When I was flying to Romania, I packed all my things the evening before but when I arrived at the airport, I had picked up my son’s passport.  However, when I was waiting for the taxi to bring my passport up to Heathrow Airport, I was thinking how suitable this situation would be in the classroom to promote and develop conversation for unexpected situations.  It kind of reminds me of the Mr Bean at the Airport scenario:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK1z_-BG9FY]

After a week, I planned my first lesson and decided to include this as a typical ‘dictogloss’ activity.  ‘Dictogloss’ is best described by Wajnryb (1990) as something that is borrowed from the more traditional dictation activity, where learners “jot down familiar words as they listen … then pool their resources to reconstruct their version of the original text” (ibit. pg.5).  Thus, I decided to write a short piece involving me getting the wrong passport for learners to listen to in class and for them to recreate their version of the incident.  After students have, within groups, recreated the incident in their own words (with the possibility of reviewing grammar or certain phrases: for example, a group of learners wanted to look at the difference between “The flight was supposed to leave at …” and “The flight was due to leave at …”), there is the option to get students to guess what happened next (and the language of modals is a usual indicator for language here).  Finally, there is an opportunity for more exploratory teaching (aka. Dogme ELT discussion) from this topic but I hope the following lesson plan offers some further ideas for your classroom.

Aim of Lesson
To get learners to listen, note down and reconstruct a story that the teacher has prepared.

Sub-Aims of Lesson
To review grammar, phrases and lexis involving the airport.  To prompt discussion involving unexpected situations or accidents.

Level of Learners
This activity works best for any level from Pre-Intermediate or above, preferably teenagers or older.

Progression of Lesson
1. Start the lesson by telling students that you are going to tell a short story and that they need to just listen.
2. Once you have finished the story once, get students to individually write down any words or phrases that they remember (no sentences just yet).
3. Read the story for the second time and get learners to make a note of any other phrases or words that they remember.
4. Next, tell students that they need to individually write their version of the story in their own words (either the first person or third person is fine, as long as they can recreate the story and it reads well).
5. Once students have written their story, group students into pairs or small groups and nominate a team leader.  The team leader is responsible for writing the final version of the story.
6. When students have written the story, hand out a copy of the story to the learners so that they can compare any differences.
7. Monitor students and their writing for any key differences with regards to grammar or phrases and note anything on the whiteboard.
8. Review and scaffold any differences if necessary.
9. The next part of the lesson is to get students to work in their groups to predict what happened next in the story.  Note down any of their ideas on the whiteboard before revealing.
10.  OPTIONAL – If you wish to incorporate discussion in the classroom, you could learners (if they are willing) to share their experiences of an unexpected situation that has arisen during their travels.  As with Dogme ELT, monitor and scaffold language that has emerged during the classroom conversation.

What I wrote for the ‘Dictogloss’ activity is available to view below.  It would be great to hear your ideas regarding ‘Dictogloss’ and whether you have incorporated a similar lesson before.  The best thing about ‘Dictogloss’ is that it is very materials-light and promotes recycling vocabulary and reconstructing a story after several attempts.  The students feel a sense of achievement afterwards and it is highly motivational.

On Thursday 2nd February, I was flying to Romania for the first time.  I packed everything the night before and checked that the taxi would pick me up.  I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning for my taxi would collect me at four thirty.  I arrived at Heathrow Airport at 6 o’clock in the morning and was checking in.  The flight was due to leave at 9:45am but I realised that I didn’t have my passport: I had my son’s passport!