Making genre active for young learners

Writer(s): 
Brett Laybutt, SES, Japan

 

Quick guide

  • Keywords:Genre, information report, seasons, months, weather, clothes
  • Learner English level:Beginner
  • Learner maturity:Higher elementary school
  • Preparation time:10-20 minutes
  • Activity time:45-60 minutes
  • Materials:Whiteboard and markers, old magazines, flashcards, large paper (divided into four squares), scissors

 

Introduction

While the use of a genre-based approach to writing is becoming increasingly familiar in adult foreign language classes, it is still rarely used with young learners, especially at the elementary level. The genre-based approach gradually familiarizes students with the features of a genre, which is a staged, goal-oriented text, and through scaffolding activities eventually leads the students to an independent construction of a text. This My Share activity demonstrates how one genre may be used in an active way appropriate for elementary young learner classes. The genre used in the activity is an information report, which generally features the following elements: an opening statement, a sequence of related topic statements, and a concluding statement. The aim is for students to independently construct a simple text using previously learned vocabulary. The activity works best with small classes but can be adapted for larger groups and may also be used for other genres, such as narrative or recount.

 

Preparation

Step 1:Print months, temperature (hot, warm, cool, cold), and clothes flashcards (word and picture) for different seasons.

Step 2:Prepare old magazines featuring pictures of people wearing seasonal clothes.

Step 3:Divide the board into four squares.

Step 4:In the first square, write the following (in italics):

<opening>       SUMMER

<sequence>     Summer is          ,          and          .

                        It is          and          .

                        In Summer, I wear                   .

 

<concluding>  I                summer!

Then, write the same for each season on the remaining three squares on the whiteboard.

Procedure

Step 1: Divide students into two groups.

Step 2: Review the vocabulary items for seasons and quickly drill the statement This one is [season].

Step 3:Give old magazines to groups. Students find and cut out pictures related to seasons using language practiced in Step 2.

Step 4:Review months, temperature, and clothes vocabulary with flashcards. Discuss which items belong with which season and divide into four season sets.

Step 5:Give ONE set to each team (e.g. Summer). Students run to the board and write the vocabulary in the appropriate spaces, as shown below:

SUMMER

Summer is   [June]  ,  [July]  and  [August]  .

It is  [hot]  and  [sunny]  .

In Summer, I wear  [a T-shirt and shorts]  .

I               summer!

After each line is completed another student must read it aloud. The first team to finish is the winner.

Step 6: Students then copy the two texts onto the large piece of paper divided into four squares. The final sentence is for the students to choose either I like [season] or I don’t like [season]. This can then be decorated with pictures cut out earlier, with the winning team given first choice of pictures.

Step 7:The remaining two season squares are then completed independently (or for homework) using the class text as a guide. This may also be used for assessment purposes.

 

Conclusion

This activity provides practice constructing an information report in a fun and active manner. Importantly, it also gives young learners both the opportunity to place previously studied vocabulary within a meaningful context and to experience the joint-construction of their own simple text. The students enjoy actively participating in the process of writing the text, rather than simply copying dialogues or unrelated word-lists, and gain a sense of achievement with it. For older or more advanced learners, the activity may be extended by introducing more complex language, e.g., conjunctions, such as so and because.

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