Dictionary-Based Reading Lesson

Level: advanced.
Ages: adults.
Aims: to engage students with monolingual English dictionaries; to practise identifying relevant meanings in monolingual dictionaries; to practise skim- and scan-reading skills.
Skills: reading; listening; speaking.
Language focus: any vocab that arises in the lesson.

Note: This lesson is designed to be used with the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

Dictionary worksheet (1) – using a dictionary (teacher’s notes)

This is an expanded version of a simpler worksheet published by CUP and available here:
http://www.cambridge.org/elt/dictionaries/worksheets/CALD3-Worksheets/CALD3_WS_01UsingADictionary.pdf

———————————————————-

1. Which extract…
…comes from a newspaper? (extract C)
…comes from a website about celebrities? (extract E)
…is about some scientific research? (extract A)
…comes from a website about outer space? (extract B)
…is a description of a plant? (extract F)
…is about English and Scottish history? (extract D)

This is to ensure that students have had a chance to engage briefly with the content of the extracts by skim reading – they do not need to go into detail but they must know what they are reading. The extracts are taken randomly from the internet after putting “partial” into google.

———————————————————————————–

2. There is one word which appears in all six of the extracts. What is this word? (partial) Find it and circle it in each extract.

This is to give practice in the skill of scanning.

———————————————————————————–

3. Look this word up in the dictionary.

Read the dictionary definition of this word and answer the questions.
a. What are the three guidewords in the definition? not complete; unfair; liking
b. What is the most common use of this word? The first one
c. What part of speech is it? adjective
d. What does the ‘A’ mean after the first guideword? advanced
e. What is the opposite of this word? impartial

This is to allow students the chance to explore the dictionary entry without being put off by the dense amount of information given.

———————————————————————————–

4. Which of the three meanings in the dictionary corresponds to each example of this word in the extracts?

This is to give practice in analysing short chunks of text to identify which of several meanings is the relevant one.

———————————————————————————–

5. Now think about how you would translate this word into your language in three different ways, corresponding to its three different meanings. Try looking up these words in a bilingual dictionary in your first language: hopefully, the result given should be this word. Check with a friend who knows your language.

This is to draw attention to the fact that many words have several translations; that it is not enough just to know what a word means when it stands alone, but to know what it might mean in a variety of contexts.

———————————————————————————–

6. Which meaning of the following words in the texts (be careful! Are you looking for a noun or a verb, in each case?)

spring (extract F)
brand (extract C)
act (extract D)
diet (extract A)
share (extract B)
come (extract E)

This is to provide further, freer practice of the above activities.

Answers:
spring (noun, meaning 1)
brand (noun; meaning 1)
act (noun; meaning 5)
diet (noun; meaning 2)
share (verb; meaning 5)
come (verb; meaning 8)

Dictionary worksheet (1) – using a dictionary – Students’ Sheet

Extracts
And even if you don’t fast, Mattson says that simply limiting the calories you consume may be beneficial. He points to studies where rats and mice were fed every other day. Compared with those fed normal daily diets, there was a reduction in disease among the rats that were severely restricted in their food intake. Mattson says those findings hold promise that humans could also benefit from partial fasting.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16513299

If you read this week’s SkyWatcher’s Forecast, then you knew several areas of the world were in for a partial lunar eclipse event. While the Moon basically just did a glancing pass through the umbral shadow, the effect was still dramatic and I was hoping that at least one photographer out there would have a picture and story to share!

http://www.universetoday.com/2008/08/18/august-17-2008-partial-lunar-eclipse-caught-down-under/

C Rich Chinese are partial to foreign brands
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-02-21 07:50

Big foreign labels such as Chanel and BMW continue to dominate as top brands for wealthy Chinese consumers, with their choices determined mainly by quality and environment factors, a recent survey has found.

http://www2.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008-02/21/content_6471759.htm

D King James was especially concerned to present himself as impartial, given suspicions that he would be partial in his acts and decrees to the Scotsmen many English feared would impoverish their own country.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2220/is_/ai_16946519

