Keep learners focused on the task in hand with Karine Kleywegt’s simple but effective suggestions for vocab and grammar practice…
It is one of the most common teacher difficulties we face. You give an instruction to an attentive and enthusiastic class, and then watch as a third of your students either blink back at you with a confused expression on their faces or nudge their classmate to explain. If you’re a language teacher, it’s crucial to develop students’ listening skills – language acquisition depends on it. So when faced with teaching a challenging tense using complex vocabulary, how can language teachers ensure students pay careful attention? Below is a lesson plan that MFL teachers could use to ensure learners stay engaged as they acquire and memorise key grammatical structures as well as new terminology for ‘the body’.
TODAY YOU WILL…
Extend and apply your knowledge of higher vocabulary and of grammar concerning the present and past tense, as you explore a theme of ‘parts of the body
All lessons should begin with a focus as students enter, such as a video clip or song to settle the class. There are plenty of examples on YouTube of ‘parts of the body’ songs in various languages – they tend to be aimed at preschoolers, but that’s just part of the fun.
The starter activity should encourage students to work independently and build on knowledge from a previous lesson. Furthermore, it should involve an element of discussion to allow students to demonstrate their full understanding. Tasks which require students to fill in the missing words, match up sentences or reorder a set of sentences using prior learning are good starter activities because they enable students to revisit and revise what they have previously been taught in an interactive way through pair work. The students will be able to explain how they arrived at their answers by explaining the grammatical rules or the language structure to those who find it hard or are too shy to do so. This encourages students to listen to one another instead of relying on an answer from the teacher. It is very useful to teach a language using formulae and to ask the students to remind each other what the formula is for that particular grammatical rule or structure. In this case, the following example could be used:
- J’ai mal … tête.
- Nous avons mal … ventre.
- On a mal … gorge.
- Elle a mal … dos.
- J’ai mal … dents.
- Tu as mal … l’oreille?
A) We have got a stomach-ache.
B) We have got a sore throat.
C) I’ve got a headache.
D) You have got earache?
E) I’ve got toothache.
F) She has got a backache.
Ask the students to make the appropriate change and match the statements with the correct answers:
- à la tête: C
- au ventre: A
- J à la gorge: B
- au dos: F
- aux dents: E
- à l’oreille: D
GROUP WORK & PRESENTATION
Divide students into groups, and ask each one to match a list of sentences with a selection of pictures that explain the meaning, choosing the most appropriate image in each case. The groups should be mixed so that more able students can support the less able ones. Once all the groups have finished the task it can then be turned into a game of snap or word chain against the clock. A student from each group must be nominated as ‘spokesperson’, to explain to the rest of the class how they came to their answers, using knowledge of the grammatical rules for the reflexive verb in the past tense. By asking students to present their knowledge to the class, students are able to adopt a ‘hands on’ approach to their learning. Furthermore this gives the more able students a chance to explain and extend their skills. The answers should then be quickly reviewed as a class using ICT based interactive resources (such as a whiteboard or personal handheld devices), so that students can visually see the correct statements for each of the pictures. This is especially beneficial because it caters for all learning styles.
Hand out role play cards to mixed groups of two to four students, describing situations involving the need to reference parts of the body. For example, characters could include a doctor, nurse and a patient or relative of the patient. Students should then be given a template to follow and can ask questions, describe how they feel and come up with answers.
Remind students that they should be using a range of verbs, linking words, time phrases and opinions. The students are given the chance to recycle and reuse the language learnt in the lesson and to extend their learning even further. The teacher at this point becomes a facilitator of learning. The student can then have a go at using more spontaneous talk and the judgment of his or her performance becomes more natural and less artificial. Eventually, individual groups can act out their scenes in front of the class, and the performances can be used as a springboard for shared evaluative discussion. Students should be asked to write down what they did well and how to improve next time.
Following on from the plenary anagram activity, you may wish to get students to come up with a list of their own anagrams to swap with their peers at the end of the following lesson.
You may also decide to set your students an extended writing piece, such as a ‘personal statement’ whereby they must describe a day they had an accident and hurt themselves, using a range of new vocabulary and reflexive verbs in the past tense.
In order to continually assess students’ vocabulary, you could try using vocab express’ online vocabulary learning tools as part of their homework. with an extensive range of languages on offer in native audio files, students simply need to log on and answer questions on pre-loaded vocabulary.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Karine Kleywegt is the curriculum team leader for MFL at Dartford Grammar School for Girls in Kent and is currently in her fourth year teaching at the school, where she manages seven members of staff and two trainee teachers in the MFL department.
To help students reflect on their work, ask them to summarise the lesson using WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if). As an additional summary activity, you could try handing out a set of anagrams for students to crack, which reveal the key phrases from the lesson. Alternatively, give students a list of words related to the topic studied – this can either be written on the board or handed out in the form of flash cards. Students must then turn these into a ‘map’ of words, where each connection can be explained and justified. Remember – this plenary is what the students will leave the lesson with. Always save the best for last, so that students are motivated for their next language class!