Making Written Recommendations

I’ve added something to my online Google Drive folder for the first time in ages. It’s a short Focus on Form activity for turning basic recommendations into written recommendations using modal verbs and adverbs. I wrote it for a class at a car seat company, so you might want to edit the Word document.

It is very rough around the edges by design – there is more than one possible correct answer so there is no list of correct answers – you need to check the work yourself or have the learners do it, perhaps peer checking before teacher feedback.

Making Written Recommendations (MS Word, PDF)

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Coursebook Syllabus versus Needs Analysis

I have a class on Thursdays that have really let me get my teeth into needs analysis with them. It’s the first time I’ve taught a class and had ‘What do you need to learn?’ answered with something other than ‘English.’

One of my learners told me that a situation we did as an extended task has taken on even more relevance, seeing as he’s going to Europe with two classmates at the end of November.

The thing is, that task wasn’t in the book. It wouldn’t have been on the syllabus at all had I not performed a needs analysis through a class discussion on training and completing a task to analyse linguistic needs.

OK, Marc, so what’s that got to do with anything?

Well, if we have a look at the set texts, and then have a look at the needs analysis then we get to the stage where a Venn diagram or suchlike would be useful. Where is the overlap between the textbook and the needs. Ideally, the people in charge of selling the course would have nothing to do with choosing (or foisting) textbooks. After a needs analysis teachers should be able to see what they need to teach and then look to see what textbook, if any, best meets the needs of the class. What resources need to be gathered? There will always be other things cropping up in lessons that will require divergence and detours from the main syllabus but if the basics are down, everything else that needs to be rejigged on the fly can be done with a minimum of fuss.

However, if you’re working to a pacing of book pages determined by someone outside the classroom who doesn’t know the learners, whose needs are you meeting? Theirs, but their needs are only wants, and those wants shouldn’t matter.

#BlogChallenge: What Did You Teach Today

Well, Anthony Schmidt started this challenge about what we taught today and it sounded intriguing; documenting a normal day in the life at work.

Today was the second day back at school after the summer holidays and the first day back at a company class after a week off sick. They had a substitute teacher doing textbook stuff with them last week.

School

8:30-9:20 3rd Grade Junior High

Prepositions of location on the syllabus but I know these kids know them. I proposed half a lesson to talk about anything they want. They chose nothing and were lethargic so they got a task to describe their partner’s room which was done but with no enthusiasm. Had to tell two students to get work done. Very unusual for this group. Like me, they were probably tired from last night’s typhoon.

9:30-10:20 3rd Grade (Different Class)

Massive difference. They chose to talk about summer holidays. The prepositions of location were fine. The holiday chat brought up problems with go and prepositions so I reviewed that and checked some pronunciation of ‘-ed’ as /t/.

10:30-11:20 2nd Grade

Occupations on the syllabus. Brainstormed jobs with given criteria in groups (outdoor jobs, jobs with uniforms, even more). Pairs discussed parent’s jobs using follow-up questions.

11:30-12:20 2nd Grade (Different Class)

As above but these students got finished really quickly so they talked about their dream jobs. A bit of scaffolding and vocabulary help here and there.

13:00-13:50 2nd Grade (Another Different Class)

Jobs again but not categorizing as these students were keen to talk about jobs from the outset. Parents jobs talked about in more detail than expected. Told the students to speak more loudly because I can’t always hear them. Last class at school for the day.

Corporate

17:45-19:15 Business English/ESP

The other side of town. Two weeks ago they planned a business trip to Europe to train engineers. Today they trained each other in a highly specialized area of manufacturing. All from them; book never opened. The linguistic focuses were on hedging and emphasis. Very keen to do well; vocabulary precise but I needed to draw attention to morphology and a bit of grammar (overuse of passives). Set homework to preview socialising language in the textbook.

I am now tired and looking forward to dinner.