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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 3; Issue 3; May 2001

Lesson outlines

Conflict Role play
by Bente Mikkelsen, Denmark, ( Secondary and adult)

Divide the class into 4 groups.

Take each group outside and give each group these instructions, respectively:

Group 1 represent a teenager who wants to stay out longer in the evening. One person plays the teenager- the others help him/her finding the arguments.
Group 2 represents the parents who want their offspring to stay at home and do their homework. Two people play the parental role- you might add in step parent or two!
Group 3 observe Group 1's role play and take notes on what was successful and what was not in terms of argument and of communication.
Group 4 observe Group 2's role play.

Tell the groups to start their role plays, explaining that the "passive" people in groups
1 or 2 can take over from the "actors" by simply tapping them on the shoulder and changing places with them.

Get Groups 1 and 3 together for a feedback session
" " 2 and 4 " " " " "

Other conflict situations:

Pocket money
Where to go on holidays
Peer group problems
Handing over the key to a flat ( which you have promised to look after) to a stranger who says s/he is a close friend of the owner of the flat who is out-of-reach on holiday.

by Henk van Oort, Holland, ( Primary- ages 10-12)

Give your kids 5 of the problems below as home work:

In the following lesson ask them to come up with the answers and discuss these:
Problem Solution
365 D 365 days of the year

26 L of the A Alphabet
4 S of the Y Seasons of the year
12 S of the Z Zodiac
9 P in the S S Planets, solar system
366 in a L Y Leap year
1001 A N Arabian Nights
7 W of the W Seven Wonders of the World
90 D in a R A Degrees in a right angle
24 H in a DHours in a day
2 W in an F Weeks in a fortnight
7 D S Deadly Sins
32 T in an H M ( in A )Teeth in a human mouth (in Adults)
3 C in T L Colours in traffic lights
An S 's 8 LSpider's 8 legs.

Children love to invent these abbreviation puzzles themselves.

by Henk van Oort, Holland, (Primary, 9-12)

This is a concentration exercise which leads into whatever language work you want the kids to do. The only language work in the activity is in their comprehension of your instructions and the two phrases they call out.

Tell all the children to sit very quietly in a big circle. One child sits in the middle of the circle: the observer.

The children in the circle hold hands. One child, eg Mary, says " I am sending a message to eg: Peter". At the same time she pressures the hand of the person to her left as secretly as possible. This child then applies slight pressure to the hand of the next child and so on round as far as "Peter", who calls out " message received ".

The task of the "observer" in the middle is to call out anytime she sees pressure being applied. She then gets to sit in the circle and the student caught squeezing takes the hot seat.

( Editorial comment: think I'll try this exercise as an observation task on my next INSET teacher training course!)

Reading Gap Texts aloud ( allowed)
Christine van Opden Bosch, Belgium, ( secondary and adult)

Group the students in fives. Ask person A in each fivesome to go through the text from the coursebook, underlining all the helping verbs.
Person B underlines all the other verb forms.
Person C underlines all the negations.
Person D underlines all the nouns.
Person E underlines all the link words

Ask the fives to check that they have done all their underlinings correctly. Deal with questions that come up.

Play the students the passage twice or read it to them yourself twice, reading faster the second time.

Working in fives ask the A's to read the passage whistling in the gaps they leave for helping verbs.
The B's then read, putting in coughs in place of the other verb forms.
The C's sigh in their reading where there should be negations etc……

Bring the class back together and have the A's come to the front and do a choral reading with their whistles.

Then the B's with their coughs etc…..

End with a choral reading by the whole class with each person putting in his or her gap filler! Expect happy, auditory chaos the first time they try this!

Note: gap-filling or "lacunair", as we say in Belgium, doesn't have to be sedately boring.

By Nick Jones

Parlour pen and paper games have power. Every Christmas one tends to remember faces and places of the family at play. Christmas games belong to a traditional pool of group entertainment. Here are countless ideas. Specifically I admire the game of who said what, where and to whom: played "confidentially", folding over each written line before the next move, the effect is bizarre and comic; but the "open" game has great appeal and generates a chain of ideas.

Happy Families Discussion
Level: Lower Intermediate +
Time: 20 min +
Purpose: Expressing opinions
Materials: Blank A4 sheets – one per person
Preparation: Write these topics on blackboard
- military service (compulsory?),
- petrol taxes (higher?),
- tobacco taxes (lower),
- more police on patrol (how, on foot, by bicycle, by car?),
- education (Government spending, reduced?),
- solar, wind energy (Government spending, reduced?),
- armaments (Government spending, reduced?),
- immigration (stricter controls?).
Explain that they have to discuss their opinions about those topics. For instance, do they think that the military service should be compulsory or not? Why or why not?
Form groups of 3 or 4, each group to have own leader.
  1. Hand out one blank A4 sheets to each student. They have to cut the paper into strips, 10 or 12 from each A4.

  2. Each group writes opinions containing `should' and `because'. Example: I think they should spend less on defence because the army is big enough. One opinion per strip.

