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If you’d read the previous post, you’d know that we’d been dealing with the topic of holidays, and also that I’d thought that lesson was somewhat low-key. To introduce a little “fun” and to deal with pronunciation issues I’d noticed in the previous lesson, the first thing I did was to beam this slide up.

Deciphering phonetic transcription on Dogme Diaries

Deciphering phonetic transcription by Chiew Pang

The words were laid out in two columns, and I split the class into two teams of boys and girls. I’d introduced them to the phonetic script from the first day, but, of course, I didn’t expect them to remember much. Besides, there have been new students since that first day. Still, that didn’t perturb me unduly. Some teachers are hesitant in using the script in class, but I personally believe it is useful. I don’t expect them to learn the script off by heart – I myself am not an expert – but it’s valuable that they recognise the sounds they represent so that when they look words up in the dictionary, they will be able to pronounce them.

Surprisingly, both teams did extremely well. The boys, claiming that their list was trickier, were hesitant in a few of the words, especially “adventurous”. They looked as though they enjoyed the activity. I also made sure they pronounced the words well, and that they knew the number of syllables each had.

That done, I proceeded to beam up 3 different slides on a series of common errors they often make in their writing. I encouraged them to keep a list of these and to check all their essays against it before submitting their work.

Correcting common errors in the classroom

Common errors by Chiew Pang

They then moved on to a guided discovery of past tenses (past simple vs continuous and used to): they saw them in usage, established the rules, and did some controlled practice.

The last time I did the orang utan circular writing activity, they enjoyed it very much, so I decided to do it again for their free practice session. This time I adapted the one I used for the CAE group; instead of starting it off with “On a dark and stormy night”, they wrote “For the first time, X was…”

As usual, while they write, I went around monitoring and correcting. Judging from their feedback, they, again, enjoyed this.

“I liked to do the last exercise. I think it´s good to improve your creativity and to have ideas when you do a writing.”

“I liked the writing game, because it’s a good way for improving our writing skills and for spending a nice time at the same moment.”

My thoughts

It was a livelier lesson, and I think quite productive. I’ve been wanting to group their common errors together for quite some time and was glad to have finally done it. I’m hoping that by seeing them side by side, they will take my advice and start a list so that I don’t have to be highlighting the same errors over and over again!

I’ve taken to do more writing in class as they don’t always do their home assignments, and I find they get more out of on-the-spot, as opposed to delayed, help.

What about you? Do you do writing in class often? Do you have frequent error-correction sessions?