I doubt the above picture will ever be the subject of a “qué hay en la foto?”, however it’s copyright free so feel free to use it in your lessons!
It is definitely time for another post on GCSE topics, which is another way of saying it’s half-term and I have some time to write. Having covered GCSE topics such as school, the environment, technology, customs and festivals and social issues charity and volunteering, it was time to look at the marriage and relationships topic.
AQA calls it marriage/partnership. Edexcel calls it “relationships”, as does Eduqas. This topic is one that I believe requires a degree of sensitivity when teaching. I have always found it useful to pre-warn students when there are upcoming lessons on this topic. For some, family relationships, divorce and arguments are the last thing they want to talk about because they are living through it. The last thing you want is to dredge up unpleasant memories or experiences.
I’ve tried a variety of activities to make this topic more enjoyable for students and will share a few below. Before starting this topic, it is really worth considering what you want your students to be able to say at the end and how it might be assessed. You might think “well I do that all the time”. However, are we thinking in terms of grammar, chunks of language or set phrases? From a brief look at AQA’s speaking sample assessment materials. Students should be able to…
- give their opinion on marriage and appropriate age to marry
- to explain a cause of divorce
- talk about their ideal partner
- state whether you believe marriage is important
You could also imagine how the topic is likely to appear in writing, listening and reading.
Here are some activities I have tried with groups on this topic.
Word Family Matchups.
Give students a list of nouns, verbs and adjectives. They should all have very similar meanings eg: “love”, “to love”, “loved” or “girlfriend/boyfriend”, “to go out with”, “dating”. Students have to match all three. I found this was a good start to the topic as most students started picking up the spelling and meaning links between the phrases and gave them a good base of vocabulary for future lessons.
Synonyms match up around the room.
Give students a list of words. Around the room you will have synonyms with a TL definition. Students have to work out which synonyms go together. This is best done with higher level groups after pre-teaching some basic vocabulary around the topic.
Ideal partner modal verbs
This topic is ideal for revising modal verbs (most common verbs). If you are a fan of Sentence Builders à la Conti, there is plenty of potential here. I’ve put two examples below. Feel free to adapt them to French/German/Spanish/Italian etc.
I want to meet a man who is adjective
I would like a woman can be adjective
My ideal partner should be adjectives
would be more adjectives
would have nouns
You can then do various games and mini-whiteboard activities based on these.
Consequences ideal partner.
I have used the above phrases in a consequences style activity. Give out A4 paper, one between two. Fold in half lengthways and chop. Students put their name at the bottom of the paper. Give them a sentence to create. They write it at the top, fold towards themselves and pass it on. Give them another sentence. Repeat until most of the paper has been used and then return to original owner. The original owner now has two jobs. Job 1: translate what has been produced. Job 2: write out a version correcting anything they deem not to suit them. For example, if their piece of paper says “my ideal partner would have brown hair” and they would prefer otherwise then they need to change it.
This vocabulary would also lend itself to a trapdoor activity!
Starts and Ends
I have always found this a good pre-writing activity to see how much students can produce independently. Give them the start of a sentence that they must finish or the end of a sentence that they need to start. It goes some way to mitigating the tension that arises when a student is asked to produce 40-90 words on this topic.
Mi novio ideal ______________________________
_____________________________________________ me hace reír
I have a love/hate relationship with authentic texts. With some topics I love them (food, restaurants etc) and find them helpful. With some topics I cannot seem to find any that would better what is in the textbook. This is where you can create your own (highly patterned and flooded with language you want them to learn, naturally). I recently had some success with Fake Whatsapp. Rather than an authentic text where you cannot select the language, here you can, in a way that looks authentic. Add in some French textspeak, German textpspeak, or Spanish textspeak if you dare.
How can you turn this into something about relationships? Let’s return to our earlier bullet points:
- Your opinion on marriage: Produce a short conversation between two people discussing it.
- What is the right age for marriage? Produce a conversation between two people about a friend getting married.
Do every roleplay and photocard on this topic you can find
My experience of the new GCSE so far shows me that when students are confronted with a roleplay or photo card on school, free time, holidays or healthy living then they are largely fine. When confronted with one on marriage or family relationships. They panic. In class I would make sure we have a go at these topics and trust them to be ok with holidays and school. As there is only one of you and potentially 20-34 students in your room. I have found some success using the following process for doing roleplays and photocards in class. I have copied it verbatim from another blogpost on marking here.
- Teacher shows students mark scheme and script for roleplay.
- One student is selected to conduct the roleplay. Teacher plays role of student
- Roleplay is then performed by teacher and student (in reversed roles).
- Teacher (as student) produces a roleplay that can be described as a omnishambles full of mistakes, hesitation, use of English, use of Spanglish, use of French, adding O to any English word to make it sound Spanish.
- Teacher (as student) produces a half-decent roleplay that ticks some boxes but not all.
- Teacher (as student) produces a roleplay that would knock the socks off the most examiners.
- After each the students are asked to give numerical scores. The AQA mark-scheme is extremely helpful in this as for each element of the roleplay there is a score of 0, 1 or 2. Their language says “message conveyed without ambiguity” or “message partially conveyed or conveyed with some ambiguity”. In short: 2 = job done 1 = partly done 0 = was it done? Students are then asked to give a score out of 5 for quality of language. The teacher can guide them towards this one a bit more.
- Students then have silent prep time for a roleplay on the same theme but with different bullet points. 10-12mins.
- Students conduct the roleplay in pairs with script on projector screen. After which, they assess their partner’s performance. When they switch over, you need to switch the unpredictable question to something else! Or generate a new task for the other.
- They need to repeat this so that they have two sets of scores. They can then calculate an average. By doing so, hopefully any overly generous or overly harsh marking is minimised.
Joe gives Martina 2+2+1+1+1 /10 +3 /5 = 10/15
Kelsey gives Martina 1+2+1+2+2 / 10 4/5 =12/15
Average = 11/15