“I don’t know cooking” or “I don’t know to cook”: Two common learner errors that are dealt with in this lesson plan. The activity makes use of 14 images of book covers, each with ‘how to’ in its title. The images are provided in the accompanying slideshow which can be downloaded below.
- Language level: Elementary – Intermediate (A1 – B1)
- Learner type: Teens; Adults
- Time: 25 minutes
- Activity: Dictation; Reconstructing titles from memory
- Topic: Self-help books
- Language: How to + verb; (Know how to do something)
- Materials: Slideshow
Lesson plan outline
- Tell your students that you have 14 book images to show them. Tell them that the title of each book begins with the words, “How to”. Reinforce this with a diagram on the board.
- Ask students to suggest possible titles of such books. If possible, elicit a few and write them on the board.
- After pre-teaching any necessary word (champ, outstanding, deal with, etc) dictate the 14 book titles to your students.
- Show students the 14 book images and allow them to check what they have written (you can download the slideshow on PDF above)
- Show the slideshow a second time. Ask students to work in pairs and think of a single piece of advice that each book might offer. This can be serious or silly. For example, How to get rich: Start a successful business; How not to look old: Put on a lot of makeup; How do deal with jealousy: Take up boxing.
- Do feedback and find out who had the best ideas.
- After discussing the last book title on the list (“How to improve your memory”) ask your students how good their own memories are. Tell them you are going to play a memory game. Ask everyone to put away their dictated book titles so that they are out of sight. Make sure that the slideshow is no longer running and ask students to recall and write down as many titles as possible (they can do this in pairs if they like). By recalling and writing down the titles, students have to reconstruct the target language (how to + verb).
* How to learn any language
* How to be an outstanding primary school teacher
* How to spell like a champ
* How to see yourself as you really are
* How to get rich
* How to marry a fabulous man
* How to survive the end of the world
* How not to look old
* How to think like a horse
* How to make anyone fall in love with you
* How to change the world
* How not to write a novel
* How to deal with jealousy
* How to improve your memory
Point out that the how to + verb structure is very common in do you know? questions. Ask students to write a paragraph in which they write 2 things that they know how to do and 2 things that they don’t know how to do. For example, I know how to upload a video onto YouTube and sew on a button but I don’t know how to use Adobe photoshop or think like a horse.
The images were obtained using Amazon.com, a fantastic resource for any English teacher (click here for a video that explains all). There are a lot of other how to books that can be used for a range of learners. For example:
- How to talk about books you haven’t read
- How to make people like you in 90 seconds or less
- Should I leave him: How to decide whether to move forward together or move on without him
- How to win every argument
- How to get rich
- How to take over the world
- How not to write a novel
- How to take advantage of the people who are trying to take advantage of you
- How to look after your small pets
- How to fossilize your hamster
- How to have that difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding
- How to chat up men
- How to chat up women