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Some problems with functions and speech acts
and some solutions through pragmatics to help
upper intermediate learners
by Greg Gobel
- lesson plan 2

Learner Profiles:  
The class:
There were only four learners in the class when we started in October. Now, there are seven. The increase has been gradual, with Adriana joining after about two weeks, Marta P. joining in early November and Soledad joining at the end of November. Jose, Marta and Irene were all in an intermediate class together last year. They have told me that they had a teacher that encouraged them to speak Spanish (because this would help her learn Spanish) and did not try to establish a heavily English-speaking atmosphere in the class. Being used to that, they are having trouble trying to reduce their use of Spanish in class. We have experimented with some learner training awareness activities in the hopes that showing them why relying on a lot of Spanish in class can be a hindrance to their learning. Although they say they understand, we still have a long way to go, taking little steps along the way. Most of the class are between 16 and 18 years old, except Soledad, who is a bit older.

Jose is enthusiastic for both English and Spanish in the lessons. He does usually engage with the material, whether it is from the coursebook or supplementary. He especially enjoys historical topics. He is going to take the selectividad exam later in the school year and has asked if we can do some practice for that as the time approaches.

Marta struggles with English syntactical structure, and tends not to remember much vocabulary from previous lessons. She rarely does her homework and has a erratic attendance. She thoroughly relishes speaking Spanish in class, and considers class more a time for socializing with her friends from last year rather than an opportunity to practice English. Marta wants to be involved in child care and does not have any intention of using English in her future job.

Irene is especially interested in speaking Spanish in class.She often comes late to class by about 5 to 15 minutes. Recently she has missed several classes due to school exams and holidays. I am worried that she is not making that much progress, and also a bit worried that she does not seem to care. I have talked with her about these issues, and she says she is aware of them, but does not That said, Irene has an effervescent personality and tends to give most tasks a go for a few minutes until reverting to Spanish. She wants to be a flight attendant. This would be worked into class content if she came to class more predictably. Possibly for after the winter break, I will have a lesson with flying/flight attendant

Lucia struggles sometimes with the tense system, but takes her learning quite seriously. She has plans of becoming a lawyer, and knows that English may be important later in life. She always does her homework, quite thoroughly, and is very receptive to feedback and correction.

Adriana also does her homework regularly. She originally did not intend on using Spanish in class, but has been tempted too often by the group of three that has carried their Spanish-speaking over from last year. She and I have talked about this, and she knows her original intention would be more beneficial linguistically, but she said she does not want to be thought of ‘strangely’ or isolated by the group of three. Marta Marta works hard and enjoys using English in class, generally. However, she can turn off without indication and drift into daydreaming about her other interests. Amongst the learners, probably she and Adriana tend to use Spanish least. She especially enjoys break dancing and music, U2 and Bono being particular favorites.

Soledad is the most recent learner to join the class. She said that she studied English for a while up to about seven years ago, and then stopped. She feels she has lost a lot of her former knowledge and abilities. Like many of the other learners, she has particular difficulties with the Cutting Edge listening texts. Soledad is several years older than the other learners. Her attendance is rather erratic.

Classroom Aids:

To a Word doc of the materials used

  • Tape recorder
  • Tape with dialogue
  • White board
  • White board pens
  • Tape with background music for some tasks
  • Picture cutouts for ordering
  • Chart for expressions
  • Gap fill for expressions
  • OHP
  • OHT chart
  • OHT video camera visual cut ups.
  • OHT phrases
  • OHT Best Buy
  • Role cards

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To a Word doc of the materials used

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