TESOL Connections

Quick Tip: 6 Tips for Peer Editing Written Work

by James Broadbridge

Peer editing of written work can be a trial for both teachers and students. These tips, for university students of all proficiency levels, can help address students' reluctance to correct another students' work, a lack of student confidence in his or her criticism, and a lack of motivation. 

Audience: University students, all proficiency levels 

Peer editing of written work can be a trial for both teachers and students. Students are often reluctant to state that another student’s work is incorrect; lack the confidence to criticize another student’s writing; and also lack the motivation to improve a fellow student’s work when it has no visible benefit to their own grade. These six tips will help ease the problems involved in this tricky step in the writing process.

1. Work in Groups
Place students in small groups of two or three with only one essay to discuss and work on. The power of the group can lead to an increase in confidence, and therefore higher quality correction and feedback.

2. Set Time Limits
Students always work more efficiently with a time limit. Fifteen minutes is more than enough time for a small group to work on any one piece of writing. Student editors will also benefit from reading a variety of students’ work instead of just reading one essay for a longer period.

3. Restrict the Number of Errors to Be Found
The task of reading a whole essay can be rather daunting. By restricting the number of errors (to five, for example), groups or individuals will feel confident enough to find those errors.

4. Search for Specific Errors
Weaker or demotivated students can often struggle to find even one or two errors in a piece of writing. However, by first highlighting a typical error, for example subject-verb agreement, and asking students to check for similar errors, such students can feel that the task is manageable with little effort or stress.

5. Apply Pressure
Make it clear to the students that a good friend will find as many errors as they can, but a bad friend will find none. The more instances they find of writing that they feel is awkward or incorrect will help their friend to obtain a higher grade. By writing nothing they are helping no one.

6. Allow L1 Use
I am a great believer in restricting the use of L1 in all my classrooms, but there is a place for it here. Students need to be able to leave clear notes for the writer, and it will really help them to pass on important information if they can do so in their L1. The writer must be able to understand the advice and help given by the editor, and if this is given in the L2 there can be misunderstandings. (This assumes, of course, that the writer and the editor share a common L1.)

Peer editing is a vital element of writing classes, and by using the techniques mentioned above, students grow to become better writers, and the methods help to create a collaborative atmosphere in the classroom. The use of these tips also has the benefit of allowing students to gain valuable reinforcement from their peers of key writing techniques from previous classes, as students help themselves by helping others.  Furthermore, they give the teacher an opportunity to quickly assess which students are particularly proficient at editing, and therefore spend more time with those who are not. This gives those students the benefit of extra help and the chance to gain in confidence while they help others.

Download this article (PDF) 

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James Broadbridge has been teaching English for more than 15 years. He is currently an assistant professor at J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo, Japan.


 

Free Activities From New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary

The New Ways series is a collection of activities and exercises for classroom practice. Get three free activities from New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary here. These activities will help students individualize the revision of vocab, focus on a particular type of vocab, and extend the range of meanings for known words. 

The New Ways Series is a collection of activities and exercises for classroom practice. Here are three great activities for teaching reading from New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary.

What Is It?

Levels
Intermediate+

Aims
Individualize the revision of vocabulary

Class Time
10 minutes 
 

Resources
Activity sheet

Procedure

  1. Prepare a sheet containing several sets of sentences such as:
        It is like water.
        Everybody has it.
        It is warm when it belongs to people.
        It is cold when it belongs to a fish.
        It is usually red.
        It is in your body.
        What is it?
  2. The learners work on the sheets in their own time and at their own speed. They mark their work from an answer key.

Caveats and Options

  1. Arrange the sentences in a set so that the first sentences do not give a lot of information.
  2. This activity can be used to teach vocabulary if the actual word is used instead of it. The learners respond by writing the L1 translation of the word.

Contributor
Paul Nation is Reader in Applied Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.


Follow Your Character

Levels
Intermediate+

Aims
Focus on a particular type of vocabulary

Class Time
30 minutes

Resources
Video segment

Students pool their knowledge of vocabulary and create a coherent passage describing one character’s activities in a video passage. When video is used for language learning purposes, students often focus on just the dialogue. This activity is a way of focusing students’ attention on a different set of vocabulary items. By reducing the volume and giving each group a specific character and giving each group member a specific part of speech, the cognitive load is significantly reduced. This enables students to focus on aspects of the video passage and hence vocabulary that they would not focus on with more listening-based approaches.

