Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Teaching Unplugged Activity - “Textplosion”

My Monday morning course is a “technical” English course that is actually very free. As long as the students are happy and learning English, there is no text or material requirement and no test at the end of the course.

Usually, in the class, we read target-language articles about new technology in the students' field and then have a variety of activities for discussion. The problem with this set up is that we usually have to read two pages of text before we can get to the fun, communicative activities (instead of the summarizing and predicting). With this is mind, I have been looking for a way to make the process of going through the text more interesting and making the language more accessible.

I used an activity based on the “Textplosion” activity on page 66 of Teaching Unplugged, along with a modified dictation activity. I printed the first sentence of an article we were going to start on to individual word-cards, and then I mixed them all up. I gave them to the students and asked them to tell me, based on the words they saw, what the article would be about. One student pointed out that it was a little difficult because there were so many “small words,” and not so many “important” words. So, from there, I had them separate the word cards into “small words” (or “grammar words”) and “important words” (or “content words”). Once they had done that, I read the original sentence out loud and had them put the content words in order. After, I read it again, and they filled in the grammar words.

This activity worked really well on the day I tried it, because the two students who showed up were the least advanced, and usually, they have a little trouble keeping up. This activity made the text very accessible, and helped them feel successful about their language. Since it didn't require as much instant comprehension, and because we worked with the same text for the entire class period, they were able to process it and understand it by the time they left.