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Getting there


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Bit late on the blogging today, total burnout yesterday, terrrible headache...
still had to manage somehow to make today's test, and think about what i plan to do, having thought about the fact that i should restate the course goals again today. Fortunately it kind of lifted for a while in the evening, so i managed to pack my bag for today.
Enering the marks in my log on the train., making the prints in the staffroom and then off to class, good chance to get to know some new names and have a wee personal chat with some different early birds. While the kids checked vocab i chalked up an outline of the course so far, with the two main aims of vocab and speaking,restating that the course is too short for me to teach them all the economics vocab, and then explained that students have the freedom to choose from an area of the economy that interests them to study phrases in their own field of interest. Below the goals then the progression through the main structure of the economy, the three sectors, which we analysed for shifts, trends and changes, and how it affects people, and then the business cycle and what causes it and how in the next section we are going to apply this knowledge to making decisions about where to invest. Then I listed the real life business world skills we have been learning, the networking and group-leadership, the discussion agreeing/disagreeing skills, and the graph presentation skills, which will all tie up to the role play we are preparing on investment decisions. Rounded off by saying this class is a unique chance to practice speaking, and then handed out the role play introductory sheets.

After explaining that now was their chance to apply their knowlede to make sound economic choices, students were asked in pairs to rank 14 investment criteria after we had practiced the pronunciation. They spent some time doing this before the break, there was some confusion with some of the jargon, and I went round supporting and helping. One group said they were finished, with ten minutes odd to spare, so I suggested they give a reason why they thought a particular choice was important, waited for them to give one reason, suggested they note it down, and left to check up another group. I noticed that I myself was not clear on the criteria "Viability of the project", when i tried to explain, i was at a loss, so i suggested the group that asked me check the Japanese, which solved the problem. (Thank the lord!) Need to check it up for Thursday, of course... Another group had difficulty with the phrase "duration of the loan", so I explained it meant how long, and then gave an example using the Chinese economy, whereupon one of the guys refuted my example: brilliant! So I rephrased what he said, but then instead of inviting his group to comment further, moved back to the fact that they were originally discussing criteria, and that i had merely brought up China to illustrate how loan duration might be relevant. I think at that point that group could/should just have gone on gaily talking about China, but I kind of walked away from it...nudged them back to the checklist, which was short-sighted of me. I really think that the intelligent opinion should have been welcomed more in a natural flow of group discussion, rather than my teachering and tasking. Lost opportunity...

After the break I asked them to use the phrase "We think blahblah is the most important criterion for investment in a new project" and boarded the pair decisions, so they could see what other people thought. A heavy weighting for the return on the investment was evident, with seven mentions, as oppose to one for political stability, the amount of previous investment and two for the guarantees. I reminded them that the friendliness of local people could also be important as a future source of labor, and said there were no right answers, but that in the following role-play they should remember and try to judge according to their main criteria.
Students grouped according to a, b, c, d, or e sheets that i had handed out the previous week, and brainstormed ideas for how to present their investment bankers arguments in their role. I went round the groups checking they understood the idea of what we would do, and reminded them to use a graph, fake if need be, to support their argument in the director's meeting (next week).

All of a sudden it was ten minutes past the test time, so I shooshed them back into their seats and whipped round the test, promising to finish ten minutes early next week if they would only do me a favor and do the test for twenty minutes ( into their break..arggggghhhhhh). They handed in the tests as they were finished, and left. One poor lass had not recieved a test sheet, and in the fuss it took me extra time to find one and give it to her, and move her seat to the front (they were sitting three in a row)
so I gave her ten bonus points for stress.

On the way out I met three of my students, remembered the names, and they told me the class was reallly fast and difficult compared to the next door one, (same course, different teacher). One of the girls from the class next door showed me her print, and indeed, i confirmed that what i am doing is rather advanced in terms of vocab and producing independent work, graphs and written homework most weeks, not to mention the vocab sheet and optional readings from the Economist...One of the students sighed, and said he'd be happy with a pass...'A pass', I said, 'I'm working you so hard, and you are all doing your best, why, half the class is top grade, the way you are going'...sounds like i'm making them feel a little uneasy, when really they are all doing very well, as far as i can see. 'You can be proud you're working so hard' I said, as I left.

Today I have glanced through the vocab on the train, and just given them all the benefit of the doubt, I have had enough of scribbling red everywhere, they are doing well, and I reckon they know what they're doing now. I will trust them with it, i've agonized enough, explained enough. Now they can get on with it. And they can all get full marks if they like, because the vocab they are working on is top-class.