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CLASSROOM TECHNIQUES
I s m a e l Ha k k i M i r i c i
T U R K E Y

Some
Communicative
Activities Based on
Overhead Projectors involved in discussions based on the images re-

C
reating a productive atmosphere and
sense of community in language classes is flected on the screen and thus activate their com-
essential for students to use the target municative skills in the target language. While
language communicatively. As Schaetzel and Ho some students are expressing their thoughts, oth-
(2003, 1617) note: Without community there ers have the opportunity to listen to them with
can be no communication. Joyful communica- the visual support of the image on the screen.
tive activities provide students with positive rein- Students make use of their linguistic and
forcement and motivation in the foreign language communicative competence and show their per-
learning process. formance by participating in communicative
Educational technology is one tool for creating activities and their structural, functional, and
joyful, communicative activities. Teachers must, communicative language knowledge is activated.
As a result, they realize that they are able to use
of course, decide how best to integrate devices such
the target language. They can participate in an
as the overhead projector (OHP) into construc-
enjoyable event by creating their own sentences,
tion. As Harmer (2001, 136) states: Overhead
either simple or complex or compound. The
Projectorsare extremely useful pieces of equip-
atmosphere in the classroom and the teachers
ment since they allow us to prepare visual or dem-
attitude will encourage them.
onstration material. They require little technical
The activities that follow aim to increase stu-
knowledge, and usually are easy to carry around. dents enthusiasm to speak in the target language
Furthermore, OHPs are simpler to understand and to recall previous knowledge without feeling
and operate than other types of educational hard- exhausted or bored. The background music im-
ware such as computers. There is little risk of proves the atmosphere, making students feel se-
being confused when something goes wrong with cure and relaxed and increasing their desire to
them, even for a technology-challenged teacher. join in.
Moreover, OHPs are more affordable than other
projector technology such as LCDs. Sample activities
With an OHP we can create unusual and stim- The following activities are quite flexible;
ulating images on the screen that grab the atten- learners of different levels will produce different
tion of students, making them wish to communi- types of language. The examples I have provided
cate in English. Simply by placing transparent are for the late beginners level, by which time the
boxes holding liquid or removable objects on an students have already learned most of the basic
OHP, teachers can create meaningful, communi- English tenses and the modals, as well as the
cative activities. In such activities students can be prepositions of place.

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Activity 1: Clouds (Play soft music as you do this activity.)


Purpose: The aim of this activity is to create 1. Place the transparent box, which contains
cloud-like images on the screen, and to have some small figures covered with leaves, on
students discuss the images by making use of the OHP.
their own structural, vocabulary, and commu- 2. Students say what the image on the screen
nicative language knowledge. looks like.
Materials needed: OHP, a transparent box (for 3. Gradually remove the leaves from the
example, a food container made of plastic), figures.
water, ink, oil, detergent, and a tape recorder.
4. When all the leaves are removed, the stu-
(Play soft music as you do this activity.) dents are asked to answer questions about
1. Place the transparent box on the OHP and the locations of each figure in contrast to
pour some water into it. the other(s).
2. Move the box forwards and backwards. Example:
This creates strange and interesting patterns. Teacher: What do you think the figure on
3. Students describe the image on the screen. the screen looks like?
4. Drop some ink in the water. Student 1: It looks like a forest.
5. Students describe the new images. Teacher: (Removes one of the leaves) Can
6. Repeat with oil and detergent without you see any particular figures now?
changing the liquid in the box. While the Student 2: Yes. I can see an airplane.
students are expressing their opinions, the Teacher: Good. (Removes another leaf )
teacher may ask questions to focus attention. What about now?
Example: Student 3: I can see a ship.
Teacher: What do you think the image on Teacher: Right. (Removes one more leaf )
the screen looks like? What can you see now?
Student 1: It looks like a bird. Student 4: I can see a car.
Teacher: What is the bird doing? Teacher: Where is the car?
Student 1: It is flying in the cloudy sky. Student 5: It is next to the ship, above the
Teacher: Is there only one bird? airplane. (The activity goes on
Student 1: Yes. And there are a lot of until all the leaves are removed
clouds. and the locations of the objects
Teacher: What else? Does anybody else want are discussed.)
to talk about the image? (Another This activity allows students to practice the
student volunteers.) Do you agree linguistic items communicatively in a produc-
with your friend? Does it look like tive atmosphere.
a bird in the sky or something else? Activity 3: OHP Town
Student 2: I think it looks like(etc.) Purpose: This activity enables students to
As is seen, in this activity the students use work in groups to create a scenario and dia-
their imagination, real life experiences, and logues based on some contextualizing images.
linguistic knowledge to create meaningful Materials needed: OHP; cut-out shapes of
and communicative utterances in the target people; transparencies with thought and
language. speech balloons, background scenes, and space
Activity 2: Hidey-hole for the figures to move in.
Purpose: This activity aims at having students 1. Cut out the human shapes, with arms and
practice structural items, such as prepositions legs detachable so their positions can be
of place, and recall some vocabulary. changed, giving the figures extra life and
Materials needed: OHP, a transparent box, movement in different directions.
leaves, some small figures (of animals or 2. Place one or more of the human shapes on
objects such as come in a pack of chewing the transparency with the background
gum or chocolate), a tape recorder. scenes and speech or thought bubbles.

