I am used to going to bed late
April 15, 2012 19 Comments
That is certainly how it felt after a 6-day holiday over Easter. Whether I was out or at home, with no commitments the next day, I fell into the trap of stay up well into the wee hours of the morning. Not a problem, until Thursday arrived and I was up and wide awake at 6.30am to teach at 9am at school.
Having read Chia’s inspirational accounts of the first few days of her Dogme challenge, I thought I’d try out one of her ideas in my classroom. The lesson was a group of 9 pre-intermediate learners, observed by CELTA trainees to make up part of their compulsory observations.
I sat down and introduced myself to the class, who, in turn, introduced themselves to me. I then asked them to make line up in order of what time they went to bed the night before. I listened carefully to the language they used to do this, they asked questions like:
What time did you go to bed last night?
Did you go to bed late last night?
Did you go to bed early?
Did you sleep lots last night?
They completed the task with very little trouble and we started talking about our sleeping habits, what time we go to work, what time we get up and have breakfast – this lasted about 5 minutes. After this, one student said
for me it’s not difficult to get up in the morning, I am…. (come si dice ‘abitudine’ in inglese?)…. urm… use it?
I CCQ’d the structure the learner was looking for. I asked “is it something you always do?” “is it difficult or easy?” and then wrote on the board:
I am ________ _____ get____ up early
We filled in the gaps to form:
I am used to getting up early
By now interest was at a high and everyone had clearly understood the meaning of the sentence. I highlighted the form (mainly the getting after ‘to’ and used as an adjective following the verb ‘to be’) and drilled the pronunciation. I also used the opportunity of creating some examples to correct some of the errors with prepostional phrases I’d heard in the previous activity such as “in the weekend, one time in a week, go in the park).
I then asked for some more sample sentences from the class and we made four on the board. After that, I asked students to go to their seats and make some more examples with their partners. During this time, I heard one group say “Americans are not used to the way we do things in Italy” and decided to pick on this topical aspect to extend the task.
I put learners into groups and asked them to discuss why it would be difficult for a foreigner to come to Italy (in the hope of eliciting ‘get used to’ as well).
Learners chatted and discussed their ideas, I inputted bits of vocabulary where needed and noted down some errors and also directly corrected a few. In my prioritisation of error I considered the following:
is it a chunk they are missing or is it language they already know which they are making mistakes with?
They used to drinking large coffees (elicited the ‘are’) and asked what’s the difference between American coffee and Italian to put the learner back into fluency.
They have difficult when they read the menu in Italian (they find it difficult to read the menu) – I left this one for feedback.
By the end of the activity I had a list of pronunciation (mainly stress in words) and lexical points I wanted to look at. I decided to make correction more covert and wrote an email with the class on the board to recycle the language we used in the activity, extending students language by highlighting the use of the pronoun with be used to, e.g. I’m not used to it; an error I hear a lot from Italian leaners being ‘I’m used to’ and fill in some more lexical gaps, e.g. I find it difficult to…
25 minutes to the end of the lesson. We’d finished the email and I asked learners to write a quick email to a friend telling them about an experience they’ve had abroad to use the language we had looked at in class that day. I checked the emails and helped with some problems while students were writing.
The end of the class took the form of a review of the language we looked in class. I asked learners to draw a table with four parts: one for new grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and topics, which I’d seen in Teaching Unplugged. They filled in the parts of the table and class finished in plenary discussion of what we had learned that day.
On reflection perhaps introducing ‘get used to’ in the form of ‘I’m getting used to/I can’t get used to’ may have pushed learners further. The lesson was 1 hour 30 minutes however and I didn’t want to flood learners with too much information. It was my first time with the class and it seemed prudent to provide practice of one structure and the incidental lexis which accompanied it than provide an input tsunami.
It’d be interesting to see what trainees thought about the lesson. They all commented that students seemed very motivated, spoke a lot and clearly learned and processed a lot of language. I wonder if I should have told them what I was doing and why? Why bother?