ELT Experiences

Experiences for English Language Teaching

Month: June 2012

Teaching Articles to Teenagers and Adult Learners

I have developed a lesson plan for the teaching of articles for teenagers and adult learners.  I should really thank a fellow colleague that I work with at the British Council Bucharest for inspiring me to use Mr Bean videos for the teaching of various grammar or topic areas.  It was a wonderful suggestion, and since returning to the UK (albeit for a short period) I have tried to develop material for different areas of grammar and topics.  The best thing about Mr Bean videos are the various situations that Rowan Atkinson decides to include with the character as well as being known by many international learners around the world.  Anyhow, here is the lesson plan for incorporating the teaching of articles in the classroom.

First of all, you could introduce the topic of articles (a, an, the, -) to learners via the PowerPoint file (available to download via Scribd) and is available to view below.
The Use of Articles

After looking at the grammar, tell learners that they will be watching a Mr Bean video where he prepares to meet the Queen.  Tell learners that they need to make a note of what he does to prepare the meeting of the Queen.  The video is available to watch on YouTube here:

Handout the worksheet (once the video has finished) and get learners to transcribe their notes on the handout.  It is probably best to either cut the worksheet in half or get learners to fold it over (so they don’t see the reading (which will have the answers to the previous activity).  Once learners have been given an opportunity to share their answers and the teacher provides some scaffolding for language that has emerged from the video, you can move on to the next part of the worksheet whereby learners need to choose the correct article.
Mr Bean Meets the Queen – Articles

There is also a Wordle in PDF format that is available to hand out to learners at the end of the session for them to review or analyse the use of articles in English.  I tried this lesson out with different abilities of learners and they were really focused (especially one group that has difficulty focusing during the class).  I hope that you make use of this but all credit should go to one colleague at the British Council in Bucharest that help me develop this further.
Articles Wordle

Guest Blog Post (Chia Suan Chong): Martin Sketchley’s Talk at IATEFL Glasgow 2012

I would like to thank Chia for taking the time to report on my IATEFL talk and sharing her experiences of my talk in Glasgow with fellow readers.

Photo courtesy of Mike Hogan

Martin Sketchley’s Talk at IATEFL Glasgow

On the last day of the IATEFL Glasgow conference 2012, Martin Sketchley’s talk on Dogme packed the room with friends, PLNers and hard-core Dogmeticians, alongside experienced teachers who have come to try and understand what this phenomenon called Dogme was all about.
Outlining his research project, Martin explained how he differentiated between his Dogme classes and his coursebook-based lessons, and just like any good presentation on Dogme, the beliefs of the audience members were suitably challenged to the point where a heated discussion between the Dogmeticians, the PLNers, the ‘disbelievers’ and ‘coursebook-lovers’ and Martin himself ensued. 
Among the topics discussed was the ever-so important definition of Dogme. Because there has yet to be a methodology book that explicitly defines Dogme and states what it is not, and as most of the discussions on Dogme have mainly existed online in the domain of Yahoo groups, Twitter and the blogosphere, it was not surprising that some of the less tech savvy crowd continued to press for clearer definitions during the talk. Martin, like most other Dogmeticians, turned to the three basic tenets of Dogme to clarify his position, defining Dogme as ‘materials-light’, ‘conversation-driven’ and ‘dealing with language as it emerges’. However, even within these three tenets lay a good dose of ambiguity.
How light exactly is materials light? Does it mean ‘materials-less’? Or does it mean ‘coursebook-less but it’s okay to use some non-coursebook materials’?  Does conversation-driven necessarily mean fluency-focussed? Or could conversations lead to a substantial focus on accuracy as we deal with the emergent language?  How does one deal with the language as it emerges? If published ELT materials had ready made lexicogrammar sections that helped learners to understand and practice these language systems, then why not use them?
In and amongst discussions about how Dogme best suits the way we know language is acquired, i.e. in a non-linear, feedback sensitive manner, as opposed to the linear presentation and practice of ‘Grammar MacNuggets’, one member of the audience surmises the discussion by stating that she had been teaching for a long time and had always adapted the materials and the coursebooks she came across, without following any of them religiously, and asked if she had been doing Dogme all these years. If so, then what was so new about Dogme? Again, the age-old question of ‘Is Dogme simply good teaching?’ resounded in everyone’s minds as the talk came to an end.

Chia Suan Chong is a General English and Business teacher and teacher trainer, with a degree in Communication Studies (Broadcast and Electronic Media) and an MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from King’s College London.
A self-confessed conference addict, she spends a lot of her time tweeting (@chiasuan), Skyping, and writing. You can find out more about her on her blogsite: http://chiasuanchong.com

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