E USA Today reported, at parties in Los Angeles and the Hamptons, Zino Platinum cigars considered the “Cristal of cigars” were given out as part of the festivities. Jay-Z, who says he has smoked cigars “on and off since 1996, ” is partial to Zino Platinums, which come in large silver matchboxes of three cigars for $87 to $127.

http://coolspotters.com/musicians/jay-z/and/products/zino-platinum-cigars#medium-6526

F Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) Grows from 25 to 30 feet tall with a spread of 20 feet. Grows best in moist soil with partial to full sun. White flowers bloom in the spring and are followed by bright red berries. Flowers have a strong sweet fragrance. The fruit has an astringent taste
but does attract birds.

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:pxMKIdvEg5kJ:www.yardscaping.org/plants/swcdplants/native_shrubs.pdf+%22partial+to+full%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=149&gl=uk&safe=vss

Tasks
1. Which extract…
…comes from a newspaper?
…comes from a website about celebrities?
…is about some scientific research?
…comes from a website about outer space?
…is a description of a plant?
…is about English and Scottish history?

2. There is one word which appears in all six of the extracts. What is this word? Find it and circle it in each extract.

3. Look this word up in the dictionary.

Read the dictionary definition of this word and answer the questions.
a. What are the three guidewords in the definition?
b. What is the most common use of this word?
c. What part of speech is it?
d. What does the ‘A’ mean after the first guideword?
e. What is the opposite of this word?

4. Which of the three meanings in the dictionary corresponds to each example of this word in the extracts?

5. Now think about how you would translate this word into your language in three different ways, corresponding to its three different meanings. Try looking up these words in a bilingual dictionary in your first language: hopefully, the result given should be this word. Check with a friend who knows your language.

6. What is the meaning of the following words in the texts? (be careful! Are you looking for a noun or a verb, in each case?)

spring (extract F)
brand (extract C)
act (extract D)
diet (extract A)
share (extract B)
come (extract E)

(Based on Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary Worksheets, CUP, 2008)

Speaking/Writing: Lists with a Twist (30 minutes or so)

Levels: intermediate to advanced.
Ages: teens; young adults
Type: variation on the old “pyramid discussion” activity.
Skills: listening; speaking; writing (spelling).
Language focus: grammar – modals of speculation/possibility; any vocab as arises.

Note: I THINK this idea is my own; the seeds for this game come from Keep Talking by Friederike Klippel, and my own boredom with conventional “list” games (wherein students individually order a pre-defined list and then compare preferences, trying to agree a final order), which I believe are a little over-used in the EFL classroom, and with which I think students in communicative classrooms are often all-too familiar.

Preparation: blank paper, some cut into slips; blu-tack to stick paper to the walls; optional – some recorded music the students won’t dislike.

Procedure:

  1. Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to sit apart from the rest, so they can talk without any other groups overhearing them.
  2. Explain that each group is going to write a list of ten things, but that they get to choose the topic together. Give some examples (e.g., “Things I would never eat in bed”, “The ten best things your parents could ever tell you”, “Ten things to do before you die”). Make sure the students understand that they can be obvious, so they don’t strain for ideas.
  3. Allow a few minutes for the students to decide on a topic and agree a list of ten things. Play the background music if you have any.
  4. (Stop the music and) ask each group in turn to call out their items, clearly and loudly (make sure each student calls out at least two things). The other groups listen and individually write down what they think the topic is.
  5. When each group has finished calling out their lists, ask the groups to compare what they have written and try and agree what the topic was for each of the other groups. Again, allow a few minutes for this, and again play the background music for this period, if you have any.
  6. Ask each group to decide on a team name and board what they tell you; find a really unimportant object from your bag or pocket (e.g., a paperclip, or a small coin) and proudly hold it up, reverently saying that this will be the prize for the lucky winners. Explain that each group will get 10 points for every topic they guess correctly (if they are a good-natured group, add that they will lose 10 points for every one they get wrong).
  7. Taking each group in turn, ask the other groups what they thought the topic was; you should say what you thought the topic was as well (try to be wrong). After you have all guessed, the group reveals their topic; award points accordingly (though not to yourself!).
  8. At the end of the activity, award the prize (it can be fun to be very solemn here, as though you’re bestowing a vast fortune upon the winning group) and have a class vote on the most interesting or surprising topic.
  9. Ask each group to choose their favourite topic, and to write 5-10 questions about it to ask other students. You can help them formulate their questions here.
  10. Ask the groups to stick their questions to the classroom walls when they have finished.
  11. Number the students in each group, using the same numbers with the other groups (so each group has a 1, a 2, etc.). Ask your students to stand up, then ask 1s to form a group together, 2s to form a group, and so on.
  12. Ask each group to stand by a different question sheet; ask them to use the questions on the wall as conversation starting points. Groups can move to a different set of questions when they are ready.
  13. Monitor your students’ language, thinking about what they could have said as well as what they did say.
  14. Give whole class feedback, on pronunciation or on language choices.

