Tuesday, May 29, 2012

848. Approaching the end of the year



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “The academic year’s coming to an end. A few years ago, in the middle of May, one family asked me to teach private classes of English to their eldest son. That implied we were in the countdown of the term, and the final exams were near.

I held a first interview with him. I was tired of the year, I told him. What’s more, I could actually teach him few classes. What to do, by me, enough to help him pass the subject of English? Ok, I told him (in Spanish), I can help you with your English just a little: now, more than ever before, you must take the best from you, so as to assist me to teach you and so help you hit the target of a positive result in your final exam. He had to exploit and utilize his human personal potentials at studying. He had got to help me in my teaching him...

I guess this thought pushed him up to carry on more focused in the way he was studying and learning. It was true I was done, and I frequently utilized these ideas to help him learn how to study.” / Photo from: web comhem se. subway. Maybe a stop is near for these passengers 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

847. Think of any regular day at school



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Joy also at school is a necessary value and habit (virtue) for everyday life among the people who meet there with one another. Joy is important for today’s human person. It helps people to join up with others.

A colleague of ours, a teacher of science in English – her high-school (instituto in Spain) is bilingual – told us that above all her female students turned to her between classes to just tell their things; I think happy people attract others. Joy facilitates being able to live together, to create a community of living together, working, teaching and learning.

Think of that other teacher over there: he got a good rapport in his classes; he was demanding, humane, and was respected because of his committed teaching career.” For this post I took some idea from pedagogist García Hoz. / Photo from: poplicks com. students with laptops  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

846. Positive things



On coming days I hope to write you about private classes, and the value and virtue of joy, within the teaching/learning community. This joy is also like a consequence and result of striving for teaching and learning well. Sláinte! [Cheers!, in Irish Gaelic] / Photo from: goeco org. bolivian kid   

Monday, May 21, 2012

845. Teens are making their lives



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Our teens, our adolescents, seem they rather prefer not to depend on us, adults - firstly on parents, also on teachers. They are discovering their ‘ego’, their ‘me’ as an independent person. They trust in their friends more than in their families. Some moms claim: Now my son doesn’t love me any more, what’s going on!?, and they get so down.

Teenagers wish to look different than when they were children; they wish to sense so original, so authentic; they look arrogant. These things are because they feel a great insecurity, and they want to say Here I Am!

All this is not always that way. No, no. What does our adolescent kid expect from us? He or she expects us to help him or her concerning their capabilities and capacities as singular persons! They expect to be helped as persons, with their personal traits. Don’t get upset when dealing with them: they depend on you, teacher, on you, parents and families. According to some studies, teens trust in their families more than on their friends, albeit they seek to stay with their friends and classmates. Don’t break down.

In many schools male teachers make the tutorials with boys, and in other schools female teachers with girls, because you could get a big confidence and intimacy with the corresponding boy or girl.

I took something of these ideas from pedagogist Gerado Castillo, and some are mine.” / Photo from:  cloudsuper com au. There Is Also a Lot of Hard Work Involved Wallpaper_9nfnd    

Friday, May 18, 2012

844. A bridge-language for communicating



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Try to provide your students with some words they can need to describe a word, or to speak in English during the class. For example, if they’ve got to describe ‘freedom’, you can give them words like ‘opposite’, ‘I do whatever I want to’, ‘respect others’ liberty’, ‘choose the best’..., or lesser [fewer] words than those, if you prefer so.
Alike, when one student wishes to intervene in the class by explaining something... great!, let him speak, and help him to convey his message with some word given by you. Albeit their English can be broken, there exists communication in English. Bravo.
Otherwise if someone would speak in their L1, this is, in Spanish, you may let her go on, but after that, gently ask her to say the very same thing now in our also dearest English.
Something else, you, respect and accept all the short messages and attempts they do to talk in English, like some beginning of a sentence in order to explain something as an answer to something else you asked a specific kid. Ok, if she says one, two, three words... that’s a hopeful climbing toward more complex communication. Probably, if they’re young, their thinking then is in English.” / Photo from: cjaronu wordpress com. saint petersburg avenue nevski 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

843. My oldies, still eager to learn



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’m glad with my adult students of English. All of them are now retired, but so eager still to actually learn that language. In today’s class they’ve been speaking in English from the beginning, when someone was telling something to someone else about Granada’s soccer team, which stays in the Premier League or Spanish First Division for one more season, after the summer.

Maybe the first student began by speaking in Spanish, his L1, but I gave him a slight prompt to him to shift into English. Some of his classmates contributed to the discussion by speaking in that language. I’d say about 90% of classes now are in English, and it’s them who just wish to learn! They’re the protagonists of the class (plus by me as the teacher).

Something that helps, that adds is that a nice number of the students have an advanced or upper-intermediate level of English: if they speak, they help to some way stir up the class to speaking in English. Fantastic.” / Photo from: american-indian-artwork com. old gas station      

Sunday, May 13, 2012

842. Good job! ...after a lot of practice



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I do know you’re a novice teacher, and a rookie among the students of your large classes, and that you think all’s going bad, and... etc. But I also know you’re striving to improve teaching and have the teens actually learn English. Don’t me break down. Sláinte!

