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Inspect a gadget

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Inspector Gadget

Teacher’s Notes
Level:     Pre-Intermediate +
Main Aim:  For students to be able to successfully ‘sell’ a fantasy gadget / machine to their
           classmates using appropriate language.
Subsidiary By the end of this lesson students will:
  Aims:    - have become familiar with some new vocabulary from the article
           - be familiar with one simple rule for when to use ‘can’ and when to use ‘be
               able to’ for describing ability.
           - be able to use the constructions: ‘won’t have to’ and ‘will be able to’ as part
               of their sales pitch.
Time:      60 minutes
Materials: A section of the article for each student (see article at end of lesson plan)
           A copy of the gadget design sheet for each pair of students
Rationale: This is an example of a task-based lesson. In order to successfully complete
           the task, students will have to use some of the target language of this lesson.
           Using a competitive task as a context should help to motivate students to
           acquire needed language.

Stage 1: Setting the scene

Write the following on the blackboard before your students come in:

 Apart from phoning, what do you think is the most useful function on a mobile phone?
   camera
   internet connection
   GPS
   text messaging
   downloading MP3’s

Use the poll above to get students talking about mobile phones and what they can be used
for. You could use a show of hands answer to elicit statements like ‘most students in this
class think that mobiles are most useful for texting’ or ‘2 in 20 think that GPS is the most
useful function on a mobile …’ or ‘80% of this class say that ….’.


 Methodology note: The aim of this stage is to introduce the topic of the lesson and increase
 student engagement through personalization.




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Stage 2: Reading

Make enough copies of the article for 1/3 of the class and cut the article into three sections
(see article at the end of this lesson plan). Divide the class into three groups, A, B and C and
give each group the same section of text and a copy of the glossary. Write the questions
below on the board. The task for each group is to try to fully understand the main ideas in
their section of text and to be able to explain it to other students so that all students will be
able to answer the questions below at the end of the activity. Your students can use
dictionaries or the glossary to look up any unknown words. When the students have done
this, get them to mingle and find a partner for another group and explain their section of text.
Run this activity until all students have an idea of the whole text.

Do some feedback with the class after this activity. If they can answer the following
questions then they have completed the jigsaw reading activity well:

Questions:
  1. What does Colin use his phone for?
  2. Do his friends also have phones?
  3. What would he like to get next?
  4. What’s Dan’s opinion?
  5. What’s Kate’s opinion?

Answers:
  1. Everything – MP3’s video clips, news headlines, business reports, the weather, film
     trailers, directions,
  2. Yes – the latest 3G phones
  3. A 3G phone that he could watch TV on and listen to the radio.
  4. It is not necessary to have a phone to keep up to date, you can read a newspaper
  5. Finding directions on by using the phone is unnecessary. Phones are more useful for
     phoning and texting.

Then get a brief discussion going about mobile phones. If most of your students have
mobiles, ask them how they think their lives would be different if they didn’t have them. If
most of the class doesn’t have mobiles, ask them how their lives would be different if they
did.

 Methodology note: Using a jigsaw reading method is useful for breaking up a long text or
 for dealing with a difficult text. The method gets students to focus more intensely on a
 smaller section of text. Another important aspect of this method is that it sets up a
 communication gap and gets students to talk about what they have read.




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Stage 3 – Language work

Tell your students that you are going to widen the discussion from mobile phones to gadgets
and machines in general. Make sure they know what ‘gadgets’ and machines are (gadgets
are small clever and complex high technology items, like mobile phones; machines are
generally larger technological items). Draw an example of a crazy fantasy machine / gadget
on the board and let your students guess what it does as you draw it. There is an example of
a fantasy machine at the end of this lesson plan. For further example drawings, see the
photo-copiable resource book: Intermediate Communication Games, Activity 19, by J.
Hadfield, 1990, published by Longman.

From the drawing try to elicit language similar to the following but based on the students’
ideas:
    It can do the washing up very fast.
    It can pick things up off the floor
    It can’t answer the phone
    It can’t think for itself
Ask students to try to sell this machine to you. Let them imagine that they have one and they
need to get you to buy it. They need to think about how it would change your everyday life.
Try to elicit statements like:
    You will be able to watch more TV.
    You won’t have to do the washing up

Now contrast the use of ‘can’ and ‘be able to’ in the statements above. Tell the students
‘can’ and ‘be able to’ have the same meaning, but when do you use ‘can’ and when do you
use ‘be able to’? For the statement ‘ You will be able to watch more TV’, ask the students:
            Do I have this gadget yet? (no) or Have I bought it yet? (no)
            Will I have it in the future (maybe yes)
Elicit one simple rule about ‘can’ and ‘able to’, i.e. you can use ‘can’ in the present tense (for
what the machine can do right now) and ‘be able to’ for the future (what are the possibilities
for you in the future if you bought this machine)

Check the meaning of ‘have to’(must - obligation) versus ‘can’ or ‘able to’ (ability /
possibility). One way to do this would by asking the students to translate both items. Check
their translation ideas.

Elicit the opposite of ‘will be able to’ (won’t be able to) and ‘will have to’ (won’t have to).

