I was just on Facebook to Stew when I stumbled across a video… and bingo, here’s a nice task for you learners: Tell a story about something two of you did together. OK, you don’t really have to have done this, ok? You can make it up – invent it. So: It should be a long event with lots of interesting details. Put the details on cards. Sort them into the sequence they “happened in”. Then tell your story. But the rule is: You’re not allowed to complete any sentence, your partner has to pick up and finish it for you. Then he or she continues the story, and you finish the sentence, back and forth.
Watch the first minute of Kermit and Fozzie doing just that here:
Discussion: How do you feel about completing your partner’s sentences, and about your partner completing yours? Does it feel like you are interrupting each other? Do you mind it when others complete your sentences for you in real life? What does it depend on?
Handling pairwork: How do you sort things out when you are not happy with your partner’s part of the story? Language tip: “Well, what actually happened was that we…” “But then…”
You can do this exercise in writing, too, of course: You start writing a story about the two of you, and your partner has to continue.
Pigeon Impossible, the silent animated film by Lucas Martell released on 9 November that took 4 years to make, passed the 1 million views mark on YouTube after less than 2 weeks online. The film is set in the neighborhood of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., where two of my nieces and I spent an enjoyable afternoon in October. I grew up in Cold War D.C. – I hope other teachers haven’t had exactly the same idea yet: Here’s my contribution of a lesson plan to the upcoming EFL blog carnival.
Target group: Adult education, Business English(group and one-to-one)
Level: multilevel, ca. B2
Language goals: 1. Speaking 2. report writing 3. spy/ thriller vocabulary (a one-to-one student is reading Le Carré) 4. predictions; 5. could/ coudn’t/ was able to (describing general ability vs. single achievements)
Pre 2: Hypothesize content of film. Brainstorm spy and Cold War vocabulary (e.g. for reference: to gather intelligence, secret agent, espionage, operation, operative, screen someone, be in disguise, conceal your identity, code/decode, crack codes, cypher/decypher, wiretap, detect surveillance, brief/debrief; Cold War, Berlin Wall, Iron Curtain, Star Wars, rocket, target, cruise missile, explosives)
During: Watch film, and stop at likely places to ask “What will happen next?”
Watch film to about 1:50. Look at still of pigeon inside the briefcase. Collect and write up predictions (note grammar: I think, will probably, is likely to). (If teaching a group, let separate groups develop and present their scenarios.)
Watch to about 2:32 (pigeon has discovered that the suitcase can fly and is armed; man finds bagel again). Again, predict.
Watch to 4:04 (bagel has hit red button, Washington Monument turns into launching pad, rocket is underway to Russia). Again, predict.
Post 1: Reconstruct and summarize what happened: Contrast outcomes with predictions “I/we thought he would… and/but he…”
Post 2: Write “Incident on F Street” on the board. Make three columns. Headers: pigeon could, man couldn’t, man was able to
Tell students they are the man and will have to write a report to their line manager about the unforseen incident with the pigeon. (If you’re teaching a group, do this in pairs.) Tell them to concentrate on describing what the pigeon
could do with the additional powers at its disposal,
what they (as the man) couldn’t do to interfere and
what they (as the man) were ultimately able to do to stop pigeon and end the incident
Note grammar: contrast “could” for general ability with “was able to” for ability in a specific situation; couldn’t is more natural for negatives.
Have them use the film stills as guides. If they ask for it, watch the whole film again as they finalize their notes. Then they write reports. They pair up with another group to read each other their reports.
At least that’s what I’m planning to do. This is an action enquiry. I’ll let you know how it went later on this week in the comments. If you’re using this film in a different way, or have other ideas about how you would, I’d be delighted to read about it.
I broke my vow not to hang out on Twitter. Well, I had a fun conversation about the iTabletiThing Apple is unveiling today, asking what people thought it should be called. I thought iPad would work. Andy H thought they should go with iLash, or iShadow, iBrow, or iDrofoil. The iDrofoil? a waterproof version? No, said Ken W: “surely waterproof version is iWash, isn’t it? Maybe Apple will produce s’thing really ugly for a change & call it iSore.” Not a chance. Andy: “Or the iChing (or given the amount of money that company makes, the iKerching)” and “Or given the enthusiasm/fundamentalism that many users show, the iDolatry would seem most fitting”. True. Debbie C said iWant, Petra P mentioned iCandy and I thought iBuy now, iPay later, maybe. Aimee R said iPad made her think of PMS. Meanwhile Phil Hwas busily adding little “i”s in front of every word. And I was finishing the most depressing exercise I’ve ever written. Thank heaven we have Twitter.