Aim (In terms of subject matter): to practise speaking about the postal service.

Aim (In terms of thinking): a) to learn recognizing those moments when the students should express their arguments in order to prove their opinions; b) to learn how to use one’s own essay as a source of vocabulary and grammar; c) to learn imitating real-life situations.

Task: a) to discuss the reasons why the Latvian Post has to continue working or to be closed; b) to roleplay situations at the post office.


Lesson description: my initial aim was that there would be a big roleplay, in which I (as the government) and they (as the Latvian post) would discuss the pluses and minuses. But the roleplay means the presence of emotional features of a conversation, which were absent this time (and I don’t think I pay enough attention to developing this aspect), so I ended up asking questions and they answering me. All in CH, of course. I was glad to see that they referred to their essays for ideas and vocabulary. For the first 20 minutes we talked like this.

The second 20 minutes were devoted to imitating situations at the post office. The students don’t often go there and couldn’t remember the procedures, so I told them all the steps in LV(greet the person, say that you need to receive a parcel, ask for the passport, ask to weigh the letter, etc.) and they had to think what to say.   

Teacher’s role: to give the students ideas for speaking; to help them with translation into CH by dividing Latvian sentences into smaller parts or by paraphrasing, by giving similar sentences, etc. Actually, I sometimes feel that I learn more than my students, I’ve already become very flexible at paraphrasing and searching for examples. I try to speak less, but in order to avoid complete standstill I have to be flexible and invent new sentences which they are able to translate. Then I always praise the students for knowing things in CH and ask them not to be too lazy and shy.

Overall reflection of the lesson: it wasn’t bad, taking into account the level on knowledge of the students who were present and their physical condition that day. They were listening to each other and reacting appropriately, so I assume that they were developing their skill of argumentation.

Also, since the students referred to their essays while speaking, they realized how important it was to narrow down the range of vocabulary and not to rely too much on the use of dictionaries. During this lesson they could really understand what each of them was saying and they could answer and be understood.

As to the imitating real-life post office situations, it was difficult for them – one must restore the situation in memory step by step (restore the script) and then represent it in another language. With my help they realized that there are many more things to be said in very simple situations. Strangely, in terms of training language use, not being creative and following a script precisely, becomes a more creative task than the one in which the students have to simple roleplay a situation. So, I will definitely use this idea in the future.    

Thinking task framework: I don’t know if this lesson corresponded to the thinking task framework, maybe step 1 only – increasing room for thinking, but with too much of my help in the roleplays.

Main conclusions: 1) need to practise real language – with words to express emotions; 2) will be interesting to try very detailed roleplays – scripts; 3) it is good to do a speaking task on the basis of their essays.

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