Robert Spoden Robert Spoden

The Power of nature: Vocabulary and Narrative Tenses
Intermediate level


In this lesson, students will learn nouns that describe natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and forest fires. Next, students will have a guided practiced listening exercise where stories about natural events are played back. After that, a brief introductory grammar lesson on narrative verb tenses takes place followed by a guided practice reading exercise.


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Main Aims

  • To provide gist and specific information listening practice using a text about natural events in the context of narrative

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide a review of vocabulary words about natural events
  • To provide practice of narrative tenses in the context of personal accounts


Warmer/Lead-in (3-4 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Introduce myself and talk about where I am from (California) "When was little, something scary happened in California." Put up pictures of Loma Prieta Earthquake. Elicit the word. An earthquake /ən ˈɜrθˌkweɪk/ Ask Ss if there were any Earthquakes in Turkey that they experienced and get some stories.

Pre-Reading/Listening (10-12 minutes) • To prepare students for the text and make it accessible

Put up pictures of natural phenomena Students work in pairs to try to come up with vocabulary words. Elicit the vocabulary. Correct pronunciation errors and ask CCQs where relevant. Students talk briefly with each other about their experiences with these natural events. A forest fire /ə ˈfɔrəst ˈfaɪər A single tree or area of dry grass or bushes that catches fire is not a forest fire. /A tsunami /ə sʊˈnɑːmi/ • Does the water come from a river, lake, or rainfall? (no) • Does it involve a large wave from the ocean? (yes) • Is it caused by an earthquake? (usually) A hurricane /ə ˈhɜrəˌkeɪn/ • Do these storms start on land? (no) • Can they happen in Turkey? (no) • Where do they happen? (Western Atlantic Ocean) A volcanic eruption /ə vɑlˈkænɪk ˌɪˈrʌpʃən/ A flood /ə flʌd/ • Does the water come from a river, lake, or rainfall? (usually) • Does it involve a large wave from the ocean? (no) • Can it be caused by an earthquake? (sometimes) Can it be caused by a tsunami or a hurricane? (yes) An eclipse /ən ɪˈklɪps/ The northern lights /ðə ˈnɔrðərn laɪts/ The sky lights up with colors at night but this only happens near the North Pole. This happens near the South Pole as well, but they are called Southern Lights.

While-Reading/Listening #1 (5-6 minutes) • To provide students with less challenging gist and specific information reading/listening tasks

Ss listen to recording 1.36 for gist. The recording is accounts from two people, Fran and Antonio, about natural events they experienced. After playing the recording a couple times, the Ss work in pairs to figure out which events Fran and Antonio are talking about. Ss are nominated to share what Antonio and Fran are talking about.

While-Reading/Listening #2 (8-10 minutes) • To provide students with more challenging detailed, deduction and inference reading/listening tasks

The Ss are asked to listen to the recording again for detail, and fill out a questionnaire. The recording is played back a couple of times to allow Ss to capture all of the relevant information. Ss work in pairs to check each other's answers. Ss are then nominated to share answers with the class.

Post-Reading/Listening (13-15 minutes) • To provide with an opportunity to respond to the text and expand on what they've learned

A brief grammar lesson on narrative tenses commences. The following sentence will be used to illustrate: I moved to Istanbul last year, but had gotten sick when I was traveling. Each tense is gone over, with the concept checking questions. Past Simple: actions that already happened in the past : regular verb ending –ed Am I moving to Istanbul now? (no) Did I move to Istanbul in the past? (yes) When? (last year) Past perfect: an event that happened earlier than another event. : had + past participle Did I get sick after moving to Istanbul? (no) Did I get sick before moving to Istanbul? (yes) When? (when I was traveling) Past Progressive: explains the background to a past action or event : was / were + ing What happened when I was traveling? (I got sick) Was I traveling before I got sick? (yes) Was I traveling after I got sick? (yes) POSSIBLE PROBLEMS and SOLUTIONS: Past Simple: (-ed) Turkish speakers tend to pronounce the final /d/ as /t/ Solution: write word on WB, underline –ed, pronounce slowly for emphasis and choral drill. Past Progressive: (-ing): /ŋ/ is pronounced /k/. Choral drill, practice with the word ‘ring’ , then back-chain it into the problem verb. Ss. May misuse past progressive and when used to is more appropriate. Use a time-line illustrate the difference and point out that past progressive often denotes actions that were ongoing, but temporary in nature. Also, Ss may misunderstand the past simple as meaning shorter periods of time than the past progressive. Can use comparative sentences such as: I stayed in California for over 20 years before moving to Istanbul. I was staying in Europe last year. Ss. may over-use the past perfect when the past-simple is more appropriate, ie I had moved here last year instead of I moved here last year. Emphasize that the past perfect is used rarely, and only to indicate a relationship between different past events – I had moved here when I rented my apartment. ++++ Worksheet is passed out. Ss work alone and circle the appropriate phrases in each sentence. Ss then work in pairs to check with one another. Finally, the answer key is distributed, and Ss check the answers in pairs.

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