Week 1 Update

Somehow I totally forgot to mention these two activities I tried out in week 1.

The first one was inspired by the Tumblr blog calledย 2 Kinds of People. My mom and I were having fun looking at them and comparing our preferences when it strucked me that this could be a perfect multipurpose activity. Like literally, you can use it for almost anything you can possibly imagine! And especially for functional language like reasons or connecting ideas. So I decided to spend time cutting 65 big cards since I was sure I’d use them a lot. The activity was simple: students look at the cards and say which way they choose justifying their choice by reasons and examples. They can also use some other functions, agree/disagree and ask follow-up questions to each other. And it worked perfectly with every level, both higher and lower ones! I told them not to worry about vocabulary and try to use the words they already know since the main focus was on fluency rather than accuracy. Students seemed to enjoy. I’ll definitely use this activity again for introducing Balancng Opinions function.

The second activity was the review of previously learnt functions with the use of… a bomb. A black plastic bomb from ‘Pass the Bomb’ game. Students would pass the Bomb’ saying one function or communication skill phrase. Again, this activity had a huge success, especially among kinaesthetic students. Some of them even got a bit overexcited ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll use it again at the very end of semester to revise the new function and skill phrases.

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Week 1 Summary

Week 1 has ended a couple of days ago so it’s time to summarize it!

First of all, it seems like the universe doesn’t want me to use that angry cat picture from the previous post: I don’t have any loud classes this semester ๐Ÿ˜€ Though maybe some of them will become loud later on the way…

Generally, almost all my classes are nice, motivated and focused. I already love them! There’s one class that is not really keen on trying using TL but oh well, challenges make us stronger, don’t they?

I started doing more self-reflective and peer-feedback this semester – it’s going pretty well, most students have quite good self-awareness and self-reflective skills; their feedback usually matches mine. I make them set a goal for our second discussion and achieve it, and after the discussion, I ask them to think if they managed or not. I never ask them to report on it though since I know anyway if they managed or not and don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable if they didn’t. Most of them do manage to achieve their goals!

What else… I’m trying to explain why we’re using the phrases we’re using. Seems like they’re listening attentively, some of them nod, but I’m not sure how much they actually understand ๐Ÿ˜€ The results are mostly positive though; they use TL quite successfully (if they want to).

One thing I realised is that it’s not about language level but about attitude. I have a group of five low-level athletes, one of them can’t even say a proper sentence. I told them not to worry and use very simple English. They double-checked in Japanese that it was really OK, and I said yes again. I swear I could hear them breathing out happily ๐Ÿ˜€ And you know what, they were amazing! A bit unserious but it made the lesson more fun ๐Ÿ™‚ They used TL, tried to speak out and make themselves understood by the others, and helped each other with vocabulary. Their teamwork skills were impressive (which is quite logical though since four of them are doing team sports). So again, thanks to their attitude, the lack of vocabulary and grammar knowledge didn’t prevent them from doing a great job. I didn’t care how good their English was but I did care about their willingness to contribute.

Generally speaking, week 1 was successful. I set up some useful routines (e.g., post-discussion 1 feedback and goal setting) and already had one of the students said that I’m cute ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m in the middle of Week 2 now, and it’s been more or less fine so far. I’m a bit worried about next week and even made two different practice procedures for higher and lower levels. Will see how it works on Wednesday.

Next post will be dedicated to the Reflective Project meeting we had yesterday. I hope to write it soon before I forget what we did there.
Stay tuned!

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

 

 

I hope your students enjoy it!