Expanding a textbook exercise

If you’re just starting out in TEFL after passing your Trinity Certificate or CELTA, here’s a little example of how to get more out of your textbook material…that’s if you are even using a textbook and not whipping up your own killer lessons! 🙂

This isn’t meant to be super insightful or boundary-breaking, edge of the envelope stuff. It’s just an example of stretching textbook material to hopefully improve the prospect of the students practising something useful.

(BTW, I despise this textbook for being unbelievably slow, condascending, and out-0f-date…there is constant reference to ‘video tapes’! Plus, we HAVE to use this book. Hate that!)

Anyway, I thought this listening activity was not exactly super-inspiring and wanted to get more out of it with better learner outcomes. I teach in Berlin and German speakers typically have problems using auxiliary verbs  in negative sentences and questions. They also have problems with understanding that ‘haben’ in German can be translated as ‘have got’ in English.

This particular group is 5 classes into an “Ohne Kentnisse” (“without any previous knowledge”) course, so this aspect is something that definitely needed to be introduced and understood. That’s not me prescribing a grammar dictat from the lofty position of all-knowing teacher. The students had been having problems in previous lessons with questions and negatives (understandably translating directly from German to produce things like “Live you in Mitte?” “No, I live not” or “Have you a sister?” “No”) and this seemed to be a nice moment to do an accuracy activity.

This is how the exercise appears in the English Network Starter textbook (Langenscheidt).

Listening Exercise

Listening: What has The White Cliff Hotel got?

cable television satellite television
14 rooms 40 rooms
a restaurant a pub
hairdryers a boutique
an internet web page an email address

Now check your answers with your neighbour and listen again.

So, the way I ran the task was….

1) Starting the exercise by asking students, “What has every hotel got?”, i.e. a bed, reception etc (1min talking in groups of 3 – report back vocab to class)

2) Instructions for exercise and ICQs

3) Listening 1, then check answers with neighbour

4) Listening 2, then check answers with different neighbour

5) Student-led confirmation of correct answers

6) Play CD again and ask Ss to listen for the questions and sentences with ‘not’

7) Ss collectively write Qs and ‘not’ sentences on whiteboard

8. Guided discovery-ish analysis of sentences to highlight use of has got (+ve)/hasn’t got (-ve)/has it got…(?)
and short answers – Yes, it has/No, it hasn’t

9) Ss Pairwork: ask new partners questions about The White Cliff Hotel and must get a full answer if the answer is negative
Has it got a pub?
No, it hasn’t, but it’s got a restaurant

10) Open pairs across class to check everyone’s doing it accurately (although I’d already checked this by monitoring)

11) Asked Ss “How many stars do you think The White Cliff Hotel has got? And WHY?
1 min to talk and after some feedback, Ss agreed on 3 stars.

Asked Ss to write down a list of things with the title “What has a 5 star hotel got?” (2mins in groups of 3)

12) T writes down Ss most popular 5 ideas on board e.g. Jacuzzi, Free massage, Sauna (well, come on, they are German. What did you expect?), free wi-fi etc

13) Ss write down the 5 things on piece of paper. Then they have to put a tick or cross next to each item. (This was so that in the next activity, the Ss would basically be doing an information gap exercise as they all had different items that their hotel did or didn’t have)

14) Roleplay: Hotel telephone booking enquiry
(On post-lesson reflection, I thought that this was an unrealistic and possibly futile task, as nobody books a hotel over the phone anymore, do they? Everyone uses trip advisor etc for enquiries and then a hotel booking site for bookings, don’t they? Anyway, I wanted them to have a little bit more practice with the ‘have got’ idea and also wanted to see how they would get on with opening and closing a call….something even advanced German speakers of English have trouble with in my experience)

Demonstration of activity with good student and T
Half-demo (not all the way through) of activity with good-ish Ss
Receptionist (Teacher): Hello, Hilton Hotel, Can I help you?
Customer (Confident Student): Hello, has the hotel got a sauna?
R: Yes, it has. It’s very big.
C: Is Kostenlos?
R: Do you mean, free?
C: Yes, free.
R: Yes, it’s free for all guests
C: Good. Now, has the hotel got a sauna?
R: No, it hasn’t. I’m sorry.
C: Oh, no.
(Remember that this is an A1 level class!!)

ICQs of timing etc then Mingle activity of this conversation for quick change of partners and VERY noisy classroom!

15) Some feedback from Ss on problems with enquiry or funny things that happened and praised the class for good language use with some examples

16) Teacher-led delayed error correction on board (recurring mistakes gathered while monitoring the mingle).

17) New group activity: In 3’s find out what your friends have got in their house/flat?
We had covered parts of the house in previous lessons, so re-elicited that vocab, boarded and then demoed activity…
T: Have you got 3 bedrooms?
S1: No, I haven’t. I’ve got 2 bedrooms
S2: Have you a big kitchen?
S3: Yes, I have got.
(Teacher silence and facial gesture prompting Peer led Error correction)
S2: Have you got a big kitchen?
S3: Yes, I have.
ICQs, start activity and monitor/assist

18) Ss feedback on what their partner’s house has got, with peer correction of any accuracy problems with ‘has got’

I hope that gives newly-qualified teachers some help in possible ways to vamp up a textbook task to give students more fun, practice and better chance of accurate recall.
If any teachers have got any improvements or critiques, then I’d be happy to hear them in the comments section.

Bren Brennan

About Bren Brennan

Bren initially trained here at SGI and then joined the staff in 2005. Since 2006, he has taught abroad in Budapest, Berlin and now at Mondragon University in Spain. He returns to teach at SGI London every summer and completed the SGI Trinity DipTESOL in 2011. He also regularly writes posts for students here.
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