mediation, spoken interaction and written production tasks about charities (C1)

The following tasks deal with the topic of charities, and they integrate mediation in speaking, spoken interaction and written production/interaction. They have been designed with groups of four students in mind, but can be carried out in pairs.

The context to the tasks is the following:

Your school is going to raise money for a charity by carrying out activities involving students and teaching staff. You have been appointed as class representatives, and have to decide which charity from the appeals your class group is going to support financially.  

  1. Mediation in speaking: 

Each team member will listen to a radio appeal for a charity. They will have to take notes, and then, with these notes, be able to relay that information to the rest of team members.

This first task has been designed bearing in mind the following descriptors from the Companion Volume:

  • NOTE-TAKING (LECTURES, SEMINARS, MEETINGS ETC.): Can select relevant, detailed information and arguments on complex, abstract topics from multiple spoken sources (e.g. lectures, podcasts, formal discussions and debates, interviews etc.), provided that standard language is delivered at normal speed in one of the range of accents familiar to the listener.
  • PROCESSING TEXT IN SPEECH: Can summarise clearly in well-structured speech (in Language B) the main points made in complex spoken and written texts (in Language A) in fields of specialisation other than his/her own, although he/she may occasionally check particular technical concepts.

Using cooperative learning mats, students are assigned a number in their group. Then, all the number 1 students get together in the same group; all the number 2, and so on, to listen to the same clip, using their headphones and a headphone splitter:

These are the instructions:

Listen and take notes about your charity. You can listen to it twice. You will then have to report back to your team. Take notes on:

• objectives/goals of the charity
• sample problem mentioned
• what the charity has done for the individual mentioned
• how the situation has improved after the charity’s action
• what the speaker is asking of the listener
• key words related to money and charities

INPUT- AUDIO CLIPS- Taken from BBC Radio 4 charity appeals

These appeals tend to be around 3’50”-4 minutes long, and they always have the same structure, which is ideal for students to listen to different appeals over the same amount of time, and be able to report back to their groups.

Mediation strategies to be used:

  • streamlining a text
  • simplifying language
  • adapting language

Here you can find useful language to relay the information you wrote down.

2. Spoken interaction:

Once all the members of the team have enough information about all four charities, everyone has to argue in favour of their charity. They will have to reach an agreement at the end of their discussion.

They can prepare for 2 minutes individually, and they will discuss their views for 7 minutes.

This is some language students can use to interact.

They can use talking sticks/talking chips, to help students share the same amount of talking time.

3. Follow-up- written production: Write a leaflet for the charity of your choice, to convince the rest of students to donate money. You can use Canva or Piktochart to create it. Please remember to use persuasive language:

Click on the image to open pdf file

template to give feedback to students’ spoken production

For some years now, whenever my students were speaking in pairs or groups, I would write down comments I would like to make on my iPad: I would go round, monitoring their conversations, and I would jot down ideas as they came up. These would typically include a mixture of grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation mistakes, or simply alternatives I could provide to what they were saying. I would also add further ideas that occurred to me while listening to them. Then, I would project my notes and give feedback to my students following those notes in that ‘chronological’ order.

I was more or less happy with that system, but somehow I felt I could be more organised. That’s how I came up with this chart: it is based on a single-point rubric with four criteria (vocabulary range and control, grammatical accuracy and range, phonological control, discourse). Rather than descriptors, I can write my comments under each of the headings: ‘needs improvement’ and ‘not quite there yet’ on the left-hand side, as ‘areas for concern’, and ‘suggestions’ (=alternatives, synonyms..) and ‘good!’ (expressions I liked) as positive comments on the right-hand side.

Using this chart allows me to give feedback to their spoken productions and interactions in a more organised way, making all the comments about one particular item (vocabulary, pronunciation…) at once, rather than randomly as they came up in their conversations.

You can download the chart by clicking on the image below. It is still a work in progress, so contributions are welcome!

Related posts: giving feedback to students’ written production- workshop materials

Expressions to use in spoken production/interaction- C2 English

Click on the picture for a pdf version of the file:

ICT tools and apps to record/promote spoken production and co-production/interaction

Desert Island Discs as an ice-breaking/mediation activity

Desert Island Discs is a BBC Radio 4 show which has been on air since 1942. The premise behind the show is that the guest has been cast away on a desert island, and they are left with eight recordings, a luxury item and a book, all of their own choosing, together with the complete works of Shakespeare and a copy of the Bible or any other religious/philosophical book. During the show, the guest and host discuss the former’s life, while explaining the reasons why they decided on those particular tracks, book and item.

The guests tend to include world-class celebrities from the fields of culture, literature, Science, entertainment…You can access the archive on the BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs archive. You can find a selection of shows here (literature and music-related podcasts).

This same concept could also be used as a speaking activity for a unit on music/entertainment; to practise second conditionals; or as an ice-breaking activity on the first days of the school year, for students to get to know each other, or for teachers to get to know their students better.

  • What eight recordings would you take to a desert island? Why have you chosen every one of them? How relevant are they to your life? (If you are pressed for time, ask students to pick fewer recordings- it’s a rather time-consuming decision-making process).
  • What luxury item would you take and why?
  • What book would you take and why?

It could even be regarded as a mediation activity: in the Companion Volume to the CEFR, mediating a text includes descriptors for expressing a personal response to creative texts (including literature) [p. 116]. In a way, the student describing their choices (the ‘guest’) would actually be mediating those songs and their lyrics to their partner  (the ‘host’), as they…

  • may express his/her reactions to a work, reporting his/her feelings and ideas in simple language, and say in simple language which aspects of a work especially interested him/her  (A2)
  • might be relating emotions they have felt to those in the song, describe the emotions he/she experienced at a certain point in a story, or explain briefly the feelings and opinions that a work provoked in him/her (B1)
  • could describe his/her emotional response to a work and elaborate on the way in which it has evoked this response, or express in some detail his/her reactions to the form of expression, style and content of a work, explaining what he/she appreciated and why (B2)
  • could be asked to describe in detail his/her personal interpretation of a work, outlining his/her reactions to certain features and explaining their significance (C1/C2).

English idioms which might be offensive to vegans: same language mediation in speech

There was a news item in the UK recently on the fact that vegans are complaining that they find some English idioms offensive, and are suggesting alternative idioms. Can you see their point? How do you feel about their proposals?

  1. Listen to this clip dealing with why vegans object to some idioms and suggest alternative idioms instead:
Source

You can also read this article about the same story.

2. Look up the idiom(s) you have been assigned. Then, a) find a picture which describes it visually; b) record a short explanation of what the original idiom means. You can use Talk and Comment, or any voice recording app.

  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Take the bull by the horns
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat
  • Flog a dead horse
  • Bring home the bacon
  • Put all your eggs in one basket
  • Be a guinea pig
  • Has the cat got your tongue?

Upload both the picture and your explanation to this padlet:

Made with Padlet

Once the padlet is complete, listen to your classmates’ explanations and pictures. How effective was their mediation? Is the meaning clear for you now? You can rate their contributions on the padlet. You can also add further comments (text or audio comments).

Tips for speaking tests (EEOOII Aragón) (B2-C1)

If you’re going to take the speaking test at any of the Official Schools of Languages in Aragón, you can watch this video with tips for the exam. Good luck!