Have you ever had one of those days where you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and for the rest of the day nothing seems to go your way? Me too. I think in this profession it happens more often than we’d like to admit! While I’m a big believer in the idea that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, I can admit that sometimes I don’t react all that well when I realize I’ve woken up 40 minutes late, or forgotten my lunch at home, or that I’ve washed my face with hair conditioner instead of facewash (yes, this has happened. More than once).
Well, we’ve definitely all been there, and so have our students. Because I’m required by my district to teach reflexive verbs in both the present and the past tenses in level two, I decided to try and make the most of a tricky grammar point and add a little bit of realistic humor.
I based this part of my unit around the French idiomatic expression se lever du pied gauche, which we would express as “to wake up on the wrong side of the bed” but which literally means “to get up on the left foot” in French. This was a good hook for my students, who had fun trying to piece together all of these words (which they know individually) and make both literal and figurative meaning out of them.
I then did a MovieTalk about a guy who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. By the way – have you heard of Film English? It’s aimed mostly at ESL students and teachers but there are so many fabulous short video clips and lesson ideas that it really is a treasure trove for MovieTalk as well. In any case, in this video there’s no dialogue, but there is an interesting twist when the man “splits” in two and we can see how his day would have unfolded normally AND if he had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. I really try to flood the kids with input during this stage and do pop-ups of the grammar where I actually do very little instruction and let them work out the rules on their own. Happily, a lot of the kids got it pretty quickly.
Since this is only level 2, I can’t say that I expect them to reach mastery of these concepts at this stage but they’ll see the material again in level 3 when we reach our friendships and relationships unit. Well, we did a lot of listening, reading, describing the video, and even put together a skit in small groups in which the kids had to describe to a friend their “weird” day – such as I woke up in the dog house or I brushed my teeth with soap and washed my face with toothpaste, etc. When it came time for our writing assessment, I was pleasantly surprised with what some of them had to say: