Here's a short description of the activities you can find on this page. Click on them to go there directly:
Put various objects that are on your desk at home or in the office apart from the books you normally bring to class, and place them on the table.
- Ask students to form pairs or groups of three.
- Give out task cards, on which you tell the students which audience they need to be writing a paragraph describing the teacher's desk in the classroom. The audience could be the following: your grandmother; your
sister/brother who is 4 years old; the principal of the school; a scientist; your fellow student; your teacher; your sister/brother who studies Economics at the University, etc.
- At the end of the activity, rearrange the class so that each audience type gets into a group. Ask you students to share their solutions.
- Ask students to reflect on the types of words, expressions they used for the different audiences. If it is a more analytical group, ask students to look at sentence structure (simple, complex, compound). Word usage is another example.
- When students get back to a whole class format, ask the following questions (or similar to these being very focused on content, form and discourse features):
- What words were used for the various audiences for ...?
- How many short/long sentences were used ...?
- How many simple sentences are there in the various paragraphs? How many more complex ones?
- How many (and what kind of) adjectives are there in the paragraphs?
- How is information organised in the paragraph? In other words, what kind of information is included in the paragraph?
- How is the description following the patterns of desrciption in terms of space, function of objects, etc? For instance, is the description following a left to right pattern? Are the objects described based on their function or their form, colour, and so on?
- Collect the pieces.
The next lesson could be spent re-writing the paragraph again based on the questions asked the last time. The purpose of that would be to make students aware of not only the process of writing (drafts) but also the fact that when they are more aware of their audiences, they could manipulate the language they use for the purpose of writing.
Of course there are numerous variations to this activity.
- You could write for the same audience but in different genres. For instance write a poem, a description, a narrative of the table.
- Or, you could write for different purposes. For instance the paragraph could be written for a furniture magazine where you would like to sell this old piece ... or put an ad in the paper about your old table (don't forget to give the name of the paper!) ... or ...
- It could be given as homework. Advantage: students need to describe their own desks which cannot be seen by the other student. The more precise and vivid the description is the better for our imagining the desk. Therefore, the description as genre is better that way. In this case, analysis could be done in class with whole class or in pairs or groups.
- And many more ...
I have used this activity with university students where the pedagogical aim was to raise awareness about the syntactic, lexical and discoursal patterns that differ when we write to various types of audience. It worked very well for us!
This activity brings up a lot of further activities attached to this. They will be coming soon ...
The above activity is from Enikõ Csomay. Her homepage is at http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~ec23/.
She is the first to contribute an activity to my pages, so I'll have to find a special prize for her ...