Lesson Plan ESL

The "Dumbo Feather" and Communication Circles

Lesson Plan ESL - The "Dumbo Feather" and Communication Circles

We are lucky to have another article by Thomas Anderson on teaching English in Japan to low level beginners or false beginners. If you choose to teach in Japan over other countries, you may find that Japanese learners need a fair bit of "scaffolding," or structure to their lessons - especially elementary level adults or (beginner adults - false beginners).

In the Dumbo Feather, Anderson outlines how to accomplish this with one of his many, interesting lesson plans.

See the first page of this article.

by Thomas C. Anderson

Hopefully teachers remember the Disney Film "Dumbo" about the baby elephant with very large ears that could fly and became a hero. When Dumbo began to fly, his friend the mouse gave him a red feather with the idea that he could fly if he held it. In a dramatic rescue bid Dumbo loses the feather but finds out that he doesn`t need it. With lower level students I give them a "red feather" conversation frame (see example) thendo this procedure:

1. I hand out the frame print and go over any new vocabulary, do a bit of work on pronunciation, stress, intonation, body language etc.

2. Students fill in blanks with their own information, for example: I`m from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

3. Students are divided into two groups which stand facing each other.

4. One side is chosen to begin the conversation using the "start drama" mentioned or just "Good morning" or "Hi!"

5. Students talk to each other using the "look (at the paper)look (at your partner), speak.

6. One line moves one space to the right or left and do steps 1-5 with a new partner.

7. Eventually students do the conversation with no paper.

My role at this time is to monitor, noting any body language or other problems, making sure students aren`t reading from the paper or chatting in Japanese.

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