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Getting there


Thursday, April 14, 2005

well, so that's the transcript, for the first couple of minutes. I notice I perhaps don't need to talk as students begin to work, the kind of stream of consciousness talking i'm doing when walking around handing out papers looks sort of hypnotizing, i wonder if students like it or not...they were murmuring and chatting quite happily tho. I think it's clear that they need to listen when I get back to the front, and not inbetween, as it were, or is it? Ho hum, kinda embarrassing, ho hum.

Personally I think the class was more relaxed than Tuesday, because I felt more relaxed. When I ran out of time towards the end I cut the cell phone exercise and did it myself at the front, and everyone understood that ohayou fits with gozaimasu as a team, and the idea of frequency of use and collocational pairs was used by the cell to anticipate meanings. Then they began to work on trough, and I went round helping a lot of people, underlining and highlighting, and at least six or seven odd people in turn, clearly they were not used to looking for patterns. This ate up so much time that I then explained that I really had wanted them to work in pairs, but that I would model at the board, and I put up the two different models of examples for trough, with patterns, snouts in the trough, and a feeding trough for big government, and The peak-to-trough decline in ~ in Japan is ~% and Whatever has reached its trough....I think the way to study looking for patterns and using collocations came across much more clearly than in the Tuesday class, but we shall see when i get the vocab sheets next week. If I have time I shall make a new A and B worksheet for other key Economic words like drop and drop and so on for next week. By the end of this I was losing so much time I peppered the whole thing with Japanese to make it run faster and still get the meaning across, and then handed out the homework task with a really fast explanation.

In the first session after my transcription the groups were happily discussing the rules, and four or five groups all mentioned rule 5, about speaking English as being most important. One group liked the idea of respect, and another thought it problematic to come on time, because our classroom is on the third floor of a building on the far side of campus. Interesting how it's a different focus from the other class.

For my is it ok for a world leader to make mistakes? question I had 20 "no"s, with three people changing their minds to "no" after working on the Bush exercise. One student wrote: "No it isn't. Because if a world leader make English mistake, world war may break out".

20 students said, YES, ok to make mistakes, with 6 out of 20 changing their mind to yes, after the Bushisms. One comment: "No, I'm going to work for Securities Company from next year, If I will make mistakes, billion dollars will go away", then changed to YES. Two yes comments were: "Because President is also human" and "Yes, because I think mistakes exist in anywhere to everybody. Yes, but It should be unworthy" (possibly meaning it's not very admirable?)

I'm thinking I might have influenced them because I said I personally didn't think it mattered, but how a student from Tuesday had mentioned how the wrong word from a world leader can lead to war. Although I do think I made my position clear on both days, today I had the opposite reasoning along with mine to illustrate that there's no correct answer, and I also said that clearly in class. I want to reinforce the idea that there's no correct answer, and I said that in assignments I'm looking for ideas, not correct grammar. Having said that, I am going to have to work on job applications a bit, because experience of my past student's applications sent to me for correction after the end of last term show clearly it's an area that needs improvement.

So what have I achieved? Clearly in this Thursday group the class rules are accepted as sensible, it was a better idea to ask them to brainstorm first, so that my ideas could provide a response to a need(the need to think of what is important in class) rather than an imposition decided on unilaterally by me. So how it's set up is so important, even though it's the same task.

I also see an interest in the vocabulary sheet(because it's autonomous learning), and the skill/way to look at words in context as a tool to achieving your own vocab sheet, I think it's good I took over at the end, because there was too much confusion for students to be able to share much in pairs. Doing both A and B at the boardmyself, modelling, took away the confusion and cut out the stress of not having much to say but being expected to tell someone you don't really know something you don't really understand, so that at the end both types of use of trough were clear, and the way of and necessity of looking at words in context was clear. I think by the second time I do words they will be better, and can cope with pairwork.

I may have to model for Tuesday again, because they were overwhelmed by the newness of the task and haven't understood the logic of it, so perhaps it seemed random and meaningless. So I'm getting more resistance to the workload...the vocabulary sheet and the homework...I also notice I spent a lot more time on Tuesday talking on how I would police it or how to actually mark it which I simply forgot to do today moreover how it was related to grades. Today I was modelling and talking about how to fill it in and how to look at new words to make it a successful and meaningful long term learning experience. So this Thursday class today still don't know how to use the vocab sheet next week, but that can be done next week, as it were. What Thursday students do know clearly now is how to fill it in effectivelyin a meaningful way, which is what I have not managed to make so clear on Tuesday.