Friday, January 27, 2006

Open Book

I decided to share my notes from the first two weeks of class. It will be interesting to see if anyone reads this!

January 21, 2006
I always love my classes, and this term is the same. I love my small conversation class. The students are from Korea (2), Taiwan (1), Benin (1), Saudi Arabia (2), and Sudan (1).

It was worth it taking the time to go over vocabulary, to do an exercise based on it in class today. I needed to put the words that I was using on the board for them, though—after Sohail (God bless him) told me they didn’t understand. Then they could pick them out as I said the sentences about my childhood. Then I asked each of them to make a sentence including one of the words. It led to some good conversation.

Then we did the short ice-breaker activity: say your name, and “I like” something that begins with that letter; for example, “My name is Ms. Davis, and I like movies.” The next person repeats about me, and says his information, on and on until the last person has to repeat them all. It led to laughter.

I taught a little pronunciation, as it came up: plan, not flan; zoo, not jew; complex (n.) vs. complex (adj.).

I talked about Chapter 1 goals, said we’ll continue next week (per syllabus), said for homework read pages 4-7.

I reminded myself during class not to hurry through the lesson. Remember: put the focus on conversation, students talking--not your wonderful lesson plan. (Sounds simple, but it’s not easy!)

Jan. 23, 2006
All I can say is, no one’s perfect, and today is Monday. My class was bad: bad planning, bad timing, bad hair—equals bad!

Tomorrow will be better. I learn from my mistakes. I planned the class completely, maybe too much. But I planned it on Friday, and this morning when I came in, it looked like a foreign language to me!

I stumbled through the book lesson, used a tape. With five minutes left, I introduced the “cars” conversation topic. A good topic, but no time. We’ll continue it tomorrow.

As I said before, for conversation, the best way is to let the students talk!

Jan. 25, 2006
I can’t wait till Friday; we’re going to have a couple of fun activities. First, I’ll read a meeting/greeting dialog I wrote and have them identify aspects of each that show they’re formal or informal. Then they’ll write and perform theirs. After that, we’ll do my picture postcard listening-to-directions activity: In pairs, students either look at the postcard picture or draw. The one who has the picture can’t show it and can’t use gestures. She has to describe it in words so that the other person can make a drawing of it. We’ll see how similar the drawings are to the pictures.

Sometimes a student is bored, and he shows it. I don’t think he realizes how upsetting this can be to a teacher, who sees him yawning and looking at the clock, etc.

On the other hand, he may have a problem he is worried about, and that is why he is distracted.

January 27, 2006
Everything takes longer than I expect it to, so I’m going to shorten the dialog quiz, not have them write one. I told them Fridays would be for fun activities, so I want to make sure that we have enough time for the postcards. It should elicit a lot of speaking, too—I hope!

A quick way to find the meaning of a word or phrase or slang expression is to Google it. Just go to Google and put the words in the box, then click on Search or just hit Enter. You will usually get a list of places that give a definition. Go there. Even better, at the bottom of the page, if it says to try Google Book Search, do it! You will get sections of books and articles that use the expression in context. It works better, I think, if I put the phrase in quotation marks, like this: “chew the fat” or “same old same old.” It’s really useful and interesting—and easy!