Monday, January 18, 2010

Would you be so kind as to not be so polite when you talk me, dear?

Monday – Foreign Communication Class

Today was my first Monday class of 2010, and I think it went well. As I have already mentioned before, Monday’s and Friday’s classes follow the same pattern except that Monday’s class is about two weeks behind. So today, we started with a review quiz of unit 9 on apologizing. This took a little while longer than expected, but this may have been due to the fact that for the fill-in-the-blank exercise, I did not give them a clue (I usually give them the first letter). The second question was a sentence reordering type, which was also a little harder than usual because some questions had two sentences rather than just the one.

After collecting the tests, I dictated the questions for unit 11, a unit on polite English and requests. As usual, I put the questions and answers on the board for everyone to see. Next, I wrote four requests, well one could be called a command, on the board and asked them which one would be the most polite and which one would be the least polite. Here are the requests/command:

Can you open the door?
Would you be so kind as to open the door, please?
Could you open the door?
Open the door.

I then asked them to look at the utterances and tell me what differences they could find. The answer I was looking for was length, as it is common in English to lengthen a request to make it more polite. However, I accepted two other responses regarding the lack of a question mark, and the difference in modal verbs because they, too, are necessary for politeness.

The next activity was from the book – it was a fill-in-the-blank dictation task. There were four questions, and the students seemed to have no problem with this activity except for the last question whose answer was ‘I’m wondering if you could…’ which I had to play a third time because many students could not catch it. I have to say though that despite the book having ‘I’m wondering if…’ I feel that this is somewhat strange, and that personally, I would say ‘I was wondering if…’ However, this may just be a case of idiolect. Which one would you use?

After we had corrected this task, I handed out the conversation construction worksheets and gave them 6 minutes to practice and remember the conversation that they had to make. This brings up a question that I have been thinking about and should really research – How much time would you say a student needs to remember 3 or 4 fairly short lines of a conversation? I would think that between 5 to 10 minutes would be enough, but let me know what you think.

Once we finished the presentations, I handed out the worksheet on disappearing sounds. I told them that knowing about these sounds would be helpful when listening to English because I think we can all agree that English has many such sounds. First, I wrote an example on the board:

I can’t come tonight.

I then circled the two final t’s of can't and tonight, and had them repeat after me first slowly, pronouncing all sounds clearly, and then quickly reducing the t’s. I gave them enough time to work on with a partner, about 5 or so minutes, and then I went around the room checking their answers before having them go up to the board to write them. After that, I had them again repeat each sentence/question twice, first slowly and clearly and then quickly with the disappearing sounds.

Dogme ELT Video

I would like to mention that Part 7 A and B have been re-uploaded to youtube (thank you Nicole!), so I have embedded them into my previous blog on that subject.

Thank you!

I would finally like to thank everyone for their comments/links and for becoming a follower. I know I have responded to the comments individually, but I thought I’d give another shout out to you all.


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