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Curriculum help wanted 
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Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:49 am
Posts: 2
Location: Japan
Post Curriculum help wanted
I have been teaching 13 Oral Communication classes at a high school 3 days a week by myself since April. So far I have been following the "Get Real" series, but I would really like to design my own curriculum. I have searched around the web, but most of what I found is either too general (a lot of theory) or too specific (one off lesson ideas).

I am trying to come up with about 20 1-month grammar/vocab themes that I can develop lessons around (as well as make homework and tests). Does anyone here have any links, ideas, or advice they would be willing to share? :smt100

Fri Sep 01, 2006 2:12 pm

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 3:59 pm
Posts: 42
Post TPR-S
Hello Wally,
I was in much the same situation at the beginning of term (which is in March here in Korea), so I tried the TPR-S approach for the first time with the incoming high school class.

Basically, to create one unit, pick out or write a story appropriate to students level. If students are at a lower-level, a story that uses the same verb tense or repeats the same few sentence construction (ex: I am, I like, I want - only constructions in one story) is suggested.
From this story, pick out vocabulary words.
The class starts with vocabulary & perhaps grammar introduction, both of which can be quizzed or given as homework in worksheets to practice.
Next, ask the class questions using the sentence constructions that are the focus (Do you like __? Do you want___? Are you___?) and also incorporate the vocab into these questions.
Using the students answers to these questions, write a story in class. The teacher writes the story on the bored and the students copy it into their workbooks. Homework could be questions about the story. Also, students can act out the story or draw pictures to illustrate the story (like a comic strip) -- all meant to reinforce the story/words/grammar.
Next, students read the story you picked out or wrote and answer questions about it-- True or False, Fill in the blank, Short answer, Number these events in the order they happened.
Then, students re-write the story created in class, but in their own words. After that, the class changes the story together, changing details about characters or changing the ending, etc.
There are also illustrations that show the action of the story and students write or verbally describe what's happening.

The next unit introduces more words and grammar while incorporating the material from unit one.

So, this is what I tried so far, and it's worked with some success. One thing I've changed is the suggestion that students translate the vocab into their L1. This worked okay when my students were brand new to high school, but now that their English level has increased I ask students to write a definition in English for the vocab (we talk various definitions that work and the students decide what to write in their own book).

For me, it was a starting point and gave some guidance to the class. I deviate from it and do other activities, but come back to it. Also, I created a blank grid for the vocab/definition page so that students can write in new words that come up in class. Also, it helped me to give out a workbook -- otherwise students would lose handouts from one week to the next.

Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:29 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Wally - Welcome to the forums.

Where are you teaching and how long have the students been studying English?

I teach 2 high school classes a week and it's all oral communication. I will only tell you about some of the better things I have done :wink: Not really in any specific order, I hope it helps.

Reported Speech was a great series. It can easily go for one month or more. I used the material from and added those to some of my own games for practice and finished with students telling me what people said or asked in short video clips of different movies.

Movies and talking about them. Again I used the material available from as a spring board for 2 lessons and after ward used them for reference and discussed movies in Japan. The fourth lesson we hopped onto Apple QuickTime movie trailer site and watched some trailers. Students then picked their favorite and explained to the group about the movie. This may expand into one more lesson if you have larger classes.

Music, music groups and talking about them. I build off the movie lesson right into music and music groups. Same idea.

Part-Time Jobs: I'm actually doing this now with one group. I use the materials I have here, starting with a discussion about students and their friends or family, if they have part-time jobs, where they work and what they do there, hourly wage... Then we use the first set of cards and talk about those people. Then, I follow up with the second set. Afterward, they can pretty much tell me all about part-time jobs.

Describing a Scene: I play a short clip of a movie with no sound. Half of the group watches the movie clip. The other half of the group doesn't. The group that watched the clip comes back and describes as best they can down to minor details what they saw. The non-watchers can participate in the discussion and verify information. Once time is up, the non-watchers have to answer questions about the scene: How many people were there? What was on the wall? Were there any animals? What did the boys do first? ... I generally start first with a still photograph to get them used to describing what they see and build up to the movie over two lessons. Here's another post on how I do that in detail I usually have 2 lessons with just watching and describing the movie scene (4 lessons total)

The Mt Diamonte Project: is another activity I do with high school students.

The Perfect Park Project: This only takes about 2-3 lessons to complete with high school students but if you share other projects then maybe 3-4 with discussion

The International Restaurant Boulevard: I'm in the process of finishing this one up with one group.

