Saturday, June 30, 2012

862. Shhhh! They're working



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “When your students have got to carry out a class activity – say from a simple drill in their course book to a short role-play – they must be active, not mere passive listeners that just hear they’ve got to do an activity: the learners of languages that succeed actually see that activity as something of their own, and they think they must solve that activity.

Those true learners dive into the activity, try to understand it, read it and read it again, and their minds start to ‘process’ all that written information and they become able to produce something original as a response. They feel satisfied. I’d say that, for those students, understanding that exercise or activity means that 50% of the task has already been done, already been solved.

Those learners become their own teachers, the motor or engine of their own process of learning the target language. In this way they are doing an authentically human work, a creative one; they’re creative, they’re conducting as human persons. That work dignifies them, and they dignify that work, and also they dignify others with that work. The class in this case is not something alienating or dehumanizing, but all the contrary: profoundly human and humane.

It’s so too, evidently and even more, when those people carry out that work for love to God and service to the class community. Because the person is a creature of God, and even more, a son or daughter of God.” / Photo from: aufc ca. Le professeur David Staines recoit l’Ordre de l’Ontario. Professeur d'anglais   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

861. We all live by daily communication



I’ve copied and pasted the following text by Benedict XVI. The more I read it, the more inspiration I get for my everyday teaching English and helping people communicate with one another. It’s a piece from an encyclical letter by him, Caritas in Veritate, and the piece is from # 53 within the letter.

N.B.: The title in Latin means ‘Charity in truth’, which is taken from the beginning of the letter:
Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth.

And the text proper I wanted to quote is
As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God. Hence these relations take on fundamental importance.

/ Photo from: springfreetrampoline com. taxi

Monday, June 25, 2012

860. Developing learning styles



Each learner of a language has his unique learning style. We too if are learners of a language should discover that unique style. A lot depends on it. I learned all this partially by reading H. D. Brown’s book, published in 1989, A Practical Guide to Language Learning. A Fifteen-Week Program of Strategies for Success. New York: McGraw-Hill. He wrote

as you discover how certain learning styles provide important keys to foreign language success, try to figure out what your own particular styles are. You’ll then get a sense of how you can capitalize on your uniqueness and develop your own personal pathway to success. (Page 31).

You, teacher, could keep this idea in mind when each one of your students is conducting in a given way in order to learn the target language. You may observe how this girl does this and the other one over there does the same activity in a different way, and that other boy has some problems at carrying out the same activity. Respect each one’s growing learning style, teach learning strategies and, all the time, try to get the best from your students, from each and every one of them. / Photo from: answers com. 8 year old girls in classroom writing in notebook   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

859. Dreaming of the summer


One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “A few weeks ago one teacher asked me why more English in the summer for the boys of that bilingual school where they speak English in some subjects... Well, just because of that, because many of those boys can already speak some English, at B1 or B2 levels (within the Common European Framework), and that experience means more practice, chiefly concerning speaking, and in small groups.

Now I remember that a nice number of years ago the students that had spent a fortnight in one of those summer camps arrived at the first school classes of English in September rather strong at this language: some weeks before they had been speaking in English with their teachers-monitors, and that in a relaxing atmosphere of vacations, with a lot of sport and other educative activities.

On those days a small team of students from the US came to Spain to teach English; they were students of different college degrees and came mainly from Texas. Now the team of teachers that run those summer programs entrust the teaching to native teachers of a prestigious school of languages of a town, nearby the camp.” / Photo from: L. P., a friend of mine; it’s a Spanish galleon I’d say of the 16th century, even the 17th century. Does anyone have any idea?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

858. Focus on each detail



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I’ve taught a lot of private classes, training a student to pass a written exam. I don’t like training for just passing a test in a few days or weeks. I can train the student but he doesn’t learn English really – roughly speaking. I give my students some of the following pieces of advice for the exams:

1. Understand the instructions, questions, exercises. Read them carefully. If you know what the exercise asks you to do, you have (some) 50% of the exercise already done.

2. Understand each sentence of the exercise (for example a drill). Comprehend all the information each sentence gives you. Each sentence is like a short story the test tells you.

3. Revise the answers. Probably you’ll find mistakes to correct.

4. If an exercise or question overwhelms you, and you don’t know much what to do, don’t keep choked, go ahead into the next exercise.

5. Write clearly and with a nice handwriting.

6. The exercises are logical: they ask you to give a specific answer and not other - I'm referring to drills, like fill-out-the-blanks.

