One of the difficulties when tackling an EFL adult elementary lesson is how to work on simple language without things being too simplistic. All too often, published ELT materials cover the same boring old ground that these students probably had (and failed) to learn when they were 12 years old.
Where are you from? How many brothers/sisters do you have? What hobbies do you have? What’s your favourite television programme?
So for a while now, I’ve been trying to find ways of making the adult elementary classroom more mature, while still keeping the challenge at an appropriate level. After all, the students aren’t children and they aren’t stupid; they just don’t have a high level of English (yet!).
This Monday I taught an elementary group for a one-off 90-minute lesson (their normal teacher was away). The students were from all over the world and had all started at SGI that very morning. The conditions were ripe for getting to know each other better!
I wanted things to be personalised, creative and appropriate for adults’ cognitive abilities and senses of humour. So this is what we did, in 3 easy steps…
1. Getting to know you: the ‘lies’ game
I introduced myself as Danielle (the teacher I was covering). They looked on their timetables and saw that, yes, Danielle was due to be their teacher that morning. I shook my head, crossed out ‘Danielle’ on the board and told them my name is actually Laura. They laughed. I elicited and concept-checked ‘a lie’ and ‘to lie’.
I wrote 3 sentences on the board about me. Two were true; one was false. (You might know this popular get-to-know-you activity…) I checked students understood the words ‘true’ and ‘false’, and in pairs, they set about guessing which of my 3 sentences was the false one.
After this demonstration, the students played the game themselves in pairs, like this:
First, each student wrote 3 sentences about him/herself, including 1 lie, and I went around monitoring to check they understood the task and that their sentences were grammatical.
Once their sentences were ready, they had to say (not show) them to their partners (to get them speaking a bit, using language they were confident was correct). Their partners had to ask questions to discover the lie!
2. Lies to tell small kids
I showed the students the book* I’d brought to class:
I explained its purpose. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s just a humorous book of illustrations of silly things you could tell small children which they’d probably believe.)
I gave each pair an example illustration, but from which I’d removed the book’s caption. They had to try and work out what the lie was. After some speculation in pairs, I revealed the following page from the book…
3. Create your own!
By now, the students got the idea. I gave each pair a different illustration from the book and they had to create their own lies to go with the illustrations.
(This pair had 2 good suggestions for lies which their picture might represent, so they wrote them both!)
I won’t tell you what the original captions were – you’ll have to buy/find the book! 🙂
* ‘Loads More Lies to Tell Small Kids’ is the sequel to ‘Great Lies to Tell Small Kids‘, both written and illustrated by Andy Riley, who also created the ‘Bunny Suicides’ series, another collection of humorous illustrations.