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Grade: Senior
Subject: Language

#2394. Do you "mystery" fluent English?

Language, level: Senior
Posted Wed Oct 10 13:35:04 PDT 2001 by Mubarak Abdessalami (abdessalami@n2english.com).

Hassan II High School, Tinejdad,Morocco
Materials Required: A lot of imagination
Activity Time: 60 minutes
Concepts Taught: Fluency and co-operative skills

-Making aloof students(because shy,bored,absent-minded or whatever)get involved in an oral-centered group work activity.
-Brainstorming,challenging and prompting to action into manipulating and creating discourse.
-Narrowing and concentrating on the most plausible justification for specific solutions by pooling ideas
-Cooperating,collaborating,exchanging,discussing and expressing ideas in plain English

Practically,to reach objectives as such,the teacher needs to use a "high-voltage" stimulus,motivating enough to summon up the students' attention,interest and curiosity to eventually drag them into participating effectively in a group activity.The stimulus,thus,could be a tough problem,an enigma,a riddle or a mystery to name only the major categories.This sort of activity is meant to brainstorm,challenge,activate and invite the students to:
-negotiate the input.
-use their repertory of language items and functions.
-develop fluency.
-learn communication strategies.
-learn through speaking with eachother.
-re-organize and edit.

The Lesson
*Input through warm-up and instructions (10 mns)
From the very beginning,the students will be told what the activity is about.The teacher will give the following instructions:
.You will imagine you were in a difficult situation .
.You'll have about 20 minutes to think about it in small groups
.Then you'll give out your version to the whole class.
.All your work will be subject to questionning to prove logical and acceptable
.Finally,you'll have a homework about it.

Then the teacher will launch a warm-up through chat,paving her way into stating the mysterious situation in question.Simultaneously,she will raise some questions (referential ones of course) about emotions and feelings face to a difficult situation or mysterious events (fear,hesitation,courage etc).This opening move will end up in something like:
"One night,while you were alone at home ,suddenly you heard a mysterious noise coming out of the kitchen,the attic,the garden or elsewhere in the house or in the vicinity.Tell us
(on the board) 1.How did you feel?
2.What was your reaction?
3.What was the noise?
4.How did you deal with the situation?
(N.B:modify to better tune to the learners' abilities)
The teacher will make sure her instructions are clear enough before she divides the class into groups of three or four at random.

The group work activity 20 minutes
The students will engage in a cooperative-arrangement to find out and reach one or various suitable explanations to the mystery through negotiating the input.Meanwhile,the teacher will walk around to direct,encourage and lend a hand with the task when required.The groups should vie with one another for the most exciting interpretation. The noise could be an uproar,a din,a racket,a hubbub,a patter,a pop,a flop,a thud,a tramp,a clang,a rattat,a rattle,a crash,a jangle or anything which brings about suspense and mystery.The students' findings will be subject to unexpected questions about details.So they will have to take all facets into consideration so as to be able to justify,defend,or explain an idea or also sustain a supposition,reinforce or offer proposals.
Because it is the backbone of the whole task,this stage will have to be given the time necessary to be well-done.

This stage could be handled in various ways.One of them is to ask the reporter of a group to speak for his/her group while the others listen(and may take notes).The students belonging to the same group of the reporter can interfere to add,explain,or elaborate a piece of information (not too long).Whereas the others belonging to the other groups may interupt to comment;to question about a detail or to spot a weak point in the story.The teacher,in this stage,will just guide the discussions and the class interaction,and let the students display their imaginations in words without imposing anything on them nor siding with any of the groups whatever excellent their performance is.She may just give hints to direct and keep the performance take place normally;but not to disturb the students' spontaneity by repeatedly correcting mistakes.
As far as errors are concerned,the teacher will not interrupt to correct mistakes unless the message is destorted or arises misunderstanding or incomprehensibility.Stress will be on fluency .Accuracy will occasionally be overlooked but not ignored.It is later on that the teacher could review the major mistakes and errors through remedial work.

CLOSING MOVE 10 minutes
The closing move opens another activity that could be assigned as homework.The mysterious noise could,eventually,be caused,according to the students,by a thief,a burglar,the wind,a member of the family or just a cat.The reactions on the other hand,could be fear,indifference,worry or else.In brief,each student would like to keep his/her own ideas that may or may not dovetail with the others'.So,the teacher may assign a homework: a narrative essay.
More concentrated this time,the input will be presented in a slight different way.The teacher will urge the students to supply her with questions adequate for maintaining the chronological sequence of events and the unity of the story.While the students provide questions,the teacher's role is limited to approving the most appropriate ones to the topic and write them on the board in this way,
1 Why were you alone at home?(parents went to the cinema,theatre,a wedding party ...)
2 What were you doing?(homework,watching TV,reading a story or just doing nothing)
3 How happened that you heard the noise?
4 What was it like?
5 Where was it?
6 What did you first think it was?(assumptions)
7 How did you feel?!!
8 What did you do?
9 What was it? (conclusion:surprise!unexpected factor)
The teacher then will ask the students to provide her with the possible linking words useful for narration,
-As soon as
-Suddenly/all of a sudden
The students will be promissed to publish the best essay in the school magazine(if there is one)