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By Jo Budden
Theme: Sleeping habits
Lexical area: Food Sleep – oversleep, sleepwalk, dream, nightmare, alarm clock, tired etc.
Instructions for language assistants in Italics
According to recent research, 25% of the UK population suffer from some sort of sleep disorder and two thirds of British children may be sleep deprived. Sleep is a topic that all students can talk about as everyone will have some personal experiences to share with the group. There is a selection of activities for you to choose from. If you have a sleepy group you could start with task 6 which is a dream analysis game done to music. Choose some lively music to really wake them up!
Task 1 is a simple brainstorm activity to get any new words up on the board to prepare for the following activities. Task 2 is a group mingle to get students thinking about their own sleeping habits. Task 3 is a simple true or false quiz and Task 4 is a reading text for higher levels. It is designed to initiate discussion on topics connected to sleep. Task 5 and Task 6 are fun activities involving drawing pictures which can be used to represent dreams.
1. Sleep brainstorm
Before talking about the topic of sleep try to find out how much vocabulary your students know on the topic. A simple brainstorm activity will find this out. You could put the students into groups and have a competition to see how many words they can think of connected to sleep. Make sure the vocabulary they will need to complete the tasks you have chosen for them is covered in this task. You could elicit the words they don’t automatically come up with themselves.
Before you begin you could ask your students some general questions connected to the topic to get them on track before the brainstorm.
- Are you tired at the moment?
- What time did you go to bed last night?
- Have you ever fallen asleep in a class?
How many words can you think of connected to sleep? Write them in the space below.
2. Find somebody who….
This classic mingle activity will get students talking to each other to find out more about their sleeping habits. Make sure they complete the blanks before they begin and with lower levels check they know all the correct question forms. The first one is, ‘Did you go to bed after midnight last night?’ or ‘what time did you go to bed last night?’. It’s worth checking the questions before they begin and you could even do some oral drilling (you say the question and the group / individual repeats copying your intonation) to work on their pronunciation.
You’re going to ask your class mates about their sleeping habits. Before you start, complete the two blank spaces with something you would like to find out.
|Find somebody who…
|… went to bed after midnight last night
|… has had a nightmare recently
|… overslept this morning
|… doesn’t use an alarm clock to wake up
|… loves sleeping
|… has fallen asleep in public
|… is tired today
- Tell the rest of the group about what you discovered.
3. Sleep quiz
This is a simple true or false quiz for lower levels. It could be used as an introduction to the topic or as a five minute filler at the end.
- Dolphins do not sleep. False. They sleep with half their brain at a time.
- Cows sleep standing up. True.
- It is impossible to sleep with your eyes open. False. People who sleepwalk and babies often have their eyes open or partially open when asleep.
- Fish close their eyes to sleep. False. Fish have no eyelids!
- Sleep can be divided into different stages. True. Sleep can be divided into many stages including REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep.
True or False?
- Dolphins do not sleep.
- Cows sleep and dream standing up.
- It is impossible to sleep with your eyes open.
- Fish close their eyes to sleep.
- Sleep can be divided into different stages.
- Check the answers with your teacher. How many did you get right?
- Do you know any other strange facts about sleep?
4. Sleeping habits phone-in
This task is a reading text with follow on questions to get students talking about their own sleeping habits. If you don’t have much time you could cut up the comments and give them out for students to read and then tell the rest of the class about. To extend the task ask students to think about their own sleeping habits and to write a few sentences in the box provided. These could be shared with the group to provide more content for discussion.
A local radio station asked their listeners to phone in with their comments about sleeping habits. Here is a selection of their calls.
- Do you ever fall asleep in front of the TV?
- Did you sleep well when you were a young child?
- How many hours sleep do you need?
- How many jobs can you think of that have to work at night? Would you like to work at night?
- Do you usually remember your dreams?
- Have you ever fallen asleep in a class?
- What would you say if you called the radio station to tell them about your sleeping habits? Write your comments here.
5. Dream dictation
A drawing dictation is a fun activity which can be used a listening task or even assessment. If you want to, you can have a picture in front of you and describe it to provide the picture you want the students to draw. For example, ‘in the top right hand corner there’s a window. Outside the window there’s a tree and two birds….’ Alternatively, use your imagination and make up the scene. If you use a real picture you can show it to the students at the end and they can compare their own picture with the original. The great thing about drawing dictations is that you can grade your language depending on the level of your class. When everyone has a picture in front of them ask them to imagine that it is a part of a dream they had last night and get them to explain the dream to a partner or to the group.
You need a piece of paper and a pencil. Listen carefully to your teacher and draw what he or she describes to you.
6. Dream analysis
Give each student a piece of paper and some coloured pencils. Tell them that you are going to play some music and you want them to draw whatever comes into their heads. As music is playing, all students should be drawing. After 20 or 30 seconds, stop the music. Students stop drawing and pass their picture to the person to the left of them in the circle. Play the music again and they continue with the drawing the person next to them had started. Stop the music again, pass pictures on and this continues until the end of the song. When you have finished, each student will have a picture that several students contributed to. Then tell the students that the picture they have represents the dream they had last night. The rest of the class can try to analyse the meaning of the dream.
- Do you think that our dreams have meanings?
- Have you ever had any strange dreams?
- Do you think you can interpret dreams to understand their meaning?
Here’s your chance to find out. Listen carefully to your teacher’s instructions and take part in the dream analysis game.
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