In my final attempt of ELC on task set up, which I’ve challenged myself to do, I’m going to summarize the outcomes I’ve got and draw a conclusion on what I’ve learned.
The lesson was in the same Business English Upper-Int group of three students. The topic suggested by the book (Business Result) was ‘Negotiating’. We covered Conditionals at the previous lesson to be prepared grammatically. Since my students don’t enjoy business topics I try to tailor lessons to their needs and interests. For the general topic of the lesson I impudently used an idea of one of my brilliant CELTA tutors which was the situation of totally different people having to share a flat.
During the Lead-in stage we discussed students’ experience of living with other people, then I showed them pictures of three people (a blond girl, a reggae musician and an old lady) and we brainstormed their names, age, professions, hobbies, habits, character, problems they might create as flat mates.
After that we looked at the target language: I told them that these people had to stop quarrelling otherwise they will have to leave this flat which is super cheap and comfortable. The students suggested they should agree on some rules of living together. We went through some possible stages of negotiating and then I presented the target language. We discussed Meaning, Form, Pronunciation and touched upon conditionals. Then students got their roles by taking a card with a name and had a couple of minutes to prepare their arguments.
So, I set up the topic and the situation in the lead-in and provided students with the necessary language during let’s call it ‘teach’ stage. Before we started the task I elicited from the students why it was so vital to reach an agreement, then I appointed the student with ‘an old lady’ role to start since it was the oldest and therefore the most respected person in the flat. I sat back and just started to listen without interrupting. What happened during the conversation? Two of the students were very active and they negotiated and bargained and also they involved the third student into the discussion. She also participated but not that actively. By the end of the communication they managed to come to some concessions they were ready to make and so, they reached an agreement. The aim was fulfilled and the target language was used.
To wrap up the lesson I asked students what they think might happen to these people later and what could be the result of this conversation. I also commented on some language issues both strengths and mistakes.
I felt quite satisfied by what was going on though worried that one student spoke less than others. As for my students, they seemed to be enjoying the activity because the situation was funny as they laughed at their problems and concessions.
Generally speaking I consider the task to be a success since the aim was reached and the language was used. Why? Well, the situation was clear and the necessity of fruitful communication was transparent and as for the language, I told students to use it and we discussed how to use it. So, the key to success actually was that I took into consideration some of the action points from previous ELCs.
Now let’s move to problems. One of the students was not so active. She is usually not very active, only when I nominate her, but she isn’t that shy. She might have some fear of making a mistake since she is not a know-all student but she is willing to speak when it’s really interesting for her or she has a fresh idea or an outstanding argument I guess. So, the root of the problem isn’t that clear for me.
Despite the fact that we brainstormed ideas it seemed to be not enough. I mean, the students and I had several ideas and I thought it must have been enough for the conversation, but when the actual conversation took place students used only some of them, actually a small part of them. That brings me to the conclusion that they might have forgotten the ideas, but I didn’t have enough space to write it on the board.
As regards students being inactive I believe I should have stated how many issues each of them should agree on. I’ve just remembered that it was exactly what my tutor did while demonstrating this lesson.
I also believe that some more encouragement and praise will definitely help students to have enough courage to speak about everything.
I believe that students need to write down their ideas in order to facilitate speaking tasks bearing in mind the fact that there is not enough space on the flipchart that I use.
I believe that previously made action points really work with me and make my lessons better.
- Provide students with very exact aims and point out how much speaking you expect them to do
- Praise students for every initiative
- Make sure the students have everything to speak: aim, ideas, language and inspiration.
- Keep doing what I am doing and don’t stop ELC.
Since the first ELC something has changed:
Firstly, I now adapt activities to my students’ interests and therefore it’s not that boring for students to learn business-related issues though they are not interested in business.
Secondly, I am used to reminding and asking ICQs about using target language.
Thirdly, the tasks became more communicative involving natural communication where possible.
Also I try to encourage peer-teaching and peer-correction.
These are major issues I work on to make habitual and there are a lot of others which are difficult to keep all in mind but I think I’m succeeding in it.
What has ELC given to me?
- Habit of analyzing what, why and how to improve. I just keep thinking about it after each lesson. It’s not necessary to write about it each time to draw some necessary conclusions.
- Description stage taught me to look at my lessons from outside and thus I can avoid being subjective and eventually see more.
- A list of action points and good ideas from great people who left comments suggesting something. I regularly check this list not to forget something.
- Strong (I hope) improvement in setting activities. Now I don’t forget simple things like reminding students to use target language.
- Motivation. Now I know what to do if I have a problem – an ELC!
Thanks to Zenya Polosatova who gave me this idea and other great people who helped me during my reflection here I believe I’ll be able to improve my teaching on regular basis)