This type of cooperative group work encourages students to pool their knowledge of vocabulary and teach each other. There is a considerable amount of interaction and negotiation of meaning that takes place as students work to create a paragraph to present to the class.

Procedure

  1. Choose a section of video from 20 seconds to 1 minute in length that has a lot of action and several characters.
  2. Split the class into enough groups so that each group has one character to watch.
  3. Each person in the group should watch the character and be in charge of taking note of the vocabulary related to one of the following categories: (a) actions, (b) objects, (c) descriptions of objects or people, and (d) descriptions of actions.
    Play the video two or three times. Turning the volume off might help the students focus on the task.
  4. The students’ task will be to pool their vocabulary and from this group of words create a complete description of their character’s role in the scene.
  5. Have them write a paragraph for one of the group members to then read to the class.

The following is an example from the introduction to “The Simpsons,” a popular U.S. TV show, which I have used in my class.

First Bart leaves school on his skateboard. He is wearing a yellow striped shirt and short pants. He drives dangerously past three people on the sidewalk. Homer throws away a green radioactive rod that almost hits him. Finally, Bart jumps over the car and goes into the house and sits on the old couch with the family.

Contributor
Eric Bray is Academic Director at the Kyoto YMCA English School, in Japan.


Word Building

Levels
Intermediate+

Aims
Develop knowledge of word forms
Extend the range of meanings for known words

Class Time
20 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes 

Resources
None


Procedure

  1. Choose a set of words or forms to work with. These could be prepositions, prefixes or suffixes, phrasal verbs (e.g., the preposition against; or the suffix –ful).  
  2. Ask students to form groups and to think of many ways in which the word can be used. In the case of against, for example, students might produce:
        Lean against the wall.
        I’m against your suggestion.
        For and against.
        It’s against my expectation.
        I’m not against what you say.
        It’s against the law.
  3. Set a time limit and let students use their imaginations. By pooling their resources, they should be able to generate at least six or more examples.
  4. Ask groups to read out their examples. Give further explanations concerning usage. Correct any unacceptable explanations and give reasons.

After all the examples have been gathered, get the class to classify them into meaning groups or to find the underlying meaning of the item.  

Contributor
Ronald Jackup is a freelance ESL teacher and writer.

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These activities were originally published in New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary, published by TESOL. TESOL retains all copyright.

Nation, P. (Ed.). (1994). New ways in teaching vocabulary. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL).

Download these activities here (PDF)


Gatsby to Jobs: Concentrating on Culture in the Classroom

by Sarah Carol Kassas
This cultural unit incorporates literature, music, history, video, and plenty of opportunities for interactivity. 

Before my ESL students at the University of Iowa started reading The Great Gatsby in class, Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby had already been released in theaters, and I recommended they see the film. One of my students remarked, “Oh, I didn’t know that this was a novel. I thought it was just a movie.” This was a good indication to me before our class started that while international students may watch American films or follow American celebrities, they are not all aware of the influence American literature has had on American culture.

Many international students arrive in the United States without the cultural awareness needed to successfully interpret content, participate in class discussions, and compete with their American peers. This can create a lot of frustration for them and can make it difficult to cope with the expectations of a university classroom. Furthermore, foreign students are interested in learning about and becoming a part of American culture. As one of my students remarked, “American culture is the thing that all overseas students want to know because we want to adjust to this environment. This land encouraged people to work hard, to try their best to do what they want to do, to achieve their dreams.” Therefore, it is essential as language teachers that we find ways to expose our students to American culture or the target English culture in which the language is being studied.

Setting the Stage
Literature is an effective way to expose ESL students to both language and culture. As Hedgcock and Ferris (2009) point out,

Because cultural awareness and sociolinguistic competence can be the most difficult aspects of second language learning and teaching, providing students a window into the target culture through its literature can be authentic and engaging for students to cultivate communicative competence. (p. 248)

Choosing Your Theme & Materials
Begin by selecting a specific culture based theme when planning your course.  An excellent option, and the one I’ll outline using here, is The Great Gatsby and articles related to the 1920s, the Jazz Age, and the American Dream. Through these readings, your students can not only develop stronger vocabulary and learn how to analyze a classic novel probably enjoyed by their American peers, but they will also be exposed to a particular time period in US history. Students can explore how the American Dream started, how it changed over time, and the role it has played in American culture.

