Saturday, July 30, 2011

672. Building up with a plan

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Each class-period is different. Each and every one of them should be one step forward for your students. Each class is worth making good use of the time, worth thinking of one goal. Or two for example, not many anyway. When you plan the next class, I assume you think of what suits your students best, according to the pace of their learning. Many teachers plan their classes this way.

A few months ago a teacher told me that he had changed his mind: he would make photocopies of some texts according to his students’ needs and pace of learning. It was a short course of English. Another colleague told me he planned each class on a sheet of paper, like the guidelines of the specific class. This teacher used recycled paper, writing his notes on the blank side of a photocopy.” / Photo from: ventanas. carpinteria-aluminio es

Below is a comment on post # 671, by Eugenio Olivares Merino. Thank you, Eugenio, for the so interesting information you give.

There I go, dear friend! This passage is important for two reasons: 1. It describes a typical Viking funeral: the corpse of the noble warrior is placed in a boat, loaded with weapons, treasures, dead animals, and sometimes a dead girl (a slave). 2. The passage contains an anachronism: by the time in which the action is supposed to take place (VIth century), Northern ships had no mast ("maeste"). Obviously, in the mental scenario of the author, ships needed a mast! Nice entry, Fernando.

Monday, July 25, 2011

671. A homage to the English language

Today I wanted to pay homage to England and the ancient English people. The following text is from Beowulf, the first great literary classic in Old English, in its original version. I dedicate this post to E.O.M. I know he’ll like this post. The first line of the text below is number 22 in this poem. Beowulf was written sometime between the 8th century to the 11th century. / Photo from: Bayeux Tapestry historyofinformation com.

I think to remember that on this tapestry is shown the battle of Hastings (1066), when Normans entered England from France, led by William the Conqueror. From that time on, basically speaking, the English and French languages began to mingle, originating our English now. This former comment is simplistic and an ample view of the history scheme. Sorry.

þæt hine on ylde eft gewunigen
wilgesiþas, þonne wig cume,
leode gelæsten; lofdædum sceal
in mægþa gehwære man geþeon.
Him ða Scyld gewat to gescæphwile
felahror feran on Frean wære;
hi hyne þa ætbæron to brimes faroðe,
swæse gesiþas, swa he selfa bæd,
þendenwordum weold wine Scyldinga---
leof landfruma lange ahte.
Þær æt hyðe stod hringedstefna
isig ond utfus, æþelingesfær;
aledon þa leofne þeoden,
beaga bryttan on bearm scipes,
mærne be mæste. Þær wæs madma fela
of feorwegum frætwa gelæded;
ne hyrde ic cymlicor ceol gegyrwan
hildewæpnum ond heaðowædum,
billum ond byrnum;him on bearme læg
madma mænigo, þa him mid scoldon
on flodes æht feor gewitan.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

670. Fair play in the class

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “You know, it depends on the way a teacher is, but if it’s helpful to you, I’d tell you to be serious and kind in the class with your students, polite and firm, nice and concerned about each student.

This makes the class push up the human tone and level to an atmosphere of rigor in work. Important too is to have them engaged in doing things, profitable ones of course, directed to assist and back up their learning process and your teaching conducting.

Shift the activity to avoid getting your students bored and discouraged if it’s lasting too much, so, proceed into the next scheduled activity. Or the one you do up and improvise because you feel it’s the appropriate one at that moment.” / Photo from: hurling demo 4schools ie.

This sport, let me try to explain, and sorry for the errors, guys, is kind of a combination of rugby and soccer, played with sticks, and the doors are similar to the ones of rugby. This sport is played in Ireland, and there’s an international league with teams from Australia, Wales, Ulster... Sorry, my Irish friends: if you want to “mend” what I’ve just said about the game, let me know. Otherwise anyone can look up about it on the Web, of course. I saw it when I was living in Ireland but understood little.

Friday, July 22, 2011

669. The point is to educate people

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “On post # 655 I told you about the values you can help your students gain, all right. I mean virtues too: repetition of good actions that enable to achieve a good habit. Both value and virtue are complementary, or even the same thing perhaps.

