On Wednesday nights, I have a class with two students (around a CEF level B1, I would estimate). The course they are taking is designed to be communicative, but text/material driven, and at the end of the course, both students will be tested on vocabulary, grammar, and ideas directly from the text. Normally, I incorporate a lot of discussion and vocabulary building activities into the lessons, but last week, I tried to to be purposefully more “Unplugged.”
I walked into class, and like every week, asked the students how they were, etc. One student said that she went to the dentist last week and that her face was sore. Instead of saying, “Oh, I'm sorry to hear that,” though, this time, I tried to run with it. I had her tell me what happened (she had had her wisdom teeth removed). I asked the other student if she had had her wisdom teeth pulled also, and she had.
We ended up having a wonderful 20 minute conversation about wisdom teeth, dentists, oral surgery, and recovery, and we filled up the whole board with new vocabulary. Both students were able to tell their stories, compare experiences, and talk about funny situations related to dentists offices. They wrote down the 10-15 words (out of 50?) that were most relevant to them (for example, some teeth vocabulary and the difference between 'to miss' and 'to avoid').
This lesson, and the other lessons I've been trying to unplug lately, have made me wonder how many other situations students have brought to the classroom in the past that I haven't noticed or exploited, and it made me more aware of the teaching possibilities present in daily life.