Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 5: Working with Oral and Aural skills

Hello again, everyone!
This is Week 5 of CALL's Technology in Education's on-line discoveries. See here for my introduction to CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). This week's topic is oral and aural skills. Students benefit from on-line resources such as hearing letter sounds pronounced correctly, e.g. on this British phonemic chart.  American and British English are compared here. For some activities and projects sound effects will be more appropriate than phonetic utterances.  Freesound offers a random sound of the day on its "browse" page and requires the user to search by topic. FindSounds offers an extensive menu on its home page, including a "mayhem" section.
Other sites, such as Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab, ello and Real English feature dialogues with accompanying exercises and quizzes.

For this week's assignment I created an oral skills activity based on a "grammatical video".
The activity is student interviews with a focus on the verb tenses and vocabulary learned in class. (The activity is not designed to be completed in one class hour. The time required will vary based on the number of students in the class.)
The activity is based on Real English, Lesson 46: "Yesterday"
"A 'grammatical video' featuring 16 people using the past simple forms. Includes the use of ago."
The website is called Real English because the people featured are "real people", native speakers of English in everyday settings, who agree to be briefly interviewed and filmed. The interview question in Lesson 46 is, "What did you do yesterday?"
The video clip in this lesson is just under three and a half minutes long and is followed by 19 exercises. Each exercise is a very short excerpt from the clip, followed by a question or two about the excerpt. The excerpts may be replayed as many times as is necessary to understand the content. The questions are accompanied by guiding hints and/or explanations.

To start the activity, the video will be projected onto a screen for the class to view together and some, whatever the class can do in 20 minutes, of the 19 exercises will be completed. For the current activity the main purpose of the exercises is to give the students guidance for their projects. If more computers are available for student use, or if the Real English Lesson is being used as one of several stations, then students may work in small groups or individually.
After the exercises, the class will discusses possible questions modeled on "What did you do yesterday?", vote on a question and separate into groups of four or five, depending on the number of students in the class. If the class is capable of quickly deciding on several questions, up to as many questions as there are groups, that is an option.
In the Real English interviews in Lesson 46, the grammatical tense is controlled by the question, "What DID you do yesterday?" Not surprisingly a varied selection of responses using the past simple tense was the result. For their projects students will tailor their questions, and answers, to a tense they are studying. Students may put themselves in a setting and invent answers.

Pretending to stand on the street, as in the video:
Where WERE you GOING before I asked you for this interview? (past progressive)
I was going to my office.
I was walking to school.
I was jogging to the park.

Using vocabulary about professions:
What WILL you DO after you graduate university? (simple future)
I will be a doctor and work in a hospital.
I will be a teacher and teach in a school.
I will be an actor/actress and perform in plays.

The question can be changed slightly but significantly if students do not want to vary their projects much from the Real English model: What did you do last summer, last week, during your last vacation, etc.
The four/five members of each group will take turns being the interviewer, interviewees and video-camera (Smartphone) person.
Using the exercises in the Real English Lesson as a guide, each group will compose three questions based on the members' responses to the original interview question. Each group will present their video to the rest of the class and ask them the three questions.
All of the questions asked by an interviewer are in the second person singular and all of the answers by an interviewee are in the first person singular. The questions asked ABOUT the interview provide an opportunity to utilize other conjugations:
What was she doing before the interview?
Who will be a doctor after graduating university?
Was (student's name) jogging to the park before the interview?

Have a wonderful week of inspiring discoveries,

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