It's all about feelingA designer lessons ESL lesson plan developed by George Chilton

This is an interactive lesson that encourages the students to be creative and use natural language. The focus is on intonation and sentence stress, and can be adapted to suit your class as need be. Optionally, you could download this plain 4 slide powerpoint presentation with teacher lead  intonation and sentence stress exercises. The presentation itself is easily adaptable and follows the suggested structure of this lesson.

Lesson aims:

  • To practise intonation
  • To practise sentence stress
  • To create a dialogue using natural English

Stage one – Mingle

Write the word “Hello” on the board (or use the powerpoint).

Ask your students what they think is more important; what you say or how you say it.

You’ll get various answers – mostly along these lines:

•Can change/affect the meaning of a sentence.
•Can cause misunderstandings.
•Is as important as your choice of words.

Get your students standing up and point to the word Hello.

Ask your students to walk around saying Hello to one another, in the following ways:

•As if it were to their boss.
•to their best friend.
•to an attractive man/woman at the bar.
•to a six month old baby.
Now get your students to sit down. Ask them to say Hello in one of the ways they were just demonstrating – ask the rest of the class to decide which version of hello it was.
It’s a demonstration of the implicit meaning ontonation can give to a word or sentence.
Stage two -Hum what’s next
To get the students used to how different words can be stressed in the sentence show them the sentence:
I love your mother’s cooking.
I love your mother’s cooking.
I love your mother’s cooking.
I love your mother’s cooking.
I love your mother’s cooking.
The bold text indicates where the stress lies.
Ask the student’s to mimick your intonation  as you stress different words in the sentence. Rather than repeating the words, I’ve found it to be more effective if they hum. If they hum they won’t focus on pronunciation and are less likely to stress the wrong words.
Now ask them if the meaning changes when different words are stressed. Potential meanings are listed below (numbers represent the first, second, third, fourth and fifth words):
  1. Personally. Someone else does not love the cooking.
  2. Emphasis of natural meaning.
  3. A particular mother. I don’t, for example, like his mother’s cooking.
  4. Particular family member. I don’t, for example, like your father’s cooking.
  5. Aspect of mother you love. I, for example, hate your mother but love her cooking.

Model an answer for your students and ask them to complete the rest of the implied meanings in pairs. Make sure they repeat the sentence out loud so they can hear the stress.

Stage Three – Murderousness

I didn’t say we should kill him.

This is another sentence to practice stress, but this time we can change the follow-up activity slightly.

Write the sentence on the board.

Read the sentence out loud and and go through the stresses – asking your students to repeat after you. Ask individuals to read the sentence out, checking different stresses each time.

List the numbers 1- 7 on the board and get the students to list what they think the sentence could mean.

Examples of meaning:

  1. I didn’t say we should kill him.  = Someone else said we should kill him.
  2. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I am denying saying it.
  3. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I implied it / whispered it / wrote it down.
  4. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I said someone else should kill him /you should kill him, etc.
  5. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I said we shouldn’t kill him / we must kill him, etc.
  6. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I said we should take him to dinner /take care of him / send him on a diving holiday.
  7. I didn’t say we should kill him. = We should kill someone else.
Share answers as a group and clear up misunderstandings. You will have to model this sentence several times for your students.

Follow up – Dangerous Dialogue
Put your students into groups (7 groups is ideal, but fewer would be fine). Designate a number to each group and tell them that is the stress they will be looking at.
I.E – group 2 will stress the word “didn’t.”
The group must then write a dialogue containing that line and using the correct stress and relevant meaning. Each group can perform to each other at the end of class. Monitor, perform on the spot corrections and use the time left over to correct repeated errors.

Creative Commons Licence
Designer Lessons by George Chilton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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