Day Four, I was left to hang

by celtaconfessions

First to go was Ingmar.

Aim: to practise reading comprehension & improve speaking skills. Book reference: New Headway, Pre-Intermediate, p18-19 (jigsaw reading)


  • Great opening with a video of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”. This created interest and set the context before actual reading tasks.
  • Graded language well.
  • Clear comprehension questions.
  • Clear discussion questions.
  • Adapted coursebook well.

Could be better:

  • He had prepared 3 texts, and had been banking on 9 students. I’d mentioned before, I think, that it’s essential to prepare yourself for all possibilities. When you’re “on the floor”, if you aren’t prepared, you may get stumped for ideas, which was what happened to Ingmar. He had two possibilities – he could get two of the observing teachers, or he could have gone 2+2+3; instead he did neither and opted for using only two texts. Unfortunately, this caused a little confusion, especially when students saw three “answers” and didn’t understand what was going on.
  • Instructions. Possible because of the above, some instructions were not readily understood. he’d had a go at some ICQs (well done, Ingmar, if you’re reading) but not enough, according to the tutor.
  • Too front-loaded. Students should have had more time to confer and discuss among themselves.

Advice coming from the feedback session:

  • Early PW is important. Students often do not get the chance to practise speaking outside of class and the last time they spoke in English is likely to be in the previous class. So, it’s good to get them into gear, so to speak.
  • Practising reading comprehension is not a vocabulary lesson. Blocking lexis (vocabulary which impedes the ability to answer the comprehension questions) must be dealt with, but if it isn’t essential, it is quite all right to tell students, if they asked for its meaning, “Don’t worry about it. You can answer the comprehension questions without the need to know the meaning of that word.”
  • There are two main ways of dealing with blocking lexis:
  1. Provide a glossary with the text. If doing this, be sure to highlight the words in the text. If this isn’t done, chances are that they won’t be noticed, or will be ignored.
  2. Test the students. A matching activity is a good way of getting students to work out meaning from the context.

Next to go was Al

Aim: to revise present simple, to express annoying habits that people have + vocabulary of bad habits. To practise listening comprehension. Book reference: New Headway, Pre-Intermediate, p20.


  • Good language grading. Al actually spoke slower and clearer today. (Well done, boy!)
  • Introduced the subject well by giving examples of habits which annoy him such as his girlfriend ringing him when he’s out having a great time – drinking – (did you draw a picture of this, Al? I don’t remember this well) and leaving his sunglasses at home (using realia) on a sunny day.
  • Early PW on what they find annoying
  • 3rd person feedback on the above
  • Fantastic rapport with students
  • Visuals to convey bad habits
  • Dealt with technical issues well – the sound files didn’t work, so Al read the listening text himself. Good thing to have the script at hand!
  • Students conferred after the listening comprehension.

Could be better:

  • Your maths, AL! Remember how you took 10 minutes off your 40-minute slot? Shame I didn’t have the camera then. And we were trying to catch your attention without either Ian or the students realising?
  • Meaning of “annoy” conveyed, but not the form nor the pronunciation (or was the latter done?)

Advice from the feedback session:

  • Be sure to do the language analysis first and not gathering the materials. What is the aim? What problems are the students likely to have?
  • Part of the aim was to revise the present simple. On the handout of images of annoying habits, it would have been a good idea to have sample sentences. Perhaps there could have been a match-the-sentence-to-the-image type of exercise.
  • regarding the same handout, the answers have to be given, either on the handout itself, or on the WB.

Finally, my turn

Aim: To revise and practise past simple regular and irregular in positive, and negative forms. Book reference: New Headway, Pre-Intermediate, p22-23.

Verdict: I was happy with the lesson; I thought it went well – great visuals (always my strong point), great rapport, dynamic… I even got my timing spot-on. The students enjoyed the lesson… Not sure about my fellow trainees – I think by the time it got to my turn, everyone was just thinking of their lunch break.

Then, Ian massacred me. Literally. Left me to hang out to dry. So, I don’t want to go through the pain again.

Iberian ham in a restaurant

Left to hang; Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

Instead, I’ll console myself with his “glowing” comments:

  • Friendly with students
  • Graded language well, clear instructions
  • Adapted coursebook well
  • Tested students twice on past simple verb forms
  • Got students to predict the story
  • Tested students on recognising past simple verb forms
  • Ended with an oral summary.

“This was a stimulating, fun lesson that the ss really enjoyed. You have a great rapport with the students and gave them plenty of listening practice via the written text and the live listening exercise. This showed how difficult it is for ss to hear/recognise past forms.”