Glossy Dinosaurs

Has to be the best name for dictoglosses. I stole the title from Jason Renshaw and I highly recommend his comprehensive article on how to do dictoglosses.

Dictoglossia? Anyway, there’s a nice looking template hand out there as well.

And this is the best example of a dictogloss I’ve ever seen, apparently taken from The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer:

Bad Grammar

I stumbled upon a great video parody of Timbaland’s “The Way I Are” once, called “Bad Grammar” by Jamesatwar. I wrote up a lesson plan and did it a couple of times as a filler lesson after unit exams. It went really well. I then accidentally deleted all my lesson plans and even appear to have deleted a post I made about it on this blog–or I think I made a post on it. So here’s a reconstruction of that lesson plan that touches on bad grammar and slang used in pop music. Students will learn common terms like, “ain’t”, “got no”, and “we be”. They then discuss why pop songs often have bad grammar and spelling and also whether these terms are really all that bad.

It can actually be useful to teach students some commonly encountered bad grammar because they will have to understand it when the hear it. So while it can often sound funny when a foreigner says “ain’t” or “like”, they need the recognition skills.

Materials

Warm Up

Ask students if they have heard the song, “The Way I Are” by Timbaland. You might have a short clip ready to help them remember. Then (or alternatively) write this line on the board: “Can you handle me the way I are?”
Ask students what’s wrong with it. Hopefully they will quickly note that ‘I are’ should be ‘I am’.

You can also ask them if they can think of any other songs with bad grammar in them, but this question will also come up later on the discussion questions sheet.

Introducing the Video

This song has a few difficult words in it so you’ll probably want to pre-teach them before they listen. or you might want to wait until they have the lyrics sheet.

Put the following words up on the board:

consonants
vowels
syntax
morphology
linguistics
enunciate
articulate
prodigy
eloquence

Tell the students that two words refer to kinds of letters. See if they can pick them out (consonants and vowels). Explain the difference and write a few examples next to the words.
Tell them that one word means the study of language. See if they can match that definition to “linguistics”
Tell them that two words mean something very like “grammar” (morphology and syntax).
Tell them that two words mean to speak clearly or well (enunciate and articulate)
Tell them that one word means someone who is very good at something (prodigy)
and see if they can guess the last word “eloquence” means to speak well.

Alternatively, you could wait until they have the lyrics sheet and see if they can guess the meaning from context and your hints.

The Video

Tell the students that you are going to show them a video to a song parody of “The Way I Are” which makes fun of bad grammar in pop songs. Tell them to try to listen for any examples of bad grammar in the song.

Note: You may or may not want to show it with the captions. Also note that the video does feature a woman in lingerie and some sexual innuendo. Nothing worse than what they see on MTV, but this isn’t a great video to show to younger learners.

Show the students the Bad Grammar Video.
After they have watched, ask them what examples of bad grammar they heard. Take any contributions but make sure to correct students if they cite good grammar as bad grammar.

Now show the video again, this time with the lyric sheet. Have them listen along and note down any bad grammar that they hear/read. Ask them what they think the song is about and hopefully elicit that the song’s message is that pop music uses a lot of bad grammar.

Go over any vocabulary questions students might have–a few words you can use the video to illustrate. Grills for example is said over a still of grills on teeth. Even enunciate is very clearly enunciated.

Discussion Questions

Now hand out or go over orally the Discussion Questions (Teacher’s Sheet here). These questions help students understand “bad grammar” and think of other examples. Then the discussion can move on to whether these examples are really bad grammar or just normal conversational English.

If you have a longer class, you could get into the subject of parodies and copyright laws. Does Jamesatwar have a right to make this parody? Does it hurt Timbaland by implying that he doesn’t speak English well? Could Timbaland sue Jamesatwar? What are the laws in your country (in the US, parody is protected by free speech, but people do have the right for slanderous parody–i.e. parodies that can be proven to damage the original author)?

Extension

For homework or in a later class you can have students bring in the lyrics of a song with “bad grammar” that they have “corrected”.