The beginnings of our career (of any career) are tough. Each thing you do in your classes, however, with your effort and God’s help, is a step forward – hopefully. With some perspective of weeks and months and years you will see both failures and successes in a more objective view.

Don’t think now this is not your career, at least try more and more. As well don’t let successes put you up onto a plinth where you consider yourself as someone, say, like an ace at your profession: remember you’re beginning. Somehow celebrate your success, but don’t let it go to your head.” / Photo from: ? . Sláinte, you may know it, is an Irish (Gaelic) term, like ‘Cheers!’, ‘Come on, cheer up!’

Friday, May 11, 2012

841. Have your students think



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I think carrying out a project-work at school is a pretty good activity within part of the essence of school: learning to learn and think.

Drills and speaking in English are good practice in the class. However, don’t forget the major aptitudes of your students, for example thorough thinking. This thinking will push up their process of acquiring English toward a high level.

One possible activity: assign your student to make up groups of three, or set the groups yourself, to carry out a project-work. A topic might be the recent history of your country and its influence on today’s society. The goal could be that one or all of the members of the team should present that issue by means of utilizing the smart board. The duration may be 45 minutes. Their age? 15 years onward.

You can tell them some clues before the actual making up the project-work, as examples of possible steps they could implement during the development of the project-work: the final presentation in front of their classmates should be clear – the first aim is for the listeners to understand the presentation and to enrich their culture;

what material they could deal with – from the Internet or from whatever;

what the specific goal of the final presentation is – like for instance the listeners should think and ponder the influence of recent past history on today... The core is twofold: let the students think, and have them organize a serious research on some topic. Ah, obviously you can make them decide what topic they would like to work on and then they would let you know what that topic would be.” / Photo from: chrisspeck wordpress com. One day a workman was up on the roof of his house mending a hole  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

840. Are you eager to learn a language?




One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “One difference in favor of good language learners? I believe a good learner does wish to learn, for example English or Hindi or... This is a remarkable and clear trait of that person. He or she makes good use of any situation where they can speak, or practice in general.

He offers himself to some South Korean gang in an ice-cream parlor to help them with their poor English, so as to order some ice-creams of this or that flavor... albeit in the end the assistant-girl also did speak English – this happened here in Granada, near Alhambra palaces. This learner takes notes in his diary or smartphone in English. And he likes to do so. He takes advantage of being on a British Airlines plane to talk to a flight-attendant in English. He listens to something recorded in his iPode, while traveling by bus.

He’s not lazy and speaks only in his L1. He does use English, and not only in the cases where it’s totally necessary to do it; he talks in English to his native teacher-colleagues, though these ones know Spanish too. So, alike all these things I said can also be the characteristics of a good non-native teacher of English. I’m telling you real examples of several people I know, though changing unimportant details. They hit the target. English isn’t only a tool to use while precisely teaching in the class. On top of that, his students of English can recognize this attitude and so be a nice example to them.” / Photo from: balancebiketrainer com. LearnToRide-300x248   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

839. Learning to learn



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “A teacher of math, literature, English... cannot confine his work to pass on, to teach, information, knowledge, math operations, the theoretical part of English..., but he or she has to teach their students to learn; to learn what? That information, knowledge, linguistic competence for communication...

Obviously it’s true that the teacher for example tells his students about historical deeds, their connection to our present history, etc.

The English teacher’s mission is not just to teach English but also to teach how to learn English, and this latter thing in a practical way: aimed at communication. The point is not to teach information about the language but to teach to use English for communication between, among people.

Within this context, moreover the teacher’s role is to better his students, and he himself too. The first showing or sign of this bettering of the student is the learning itself, the fact of having learned. This latter idea was partially taken from pedagogist Víctor García Hoz. Our students are in our hands: we have the great labor of helping them become free and responsible persons. For granted, like you know, the first educators are their parents and siblings.” / Photo from: abroadblogs newpaltz edu. the person on the picture is Jasmine, one of the travelers that write in this blog, about international student excursions  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

838. Getting useful info about my new place



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “Something a bit hard to me is when I start to teach an adult group and I don’t know if to address them individually in those first classes by asking them practical questions regarding something we’re studying then, like defining words in English. Alike I don’t know whether to ask them about their lives and circumstances.

A while ago I decided to ask them one by one, randomly, also to try to meet each one’s needs and expectations concerning learning English. The thing is working pretty well. I think they expected this way of conducting from myself. At the beginning of the academic year, or even now at the end of it, you can get information about each of them by the following useful activity. I assume it’s better to learn who I have in front of me in my classes, as a teacher.