One example of values and virtues? Well, now I’m thinking of the roles the small ‘council’ of students of your class can carry out. There can be three student-members of that council or whatever you may call it, plus you, teacher. I learned about this when I taught in a school of a city south of Spain. Their function is to help out and assist their classmates. They meet with you every fortnight (two weeks), briefly. They’re a bridge – one more bridge of assistance – between the students and you, and between you and the students.

For example the students of your class-group tell their representatives that they think your grading (marking) the tests is not fair, and the first mentioned ones would like their representatives would tell you about this problem. And these representatives tell you about this issue.

Or those helper students can tell you about the background atmosphere of the class-group. My students of the 'council's purpose was not to betray or denounce or make reports like they were spies; no way, and they reckoned their function was not that. That was set clear from the first day. Neither were they going to say any 'secrets' to me. This group of students assists you to learn things you may not know about your students. Another example – and this implies the ‘council’ kids are becoming more and more responsible of their classmates – is that they see such student who is decreasing his effort in studying – it’s something many classmates see – but perhaps you didn’t realize so far.

The members were elected by their classmates at the beginning of the academic year. As well they can help you when you suspect or smell your students might be passing on among themselves pornographic magazines or joints [sorry]. All the class-group wanted this helper students to work so. Even some students said to the helper students a short list of things to talk about at the meeting of the 'council' with their teacher.” / Photo from: mailbox with letters. recycling com

Thursday, July 21, 2011

668. Reading a novel can be awesome!

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Once a student of one of my classes told me she was reading a novel, in the original version in English, on her own.

She also told me that she plunged into the interesting plot so much that she read quickly: the story was so attractive and caught her so much that she didn’t realize of the fact that she was reading in English. She didn’t care she didn’t understand some words; the context was clear and the story so action-packed that the reading was a page-turning; also the characters were well depicted: they were like real people who she identified with someone of them in some way. The novel was The Ice Limit. All in all she looked up some words in the dictionary to also learn and keep that expression; also read more focus-like on the language grammar and usage. Quite soon I noticed that her writing and speaking in English were getting more fluent and she understood my classes more and more.

Reading extensively creates like an atmosphere where English is the only language used and thought.” / Photo from: chica leyendo - mundodelibroofics blogspot com

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

667. Reading the newspaper in the class

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Using newspapers in the class of English may be very useful, believe me.

This activity is for advanced level students, because they have to face with authentic and genuine language. Realia bring them to real, authentic English. You can tell them to buy a specific paper at a newstand. However, I think this is not realistic in practice: just some of them or most won’t buy them, from my experience. So something you can do is buying a copy, and photocopy a piece of news as many times as students you have. Please show clearly the name of the newspaper you all are going to work on. Another way is to go to the computer room and read the online version, or in their laptops or tablets, etc., if possible...

For me the core point is to actually read the news, its headlines and the body, and understand the contents.

Remember to utilize news that really concerns them or something they know about. Many activities can be implemented: prereading by discussing about the topic and learning or eliciting vocab, reading and rereading while they can ask you any question about vocab or expressions – try explain the meaning in English, with examples, with other words they already know... - , commentaries on the contents, style, also summarizing, relating the picture to the contents, learning idioms.

As well it’s so important, as much as possible, they would somehow enjoy the activity and feel satisfied, for they worked on authentic English. You teacher will also likely learn a lot from your students.” / Photo from: fineartprintsondemand com. Painter Claude Monet reading a newspaper.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

666. He achieved this through practice

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’d tell you that your corrections and reprimandings to a student should be something educative, not merely a dry impelling to fulfill rules.

You could wait for later or for the next day, when your temper is more objective to judge. Discipline, a sane one, is essential. You might ask him how he sees his act of misbehavior, what he thinks about it, with serenity, in a delicate but firm mood and mode from you. You can tell him what the right way of doing things is, and the reason why. Let him think on his own, trying to foster his growing maturity. Stay by him, humanly, but mending the error, firmly. Let him see an exit: do not scorn him, humilliating him; let him see there’s an exit to bettering.

The action of misbehavior can be due to malice or (also) to lack of a good habit to do things okay. Help him acquire the good habit, or talk with his tutor about the wrong action that happened. And his tutor should track him in the process of learning that good habit and exercising so as to gain it – for example, being a good classmate and listen to his classmates when intervening in the class, and not teasing his classmates. The tutor can set him short-termed and challenging and attractive goals.

