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Getting there


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Went in on Tuesday wearing a hand-stitched lace blouse from my granny, feeling all beautiful in creamy lace and pink suit, summer on the way and half way through the course. The graphs were good, very hard to mark, some were better on the actual graph analysis, some were better on the prognosis or the hypothesis, some had made sure to use English titles and change the axes to English....numbers have to be changed to billions and trillions and all...

Listening in on the vocab had a small argument with one student about his translations from English to Japanese. My possible star student and moodmaker, trying to argue that different levels of English "to be dismissed" and "to be sacked" can be translated with the same formal Japanese. I said as a Uni student he has the chance to become aware of different levels of language and how to use them, and that formal and informal phrases are quite different, both in English and Japanese. OOF, left him with it, notice on the train home looking over papers his partner still gave him the credit for the words even after my interjection, but checked the dictionnary just now at home, and I am right...RED all over his sheet, he's not been taking the time to look up his translations, and consequently the marks cannot be given. Glad I have this knowledge of Japanese, and the experience translating for so many years, it makes me able to double check with authority, otherwise I feel like he would walk all over me. Glad to say about 75% of the students no longer need the serious double checking, although I still look through and particularly support part 4, where the sentences can go awry.

This same student was using a cell phone later in class, so I stopped activities and referred to the classroom rules...This was during the pronunciation practice, where we were running through repeating after me the different verbs for graphs, which I had introduced on the spur of the moment in response to noticing that many students (including said student) were not sure how to say "surged" and "risen".

After vocab, having praised their graphs, I asked for the homework, which was instead of a test. Ulp,. only ten people have done it... I said next week was fine, but I would automatically deduct five points out of sixty.
Then I distributed the A, B pairwork worksheets (students when consulted didn't want to change partners, so they all sat in their seats and worked with the same person as for the vocab)
and explained how to pairwork quickly at the blackboard:
1.read and your partner will complete a graph, a pie-chart
2.read the headline and your partner will rephrase:is the response correct, if not, correct them.
3. read each other clues and work on a business cycle crossword together

This went on for twenty minutes and we had a break. Even though the words "soar" and "plummet" were not new, they were new again to many students, (see something seven times and know it?) so another chance to learn.

After the break I explained I would hand out the crossword answers at the end of the class, and to open textbooks to practice graph description verb pronunciation. First time I've done some repeat after me, but after all the work we've done a moment to consolidate and notice if you've been pronouncing things wrongly, methinks. One thing about the vocab sheet is that it really doesn't make sure they are pronouncing the words correctly, i've corrected the word "hierarchy" here and there when it came up, in my wanderings round the pairs...because not all the students are studying the same words, it is hard to find a moment to practice these things for all students together, and equally many students simply don't realize that their pronunciation is awry.

Then I had hoped to do a listening exercise, with a CD-talk about why the economy went up and down in Europe, to reinforce that a graph needs interpretation, not just description, and to illustrate how they could use the (not-done) homework in this way...
The copy of the CD script was handed out, and I ran through the listening Qs in advance, and pointed to the answers, so that they could notice them in the listening....Total failure!!!! The tape whizzed on in mad abandon, with all the complex ideas and heavy duty vocab, and a glazed look came over all of us...I went through it three times, but felt quite crazy, ill-prepared, such a fool, to think that there would be some way I could avoid doing all the work for this course. This textbook was made for somebody from Europe, who has all the ideas and half the latinized vocab anyway. (It shows, when I think about it, from the glossary at the back, with translations of vocab into French, Spanish and German-aha, there's the market...)
I tried to save the day by rewording one of the looong sentences for the situation of Japanese investment in China, now in heavenly retrospect i could have asked them to write it down as i spoke and pairwork to try and reproduce, but I think I should just rewrite the whole damn tapescript myself anyway, and forget the machine, because the bodiless voice is so impossible to listen to and understand, a thousand times harder than a TV even, but here am I, a real resource in the classroom, much better than some voice in a box. At any rate,
it was time to go home, so I got the students in groups of six, handed out the answers to the Xword along with the role-play preparation sheets for next week, and told them that there was no particular homework except that there would be a test on graphs and the business cycle so to please prepare....

Oooof, Tuesday is always a hard one for me, the way things turn out to be a lot harder than I imagine...