Students can also go through a list of examples of dialect spelling and pick the example that they think should be adopted into standard English.

This is Halloween Lyrics Gap-Fill

Scary Halloween Pumpkin This is Halloween Lyrics Gap-Fill“This is Halloween” is the opening song from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. It makes a great classroom activity to introduce the concept of Halloween, especially setting the mood. Note that this song is not to be confused with the Marilyn Manson song of the same name!

I show the video to my ESL and EFL students and discuss what they see and what it tells them about Halloween. I made a This is Halloween lyrics gap-fill activity, which you can purchase and download at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. This video makes a good opening activity. Or a filler to fill up the last 10-15 minutes of class. Of course, it’s great practice at listening comprehension and it can be a fun sing-along.

This is Halloween Lyrics Video

Here are a few other ways to put the song to use:

  • You can have students watch and list all the scary monsters they see.
  • Introduce the idea of the Boogey man, the monster who hides in the closet or under the bed. Ask if their culture has a similar catch-all monster.
  • Ask if scary and creepy things can ever be fun?
  • Discuss the lyrics. Why do the monsters say they aren’t mean? Are the things mentioned in the song scary or funny?
  • Rank the scariness of the different monster they see in the video
  • Show part of the video for 30-60 minutes and have students make as many sentences as they can about what they see.

If you liked this This is Halloween Lyrics Gap-Fill Activity, check out all my Halloween lesson plans and activities.

Land Called Paradise

The best way to get students talking and practicing their English is to give them an interesting topic. And often the most interesting topics are a bit controversial. So here’s a lesson on that taboo PARSNIPS topic, religion. A beautiful film by filmmaker Lena Khan that shows messages about being Muslim in America becomes a springboard for a discussion about Islam , how it is perceived in the US, and how Muslims try to fight the negative perceptions. All that can then be turned into a student reflection on what group they belong to that is perceived negatively and what they may want to say to the world to refute that perception. These days it seems that our students need exposure to some messages of tolerance and respect for other religions.

You can download and purchase the lesson here: Land Called Paradise: A Film-Based Lesson on Muslims in America

I’ve done this lesson in classes with Muslims, without Muslims and in mixed-classrooms and it always generates discussion. If your classroom is a safe and respectful space, this is a great lesson to get students thinking about what it means and doesn’t mean to follow a religion and how it feels to be stereotyped.

landcalledparadise

Here’s a brief preview of the lesson:

Objectives

    To understand song lyrics and meaning

  • To understand a short film with a lot of text. To synthesize text and acting/images
  • To discuss Islam, religion and cultural misunderstandings
  • To create a film correcting misunderstandings and stereotypes the world may have about them

Materials

  • The film itself
  • The complete text of the messages from the film
  • “Land Called Paradise” song lyrics cloze exercise
  • “Land Called Paradise” song lyrics

Warm Up

Tell students the introduction to the film (or write it on the board).

In December 2007, over 2000 American Muslims were asked what they would wish to say to the rest of the world. This is what they said.

Explain that Lena Khan was planning to make a film about Muslims and their image when she wrote a request for messages to send to the rest of the world on a number of American Muslim e-lists and newsgroups. Ask students what kinds of things she might have received.

 

See a more in-depth preview and purchase this film-based lesson plan about American Muslisms at  my Teachers Pay Teachers store

Land Called Paradise

The best way to get students talking and practicing their English is to give them an interesting topic. And often the most interesting topics are a bit controversial. So here’s a lesson on that taboo PARSNIPS topic, religion. A beautiful film by filmmaker Lena Khan that shows messages about being Muslim in America becomes a springboard for a discussion about Islam , how it is perceived in the US, and how Muslims try to fight the negative perceptions. All that can then be turned into a student reflection on what group they belong to that is perceived negatively and what they may want to say to the world to refute that perception. These days it seems that our students need exposure to some messages of tolerance and respect for other religions.