I learned this activity in one of the grades of Centro de Lenguas Modernas, of Universidad de Granada. First the teacher, and then each one of the students come to the whiteboard. Then he or she writes numbers that have to do with themselves. For example: 1966 – 30 – 4 – 1988 ... Then the rest of the class venture possible information from the numbers, like: the year when he was born, 30? (I have no clue), the number of children, the year when he finished his university degree or the year when he got married. At the end, this student gives the real information about those numbers; so you start to learn who that man is.” / Photo from: 3-ufer com. German students studying abroad

Sunday, May 6, 2012

837. Hopefully shedding some light to your classes



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “One way to avoid your classes be a boredom or something of mere routine can be this. Look. For example, tomorrow in your class you can do something different: ask your teens, or either your adult students, what strategies or techniques they use for learning English: for learning new words, for retrieving them, for defining things, for understanding what you say, what they read… At that moment you can be smiling, and this question is like a challenge to them: What do you think about the way you understand me, and about this and that, etc. – so what learning strategies you utilize in the class of English to learn it.
They likely will participate and this fact will push others to say more things about this topic – learning strategies. In this way as well they may become aware that they do use tricks or small inadvertent techniques when dealing with language and communication in the classroom.
First try to bring out this discussion in English; try this discussion be in the target language.
This discussion, about ‘serious’ and realistic things they actually do in the classes can help them become conscious they’re investing a big and nice effort in daily learning and using English, because it’s something useful and practical.
Summing up: try to bring up some humor, positive views about learning English, the usefulness of learning a language for authentic communication, some joy, some kind of stirring up their brains… Hopefully they’ll appreciate all this conducting in that class. Or they’ll do with passing time.
Students expect much from you, though they can show all the contrary in the classes. This kind of activities provide more sense and meaning to the classes, as though they thought ‘Okay, we used to do useful and meaningful things in the subject of English’. Remember, do something lively out of the daily class routine.” / Photo from: mainedoenews net. teacher and student talking in class.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

836. A worksheet for my adult students

Here is a worksheet I’ll hand out to my adult students next week. Most of them have a university degree and are retired. They love to have something physical like a sheet to work on. Among my dear students you can find advanced-level ones to false-beginners. We have fun; we try to learn useful expressions and practice speaking. They are about 12 students.


Worksheet # 137
Composed on May 5, 2012


1.    Describe “table” with: board – have – four – legs – wood
2.    Describe “peace” with: countries – no war – cooperation
3.    Now “web-site” with: Internet – company – offers – computer – shopping – look for
4.    Give directions to a couple of tourists to go from Ofecum place to Jardines del Triunfo. [I teach at that center as a volunteer, and the latter name is a nice place in Granada, Spain]
5.    If you want to make a woolen scarf or a woolen sweater by hand, you have to know how to:
knit             cose          pierce        needle
6.    Describe a picture from the magazine: the pic the teacher will tell you.
7.    Now another student: say more things about the picture.
8.    The rest of the students: say the things of the picture that you can remember.
9.    Describe an abstract concept, like for example “liberty” or “commitment”.
10.                      Invent a short story [by speaking!] with these words: friends – old castle – the sun was hidden – flash-lights – brave – gang – get into – objects of gold – waves




/ Photo from: news bbc co uk

Thursday, May 3, 2012

835. Meeting each other by speaking the same language



Here the text by H. D. Brown continues. The first part is on post #834.

The reason for this apparent contradiction is that IQ tests measure very specific verbal, mathematical, and logical abilities. Language learning requires other forms of intelligence, such as:

-         interpersonal communication ability (for perceiving and understanding other people)
-         self-knowlege (for developing your own unique pathway to success)
-         musical ability (for hearing intonation and rhythm of the language)
-         muscular coordination (for pronouncing the language)

All of these abilities are forms of intelligence that aren’t calculated into IQ tests. (Page 47 in his book) / Photo from: thefancarpet com. singin in the rain (1952) 

834. Can I really learn that foreign language?



I think the texts I chose for a paper by me, which were taken from H. D. Brown, in his 1989’s book, have no spare word, nor have any other texts in this book. This book is a must-read for teachers and learners of English or any other language. I’ve already mentioned the book on past posts: A Practical Guide to Language Learning. A Fifteen-Week Program of Strategies for Success. New York: McGraw-Hill.

As I said on other posts I wrote a paper about this book for a university journal. Today I’m starting to type one text from H. D. Brown about IQ (intelligence quotient) as related to Iearning a language. Some people may ask themselves: ‘Can I with my normal intelligence actually achieve to learn that language? I’m not too smart so as to really learn Spanish, German, Portuguese...' This expert states:

The first piece of good news is that a high IQ, as it’s traditionally measured, isn’t essential for successful foreign language learning. People with average intelligence can be very adept at learning a language, and those with exceptionally high IQ can be miserable failures. (Page 47).

Oncoming days, maybe one else, I expect to give you the rest of the text. Thank you for checking out my blog. / Photo from: confidence building. Daad program canada ca. Daad stands for Deutscher akademischer Austausch Dienst (German Academic Exchange Service).