Why replace the textbook with authentic material? Authentic material is the most interesting kind of material for English language learners since it shows how the language is used in everyday interactions. Nowadays, most ESL students have already come into contact with some kind of authentic material either through music, the Internet, television, movies and other media, so to be able to understand the language used in day to day media is usually one of their goals. Using challenging authentic material in the ESL class will motivate students to continue in their learning process and help to liven up your class.
In this article, I am going to show you a sample plan based on a short clip of an episode of Friends. The episode is number 6 from season 5, and the clip can be found online on YouTube or it can be purchased as well.
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Task-Based Lesson Using TV Show Friends
I recommend this lesson mostly for intermediate level students, but I will be making suggestions on how to adapt it for other levels as well. It is very important to choose authentic material according to what your students can manage, but it is also almost as important to choose the material according to your students’ interests. Sometimes the material that students are interested in or even request, seems to be beyond their level of English; however, if the material is well prepared almost anything can be used for any level. That is one of the advantages of authentic material, how adaptable it can be.
With this video clip and the class planned around it, the main goal is to teach students how to express their opinion about a particular point of view. Other goals that can be achieved with this class are:
– to get students to predict the content of the video clip
– for students to practice their listening skills
– to lay the foundation for further activities on this topic
Also, as with every piece of authentic material, exposing students to the use of the language becomes a goal as well.
We assume that the students already know that some people are against wearing fur and leather and that they are familiar with some of the vocabulary connected to fashion.
This lesson will be following a Task-Based Learning format and for this there will be two pre-tasks, a Task stage – that will include the task as well as a report – and a Language focus stage. The skills that this lesson will focus on will be listening and speaking with a chance to expand it on a following lesson to reading and / or writing depending on the level of the students and their interest in this topic.
To get the students interested in the material and as a kind of warm-up, students will watch the clip without sound. This kind of silent viewing allows students to focus on what is happening without worrying about understanding the language. Also, it allows you to ask the students to discuss in small groups and predict what the characters are talking about.
If there are lower level students you can do the same kind of pre-task, but you should expect shorter answers with less details. You can also make bigger groups of students or provide them with cue cards with some hints or information on the characters.
If students have an advanced level of English they could write the characters’ lines and read them out loud while watching the silent clip. For this kind of activity it is crucial to pick a short enough clip without too many exchanges so that students do not get lost trying to keep up with the pace of the video.
Once the first pre-task is complete, you can play the clip with sound and give the students a quick listening exercise so they can practice their listening skills. Having to complete blanks in the character’s lines will ensure they pay attention.
For lower level students you can provide the vocabulary words in a box for them to choose from. You can also add some extra words to increase the difficulty.
For students with a higher level just increase the number of blanks or ask students to predict what the words will be before watching the clip with sound.
Once the students have watched the video and understood the character’s point of view on wearing fur – and how it suddenly changes, they can work in pairs or small groups to create a list of the reasons why they agree or disagree with her original point of view. It is important to make sure that students comprehend the character’s point of view and what happens in the clip before the task can be carried out.
If the students have a lower level you can ask them to work in bigger groups so they can help each other formulate their opinions. Also you can make vocabulary available on the board prior to their discussion. It might even be necessary for students to check the meaning of the words the character uses and their connotation before the task can be introduced.
If the students have a higher level you can ask students to argue both sides or predict what will happen in the next scene after she suddenly changes her point of view.
In the Report stage of the lesson students present their lists and explain them. It is very important to make sure all students have a chance to speak so that the task is effective.
During the Language Focus stage of the lesson elicit from students the expressions they need to learn in order to express their opinions efficiently.
For lower level students you can provide the list of expressions and their meaning and ask the students to match them. If students know some of the expressions you can complete their list and ask them to check the meaning of the new expressions in their dictionaries
For advanced level students you can even ask them to discuss the difference in register in the variety of expressions used to express opinions, agree and disagree.
During the Feedback stage of the lesson you can explain to your students which expressions are preferred in which situations and what is the most effective way of expressing their opinion and why.
Depending on how much the students enjoy the class and the material you can extend this to a second class in which lower level students can create an opinion poster, intermediate level students write an opinion paragraph and advanced level students complete a reading comprehension exercise on PETA or write an opinion essay.
This article is a transcript of a video tutorial posted on Ontesol’s student center. Access your TESOL account to find this video and other tutorials! Don’t have an account? Take an accredited TESOL / TEFL certification course with Ontesol!