You can download and purchase the lesson here: Land Called Paradise: A Film-Based Lesson on Muslims in America

I’ve done this lesson in classes with Muslims, without Muslims and in mixed-classrooms and it always generates discussion. If your classroom is a safe and respectful space, this is a great lesson to get students thinking about what it means and doesn’t mean to follow a religion and how it feels to be stereotyped.

landcalledparadise

Here’s a brief preview of the lesson:

Objectives

    To understand song lyrics and meaning

  • To understand a short film with a lot of text. To synthesize text and acting/images
  • To discuss Islam, religion and cultural misunderstandings
  • To create a film correcting misunderstandings and stereotypes the world may have about them

Materials

  • The film itself
  • The complete text of the messages from the film
  • “Land Called Paradise” song lyrics cloze exercise
  • “Land Called Paradise” song lyrics

Warm Up

Tell students the introduction to the film (or write it on the board).

In December 2007, over 2000 American Muslims were asked what they would wish to say to the rest of the world. This is what they said.

Explain that Lena Khan was planning to make a film about Muslims and their image when she wrote a request for messages to send to the rest of the world on a number of American Muslim e-lists and newsgroups. Ask students what kinds of things she might have received.

 

See a more in-depth preview and purchase this film-based lesson plan about American Muslisms at  my Teachers Pay Teachers store

Speaking with Emotion

This is a fun activity I do with my students to teach them to speak with emotion. Sometimes they have problems focusing on intonation or emotion because 1) they are too busy thinking about grammar and vocab and 2) because, especially here in Kazakhstan, they don’t get a lot of chances to listen to native speakers. English is a surprisingly emotional language–we change the tone of our voice and volume a lot compared to other languages.

Objectives

  • Help students speak more fluently by thinking about intonation and emotion

Materials

  • A simple dialogue like the one above
  • Optional: a video or recording of people speaking without emotion

To help students learn how to express emotion, I take a simple dialogue like this one:

A: Hey, did you remember to bring the DVD I lent you last week?
B: No, I forgot
A: You forgot again? But you’ve already had it for a month.
B: Don’t worry. I’ll bring it tomorrow.
A: You always say that but you never do.
B: Relax. I said I’ll bring it tomorrow.
A: You better or I’m going to tell everyone in school you’re a jerk.

First, I have two students read it out loud and then we go over it to make sure they understand the situation and all the vocab (“jerk” is usually the only problem word). Once I make sure they have the dialogue down, so they don’t have to really think about the words, I ask them to identify the logical emotions for each line. i.e.

A: Hey, did you remember to bring the DVD I lent you last week? (Question, No particular emotion)
B: No, I forgot (Relaxed)
A: You forgot again? But you’ve already had it for a month. (Annoyed)
B: Don’t worry. I’ll bring it tomorrow. (Annoyed, Defensive)
A: You always say that but you never do. (Angry)
B: Relax. I said I’ll bring it tomorrow. (Defensive, Angry)
A: You better or I’m going to tell everyone in school you’re a jerk. (Very Angry)

Now I ask two students to really ham it up and read it with strong emotions. After doing that a couple of times, I go over what students did to sound angry. What words did they emphasize? Did they speak louder or more quietly? Did they use body language? Did they pause at some points?

Then, to practice other emotions, I give students an emotion and have them reread the dialogue. For example, Student A is sad and Student B is bored. Student A is happy and Student B is angry. Student A is depressed and Student B thinks this is funny. You can even do a competition for which student pair can come up with the most inappropriate combination of emotions.

This can also be an effective way of teaching differences between related emotions–how would students read it if they were sad? What if they were depressed? What are the nuances between sad and very, very sad?

Finally, I put students in pairs and assign each one an emotion and have them write a dialogue. In this way, they can focus on word choice and emotions. When we are angry we sometimes speak more formally, with fewer contractions but when we are happy we are more relaxed about how we speak.

I was thinking about this idea because I stumbled on Xtranormal, a site that lets you make animated movies with your own dialogue and I think it would be fun to show this dialogue as a movie to show students how foreign language students sometimes talk:

Note the stiffness and robo-talk. This could provide a good model of how not to speak English.