Let’s Hang Out

In the last 14 years working as an English teacher the top-3 most heard sentences from students are ‘I hate English’, ‘this present perfect stuff has no equivalent in Portuguese, does it’ and ‘this phrasal verb thing is too hard’. Well I would respectively reply like ‘maybe our previous teachers were not so good then’, ‘yes, there is’ and ‘yes’. Say what?! Sure it is hard, phrasal verbs are idioms that carry a strong semantic function and therefore are really tricky to be taught and learned.

The dilemma of teaching an idiom is how to shape meaning so that students understand it and at the same time the teacher’s talking time is reduced? Of course that depending on the methodology adopted, the teacher will indeed speak a lot (not recommended by CELTA), but with a fun and well prepared activity the teacher may have an A+ performance in the classroom and also engage his or her students. As it was previously discussed in another article, Google offers more than just a searching tool. There is something called Hangouts which is some sort of Skype embedded in Android OS and allows us to make calls and video calls with those who have a Google account. In addition, hangouts provides people with live stream automatically uploaded to a YouTube  account which means that someone might be visiting MoMa and call a group of students who are inside a school on the other side of the planet. Although this might look like a Google ad it isn’t. What happens is that there are so many resources available that can be used in the classroom that encourage the development of activities.

Let’s take the following phrasal verbs: ‘come up with’, ‘get along with’ and ‘set in’. The teacher can prepare a very interactive and communicative activity using Hangouts. Making use of context that involves friendship, social interactions as themes, it is possible to introduce such idioms and for drilling students can interview one another. To make practice more interesting, the teacher can hand out roles to students in which they can be athletes, celebrities, filmmaker, whereas the other student (considering an activity in pairs) plays a journalist. Students can also drill questions besides the idioms for many find asking questions quite hard to be produced. In order to make it up for the time possibly spent by the teacher to introduce the content of the day and the highly used talking time, the activity can have a grand finale with the students’ performance using Google’s tool. Inside the computer lab, students can make contact with other students around the world who were previously arranged by the teacher so that interview could be held and the studied phrasal verbs could be used. As the video is automatically uploaded to YouTube, the teacher can evaluate the students more accurately.

Thus, learning a controversial such as idioms (frowned by many) gets a plus through a very  real experience that might motivate your students. Leave your students hanging out with other from abroad with Hangouts using the phrasal verbs that were taught in the classroom.

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