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Collocations and chunks reading activity: The 8th Day of the CELTA was about introducing the trainees

to the Lexical Approach and the idea of language existing as chunks, rather than individual pieces of vocabulary strung together to make meaning.

Trainees were getting experiential training through the use of a demo lesson of a jigsaw reading method I use to encourage learners to remember language in chunks.

Trainees, acting as learners, were divided into two groups (blues and yellows) and given different texts to read and summarise. The catch was that they were only allowed to make notes in the form of drawings to help them remember the content. This means that the learner would not be able to simply read the words off the page, but is encouraged to truly understand the meaning of the text and remember some of the chunks of language.

The trainees, now learners, are put in a carousel, with the Blues on the inside and the Yellows on the outside. The Blues then had to relay their summaries, with the help of only their drawings, to the yellows. The Yellows then moved a place to their left and had to re-tell what they had heard to their new Blue partner.

This achieves two things. It practises the very common communicative function of retelling stories and reporting what one has heard, while allowing the new blue partner to fill in the gaps of the retold story, thus co-constructing the information learnt and reformulating the chunks of language from the text.

As Gven has very concisely summarized the lesson in his blogpost, I will refrain from describing the rest of the input session here.

What makes this input session slightly different from those with a demo lesson which employs the technique of a straight forward experiential learning/training, is that the text given to the trainees was about the Lexical Approach itself.

The Blues were given a page-long definition about the Lexical Approach from An A-Z of ELT (Thornbury, 2006) while the Yellows were given a page from the same book about lexis, lexical sets and lexical verbs.

I must note that she did not present to class anything regarding the issue; instead she had us discover the points that matter about the topic of the day. She first divided the class into two groups and handed out two sheets of paper of different colours. After each group read the information on the sheets and made notes about them, she had those with the blue sheets stand in a circle in the centre of the classroom facing outwards. Then, she had those with the yellow sheets stand around the circle facing one person who has already read the information on the blue sheets. Next, she instructed those in the inner circle tell those in the outer circle about what they had read. Those in the outer circle were free to ask for clarification on the points they wished. In the second stage of the activity, those in the outer circle were required to move clockwise by two persons and re-tell the person they would face what they had just heard from their former partners. Those listening to their own information were free to point out the parts less understood and give clarification if they wanted. In the third stage, Chia asked those who had made notes about the yellow sheets to grab a chair and those others to sit in another chair in front of those with information from the yellow sheets. This done, the yellow group shared what they had read about with the blue group leaning over and speaking directly into their ears. Afterwards, both blue and yellow group people turned to each other and the blues re-told the yellows what they had just listened to from them. By the end of the activity, everyone had an idea about the lexical approach and Chia had not taught the class anything. She had only been the organizer and facilitator. She had not been on the spot for even a moment. This, in addition to acknowledging us about the lexical approach, was a perfect model for information gap type activities. It was so useful that we could all answer questions about the topic without problems because we had learned it in co-operation with each other. We were quiet active throughout the activity and there was never a time to get bored of what we had been doing. Also, we knew we were responsible for our partners learning, so we were extracareful with what we did. Chia, after everything was done, summarized the main points of lexical approach one more time and told us to always remember that people could learn much better in chunks and collocations because they would find it more meaningful. There was also a talk about the importance of contextualization and knowing how to create contexts according to the level and interest of students. Lastly, the session was ended with a vocabulary game that required us to add words into the categories given by Chia, and everyone loved that.