Describing People (1st year, all levels)

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Name of Teacher: Sara Brown

Class/Grade/Language Level: 1st year (any level)

Goal: To have students practice describing people and to engage them in activities that challenge their listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities.

Preparation: A lot. The lesson is actually two lessons, the second using information from the first. The following items and files will be necessary

  Physical Features powerpoint file 
  Physical Features vocabulary handout
  Guess Who Character cards (printed in color; laminating them is recommended)
  Guess Who board (printed in color and laminated; 1 for each student is recommended, 

but if they have different colored markers then they can share one per a pair instead)

  Guess Who Physical Features supplementary card (printed in color; 1 per a pair is fine; lamination recommended)
  Colored dry-erase markers
  Erasers for dry-erase markers
  English Karuta people and hint 

(lamination HIGHLY recommended because these can be used as a quick/filler game for ANY class ANY time; they are a pain to make but well worth the trouble as they can be used over and over again) (only one set of hint cards is needed for the lesson as is, but making one per each set of people cards is recommended for future use)

  Describe Your Favorite Famous Person worksheet (feel free to make one that suits your needs)

Class time:

  ''LESSON 1''

 -Introduce students to new words and phrases using Physical Features power point. 

 -Have students practice using some of the words by handing them the Physical Features worksheet, putting them in pairs, 
and asking them to write 3 sentences (5 for higher levels) about their partner’s physical features. I’ve found it’s not 
so important to have every single student finish as there are always a few who don’t do anything and it takes a lot of 
time (leaving less for the Guess Who game).

 -Pass out Guess Who boards, dry-erase markers and erasers, and one character card to each person. You may have to make 
more than one copy of each card if there are too many students in the class. I find it helps to make the back a different 
color (pasting the cards to construction paper for reinforcement/to ensure their partner can’t see through the card is 
highly recommended). In my experience, about 20 minutes is needed to play the game. If students finish early, you can 
always give them different character cards and have them play again. I always had a JTE demonstrate how to play the game 
with me since many first year students have difficulty following detailed oral instructions. 
''LESSON 2'' 

 -Have students sit in as many groups as you have sets of English Karuta cards. I usually only carry 7 or 8 sets, so that’s 
how many groups get made. In my experience, 4-6 members per a group works best. 
 -Explain the rules and do a demonstration if you feel it to be necessary. Be sure to solve any issues concerning otetsuki 
(punishment for slapping the wrong card).

 -Alternate with the JTE to call out the smaller hint cards. The cards are designed to use several vocabulary words and sentence 
structures over and over again. A lot of the hints overlap, as well, which makes it more difficult for the students to guess. 
I have always dealt with the problem of students not understanding a word by either asking the JTE to but it whenever they feel 
the students don’t understand, or by asking the students myself if they know a certain word in Japanese as I come across it. 
The name is always read at the very end as a last resort for low-level students who didn’t understand any of the hints.

 -Try not to use too much time (I try to finish within 20 minutes. There are a lot of cards, but reading at a quicker pace as 
students become familiar with the vocabulary helps to speed things up).

 -After Karuta is finished, give the students the Describe Your Favorite Famous Person worksheet (again, feel free to design 
your own) and have them write about their favorite famous person as if they were writing a Karuta card. Be sure to show an 
example so they know what’s expected of them. 

 -Leave the last 7-10 minutes open for students to present their writing to their group and have the other group members 
guess who the person is. If there’s enough time available, have the groups choose a representative to present to the entire 
class and ask everyone to try and guess. If you do prizes or stickers, this would be a good place to use a little external motivation.