Busy Bears and Hungry Caterpillars

November 9, 2011 § 6 Comments

In a bright colourful school in sunny Sri Lanka, a private language school for Busy Bears, what goes down a treat is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. They love him, do those busy bears, you can imagine, and so that’s what Vini, the mother bear, and I had a go at on Skype the other day, making her first ever language plant.

Make a plant like Vini’s here!

Chiew has similarly taken to language plants with gusto. He’s come on leaps and bounds, I’m in serious danger of handing over my self-appointed status as the world’s leading expert in bending words to some upstart with only a couple of weeks’ experience under his belt. But I do so with gladness in my heart. A recent post of his got us to make a text, a linear text, from the plant he’d made from a lesson that uncovered lexis on electrical circuit breakers. Another post of his looked at modal verbs.

Make a plant like Chiews’s here!

A friend of mine, no names, is funny, he’s always asking faux questions. “Did you have a good weekend? I did, I went to this wonderful art gallery and met some fantastic people and just had such a great time!” The question is called faux – French for “false” – because they’re not really asking about your weekend, they want to tell you about theirs. I’ve done it. Hands up those who have never ;-).

So my faux question is: what’s a favourite EFL quote of yours? Before you answer, here’s one of mine, by Penny Ur, in Grammar Practice Activities, which is the language plant at the start:

“Repetition and interest are not mutually exclusive,
but they are not easily combined.”

In other words, we need to repeat if we want to improve. We can’t just encounter a word, or an idea once, and get it. Practice makes perfect, but as we’re always craving novelty, we have to vary the practice.

That’s what Chiew’s activity does. Learners can work with the plant and rearrange the words. And it’s the basis of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, repetition, with subtle variation, enough to keep us guessing. So here’s what Vini made. And I think those bears are going to love it!

On Monday,
the caterpillar ate one apple,
one green apple,
but he was still hungry.
On Tuesday,
the hungry caterpillar ate two apples,
two juicy green apples,
but he was still hungry.
On Wednesday,
the very hungry caterpillar ate three apples,
three crunchy juicy green apples,
but he was still hungry.

I’d like to combine interest and repetition!


§ 6 Responses to Busy Bears and Hungry Caterpillars

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