7. It’s stupid to cheat.

8. An exam is communication between you and its author; and it’s one more step in your process of learning and acquiring English.

9. Focus on the exercises you know more about, but don’t stop too much in doing them.

10. Have a look at all the test paper through, so as you can learn how much time you have for the different questions and activities.

11. At listening and reading activities, read the questions before the actual listening and the actual reading.

12. You attend the exam with the baggage of knowledge and practice you have acquired: so go easy; yet it’s true you should have studied harder and you have a problem, guy.

13. Learn from the errors and mistakes of your exams. Try to keep calm and serene: the test is one more exercise, in some way.” / Photo from: toulouse univ.tlse1 fr

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

857. It's my pleasure to serve you



Today I’d like to thank you, followers and readers, for your interest. I hope you enjoy my blog. I’ve just seen the blog has new followers, although the list is hidden. I don’t comprehend all the features and apps of the Blogger program, but, like I said, I think I’ve seen new followers’ names - so far I hadn’t seen their names, and also the total number has increased. The list is hidden because some follower some time ago had links that were not convenient. And less for an educational blog. – Something different: I’m glad I have many more things to post. / Photo from: menu-explain blogspot com. waitress

Sunday, June 17, 2012

856. A post for busy teachers, if it's useful



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “With the time passing and with your commitment in your classes as the teacher you will be gaining experience, as I can see in our veteran colleagues.

You’ll be capable of providing the most suitable activities in order to facilitate that your students would gain momentum in their learning and acquiring English. You’ll have more of intuition to implement the class activities in an atmosphere of smoothness and easiness. Your students will get the most fruit from each activity.

This implies you can manage the class: the goal won’t be the students be quiet but they participate in the class. An experienced teacher knows how to dodge conflictive situations inside the class; also how to stop an activity that isn’t working and then shift into another one, or maybe that teacher will change the mode or style of the activity on the spot.

That teacher adapts his class notes – the ‘script’ - for a specific class if he sees the activity isn’t working; for example, a reading exercise will finish with the first reading, because the text is of absolutely no interest for the students.

That teacher observes the actual needs and circumstances of his students now. When planning a class or a unit he can have a quick and intuititive view of what fits his students’ needs: what is realistic and challeging at the same time, and with that specific group in mind and not other.

And all this with some sense of humor, which is the result of the love of benevolence to his students. – That said, I may have depicted a superman or superwoman, haven’t I? However, this picture might perhaps give us some clues that we can acquire little by little: each class can be a little piece of learning the job of a teacher of languages.” / Photo from: army mil. an immersion class of german for US students    

Friday, June 15, 2012

855. Something wrong wasn't working...



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “In 2010, at this high of the academic year – In Spain the final exams are in mid-June - I was teaching private classes to a boy of some 15 or 16 years. One of the things I used to do in the classes was presenting some grammar form to him, so as he could understand it – for instance, the reported speech. In his school the teacher would set an exam mainly of grammar.

Alas, he hardly reached to understand anything of some rather high level, and we had to pass the exam in a few days!

I resolved to ask him to prepare himself some grammar point for the next day, both the grammatical theory and some realistic examples, I mean, examples and sentences that showed realistic aspects of his life using that grammar pattern.

I wanted he had to present the grammar point to me (in Spanish; the classes were mere reinforcement of grammar), and in this way he could find the points he didn’t understand, and also in this way I had him prepare a sound presentation of reported speech.

I found he studied and prepared the topics in a more outfitted way than ever before: he was no longer a passive listener that had to listen to my presentations, but he had become the actor of the presentation.

However, I’d tell you that students, in general, need you presenting and giving many examples of such and such specific grammar point. So you could combine your presenting such topic with having the students prepare the presentation themselves. You can see to it and decide together with your students.” / Photo from: jimhillmedia com. a scene of a short animation movie by disney pixar     

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

854. Fair play in vacation courses



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Within a few weeks I start a mini-course of English. The boys will also have other leisure activities: I think excursions, environment-friendly tasks, summer homework, painting, looking after the elderly, typing... It’s a vacation program for kids where they carry on doing educative and useful activities during part of their summer. In this way they don’t lose the good habits they acquired during the academic year.

The classes of English will be fun: kind of practicing speaking by playing games. The kids’ ages will be 9 to 14, in a single group! I presume the atmosphere I’m going to encounter in the classroom will be relaxed, but... kids are playful, jumpy, frisky...; they will put me to the test, likely.

