Here’s the uncropped version of the blog’s header for July and August 2010. It was taken on Zahora beach, Cádiz province, Western Andalucia, on a January evening as the sun was going down. Please scroll down for lesson ideas.
This is how it might be used in class. I’m going to start local, thinking about my context and my potential students, but I’ll try and open it up to other contexts too.
1 Show the close up (cropped) version. If using it in Cádiz, ask the students to discuss which beach they think it was taken on, in what season and at what time. Once they’ve had a chance to make some guesses, possibly based on the quality of the waves, water and sand, show them the full version and continue the discussion. With classes outside the Cádiz region, ask them to guess the time of day and season.
Obviously as the photo is personally relevent to me, once the students have guessed the place, time and season I tell them the story behind the photo – and encourage them to bring in their favourite beach photos to show and tell in later classes.
2 In Cádiz: ask students which is their favourite beach and why. Ask them to describe the last time they were there – was it full? what was the weather like? what did they do? how long did they stay? who did they go with?
In other contexts where students have easy access to beaches, ask the same questions, but obviously related to their beaches. Remember some students don’t actually like the beach - keep them involved by inviting them explain what they don’t like about beaches.
In contexts where beaches are visited only on holidays, ask students when they last visited a beach, where it was, and the list of questions above.
Remember some students may never have visited a beach or seen the sea. In which point modify the question to have you ever visited a beach? if not, would you like to? where? why? and so on.
3 In Cádiz (and other contexts with local beaches) brainstorm the kind of people who come to visit the beaches in their area e.g. families with young children, retired couples, surfers, young couples on a romantic holiday …. . Remember, as always with brainstorming, the list should be theirs not yours, but be ready to get the ball rolling and prod and prompt for a nice wide range of ideas. Then ask the students to discuss which beach is best suited to each type of visitor and why. Open this out for whole class concensus after an initial pair/group stage.
In non beach contexts get students thinking about the beauty spots and tourist attractions in their area and the kind of people who visit.
4 Role play – this could be either spoken or written – it depends on the mood on the day really, the energy levels, both the students’ and the teacher’s!
Ask students to choose one (or more) of the visitor profiles and think about the questions they’d like to ask about the best beaches (Beauty spots in non beach contexts) in the area – you can assign different profiles to different groups if you prefer.
Pair students with different profiles and ask them to role play the situation. I like to create a “real life” local context if possible, so before we start we discuss where we might bump into these people, why they might choose to ask us for this information etc
In writing students post requests for advice on an online forum, then choose one of the requests and reply to it.
ask students if the advice was useful, and what questions were most difficult to answer (from both a communicative and a linguistic point of view)
5 Outside the classroom, offer students various options, e.g. write a description of our favourite beach, write about beach life in general, write about another favourite place, write up one of the role plays, write about your impressions of the lesson. And ask them too for suggestions.