I'll try to get back to you with some others. You can also try Under different headings. you can find some well directed links to sites for young adult materials/info. With some time you can come up with a few pretty solid lesson plans i would imagine.

Do you have any good ones you can share? I'm always in the market for high school lessons and like you said longer themes if I can get them.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:40 pm
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Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:49 am
Posts: 2
Location: Japan

Thank you for the replies. Morning_Calm, I will check out the TPR-S system and give it a try after I study about it some more. Do you have some links, books, or on-line videos with some examples and themes that you could recommend or point me to?

mesmark, thank you for the links and ideas, I will look them over and see how to build them into my lessons. As for your question, I teach at a boarding school. I also teach at a kindergarten and community centres, so I have about 25~30 classes a week. The students at the high school come from all over Japan and many have had problems in JHS / didn't attend JHS (or so I have been told). Some students have problems with the alphabet and cannot write their names. There are between 30 and 40 students in each class, and in most of the classes half of the students like to sleep. This is probably because they are exhausted from their morning jogs and sports practices, and their afternoon sports practices, too. However, the sleeping and low maturity level makes doing group work (and even pair work) very difficult.

What I am looking for right now I guess are ideas that I can use to make a year plan out of and build lessons and activities around.

ie: Restaurant / food vocab / I'll have~, I'd like~,
Sports / sports vocab / I can ~, I'd like to ~

Thanks in advance.

Sun Sep 03, 2006 6:03 pm

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 3:59 pm
Posts: 42
Hello Wally,
This link has some information on TPR-S:

Also, at the bottom of the page above are some links to other TPR-S resources. The best place to get books/instructional videos is:
Depending on your students level, the Look I Can Talk workbook might be a good reference. Personally, I think getting a feel for the technique and writing your own stories works well, as the ESL books by Blaine Ray are translations of the ones he uses for teaching his Spanish classes in the USA...

I think I have more links bookmarked on my home computer, so I'll have a look... :D

Tue Sep 05, 2006 3:56 pm

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 3:59 pm
Posts: 42
Some topic based lessons:
Describing people (using adjectives):

Non-verbal communication lesson plan: ... erbal1.htm

14 topic-based lesson plans: ... html#three

Some topic-based worksheets: ... ts-tbw.htm


Human body lessons:

Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:39 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Posts: 135
Morrning calm,
Glad to see another TPRS user here! I have found it to be a very powerful tool and it has really changed the way I teach.

It is the only method I have used that caters to all levels of learners through it's heavily input-based approach. You keep it simple yet repetetive by focusing on 2-3 target phrases (ie have, would like) and let the students choose the rest. You pick a couple of students a find out what they have (old brown car) and what they would like (new black mini-van) Then ask thousands of questions revolving around two facts and comparing the students with each other or to make it more interesting a famous person.
Where they got their car, when, Do they have a small car or big car. Does Ken or Jane have an old brown car? Who has a brown car? Would Ken like a new black mini-van from Cars 'R Us or from Toyota? Would Ken like a 1921 black mini-van or 2007 mini-van. Does Tom Cruise have an old brown 1990 car from Cars 'R Us? It really doesn't matter if the responses are silly because you just want the repetition. In fact there has been research to prove that people tend to remember the bizarre.

The teacher asks yes/no, either/or, 5w1H questions, while repeating the answers in a complete sentence using both negative and positive answers. You get the students focused on content. The lower level students will likely start with only understanding the content and the higher level students will start to recognize patterns and really produce the language!

Then you move on to stories and create a story with students while they provide the details.

Grammar instruction comes later after students have heard it a number of times and understand the meaning. It is done with very short explanations based on content and not with grammatical terms. If students are literate, further instruction is done with reading. If students are pre-literate games and songs are used.

I questioned this heavily input-based approach but I was amazed at how much language they were capable of producing even though I decreased practice of the language by more than half! This even by my low level 18 year old students who previously had spent most of the class sleeping!

If anyone is interested I would recommend watching a video of the approach. It is very hard to imagine just by reading a description.

For teaching young students I HIGHLY recommend Carol Gaab's elementary 3 DVD set. You can get it for only $20 plus postage from:

If you are teaching junior high and up there is an introduction DVD you can buy for about the same price or if you are serious you can pay more for an entire national workshop. These should be available from the same website.

Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:53 pm
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