Well, having thrown out all textbooks this year (ask if you wanna know why) I’m now forced to think just about each and every day. I just spent four months studying Syllabus and Materials via the Birmingham MA TEFL and now it’s time to “put up or shut up”. I used 4500 words to trash textbooks (sorry D.N.), define my theory of learning and present my new theory of practice.
In a nutshell, my recipe looks like this:
I’m going to explore Paul Nation’s four strand approach as the base of my lessons (equal parts of input, output, focus on form, and fluency), throw in a supplementary extensive reading program, add a pinch of motivation and a dash of learner autonomy. I’d also like to try to garnish the whole thing with some juicy ‘lexical chunks’ and top it off with a “judicious” smidgeon of the mother tongue for the struggling girls.
Tomorrow, I’m going to try a dictogloss type activity with the following original text in a Ko II and Ko III Oral class (20 students/elementary level):
Why are Japanese people so good at business and so good at making things like cars, cameras and other electronics? Why are Japanese people so good at some sports like figure skating, baseball and synchronized swimmimg? Why do many people think that Japanese food is the most delicious food in the world? And finally, why are a few Japanese people really good at English but so many other people are not at all good at English? I think I recently found part of the answer. Actually, there are two answers:
1. You need to make an effort. All the things Japanese are good at take a really big effort. Most people fail at English because they don’t try, not because they have no talent. I’m pretty sure that if you make an effort, all of you can be better at English. This year I want you to get a little better at English by trying either listening, reading, writing or speaking.
2. You need to balance studying English and using English. In Japan, the balance is about 90% studying and 10% using. You must try to make more chances to use English in order to make the balance a little closer to 50-50. What are some ways you can make a better balance?
I may dictogloss the first paragraph and do an info gap activity with points 1. and 2. as follows:
1. You need to ________ an effort. All the things Japanese are good at take a really big effort. Most people fail at English ________ they don’t try, not because they have no ________. I’m pretty sure that if you make an effort, all of you can be ________ at English. This year I want you to get a little better at English by trying either listening, reading, ________ or speaking.
2. You need to balance studying English and ________ English. In Japan, the ________ is about 90% studying and 10% using. You must try to make more chances to use English in order to make the balance a little ________ to 50-50. What are some ________ you can make a better balance?
I’m walking into class with a plan and we’ll see what happens when reality hits. This may turn out to be another activity to add to the “Retrospective Syllabus”. I wrote in my latest essay:
A teacher’s primary role is to imagine opportunities for learning when planning a lesson or a syllabus; and then, more importantly, to notice opportunities for learning when interacting in the classroom. A classroom is a fluid environment and what is planned so often does not resemble what actually happens.
OK, I’ve put you through enough for one sitting. I apologize if anyone is still reading. Let’s all go get some rest…