I had a lot of fun with my elementary teens today, for our last lesson before the holidays and thought I would share the lesson idea here, for anyone else to use…
- Recording of “Merry Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon
- Gapped listening text
- Whiteboard, board pens
- Christmas Spirit!
- Put the learners in small groups (3 ss per group). Ask them how THEY celebrate Christmas (activities, food etc) and get them to take turns to tell their group. However, the task is to draw up a list of similarities and differences in their Christmas celebrations. When they have finished, give each group a chance to report their similarities and differences to the whole class.
- Ask them if they know how people celebrate Christmas in other countries in the world. Let them share any knowledge/ideas/opinions related to this.
- Put the learners into two teams. Give each team ownership of one of the whiteboards (if you are lucky enough to have 2 whiteboards in the classroom, as I am in this particular classroom!) or split one board between the two groups. Divide the boards into pros and cons (of Christmas). (With + and – signs and happy and sad faces, to clarify!) Let the learners brainstorm in their groups and fill the board. (My learners had lots of ideas!) This should raise the point that Christmas is not rosy for everybody (e.g. poor people, lonely people, old and infirm lonely people etc.) Give learners the opportunity to look at and comment on the other group’s whiteboard/ideas. (I found it particularly amusing when they were discussing how the magic of Christmas is for when you are young, not for them – I guess that makes me a proper grandmother then! 😉 I was impressed by all the ideas that they came up with, especially for the negative column.)
- Write the song title and John Lennon on the board. Ask the learners if they know this song. (Most of these learners had!) Tell learners they are going to listen to the song and write down any key words they hear/understand (NB: check they are clear that words like “and” “but” etc don’t count!) (My learners were able to note down quite a few key words, some more than others – depending on level within the level and familiarity with the song). Let learners compare and pool their key words in their teams.
- Hand out the gapped listening text and get learners to tick the words on their list that they can see in the text. Ask learners to listen again and complete the gaps. Get them to compare in their groups after listening and then play the recording again for them to check the answers they have decided on through the discussion/comparison. Project the complete song lyrics for them to see/check their answers against. Get them to check their list of key words again. Work together as a class to identify what caused the misunderstanding of any words written down (in gaps or as key words) that are not in the song. (E.g. it sounded like a different word, they heard half of the word and interpreted it as a different word etc. Think of sound interference at word boundaries and problems that may arise from chunking the stream of sound incorrectly…)
- Get the learners to use their completed texts to sing along to the recording. See if they will try and sing the song without the recording – mine did! They thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Ask learners why John Lennon wrote this song. Elicit their ideas. (E.g. Protest against war/injustice/inequality etc. To bring people together. To get people to think about less fortunate people at Christmas…) Ask them what kind of song it is. (A protest song). Ask them if they know any other protest songs. (Mine did! Came up with lots of good examples between them). Ask them if they know any protest songs in their language. (Again, mine did! Though they specified that they were more like solidarity songs) Ask them if they think these protest songs do any good. (My optimistic, positive crowd thought they did and had plenty of ideas why this was the case)
- Round off the lesson with some “Stop the Sleigh!” (which you may know under the more common name of Stop the Bus… 😉 ) This works very nicely with Elementary teens in teams of 3: especially as adjectives, nationalities and food have all been covered during the past term – it was a game but also a bit of review.
The lesson worked well, the teens were very keen to express themselves (!) and I was able to feed in a lot of language that they wanted there and then. The song gave them listening practice and acted as a stimulus for discussions about Christmas that enabled us to extend discussions of Christmas well beyond the initial, familiar Christmas food and activities talk that we started with. We also had a lot of fun! Win all round… 🙂