Something else: make the student reckon the damage he does to himself when acting wrong, and the damage to his teachers, to his classmates, to the school, to everybody’s learning and work, even to society with the passing of not many years, and also now.

I finish: when you correct the same student once again, make him realize it’s the second time you do it, which is not a little thing, it’s not saying divels. However, keep in mind he is in need to practice the good habit, over and over.” / Photo from: sk blogs eveningsun com. I think this snapeshot to this skater was taken in Scotland.

Monday, July 18, 2011

665. A challenge for us teachers

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Do you think in English – you’re not a native speaker of this language – when using your diary-organizer, when you write something necessary about your everyday conducting, for example, when writing notes or typing documents, not only concerning the school but for other purposes?

I tell you all this if it’s useful to you. When you have the chance of speaking in English with someone you encounter, do you put your natural fear aside and plunge into the water? It’s very good practice, and can be fun. Also when planning your classes, or when all is in English in your computer. As well you can use this language when thinking about your students and their needs, the activities that would suit their needs and also your expectations to raise the challenge of things your students have to do in the class.

It’s definitely an effort, worthwile though. This will help and make easier to you to say all in English during your classes, even though your students are beginners or false-beginners.

In some way, and up to some extenct you’ll approach at least somehow closer to a speaker whose mother language is English. Your actual learning English is lifelong, as you well reckon. Your students alike will see you conducting in English in a plainful natural way, and sometimes they perhaps might ask you, at the beginning of the course, what country you are from.” / Photo from: chamonixten80 com. Parapenting at Chamonix, in France.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

664. You, teacher, will see the fruit of your teaching

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “On post # 660 I told you about the difference between the learning of rather old students (from some fifty to seventy-something) and the learning (even I’d say, acquiring) English by a kid of 8 years.

Now I simply would like to add that after thinking about this latter student’s case I realized that he in the classes listens and speaks in English directly, I mean, not by translating the heard and spoken messages into Spanish, his mother language.

From the way he used English in the class, both listening and speaking, I think I can assure he used English as something of his own, as something natural, as something acquired. He has been taking classes of English since he was a baby, at his school. One thing I should point out anyway: his communicating in English is at a very basic level, yet.” / Photo from: portalfruticola com. A farmer laboring in a field of wheat in Spain.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

663. Shhhh! Listen to her learning

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “How can we achieve, or assist, our students to become ‘professionals’ of study and learning? It’s something I can try to tell you about, from what I think.

The class should be a work team: both the teacher and the students should work together in the same filed. The teacher of English has to help the learners find their own unique path to learn English. These students ‘let’ the teacher teach English, also talk massively in this language, set activities, study, make them think, make them become more creative with regard to learning, to writing, also the students let the teacher assist them to become aware of their own learning strategies.

One example: The teacher says to one student that his guess was right. I mean, for example, the teacher, in certain moment, asks them how we’d say, in English, depende del tráfico, and one student responds ‘depends of the traffic’, while the correct answer would be using the preposition ‘on’.

Okay, coming to the head: that student tried a guess, made a theory by using his mother language, Spanish. Instead of just saying that his answer was wrong and the correct form would be such and such, why not telling him also that he tried a theory, a guess, which entails as well that we usually make theories or the sort when learning a foreign or second language? In this way that student could become more aware of his process of learning, and as a result advance furtherly.” / Photo from: learnfrenchsoftwarereview org. Girl playing guitar lessons.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

662. Just contemplating

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Beauty is a value that educates.

When I lead an excursion out of the school, for example to Sierra Nevada – there’s still snow, in mid-July-, from time to time, I stop the trekking with my team of students and make them focus on such and such point of the far landscape. In this way I try to make them observe details as well as the range of mountains or the bright blue sky, so as to make them contemplate something different from what they watch every day. Well, it works though not always. It’s worth to do, I think anyway.

My colleague teacher of Fine Arts knows how to teach her students to contemplate a picture, a Gothic cathedral, the Great Wall of China with its surrounding bright green lands and the wall, stuck on that land like it was a serpent.

