- Keywords: Students as teachers, mini lessons, third language, L3
- Learner English level: All levels, especially beginner to intermediate
- Learner maturity: High school and above
- Preparation time: 30 minutes in-class, the week before
- Activity time: Variable, usually 45 to 90 minutes
- Materials: Handout for the teacher’s demonstration lesson
Japanese students enjoy learning a few words in a new language. Most university students in Japan study English (L2) and one more foreign language (L3). This lesson plan offers a great way for learners to act as teachers in the L2 classroom, by delivering short L3 lessons in English. It allows the students to practice speaking in a different register from that used in presentations and other situations, thus helping them to gain confidence in their use of English.
Step 1:The week before their mini-lesson session, explain to the learners that they are going to become language teachers. They will teach their L3 in English to the rest of the class. Each student will teach for 4-5 minutes.
Step 2: Give a demonstration of what is expected from the students. An example L3 lesson in French is provided in the appendix.
Step 3: Conduct a quick survey of the class to find what L3 the learners are currently studying.
Step 4: Let the students choose a lesson topic. Usually, these will include any aspect of L3 they've recently studied. Students who do not study any L3 can be given the option to teach an interesting grammar point or usage aspect of English, such as:
- The order of adjectives, the differences between adjectives and adverbs, etc.
- The pronunciation differences between words with similar spellings (though, tough, through, etc)
- Idioms such as “raining cats and dogs,” “no room to swing a cat,” etc.
Students whose main interest is in Japanese language study can teach, in English, some unusual kanji characters or little-known Japanese grammar points.
Step 5: Explain to the students that they will need to design a handout of exercises for the class. Gap fills, crosswords, matching exercises, etc., are all easy to find in textbooks, or can be created from scratch, but all instructions must be in English.
Step 6: Students prepare class copies of the handout.
The following four steps describe what is done by the student-teachers, not by you. You should sit among the students, and take part in the activities as if you were a student.
Step 1:Student-teachers teach L3 vocabulary, then make the class repeat and troubleshoot pronunciation.
Step 2:Student-teachers introduce the main body of their mini lesson (sentence patterns, unusual kanji or idiom, etc.)
Step 3: Student-teachers explain handout exercises and always write one example on the board.
Step 4: Student-teachers distribute handout and circulate in the classroom, checking students’ progress, and giving help or feedback in English if necessary.
Becoming teachers, even for only a few minutes, can be very empowering for the students who get to play the experts in their L3 field. This fun activity often has a positive impact on the way students relate to each other in the class. In addition, it allows learners to gain an understanding of the work involved in the preparation of a language lesson.
For a demonstration lesson, a dozen words and basic sentence patterns are usually enough to create a short beginner-level lesson, possibly including a short role-play. The following is enough for placing an order in a French café.
- Bonjour- hello
- S’il vous plait- please
- Café- coffee
- Garçon- waiter (male)
- L’addition- check
- Merci- thank you
- Au revoir - goodbye
Je voudrais... - I would like ...
A handout in English, with instructions on how to do the activities, includes the above lists with blanks for the English or French, and a comic strip with stick figures showing a person entering a cafe, greeting, ordering coffee, asking for the check, thanking, departing. Students make a dialog for the comic strip with the appropriate vocabulary/sentences and practice it.