|My office/desk !
|Monday, July 25, 2011 – First lesson of week one:
Focus: Speaking (I’m not including that portion of the lesson in my glob entry) & Writing
Aim: for the Ss to write a letter to the teacher about themselves
The lesson was essentially the same for each class (Elementary and Intermediate) with adjustments made to make it appropriate to their skill level.
At the very beginning of the very first class, I gave them each a half-piece of white paper and showed them how I had folded it and written my name on the side. Earlier, I’d asked the manager of the school for colored markers (and he fortunately gave me a kit of colored pens). This worked out really well! Each student made a name card; I collected them with their writing book at the end of the class. (He also gave me new writing books for the students, which is also great; I can collect them at the end of class. This way, I know that they won’t lose them, and it will give a record of what they’ve done. Also, I keep the name card with them, which hopefully, will help me learn their names. Their names are very difficult!) . . . I also took a photo of each student holding their name card. This way I can look at the photo and hopefully learn their names with time! (It has been helpful. I made a word doc with 8 photos per page; I’ve printed them and made flashcards for myself with the “correct” pronunciation indicated on the back. No, I haven’t learned them ALL yet; there are 62 names to learn! But I’m “plugging away” as my Mom would say.)
I started with drawing a mailbox on the WB (whiteboard). I then entered the classroom and mimed taking a letter out of the mailbox. I went on to tell them that this letter was to them and read the letter to them . . . they seemed to get excited about it. They got mail! This was a letter that I wrote to the students, a letter explaining how long I’ll be at FLO (eight weeks) and what we’ll be doing (focusing on speaking and writing).
(Later) I gave the E level students a copy of my letter with gaps to fill-in. I dictated the entire letter to the I level *Ss. It was appropriate for them. (I included this exercise for several reasons. 1. It gave them an example of a letter and what I wanted them to do. 2. It also gave me an opportunity to learn about their skill level.)
At the end of the class when I **played the “Busy everyday song” (track 86, Topic 22, Longman) for the I level Ss, it seemed kind of silly: “Monday evening,
I sleep late on Sunday!”
But then I got the idea for them to write: Monday evening _______ , Tuesday evening _____, plugging in whatever they do. It ended up being a very useful exercise. It helped me discover what they do in their “free-time.” They are always doing something!
Both classes were also able to write their own version of the chant/song though it was a little more difficult for the E **Ss, but still doable.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 – Second lesson of week one:
Aim: to learn to use the expression “I am going to” in conjunction with words of transportation and travel.
I was successful with both levels, however, the text I wrote was too difficult for the E level (I’ve since made the adjustment of writing separate stories/letters/whatever for the two different classes). When I realized it, I made adjustments on-the-spot, and I think it worked out fine. I broke the text down into sections and mimed, drew pictures, etc. to elicit the meaning. I think I was successful in conveying the meaning. I also did CCQs which seemed to really work. I had planned already on not doing the detailed reading section and true/false questions for the E level.
The Clarification/MFP section worked really well with the Elementary level students. It did was it was supposed to. It worked also for the Intermediate, though I didn’t need to elicit the meaning like I did for the Elementary Ss.
With both groups I used the CCQs, “Is this now?” No. I made a time-line which seemed to clearly show them that this is for a future action.
I printed pages 21 and 22 from Longman about Going Places. I taked this up on the wall; I didn’t really use it in the lesson since I only had one copy, but I did write out the phonemic spelling for the words included in their list. I made this into a game with 3 teams with the I Ss. Some of them seemed very familiar with phonemic spelling whereas others didn’t. I think it was a success in terms of giving them a fun opportunity to figure out what they meant.
Essentially the difference between the two classes was that the I lesson was a Receptive skills lesson plan with the students hearing and then reading the text first for gist, then scanning for specific information, and then a reading for detail for the true/false questions.
Whereas for the E Ss, it was more of a Text-based lesson plan where I created on the spot a controlled practice (I wrote sentences on the board with gaps that they were to fill-in) and a freer practice (the 2 chains of students asking each other what they were going to do).
For the lead-in (at the start of the class
), I walked out of the room and came back in wearing a backpack. “I am going to take a trip. I want to travel. How can I travel?” I said. Then I elicited different forms of travel and wrote them on the board around the brainstorm sunshine circle. It was interesting how both levels knew a lot of words (the I, however, did know more, such as donkey.) But even though both groups knew this basic vocabulary, the E level did not know how to use it. This was part of why I hadn’t realized the great disparity in their comprehension. The E group simply needs to keep learning how to build sentences and use different tenses, etc. The I level seems to have the basics which they need to practice and refine. The pre-intermediate students have difficulty keeping up with the Intermediates, but they are closer in skill level to the I, however, than the E level students.
Thoughts on Thursday, July 28th, 2011
I had planned on doing a lesson using beach words and “What are you going to do?” “What can people do at the beach?” “What do you wear at the beach?” “Who do you see at the beach?” And then after asking them to list the answers to these (revealing one at a time) in pairs, then on the board, then “teaching” anything they don’t understand . . . I would give divide them into 5 groups of 5 or 6. Each student would pick a card would be either: I am a tourist, I am a lifeguard, I am . . . Then they would speak with each other using these expressions.
