English Teacher Training (No Longer Being Updated)

This blog was designed for my English Teaching Methodologies class in Japan. The course has ended but anyone who is interested about using blogs in teacher training ot education in general is encouraged to explore this site. We used the blog to exchange opinions about the course content, provide each other feedback on our practice teaching, and talk to current teachers. To see a blog that is currently active, please go to the English Teacher Discussion Forum.

Friday, June 24, 2005

My Reflection on Last Week's Lesson

A lot of teaching consists of making spontaneous decisions in the classroom based on the students' reactions. Yesterday, I presented to you the following activity.

Please choose a response to the sentences below. Each response only has one answer:
1. Does he know? a. I’ve told him twice.
2. Why are you annoyed? b. I have told him twice.
3. Shall we go? c. That's David Bowie.
4. Why aren’t you ready yet? d. That is David Bowie.
5. Who’s that? e. I am ready.
6. Is David Bowie here? f. Yes, I'm ready.

The answers (I believe) are1. a 2. b 3. f 4.e 5. c 6. d
(Take from Lewis, M & J. Hill. (1992). Practical Techniques for Language Teaching. England: Language Teaching Publications.

I think the reason why this activity did not go well was in the spontaneous decisions that I made. The purpose of this exercise was to show you that grammar (language) learning can be fun when students are allowed to explore what the answers are for themselves. This activity did not go as smoothly as I would have liked because when it seemed that you were struggling I intervened and did not allow you to explore. Rather, I called on individuals to answer the questions.
To make the exercise fun and interesting this is what I should have done:
I should have given you more time to explore and I should have asked you to work on this in groups. I also should have asked you to say why you believed your answer to be so and to give an example of a situation where you would answer in such a way. For 1 and 2 as well as 5 and 6 I believe that the answers can change depending on what kind of situation the untterance is spoken in.

Since we did not have much time and I had a lot of activities to introduce to you, I hurried through the above activity. In retrospect, I should not have hurried through it.

One more problem, I was tired and became confused myself as to what the correct answers were for 5 and 6. After a good night's sleep, the answers to 5 and 6 made sense. However, the answers can change depending on the situation of the utterance. I realized that getting a good night's sleep is almost as important for a lesson as lesson preparation.

Two Tasks for Next Week

Task 1:

In your blog please write which of the Key Points for teaching grammar, ideas for introducing new grammar, ideas for practicing new grammar, and ideas for communicative activities were useful and why you thought so. Also, please write which ideas you did not think were useful and why you thought so.
Please have this done by Wednesday, June 29, 5:00 PM.
I will write my own reflection of last week's lesson in my next entry.

Task 2

I have started a new group blog called http://discussenglish.blogspot.com/ .

As this is a group blog, anyone who is a member can make a post. You all should have received an e-mail asking if you would like to become a member of this blog and telling you how to register. Please say yes and register!

In my first post, I have asked current English teachers to answer the following question:
What about being an English teacher do you like the most and what do you like the least?

The teachers will answer the question as a comment to the first post. I would like you to write responses to the English teachers' answers as a comment.

Please have this done by Wednesday, June 29, 5:00 PM.

Also, if you have any other questions you would like to ask the English teachers please make a new post (投稿). As a member of the group blog, you are allowed to make posts.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pitching to Daddy

Masato Pitching to Daddy
Originally uploaded by gandai.
I played some baseball over the weekend with my son.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

How to write Reflections for DHC2 and Team A's lessons

Today, we had two very good lessons from DHC2 and Team A.

For DHC2 and Team A,

Please make 2 entries in your blog. One entry should be a reflection on your lesson. The other entry should be about the other group's lesson you observed. Like before, please write about what you particularly liked about the other group's lessons and also suggestions for an even better lesson next time.

For Everyone Else,

Please make 2 entries. One entry should be for your comments on DHC2's lesson and the other should be your comments on Team A's lessons. Like before, I would like you to write about what you particularly liked about the other groups' lessons and also give suggestions for an even better lesson next time.

The blogs for members of Team A are:
http://nyanji.blogspot.com/, http://ayu-ayu015.blogspot.com/ , http://centerof-ricefield.blogspot.com/ and http://tommy-tomitomi.blogspot.com/

The Blogs for Members of DHC2 are:
http://guwashi.blogspot.com/ , http://blogtogether.blogspot.com , http://sachishihakata.blogspot.com , http://popppo.blogspot.com/ , http://mrthousandvolt.blogspot.com/

I have written my comments of the two lessons below:

Team A's lesson


I think that your lesson was solid from start to finish. Below I will go into more detail:

Good Points ★
  • I really liked the sequencing: You started with a warm-up, you reviewed what Mr. Abdoreim studied last time, you introduced the new material in an inductive way, you practiced the new material, and lastly you had a writing activity to consolidate everything that you had studied for the day. I think your lesson had a good mix of writing, listening and speaking.
  • During your introduction of the new material your English was clear and very easy to understand and the visuals you used throughout your lesson were great!
  • You also seemed to have a lot of energy and your enthusiam made us enthusiastic!
  • Lastly, Mr. Abdoreim understood the difference between "This" and "That" and was able to use both words in a sentence.
Sugestions for an even Better Lesson ★
  • In the junior high school textbook they introduce a functional use for "This is" and "That is". In the textbook, students use "This is" and "That is" when they show Ms. Green their school. For example "This is our library" and "This is our classroom" etc. In the textbooks, "This is" is also used to introduce other people. For example "This is Ms. Green." "Oh, hello, Ms. Green. Nice to meet you." With Mr. Abdoreim, you mostly used sentences like "This is an eraser"., "This is a dog" etc. I think next time you should consider teaching some functional uses of "This is" like giving a tour of your school or introducing someone else.
  • When you called on a row of students to practice this is and that is, you had students say "That is ..." for any object on the back wall of the classroom and students say "This is" for any object on the front wall irrespective of their actual distance to the wall. This made the difference between "this is" and "that is" a little confusing. Here is an idea you can use next time. Hold a ball and say "This is a ball". Throw the ball to a student and point to the ball and say "That is a ball." Have the student say "This is a ball" and throw the ball to another student saying aftwards "That is a ball". This is one possible way to practice the pronunciation of "This" and "That" while learning the difference.
  • I think you had a lot of good practice but it would have been nice to have more real communication activies. One possible communication activity is to have the students describe the contents of the knapsacks "This is my pen" "This is my Michael Jackson picture" etc. Another possible activity is to have students introduce their friends to other students.
  • Lastly, Mr. Abdoreim thought that This is ~ meant "kore ha" rather that "kore ha ~ desu." Perhaps a brief grammatical explanation after your introduction of the new material might have helped him realize the meaning.

Well, I enjoyed your lesson very much and I think we all learned a lot from it!

DHC2 "Do you have a pen"

DHC2 in Action

The second you lesson began, I thought that it was going to be very entertaining and I was right!

★ Good Points
  • Your dialogue was fantastic! It was funny and it was easy to understand the Meaning of "Do you~" "Yes I do" "No I don't".
  • The volume of your voice was very good!
  • Although this lesson was for Ms. Yoshida and not Mr. Abdoreim, Mr. Abdoreim also seemed to understand very well!
  • Pronunciation practice was well coordinated.
  • Your visuals were fantastic. Please save them and use them again!
  • Your practice activity and game were fun and made good practice of the target structure.

★ Suggestions for an Even Better Lesson

  • During pronuciation practice, everyone was repeating after Keita. After a while, the repetition became a little redundant. I think that next time the teacher, after practicing a few times the teacher can point to the picture and have only the students say the word.
  • During pronunication practice, it might have been nice to call on individual students to say a word rather than having the practive be choral the whole time.
  • "Do you like a cake?" should be "Do you like cake". No article is necessary. I will explain why in class.
  • During the Karuta game you told people to make groups but you did not say how many people in a group (or did you?).
  • Although the Karuta game was fun, you might want to try the following idea next time: The student who picks up a card first (for example, let's say the card is tennis) is asked "Do you play tennis" by the group. The student then answers "Yes I do." or "No I don't". You can also call on individual winners to answer the question in front of the class.
  • The class was good practice for speaking and listening, but I think you should have also had a little writing. Classes should have a mixture of speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
  • There was a lot of practice of "Do you~" but very few communicative activities. The function given for "Do you ~ " in the textbook is to interview people. Next time, you might want to design some activity where students have to interview each other and find out some authentic information.

Well, like Team A, you did a great job. I really enjoyed your lesson and keep up the good work!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Should English teachers call on shy students?

Last Saturday in your comments on the strength's and weaknesses of Reader's Theatre and a few weeks ago when you all critiqued my vocabulary teaching techniques, I noticed a common theme. Quite a few people wrote that the weak points of students acting out their class reading in front of class or a teacher using actual students to introduce new vocabulary (example: look at Naomi, she has LONG hair and Takeshi has SHORT hair) is that shy students will not like such activities. I was wondering do you think a teacher should encourage shy students to speak in front of the class or do you think that English teachers should just leave shy students alone? Why? If you think that English teachers should encouarge shy students to speak in front of the class, how can a teacher do this?

