Saturday, 24 October 2020

How do I structure a lesson for the GCSE in Modern Greek?

The new specification of the GCSE in Modern Greek in combination with the limited teaching material, requires a special approach that makes the work of teachers more difficult. This article includes an applied two-hour teaching method for the Higher Tier, by following the principles of the CELTA certification (Cambridge University) for teaching English as a second/foreign language.

Introduction (speaking), 5 minutes
The lesson begins with questions to the students about how they spend their previous week (use of past tenses), something that impressed them, some news they heard and how they felt about it and what their plans are after finishing the lesson (use of future tenses). In this way, the interests of the students are further explored in order to be combined with the next lessons, a genuine rapport is built and a smooth transition to the classroom environment is achieved.

Presentation of the lesson's topic (speaking), 15 minutes
Students are given a photo which they have to describe and answer some relevant questions (Speaking, Task 2). An attempt is made to connect the subject with others that are familiar to the students.

Expanding students' vocabulary, 10 minutes
Students are asked to match 8-9 words with pictures related to the lesson's topic. Based on research that has been conducted, the average student can assimilate 8-9 words daily so the specific number of words is selected and strictly adhered to. If students have difficulty finding some or all of the words for the first time, the teacher can use appropriate questions to guide them towards the correct result. Among the questions, teacher can guide students in word analysis (prefixes, suffixes, prepositions, derivatives, compounds, etc.) to help.

Video (listening), 15 minutes
Once students are aware of the topic and having discussed about it by expanding their vocabulary, they can watch a relevant video twice. The first time they watch to find the topic (listening for gist, eg they can give their own title) and the second time they watch to find specific information (listening for detail, eg answering questions, true/false statements, filling gaps, etc.). Ideally the teacher can select the 8-9 words of the previous part from the video so that the students can hear the words in a content and not on their own.

Extension of speaking, 5 minutes
The video may be followed by a discussion with questions of a more difficult level than those in the photo.

Reading, 30 minutes
Through a variety of texts as different types of them appear in the GCSE, the teacher can teach comprehension and answer techniques to the types of questions contained in the Sample Assessment Materials and Past Papers.

Grammar, 15 minutes
For any grammatical/ syntax structures, it is a good practice to be taught through specific phrases/ words from the text of the previous part (reading) and not separately as this will provide a meaningful context for the students. If this is not possible, then a good effort could be made to write sentences or dialogues. Instead of giving the grammar rules, the appropriate questions should be asked so that the students can lead themselves to the rules for their better understanding. The existence of two exercises contributes to this, the first one simple and the second one more complex where students can form themselves the grammatical structure.

Writing, 15 minutes
Some of the ways in which students can develop written expression skills are:
- Correction of selected mistakes from other students' writing tasks (eg from previous week's homework)
- Finding ideas for the topic of the current week (brainstorming, draft)
- Writing a text by all students' contributions (collaborative writing)
- Students correct their writing following a correction box (evaluation criteria) by the teacher
- Development of students' translation skills from English to Greek and vice versa

Homework (Writing, vocabulary)
The teacher can set as homework a writing topic (task 1, task 2). Another homework, always taking care not to overload students, can be learning vocabulary using interactive tools such as Quizlet.

To sum up, lesson planning of the GCSE syllabus is time consuming and it should be done very carefully taking into account both the level of the students and their interests in order to better respond to the themes and topics of this demanding examination. Each lesson should be directly related to the specification, aiming to develop the four communication skills and the exercises should be structured like those included in the Sample Assessment Materials and the past papers.

Mr Iraklis Lampadariou is a Greek Teacher (BA Greek Philology, QTS, CELTA, MCIL CL). He has taught Modern Greek, Ancient Greek and Latin in various schools in Greece, Slovakia and the UK. In the past few years he has dedicated his career to promoting the study of Greek as a second/foreign language and to designing educational resources specifically aimed at secondary school pupils studying for Modern Greek GCSE. Mr Lampadariou is the founder of Speak Greek, Saita Publications and Discimus, a platform with hundreds of free resources for teaching Latin. He is also one of the founding members of the initiative for teaching the Greek language in the United Kingdom as well as the author of a number of books aimed at GCSE students, children, parents and teachers. His online house hosts more detailed information about the multifaceted activities he is involved in. Since September 2020, he teaches the GCSE class at the Greek School of Manchester.

Cover photo credit: Education photo created by pressfoto -

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