The goal is to carry out games for fostering speaking, and some of them will be taken from post # 259. I’m applying some way of conducting I’ve implemented in past years:

1. I’ll try to stay calm.
2. I’ll learn their names soon – besides this helps to keep discipline.
3. I’ll say clear instructions and wait for their fulfillment.
4. Stop talking when some students are chatting among them.
5. Stare and gaze at those disruptive students.
6. Reckon the things they do well (when someone answers correctly for example), and in this way I’ll reinforce good behavior.

Albeit all these things might give a rather negative view of the classes, as if they were ones for students with many behavior problems, the experience I have from most of past courses is very positive, and we had fun, and we all created a nice rapport, and... the classes were all in English! They were nice times!” / Photo from: indian field-hockey player Dhyan Chand

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

853. We keep in touch


I’m feeling like wishing to write some things soon, about vacation courses and private classes (maybe), or other issues: I’d like to share many things I have kept somewhere in my computer. Hope I’ll be back at the keyboard soon; alike I’d like to read what other teachers are saying these days at TeacherLingo. I’ve learned a lot this year from you teachers at this latter web-site. On the other hand, my congratulations, British teachers, for the Queen’s Anniversary. / Photo from: metro co uk. article-1330440637521-11DFE1C2000005DC-599743_466x310. driving around paris. citröen 2HP. Eiffel Tower   

Saturday, June 9, 2012

852. Sport as educative for students



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “In Spain soccer is so popular among kids. Now I can remember that a physical education teacher of our school used to tell us, teachers, that one very positive and educative point in relation with playing soccer (we say ‘football’) was that playing this sport actually make and form teams: a group of kids have to fight together for their team to win the game, and the championship, for a longer period.

As well, if a kid is one player of that team, she feels the obligation to follow and fulfill the discipline of attending the practice and training. 'I cannot put my friends aside, I must go to practice', one of those kids could think for herself. All the school subjects, as you can see, converge to serve as educative times for youngsters.” / Photo from: goalkeepingitreal wordpress com. a female soccer (or ‘football’) team

Thursday, June 7, 2012

851. A new panorama for me [Newer version]



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “I see you’re worried about those few students of yours that have shown those learning problems this academic year. However you hope you will help them better next year with a deeper knowledge of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
You’ve tried your best this year with those kids. Anyway, you believe nothing is lost. Great. If it's useful, and to start with something specific, here I offer you a link to a thorough article in Spanish about this issue. It surely will shed some light to you. Here you are:  http://www.unav.es/nuestrotiempo/temas/suspensos-con-diagnostico / Photo from: learnjapaneseguide com. top-osaka    osaka is the third largest city in Japan, after Tokyo and Yokohama   

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

850. Good performance? After drilling down over and over



One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, “I’m intent on my classes should be communicative; for example, by using the target language also when dealing with just the regular conducting of the class: like when we’ve got to discuss about some change in the calendar of classes for a coming short period. So, first I try my students and I would talk in English about that change, with the aid of the whiteboard.

Nevertheless, lately I’m re-discovering that drill exercises are also good practice for learning English. I’m referring to a classical exercise where for example the students must decide whether to use present simple or present perfect to fill out the blanks. Precisely this kind of exercise makes students think of the language, of the grammar of the language, and as a result this provides a basis for a later use of the language in more naturalistic and communicative activities; in this case they learn to talk about their lives, their experiences, by means of present perfect: ‘I have never worked in a greenhouse’.

Drill exercises train the students to be ready to respond in later more communicative and naturalistic situations. However, be careful: I’d tell you not to confine the classes of English and the homework you assign to super massive drill practice.” / Photo from: autoevolution com. the 2011 le mans racer medium _1   

Saturday, June 2, 2012

849. I can still learn many English words



One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “Many adult learners of English tell me they have problems with memory: Only if they could remember as many things as they did when they were younger, like words, names, numbers...!, they tell me. Also my young students say they have problems with memory.

You can train your memory, I tell them, you can train it up to some extent, to much extent often. A colleague of ours, a non-native teacher of English says she can remember a new word just with having seen it a single time. With time passing she’ll likely forget that term, but she can remember it well again the next time she sees it again, or she needs it again! For example, a student of hers asks her for a word in English, and she, at once, can remember that very word she had learned somewhere, some time before.

She says she’s used to keeping on learning new words: she carries on reading, writing, saying words she’s continuously learning. She also says learning English or any other language is a life-long fantastic task. I plainly agree with her, don’t you?” / Photo from: badabingrecords com