Go go go & the Power of Feedback

It happened. Procrastination I mean. It was supposed to be a weekly-updated blog but today is Saturday, and I’m far behind the schedule. Oh well.

Anyway, my second semester at the uni is almost here, and I’m extremely excited! I spent last semester mainly adjusting to the environment that was completely new for me, but now I’m ready for experimenting. This time, I’m intended to change couple of things:

1. Quieting noisy classes down: last time I almost ended up losing my voice. Na-uh, not gonna happen again. I found this amazing picture I wanna print out in colour and transform into a poster I’d show whenever my students make me feel irritated. It’s fun, and I don’t have to say a single word, just walk around and show it to the students LoL

2. Always ask at the end of the lesson if there’re any questions (somehow I always forget to do it). Be more accessible and approachable.

3. Explain clearly why we’re doing what we’re doing. Why these function phrases amd communication skills are important and how they can help outside the classroom. I did it last time but I can do better.

4. More personal feedback so that students would always know why they get the grade they get.

***

Couple of days ago, I got anonymous comments from my spring semester students. It was heartwarming and empowering!! I’d never expect anything like that. My ultimate favourites are (translated from Japanese):

“I never liked English. Actually, I hated it. I even wasn’t sure if I should apply for this university since there’re so many compulsory English courses.

Your classes opened my eyes. I realised that learning English can be fun. The classes were so different from what I had at high school. I enjoyed them a lot! Now, I want to continue learning English and become better at it.

Thank you so much.”

and

“Lina is so cute!!!”

I can’t express how thrilled I am that there’s a person now whose hatred for learning English changed into enjoying it (with my help)! And yes, I really tried to be cute, and I’m happy I succeeded at it 😀

What are your goals for this academic year / semester? What do you want to change compare to the previous one? If you read this, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment 🙂

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Teaching Reading: Lesson Plan

In the previous entry, I talked about teaching reading, implementing discussion into a reading lesson, and trying something new (like dealing with three texts at the same time and how it works out). So in case you want to try it out and talk to your students about happiness, feel free to use this lesson plan 🙂

What: Modern spoken-word poems about happiness x3
Level: Intermediate+
How long: 60 mins

 

 

I hope your students enjoy it!

 

Teaching Reading: CELTA Demo Lesson #2

I love reading. I learned how to read even before I started talking – no jokes here, I kept silent until I turned 3 and communicated with my family via gestures and some random non-word sounds. And yes, I already was fascinated with books back then. I cherished them, took care of them and hugged them in my sleep. And well, I still do.

I love teaching reading. I am constantly monitoring for interesting and inspiring articles and blog posts and add everything I like into my ‘For Reading lessons’ collection.

An ideal reading lesson as I see it is a lesson focused on some interesting and somewhat controversial, and a little bit emotional topic like happiness or failure, or positive thinking. Students read the text, learn some interesting words, and, the most important, they discuss it and share their thought on this matter. They’re engaged, inspired, and motivated. When the lesson is over, they might say it was difficult (who said learning is always easy?) but they will definitely say they enjoyed it.

Continue reading “Teaching Reading: CELTA Demo Lesson #2”

Teaching Vocabulary: Lesson Plan

As I promised last week, today I publish the lesson plan I used for my emotional CELTA demo lesson. It follows the pattern for teaching vocabulary I introduced in the last post:

1) match & test yourself -> 2) analyze & learn -> 3) memorize & recall -> 4) use & be happy 🙂

Feel free to use/adapt it for your lessons!

Teaching Vocabulary: CELTA Demo Lesson #1

I went totally crazy when I was offered to teach a set of two demo lessons for a group of 8 Upper-Intermediate students at the upcoming CELTA course in August in St Petersburg. Like really, just a year ago I was a trainee myself observing experienced teachers giving demo lessons and being determined to stand in their place as soon as possible. And now, a year after, I did it. Last Friday, I was there, teaching lessons I had spent a week planning and preparing for and holding a Q&A session afterwards.

The requirements for the demo lessons were easy: 2 lessons 1 hour each, one on systems and one on skills of your choice. It didn’t take long to decide that I wanted to teach lessons on vocabulary and reading, my ultimate favourites.

I love teaching vocabulary. The reason behind this is simple: without words, how can you communicate? When deciding on what words to teach, I always start with the topic.

