How to work with a text in Secondary Schools

Example: Red Line 3: The Idea, Grammar: past perfect

Seminar Paper, 2013
13 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Learning objectives

3. Reference to curriculum

4. Lead-in and introduction of new words

5. How to present the text

6. Activities

7. Grammar

8. Bibliography

1. Introduction

“It is impossible in any secondary school to provide direct experience of language used as part of real life in the way the native learner gets his first language” (qtd. in: Brusch & Caspari 2005: 168). This quote by BRIGHT & MCGREGOR shows the importance of texts, because they substitute this missing authentic context. Dealing with texts gives an insight into cultural aspects and is simultaneously a possibility to get to know linguistic elements.

The text The Idea , which is given in order to work out this term paper, is a kind of report about the formation of the London Eye. It is taken from Red Line 3 , a school text book for form 7. It is assumed that the students have worked with Red Line before, what implies that they have appropriate previous knowledge in vocabulary and grammar. The term paper is composed of two parts. The introduction part consists of learning objectives and reference to the curriculum. Afterwards, the main section includes the introduction of new words and how to work with the text and the new grammar structure, which is past perfect .

2. Learning objectives

The main objective is that the students are supposed to work with the text The Idea and to get to know the appropriate vocabulary and the grammatical structure.

Additionally, there are subordinate objectives which are divided into four categories. The “cognitive objectives deal with the process of logical thinking” (Theinert: 1). These include that the students are supposed to find out structural elements and the function of past perfect and to get to know the correct use of constructions in order to create own sentences in this new tense. Furthermore, the learners should be able to name typical landmarks of London and other cities and to transfer an idea into a graphic presentation in the end of the lesson. Another subordinate category is the ability for using methods and improving learning skills, which are the purposes of “methodological objectives” (ibid.). In this lesson, the students are supposed to take notes while listening to a text, to describe and compare pictures, to scan through a text in order to answer questions and to complete sentences with the help of a text. Moreover, the “social objectives” (ibid.) are very important because the atmosphere in class, and so as well the learning atmosphere, depends on students’ social behaviour. Through different exercises and tasks, the students are supposed to help and respect each other during the phase of group work and to reflect their solutions with a partner. Eventually, there are also “emotional objectives [which] deal with emotions” (ibid.) like enjoying the usage of the English language.

3. Reference to curriculum

The Bildungsplan 2004 characterises English as lingua franca , which shows the importance of learning this language. Purposes of learning English in Secondary Schools are the development of fundamental competences like communication or culture (cf. Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg 2004: 72). While working with the text The Idea , the students train communicative skills, e.g. listening and reading. These skills are integrated in the curriculum for form 8: „ Die Schülerinnen und Schüler können aus verschiedenartigen Hörtexten Global- und Detailinformationen entnehmen, […] vielfältige Textsorten weitgehend selbstständig erlesen und nutzen “ (Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg 2004: 76).

Past perfect is also named in the curriculum, which develops students‘ grammatical competence: „ Die Schülerinnen und Schüler können Sachverhalte, Handlungen und Ereignisse als vergangen, mehrere Geschehnisse als gleichzeitig oder aufeinanderfolgend ausdrücken “ (Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg 2004: 77). Additionally, the students can enlarge their cultural knowledge through talking about typical landmarks. This aspect is positioned in the curriculum as “ Die Schülerinnen und Schüler können altersgemäß und angemessen im Rahmen der folgenden Themenbereiche kommunizieren: geografische Gegebenheiten “ (ibid.). Furthermore, the methodological competence is developed in this lesson, since the learners have to work together in pairs and groups, use the method of scanning and are asked to take notes while listening to a text, what is also integrated in the curriculum: “ Die Schülerinnen und Schüler können wesentliche Gedanken von gehörten oder gelesenen Vorgaben durch Notieren von Stichworten festhalten (note-taking) ” (Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg 2004: 78).