Host a Guest Speaker
Once you feel that your students have a strong understanding of the subject, consider inviting a local entrepreneur, possibly an immigrant, to discuss his or her thoughts on what the American Dream means to him or her and encourage your students to ask questions. It is a good idea to ask them to write some questions beforehand. This visit will provide your class with an opportunity to connect the readings to a real person who is trying to achieve or is living the American Dream.

Assignments & Projects

Connecting With Music
You can make another culture connection to language by asking students to write and perform their own rap song. Lurhmann’s film generated a lot of discussion about his choice to incorporate rap/hip-hop music into The Great Gatsby, which takes place in the 1920s, prior to the advent of hip-hop and rap in the 1970s.  For a speaking and listening exercise, arrange for your students to watch relevant YouTube videos. For Gatsby, show them “Great Music is Timeless,” in which Lurhmann, Jay-Z, and actors from the film provide their viewpoints on using rap/hip-hop music in the movie and discuss whether or not the music hurt the way we view The Great Gatsby and the Jazz Age. Next, ask your students do a little research on when rap music started, how it changed over time, and on famous rap artists today. Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop is a great resource to help you build a background in hip-hop music.

After their initial research, your students can read lyrics to a rap song and watch an amateur rap YouTube video, preferably one with lyrics in subtitles, which will allow them to listen to the way the words match up with each beat. I chose an amateur rap song, "The College Rap" which also served as a prompt to discuss the expectations American high school students face as they prepare to enter university.

Focus on Rap/Hip-Hop
If a local rap artist happens to live in your area, considering inviting him or her to your class for your students to consult with on their rap song. You can either try doing a general Yahoo or Google search, or if you happen to work at a college campus that has a theater or music department, you can email an instructor to try and get a name of a student that might volunteer to help you. Another option might be putting up flyers in your local library or community recreational center. My guest speaker was a university student who introduced my class to Aesop Rock’s “No Regrets” which is a clean and thought-provoking rap song.

Through writing and performing their own rap song, students practice their language skills by selecting a topic, finding rhyming words, and writing multiple drafts. They also learn how to collaborate. One of my students responded, “I was not a big fan of hip-hop music, because it just sounded like loud and fast music. However, I learned that hip-hop is Americans’ stories, their culture and their way to express their feelings.” Here is a finished part of one group’s lyrics:

You know, I’m just work for my A+ aim!
And this is the time for going crazy
The confusing verb tense
My worksheets oh don’t make sense!
Upload it to dropbox
before the time clock stops!

Note that even if rap is not an obvious part of your selected novel or a related film, it still can be worthwhile to ask students to write a rap about a main character or theme of the novel you are reading. For example, in an episode of The Cosby Show, Theo and his friend adapt Marc Anthony’s speech “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, into a rap song. See the clip and rap performance here.

Focus on Jazz
Because the setting of The Great Gatsby is the Jazz Age, it is also important that you arrange for your students to listen to some jazz music. When we were reading the novel, Iowa City was having its annual jazz festival. If your area doesn’t have a jazz festival, you can borrow jazz music CDs from your university or public library. YouTube also has plenty of jazz music videos as well.

In addition to attending the jazz festival and writing their reactions to jazz music, I helped my students to become engaged in the community by volunteering at the festival. Volunteer work is a great way to get students out of their comfort zones and teach them a highly valued part of American culture. One student said,

American people focus more on action, not words. Helping people impressed me the most. People love to help people because they believe they are doing a good thing. Smiling is always the best way to communicate with others in this country.

Another student remarked, “I think this volunteer work is fantastic because it is a good way to get know with American culture and to make friends. I will be back next year.” You can also get your students involved in volunteer work by contacting your local volunteer center and by asking people in your community who might be in need of volunteers. If you happen to work at a college campus, you can contact various university clubs to see if members know of current volunteer projects or if they are in need of volunteers for one of their personal projects.

Making Connections
As the class progresses, you might like to show the film, The Queen of Versailles, and ask your student to discuss and then write an essay comparing it to The Great Gatsby. This activity allows them to make connections between something traditional and more recent and recognize that themes carry across time.

Toward the end of the class, have students read, listen to, and discuss Steve Jobs’ 2005 Commencement speech on American attitudes and expectations towards education. Jobs used several idioms throughout his speech that your students can learn and practice. Then, ask them to write and deliver their own motivational speech, incorporating an idiom that related to their topic.

