Task-based grammar teaching
Aim: Students discuss how they were different 10 years ago.
For this class you need a photo of yourself when you were 10 years younger (or thereabouts). It works best if you look considerably different in the photo than you do now. You also need to prepare a short text about how your life was different then to what it is now. This text should include at least two examples of things you used to do and two examples of things you didn’t use to do. You can record this text onto a cassette to play for the students. Prepare a written version of this text that you can distribute to the class.
Aim: To prepare students for the task.
Tell the students that you are going to show them a photo of you from 10 years ago. Ask them what they think will be different. Allow time for three or four suggestions. Then take out the photo and show it to the students. Ask them what was different about you then. Put the picture up on the blackboard and ask “What else was different about my life, do you think?” Allow more comments and suggestions from the class, but don’t tell them if they are right or wrong in their guesses. Explain that they will find this out later.
Aim: For students to discuss how their life was different 10 years ago.
Ask students to work in groups of three. Tell them to talk about their life 10 years ago. Put the following questions on the blackboard: What did you look like? What was different about your life? Did you have different hobbies? Are you very different now? Give them a time limit of three to five minutes to discuss this. Circulate and listen to the students doing the task, but do not correct any language at this moment.
Aim: For students to prepare an oral report of their task.
Tell the students that they must work together to prepare a summary of their discussion to report to the whole class. They must write notes for this summary and be prepared to report this orally to the rest of the class. Set a time limit of five minutes for them to do this.
Aim: For students to present their reports and find out who was most different 10 years ago.
When the students are ready, ask a spokesperson from each group to report the group’s summary. Tell the class that they must listen to each group’s report and decide at the end of all the reports which students have changed the most in the past 10 years. After all the reports, ask students who they think has changed the most.
Aim: For students to hear a fluent English speaker doing the same task.
Draw the student’s attention back to the photo of you and explain that you are going to ask them to listen to you doing the same task that they did. Play the recording that you made. Ask the students some quick comprehension questions about what they heard.
Aim: To raise students’ awareness about the target language.
Choose two or three sentences from your text, which include the grammar “used to” and write them on the blackboard. For example: I used to go to heavy metal concerts. Check that students understand the meaning of the sentences. This is best done by concept check questions. For example: Did I go to heavy metal concerts in the past? (Yes). At this point you could distribute the script of your story and ask students to find other examples of how you used “used to”. Point out that in English we use “used to” to talk about states and habits that continued for a period of time in the past.
Aim: To give the students some restricted written practice in the target language.
If you feel that your students need some restricted practice, ask them to write down three things that they used to do and three things that they didn’t use to do when they were children. Circulate and monitor. Ask students to check their sentences with each other and elicit some examples to put on the blackboard. Then ask students to work with a partner that they haven’t worked with yet during this class. Tell them to repeat the same task as they did at the beginning of the class, but that they should try to include the target structure “used to” into their speaking. Once students have practiced together, ask a couple to report back to the class what they talked about with their partners.
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