Monday, May 18, 2009

What Do We Teach?

The following list is simple, but true for any language. This simple breakdown does a lot to help me choose appropriate activities for my lessons.
  • Words/Vocabulary/Alphabet
  • Yes/No Question;
  • Wh- Question;
  • Sentence and/or Negative;
  • Commands.
Which do you think is the most important? One writer I read said vocabulary is the most important. It’s difficult for me to disagree. As the daily speaker of a foreign language myself, knowing the right word to say works better than trying to say something another way every time.
Maybe we should remember this the next time a student says something to us with the right words but with grammatical errors, and we understand. In terms of communicative ability, was the student really mistaken?

Things Your ALT Should Know

How many TOTAL English lessons will there be in the year for each class/grade?
How many English lessons will the ALT teach?
How will the ALT participate in the classes: main? support? fully team-teaching? other?
Who will prepare the lesson plans and materials?
In what order will the lessons be taught from the text (ex: 1-2-3-4/ 6-7-8-9)?

Maintaining Young Learners’ Attention

Varying the tempo within my lessons for young learners has helped me to more than anything else to maintain their involvement.

Life Long Learning

Ben Franklin said, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” As an EFL teacher, this reminds me that teaching our students how to continue to learn after they leave our classrooms is one of our greatest responsibilities.

Translating English to Japanese in the Classroom

The English in the Eigo Noto is very basic--some of the students will know the meaning already from juku or other practice. Even if the students are seeing/hearing the language for the first time, it is important to train them to guess the meaning for themselves, not to rely on the teacher to tell them. So before giving students the meaning of something in Japanese, simply ask if anyone knows what the meaning is. Since meaning often depends on context, you have some options:
  • explain or demonstrate how the language is used in a situation that the students are familiar with
  • show a flashcard or refer to pictures in the textbook
One teacher I saw on TV said he never tells his students an answer. Instead, his technique is to provide the students with the materials they need to find the answer themselves.
I try to remember that someday, when school is finished, a student may be in a situation and need to find the answer by themselves. It is for this time that our training in the classroom needs to prepare the students.

終わりのあとめ/Finishing the Class

Here are some questions for the HRT to ask the students at the end of an English class:
  • What did we talk about today?
  • Were there some words you already knew?
  • Did you learn any new words?
  • What was fun or interesting?
  • What was difficult?
  • How can we make that easier next time?

Greetings for Ending a Class

Here is a list of (closing) greetings taken from the Sho-Gakko Gaikoku-go Katusdo Kenshu Guidebook by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

今日はこれで終わります. That’s all for today.
今日の授業は楽しかったですか. Did you enjoy today’s class?
また次回会いましょう。 See you next time.
気を付けて。 Take care.
さよなら。 Good-bye./See you.
また(月曜日に/来週)会いましょう。See you (on Monday/next week).
良い週末を。 Have a nice weekend.

Greetings for Opening a Class

Here is a list of (opening) greetings taken from the Sho-Gakko Gaikoku-go Katusdo Kenshu Guidebook by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

おはようごさじます Good Morning.
こんにちわ。 Hello/ Good afternoon.
みなさん、こんにちわ。 Hello, everyone.
英語の時間です。 It’s time for English class.
みんないますか。 Is everybody here?
今日はだれがお休みですか。 Who’s absent today?
今日は何曜日ですか。 What day is it today?
金曜日です。 It’s Friday.
今日は何月何日ですか。 What’s the date today?
4月25日です。 It’s April twenty-fifth.
今日の天気はどうですか。 How’s the weather today?
晴れています。 It’s sunny.