Speaking: Circles Coursebook Topic Discussion

Levels: pre-intermediate to advanced.
Ages: teens; adults.
Type: conversations based on the coursebook topic title; mingle.
Skills: listening; speaking.
Language focus: previewing coursebook vocab (and perhaps grammar structures).

Note: I found a close relation to this activity in 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova (Oxford: Macmillan, 2005)

Preparation: A coursebook topic title; some questions.

Procedure:

  1. Ask the students to help you push any classroom tables back against the walls.
  2. Group the students into two circles: an inner circle facing outwards, and an outer circle facing inwards. The two circles of students should now be facing each other.
  3. Ask a question relating to the topic title*; explain that the students have two minutes to discuss this question with the person facing them.
  4. After two minutes, ask the outer circle to move one space to their left. Repeat the procedure, asking a different question – this time, students have just 90 seconds to discuss with their new partner.
  5. Repeat again, each time allowing less time for speaking, until all the students have spoken with each other.
  6. Ask them to sit down with their final partner. In pairs, they discuss what the most interesting question they heard was, and the most interesting response.
  7. Conduct a whole class feedback on this; and then proceed to the main listening or reading task of the unit.

*For example, if the topic was “Women’s Work?” (unit 5C, Straightforward Advanced), questions might include: “Who normally does your housework in your home?“, “What is your least favourite household chore?“, “What would you do if your partner insisted you stay at home and look after the house?“, etc.

Interview Lesson (50 minutes to 1 hour 30 mins)

Levels: strong elementary to advanced.
Ages: older kids; teens; adults
Type: conversational; breaking the ice; revising question forms.
Skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, (pronunciation).
Language focus: revising vocab; revising question forms (grammar).

Note: this idea comes from Jackie Jays, courtesy of the smokers’ corner at St Giles London Central. It’s a really good one to use with new classes, or old classes with a new teacher.

Preparation: None.

Materials: whiteboard; enough whiteboard pens for each group of 3 to 4 students.

Procedure:

  1. Tell your students that today they can ask you any questions they like (if you’re feeling nervous, you can add, “within reason!”)
  2. Put the students into small groups of 3 or 4.
  3. Allow the students 10 minutes or so to think of as many questions they would like to ask you as possible. These could be about you, about studying English, about anything.
  4. Draw lines dividing the whiteboard into a writing space for each group.
  5. Invite one student from each group to come to the whiteboard.
  6. The other students from each group have 2 – 4 minutes (depending on the level of the class – 2 for advanced students, 4 for elementary, etc.) to call out their questions, whilst the student at the board writes these down.
  7. Allocate one writing space each to a different group. Allow them 2 – 5 minutes (depending on level) to check the written questions for grammar.
  8. Correct any grammar mistakes with the class.
  9. Answer the boarded questions.
  10. Explain to the students that you don’t want to talk about yourself anymore; instead, invite them to interview each other, using any of the questions on the board, or any questions they have written down in their groups.
  11. Pair the students and allow ten minutes for them to interview each other. Remember to ask students to make written notes if you want to do the optional extra task (13, below)
  12. Feedback: ask the students individually to tell the class one or two interesting things they have each found out about their partner. Make notes and give grammar correction or pronunciation practice at the end.
  13. Optional extra: to extend this activity, you can ask students then to write up their interview as though it was for a newspaper or magazine.

