I REALLY love character builds as a way to introduce a topic. Yesterday there was a text on Speed Dating and so to introduce the topic I drew my friend, a stickgirl, on the board. I elicited from the students that her name was Mary, she was an English girl with long, curly hair and she was a teacher. I then drew an unhappy face and asked them why she wasn’t happy.
“She hasn’t got any money.”
“The crisis, the crisis!”
“She can’t go on holiday.”
So I drew a stickman next to her and explained that it was her ex-boyfriend. I then asked the students to tell me about him and it turns out his name is John, he’s Chinese and he’s very rich because he’s an economist. Anyway, we quickly got rid of him as he had made my friend, Mary, miserable.
So we went back to Mary being unhapy and I explained that she wanted to find love and asked where people go in Cádiz to meet and find romance. They gave me some ideas and, unsurprisingly, Speed Dating wasn’t one of them. So I then invented a reason as to why she couldn’t go to the places they had suggested to find love:
The beach – Mary, being British, has very pale skin and she burns very easily so doesn’t like going to the beach.
A bar – she’s uncomfortable being in bars as she’s not a big drinker and feels silly sitting there with a glass of water.
The cinema – she doesn’t speak good Spanish and as all the films here are dubbed, she can’t watch them in the cinema.
The park – she hasn’t got a dog and feels a bit silly walking round the park aimlessly.
In the street – she’s a little suspicious of meeting men on the street.
Poor Mary! So then I told them that I had suggested Speed Dating. Nobody had heard of it, which led on perfectly to the first activity, which was a short text about what Speed Dating is and how it works. The character build was a fun way to introduce a topic which was new to the students, and it involved them from the start.