It was time to begin a new Unit of the course book, which involves teaching students to describe people’s appearances focusing on the head (hair features, facial features, etc.).
I decided to do so through a task-based approach because I was quite sure my students had already been introduced at least to the parts of the body. First of all, I drew some faces on the board while they were getting settled for the lesson, which made them very interested in making their comments about the faces, so I asked them to do so in English.
Then, I elicited and boarded the vocabulary they were supposed to know, such as:
- hair: long, short, curly, wavy, straight, blonde, dark, red, etc.
- parts of the face
- other facial features: beard, mustache, glasses, ponytail, hat, bald, etc.
Finally, I told them they were going to play Guess Who? but in English. They were very excited, but they needed to know the language for that. Therefore, I had to ask them how they play the game in L1 and how to “translate” that to L2. They gave me more or less the grammar they needed, though I had to polish it a little and drill:
- Has he/she got _____ (hair)?
- Is he/she wearing _____?
This is what my whiteboard looked like after all the input:
(If there is something I learned during the Delta was that we need to always improve our board skills. Is there a board course we can do somewhere?)
They played it in small groups and used the language, even though there were some mistakes, such as:
- Not doing the inversion for questions (She has got brown hair?)
- Saying “Has he got bald?”
After that, we had to use the course book to do some grammar and writing exercises. I must confess it is a little bit frustrating not having enough time to work on error correction and really use what they have produced in order to teach them. We have a syllabus to cover and, unfortunately, there is still the culture that if there isn’t a course book to follow, then the school is not “serious” or “trustworthy”.
In an ideal scenario, I would have them draw a picture of a friend or family member and write a short text describing him/her to present and display in the classroom. They could also create their own Guess Who? game using cardboard to play with during the break. I would also take them to the library to get a book, read it and then describe their favourite characters, and we could even extend the language to personality adjectives, abilities and expand their language in a much more meaningful and memorable way.
However, the reality is that next week we’ve got revision, tests and more exercises to do, but nothing can stop me from squeezing in something different for the sake of my students’ learning.