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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 1

Expected time frame: 1-2 lessons

These learning activities are designed to share language learning outcomes with students, to find out what they already know and to activate prior knowledge to enhance comprehension. The pre-reading activities build background knowledge about the historical context and what an idiom is and facilitate the use of prediction. It is important to be explicit about the purpose of each task with students.

Ensuring learners know the content and language learning outcomes

Finding out about learners’ prior knowledge

  • Find out what students already know about World War 2 by class brainstorming or using the 5Ws (What? When? Where? Who? Why?) for a hot potato strategy.
  • Use the disappearing definition strategy with the following text to help students learn and remember dates and participants in World War 2:
    World War 2 happened in the middle of the twentieth century. It lasted from 1939 to 1945. The Allied forces fought against the Axis powers. England and France were part of the Allied forces. Germany was one of the Axis powers.
  • What is an idiom?
    Cut up the definition below into phrases and reorder:
    The term ‘idiom’ has two meanings:
  1. a phrase which means something different from the individual words which make up the phrase;
  2. language which is naturally used by a native speaker, may be colloquial language.
  • Read this definition to a partner, then say it to partner without looking at the definition.
  • Explain that D Day is an idiomatic phrase because its meaning has been extended from an historical event in World War 2 to standing for something important that is going to happen or may have happened.
  • Divide the class into groups of 3. Write the following headwords of the vocabulary chain on the board:
    • army
    • boats
    • weather
  • Allocate one word to each person in the group. Each person writes down 5 words related to the headword which they think they might find in a text containing this word. Think about nouns, adjectives and verbs. The students read their list to others in their group.

Published on: 09 Feb 2012