Last Tuesday we started with a WARMING UP ACTIVITY, as funny as usual.
Everybody sat in a circle. Tim started a short dialogue with the person on the right:
Tim: This is a pen
A: A what?
Tim: A pen.
A. Aaaaaah a pen!
Then, again Tim, A and B practised the same dialogue but the answers had to go back to Tim.
Tim: This is a pen.
A: A what?
B: A what?
A: A what?
Tim: A pen
A: A pen.
B. A pen
A: A pen
Tim : Aaaaah a pen!
A: Aaaaah a pen
B: Aaaaah a pen
A: Aaaaah a pen
Thus, the dialogue moved forward and backward so that everybody took part in it.
The game complicated a bit more as a second dialogue (similar to the first but instead of saying a pen we said ´a cup´) moved around from the left to the right. Everybody had to pay attention as you had to answer the person on your right and the person on your left. The funniest part of this game was for people sitting in the middle as they had to move their head from the right to the left very quickly, trying to answer as fast as possible. (Do you remember Pilar?)
After this ´stressing´ activity we practised a LISTENING ACTIVITY. It was a useful activity that we can prepare on our own. It consists of a text with some mistakes. We read it aloud and the students have to say ´STOP´ when they find a mistake
After that, Tim gave us a long list of IDEAS FOR SPEAKING ACTIVITIES:
1. Twenty questions. It has several variations:
· Animal, vegetable or mineral /· Famous people /· Jobs / Countries /· Famous person or job stuck on the back of each student
One student thinks of an object, job, famous people, etc. The rest have to make up to twenty questions. The answers can only be ´yes´ or ´no´. 2. Alibi game. First set the scene: a murder took place last night (give details). Explain that the police are going to cross-question three suspects. Divide them into three groups of policemen (3 in each) and three suspects. Then the suspects sit together and prepare the alibi while police prepare questions to ask them. Very important that both the alibis and the questions are as detailed as possible. When they´re ready, the suspects sit down one at each group and get them to start the cross questioning. After a reasonable amount of time the suspects rotate for more questioning. Finally the police have to decide who, when, how and why commited the crime.
3. Call my bluff. Teams prepare definition for unknown words. The other teams must spot which is the true definition for each word.
4. Desert Island Survival: Pyramid discussion to decide on a number of the most important things to have with you on a desert island. Different versions: the NASA game and survival in the desert.
5. The ´kettle´ game. The word ´kettke´ (or any word or nonsense word of your choice) is substituted for another word. Students ask questions about the ´kettle´ word to find out what it stands for.
6. Balloon debate: Each student chooses a famous person. All students have to be that famous person; all are in a balloon that is gradually losing height over a shark-infested sea Only one person will survive, the rest must jump. Students have to persuade all the rest to let them be the one to stay on the balloon.
7. Yes and No game: A students sits in the hot seat and answers a barrage of questions without once saying either yes or no.
8. The lying game: On the board you have to wirte five or six sentences about yourself, some of them false, and preferably all of them a little improbable (e.g. I can speak Chinese, I can windsurf, I have been married twice and have four children). The students have to find the true and the false statements by asking as many questions as possible, and also that you are going to lie about the false ones. At the end they vote for which statements they thought were true.
9. Picture dictations: Many variations possible – they dictate a picture to their partners that you give them; they dictate a picture from their imagination, the person dictating also drawing his own picture so that they can be compared afterwards; people dictate different parts of a picture which is then assembled.
10. Password: In three groups they write a short list of whatever you stipulate (e.g adjectives, titles of songs or films, - or any vocabulary list you want to revise). Give each group a new list. They now have to define or explain to you all the items on their new list ... when you get one right they move on to the next. The first group to finish is the winner.
11. Spot the difference: two similar pictures with differences.
Finally, we talked about TASK-BASED LEARNING.
We made a brainstorming of communication objectives or purposes. Tim wrote them down on the blackboard, dividing them into three different categories:
a) Those which are TRANSACTIONAL. These includes communication objectives in which the speakers want or need to get something concrete from each other. We mentioned for instance:
· Asking for something
· Giving or getting practical information
· Persuading somebody to do something.
· Planning future arrangements
b) Those which are INTERACTIONAL. There is an exchange of information and the speakers get no concrete benefit from it. For instance:
· Giving opinions.
· Agreeing and disagreeing.
· Talking about past experiences.
c) However there are some communication objectives that can be included in both categories:
· Confirming messages.
· Making small talks.
· Introducing somebody.
We can see that classrooom interaction is generally artificial as almost none of the interaction is genuinely transactional or genuinely interactional. The focus is on learning language (Language-based learning). However, task-based learning is much more useful as it is based on authentic real life tasks. Learners achieve an objective which is non-linguistic. The activities are not controlled and they are much more flexible since there are many elements involved: grammar, connectors, vocabulary, registers, body language, different attitudes.
In order to check what a Task-Based Learning meant, we made an activity in groups of three.One member of the group was shown a model of a ship and she had to explain to the other two how to make a similar one. They had to draw, fold, cut and sellotape following some instructions. It was funny to see the different versions of the original ship.