Section 1:- Chosen Text
For this assignment I have chosen the text of a Tripadvisor article called The Day of the Dead. https://www.tripadvisor.com/blog/how-mexico-celebrates-day-of-the-dead/ . It is about a vibrant Mexican Festival that celebrates those who have passed away. The level of the students for which the article and tasks are intended for are upper intermediate. The original word count of the article was 810 words . However to make the article of an appropriate length I have removed two paragraphs (food, flowers) to reduce it to 599 words. This will not effect the context of it as all the paragraphs are independent. Firstly I think the students will be interested in reading it because it’ s about travel which is very popular with foreign students. Secondly it’s a festival that involves fancy dress much like Halloween, so when they see photos of it for the first time their interest will piqued and they will want to find out more……. When planning a reading lesson, teachers not only consider how appropriate or interesting a text is (Riddell 2003), but equally how accessible the text is to the students with respect to their prior knowledge…….. It’s a text type they would read outside class as TripAdvisor is the worlds most visited travel website.
Section 2:-Lead In.
As the aim of the lead in is to stimulate interest in the topic and prepare them for the text. I would display a photo of the topic on powerpoint with the questions “What is happening here? Is it a happy or sad occasion?” and get them to work in pairs. This is a very student centred activity which creates interest in the content of the text and “activates schemata” Harmer, p. 271 . Once they have discussed this in their pairs, a class feedback would be done and everyone will state their predictions which I will write down on the WB. Feedback is crucial as without it “is teaching that proceeds without reference to what impact it is having on the learner” Schrivener 2011.Once this stage has been completed its prepares them for the next stage as “there is a much better chance they will read with commitment and concentration” (Harmer 2001:206) Working in pairs allows them to practice their speaking skills as well.
Initial Reading Task
Prior to giving the ss the text, I would need to make sure there are no blocking words, i.e., words that would prevent the ss from gaining an overall understanding of the text. The words I would clarify the meaning, form , pronunciation of are Reminisce, Reverance, procession, Epitaph, Deceased.
The purpose here is to orient students to the overall meaning of the text by setting a gist task. In order to achieve this I would now ask the ss to gist read the article, giving them a few mins to do so. At the end I would ask them to discuss in pairs whether their predictions were correct or not before doing a whole class discussion. The subskill that is being practiced here is reading for general understanding. As Jeremy Harmer has explained “the reader has made a choice not to attend to every detail but to use their processing powers to get a more top down view of what’s going on” (Harmer 2001: 202) or as Schrivener said “to read fast not worrying about understanding every word; but still achieving a specific and useful goal” (Schrivener 2011:264)
Section 4:- Detailed Reading Task
The purpose here is to orient students to the specific meaning of the text by setting a detailed task. It develops the sub skills of reading for detailed comprehension Harmer, p 270. In order to achieve this I would set a series of true/false questions. Refer to appendix 2.
I would get the students working on their own for this task underlining where they got their answers from. Once I believe they have completed the task, I would get them to pair check their answers and discuss where they found their answers. During this stage I would monitor their discussions. I would now get the whole class feedback, nominating a ss and also asking them to expand on their reasoning, as well as asking further questions or even getting their personal views. I will not just get a true/false answer from them but I will want them to prove to me that they’ve understood it. This would be done by asking follow up questions. This is as Harmer states ‘we should always ask where in the text they found the answer, this provokes a detailed study of the text…’ Harmer, p. 286 and the purpose of this comes back to the stage aim, mainly “reading texts closely and carefully with the intention of gaining an understanding of as much detail as possible.” Learning English, Jim Scrivener, p. 188
Productive Skills Follow up Activity.
As a follow up task it would be a good idea for students to practice speaking language related to festivals/national holidays. The purpose of this is to exploit the topic of the text for fluency speaking practice. Students should think of what national holidays/festivals their countries are famous for. For example Spain: La Tomatina, France: Bastille Day, Netherlands: Queens Birthday. Which festival would you recommend to go to in your country and why? Or why not? What festivals in other countries have you been to?