What did you find most challenging about learning English?
We asked seven big names, including Didier Drogba and Petr Cech, for their opinions about life in the UK and learning English. This lesson plan is for intermediate – advanced students and should take 45 minutes.
a. Ask students to work in pairs to decide what 3 things they find most difficult about learning English. Allow them about 5 minutes and ask them to write down the 3 points.
b. Tell them they are going to hear the thoughts of a student from your country who is studying English in the north of England. You are going to dictate what the student says and your students should write down what you say.
If you want to make the activity feel more ‘real’ for your students you can create a character for the student studying in the UK. Put a picture on the board and ask your students to choose a name, age, hobbies etc.
Tell them you are going to dictate what the student says and the Ss should write it down, exactly as you read it.
At school, I learnt to say laugh (/lɑːf/) but here, everyone says laugh (/læf/). Yesterday I heard someone say “I laughed my head off”. Now what does that mean?
Read the text twice slowly, in chunks, as your students write it down.
The first pronunciation of laugh (/lɑːf/) is the way the word is generally pronounced in the south of England and in traditional received pronunciation (RP). The second pronunciation (/læf/) is a typically northern pronunciation of the word. Neither pronunciation is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The aim is to show that the rules of English pronunciation are flexible and it’s difficult to master – a point the players make in the video.
Ask students to check their texts with each other. You can show them the whole text on the board if you want.
c. When everyone has the correct text, ask ‘What problems does the student have?’ (he/she isn’t used to the accent and doesn’t recognise the idiomatic expression) ‘Did any of you mention these problems?’ Allow students to talk about the problems they identified with learning English but try to keep the atmosphere light-hearted and don’t get bogged down in an ‘English grammar is awful’ discussion.
2. Before you watch
Hand out the worksheet and ask Ss to work in pairs to answer the questions in Before you watch. Make sure that it’s fun – Ss aren’t expected to know all the answers.
2. There are lots: (e.g. hour/our, cent/sent/scent, steel/steal, they’re/their/there, bear/bare)
3. B Liverpool. People from Liverpool are sometimes called ‘scousers’ and speak with a ‘scouse’ accent.
4. No. A ‘rip off’ is when someone charges you too much money. You can be ‘ripped off’ by someone.
5. A pair of boots – on your feet. The boot of a car – where you put your bags.
6. There are lots. (e.g. plug (electrical) and plug (bath), tap (for water) and tap (verb ‘he tapped his pen on the table’)
Tell students they are going to watch players answer the question ‘What did you find most challenging about learning English?’ Watch the whole section once and elicit answers to the question – which things did they mention that we’ve talked about?
Answer: Most things the players mention have been mentioned in the Before you watch section.
4. Watch again
Answers: 1 F, 2 T, 3 T, 4 T, 5 T, 6 F, 7 F 5.
Tell the students that having listened to the players talk about their learning aims and challenges, it’s time for the Ss to talk about their own objectives and challenges.
Give out Activity 2.
Ask students to do the matching activity.
Answers: A – 3, B – 5, C – 6, D – 2, E – 1, F – 4
Check answers in pairs then as a class before asking students to give their own answers to the questions (in pairs). Monitor their discussions. When Ss have finished you might want to encourage the class to think of some of the issues raised – accuracy & communication versus fluency. Is a native speaker accent achievable and/or desirable?