- Keywords: Cooperative learning, adjectives, group discussion, comparisons, conditional language
- Learner English level: All
- Learner maturity: University
- Preparation time: Minimal
- Activity time: 3 to 4 class periods
- Materials: Poster-sized paper (colored and white), markers, glue, tape (for student use)
Teachers can use collaborative learning situations to enable students to create something new with new and previously learned target language skills. Having students create their own TV advertisement as a group project can be a challenging and motivating activity. Students focus on describing and comparing things, collaborating in groups to negotiate ideas and make decisions. This activity is designed for university students at any level from beginner to advanced. It offers students the opportunity to work together on writing skills as well as speaking skills. While this does not require students to be spontaneous during a conversation, it does allow them to communicate and reflect on certain grammar points.
Step 1: Run a warm-up activity by having students work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm adjectives for certain products you have written on the board (e.g., cellular phones, instant ramen, automobiles) for about 2 minutes per product. Students can then use some of these adjectives to explain to their partners why they like or prefer certain products.
Step 2: Divide students into groups of about four and explain the project to them.
Step 1: Have students discuss and decide on a product they would like to advertise, expressing their personal preferences in the process. Groups must complete this first task during class. For sake of variety, do not allow multiple groups to choose the same product. For individual homework, assign students to think of a TV commercial idea for their group’s product and bring it to the next class session.
Step 2: Have students divide into their groups in the next class period and explain their idea for a TV commercial. Have each student take a turn describing the commercial idea before the group discusses the pros and cons of each one. Finally, ask groups to determine which commercial they will make.
Step 3: Instruct groups to create a script for their commercials in class. The scripts must include the proper use of adjectives expressing advantages and disadvantages of the product and persuasive language.
Step 4: Allow preparation time for shooting the commercial: give students the opportunity to rehearse their script and organize last minute details, such as confirming what props are necessary. Take this time to provide final instruction or make corrections.
Step 5: Allow groups to record their commercial. This step usually lasts one 90-minute class period.
Step 6: Have students watch the commercials as a class. After watching these, ask students to answer the following questions: 1) Which commercial did you find the most interesting and why? 2) What are things about your own commercial you would change and why? Instruct students to discuss with a partner which advertisement was most interesting and why they thought so, using their notes. Optionally, you can ask students to write their answer in their class journals as a follow-up homework assignment.
This activity seems to be enjoyable for the students, regardless of their level. The cooperative learning portion allows students to contribute their own strengths and opinions while working together to form a creative finished product. Also, the added benefit of viewing the videos lets students see and hear their own in-class efforts of using English to accomplish a task. The activity can be easily adapted for the level of the students and number of class sessions. If students have the time and know-how, videos can be made to look very professional, especially if students have access to computers and software such as PowerPoint.