in their L1 (I happen to have an almost monolingual group).

During my first week at work I was so nervous that I could hardly eat anything. I realized that I don’t really remember how to teach low levels. I spoke too fast and demanded too much from them.

After reading a bunch of articles about teaching low levels and getting observation feedback from a senior teacher, I finally felt better. I learnt to adapt my speech when needed, scaffold more and explain new words by mimicking (my mom says I could become an actress).

I also decided to try doing authentic listening with them. I had no idea how it would go and tried to choose one of the easiest videos on Tubequizard.com. And you know what? It turned awesome! All students were engaged, including those who tend to zone out most of the time. They were so surprised how simple words they knew sounded together. They were able to describe some basic processes, e.g. “he didn’t say don’t – he said doun!”. We tried saying things the same way – just for fun. I emphasized that they don’t have to speak this way, but if next time they hear doun and understand that it’s actually don’t, that’s great, that’s why we’re doing this.

Here’s a photo of my board work:

Authentic listening for A1+ learners

P.S. I know that /n/ in don’t doesn’t really turn into /m/ but there’s is certainly some lip rounding happening there. In fact, some students were uncertain if they had heard /n/ or /m/ so we ended up looking at it.

P.P.S. We actually work on connected speech and intonation a lot, and it’s so much fun! More fun than I expected because I usually do this kind of stuff with higher levels. My next challenge is to analyse texts a bit more intensively in terms of sentence structure and use retelling to develop their sense of language.

Lesson Plan: Zoom across an Icelandic glacier

Since I moved my teaching entirely online, I have been experimenting with different online tools and websites to see if I can find something to use on a regular basis. Wordwall (great but most of my students said they needed a printable copy to revise at home), Baamboozle (love it!), WheelDecide (one of my most used tools), Jamboard (kind of a free alternative to Wordwall), Padlet (good for webinars)… And obviously, I have also tried various resources that provide lesson plans and online exercises based on authentic videos – a great way to save time on adapting YouTube videos if you are a very busy teacher (which I sometimes am).

This lesson is based on one of the videos I found on the Sensations English website. What I especially like about this resource is that each video comes in 5 levels and can therefore be used with many students at once as long as you differentiate the tasks. I used it with my B1+ student (I went for the B2 version of the video to add a bit of a challenge) and it turned out to be a really nice and engaging lesson, so I hope your students enjoy it too if you decide to give it a go.

Level: B1+-B2

Length: 60-80 minutes

Framework: Integrated skills lesson (vocabulary, listening, speaking)

Mode: 121/online (but can be adapted to groups/offline)

Materials: these slides, this video

Procedure:

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Lesson Plan: The Overton Window

I don’t believe in P.A.R.S.N.I.P.S when it comes to teaching adults. Things are happening in the world, and they’re not always great, so why should we avoid discussing them? That’s why I decided to bring up this topic in class and see where it gets us.

The lesson is based on this authentic video. You’ll also need this worksheet and these slides.
Level: B2-C1
Duration: 60-90 mins
Procedure:

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