But . . . as I was thinking about it last night in bed, I was realizing how disjointed their learning seems to be. They’ve memorized so many words, some expressions (I think). But they haven’t learned any variations. Also, when they learn an expression, statement, question, etc., it’s just with one pronoun (usually “I”), such as “What do you like to eat?” “I like to eat . . .” So if you were to ask them, “What does she like to eat?” they’re thrown for a loop.
I’ve decided that I’m going to do a different lesson today. I’m going to teach a lesson that makes sure they’re clear about the difference between the present simple and the present continuous. I want to be sure that they know how to use these two tenses before they start their “storybook” tomorrow. (The format for this lesson came from the last lesson I did at CELTA btw.)
Thursday, July 28th’s lesson with the Intermediate and pre-Intermediate students
went very well. I realize now as I just glanced at what I wrote earlier, that I did kindof do what I intended (got them to talk about what goes on at the beach). I just prefaced it with an explanation of the use of present continuous (action in progress) with present simple (a habit, an ongoing behavior) in the CELTA style.
I opened by sitting on a chair flipping through a newspaper miming sipping coffee. I then read what I’d written about the teacher not being there . . . using present simple and present continuous.
Narrator: (E, I wrote a different version for I)
Where’s the teacher? The teacher always comes to class by foot at 5:45 p.m. every day. But today, the teacher’s not here? Where’s the teacher?
I’m the teacher. Usually, I go to class at 5:45 p.m. every day. But today, I’m not at school. Where am I? I’m in a café. What am I doing? I’m drinking coffee. I’m sitting at a table drinking coffee. I’m also reading a newspaper.
I then did the CELTA thing of having a marker sentence for each tense. CCQs to make sure they understood. Drilled, (MFP), etc. It went well.
I then proceeded to do the controlled and freer practices. What the heck does that mean? The controlled practice were exercises I prepared where the Ss filled in the gaps. They did them individually at first, then checked their answers with their partner, and then there was wholeclass feedback with them writing the answers on the board.
For the freer practice, I divided them into 6-groups and handed out the little slips of paper I’d made saying: 1. a lifeguard, 2. a boat captain, 3. an ice cream seller 4. a tourist, 5. a fisherman (I realize that this is sexist, but I went for simplicity here), 6. a kid playing.
I then proceeded to elicit the meaning for each one of these by asking CCQs and by drawing on the board. Then I asked how the different people would answer, “What do you do?” and “What are you doing?” going through them one-by-one. This was all very playful, yet I think they were understanding and learning.
Next came speaking in their group taking on one of these identities: asking each other questions, and using present continuous and present simple. There was lively discussion though I heard too much Cambodia. Then it just seemed right to ask them to please try and speak only English; that’s what I’m here for, I explained, to help you learn how to speak better English; you can speak Cambodia already. They really seemed to pay attention to this and promised very seriously (for 12-20 year olds : ) to try and speak only English.
The class ended with three different students coming up and writing a dialogue that they’d said within their group. It was a good example of being more “real” and playful with their language. Since they’d written a short dialogue, I asked the corresponding students to come up and read it; they did. It was good because one of the students is a shy girl who rarely wants to speak, but she did in this setting! That made me very happy to see (and hear).
Thursday, July 28th’s lesson with the Elementary students went very well! I anticipated the differences between the two classes much better, and the adjustments I’d planned worked. The only real difference was that when they were speaking in groups, I wrote some suggestions of what to ask on the board rather than simply, “What do you do?”, “What are you doing?”. For example, I suggested, “What color is your boat?”, “How big is your boat?”, “Is your ice cream good?”, etc. I think I got the point across that they can ask all kinds of questions. It was fun to see the understanding appear on their face after they had been scrunching up their faces with “Huh???”
Also, some of the students in the elementary level class had more difficulty understanding the difference between when to use present simple (a habit, such as I am a boat captain; I drive a boat every day) and present continuous (an action in progress, I am driving a boat now). I did much more repetition and asked more CCQs with the the elementary level class to ensure their understanding.
Most stories are told in the simple past tense, but I managed to find about 13-storybooks in the library that are told in the present tense. I’ll use those as models for the elementary level students. Now I need to write a sample story for each class. Today’s lesson will be task-based. I will be the native speaker talking when I read the example story, which is the model for their final activity. (It ended up that I only did one lesson on Friday (E) due to all of the festivities. This was very fortuitous because it helped me realize that I needed to break that lesson down into even smaller bite-sized pieces. I’m going to repeat the lesson today with the E Ss and do it for the first time with the I Ss; I expect it to go much better.)
Administering the mostly oral test on Thursday, July 28th
(with the younger E level Ss, this isn’t a class that I was technically teaching but rather one that I was assisting) it became incredibly apparent that the Ss have simply memorized sentences without really understanding the meaning. One example is when I asked the students (one-on-one) “What’s this?” while holding a pencil, many replied, “That’s my pencil.” “Yours?” I asked. They had no idea what I meant. (This supports my thoughts about creating situations for them where things are said in different ways . . . that’s one reason I’m on the search for fun games. This past Saturday in Phnom Penh I found a “Harry Potter” version of a Junior Monopoly game. That’s a start . . . !)
This entry is dedicated to precious Fido who left his bodily form 7-years ago on this very day, August 1, 2004.