Thus, we can, and ought to rise and create sensitivity in our students. This value of beauty helps a person to become better, and a better learner of English too. Some other times I set in their test papers, as one question, to write a story their imagination could create. I can remember some stories with a lot of fantasy. This value and quality of beauty has helped some students gain a trascendent view of the world, too.” / Photo from: classicroad skedaddle co uk. A cyclist in Sierra Nevada, in the province of Granada.

Monday, July 11, 2011

661. Their teacher, below, knew their names

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Hints to be able to recall your new students’ names? Maybe when one student says his or her name because you asked them so, you can repeat his or her name, in a low voice, as a singular person who you appreciate. More and more you gain the capability of learning names. You can recall one’s name when that someone means something to you. You can, if you want, read the list of your students, quicky, when planning the next class to real people, with their needs, expectations and potentials. This is very important for your teaching, and the students’ consecutive learning the language. You can teach English to people when you know them.” / Photo from: popartmachine com. High School Victory Corps. Investigating in future airplane mechanics.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

660. Teaching is nice

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I knew about this, obviously, but I’ve experienced this phenomenon more clearly lately. Adult learners of fifty-something and older tend to learn English by translating into Spanish, their native tongue – in general terms, with regard to those ages, and as false beginners. Also by translating from L1 to L2.

In relation to kids aged 8 – this is the youngest student I have now in the summer course – and up to 12, they use the target language as something natural. All the class is in English. They hear and listen a lot in English, assisted with body language by me. In the classes, they ‘know’ I ‘only’ understand English, and when they speak in Spanish I make faces. The class is a context when English is the only language used. This hearing and listening in English for long – I’d like to keep being their teacher for longer, but it’s not possible – reminds of me of the ‘Silent Period’ that Krashen used to refer to. Someone told me that for children of 2 years old learning English, the same color can be called as ‘rojo’ and ’red’. In my classes now, repetition of the same words and expressions is crucial.

One more thing, I make my young students stand up, sit down, moving around, run, stop, etc., for example with the game of ‘Simon says’. They naturally need to move, more in the 8-year student’s case.” / Photo from: missouriskies org. Rainbow at Elarn Bend, McFall, Missouri.

Friday, July 8, 2011

659. No one is perfect

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I could tell you many things I’ve read in H. D. Brown, a brilliant expert in teaching/learning languages, an Emeritus Professor in the State University of San Francisco. I don’t know anything about him lately, anyway. I owe him a lot.

Now I’m going to read something that might be useful to you, teacher, and to your students. Even more in these latter ones’ case. The quotation is from his book, published in 1989, A Practical Guide to Language Learning. A Fifteen-Week Program of Strategies for Success. Any learner can be concerned or worried about the errors or mistakes he or she might commit, and sometimes they keep quiet, as you know. Listen - it’s addressed to learners: ‘You simply must convince yourself that mistakes aren’t signs of weakness or failure. They’re natural patterns of learning.’ These lines are from page 18 in his book.

Take this note and read it carefully.” / Photo from: empireonline com. Buzzlightyear, from Toy Story. I think this picture is from the first movie. By Pixar.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

658. Looking high

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Everyone of us teachers need to have discernment. It’s a key word. Look.

Each of us gain discernment together with maturity and experience. Even veteran teachers continue to gain discernment all their career long. It’s not compatible with lukewarmness, with lack of enthusiasm or with the firm resolution to improve as a professional. Every day is different; you told me about this some days ago. Discernment hits the target. It’s not compatible with taking the same yellowish sheets of papers to the class, one year after another year. With passing time your work may not blaze as in the beginnings of your career, but your daily effort and fulfillment of your duties still continue teaching people and making people learn.

More and more you value every student as a learner who needs your hand. You can comprehend each student with the way each one is. This maturity enables you to face up problems and look high in the teaching/learning labor. And what is more, you better your educating your students as persons. All this is a universal value. Besides I personally have a trascendent view, if it helps you; you may think of it.” / Photo from: public-domain-photos com. Airplane taking off.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

657. The truth is you're still learning

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “From what you told me this morning let me tell you something. Kids that age naturally are playful and frisky. You told me you’re teaching a short summer camp of English, during their summer vacations. And their ages are from nine to thirteen, and the class has about twelve students. Okay, calm down and think over it. Today’s class was a bit messy.

