#30GoalsEDU: Goal 4

30goals4 Ideas are often thought of and forgotten in a blink of an eye. Our heads are filled with them and yet there is so little time to put them all into practice. That is one of the reasons why I left this one idea aside for while. Learners though love watching TV series in class, so I thought why not pursue this goal and see what would happen if I used it for a whole semester!

Would they be more motivated? Would they like the one I chose? Would they learn more from it? Would they learn new ways to learn outside the class?

The biggest challenge is developing tasks that don’t kill the natural desire and curiosity that keeps one engaged with a TV series, that is, the story itself. I would need to chose a show was also age appropriated, and in a genre that is popular among teens. Comedy is usually a winner. I chose a sitcom after reading Learning English through TV series by Chia Suan Chong. Even though I thought a sitcom would be good, I was also worried that most of the ones they like tend not to be age appropriate, like Friends or Two-and-Half men.


So I chose THE MIDDLE after a long search and review reading. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

A family that could pretty much be yours. 😉

Back in April, I watched the live transmition of Jan Blake plenary “They don’t care about the vocabulary, they care about the characters.” and that has sticked to my mind every since. It also made me ask myself why they couldn’t engage or care about the characters from the coursebook and I understood that emotional connection is really important with whatever material you chose to use. Here is something that Jan Blake said in the interview she gave to Vicky Loras – ISTEK 2013 Roving Reporter.

“[..]When they hear me tell stories, they want to engage with the language, they want to discuss with each other, they are eager to figure out if they can’t understand something… they ask each other “what did she say?” they may just say that in their own language and then you have someone quickly translating, but at the same time watching me because they don’t want to lose a thread of the story so for me that’s the beginning of acquiring a language, when you are emotionaly engaged with the language…”

By keeping the idea that empathizing with the characters would help keeping their interest up and at the same connect them with the language, I started as follow:

Episode 1

Before watching, I told them we would play a game called “Whose line is it?” afterwards and that they should pay attention to what Frankie and Mike’s children would say. They watched it in L2 with L1 subtitles. As my main goal was to engage them with the story (most of them had never watched it or heard about it, while very few have and liked it very much), and as I have beginners in the groups, I thought it was important to let them enjoy it and concentrate on English later.

Whose line is it?

You can download the lines here.

I have to chose games that encourage learners to work collaborative or grade it like I did with the previous game “Name that Tune?”. In Whose line is it? game I asked them to work together in pairs or in a group of three when needed and made sure that students in different levels worked together. With the visual media, it helped the lower level learners to add to the game by contributing with what they remembed from the scenes. By having higher levels reading aloud the lines and discussing meaning provided lower level with comprehensible input. I did not interfere with the strategies they used to accomplish the task.

Each team received different lines to help them focus without trying to pay attention to what the other group was doing. I think this is really important thing to do. The number of lines have to be the same to be fair. The winner group was the one that got all of the lines in the correct place. When a group thought they had finished, I would go to their desk check it out without giving away any clue to what line was misplaced, I would count them out as I checked and tell them the number of lines and encourage them to keep working on it.

After the game, I asked each team to copy the sentences onto their notebooks for later activity.

Inspired in #Goal 3: Linking songs to the TV series

Without telling my teens anything about it, I chose a song to match the character Frankie. Frankie is the mom. She goes through a lot in a day in the first episode and the song I chose was Ironic by Alanis Morissete. Check out the Tumblr The Hecks Playlist I have created for me and learners to post their videos and reasons for choosing them. Actually they have already done it and registered on their notebooks. But as I got sick and had to stay way for 2 weeks, we didn’t have the chance to add to it, so they will be sharing their songs online from next week on.

Before asking students to chose a character and song that matches the character, we worked with the videoclip in class. We watched it. We discussed the lyrics. We sang. And focused specifically on the contrast between irony and misfortune, then I asked them about Frankie and how that song relates to her.

With that I introduced the idea to create a playlist – The Middle theme songs, like I said totally inspired by the #30 Goals challenge Goal 3! kudos to the community and thanks for the idea. This was given as homework to bring in the following week, most of them did it! I have prepared other activities and my head is filled with ideas to work with the TV series. Episode 2 focus on very specific trait of the mom and dad – the straight shooter and cheerleader type of person.

What do you think? Any suggestions?


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