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Getting there


Thursday, December 02, 2004

well a late posting today, off to choose a bicycle for my son the minute I got home....let me look back....
Well, I know I envisaged sitting happily at my desk on the podium double-checking student vocabulary sheets and putting the marks gained in my register, but when I got to class I first busied myself putting up the URL for the site where you can listen to pronunciation, http://www.oddcast.com/sitepal/ where you click on Text to Speech and 'Try it' and then type in what you want to have read to you, and also writing a sample diagram of the presentation handout, with title, student names, article outline, your opinion and vocabulary, plus some stock phrases for the article outline presentation section, "The Economist/The article/Cotton in China states/suggests/indicates/advocates/says that...."...

Some students who had been absent last week needed encouragement to find their groups, one student who had been ill still looked peaky, but said he was ok, was kind enough to remember to bring me copies of last semester's vocab sheets nevertheless, even included a plastic file for me to borrow. Back vocab sheets were being checked by fellow absentees, I checked one also at the very end of the class, well done.

Meanwhile students arrived in dribs and drabs and I prompted them to sit together in their designated groups and get to work, a slow start to things today indeed....Then I drew their attention to the blackboard, explained in English and Japanese what was required for the presentation, and said I would be available to support them at any time....

As they set to again, I decided I had better wander round and have a look, and oh why aren't you all highlighting like I showed you last week, anyone need a highlight pen??handed some out and I could see old habits die hard as the real study students had gone into the intricacies of the vocabulary with pencilled translations....please don't read everything, I said, go through those first paragraph sentences and then have a look at what topics are raised, and then go for an outline and your brainstorming, reading in detail only where it's relevant!

And so all the class time disappeared as I went round the eight groups checking the reading process, modelling the brainstorming, picking out the main idea, pinging off into special areas, suggesting how to split up the voices, offering advice on visuals to hold up, saying would a tiny survey be in order to check up if what the article says holds good for Japan? Trying to get students to see how they can apply all the techniques we've worked on so far, and add the article as a kind of diving board or trampoline to leap into action.

One student had his puter in class again, really ace attitude, making the handout there and then together with the group, and then brought up the pronunciation site I had introduced earlier, him and me laughing at the lady...he was trying to crank up the sound for everyone to hear, but I guess the speakers weren't powerful enough..

Kind of kept going back to groups and checking, everything ok now? and got smiles and yesses so altogether it seemed people had more confidence in what to do and how to approach it and were on to settling into nitty gritty and exchanging telephone numbers for further work and preparation by the end of the class, it was a really focused class by the time the lesson was over, good atmosphere, almost like they had got stuck together like magic tape, with a fuzzy interface, so that splitting off at the end of the lesson was a sort of gooey process. Amazing how good groupwork gets addictive.

I think I was one of the first to be heading home, waved goodbye at the door and yelled, presentations next week, looking forward to it, as I disappeared!