ELT Experiences

Experiences for English Language Teaching

By - Martin Sketchley

A Day in the Life of the Queen: Lesson Plan

Image courtesy of London Moving (2012)

As it was my last day at the British Council Bucharest today, I thought I would share some lesson material that I have developed over the past few weeks with my Young Adult class mostly related to “A Day in the Life of the Queen”.  I asked the learners what they wanted to learn more about, and one student suggested “I want to learn more about the Queen”.  With this suggestion, I decided to think about a lesson and how it would help learners discover more about our great Royal Family.  Then I thought about the Queen attending Royal Functions, meeting various people and spending time at Buckingham Palace.  I suddenly realised what video to show the students (embedded below).

However, before showing the video to students, I asked learners to think about what the Queen does each day and spend a few minutes jotting down a few ideas in pairs.  Then I gave one handout to each student to make a few sentences from their notes.  After they completed the handout (embedded just below), I got students to compare in pairs.  You could use the handout below for students to make a few notes or just skip this and get them to write up their ideas in sentences with the worksheet (as suggested above).

The Queen Daily Routine

After a few minutes, I wrote their ideas up on the Interactive Whiteboard.  Next, I told learners that they were going to watch a video (the one above) about the Queen and what she did during one particular day, and that they needed to take some notes about who the Queen meets, where she is staying and where she goes, what things does the Queen and the guest see during their trip, how they travel, etc.  Then I played the video above.  After they made some notes and wrote some of their notes up on the board, which I had elicited, I handed out a worksheet (embedded below) and I asked students to work in pairs again and to write up some sentences about the video that they had watched.  The student writing can then be used for feedback, error correction, reacting to grammar forms, etc – how ever you wish to use it.

Day in the Life of a Queen

After getting collecting the student writing, I told students to think about what life must be like for the Queen and asked students to individually make a note of advantages as well as disadvantages.  Once learners made some notes, I put students into small groups (between 3 to 4 students) and I nominated the team leader to write up their list of advantages and disadvantages, of being the Queen, on the worksheet (embedded below).  They discussed in their groups and I mentioned if there was any further information that they could include (about family, life, hobbies, etc) that they could add it to Additional Information on the handout.

The Queen Debate

Once learners had completed their worksheet, I put the groups into two separate parties for a debate: one party had to debate being the Queen was good (and mention the advantages), while the other party had to debate that being the Queen was not so good (while mentioning the disadvantages).  This created a lot of emergent language that could be scaffolded and then I wrote up some useful phrases which could be used during the debate.  Next I swapped the role of each party and they had to debate the opposite this time, using some of the language on the board.  It worked really well and gave the learners the chance to re-use some of the vocabulary/lexical chunks on the board.

The next part of the lesson, I asked learners to look on their phones about what rules or etiquette is appropriate for addressing the Queen and asking a question.  Some of the learners found some information on the smartphones pretty quickly and I put their suggestions up on the IWB:

  1. You must bow when meeting the Queen
  2. Do not show your back to the Queen
  3. Etc
With this, I asked how they should address the Queen when asking a question.  I put the following on the board: “What food do you like?” – I asked if this question was suitable if asking the Queen.  The students replied that it might be unsuitable and suggested: “Your Majesty, would you mind if I requested what food one must like?”.  The learners were able to distinguish the difference between informal and formal question forms which helped the next part of the lesson.
I handed out three small pieces of blank paper to each student and told them that they were going to meet the Queen.  I said that they must write their question on each blank paper (thus they would create three questions).  Once they completed, I said that they were also going to meet Lady Ga Ga and then had to write three questions to ask her and that they should use informal/direct questions.  They wrote some really interesting questions.  Whilst they were writing their questions, I played the song “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen, just to see if they could get the connection with the song.
Once all questions were completed, I collected them all and I put them into a small box and mixed them all up.  I told learners that one student was going to meet the Queen and I nominated one student to be the Queen while another was going to be a reporter.  I mixed up all the questions and told them that they must ask the questions as it was written, so if they had a Lady Ga Ga question they had to ask it which created some hilarious reactions to both pairs role-playing as well as those watching.  All learners had a chance to role-play it and I gave each student asking the question about six questions each.  Whilst monitoring, I made a note of some of the language that had emerged and made a note of this on the IWB for feedback and possible error correction.
The whole lesson lasted a good 1 hour and 45 minutes, and I was pleased that they had enjoyed the various activities above.  Have you ever taught about the Royal Family?  What activities have you done to teach about the Queen in class?  Please let me know if you used (or plan to use) this lesson in class.
By - Martin Sketchley

The Use of Video in the Classroom

Last Friday, I decided to use a video in the classroom for the first time in a long time.  I have often found the use of videos quite a difficult task in itself.  It is rather difficult trying to use videos for language points or for more focused tasks.  Nonetheless, I decided to show “Love Actually”, a video set during Christmas with a wide range of actors and actresses, and had set some tasks for my Young Adults to complete during the watching of the movie.  The movie itself was quite long, about 2 hours in length with some great scenes which reflected the spirit of Christmas.

