This video comes from a great series by Lev Yilmaz titled Tales of Mere Existence. The activity uses a technique called L2 – L1 – L2 translation. That means that students translate the target language (in this case English) into their mother tongue (L1) and then back into English (L2). You’ll see what I mean in the lesson plan. I love this technique. I used it to to teach myself Spanish when I first moved to Barcelona. Some people feel uneasy about using translation in the class room but they shouldn’t.
- Language level: Intermediate to Advanced (B1 – C1)
- Learner type: Teens; Adults
- Time: 60 minutes
- Activity: Reading; Translation
- Topic: Work
- Language: The verb to get
- Materials: Video; Worksheets
Lesson plan outline
- Casually tell your students that they have “a lot of stuff to get done” today. They may look at you blankly. Perhaps they don’t know the word stuff. Write the phrase on the board. Today, we have a lot of stuff to get done.
- Tell students that they are going to see an animated comic by filmmaker Lev Yilmaz called Procrastination. Ask students if they know what this word means. If anyone knows, that’s great. If not, don’t worry and don’t tell them at this stage.
- Play the video with the sound turn down and make use of the pause function to elicit/teach the following vocabulary, which can be written on the board.
* A desk
* To spill coffee
* To clean up with a sponge
* The grocery store
* To do your shopping
* To make an omelette
* To do the dishes
* To squeak
- Ask students if they can guess what the story is about now that they have seen the pictures.
- Put students into pairs. To each pair, give a copy of Worksheet 1: Procrastination. (This is included in the PDF download.) Ask students to cut up the 8 pieces of text and put them into the correct order according to the story. While students do this, answer any questions about unknown words or expressions.
- Let pairs share their answers with each other. Then let them check their results by playing the video in full with the sound up.
- Ask students if they can identify Lev’s accent. If your students are more used to British English, ask them if they can identify any words or expressions that are associated with US spoken English.
- Check students’ comprehension of any remaining words or phrases in the text that have not been mentioned. Do this by asking them to “find a verb that means come to the conclusion that”; “find another word for stuff”; “find an expression that means I wasn’t in the mood for cereal”, etc. (The PDF download contains a glossary of terms found in the text.)
- Ask students if they would like to see the video again. If so, play it second time.
- Ask students if they can now tell you (or elaborate on any previous definition of) what procrastination means. Find out if your students procrastinate and if so, in what situations.
- Give out a copy of the second worksheet (included in the PDF download) to each student and drill pronunciation of the eight ‘get’ sentences.
* This morning I got up and got ready quickly.
* I spilled my coffee so I got a sponge to clean it up.
* When I got to the grocery store I remembered some other stuff I needed to get.
* When I got home I didn’t feel like cereal any more.
* I went out to get some oil from the hardware store.
* When I got back it was getting late.
* I just have to make sure I get to bed early.
* I want to be well-rested tomorrow so I can get my stuff done.
- Ask students to translate the eight sentences into their own language. They should write their translations on the first set of spaces on the worksheet marked MT (= Mother Tongue). See diagram below.
- (For monolingual classes): Allow different pairs or groups of students to compare their translations and refine them if necessary. If you have knowledge of their language, you can get involved.
- Ask students to fold the worksheet along the dotted line (see diagram below). This should allow them to see their own Mother Tongue translations but not the original sentences in English. Ask them to translate their own MT sentences back into English and write them on the second set of spaces marked Eng.
- Let students unfold the worksheet and compare what they have written with the original sentences in English.
- Let students pair up and test each other. Student 1 says sentences in student 2’s mother tongue and student 2 must recall them in English. After a while, roles are reversed.
Point out that the word stuff is functionally similar to the word thing. One major difference is that stuff is uncountable.
Note that you can also clarify the name of the animated comic series – Tales of Mere Existence. Tell students that mere is an adjective that is used to emphasise that something is small or unimportant.
Procrastination is the act of delaying, deferring or putting off actions, tasks or pieces of work to a later time. It is associated with things we don’t really want to do. There are three criteria for a behaviour to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, unnecessary and delaying.
Note that this type of activity may work best when it is done collaboratively. For this reason, ask students with the same linguistic background to work together to write consensus translations.