Conclusion
Focusing on American culture not only helped my students to become comfortable with the culture that they are living in, but it also clarified the expectations of an American classroom. As one student said,

About the class environment, it’s also different from my own country. Students are so comfortable on how they sit, look and talk. There is no dictatorial behavior from teacher’s side. Teachers are always feeling responsible and looking for what their students need.

Concentrating on culture in the classroom, if well planned, can make students feel clued in to their new environment. It is also a way for instructors to stay in touch with current trends that young people are following. Once you choose a novel to build your course around, you can select meaningful culture references and appropriate language purposes—research, journal writing, script/play writing and performance, speeches, interviews, vocabulary, grammar, critical thinking, and field trips. Remember, we don’t have to hesitate to teach a particular novel because it is too immersed in American culture—we can embrace it.

 

Reference

Hedgcock, J. & Ferris, D. (2009). Teaching readers of English: Students, texts, and contexts. New York, NY: Routledge

 

Download this article (PDF)

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Sarah Carol Kassas teaches ESL at the University of Iowa, and she has also taught at the University of Alabama, Disney World, and in the Arabian Gulf. She earned her MA in TESOL from the University of Alabama and her BA in English from the American University of Sharjah. She enjoys incorporating art, culture, and technology into the classroom.

 

Strategic Learning (vs. Learning Strategies)

by Dudley Reynolds
Teaching ELLs specific strategies to better communicate in English helps them become more effective students. Learn to focus on strategic learning in your classroom. 

Language learning and use strategies are an integral part of many textbooks and teachers’ lessons today: Students have to write a question based on a reading’s title before they start reading; while in speech classes, everyone has to create a visual aid to promote comprehensibility. Teaching students specific strategies they can use to better comprehend, communicate in, or remember a new language without a doubt helps them become more effective language learners. When teaching strategies, however, we need to remember that the emphasis should not be strategy learning so much as strategic learning.

Cohen defines language learning strategies as “thoughts and actions, consciously chosen and operationalized by language learners, to assist them in carrying out a multiplicity of tasks” (2011, p. 7). The key word here is “consciously.” We may hope that students will make a strategy automatic behavior, but in the beginning strategies are deliberate steps students take in order to learn or communicate better. That means we need to get them thinking about how they are learning and using language. Here are four tips for teaching strategic learning.

Find Units of Learning in Language Experiences
Activities, tasks, projects, tests, and assignments all have clear goals and parameters that make it easier to evaluate students’ learning and also to help them understand where they were and were not successful. In short, they allow us—the teachers—to talk about learning.

Opportunities to learn language do not end with the classroom, however. Students use the Internet outside of class, watch subtitled movies, and have to make sense of the manual for a product they just bought. They may not see these experiences as learning opportunities, however.

Students need to see their interactions with language inside and outside of the classroom in the way that teachers do—as units of activity with endpoints and objectives and performance criteria.

To develop that ability, we need to ask questions like:

  • Why are we doing this activity?
  • What do you think would impress me in this paper?
  • What should you already know how to do on this test? What will be more difficult?
  • Can you name something you do outside of class where you use English? How do you know if you are doing it well?

Build Strategy Repertoires
Early research on children memorizing sequences showed that some students had more effective techniques than others and that children with less effective procedures could be taught to improve (Pressley & Harris, 2006). We don’t all solve mental challenges the same way, and often what we need to improve our process is to hear about other ways.

Consider asking students to complete a survey like the Language Strategy Use Inventory developed by Andrew Cohen and Julie Chi for the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota. Such inventories typically cover a range of contexts and language uses and are useful for showing learners that they can be more deliberate about their learning.

Learners also need focused exposure to choices they have with a single task. Model your thought process for figuring out a blog writer’s opinion on an issue. Highlight strategies you use, like breaking the article into sections before reading, making inferences from pictures, and keying in on evaluative language. You can also put students in pairs where one student is the doer of the task and the other an observer/recorder. The doer has to explain what she is thinking as she solves the task; the observer has to take notes and report back first to the doer and then the class.

Finally, encourage students to think about performing a task in their first language.  Ask them about something that is hard to read, then what steps they follow when reading it, how they use pictures, and what kind of notes they take.