The initial task that I set the learners at the beginning of the class was to complete a gapfill exercise.  The first two scenes include a scene at what is assumed Heathrow Airport and then the second scene is in a music studio with Rock & Roll Legend, Billy Mack.  Get the learners to complete the handout below by themselves, before pairing them up to check their answers and finally eliciting the correct answers.

Love Actually – Intro Scenes

The second task that I set for learners was for them to complete a character matching exercise: match the character and their job/occupation.  Before watching the movie, we studied up on various occupations (housekeeper, housemaid, etc) and then I handed out a matching worksheet after the initial activity for learners to complete (which is below).  As there were a number of different characters/names, it was difficult work for students to learn about them and their occupations.  The learners were listening intensively to the dialogue and for any clues.  To check that they were listening with the first activity, I elicited the name of the Rock & Roll Legend (Billy Mack) and then told learners that they had to complete the rest of the matching activity whilst they watched the rest of the movie.

Love Actually – Characters

At one scene in the movie, where Mark and Juliet meet to discuss about a video from a wedding (about the first two minutes of the scene with the YouTube video below), I paused the movie and elicited their names.  I then went on to say that they are going to watch the next scene with Mark and Juliet with no sound and they have to predict/guess what they are saying.  I handed out a blank script and the learners will have to complete the script to the best of their ability.  It was mentioned that it made no difference whether they attempted to complete it and was wrong as it was all good practice.  I played the video and I was acting as a human remote control and learners were telling me: “pause”, “rewind”, “fast forward”, etc.  The scene was played a number of times until learners were happy to complete the activity and then act the scene out.  There was a lot of laughing and the students really got into the scene.

Love Actually – Script Juliet and Mark

Next, I played the scene with the sound off and then just the subtitles so that they could see what things were similar or different to their script.  We then played the video with the sound on and the subtitles off.  It was a wonderful activity and were quite responsive.  In the second lesson of the week, we continued with the movie and watched the ending.  I handed out a worksheet for learners to complete and it was a character summarisation.  Learners had to choose one character from the movie and write about him/her.  Luckily, all learners chose someone different and they had a look on Wikipedia or other websites to learn a bit more about their chosen character.  Fortunately, they decided not to plagiarise from Wikipedia and their writing was commendable.

Love Actually – About a Character

As I mentioned earlier in the blog post, it was the first time that I had used a movie in class to any success and the learners were quite responsive to this.  The was an opportunity for creative writing, writing about people, as well as an opportunity to act a scene out (although I have one boy and seven girls: some of the girls were quite happy to go Shakespeare and pretend to be Mark).  Anyhow, have you used videos in class before?  What activities do you include when showing a video in class?  Do you try to focus on the grammatical aspects of English when showing a video?  Do you have any advice for me when I show videos in class in the future?  It would be wonderful to hear from my readers so that I could consider them in the future.

By - Martin Sketchley

“Punctuation..?” – Book Review

“Punctuation..?” published by User Design Books is a wonderfully cheerful and refreshing change to all these current grammar books that are available in most bookstores.  As teachers, we are looking for ever increasing and interesting methods to teach and formulate basic grammar ideas with “Punctuation..?” being a nice change for the ever increasing demand of grammar books.

The book exposes 17 of the most misunderstood or misused rules in English grammar: from Apostrophe to Semicolon.  The lovely illustrations complement the ‘easy-to-understand’ write-ups for each of the 17 grammar points (with some broken down further) and replaces a lot of the bulk of text found in some other grammar books.

Essentially, “Punctuation ..?” is a book aimed for improving English writers but can also be developed for use, even as a reference book, in the language classroom.  The wonderful illustrations will give teachers some source, ideas and opportunities to develop for use on the board as well as provide some much needed difference for art-work in the classroom.

“Punctuation..?” is by no means a complete grammar dictionary, but the simplicity, and ease of grammar rules that it communicates, really complements a lot of grammar books, which are sometimes stuffed full of various rules, difficult to remember, even for the most professionally motivated teacher or student, and difficult to dissect.  The book is suitable for a wide-range of ages and is probably one of the best gifts that a student or teacher could receive.