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Gareth Davies’s design narrative: IELTS Speaking Section 3 Crime and Punishment
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25 May 2014
Title IELTS Speaking Section 3 Crime and Punishment
I am the teacher/facilitator
Class of 13 18 year old students from various parts of Thailand who currently live in Bangkok and have won scholarships to study abroad but must first achieve a sufficiently high IELTS band score. Lesson took place in a British Council class in Siam Square Bangkok in the second week of May 2014. The class has a large interactive whiteboard connected to a desktop computer with internet access. The class generally splits into four groups of 3-4. Class took place in the afternoon after lunch.
The key actors were myself as teacher in a facilitation and feedback role and the students. The students all get on very well and they are academic high achievers, happy to study and are enthusiastic in classroom activities.
The students are driven to achieve the band score they need and are therefore highly motivated if you clarify what it is you’re doing and why.
I was trying to achieve a situation where the students had taken onboard and then utilised new Crime and Punishment related vocabulary as well as phrases and expressions to offer opinions and counter-opinions in a final production element of a class debate on the subject of Capital Punishment.
I showed a movie poster for the film The Last Executioner, a Thai film.
Students were instructed to brainstorm what they knew about the film and/or what controversies surrounded it.
Students fed back their ideas to the teacher. – Students did not recognise the movie poster and were not too familiar with the vocabulary of ‘executioner’ and therefore found it difficult to imagine the controversies surrounding the film/subject matter.
To introduce Crime and Punishment vocab, students played a game of running dictation, where definitions of lexis were posted on a wall outside the classroom and their corresponding lexis were posted on the wall around the classroom. Students would run to read the definitions and tell their partners who would write them down before getting up to try and find the word or phrase that matched the definition. – Activity took much longer than expected. Students had a lot of fun, however. And was a good way to get them moving and motivated halfway through the day.
The subject of Capital Punishment was then raised and Students were instructed to
Work in groups of 6-7 to first list benefits and then drawbacks of CP.
Students then fed these back to the teacher who listed them on the IWB. – Students successfully brainstormed sufficient points, some of which were interesting such as the psychological effects on the ‘executioner’.
Students were instructed to work in their groups and were assigned to be either For or Against Capital Punishment.
Students were instructed to write expanded explanations of the collected points for and against CP and utilise words or phrases for use in giving opinions from their IELTS course books. – This allowed students to work alone and write using the introduced lexis and phrases.
A class debate proceeded with teams taking it in turns to list their points. – Points were generally well made though though the lexis and the phrases were not utilised as much as I would have liked.
Other students noted the points for a rebuttal.
A rebuttal session was then planned. Phrases to introduce a contrasting view were highlighted in the course books.
The rebuttal session then took place. – Again, the language and phrases that had been hoped would be used were not produced as much though plenty of other pertinent language was used.
I offered some feedback on language use, good points and bad points.
Expected outcomes –
Students were introduced new vocabulary and by virtue of the running activity, they proved that they understood or had come to understand that vocabulary.
Students enjoyed the activities and took part in the debate enthusiastically.
Students were able to express opinions on the complex issue of Capital Punishment.
Unexpected outcomes –
Running dictation activity took too much time and therefore the lesson as a whole overran.
Students did not use the target lexis nor the phrases enough. A few of the more advanced members incorporated the expressions from the course books well but this may have been due to the fact that they were familiar with them whereas the others weren’t.
Students, however, built solid arguments without the use of the target lexis and expressions anyway, reflecting that they could utilise what they already had at their disposal or were more comfortable using.
The fact that the collaborative elements of brainstorming the points had them purely discussing the subject in English and they were able to then articulate their points well proved that the objective of preparing them for the Section 3 speaking part of the IELTS in relation to the potential subject of Crime and Punishment had been achieved. However, while it was proven that the students could understand the meaning of the lexis introduced, the fact that they didn’t incorporate it into their speaking means that it was either not as appropriate to the subject matter as what they used or they had not been given enough practice or examples of the language used in conjunction with the subject of Capital Punishment.
Also, the phrases to introduce and contrast opinions, was not used by enough students. This language was important as it was the type of lexis an IELTS examiner would like to hear.
On reflection, there are a number of things I could have done differently.
The initial warmer to activate the students schema, though Thai, was not familiar to them. As opposed to showing a poster, I had the facility to show them a Youtube of the trailer. Or, more simply, I could have simply introduced the subject of Capital Punishment by showing a picture of a guillotine and asked Wh questions about it.
The language I chose should have been intrinsically more suited to the task. I took the language from a vocabulary book, but it would have been easy to simply write the materials myself or gathered together words and definitions from a dictionary/the Internet.
Also, the key phrases and expressions weren’t introduced in a manner which made them more easily understood and assimilated. An additional activity perhaps involving reading could have been implemented to introduce it in context.