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Teaching strategies, sample lessons and worksheets for mixed-ability classes for teachers of business studies: Junior and senior secondary school
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Turning "I Can't" Into "I Can"

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Submitted by:
Rhett Merz
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Submitted on: 04/24/2005 20:50:24 

Topic: Group Work
Level: Intermediate, Advanced, Business
Age: Teens, Adults
Skill: Listening, Speaking,
Students take things they want to do but think they can't, and find out how they really can.
Besides getting students to converse in a truly communicative fashion, which promotes fluency, this exercise can help them solve other problems in their lives.
15 - 20 minutes
Paper and pen.
Taught as need arises.
1. Students spend 3 - 5 minutes writing down 5 things they want to do, but think they can't. (e.g., I can't get my English ability up to native speaker level. Or, I can't be an actor.)

2. Students get into pairs or groups of three. One student (Person A) tells the partner/s what they think they can't do. The partner/s then spend the next five minutes brainstorming out loud, as fast as they can, listing ideas/ways to actually achieve this. (The partner/s will probably need to ask further information before they can give good, concrete suggestions. They may need to find out why this is perceived as an "I can't", and also some relevant specifics of person A's life.)

3. Switch roles and go for another 5 minutes the same way. If there's three people in a group instead of two, this will obviously have to be done yet another time.

4. Once everyone has had a chance to express their idea to their partner/s and hear a brainstorm session about it, the teacher can choose several people from the class, one at a time, to introduce their problem to the class, giving the whole class a chance to brainstorm aloud about this problem.

Note: No idea is too stupid to list. It may prove impractical, but it should still be listed. Make sure students yell out any and all ideas they have as fast as they can, so the momentum draws out more ideas, and the ideas can escape the perceived rational/acceptable filter.
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