Monday, 20 April 2015

When drawing lines makes Grammar make sense

Objective: Using timelines to present Past Simple- Past Continuous

Development Area:Reinforce the understanding of the use of Past Simple and Past Continuous and their concept

Age of Learners: 12- year-old, elementary school

Why using timelines? I have chosen to use timelines because they illustrate the meaning and form of Past Simple and Past Continuous and how these two tenses can be combined and refer to time and events.

This is the result of work done with my 12-year-old students, aimed at improving their understanding of Past tenses and their ability to use them accurately.The class had had difficulty in understanding the linguistic concept of those tenses given as an explanation. Furthermore, I aimed at reinforcing the guided learning of my students using the inductive method and giving my students the chance for self study and controlled practice of the forms. I had noticed that the deductive way of introducing the form and the rules was not helping the youngsters who were just learning them but not using them freely. They needed simplified explanation and an illustration of the different verb forms and other language items (conjunctions, i.e. when, while)


I.  I drew the timelines on the whiteboard with some pictures of the actions I wanted to present to the learners (photo attached). I wrote the sentences underneath so that they had a linguistic description of the events. I used coloured boxes to denote longer actions and the symbol ‘X’ to stress the change point of an action taking place. The conjunctions ‘when’ and ‘while’ were put in red lined boxes to be pointed out. 

II. Then I asked them to produce, orally ,similar examples based on the drawings. I let them copy the timelines from the whiteboard and I asked them to draw their own timelines at home, which should illustrate the sentences I gave them beforehand.

Here are some samples of their outcome:

Advantages of the method: The main advantage was that this new approach of grammar presentation gave a visual reference as to how these verb tenses are used. My students could immediately see how the verbs work and for learners with  a visual learning style it was a great help to perceive the function of those verb tenses. In addition, it was an enjoyable, relaxed way of presentation since my students were amused by seeing me struggling with drawing.

Anticipated problems: There was a small problem that I had anticipated. I had to carefully explain to them the symbols in my drawings so that they could understand and to draw their attention to them. When they came to the next lesson, some learners could not put the method into practice in its full extension and they had to redo it. Nevertheless, I think that it will be much easier and faster next time because these symbols can be used as a commonplace in our grammar explanations.

In my opinion, the students have enjoyed this new grammar presentation approach and they can always refer to it when they need to. I have also used it with  higher  level classes to present other tenses since I noticed that it is manageable for lower-level younger students

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Task-Based Learning - Sending them out on a Mission

Having completed the CiSELT course with British Council I would like to share my assignments and records of work with you in a series of posts. And I will start with my assignment of Task-Based Learning

Lesson Plan

ObjectiveI was looking for a method that would engage my students in a
more communicative way and allow them to use the language effectively.  I would like to involve them in doing something in class that they would do or experience in their everyday life using their own language.

Lesson AimIn their coursebook they have read a leaflet about anger management and there has been an introduction to Gerunds & Infinitives.  My lesson goal is to present the function of those specific grammar structures and to provide practice in speaking, reading and writing skills.

Age: Teenagers, 13-14 years old

Level: Upper Intermediate

Special needsThey are well-behaved teenagers with some lack of concentration and confidence. They show weakness in grammar and especially in memorising lists of verbs with a specific structure. There is need to help them acquire verbs followed by to- infinitive or gerund and how they can integrate them in their spoken or written language. This would also help them recognise the specific structure in cloze tasks.

Learning outcomeTheir primary goal of completing the TBL activity is the task and
they use the language as an instrument to complete it. However, there is a focus on my behalf to pave the way so that they use the specific structures as often as they could,integrate the in their spoken and written language. As they are intrinsically involved, there is a higher possibility for them to learn this grammatical phenomenon.

Anticipated problems

The students may mostly use modals to pass their ideas across and they may not come up with ideas to use the target language. They will probably tend to confuse the structures. i.e. use full infinitives instead of bare infinitives  (e.g. make sb TO do something, let sb TO do something) or use infinitive instead of gerund ( e.g. suggest TO DO). They might also use “be allowed to do something” in active voice.

Proposed Solutions:
- Present the topic and the target language with an incident description by me. I will use some of the structures required. 

-Learners will be asked to brainstorm grammatical and lexical structures related to the task and can  adapted  them to their needs to complete the task. These will be recorded on the whiteboard so that the learners can use them as patterns and implement them during the task.

Lesson procedure
Teacher activity
Learner activity
Stage aim
3 min

Greet the students and ask
them about their day

Learners greet their teachers
back and report how their day was


To build rapport and ensure
learners are getting to use English for communication.

Teacher tells the students an anecdote incident that made her angry.
Learners listen to the narration and show interest in what has happened to their teacher by asking further questions
To introduce the topic and use the target grammatical structures. Learners are listening for comprehension of  a real life situation.
Teacher writes on the whiteboard What makes you
Presents the topic and introduces the task.
Learners are asked about their own experiences and feelings.
They brainstorm ideas and
record them in their notebooks.
Interaction of the learners with their
peers. Use of their
linguistic knowledge and familiarising themselves with the task.
Teacher asks the students to
choose their partner so that pairs are formed. The pairs are asked to choose what makes them angry most.
Learners have to agree whom
they will collaborate with to complete the task. They work in pairs to come to a conclusion. They report back to the class of their final agreement.
Group interaction to
come to an agreement. Learners are given the right of their own choice.
Teacher introduces the next
stage of the task. Learners have to write a dialogue where the
persons involved interact and try to find a solution to anger management.
Students listen for
understanding the task. They ask for clarifying what it is asked
from them to complete.
Point out the task.
Check back for understanding.
Teacher asks the students to
give examples of the specific grammatical structure, i.e.
verbs, adjectives, nouns,
phrases followed by infinitives/gerunds. Those are written on the board.
Learners brainstorm grammar
samples. They recall their acquired knowledge.
Elicit previous
knowledge. Revision of the target grammar
Teacher sets time limit to
complete the task. Browse around the classroom and
observe the process of task
Learners come up and form their
dialogues. They note down their lines, edit them, refer to the
grammatical and lexical patterns
from the board and try to implement some of them in their dialogues.
Learners’ interaction
and collaboration with their peers. Speaking
and writing practice.
Teacher asks the students to read aloud their dialogues. She intervenes whenever there are mistakes and asks learners for suggestions to correct them.
Learners read their dialogues.
Check for language. Correct mistakes
Language focus.
Error correction.
Grammar analysis.
Reading practice
Teacher gives students time to
rehearse their lines. She asks the learners to put emphasis on expression of their feelings
Students rehearse the dialogue.
They are engaged in role play.
Practice of
pronunciation and articulation, word and sentence stress.
Students present in front of the
class. Teacher records them on video. Funny way to close the
Students present their
dialogues. They show interest to be persuasive in their roles
Learners’ full
involvement in presenting their

And here is students' outcome. You can read the scripts here