Given that this Thursday was St. Valentine's Day, I decided to have a themed lesson for my adult ESL class. At first, we started talking about holidays in general (I had everyone introduce themselves by choosing their favourite holiday and explaining their choice), and then we moved into a quick explanation of St. Valentine's Day.
I then had the class read over a section from the Oxford Picture Dictionary about activities and excursions and we talked through what each of the terms meant ("county fair" was particularly hard to explain!). After that, we broke into pairs and each student wrote out a short description of his or her ideal date. I chatted with each student individually while the writing was occurring to talk through ideas and help with vocabulary gaps. Each student then presented to his or her partner and then again to the group. So far, so good.
The 'perils,' as mentioned in the title of this post, began later in the class when we used a heart-themed conversation card set. I had used conversation cards before and think that they're great for allowing students to practice what they know while also giving chances to learn new vocabulary. I glanced through the pack before the class began and the questions that I saw seemed innocent enough. However, the conversation cards we drew in class were very risqué and prying! Many of the students felt uncomfortable answering the extremely personal (and sometimes adult-themed) questions, so we ended up switching to a more family-friendly conversation card set. The class ended on a great note, happily, and I learnt a valuable lesson about testing all of your materials before you begin class and being flexible.
Happy St. Valentine's Day!