The above questions are optional. You DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THEM but I think your opinions would be very helpful for me, current English teachers, and aspiring English teachers.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Speak with other People - Dekita.org

Super Women and Men of the Phonebooth

Our blogs have been mentioned on a blog called "Dekita.org" (http://dekita.org/index.php) . Dekita.org is a place for people involved with EFL/ESL to exchange ideas about teaching, projects etc.. This could be a good chance for you to tell people about EFL in Japan, learn about how English or other foreign languages are taught in other countries, or exchange ideas with someone whom you would normally not be able to talk with. Please check it out!

Your Assignment and My Reflection on Team T's Lesson

Hello everyone.

First, Team T I would like you to write a reflection about your class on your blog. I would like everyone esle to write about what they particularly liked about Team T's lesson and some suggestions for an even better lesson. Please write in your blog by Tuesday, June 7 and please comment on someone else's blog by Wednesday June 8. The Blogs belonging to the Team T members are: Tommy's Box; Ryo's Room; To-chan; theroomoftunobue.

Please E-mail me and tell me whose blog you commented on. Thanks!

  • What I Particularly Liked about Team T's Lesson

    First, I met with Mr. Abdoreim after your lesson and he was extremely happy. He said that your lesson was very "wakariyasui" (easy to understand) and he is really looking forward to his next lesson! I thought that you all taught with a lot of enthusiasm during the lesson and your enthusiasm seems to have rubbed off on Mr. Abdoreim. Overall, I think your lesson was very successful as your student was extremely satisfied! Now, I will talk about some areas that you can think of improving on in the future.

    Some Suggestions for an Even Better Lesson

    I really thought some kind of warm-up would have been nice. When the lesson began you immediately started the dialogue which was a little sudden. Although Mr. Abdoreim does not speak much English, you can do a warm-up by simply introducing yourselves "Hello, (point to your self) I am (say your name)". It would be a good way to introduce "I am".
  • Remember for input to be effective it has to be meaningful and comprehensible. Sometimes, your English might have been too difficult to understand. When Toru and Tomohiro did the dialogue I thought that they spoke a little too fast. Also, when Tomoka introduced the dialogue she said "The situation is ... ". This kind of language is too difficult for a beginner to understand. Before Toru and Tomohiro speak, you can say "The time is 7AM" and write 7AM on the board. I think that some kind of introduction like this would have been a little bit more comprehensible for Mr. Abdoreim.
  • When teaching "Good Morning" and "Good Evening" it probably would have been best to write the phrases on the board.
  • You never told Mr. Abdoreim to look at his textbook. I think it would have been nice to use the pictures/dialogues in the textbook a little more.
  • In the initial dialogue you tried to teach Mr. Abdoreim the following phrases all at once: 1. Good morning 2. Are you ____ ? 3. Yes, I am. 4. Nice to meet you. 5. Are you from ___ . 6. I'm from _______. I think that this was a little too much to teach at once. I think it is best to only introduce a few phrases at a time: Here is an example of one way to do this:
  • Example of How to Introduce Only a Few Phrases at a Time:
  • Your first dialogue could have been using only "I am". For example, Dialogue 1: The Scene ~ It is 7 AM. Toru: Good morning. Tomohiro: Good morning, I am Tomohiro. Toru: I am Toru. Confirm the meaning of "Good Morning" and "I am". Practice "I am" and good morning by having class members introduce themselves. After this, do Dialogue 2: The Scene ~ It is 7PM: Taku and Tomohiro are meeting each other for the first time (introducing the scene in Japanese is ok): Dialogue: Taku: Good evening. Tomohiro: Good Evening. Taku: Are you Tomohiro? Tomohiro: Yes I am. Nice to meet you. Taku: Nice to meet you. Confirm the meaning of the dialogue. Then practice in pair work. Or do a whole class activity such as this: Student A: Good evening, are you Student B? Student B: Yes I am, nice to meet you. Good evening are you student C? Student C: Yes I am, nice to meet you. Good evening. Are you student D? Student D..... Lastly you can do Dialogue 3: Scene ~ Taku wants to know where Tomohiro is from Taku: Are you from Tokyo? Tomohiro: No I'm not. I'm from Iwate. Go over the meaning. Then have students try to guess where their classmates are from. Example: Teacher points to Student A and Student Y. Student A: Are you from Mizusawa? Student Y: No I am not. I am from Misawa. As a final exercise you can try to consolidate all the main points.
  • On your handout "collect" should be "correct"
  • Mr. Abdoreim was a little confused about the difference between "Good Morning" "Good Afternoon" and "Good Evening". One way to make this cleared is write the following on the board: Good Morning - 6 AM - 12PM; Good Afternoon - 12PM - 6PM; Good Evening - 6PM - (Times are open to interpretation.)

Again, you put in a commendable effort and I can not say enough about how happy Mr. Abdoreim was to take your lesson. Thank you for doing this lesson in front of the class. I think we all learned a lot from watching you!