4. Lead-in and introduction of new words

One of the first steps in understanding a text is the introduction of new vocabulary. “Although the teacher’s ultimate role may be to build independence in learners by teaching them good strategies for vocabulary learning, he or she will frequently need to explain new words” (Hedge 2000: 126). Depending on the words and the students’ level there are different techniques of clarifying meaning, which are used to activate and motivate the learners before working with a new text (cf. Haß 2006: 118). For this purpose it is very important to try out a variety of methods and to introduce no more than seven to ten words a lesson. The following eleven words are unknown and necessary for the new text The Idea (cf. Haß 2008a: 157). For an introduction these techniques are used:

landmark : A possibility of visual aid is showing pictures (cf. Müller-Hartmann & Schocker-v. Ditfurth 2009: 103) since students are able to remember them easier when objects were seen. Therefore, the teacher shows pictures on the OHP of typical landmarks (Eiffel-Tower, Brandenburg Gate, Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa) and asks where it is. Thereby, cultural aspects are also involved in this technique. It is important that only very representative and well-known images are used, but it is also vivid to show a local landmark like the Ulm Minster if the school is in Ulm. The students might spot “Paris” or “Berlin” and the teacher requests to answer in full sentences (“This is the landmark of...”). Showing these pictures is automatically a convenient lead-in in because the teacher can lead over to the current topic “London” by asking “what was the topic of our last few lessons?”. Afterwards, the students collect landmarks of London which they can remember. Thereby, all learners are involved and get back to the topic, which is the purpose of this lead-in.

to lift : Physical demonstration is convenient because “using mime and gesture may be the most effective as it will create a visual memory for the word” (Hedge 2000: 126). Therefore the teacher takes a heavy-weight object or even one which looks heavy (e.g. a box) and uses exerted mimes and sounds. In the meantime he or she repeats the sentence “I can’t lift it” and shows that it is not possible to lift the object. Later, the students can recognise the meaning of “to lift” in picture 4.

steel : Although direct translation from English into German should be avoided because vocabulary should be integrated in the mother tongue’s network (cf. Haß 2006: 120), it is reasonable in specific cases. One example are so-called false friends as defined in Fachdidaktik Englisch : “ Zwei Wörter aus zwei Sprachen, die in der Schreibweise und/oder im Klang gleich oder sehr ähnlich sind, aber verschiedene Bedeutung haben “ (Haß 2006: 122). Because of the similar sound, steel could be translated by the students as the German term Stiel or Stil . That is the reason why it should be translated with the teacher’s help, after the students had guessed what it could mean.

model : The teacher brings a model car in class and explains that the students can see a model of a car. This so-called “ Semantisierung mit Hilfe realer Gegenstände ” (Haß 2006: 119) is useful because an object can be experienced tangibly (cf. ibid.). While contemplating the pictures in the text later, one can talk about model in picture 2 again.

millennium : Here one can use verbal explanation with words students already know, e.g. “millennium is another word for the year 2000” (cf. Hedge 2000: 126). By using the typical context one could also say “millennium was 13 years ago” because pupils have already learnt these terms (cf. Haß 2006: 119).

rim : A blackboard drawing of a wheel is an uncomplicated visual support and with the help of different colours and an arrow (cf. Haß 2008a: 157) the pupils can understand the meaning of rim easily (cf. Hedge 2000: 126). Additionally, the teacher can point out the rim with a short explanation (“This is the wheel’s rim”). This technique makes sense because students can recognise the drawing in their course book when they copy the words in their vocabulary books (cf. Haß 2008a: 157). Using rim in connection with a wheel is also suitable because in the text it will be used in the same context. A repetition is possible while considering picture 3.

In some cases the explanation of new words by the teacher is non-essential because students can find out the meaning on their own. One technique is intelligent guessing, which means to work out the meaning from the context. This is also possible through student’s Potential Vocabulary that denotes words students can interpret because of their background knowledge as the following words show (cf. Denninghaus 1976: 1):

to come true : Because come and true are already known from Red Line 1 , the students will be able to work out the meaning since it belongs to their Potential Vocabulary.

to design : This word belongs to the Potential Vocabulary too because it is internationally used. Such common terms are motivating since they are self-explanatory (cf. Haß 2006: 120). If there are pupils who do not know design, the text will help them to work it out through intelligent guessing.

to begin, began, begun , architect and platform : these terms are similar to German in their phonetic and orthographic structure and can be memorised easily (cf. ibid.). Difficulties could be anticipated in the pronunciation ( architect, begin and platform ) and the orthography ( architect, begin, platform ), but these problems can be resolved while reading and listening to the text and through teacher’s correction.


Excerpt out of 13 pages


How to work with a text in Secondary Schools
Example: Red Line 3: The Idea, Grammar: past perfect
University of Education Weingarten
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secondary, schools, example, line, idea, grammar
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Sonja Schneider (Author), 2013, How to work with a text in Secondary Schools, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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