Having your name misspelled is a fundamental part of learning a foreign language while living in a new country, especially when dealing with, or giving personal details over the phone. No matter how clearly I try to pronouncethe letters in Spanish, people invariably think that I am el Señor Kettye, Kidd-eye or even Kettle. Students that are learning English might have similar experiences. The video clip that is used for this lesson plan comes from the British comedy series, Fonejacker. The programme was broadcast on Chanel 4 and saw actor Kayvan Novak makes a series of prank telephone calls to members of the British public.
- Language level: Beginner; Elementary (A1; A2)
- Learner type: Teens; Adults; Business
- Time: 30 minutes
- Activity: Role play; Listening
- Topic: Telephones
- Language: The alphabet
- Materials: Video; Dialogue cards
Lesson plan outline
- Revise pronunciation of the letter names of the alphabet.
- Tell students that they are going to hear a telephone conversation between a man and a woman. Ask students to identify where the woman is and why the man is calling.
- Let students see the clip until the point when the woman asks the man to spell his name (00:30).
- Let students compare ideas and replay the clip if necessary.
- Choose a random name (your own perhaps) and spell it for your students. Demonstrate the rise and falls (e.g. rise at the end of the first name, fall at the end of the last name). Drill pronunciation of this.
- Give out copies of the dialogue cards randomly to students (see sample below). Ask for 2 volunteers to act out the role play. Before they start, ask them to decide who is going to be the caller and who is going to be the receptionist.
- At the end of the dialogue, the student who is playing the part of the caller will have to spell his or her name. Use this as an opportunity to draw attention to elements of intonation that are important when spelling names, giving phone numbers or listing items verbally.
- Ask everyone to stand up and find a partner. Pairs should act out the dialogues and then swap roles. Pairs should then split up and find new partners. Everyone should write down the names of as many callers as possible in the spaces provided on their dialogue cards.
- Ask everyone to sit down. Ask individual students to spell the names of the specific callers and write these on the board.
- Bring students back to the video clip. Ask them if they can guess what happens next before playing the entire clip from beginning to end.
- Ask students if they ever made prank phone calls as children.
- Give out copies of the NATO alphabet and invite students to spell their names using this ‘foolproof’ system.
* Caller 1: Takeru Kobayashi ♂
* Caller 2: Adriana Dominguez ♀
* Caller 3: Rory Gallagher ♂
* Caller 4: Celina Jaiteley ♀
* Caller 5: Arun Venkatesan ♂
* Caller 6: Marju Raudsepp ♀
* Caller 7: Michael Rasmussen ♂
* Caller 8: Helena Papadopoulos ♀
Ask your students to create a personalised version of the NATO alphabet for the classroom wall. This will come in useful for those awkward spelling moments. For example: