Rhythm, intonation, word stress… are those aspects of spoken language that the teacher of English in a Secondary School in Spain frequently forgets while he/she (after some long years of their university studies) is in his/her daily warfare to attract the attention of the students. A great loss, indeed, since the learner, whose only language he/she is in contact with is the teacher’s, will be trained in the foreign idiom speech rhythm (a stress timed language in this case) with the rhythm of the Spanish language, a syllable timed one.
Consequently, it was tempting to pay attention to these features of verbal communication through some appealing and ingenious activities, especially that one where we had to put the stress on some imaginary words, that other where we observed how a change in the stress of a sentence may modify its meaning, or that one where we realized the relativity of word stress in connected speech.
Poor students… God knows the quality of the language they receive from us, teachers…That’s why we made a firm promise: to be aware of and make students aware as much as possible of these linguistic elements such as rhythm, intonation and word stress when teaching from now on.
On the other hand, we also had the opportunity to gain knowledge of the procedure to introduce in our lessons the practice of “a controversial class debate”. Taking the example of “euthanasia” as a discussion topic, the teacher showed the graded preparation which may lead our scholars to this kind of activities. We went through an introductory-warm up general discussion first, after having been asked some questions related to concrete situations dealing with this theme and then, we performed an amusing role-play debate where a very well trained nun actress showed her ability to persuade the rest of the group.
Finally, after a very funny “sentence auction” used to point out the grammar mistakes we had made during the previous talking activity, we fixed on the next meeting for next Tuesday. See you there!!!.
P.S. Breaks are improving. The cookies and hot drink was enjoyable. Next time it is going to be a real “Tea time”.
by Adelaida Blasco