I have a wonderful C1 group this year who aren’t currently interested in the CAE exam or GESE but simply want to keep up their level of English. The classes are largely communicative, with discussions on various themes and slightly Dogme-esque*, but they’re also looking to revise grammatical points, increase their vocabulary and focus on aspects of pronunciation.
It was with this last point in mind that I was searching on the Internet last week and I came across a gem from lescouleurs on BusyTeacher.org – a story incorporating the various pronunciations of “ough”. Inspired, I set about writing my own story. Here’s a lesson outline and the material used:
1. Give learners a copy of the story and ask them to underline all the incidences of “ough” without worrying about understanding the story or vocabulary.
2. Read the text to the learners, then show them the different pronunications of “ough”. They then work in pairs to categorise the words according to the pronunciation – it often helps to read the story a couple more times whilst they’re doing this.
3. Feedback and drill the pronunciation. Then check any vocabulary queries.
4. Give learners time to practise reading the text alone, then to a partner and as a whole group.
5. Follow on with some creative writing: learners write the next sentence of the story, then swap papers. Do this perhaps four or five times until the last person writes the ending to the story.
6. Quickly underline any mistakes in their texts and give the stories back to pairs to error-correct – this also works well if done a number of times; so one pair checks a story and puts it back in the middle of the table, w second pair reads through their corrections, etc.
7. As a final stage, I asked learners to read out the stories and then discuss which they thought was the most realistic, the most romantic, which had the best ending, etc.
*I say Dogme-esque because the thought of going into a class with nothing scares me witless, so I always have a starting point in mind (and generally a handout!)