Lessonplans, long forgotten

Old lessonplans.jpgFor some reason or another I have rarely gone over old lesson plans. It does make sense though, since, I’ve taught the same years twice in some schools.

The lesson folder I had uncovered dated back to the 2006-7 time frame. It contained printed material for a lesson, a very loose procedure and that was about it. I comparison, I do still ‘write  up’ the lesson plan up (in a notebook) and this is to clarify what I want to teach and what I need to prepare to teach it. I’d use circle in green pen the resources I’d written down that needed to be prepared. So much more organised than what it was before.

Looking through the book, the lessons were adequate, if you wanted to teach like a KET. But since that time I’d moved on. Even more recently, I’d been taught to focus on communicative teaching/ lessons. The ones where my TTT is minimized and where the STT is maximized. In doing this, I as a teach, maximize the amount of student talk time. That’s what they’re there for, right? Pedagogy aside, following the PPP schema is relatively easy. Once you have the materials in hand, it makes writing lesson plans easier. Looking through the clear-page folder at the lesson plans I’d written back then, I had come to realize that the lesson plans were incomplete. Even if I was teaching vocabulary, I was teaching it properly, as in meaning, form, grammar, and speaking. Thanks, Paul Nation.

But back then, it was an awful lot of talking on my part, and very little in the way of practicing productive skills. I knew that I had to get the students talking, even back then, but I was missing the know-how (theoretical and practical) to do it. How far I’ve come! That extra training does pay off; firstly it was CELTA, and then it was TESOL. Both tough but, useful courses to have done.

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A change of tack, untested and potentially tacky

Currently I’m teaching two streams of students. The new first graders and the second grade students who I had taught last year. Still at high school, I’ve got the ‘problem’ of creating a set of lesson plans for teaching my old first graders; the new second graders. After some thought I’ve decided instead of creating more material (which I think has been exhausted anyway) I’ve decided to use a different teaching style. I’m still leading my students to the context, but I’m also using the lexical approach. Throw chunks of new vocabulary at the students and have them use it. A while ago I had struck upon the idea of using collocations for the students to discover and learn. A number of problems to solve swim out of the murk for this tack to work. How to introduce new lexical items? How do I have the students notice and connect collocates without boring them to death?

The current teaching framework I’m using (PPP) works like a charm. But my friend commented and berated me on teaching a vocabulary lesson as this is something that a KET would do. The reply to that is, that it’s a lesson of two parts. Input of vocabulary in the first hour, the second part is that of production and practice using the new vocabulary. The extra layering that’s needed for young learners is the need to communicate. Easily solved, this equates to putting it in the form of a game. So, this leaves the problem of how do you get the student’s to take notice of collocates?

Burger to go, extra cheese

Grammar to me is the basis of English teaching. Technically I’m employed as speaking teacher, but holistically I see myself as a highly paid consultant. In this consultancy, I converse with the workers onsite, addressing what to teach and how to deliver the lesson. Grammar in this case fades into the background and is suppliemented by random conversation points.

It always shits me that these converstation points have no substance at all. As drummed into me and the rest of the recruits at CELTA, “no task without a goal, no result without feedback”. There are other caveats but thats beside the point. I wish there were points to the lessons, but the drive for my lessons as perviewed by the KET is to stimulate interest in learning, English in this case. Enter EBS, the national education broadcast. Short vignettes of about 5 minutes long, the voice actors putting on this horrible faux voice, that all Koreans (and possibly Japanese) think are so cute. I did everything to stop from vomitting, not from the voice acting, but from the lack of substance.

The video posted here, is very moderate and is devoid of all cheese. Native speakers speaking naturally. While I would have posted an example with one with cheese I couldn’t find one.

Faces and vertices, is this English?

Facesonpolygons

Run, Lola, run was in fact the film. The quote that they borrowed was from a the famous German football coach, Sepp Herberger. For more on his coaching career, you can click here. My current state of affairs, is that the English camp is going well, with the current lesson planning being easier than falling off a log, or in my case, making a powerpoint.

What they (the teacher that made up the material) had (illegally) done was photocopy all of the exercises from a book bought in the UK. The only problem is that the preparatory pages that weren’t photocopied were also important. Fortunately the material is easy enough to follow without much explanation.

However in teaching mathematics (yes, everyone had to do it), was in the abstract. Lots of stuff I didn’t know about, but once again was able to comprehend easily enough. Even the students were able to manage since they’d had been taught it before, in Korean.

For example, how many vertices and faces does a sphere have? A cylinder? The cubes and rectangular prisms were easily sorted, but spheres and cyclinders, were challenging. Anyone got an answer?

Full credit to: onlineacademics.org/math/

Phonetic alphabet, dyslexic associations


When I learnt that the KET was teaching the phonetic alphabet, I asked her if I could sit in on the class. Much to the bemusement of some students. Hehe, the teacher has become a student. Learning the phoneic alphabet is a combination of frustration in trying to associate the symbols with the sounds.

Trying to read it is the hardest part, and it’s the closest experience akin to dyslexia I can get. Why am I putting myself through all of this? I’m doing it to prepare for my CELTA course that’s coming up in six months. That too, is also going to be frustrating, but in learning it now, it’ll be less I have to ‘take in’, giving me more time to produce when the course starts.

The rather colourful flash cards were post cards cut in half. Cutting the actual letter out from the sheet and then matching it on the reverse with the answer took me 3 hours or so. No mistakes here.

Sorry Bob, it’s The Village People

Songs have so many uses in EFL, in my case it was selecting lyrics within the song and using them as a base for a lesson on the present continuous.

After having written out a rough lesson plan, I showed the lyrics to the song to my co-teacher. This is when the trouble started. After having thought about some of the lyrics referring to Sodom and Gomorrah, she said the song is too boring, and went on to suggest an alternative,  YMCA by the Village People.

Excuse me for trying to raise the bar here. Everytime we played the YMCA video I just couldn’t help thinking to myself, “they cannot be any more camp if they tried”. Still, they had a good run, and even put out a movie in the early 80’s. Which I got to see by the way. All I can remember of it though was the black guy climbing through someones window.

English test, bit-part voice actor

As part of the English department at an Elementary school, I’m frequently thrust into speaking parts for the English listening tests. Roles that range from 12 year old son, confused student to outright stranger asking what the time is.

The KET also has her part by introducing the question number. I have to admit she sounds really good. Good enough to be a Disk jockey on the radio. I’d listen for my cue, while trying not to fall asleep. It can be strangely soporiphic at times.

This school, (the one with the musical loo) has ultra swanky kit. Just the other day they bought an LCD TV monitor so that they could view the playback on the video camera. Which, by the way, they will start using it to record short segments for broadcast around the school. It’s not worth calling in sick for, but I think I had better take more care of my grooming.