“I never use doors no mores. I never use stairs, just trees.”
This is the second part of my lesson plan to help students come up with, develop plans for, and talk about their ambitions. I wrote about the first half of the plan here, which looked at an expert speaker performing the task* and then asked students to break down both his language and thinking about ambitions, and begin to think about their own. This lesson looks at developing those ideas further into real plans.
Questions for planning
We had a lot to get through, so we started without warmer, and got straight down to reminding ourselves about what Samir from Sweden had said yesterday about his ambitions (giving the students a fourth exposure to the listening). Together we made a brief list of his six ambitions on the board, and then worked on some questions to help Samir achieve his plan to travel the world (“Where do you want to go?”, “How will you afford it?”). This was done with a bit of prompting from me (it may help to write question words on the board at this stage). Once we had four or five good questions on the board to serve as models, I divided the class into 5 groups to work on questions to help Samir develop his other ambitions.
Once this was completed I played the role of Samir and had the groups ask their questions. This was done with a fairly loose instruction to students to note down any language that I used that they thought might be useful for them. It strikes me here that to reinforce this, I could get students to rehearse what I’d said to each other in order to try to fix the language a little more, but I didn’t actually do this in the lesson.
The final stage of the lesson was the one where I cast the students loose and let them try to develop each other’s ambitions. Students found someone that they wanted to talk to, and they told each other their ambitions from the other lesson. The other party then tried to ask questions in order to help that person develop a clear plan for achieving that ambition. After each ambition we changed partners in order to get some different ideas and listen to some different voices and communication styles.
After this, I wanted (well actually I didn’t want, I had) to assess students. I did this through a Kakao Talk speaking assignment (hat-tip @languagebubble). Students had to record a one minute voice note detailing two ambitions, and another talking about their plans to achieve them. This being a vaguely task-based assignment, the focus of the assessment was on how realistic and detailed the ambition and how practical the plans to achieve them.
In the end I didn’t have time to do the reflective part of the lesson, but I would very much like to have done. I think that the tendency of my learners is to do the tasks using whatever language that they have, and not to push themselves to learn anything new. Thus, I hoped to tie back in to the future language by asking learners to write a short piece detailing whether they had used the future forms, and if not, why not? As I said, we didn’t have time to do this, and I feel it may be slightly unfair to ask students to wrote this kind of thing in English. However, I am really interested in self-assessment and would like to know more about how it could be incorporated in class if anyone out there is into it.
And that is the end of my ambitions lesson. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you think it might be doable in your classroom please feel free to use it. If you do, I’d love to hear about how it went, and if there are any improvements you made. I’m sure many are necessary!
* The reference to tasks here is deliberate. While this lesson is not strictly task-based, it is at least inspired by my readings about task-based learning.