Celta: Assignment 3: Skills-Related Essay

For this Skills-related assignment, my choice of authentic reading material is “Few Places with Better Stories”. from Asian Geographic magazine (no 78 issue 1/2011, pages 30 and 35). As this magazine is widely read and it is also a popular TV channel, the students will be able to relate to it easily. I decided to use this article as I think it is appropriate for English Language learners at the Intermediate level. The article deals with photography which can be a hobby or passion for many adult learners and hence they can identify with the author. It is also biographical, as the author narrates his experiences, thus the reader can bond with the narrator. This topic has a universal appeal and is not culturally biased. The article also has contemporary relevance as the author blends photography with nature, as the world is desperate to conserve it. “One test for useful reading might be to check how far tasks reflect real life uses of the same text. If a text is used in class in ways that are reasonably similar to real life, it is likely that the task will be effective” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan) But, most of all, this entire article is perfect for a reading activity, as the topic enables great discussions/productive skill extensions. Part 2: Receptive skill task design

Lead In:
I think a good starting point for this lesson would be playing a clip of underwater life from National Geographic archive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSlFsbrUz2Q
Students are familiar with underwater life and the clip will help to set the context and situation. Students could first discuss with partners how they feel about the underwater photography. After eliciting some opinions and feelings, ask some additional, personalised questions like: “Have you seen underwater world at Sentosa?”

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“Would you like be an underwater photographer?”
“Would you like to go on an underwater expedition with the National
Geographic team?” Teacher elicits responses to set the context further.

Although there are plenty of new vocabulary items in the article, I think students would not have any significant difficulties in grasping the overall meaning of the text. I agree with Jeremy Harmer with reference to pre-teaching: “by giving them some or all those words we deny them (a chance to practice tackling authentic texts)” (Harmer -203). In my perspective, students learn new words with reference to context which will enable them to grasp the word well. In this article, I would pre-teach key vocabulary, such as: photo-journalist

to fall in love
I would convey the meaning for the above words with the help of visuals, and CCQs. The rest of the vocabulary issues (which does not impede the set tasks) can be dealt with matching words with meaning or synonyms at the pre-reading stage. I would use this article to practise skim reading. Though the article is lengthy, the first paragraph throws enough insight about the author. This enables a gist reading. The gist reading task – 30 seconds: Appendix B

I would remind the students that gist reading is a skill that requires quick reading and ability to choose important information. “Skimming=Reading quickly for gist of a passage. A typical skimming task would be a general question from the teacher…” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan) Feedback: 1minute

A lesson without feedback “is teaching that proceeds forward without reference to what impact this is having on the learner’…” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan) For specific reading task or scanning skill, I would use a simple set of questions- 5 minutes (reading and answering): Appendix B. “You probably want tasks that encourage students to search for specific small sections of text which they can read more carefully to find a required piece of information……..Students doing this will be reading the material in a similar way to how people might read it in everyday life.” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan) For both the scan and skim reading activities, student would do a pair check of their answers before the teacher does feedback. The teacher flashes the answers for the gist reading on the screen (OHP) and for the scanning task, individual students could volunteer to discuss the answers. At this stage the teacher can feedback on how the students located the answers (sequence of information in the paragraphs, lead words, context etc). “ A common scanning activity is searching for information….Although scanning is involved with finding individual points from the text….the way the reader finds the information involves some degree of processing of the overall shape and structure of the text…” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan)

Part 3: Productive skill task design
I would use a writing task for productive skill. As the students have read about underwater life, I would set a guided task to write about the topic: “Your thoughts and feelings of underwater world”

(Students are expected to write five sentences)
Photos and pictures of marine life will be pasted around the classroom. Each picture/photo will carry a description/key words. Students will do a gallery walk, with a pen and a paper, to note the details and description they would like to use. They will return to their seats to write five sentences about underwater life and their feeling/sentiments. This task is for 15 minutes

At the end of the task, the writing from students will be pasted on the white board and the students can read each other’s and vote for the best.

“Writing involves a different kind of mental process. There is more time to think, to reflect, to prepare, to rehearse, to make mistakes and to find alternative and better solutions” …” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan). I would like to use writing activity because “ The need for longer formal written work seems to have lessened over the years, and this is reflected in many classrooms where writing
activities are perhaps less often found than those for other skills” …” (Learning Teaching, Third edition 2011, Jims Scrivener, Macmillan).

Part 4:
A copy of the authentic task- appendix A
The tasks you have designed- appendix B
The answers to the task- appendix C
Appendix B
The gist reading task – 30 seconds:
Answer the following questions with a “yes” or “no”. a) Is this passage about a photographer?
b) Is this passage about underwater life?
c) Is this passage about a school teacher?

1) Para 1: When did the author fall in love with the sea?
2) Para 1: Why did the author become an underwater photographer and a photojournalist? 3) Para 1: What brings greatest joy to the author?
4) Para 2: According to the author, is the ocean dying?
5) Para 3: What motivates the author most?
6.) Para 4: Did the author swim with underwater animals?

Appendix C
Answers key
Gist activity (skimming)
1. Yes
2. Yes
3. No
Specific reading (scanning)
1. as a child
2. He loved telling stories with pictures.
3. Photographs of nature.
4. Yes
5. The story
6. Yes

Learning Teaching, Third Edition, Jim Scrivener, Macmillan, 2011 Harmer,J.The Practise of English Language Teaching, 3rd Edition, Longman, 2001

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