This worksheet asks pupils to observe and make notes on what they see around them. It consists of the following five categories:
- Five English words I saw on people’s clothes
- Five famous English-speaking people
- Five friends
- Five labels from English-speaking countries
- Five adverts in English
Before the holidays
Go through each category with the pupils. Is anybody wearing a T-shirt with an English slogan on it? Has anyone got one or seen one? Brainstorm names of famous English-speaking people. They don’t have to be real – Harry Potter, Jack Sparrow or Lucy Pevensie are equally valid. How do they know about these people? Have they seen them in films or on TV, read about them or seen them in magazines? Explain that the five they list must be people they see or read about in the holidays, and they must note down where they did so (this is what the brackets are for on the Worksheet). They also have to list five friends they saw or had contact with in the holidays and, again in brackets, what contact they had (eg at the beach or by e-mail). Brainstorm some possible examples. English and American labels are all around and most pupils are well aware of these: Hilfiger, Quiksilver, Nike … but again, they must list ones they come across during the holiday and note where. Where might they find English adverts? As well as the newspapers their parents buy or magazines they may read, there are plenty of free newspapers circulating in every city. They can cut out these adverts and stick them on the ‘scrapbook’ page of the Worksheet.
After the holidays
For the ‘Five English words I saw on people’s clothes’ category, begin by drawing five large T-shirt outlines on the board and invite volunteers to write their findings on them. One option could be to divide the class into small groups and let pupils pool their ideas; that way more people will feel involved. A representative from each group can then come to the board. Challenge pupils to translate any words they know, then tell them what the complete translation would be (the nonsensical nature of many of them will make them laugh). Tell them to imagine they are judges in a competition to write the best T-shirt slogan and they must rate each from 1 to 5 and choose a winner.
For the next category, brainstorm the famous people on the board. In third cycle, when pupils are beginning to use the past tense, they could use was and were to describe where they saw them: This is Harry Potter. This summer, I watched a film. It was called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. When you have collected examples and highlighted the language, ask pupils to write sentences about the famous people they found. These need not use the past tense; Zac Effron is a famous actor. He is the star of High School Musical is more appropriate for younger age groups.
Likewise, with the other categories, elicit examples and frame them with the language you want your pupils to produce. Where did they go with their friends? (I went to … with …). Naming the piece of clothing where they found each label is a great way of recycling clothes vocabulary. Finally, their ‘scrapbooks’ can be displayed on a wall chart.
My top fives!
This Worksheet works in a similar way, but is more personalised to pupils’ tastes.
- My top five films or books
- My top five games
- My top five songs of the summer
- My top five days out
- My top five things I ate
Go through each category in the same way, brainstorming ideas and inputting language as you go. Games can include board games, video games or simply the kinds of games you play in the car to pass the journey. Back in class, pupils could write a brief description of one of these games. For ‘days out’ pupils can list activities they did and/or places they went to and later describe these. Ordinal numbers can be revised, for example: My second best day was when I went to… and food lexis can be recycled in the last category.
This final Worksheet is for younger Primary and requires them only to write words. The personal investment element comes in the fact that each child can choose their five letters of the alphabet (although discourage low-frequency letters such as Q, X or Z). Their challenge is to try and make five words with each of their chosen letters.
Lists can be fun. The American journalist H. Allen Smith once wrote that ‘The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists of Ten Best.’ In his 1995 novel High Fidelity, Nick Hornby celebrates this passion for list making: the central character, Rob Fleming, goes through life defining himself according to his ‘top fives’. As a birthday present, I was recently given a book inviting me to biographise my life in lists, recording anything from my favourite restaurants to my personal fashion trends over the years. For our Primary pupils, lists can be easy to compile and can be adapted to fit their interests, and for teachers, they can provide a springboard to all kinds of language work.
Dave Holmes is a member of MTS (Macmillan Training Services).