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MAKING COLLAGES IN THE SECONDARY CLASSROOM By Naria de Salvador, Spain OBJECTIVE: Acquiring vocabulary on furniture by creating links with images and integrating grammar making beginners create their own sentences. MATERIALS NEEDED:  Old decoration magazines  Scissors and glue  Coloured pencils and felt-tipped pens  Packing paper ENGLISH LEVEL Beginners PREPARATION: None TIME: 4 lessons

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One of the activities I do to teach English through collage posters consist in asking our 14-yearold learners to look for furniture items in decoration magazines. They will have to cut and paste them into a big piece of packing paper or cardboard and then describe in English the resulting collage. The assumption is that by asking my learners to produce sentences using the vocabulary they have just been taught, which must be related to images that they have assembled, fosters acquisition, encourages ownership and creates a cooperative and dynamic atmosphere. Session 1 I do this activity after the lesson in my textbook where learners are introduced to the different rooms in a flat, their furniture, and the basic prepositions of place has been completed. Very similar lessons can be found in many textbooks for beginners. At the beginning of the session, learners are grouped heterogeneously in groups of three or four. Once the groups are set, each group is assigned or chooses a different room in a house, i.e. the kitchen, the living room, etc. A series of rules are then clearly stated: 1. Every item that is cut and pasted must stand as a single unit, and no more than one unit can be used from a picture unless the teacher is consulted. 2. There must be at least 12 items per collage. 3. A space must be left at the bottom of the poster where they will write their sentences. 4. It is not a matter of cutting and pasting items, but of creating rooms. The room they produce must make sense, even if perspective cannot be fully achieved or size respected. 5. Under no circumstances would more than one session be devoted to making their collages.

If the cushion that they chose for their collage is big. If it is white and blue. It is also important to make them responsible of how they use their time. Again. they cannot say it is white. Learners avoid being penalised this way. They are engaged in a scissors-and-paste activity. but this is up to them. The use of there is. Having broken some basic size rules can be fun when they start writing their sentences. Being accurate and not making spelling mistakes is highly valued. or a basin bigger than a door. there are and have got is quickly revised. only a session is provided to do this. which is under a cot. and also theirs if they chose not to copy them before. a weak member in each group is informed that s/he will have to come to the blackboard on the next session to read their sentences and translate them to the rest of the class. Session 2 Learners are asked a minimum of twelve sentences to describe their collages in session 2. This is of course a problem many groups have. A group mark will be assigned according to how this weak learner performs. the students write down on their notes the other groups' sentences. or either they will have to correct them in the neatest possible way. As cleanness is considered important. In this way no further time is stolen from the next session while a new opportunity is provided to those learners who haven't finished theirs. Then. The learners who finish in time are given a bonus. If there is a big teddy bear.e. . they must say so. but so are those that do not show descriptive accuracy. as they depend on the photographs they can find on a magazine. One way to show flexibility to those learners who have not finished is telling them that the moment I come to class on the next session I want their poster hung on the walls.There is always some perfectionist learner who protests because a sofa in their collage is smaller than a cushion. Of course there are some learners who will work on their collages until the very last minute before it is hung on the wall. it also reminds them that we are not an Arts class. My answer is always that it doesn't really matter. and I clearly specify that no sentences can be written on their collages before I have checked them. I state clearly that any ungrammatical sentences will be rejected. and they know it. Although this might cause my learners some frustration. and must correct any sentence they did not copy well. and they must remember that creating a perfect image is not the main objective of the task. Session 3 Once all the posters are hung on the walls. as many learners can’t avoid some adjectives to define size or provide opinion (i. There is a huge cushion on the sofa). they must specify that. clear letters. If they do not want their poster to look dirty they must be careful not to make mistakes. If they do not have time to finish the collage in one session this is simply because they did not use their time well. I supply dictionaries. Learners are asked to write their sentences in big.

It you who has actually written this exam." . Further activities I tend to take pictures of the learners with their collages when the task is completed. If a strong learner tries to show off and write very complex sentences rather than help their peers s/he realises that sort of behaviour is not particularly clever in this context. and so you must understand it. Strong learners that are not willing to co-operate find out a good mark in the exam is not enough. even if s/he is below average. the learner's collage. Learners are informed before doing this activity that they will have to sit an exam where the teacher would choose any sentence from the posters and will ask them to translate it into Spanish. while the strongest learners are in charge of providing clear notes on pronunciation and vocabulary to them so that s/he can achieve the highest possible mark.Giving a weak learner this responsibility makes him or her stand out. The objective of this exam is simply to remind them that posters are fun. Session 4 Learners sit a 15 minutes exam where they are asked to translate two sentences from each of the posters. I evaluate the first one. Although more strict criteria are applied to their exam. On the other hand. together with a short comment. The same criteria are followed with the oral expositions. so as to encourage their sense of ownership. can obtain satisfactory results if the three marks are considered. You were able to produce it with the language and grammar you knew. and it would be a pity to take them out because learners must be tested. taking into consideration their effort and interest. any learner having worked with interest in this activity. These pictures. but that they do actually have a purpose and that English can be learnt from doing them. Learner's opinions Learner's opinions were positive: "I liked collages very much because we learnt a lot and had a good time." Evaluation Learners get three different marks from this activity. it is a translation exam because the posters are there. Besides. making them sit this exam somehow challenges the role of the teacher as exam designer. They are tested on their productions and in this way the message conveyed is something like: "You've written this. are published in the school magazine so as to encourage that they be proud of what they write. It's your creation but also your responsibility.

as we wrote not to make mistakes." "I think they are fun. there were few. the sofa…." " The most difficult was finding pictures that were appropriate: The furniture. because we asked. interesting and above all you learn a lot about that lesson. Núria de Salvador Secondary teacher Spain . and looked for words on our dictionaries. I also like them because then we hang them on the wall and we decorate the classroom. It was worth the effort and I am happy."I like collages because they are fun and we work in groups. Then.