Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Posts tagged ‘advanced’

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy* has been one of my favourite books since I first read the trilogy in five parts at the age of 11. (It also led to me reading A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, because my grandma would only buy me H2G2 if I promised to read A Town Like Alice too!) Since then, I have read all of Douglas Adams’ books, and regularly return to different iterations of them, the latest being the BBC version of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Douglas Adams was a genius, and he is sadly missed.

Douglas Adams -  I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day

When my advanced (C1) class told me they wanted to do some reading, I thought Hitchhiker would be perfect. The activities I put together are in the document below. It contains the complete text of chapter one of the book. No copyright infringement is intended – I only want to introduce the book to as many students as possible!

This activity requires a bit of cutting out beforehand (it’s the activity on page 6 in the document above):

There are also two Quizlet sets, one for general vocabulary from the first chapter. The second set has the collocations from the penultimate section of the chapter.

Overall, we spent about 7 hours on all of the activities, including discussion between them. In the final lesson of the week, we watched the film.

Thinking about it while I write this post, I believe Douglas Adams has had a huge influence on the way that I think. His books were some of the ones that really influenced my teenage years. I don’t know now, but it’s possible that his words were the ones that led me towards being a lover of Macs, or consciously deciding that God doesn’t exist. And his essays on ‘Y’ and on attitudes to technology in The Salmon of Doubt have stuck with me, still memorable 12 years later.

I’ll leave you one of my (many) favourite quotes from Douglas Adams:

“A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”
― Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt

*All book links are to Amazon, and I will get 10% if you buy after clicking these links. Thank you!

Introducing British accents

On my first teaching day at IH Newcastle, at least three different students said this to me:

My friend told me that if I can understand Geordie, I will be able to understand any English.

While I don’t know if this is necessarily true, it started an interesting discussion about accents, and the students observed that my accent was not a local one* (many of them are staying with host families). I decided to put together a set of materials to raise their awareness of the variety of accents in the UK. While it’s not comprehensive, it should provide a jumping off point for students to find out more.

In Class

  • Discuss the questions in small groups. (Almost all of my students wanted to speak English without other people knowing where they were from, prompting a quick side discussion on accent and identity)
  • Place the towns and cities on the map (sorry, no answer key, but Google will tell you if you don’t already know) 😉
  • Look at the paragraphs written in different accents/dialects. Compare them to the Standard English and find one feature of pronunciation plus one words which is particular to that accent (this was meant as a way to play with the accents, and show how different they can be.)
  • Watch and listen to the videos/sound clips (posted below, with links in the document too) and grade them according to the criteria in the table.
  • Mingle and compare your opinions to those of other students in the group.
  • For the final reading, divide the class in half. Half read the first two articles, the other half read the last article. The question is ‘How are these findings similar/different to your own opinions?’

The Videos

These were the best examples I could find, but feel free to add other suggestions to the comments.

Geordie: Gary Hogg – Funny Geordie Monologue

Brummie / Black Country: Allan Ahlberg – Talk Us Through It, Charlotte
External Link: http://www.poetryarchive.org/childrensarchive/ singlePoem.do?poemId=86

West Country: The Wurzels – I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester

Scouse: Craig Charles interview

Tom Stalker is a boxer from Liverpool. In this link you can hear him talking about his preparations for London 2012.

Glaswegian: Regional Dialects Meme – Glasgow

Cockney: Michael Caine (being interviewed by Michael Parkinson)

Yorkshire: Michael Parkinson (interviewing Michael Caine)

Scottish (non-Glasgow): Scottish Voice-Operated Lift

Welsh: Tom Jones

Irish: Dara O’Briain – Controlling Children

Homework

The students went to the excellent British Library Sounds Familiar map, chose a person to listen to and made notes about their accent or dialect to discuss in class the following day.

Extension

Other links I shared on Edmodo were:

I used these materials with an Advanced group, but I think they should be OK for Upper Intermediate upwards, and you could even adapt them for Intermediate.

Enjoy!

*In case you’re interested, I grew up in Wolverhampton, but don’t have a Black Country accent. My family are from all over England, including Gloucester, Essex and the Wirral (near Liverpool). On my gap year I started to lose features of my Black Country accent, and this was consolidated when I went to Durham University. The last step was teaching in Paraguay, where I was teased (lightly!) for my pronunciation of words like ‘bus’ and ‘much’ – the only conscious change I’ve ever made to my accent. Now the Black Country features come and go. You can hear me talk here 😉

Emotions word clouds

I created these word clouds based on The Little Book of Feelings and Emotions which I received at a recent conference as promotional material from Oxford University Press.

I have been using them with my 1-2-1 post-Proficiency student, and we have two questions for you.

Which five-ten of these words/phrases would you be most likely to use?

Are there any which you would never use? Why not?

Thank you!

And as a bonus, I created a downloadable slideshow using the #eltpicsEmotions‘ set on Flickr…

Enjoy!

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