Strategize
If students are aware that language tasks can be accomplished in different ways, then they are ready to strategize. Consider students in a speaking class assigned to give a 3-minute oral presentation on British culture. Some may simply say, “OK, I’ll surf the Internet until I find something to talk about.”  More strategic students, however, will see the classroom task as a series of subtasks that begin with identifying a topic, finding sources, planning the talk, creating visual support, and practicing.

Imagine that the strategic student has selected Morris dancing as a topic and now wants to find sources. She identifies goals (e.g., number of sources needed, criteria for source quality, comprehensibility of sources) and parameters (e.g., time available, limitations related to bandwidth, access to a printer or alternatives for saving information). She remembers first the Morris dancing in the London Olympics closing ceremonies and the dancers’ costumes. She then reads the entry on Wikipedia. She remembers that a past teacher told her information from Wikipedia needed to be verified by other sources. She thinks about the type of Internet site that might be useful. She chooses YouTube and looks for videos with titles like “What is Morris Dancing?” because she wants a video with written text as well as visual demonstrations. By adopting a strategic approach to her search, she finds quality information that supports her comprehension in a reasonable amount of time.

Strategic thinking does not come automatically. If we want to help students improve their oral presentations, for example, we have to talk about not only about what makes a good presentation, but also the process for preparing for a presentation. They need to compare their processes, evaluate each other, and consider alternatives.

Model Learning
Strategic learning is a hot topic for researchers today because it puts the emphasis on the process for learning and the need to teach students to be self-regulating (Gao, 2007; Tseng, Dörnyei, & Schmitt, 2006; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011). When we teach—that is, when we explain topics, set goals and parameters for tasks, provide feedback, and evaluate performance—we are not only facilitating learning, we are modeling it. We are providing paradigms that students can adopt and adapt.

This means that we should balance discussions of what we’re learning (e.g., “verb tenses”) with discussions of how we learn (e.g., “figuring out the right verb tense requires memorizing a closed set of forms and then being able to identify contextual signals that determine which form to choose; where should we look for those signals?”). We also need to help students develop criteria for evaluating learning that extend beyond mastery, such as how quickly the answer was reached, how certain we are of the answer, and whether we still remember it tomorrow.

Finally, we need to teach them to be flexible and forgiving. Let them know that trial and error is good as long as the trials are principled and the errors provide information for next time.

References

Cohen, A. D. (2011). Strategies in learning and using a second language (2nd ed.). Harlow, England: Longman Applied Linguistics/Pearson Education.

Gao, X. (2007). Has language learning strategy research come to an end? A response to Tseng et al. (2006). Applied Linguistics, 28(4), 615–620. doi:10.1093/applin/amm034

Pressley, M., & Harris, K. R. (2006). Cognitive strategies instruction: From basic research to classroom instruction. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 265–286). New York, NY: Routledge.

Tseng, W., Dörnyei, Z., & Schmitt, N. (2006). A new approach to assessing strategic learning: The case of self-regulation in vocabulary acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 27(1), 78–102.

Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (2011). Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Download this article (PDF)

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Dudley Reynolds teaches first-year writing at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. The lead principal investigator for a Qatar National Research Fund grant on “Improving Reading Skills in the Middle School Science Classroom,” his current research focuses on the teaching and learning of strategic reading practices in Arabic and English. He is the author of One on One with Second Language Writers: A Guide for Writing Tutors, Teachers, and Consultants and Assessing Writing, Assessing Learning.

 

Lesson Plan: Intercultural Holiday Party Planning

by Sarah Sahr
This lesson plan is an exercise in cultural awareness and allows students to choose and present on the worldwide holidays of their choice.

Being the culturally sensitive teachers we are, it’s so hard to find a proper holiday lesson plan. Making sure we cover all the holidays all year long can be really challenging. This activity circumvents this issue by letting groups choose their own holiday to celebrate. And, for the sake of neutrality, this lesson plan is an exercise in cultural awareness—so grading is optional.
Materials: For the first day, the holiday handout (.docx), printouts of holiday photos, and tape. After that, students are responsible for their own materials.
Audience: If manipulated in the correct fashion, this activity can be formatted to meet the needs of all age and proficiency levels
Objectives: Students will be able to plan a holiday party with an assigned group of students, present their holiday activities to the class, and celebrate their holiday with all classmates
Outcome: Students will turn in/present the information on their holiday worksheet
Duration: 2–4 class periods: The first day is to start the planning process. Some planning may take place outside of class. The other days are for each group to present their holiday to the class and, if you have the time and resources, for celebrating all the holidays!