Limerick Dictation/Pronunciation Lesson (about 1 hour)

Levels: pre-intermediate to intermediate.
Ages: older kids; teens; young adults.
Type: using limericks to teach sentence stress, rhythm and revise English word order.
Skills: speaking; listening; reading; writing; pronunciation (sentence stress, conveying emotion through emphasis).
Language focus: vocab – extending through finding English rhymes; textual cohesion.

Note: I THINK this idea is one of my own – though, like most plans, it seems an amalgam of bits and pieces from forgotten places…

Materials: copies of the limerick below for each student; a whiteboard and pen.

Preparation: prepare one copy of the following limerick for each student:

There was a young lady from Niger
who went for a ride on a tiger.
They came back from the ride
with the lady inside
and a smile on the face of the tiger.

Procedure:

  1. Board these words: “meat,” “feet,” “sheet” and “sheep”. Ask which is the odd one out (answer: “sheep” – all the other words rhyme). Show the phonetics (/miːt/ /fiːt/ /ʃiːt/ /ʃiːp/) to show why only the first three fully rhyme. Explain that the final sounds of words are the most important.
  2. Board “tiger” and “(to go for a) ride” with their phonetics (/’taɪɡə/ and /raɪd/) and elicit meaning.
  3. Give students one minute to think of as many English rhymes for “tiger” and “ride” as they can. Board their answers and give feedback, boarding only full rhymes and explaining why any others are not.

Dictation

  1. Ask students to close their eyes and to relax. Explain that you will recite a short poem in English, and they should listen just for the words that rhyme, which will come at the end of each line of the poem.
  2. Recite the limerick above.
  3. Ask the students to open their eyes, pair them and ask each pair to tell each other which words they heard that rhymed.
  4. Recite the limerick again.
  5. Ask each student to reconstruct the poem. Allow 5 minutes for this.
  6. Put the students in pairs to compare what they have written.
  7. (only if you have plenty of time, or if your class is low-level) New pairs – again, students compare what they have written.
  8. Recite the limerick again. Students check what they have written.
  9. Give a copy of the limerick to each student and ask them if they have written the same.

Rhyming Tennis

  1. Ask the students to stand up and form two lines – they will be two opposing teams (Team 1 and Team 2).
  2. Ask them if they have ever played tennis, and elicit the scoring system (15-love, 30-love, 30-15, 30 all, 40-30, deuce, advantage, game)
  3. Explain that they will now play a game of rhyming tennis. Ask them if they have played this before.
  4. The first student in Team 1 “serves” a one-syllable (this can be two-syllable if your class is high-level) word to Team 2. The first student from Team 2 then has 20 seconds to “return” the word by rhyming it (e.g., “fish” –> “dish”). If this student is successful, the second student from Team 1 has 20 seconds to find a rhyme, and so on. If they cannot find a rhyme, then the other team scores a point. You can be the umpire and decide successful rhymes, or you can ask the students from each team to say “stop” if they think they have heard a non-rhyme.
  5. Either continue play until one team has won a game, or stop the activity after 5 minutes, when every player has had at least one turn at finding a rhyme.

Creating short poems

  1. Ask the students to sit down and to think of words that rhyme with their school (e.g., I work at St Giles, so might hear words like “files,” “miles,” “tiles,” “piles,” etc.)
  2. Pair the student and ask them to write a short poem about their school. Allow ten minutes for this.
  3. Ask each pair to recite its poem as expressively as possible. Listening students can award points for expressiveness, and for how interesting or amusing they found the limericks.
  4. Pairs give feedback to each other; then you give feedback on pronunciation of rhymed words – and award prizes for the pair with the most points, if you like.