  3. Collect the papers facedown in a pool.

  4. Each group now draws 6 or 8 strips from that pool.

  5. The task of the group, directed by the group leader, is to get a set of consistent opinions, which satisfies the group as a whole for each slip by arranging swaps with other groups. HINT: This needs discussion inside the group in order to sort out received slips one by one into "agree" and "disagree" piles. Example: What do you think, Jan? Or We should put it here, then? Each group SORTS its received slips by discussion one by one into Agree & Disagree. Then there is negotiation between groups, as in the Happy Families game, each group trades its unwanted slips for agreeable ones. Example: Give me this and I'll give you that. Or. What will you give me for this?
    NOTE You may wonder about the benefits gained from inserting a written phase before discussion. In my experience the product then has added value and becomes more informative, with time for reflection. It increases the zone of comfort, especially for the teacher anxious of the verbal rough and tumble. Participants can add a personal touch in interpreting the theme and this without compromise to their spontaneity.
    It is no coincidence that the process resembles brain-storming – that is a sequence of ideas riding piggyback on one another –storming, sorting, valuing, formatting the way you want it.

    Discussing information (in the form of charts)
    Level: Lower intermediate +
    Time: 20+
    Purpose: Explaining & commenting on information
    Materials: A4 page divided into 4 equal fields. One per group.
    Preparation: On the board draw examples of a pie chart, bar chart and graph. Ask the students for examples of the sort of information they could be used to give. Which of the three types of chart would be best to show a) alertness throughout the day b) spending patterns in one year c) time spent on all their different hobbies?
    Form groups of 3 or 4, each group to have own leader.

    1. For each activity, hand out an A4 page , divided into quadrants, to each group.

    2. Each group chooses the topic they want to work with. The teacher is intended to add variety suggesting DIFFERENT ideas if there's nothing forthcoming from class. Then each group creates their own information picture in the first quadrant.
    HINT: this time the content has a mathematical form but whatever appears on paper is still the product of intra-group discussion and agreement.
    1. Using the same idea illustrated mathematically within the first quadrant, each group explains it in writing in the second quadrant. If the form is a graph, then this could take the form of an explanation of x + y axes. Example: (one group has chosen to write) This shows how much homework I am given each day of the week. I have shown the name of the school subject as a colour: History is brown etc. Along the bottom are the days of the week and at the side the homework measured in hours.
      Then, keep the paper within the same group and write the opinion or interpretation of the information in the third quadrant. Example (the group writes) As you can see English homework has the most work but in fact it takes me only a short time as my big sister speaks English well and doesn't make too many mistakes.

    2. Pages circulate ("pass the paper to the group on your left")" round the room as each group adds written questions in the fourth quadrant until the pages return back to their originators for a full spoken reply. Questions probe behind the surface facts. HINT: the written questions come out of intra-group discussions. They lead to writing, but replying to the questions is a SPOKEN activity. Some example of written question from other groups in the class are: I'm very interested in your big sister. Can she come round to my place too? ; do you think it's right not to do your own homework? ; what happens when Mrs. Robles finds out about big sister?
      When eventually papers arrive back to their group of origin, then they belong there. Each owner-group has a speaker who READS out their 2nd & 3rd quadrants (the explanation and interpretation). The other groups, now ASK orally the question(s) the previously wrote on the 4th quadrant. The owner group replies: individuals from the group answer as they see fit.
    HINT: spoken activities serve to recap the content, only this time in interactive form.
    The group answering the questions orally addresses the whole class. Owner groups' speakers READ out their information picture, SPOKEN QUESTIONS are asked (from memory) and SPOKEN ANSWERS from owner group are given as their members see fit.

    The English Clinic
    Level: Lower Intermediate +
    Time: 20 minutes +
    Purpose: Offering help & giving advice
    Materials: Envelopes, one per group
    Preparation: Each group has 2 roles. First they are English Patients, secondly they become a Panel of Experts. As patients they choose a specific illness: that means they describe a challenge they are having with English. Form groups of 3 or 4, each group to have its own leader.

    1. Hand out an empty envelope to each group. Each group, first acting as patients, writes down THE problem in the place of the address. The problem should be a challenge they are having with their English: speaking, remembering, grammar, etc. Example - when the phone rings and it's in English I know I'm going to make a mess of the call, or I never seem to have enough words to say what I want, or with much/many I always make a mistake.

    2. Post the envelope round the room ("pass it to the experts on your left"). Each group, now acting as experts, write a letter in reply, signed by all individual group members.

    3. The envelope is passed to the next group on the left, The second and subsequent panels of experts read previous solutions. They have to offer different advice on a separate sheet and pop that in the letter too. Each new piece of advice gets added to the post.

    4. All envelopes go completely around the room and return to sender. All the various solutions are evaluated and a verbal assessment is given.

    HINT: Two activities here. First – intra-group reading of all solutions where they grade the replies together with their process of reasoning. Secondly – group to whole class. The group's speaker outlines the problem and reacts to the different solutions.

    You expect to hear a higher quality of language in a discussion than, for example, an information-exchange exercise would exhibit. There's a fuller set of features. The language should be factual and objective because it is grounded in the speaker's experience. It should be feeling- and opinion-full because it reflects their own personality. It should contain some formulaic matter, because that's the essence of participants' spontaneity. It should be flexible because open architecture in language can adapt itself to the moving passage of thoughts. I hope this might influence you to decide for a writing-to-speaking type of activity.

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