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If there’s one thing I like about where I work, it’s that I have relative freedom to do what I want once I’m in the classroom; I’m not wedded to any coursebook or other material. This often results in fruitful mining of a rich linguistic seam, and that sometimes we don’t get around to what I had planned that we would.

Today in my morning lesson, this was the nominal plan:

Review an article that we had looked at last week, part of the fab Grauniad Saturday Magazine series Experience: I say ‘biscuit’ 900 times an hour. This was planned to include a look at verb + noun and verb + other stuff collocations.

Discussion of situations we’d been in and attitudes towards disability.

Two activities from 52 by Lindsay Clandfield and Luke Meddings (there’s a free sample you can download – check it out! and buy the book!): PARSNIPs and Swap (an activity based around subverting advertisements – subvertisements??)

Dictation and analysis of a joke found on the latest post on Scott Thornbury’s blog (I thought some light relief might be required)

What actually happened is that we didn’t do half of that. All because I came in and asked the students (3 out of a possible 12; 6 in total ended up arriving for the lesson) about the wonderful weather we had had in London over the weekend (Read: it pissed it down!). And I explained that ‘I didn’t mind too much, because I was working on assignments all day Saturday and Sunday morning’. Chat chat chat. ‘What did I just say about how I felt about the weather this weekend?’ Students = stumped. I gave them some clues and we eventually got back to my base phrase ‘I didn’t mind too much…’

Language seam located. Bye bye 52 (we would come back to you later on in the lesson), and on to some talking about feelings. Language generated along the lines of this:

I underlined parts of the phrases they had come up with, challenging them to identify the different components. We then ended up with some collocation types like this:


Some controlled practice of the ‘It makes me + adjective when + clause’ formula. And then we were on to the article. But not until asking the learners to go through with each other what we had done so far in the first 45 minutes of the lesson. Then, on to the article. Recap of what it was about, what we had done with it last lesson (useful for the one person who had only just returned from Sweden) – which was guessing the meaning of some unknown words. I asked them to look for collocations with verbs in the article, giving them line numbers to help them locate these. Again some interesting collocations, and further examples given by the students followed:


Then we got on to the discussion from 52, talking about alternative couples in advertising. And dictation of the joke about elephants and a pair of trunks, more of which to come in the next lesson! =)