I always so enjoy taking students on the excursion afternoons. These afternoon trips see us off to the galleries,museums and other places of interest in the local area of the colleges when I do seasons of work as a visiting teacher. The trips are great for team building and afford everyone a chance to get to know each other better. They also provide an excellent opportunity to create that 'demand for language' within the student to meet immediate needs so as to enable the student to be able to discuss in English the exhibits or whatever recreational activity we are doing.
As I have written previously I think that one of the secrets to learning English and to increase the pace of learning and retention is to focus on areas of language for which there is a current or imminent demand.
Languages are so vast and to use a method that is only based on formulaic breakdowns in grammar forms dealing with tenses derived from language exercises books does not necessarily lead to optimum headway being made. By way of example If a student has an imminent job interview use that as a key theme around which to build a set of lessons.
The Search for the Twelve Treasures!
Recently we headed off to the British Museum for our excursions that week. To make it even more fun I decided to turn it into a Treasure Hunt.
What made the visit even more fascinating for me was that in the classes in the morning leading up to the excursion, we worked through some print outs which contained a short essay on each of the treasures we were to later go in search of.
It made it so much more interesting once at the museum to know some some background knowledge for each of the treasures we found.
Wherever you are in the world, you could visit any museum and look for teaching resources on each particular museum's website and often they have a 'treasure hunt' list you can use as basis for creating lesson handouts.
I found a link on the superb British Museum site to the top twelve exhibits which I printed out and on arrival we all went off in search of them and took photos as evidence of our having found them.
As there is so much to see at a museum one is often overwhelmed. By having this goal to have to try find and see 12 of the most popular exhibits really gave the visit a purpose and great opportunities for the students to practice their English when asking museum staff for directions when we got lost in the various halls. This happened to us quite a few times!
However, the British Museum site has excellent links to videos and pics that one could have great fun doing this online too. As mentioned from the pic above of the 12 most popular exhibits I created handouts using the short descriptions provided by the museum. If you visit the suggested link to the Museum's website where this pic appears, just click on each treasure to see more information about it and with which you could make up your handouts.
We also worked through some excellent lesson plans & worksheets available on the British Council website on the subject of archaeology. (Please see links below)
Fun way to practise the word 'archaeology'
As we all took turns to read from the handout about the treasures and so as to create a fun but appropriate atmosphere, I asked the rest of the students who were listening to whisper the word 'archaeology' twice every time it was mentioned in the read-through. As we did that it sounded like the sound track of an adventure movie such as Raiders of the Lost Arc. It proved a hilarious device and we fell about laughing.
As one of my excellent students was from Denmark, we all became particularly keen to visit and find the Sutton Hoo helmet which is from the Anglo-Saxonperiod , early 7th century AD from Mound 1, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England
The following information is quoted directly from the excellent British Museum website.
The helmet comprised an iron cap, neck guard, cheek pieces and face mask. Its form derives from Late Roman cavalry helmets. The helmet’s surfaces were covered with tinned copper alloy panels that gave it a bright, silvery appearance. Many of these panels were decorated with interlacing animal ornament (‘Style II’) and heroic scenes of warriors. One scene shows two men wearing horned head-gear, holding swords and spears. The other shows a mounted warrior trampling a fallen enemy, who in turn stabs the horse. The rider carries a spear which is supported by a curious small figure, standing on the rump of his horse – perhaps a supernatural helper. Similar scenes were popular in the Germanic world at this time.'
'The face-mask is the helmet’s most remarkable feature. It works as a visual puzzle, with two possible ‘solutions’.
The first is of a human face, comprising eye-sockets, eyebrows, moustache, mouth and a nose with two small holes so that the wearer could breathe. The copper alloy eyebrows are inlaid with silver wire and tiny garnets. Each ends in a gilded boar’s head – a symbol of strength and courage appropriate for a warrior.
The second ‘solution’ is of a bird or dragon flying upwards. Its tail is formed by the moustache, its body by the nose, and its wings by the eyebrows. Its head extends from between the wings, and lays nose-to-nose with another animal head at the end of a low iron crest that runs over the helmet’s cap.'
These descriptions from the British Museum are such excellent material and help me to fulfill another of the secrets I think I am discovering regarding learning and teaching English - that one should try to create lesson or do self study around themes that are of such interest and fascination that they go beyond just the language and would be of interest in whatever language one was using.
One of the British Council's lessons includes an excellent reading task in which one learns more about the fascinating story of the Lindow man.
One reads more about the discovery of the well-preserved remains of the body of a man buried in peat.
The background story to this discovery is so intriguing that both the students and I could not wait to find the exhibit at the museum which we eventually did.
Again, the British Museum site has such excellent links to videos and pics that one could have great fun doing this online too.
Please see resource links below and note that there is a print out version of the above mentioned Lindow Man lesson at https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/sites/podcasts/files/learnenglish-magazine-archaeology-support-pack.pdf
As for the title of this post, 'I dig' can also be used as slang for 'I like' and it also has been used to mean 'understand' as in 'You dig? The word 'dig' can also be used to describe the area where archaeologists are working carefully to uncover treasures from the past! You dig?
Happy Treasure Hunting and would Professor Mathews the well-known archaeologist please go through to the information counter where your 'mummy' is waiting for you!
British Council lesson on archaeology and the story of the Lindow man at at https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/magazine-articles/archaeology
There is a link to a print-out version of this excellent lesson at https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/sites/podcasts/files/learnenglish-magazine-archaeology-support-pack.pdf
More can be found on the theme at http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-themes-archaeology.htm
Here's the link to the 12 objects we went in search of. If you click on each one you will find out more about their history. http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/family_visits/12_objects_for_children.aspx
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