As a teacher in an English language school with a strong cross-curricular focus, I always try my best to bring authentic materials into the classroom. Humans learn more when they can experience the real thing, instead of just looking at pictures of it in a book. Of course, it is not always possible to bring everything you want to teach about into the classroom, so it is beneficial to occasionally take students to a museum.
Here I am, back from a short-term holiday and ready for my summer lessons! It is customary in Greece for the winter courses in private language institutions to end around May; towards the end of June schools resume preparations to welcome those students who are willing to finish one more English-language class by taking an accelarated course in the summer months. The point is that the Greek weather is rather an impediment to studying since it is invariably scorching hot and sunny, calling for some soothingly cool sea bathing rather than having language lessons! Therefore, the question that immediately troubled me was: what can a teacher do to help these students start learning on a positive note?
Creating a positive learning environment with few discipline problems is a goal of any teacher. We all want to give our young learners the best opportunity to succeed, but sometimes we forget that building this type of environment, much like tending to a garden, takes planning, effort, consistency and a fair amount of time and patience. Any missed step can lead to a reactive environment, or a garden full of weeds. (more…)
It’s Wednesday, 11:00, just a regular day at the high school. Two English teachers are sitting in the teacher’s room marking exams during their “free” period. Every now and then you can hear each one exclaim (or mutter, as the case may be) “How could he have possible written THAT?” or “How in earth did she come up with such an answer?” They compare notes. One of these two teachers is Delia, who teaches a weak group. One of her pupils wrote the following: (more…)
Bringing food topics into the language classroom is one way to stimulate language learning as well as hungry appetites. 9 and 10 year old students in the 5th grade of our elementary school in Japan take part in an 8-hour lesson on varieties of rice in Japan. This Japan-unit is later followed by a similar one on rice around the world. In the lesson they will learn names and kinds of rice, the amounts of rice grown around the country, prices per kilogram, special dishes, and special points about each of the rice varieties. The end result will be a hand-made Japan rice book including a small sample of each kind of rice (more…)
“Aren’t teenagers too self-conscious to speak English?”
“Do they care about the contents that do not appear in their school tests?”
“Well… I wouldn’t want to get into that area…”
I have been teaching teens as well as pre-school and elementary school children at my language school, English Square, in Japan, for the last 20 years. When I tell my teacher friends about it, I’ve almost always met the responses like the ones above. (more…)
I must admit that when Barb invited me to submit a guest post, I felt I wasn’t worthy of such an invite. Later, I thought… if she’d felt that I had something to contribute, well, then I couldn’t very well let her down, could I? Besides, one has to step out of one’s comfort zone every once in a while! (more…)
If you walk into a neighborhood in my part of Japan, you’ll see a display like this somewhere near the entrance. It’s a map showing all of the houses in a neighborhood, and the names of families who live in the houses. Do you have something like this where you live? (more…)
Mark left a comment on a recent post of mine (How Context Matters) that intrigued me, about using lexical chunks with his young learners. I asked him to expand on his comment in a guest post, and Mark was kind enough to agree. ~Barb (more…)
I thought that a one month TEFL course and the fact that I am a native speaker of English would be enough to equip me to teach English. As I started to teach in Nepal, and later in India I slowly learnt many lessons myself. The most important lesson I learnt was to be genuine and honest with the students. Teaching is not simply about entertaining the students, but guiding them honestly and directly through the maze of learning ahead of them. As a teacher we are imparting more than just knowledge, we also impart wisdom. As we stand in front of a class day after day the children witness our behaviours both good and bad. The teacher has the task of showing them how to learn effectively, and so the teacher must look to herself (I use this to mean both genders) first and at the methods she employs in developing and presenting both the lessons and herself. (more…)