Saturday, October 17, 2015

Teaching cohesive devices with a classic tale

I used the classic tale Little Red Riding Hood to raise awareness about cohesive devices. Most people would argue that such topics should be taught at more advanced levels. However, I find it useful to teach them as early as possible (at elementary level for example). It might at least help learners better understand reading texts.

In my lesson, I first used the following version of the story that I adapted from teachingenglish.org.uk. I replaced all the reference words (e.g. pronouns) and synonyms with the original nouns they refer to. I asked the students to read the text and tell me if there’s anything wrong with it. Most of them immediately realized that there’s too much repetition. Then, I went on to elicit reference words and synonyms by asking some questions. Later, I asked them to try to improve this story by adding reference words any synonyms where they thought appropriate. I also reminded them that there were no right or wrong answers for this and that they just needed to try and make it sound better.

When they were done, I gave them the improved version and we talked about their choices and the corrections on the version that I provided. At the end of the lesson, we did a "chain writing" activity to practice cohesive devices in free practice.

Here is the adapted version without the reference words.

Little Red Riding Hood lives at the edge of a wood. One day, Mum sends Little Red Riding Hood to Grandma’s with a cake, as Grandma isn’t feeling well. Mum tells Little Red Riding Hood to be very careful in the wood – Little Red Riding Hood mustn’t leave the path or talk to strangers. Little Red Riding Hood puts on Little Red Riding Hood’s red cloak, puts the cake in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket, and promises to go straight to Grandma’s. In the wood, Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf. The wolf stops Little Red Riding Hood and asks Little Red Riding Hood where Little Red Riding Hood is going. Little Red Riding Hood tells the wolf Little Red Riding Hood is going to Grandma’s. Following the wolf’s suggestion, Little Red Riding Hood wanders off the path to pick some flowers for Grandma and the wolf runs straight to Grandma’s cottage. When the wolf arrives at the cottage the wolf pretends the wolf is Little Red Riding Hood and swallows Grandma. The wolf quickly puts on Grandma’s nightdress and nightcap and jumps into bed to wait for an even tastier meal – Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red Riding Hood arrives at Grandma’s and notices what a big nose, big eyes, ears and teeth Grandma has got. Little Red Riding Hood shouts for help and a woodcutter saves Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf. Grandma jumps out of the wolf’s stomach and that’s the last Little Red Riding Hood and Grandma hear of the big, bad wolf!

And this is the improved version:

Little Red Riding Hood lives at the edge of a wood. One day, Mum sends her to Grandma’s with a cake, as Grandma isn’t feeling well. Mum tells her to be very careful in the wood - she mustn’t leave the path or talk to strangers. Little Red Riding Hood puts on her red cloak, puts the cake in her basket, and promises to go straight to Grandma’s. In the wood, she meets a wolf. The wolf stops her and asks her where she’s going. She tells the wolf she’s going to Grandma’s. Following the wolf’s suggestion, Little Red Riding Hood wanders off the path to pick some flowers for Grandma and the wolf runs straight to the old woman’s cottage. When the animal arrives at the cottage he pretends he’s Little Red Riding Hood and swallows Grandma. He quickly puts on her nightdress and nightcap and jumps into bed to wait for an even tastier meal – Little Red Riding Hood. The little girl arrives at Grandma’s and notices what a big nose, big eyes, ears and teeth Grandma has got. She shouts for help and a woodcutter saves her from the animal. Grandma jumps out of the wolf’s stomach and that’s the last they hear of the big, bad wolf!