What are some topics we often talk about? What are some topics my learners will most likely discuss outside the classroom? These are two important questions to ask yourself when you decide on vocabulary topic. Emotions seemed a perfect choice since we evaluate everything happening in our lives emotionally. We constantly feel something: anger, stress, frustration, or joy, happiness, and satisfaction. So I’ve chosen 10 adjectives, 5 negative and 5 positive (some of them were taken from English Vocabulary in Use):

  • apprehensive                                                     ecstatic
  • anxious                                                               thrilled
  • frustrated                                                           stirred
  • miserable                                                            content
  • fed-up                                                                  relieved

My favourite structure for teaching vocabulary is:

1) match & test yourself -> 2) analyze & learn -> 3) memorize & recall -> 4) use & be happy 🙂

Let’s see how it works…

Continue reading “Teaching Vocabulary: CELTA Demo Lesson #1”

Team Teaching

I’m on holidays now in an unpredictable St Petersburg (the one in Russia, not in the USA). The morning was dark and cloudy; the afternoon is clear and sunny. I wonder what we should expect in the evening. I do hope there’ll be no thunderstorm or rain!

Anyway, just before leaving Tokyo and escaping the crazy summer heat and 90% humidity (huh, a usual deal you get in August if you live in Kanto) we had a Repeating course. I loved it! The attendance rate is a wee bit low but students (most) are motivated and mature (no wonder though since most of them are juniors and seniors, which makes them just 4-3 years younger than me, lol). Apart from refining my adaptation and improvisation skills (teaching a 1.5-hour discussion lesson to a pair was exciting), I had an extremely enjoyable experience of team teaching with one of my amazing colleagues (M.).

It was a Review lesson aimed at us teachers familiarizing with the students. A funny part: 6 out of 8 students appeared to be those we taught in part 1 (first 5 lessons) 😀 Nevertheless, the other 2 were newbies so we still needed to get to know them.

The outline was as simple as ever:

  • Fun part
  • Review (aka boring) part
  • Discussion on hobbies and managing free time (fun or boring, depends on students’ perspective I guess)

For the fun part, we decided to use team teaching. We adapted an activity called ‘2 truth, 1 lie’. Since we had 8 students, we decided to split them into 2 groups, one teacher taking over one group. Both I and M. wrote 3 facts about ourselves, two real and one made-up. To make it more exciting, we chose some amazing and hard-to-believe facts. Mine were:

  1. I’ve been to 27 countries.
  2. I used to have a dog.
  3. I can speak 9 languages.

Each group had to come up with follow-up questions for their teacher’s facts. Then we teachers joined our groups and were questioned by them. We had to lie, of course. The obvious aim for students was to figure out which fact we lied about judging from our facial expressions, gestures, and tone. (Apparently, I am a bad liar since my students managed to detect the false fact.) The hidden aim was to practice follow-up questions (something students struggle with and can’t always fit into their discussions). Students were really engaged and bombarded us with tons of questions! At the end, since students weren’t 100% sure, we let them ask one final question, and my students asked me to say ‘Hello’ in all those 9 languages I claimed I could speak – isn’t that amazing? I really didn’t expect them to test me like that!

Presenting activity and wrapping it up together with the co-teacher was a real fun! We did it in a really natural way without even discussing in advance who says what and ended up making a pretty good team. It was my first experience of team-teaching the same stage of the lesson (before I would only team teach a set of lessons united by one topic where one teacher teaches one lesson). And you know what? I want to do it again! Actually, I’ve been thinking since then that in the future if I open my own school I’ll definitely implement co-taught lessons in the curriculum because it can help to improve time-management (like what we did dividing the class and working with 2 groups at the same time) and make monitoring more effective (two pairs of eyes are better than one, right?). And it’s fun.

BTW, which of these 3 facts about me do you think is a lie? 😉

Systems Presentation: Deep End

I heard this term for the first time during CELTA when we had an input session on TBL (Task-Based Learning). To be honest, I didn’t really understand what it was and how to use it (neither of us did, really). Next time I heard about ‘Deep End’ was during training at my current workplace. It sounded somewhat familiar. I went through an imaginary CELTA folder in my head trying to get a tiny bit of information but failed. It didn’t really ring a bell. The only thing I could remember was the observation video of Jane Comyns-Carr teaching a lesson on Past Perfect using TBL approach, and there was something about ‘Weak End’ and ‘Deep End’, too.

So what is ‘Deep End’?!

Continue reading “Systems Presentation: Deep End”