Here is my suggestion for how to best use ChanceEnglish and structure your lessons. Download the Lesson Record, give a copy to each student, and follow the stages:
1. Source Material
Start the lesson as you normally would by checking homework and with a warm up activity. I usually just ask some warm up questions.
If you have an internet connection and a computer in your classroom you can use this site as intended, by generating the content in lesson. If you don’t you could print or download the content beforehand. Click on the ‘Go’ button to generate video, audio, picture, and text. Allow the learners to choose what content they are most interested in and record what content they chose.
The description section is designed to guide the learners in analysing their chosen content. By analysing the content, they will engage with the material and draw on schematic knowledge. They will be better equipped to brainstorm language and think of a related task.
3. Language Brainstorm
Most of the language will come from the learners and content but this is a good opportunity to monitor, offer suggestions and give error correction as needed.
This section is perhaps the most difficult, depending upon your learners. You’re asking them to take charge and decide what they want to do in the lesson. Initially your learners might struggle to think of ideas and may even be resistant to the idea of a student led lesson. Encourage and support them. Offer ideas for tasks relating to the chosen content if they need it.
This is the part of the lesson where the learners will do their chosen task. To what extent you get involved will vary depending upon the group of learners. Monitor and assist as you see fit. It’s a good idea to make your own notes and think about what feedback you’ll give. For example, you may just want to give instantaneous feedback to individuals and groups during the task, or you may want to wait until after the task and give feedback to the whole group.
Depending upon the type of task and how many groups you have, you may ask the learners to present and share what they have done. For example, if a group wrote a short skit about ordering food at a drive through, it would make sense to perform the skit.
It’s essential the learners reflect on what they have done for two reasons. Firstly, if they don’t reflect on the experience they may not appreciate the value of what they’ve accomplished. Secondly, as you’re not following a textbook, this will be where the lesson language content is recorded. You may not be following a traditional syllabus but it’s still a language course.
The categories of ‘Favourites, Challenges, and Questions’ are taken directly from Meddings’ and Thornbury’s ‘Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching’ (2009).
· Favourites: Learners should record any language they liked and found useful during the lesson.
· Challenges: Learners should record any language they found difficult.
· Questions: Learners should record any questions they have for the teacher.
After recording this information on the Lesson Record, ask the learners to come to the front and write something for favourites, challenges, and questions under the relevant headings on the board. Alternatively, they could share verbally with the teacher or discuss in groups. This section provides a summary for the lesson and an opportunity to give feedback.
If your learners are independent and motivated they can likely set themselves homework, but you might need to offer up some ideas. Just like in a regular lesson, homework is an important tool in giving learners more practice and should be a natural extension of what occurred in the lesson. For example, if the task was planning a vacation, the learners could go online and find out about local hotels, or they could go through the process of booking flights (fill in the form and screen-print; not actually book of course).
If this procedure doesn’t work for you and you have another way of using Chance English, please let me know. I welcome suggestions and will share your ideas here so others can benefit too.