Every week learners look at a different section of the website. Each activity encourages learners to choose a topic that interests them and to explore it in a structured way. They are also required to reflect on their opinion of the website and to prepare for sharing their learning experience with their peers in the next lesson. Each sharing activity has a communicative purpose and is designed to take 10–15 minutes, but could take longer, or be extended if the students are particularly engaged.
Here is a step-by-step approach to using the diary with your teenage students:
- Set regular days for discussing the diary which allow students ample time to complete the tasks (and you ample time for marking!). I have found that setting each task just before the weekend works well, as then the first lesson of the week can start with a discussion about what the students have discovered on the website.
- Encourage the students to discuss their ideas in pairs or small groups before doing whole class feedback.
- Collect in the diaries weekly and comment on students’ involvement. Giving feedback weekly motivates students as they can see that you are taking their learning and opinions seriously.
- Once the students have completed the diary, encourage them to continue exploring their favourite areas of the website independently.
Possible follow-up ideas:
- Students create a poster/leaflet as a website guide for other students.
- Write a report on your favourite or least-favourite section or activity from the website. To make this real, send the report to the LearnEnglish Teens website using the Contact us link at the bottom of each page.
- A role play where students take on the roles of website editors, journalists or contributors.
- Students choose a blog, write a comment on the site and share this with their classmates next lesson.
If you have any other ideas for follow-up activities, please post them in the comments box below.
Although I am still occasionally subject to ‘the dog ate my learner diary’ style excuses, on the whole my teenage students have responded well to and have enjoyed using the diary as homework. Other students have mentioned how interactive and engaging using the diary is in comparison to a regular workbook homework.
by Lara Pedelty (British Council teacher in Morocco)