Evgeniy Kalashnikov Evgeniy Kalashnikov

Functional Language: Moving off Topic
Upper-Intermediate, B2 level


In this lesson students learn some exponents of the functional language the focus of which is changing the topic. The lesson starts with a group warm-up actvity to put 4 unrelated pictures into one story. Then there are some listening exercises to present the TL; some semi-controlled practice and a freer task where student use the new functional language.


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Abc Board

Main Aims

  • To provide clarification and practice of functional language used for changing the topic in the context of a real-life conversation

Subsidiary Aims

  • To allow students an opportunity to use the target functional language in a meaningful, real-world context (conversation)


Warm-up (5-5 minutes) • To get students engaged and involved

(Prezi Slide 1 as a background) Start your lesson with a warm-up activity. First divide students into two groups of four. To do that distribute double-sided cards with the necessary number on top (1 or 2). Bear it in mind that there should be an equal (or almost equal) number of 1s and 2s. Don't allow students to turn over the card. Demonstrate four pictures (Prezi Slides 2-6) one by one. Elicit what they can see in the pictures. Then in groups ask them to make up a short story (orally or in writing; if the latter option is chosen, ask a weaker student to be responsible for that) to link these four images together. Give them 2-3 minutes for that. Check if they understand the task. Some ICQs: T.: - What must you make up? (a story) - Must the story be based on the pictures? (yes) - Do you have to write it? (no, we can do it orally) - How much time do you have? (2-3 minutes) While monitoring encourage students to use what language they can at this stage (for example, for one of the pictures - to use vocabulary of land description) Conduct feedback. Do not over-correct here.

Exposure (10-10 minutes) • To present the functional language in context via a conversation or series of conversations

Ask students the following questions: T.: Were the pictures connected? Did they have the same topic? (no) T.: Was it easy to link them? (anticipated answer is 'no') T.: When do we usually change the topic, jump off the topic?? When we write stories or speak, have a conversation? (anticipated answer is 'when we speak') Explain that they are going to listen to a conversation and say which of the topics (Prezi Slide 7) people are talking about. Before playing the recording ask a student to read the list of topics. Play the recording. Elicit the answers and say the following: T.: Now we are going to listen to three more conversations. What will you have to do? (listen and identify the topic) T.: How many extra topics are there? (2) Play the recordings and elicit the answers. Correct answers: 1. A situation at the airport. 2. A sandwich bar. 3. The cinema 4. A dinner for staff Ask them: T.: Did the speakers talk about one topic? (no, they discussed 2) T.: Let's listen to each of the four conversations again. What might the task be? (find out what the 2nd topic is) Play the recording all the way through. Let them discuss their answers in pairs.Then elicit them. Correct answers: 1. driving licence 2. Janet's baby (amd Silvia's pregnancy) 3. history test 4. school cafeteria

Highlighting (4-4 minutes) • To draw students' attention to the target language

Show Prezi Slide 4 and explain the following: T.: The following are key words the speakers used to change the topic of conversation. Can you remember the whole phrase? What, do you think, the numbers in brackets mean? (the number of words in a particular phrase) Let them recall the conversations and work out the phrases in groups. Elicit the answers. (Prezi Slide 8) Correct answers: 1. Speaking of 2. That reminds me 3. By the way 4. Before I forget 5. I have just remembered something

Clarification (9-9 minutes) • To clarify the meaning, form and pronunciation of the target language

Ask students the following: T.: Did all the topic changes run smoothly, logically? Were the previous and the following topics always connected with each other? (no) Elicit that some of the topics had logical connection and went smoothly while others didn't have logical connection, the changes were sudden. the new information was urgent. On the board write the key words 'logical connection' in one column and 'no connection/urgent info' in another one. T.: Let's remember the conversations and decide which phrases we use to introduce a new topic connected or not connected with the previous one. On your desks you have got double-sided cards with the numbers ... . (elicit - 1 and 2) If you think that the phrase is for logical connection you raise number... (1) if not ... (2). Conduct the voting. Leave the phrase "by the way" for the last. During the voting feedback elicit the following issues (refer to the recording examples) 1. Speaking of - after the phrase we use the word previously mentioned - we can also say 'talking of' but we cannot say 'saying of' or "telling of' 2. That reminds me - after the phrase we use a clause with the conjuction 'that' but the idea must be connected with the previous situation. 3. By the way - can be used for both logical and illogical jump off the topic. After the phrase we usually use a comma in writing. 4. I have just remembered something - in conversations we use the contracted form of 'have' - I have = I've - after the phrase, simply a new idea comes 5. Before I forget - we use present tense instead of future (L1 inteference is possible here) for 'forget' - after the phrase, simply a new idea comes Then listen to the recording (Audio 2) and ask students to repeat chorally and then individually.

Controlled Practice (5-5 minutes) • To concept check and prepare students for more meaningful practice

Distribute HO (check the Materials Section). Elicit the task from the students. Let them work individually first and then let them check in pairs. Correct answers: 1. Speaking of 2. By the way 3. Before I forget 4.That reminds me about 5. I've just remembered something

Free Practice (12-12 minutes) • To provide students with free practice of the target language

Explain the following: T.: Imagine that we are on a train and travelling somewhere. Vladivostok, for example. (Prezi Slide 9) We have got plenty of time. What do people usually do while travelling on a train? (get to know co-passenegers) T.: What do they talk about? (students' answers) T.: The only difference in the game is that it is not you who chooses the topic. You take a card with some topic and you must speak on this particular topic. The next person takes another topic and starts speaking on that. Each person must say at least 4 sentences on the topic. Do you think, the topics are going to be connected? (no) T.: What will help you in this case? (the phrases) T.: Which phrases is it easier to use? (the second column) Why? T.: That's why the rule will be the following, if you change your topic with the help of a phrase from the 1st column, you get 3 points; from the 2nd - 1 point. The same if for 'by the way' - for logical connection - 3 points, for an illogical jump-off - 1 point. Do the demonstration. Ask them to write points. Ask ICQs if necessary. Then start the game. Monitor and make notes of errors students. After the activity, conduct some board error correction. Thank your students for good work. (Prezi Slide 10)

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