Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Department Store Lesson

In our ESL program, teacher have a lot of flexibility with the specifics of each lesson plan.  But even though we work all over the city with varied classes, we all work with the same theme every month.  This month, the theme has been "Consumer Economics".

Last week, I made plans with my intermediate level class to go to a local department store.  Partners were given a fictional scenario and an imaginary $50 gift card.  Their assignment was to find a solution to their problem at the department store without going over budget.  They were welcome to personalize the scenario as they saw fit (working toward a real need would be excellent!).  Examples of problems included:

- You just flew in to Philadelphia to visit your friend, but the airline sent your bag to New York!  Your friend takes you to the department store to buy what you need to survive until your bag arrives tomorrow.

- Your 11 year old niece is going to an ice cream party with some girlfriends and she wants a cute outfit to wear.  With accessories, please!  You and your niece go to the department store to see what you can find.

- You took a business trip from Florida to Wisconsin and it's snowing there, even though it's March!  You need a winter jacket.  You and your coworker go to a department store to find something warm to wear.

 One moment that made me smile especially: when we were forming pairs,  students suggested that partners not have the same L1!  Before we walked to the department store, which is only three blocks from the library, partners considered these questions:

1.   Write a summary of your “problem”:

2.       What do you want to buy?  What department will you look for?

3.       Do you think you will have success?  How do you feel about going to the department store?

1.       What did you “buy”?  (Please describe in detail.)  How much did it cost?  Why did you choose it?

2.       What didn’t you “buy”?  (Please describe in detail.) Why didn’t you buy it?

3.       Did you see people who work at the store?  Who did you see?  What are their jobs?  Did you talk to them?  If you did, who did you talk to?  Why?  What did you say?

4.       What interesting or new language did you read or hear during your shopping trip?

5.       How do you feel after your shopping trip?

All in all, I think this was an excellent outing.  Two of the pairs did talk to store employees.  One pair talked to a sales clerk and the other talked to customer service.  Everyone found what they needed, but had to make some decisions to stay within their budget. I think the best question, from a Dogme perspective, was number 4.  Learners were reminded to pay attention to language and they did bring back observations, which we discussed in class.  I hope this helps them to consider doing this on their own!

Here's a picture of the outfit that one pair found for the 11 year old girl (a real niece of one of the partners):
 This outfit came in at just under $50.  The partners chose the green top and the jewelry from the clearance racks in order to make their limit.

I was happy with how this exercise worked out, but it yielded even more than I expected!  Since this post is getting long and I'm running out of time this evening, I'll continue tomorrow.  (Hint: it involves the Audio Memos app!)

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