First, you can tell the student of thirteen to explain something in English to the kid who understood nothing, tell him to explain that something in his own words. Sometimes his own words are more simple than yours, and easier to understand, teacher! And as well you learn something from the older student’s way of speaking.

Next day tell this veteran student that today you saw him sort of frustrated because he felt like all the class was childish, and that you’ve thought of activities and games according to his level and age. Combine easy things with higher-level activities, same class. Today he looked he wouldn’t like to play Simon says and you understood it prefectly, and even you told him to play just if he wanted to. He’s a good kid and didn’t raise any objections to play.

I’d like to tell you a few more points. You’re also learning as a teacher, and you will keep learning all your life.” / Photo from: cam2010 wordpress com. Speed skating

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

656. Serenity

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Something that helps me manage the class and keep discipline is that at the beginning of the class I gaze at each student, randomly, in their faces, sometimes recalling their names. Each student feels being stared at, not like an ogre myself, but as their teacher. Each student, I guess, feels like involved in the class of English, after the math class.

Evidently I consider each student as unique. They’re not a mass of people in front of me. Someone told me this may be fostered with your gravity and seriousness as a teacher. This attitude doesn’t hinder from sense of humor. I call them by their names, and more when a disruptive spark arises. I call the disruptive student either by his name or by means of gazing at him, silently.

I try do all this as gently as I can, in order not to humiliate him because I shouted at him and denounced the wrong in a hoarse and crazy way. In no way do I shout right at all the class as a mass when they get jumpy.” / Photo from: . Silhouette Berlin skyline.

Monday, July 4, 2011

655. More about educating

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’ve been thinking that the school should teach values. Many, many schools do. Firstly these values are or should be fostered within the family.

Think of solidarity, environmental friendship, love, generosity, hard-working, obedience because I want to obey, hard-working, sincerity, joyfullness, fortitude, tidiness, compromise, faithfulness, having a small job at home or in behalf of the school community. And you teacher can do a lot to help these values become virtues. Virtues are operative habits that make easier to do good actions. When one student does his or her homework one day after another, this capability to work becomes easier and easier, so because of that it’s a good habit. Virtues make the person better.

I’ve seen all this in many students. And correspondingly, in many cases their familes educated their kids in this way. All this, totally, helps the students learn English.” / Photos from: hometeamsonline com. Kid playing basketball.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

654. Next is the final

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Although you should assess what the students have learned and acquired, when the academic year is approaching, I’d advise you to set a final written exam. Most teachers do; it was rather silly of me to say it.

An exam including grammar and vocabulary, reading, writing, perhaps listening too. Whatever you think most appropriate. Focusing mainly on the communicative competente. When assigning the final grade, consider each student’s effort as well; and their partial grades. I think the final exam should be also one chance to pass the course, albeit the three or four or five evaluations or assessments were fail. During the year you’ll have assessed the speaking skill.

Take also into account their effort, their struggle to improve (or their contrary, obviously). I incline to think that all this final grading should be something educative too. I mean, something humane, not a cold and strict adding or substracting numbers. There’s always something sort of intangible, like for example the student’s struggle to learn, or his laziness – if the case - that the student, in some way, ought to view in his or her final grade, as a mirror of their effort and interest (or lack of).” / Photo from: legacytrustuk org. UK School of Games. This picture was taken in Wales.

Friday, July 1, 2011

653. On his vacation he carried on working

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Once I had to teach English to a class-group, a small one, about ten students, in a short English summer course. The ages were from 10 to 12 years. The course was an extra-school activity, where my set goal was to foster listening and speaking.

I found out the first day that roping the kids into aural games was something to be preferred than just confining myself to keep them quiet and still all the class long. This is perfectly compatible with respect and learning to take care of the material of the study hall, where I taught. I tried to teach them also not to laugh at any classmate; also how to listen to me, to the other classmates; I avoided them be so jumpy and playful - on my side, with gentle gestures and stopping talking. There was one typical smart cookie student to tie tight.

So to speak, in these classes the point was gaining the students to my field, and make their minds get busy with the stuff of the games. I tried to combine simple games with other high-level ones. And one student could be helped by his classmates to respond to a question by me. The class was clearly mixed-ability.” / Photo from: cityguidesblog com. Valle del Jerte, in Extremadura, western Spain.