What am I supposed to do with this?

I want to continue on the how-to-get-ideas theme or series or whatever I’m doing.  I promised a friend that I would write a post on how to adapt an advanced lesson and materials to a basic class.  Another friend said she wished she had a book for that. So do I. Maybe I’ll write one – but not today.  Today I will talk about how to change things around so that you – the beginning teacher, or the experienced teacher that can’t think of one.more.lesson. today.

I decided to use “Instant Lessons 3 advanced” by Deirdre Howard-Williams, Mary Tomalin, Peter Watcyn-Jones and Edward Woods. It is from Penguin English Photocopiables series.  I chose this book because it is on the bookshelf in my school. I am going to adapt Good Manners around the world.  Good manners are alway a good thing, and my students would probably find other countries customs interesting.

I’m going to be paraphrasing and shorting the instructions quite a bit.

The introduction should take 5 minutes:  We are to tell the class an embarrassing story about and tell what it shows us. If we don’t want to tell a story of our own, we can talk about a “friend” who was in Greece and went to a friend’s home around 3 in the afternoon. Imagine his embarrassment when he realized he had gotten his friends out of bed where they were having their siesta.  Then introduce the idea of different customs, habits and ways of life.  Ask if anyone else has and amusing story.

This introduction would not work in my class.  Getting three sentences in a row is a major achievement. Instead of a story, I would get some pictures, probably off the internet, of people greeting each other (bowing, shaking hands, hand on heart, kissing and hugging), and eating (chopsticks, knife and fork, hands) If I had a computer with power point or prezi in my classroom I would put them on that, if I didn’t I would print them out and laminate them or use clear tape to protect them.  With the computer I would show a picture and ask the class what they saw.  Of course I would accept one word answers. If I didn’t have a computer I would put the students in small groups, and have them present the pictures to the class. Of course  I would help them with the language.

The Presentation (10 minutes) has Activity A- a quiz:

1. If you are invited to a British home for dinner at 7:30 p.m. it is polite to arrive…

a) at about 7 p.m. for drinks b) at anytime after 8 p.m. c) at about 7:35 p.m

2. If a Japanese man gives you his business card, you should

a) not read it in front of him and put it in your pocket b) read it carefully and put it on the table in front of you. c) memorized the name then throw the card away

3. When you are introduced to someone from the Middle East, you should..

a) shake hands b) bow formally c) embrace the person warmly

4. If you are invited to a French friend’s home for dinner, you should…

a) take chocolates or a bottle of wine b) take nothing but thank them warmly afterwards c) take a bouquet of red roses or chrysanthemums.

Now my students would not be able to read this quiz. They certainly wouldn’t be able to complete it in 10 minutes.  So what could I do?  Well, Activity B is about Do’s and Don’ts.  I don’t think my students would be able to do Activity B or read the excerpt that they provide.

So instead of doing having each student do a quiz for 10 minutes  or read the paragraph and do the second activity, I would make a worksheet that would have:

Continent                                         Do                                                                                Don’t





I would then give them a word list and go over the word list in class– bow, shake hands, on time, gifts, etc.  Then put them in groups of 4 or 6 and have them fill out the form with the words from the word list.  This should take 20 or 30 minutes.  I always make my students do a presentation, so I would then use the remaining time having the students give a presentation on their findings.

There –  easy peasey.  It just takes using part of the idea, adding something you saw a long time ago (or yesterday) and a little creativity.

Next post is going to be about something fun.


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