Stage 4 – Writing / Drawing: Designing a fantasy gadget

During this stage, students will be designing their own fantasy gadget or machine that is able
to solve irritating everyday problems. First elicit some everyday tasks that the students may
find difficult or irritating, for example:
     Doing my English homework
     Cleaning my bedroom
     Getting up and making breakfast



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Now put your students into pairs and give them a copy of the gadget design sheet. Ask them
to choose one everyday problem and design an amazing machine or gadget that can solve
that problem. Actively monitor the class whilst they are doing this activity.

 Methodology note: Monitoring is very important during this stage. You will need to check
 their design sheets for any errors and get them to self-correct before moving on to the
 next stage. In addition, students may lack certain vocabulary associated with their
 designs. If so, you will have to do a bit of language input.

Stage 5 – Speaking: Selling your gadget

Now divide the class in half, for example, all the students who have been doing the drawings
must become salespeople and all those who did the writing must become buyers.
Elicit some useful language for buyers, e.g. How much does it cost? What can it do? etc.
Elicit some useful language for salespeople, e.g. Have you ever had a problem with …? This
gadget can … Now you won’t have to … anymore.
Put these useful phrases on the board for students to refer to during the game.

Tell the buyers they have 2000 pln each to spend on buying machines. The salespeople
must work out a price for their gadget of up to 1000 pln each. Then get the students to
mingle and buy or sell their gadgets. Buyers and sellers must make a note of who has
bought what and for what price. They do not actually have to hand the drawing of their
gadget over to the buyer. The object of the game is for the salespeople to sell their gadgets
and for the buyers to get the machines they want. Monitor the game closely and note down
good uses of ability language as well as errors.


 Methodology note: Students enjoy games and simulations and they can often lead to a
 need for new vocabulary and phrases thus stretching students’ ability. Once again,
 monitoring is crucial, not just in terms of language, but also to look for anyone who is off
 task and needs to be brought back into the game.

Stage 6 - Feedback

Take feedback from the class, here are some discussion questions:
    Who did they think were the most successful salespeople and which was the best
      gadget?
    Did anyone manage to sell well despite having a less interesting gadget?
    Were the gadgets priced correctly?

Give your own feedback on good language use and errors as well as how well you think the
class performed this task.

 Methodology note: Doing thorough feedback is a good way to maximise the amount that
 students learn during a freer activity like a role-play or game. This stage should not be
 skipped.




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AN EXAMPLE OF A FANTASY MACHINE

Problem: I hate washing up!




Solution: The Wishy-Washy Washing up Machine




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Title: Inspector gadget
Summary: Take a photo, talk to your friend, play games and download PowerPoints for your university course -
all with one gadget!
Story:
The new generation are using gadgets for everything. We interviewed Colin a first year student at Huddersfield
about his favourite gadget.

What is your favourite gadget at the moment and what does it do?
At the moment I am using my phone for everything. It acts like a USB so I can put files on it like PowerPoints. I
can download MP3s, video clips, Sky headlines, business reports, the weather and even trailers for films. I can
also find the nearest café with its GPS (Global Positioning System) function or get road directions. Or I can type
in my postcode and get directions to someone else’s house with their postcode.

I get business news sent to my phone every morning so I can go into my lecture and blag that I know what’s
going on.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

How has it changed your day-to-day life? What would it be like without it?
Without my phone I wouldn’t be able to keep up with what’s happening as I don’t have a TV (due to the licence
cost). I also don’t know my way round Huddersfield very well and I can use it to find the nearest cash point to
me or find the cinema is and what’s on.

Do lots of your friends have similar things?
My phone seems popular with most of my friends – a top of the range 3G phone.

What do you think the next big thing will be or what would you like to get next?
In Oxford they are developing a 3G system where you can watch TV live on your phone. When analogue TV is
switched off in the UK and everyone moves to digital they will be able to broadcast.

I would like to have radio on my phone too. It is on a lot of the simpler cheaper phones and my brother and
sister have it on theirs. I would also like a flash for when I am filming.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Do we need gadgets? Other people’s views
As we discovered in the interview, Colin finds his phone really useful to keep him up-to-date. However, as Dan
says, ‘He could always read the newspaper… I can see it has its uses but I wouldn’t generally need it.
Advertising tries to convince you it’s essential to your life, but we did survive before.’

Kate has a phone that can tell her where the nearest takeaway is, ‘I only used it once to see if it works but don’t
use it as I know my area. I can see how it could be useful but I just want to use my phone to ring people and
text.’
Such sophisticated gadgets obviously don’t appeal to everyone but for many it’s become a necessity.

Vocabulary              Explanation
Film trailers      A trailer for a film is a short advertisement for the film containing some of the
                   most exciting scenes.
‘blag’ that I know To blag is an informal or slang word meaning to talk about something that you
what’s going on    don’t know much about, but you know just enough to impress other people if
                   they don’t ask too many questions. In this case, the person interviewed is only
                   getting the news headlines from his phone, he doesn’t know much about the
                   news stories but he knows enough to be able to sound good.
To keep up with    Continue to be in touch with something – to keep following something.
Sophisticated      Complex – produced with great knowledge and skill.
appeal to someone Not everybody likes this. If something ‘appeals to you’ you like it.




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Name of gadget:_____________________________Designed by:_____________________________________

Drawing
                                                                                                         Everyday problem:

                                                                                                         ________________________________________________

                                                                                                         What this gadget can do:


                                                                                                         ________________________________________________

                                                                                                         ________________________________________________

                                                                                                         How this gadget will help you:

                                                                                                         ________________________________________________




                                                                                                         What this gadget can’t do:




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