Lesson Preparation
If possible, print some pictures of holidays around the world based on your students demographics. (If you don’t have access to a printer, you can try drawing representations of the holidays.) I have yet to find an open source clip art web page that offers selections from all the holidays I know. It seems best to search the web for each holiday separately.

Once you have about a dozen holidays to choose from (make sure to represent all regions of the world), label each photo with a number and tape the photos around the room. If you have beginner students, you might want to put a Holiday Word Bank on the board, just to help them out. Leave room at one side of the board to make a list of other holidays students might know of that aren’t represented around the room.

Introduction (10 minutes)
As students arrive in class, hand them a piece of paper numbered with as many pictures as you have posted (10 photos means you will number the paper from 1 to 10), and ask them to do a “gallery walk.” Students will walk about the room, look at each photo, and write down what holiday they think the photo might represent.

After about 6 minutes, ask students what holidays they see. Which one might be their favorite? Which holidays are missing? If they were to plan a party, which holiday would be the easiest one to plan for? Which the hardest? Questions should vary based on level of language proficiencies in your class. As you ask questions, start making a list of holidays on the board. Allow students to share their knowledge of a holiday if they would like. Even though the introduction is only 10 minutes, it can go longer, as long as students are producing quality conversation.

Information (15 minutes)
With the help of your class, the list of holidays will become the planning committees for specific holiday celebrations. For example: the እንቁጣጣሽ (English spelling Enkutatash, known as Ethiopian New Year) students will plan the “New Year’s Day” party; the Diwali (known as the Festival of Lights in India) students will plan a 5-day festival.

Once the list is complete, divide the class into groups. Depending on size, groups may vary. This might be a great opportunity for students to self-select groups. The only concern when deciding on groups may be to group people around a holiday they know. It might be challenging for your students to plan Татьянин день (English spelling Talyana Day) celebration if they haven’t lived in Russia. However, for more advanced students, you can turn this into a research project, and have them learn about holidays they’re unfamiliar with.

Each group is responsible for planning their particular holiday celebration. The Holiday Worksheet (.docx) will help assign official responsibilities for the presentation. Encourage students to bring in physical examples pertaining to food, decorations, games, music, costume, and such. If you have the capacity to do so, have students solicit help from the community. Students will want to plan a 20-minute presentation around their holiday.

Planning (20 minutes)
Give students the rest of class time to plan with their groups. It might be best if the actual presentations take place a few weeks after this initial class. That way, students can gather more information and, possibly, props. If needed, you can set up a time to meet with each planning committee/group, after school, during lunch, etc., to help plan. Make sure you set a solid deadline for presentations and often remind students of that due date.

Presentations
Each member of the committee must help with planning and presenting their particular holiday to the class. (Remember, participants are able to convene an actual party as their presentation.) Depending on the proficiency level of the students, you may want to scaffold presentations in some way. For more advanced students, you may want to let students know they can present their holiday in any way they’d like. They might want to present a report, create a holiday simulation of some kind, or feed the class. Possibilities are endless! However, you’ll want to know what they are planning, just so you can prepare and make sure it is okay with the school. (If students are presenting Beltane, a Gaelic May Day festival, they probably won’t be allowed to have a bonfire in class. Yikes!)

Conversation
After each presentation, allow ample time for classroom discussion. First, let students talk in their groups to synthesize what they just learned. Then, open the floor to the class. As the teacher, you may want to lead the conversations. However, with more advanced students, the presenters can lead the discussions as well.

Evaluation
Each presentation should be looked at for its cultural sensitivity and creativity, and you may not want to grade them at all: This extended activity is for fun and cultural awareness.

Download this lesson plan (PDF) 
and handout (.docx)


You can find past TESOL Connections lesson plans and activities in the TESOL Connections archives, or you can visit the TESOL Resource Center. From there, search Keyword “Sahr” and you will find about 20 resources with my name on it.

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Sarah Sahr works at TESOL and is currently pursuing her doctorate in education administration and policy at the George Washington University. Her professional career has taken her all over the world, most notably as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia and as a traveling school teacher/administrator with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Sarah is also a certified ashtanga yoga instructor and has managed an eco-lodge in Chugchilan, Ecuador.