Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

There are toys for all ages.
~French proverb

Sometimes I think that part of the reason that I enjoy teaching my ESL class so much is the fun of going overboard with my "props". ;)

For example, I got the idea to model this week's activity on the game show, Family Feud. So, clearly a trip to Home Depot and Staples was in order...

What?!? Have people raise their hands when they know the answer?!? Keep score on the black board?!? Are you kidding?!?

OF COURSE we need bells for them to ring when they know the answer and OF COURSE we need a super cool pegboard score board system! ;)

The topic is comparisons - Shaquille O'Neal (famous basketball player) is taller than Einstein; Einstein is more intelligent than Shaquille O'Neal - that kind of thing.

I've got this software (another prop!) that lets me design electronic spinners and I'll set 3 up - two with names of famous people and one with adjectives. For each turn, I'll "spin" all 3 spinners and my students will have to say a grammatically correct sentence comparing the 2 designated people with respect to the designated adjective.

The main objective is to get them to distinguish between those cases when they can add "er" to the end of the adjective (basically, short adjectives with only 1 syllable) and those cases when they need to put the word "more" in front of the adjective (adjectives with 3 or more syllables.) Adjectives with 2 syllables are just a nuisance. ;)

Comparisons get a little more complicated in writing - because there are rules like "change the terminal 'y' to an 'i' before adding 'er' (pretty -> prettier)" and "if the word ends in 'consonant-vowel-consonant' then double the last consonant before adding 'er' (big -> bigger)". But, when you are speaking, people can't tell if you are spelling it correctly or not! ;)

Anyways, I haven't quite sorted out how I want to handle the accuracy of the sentences. For example, if a student says "Willie Shoemaker (a famous jockey) is taller than Shaquille O'Neal" is it fine because it's correct grammatically?

Of course, I'll try to use people they know. Last year I used characters from a famous Hispanic sitcom, El Chavo del Ocho and that seemed to work pretty well.

So, I'll be dragging my props off to class soon, and I'll let you know how our version of "Family Feud" goes! Wish me luck! :)