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At the dogmeholics anonymous meeting…

My name is Mike Harrison, and I didn’t have a plan today…

No, I had no plan. Aaaah, you were just winging it, weren’t you, Mike? Isn’t that what dogmeticians do – no plan, irresponsible and wayward? I’ll hold my hand up – that was the most unplanned I have been on paper for a while. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t prepared. I had a question in mind and an idea of the kind of language I wanted to guide my learners towards. I was ready. Here’s what happened today.

Morning workshop (9.30-10.30) and lesson (10.30-12.00)

Bad traffic and an accident meant we were not at full operational capability in the workshop first thing this morning. Usually, there’s myself and a workshop supervisor, so the class can be happily doing something (we have a bank of resources and PCs available) monitored while I take them one by one for brief tutorials.

I set the class a listening task from elllo.org (a fantastic resource – lots of online recordings for listening practice) – listen to something, make notes, talk about it in pairs.

Then on to the lesson proper, and my question.

How do you keep fit and stay healthy?

Having seen Luke Meddings do something similar last night, I asked the learners to write down their answer to the question on a post it note. From this we extracted a fair amount of language:

Lots of nice vocabulary , eliciting the imperative form by recasting/reformulating the learners’ texts (those little yellow post its), and some pretty complicated words thrown in by me on the right (digestive tract). We followed this with a quick ranking activity – What is the most important thing to do? We also touched on the difference between make and do (the same verb is used for both of these in Portuguese), as well as the impromptu vocab teaching of ‘sneeze’. This was done in groups, and the groups of learners shared how they had ranked the different things you could do to stay healthy. The last moments of the morning’s lesson were filled by asking them to take back their post its and correcting their errors from the boardwork.

Afternoon lesson (1.00-3.00)

Following the theme of the morning, I asked the learners to talk to each other about keeping fit and staying healthy, giving them a framework for making questions (you can see this explained in more detail at Karenne Sylvester’s blog here):

I set them off asking each other questions and just listened, later asking them to write down what questions they had asked each other. I then asked for some examples, tidying them up as we went along, and we ended up with this on the board:

Spot the difference

We noticed that in these questions you always have do, which is a big deal, as learners at this level often leave out auxiliary verbs when speaking and asking questions. Hopefully, some explicit annotating on the board drew this to their attention. We listened to a recording from a practice exam, on what people do in their free time, and then the learners spoke about what they like to do to relax. We ended this activity with a quickie from Teaching Unplugged, where the learners in groups write a text (in this case, about the best way to relax), which is then reformulated into a more target-like form by the teacher. Learners then look at both text and spot the changes, of which I asked them to note down the three ‘most useful’ for them.

Topping off the lesson with a bit of paper for my learners to take away: What We Did Today

A dogmetista is never without pen(cil) and paper

Good.