Example 8

I.              The materials

a.     Aims

This lesson contains three overarching goals: to assess reading comprehension based on an authentic text; to acquire and practice new vocabulary by engaging in interactive activities; and to promote autonomous learning. I chose to highlight reading and vocabulary instruction for this lesson because the two skills work in tandem: a solid grasp of vocabulary is necessary to understand reading passages, and sustained reading is a great way to expand one's lexicon.

The main activities are a multiple-choice reading comprehension exercise derived from an online news article, and also a crossword puzzle that tests students' knowledge of newly-acquired vocabulary from the "Glossary of Baking Terms". Both of these activities provide instant feedback, adding to their interactivity (Yip & Kwan, 2006: 236; Chapelle & Jamieson, 2008: 83). The topic of the lessonódessertóseems appealing and appropriate for learners of various ages and backgrounds, though the lesson is better suited for intermediate learners and above. A great deal of vocabulary is "field-specific language" related to cooking and baking, which includes some obscure terms (e.g. 'to dust', 'to whisk') that could intimidate and/or confuse lower-level learners (Chapelle & Jamieson, 2008: 196). Likewise, this lesson may be suitable for an ESP [1] class, if students hope to enter the food service industry as chefs, waiters, restaurateurs, and so forth.†

b.    Design

Ideally, learners will be presented with a "rich and varied diet of authentic texts" (Little, 1991: 29). The lesson upholds this notion, augmenting the reading comprehension exercise and crossword puzzle with numerous dessert-related links, such as "A Brief History of Dessert", "What to Call a Sweet Treat", and "Ben & Jerry's Flavor Generator"; the first link is an extension of reading practice, while the second and third links introduce additional vocabulary. Ben & Jerry's interactive ice-cream flavor creator depicts a variety of foods as icon and text [2], which is greatly beneficial for visual learners (Pouwels, 1992 in Chun, 2001: 372; Plass et al. 1998 in Chun, 2001: 372; Yip & Kwan, 2006: 236). Although these specific aids cannot provide instant feedback for learners to check their understanding of new concepts, they are still greatly beneficial.

Moreover, glossaries and dictionaries are helpful in creating a deeper level of L2 reading comprehension, yet frequently consulting them may impede the comprehension process (Lomicka, 1998: 42, 41). Even though utilizing these resources can slow down reading speed by increasing one's cognitive load, especially when located in a separate tab/window from the activity, their use is nonetheless advantageous for reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition (Al-Shehri & Gitsaki, 2010). As previously mentioned, the "Glossary of Baking Terms" is the foundation for the crossword puzzle; Wordreference is an invaluable resource for learners as well, containing English bilingual dictionaries in over a dozen languages, which is particularly helpful for classes whose students do not possess a common mother tongue.



[1] English for Specific Purposes

[2] For instance, if there is a picture of a raspberry, the word 'raspberry' is written underneath it.