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3. Form working groups of five or six and ask 2. Once the students have discussed each pic-
students to create their own scenarios and ture, divide the class into groups of five or
dialogues. six, instructing each group to select a nar-
4. Invite each group to present and act out rator, an illustrator, a secretary, and con-
their scenario using the materials and the tributors. Tell students they have ten min-
OHP. Remind students that they may put utes to create a story of their own, using
the characters in any position they need. the pictures they have seen and discussed.
Example: 3. Finally, invite each group to tell their story
by presenting it on the OHP and writing
Teacher: There are some cut-out figures
on the board. The narrator of the group
and transparencies for various sit-
tells the story while the illustrator places
uations. I will place the figures in
the transparencies on the OHP and the
a particular transparency. Please secretary writes the story on the board.
try to write an original scenario
for the situation. If you want, you In this activity, as in Activity 1, the students
can change the position of the fig- use their imagination, real-life experiences,
ures. Remember to fill in the and linguistic knowledge to create meaningful
speech or thought bubbles. You and communicative utterances in the target
have ten minutes to complete language. Moreover, teachers can continue to
your scenario. enrich lessons by reintroducing these silhou-
ette characters and designing dialogue-based
(After ten minutes, ask for volunteers to shadow plays in which students make the
share their scenario.) shadow characters talk, using the target struc-
Teacher: Group 1, the stage is yours. We ture and vocabulary in the syllabus.
are looking forward to hearing
and watching your scenario. Conclusion

(Narrator of the group tells their story and The activities presented in this article
the other members help him/her represent it develop the communicative skills of the stu-
on the OHP). dents. They provide opportunities to practice
the range of language skills from listening to
Narrator: Once upon a time there was a
speaking, reading, and writing. The activities
lazy man. He was a farmer and
last as long as the motivation of the class and
he had a big family (etc.).
the desire of the students endure. The end
In this activity, the students use various result, in my experience, is a happy and pro-
tenses in real-life situations and activate their ductive lesson.
creative thinking skills.
Activity 4: Unscramble References

Purpose: This activity aims at guiding the stu- Harmer, J. 2001. The practice of English language
teaching. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.
dents to create a meaningful sequence of events. Schaetzel, K., and C. Ho. 2003. Tutorials: A way of
Moreover, group collaboration motivates stu- building community in the classroom. English
dents to activate their creative thinking. Teaching Forum (41) 1: 1621.
Materials needed: OHP, transparencies with
the pictures of a story/event, chalkboard.
ISMAIL HAKKI MIRICI is an Assistant Professor
1. Place the pictures on the OHP one at a and head of the ELT Department of Akdeniz
timenot in the right sequenceand ask University in Antalya, Turkey. His special in-
students to discuss what each image repre- terests are English Language Teaching cur-
sents for them. riculum and instruction.

48 VOLUME 43 NUMBER 4 2005  E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M