Ten Secrets To a Successful Lesson
Danny Singh, UK
Danny Singh, born and raised in London, but now based in Rome, gives creative English language lessons and teacher training courses all over Italy and abroad. He also offers stimulating monthly presentations on language related issues at Rome’s biggest international bookshop and is visible on web TV www.inmagicartwebtv.eu with a series of interactive English video lessons. He regularly attends Pilgrims TT summer courses as a Guest Speaker. Website: www.laughnlearn.net
Preparing your list
Ten secrets in the life of Danny Singh
Coming to a decision
The tension builds up
Justifying your answer
And the winner is…
This activity is a great way for your students to get to know you very well, in a short space of time. I came up with this idea in the latter part of 2009, if I remember correctly.
The objective here is to make a list of some amazing, strange, funny, unusual facts about yourself. Only choose things that you are willing to discuss openly with your students, so bear in mind, when preparing your list, that you will have to explain how certain things happened. Write them down and see how they look! Having done that, think of a couple of untrue facts about yourself, which might seem equally unusual or strange.
Here is my list of secrets that I present to the students:
- I have taught English to one of Emanuela Orlandi’s sisters.
- I have acted/performed in a short film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.
- A woman that I once had a relationship with committed suicide.
- I have driven a boat, but never driven a car.
- I have always been an outgoing, extrovert person.
- I have been to Finland, but never been to India.
- I have been to an important International film festival in Europe.
- I have had relationships with two women in the same family.
- I have been to the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
- I have met Prince Charles and the lovely Camilla.
Two of the above sentences are false. Eight are true! Which ones are false?
I divide the students into groups of two or three and they discuss the ten sentences together, trying to come to some sort of agreement and a decision. This can take anything from ten to twenty minutes. Once they have reached some kind of decision, we enter into the discussion.
Naturally, not every group does come to a clear decision and sometimes there is much bickering within groups about what is and isn’t possible.
I begin by going through each point, one at a time. The order that I follow depends on their answers, so I start with the ones that they generally agree upon and leave the more controversial ones for later. That makes the build up to the conclusion, tense and exciting. For those of you who are not based in Italy, you may be wondering who the girl mentioned in number 1 is! She is in fact, a girl who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in the early 1980’s when she was about 16 and has never been found. The Pope at the time, that’s the one that people liked, even made reference to her in his Sunday mass, which is highly unusual. The perpetrators of this hideous crime have, like many crimes in Italy, not yet been revealed, but it is widely accepted that there is some Vatican involvement in the case!
The most interesting thing about the activity is the reasons that students use to justify their opinions. One student who insisted that number 4 must be false said that she had never met a man who didn’t drive a car! Number 10 always leaves a few students bewildered over my use of the word “lovely” to describe Camilla. The exercise also gives you an indication of how students consider you. Some believe that there is no possible way that either number 3 or 8 could be true. Danny is a gentleman, they exclaim! Little do they know! Other students might claim that I look like the kind of person for whom numbers 3 and 8 could be true. And so, the debate goes on and on, until little by little, step by step, we get through each point and the truth is finally revealed. Which two sentences are false?
Even readers who know me, or think they know me, would find this exercise difficult, let alone a student who has only recently come into contact with me. At the point of writing, not one single student has ever managed to identify both false answers. A few have managed to identify one of the two, but never both, until the answers have been revealed. So what do you think? Why not have a try and send me your answers. I’ll let you know if you’re right or wrong of course, but remember, I’m most interested in the reasons behind your answers and your thoughts. When you’ve finished that, why not try your own list with your students or get your students to make their own list?
Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.