Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teachin' to the Choir

I would consider Tuesday to be the first of my "real" lessons. Despite lack of adequate preparation time, I was able to cobble together a few lesson plans using hastily located and executed ideas found on... the internet, of all places! Who would have thought!

The first thing I learned was that drilling the vocabulary in context is essential. Even a phrase containing as few as five words can be a major obstacle for students just starting to learn English. For example, yesterday my first lesson was "Please bring me that ____." The children understood the purpose, but failed in the execution. "Please me that" or "bring please" were more common responses than the target structure. In retrospect, I view it as a failure to drill the grammar and vocabulary in equal amounts. I focused too much on one side of the equation.

My second lesson was more successful, partially due to the simplicity of the lesson itself. "He plays sports" is an easy concept that contains only three words and speaks of a subject beloved by elementary school children. They already know baseball, basketball, and tennis. They love to play sports. Their energy is boundless. The concepts of "she" and "he" can be easily taught using students as examples.

Games are the solution. A proper balance of drilling vocabulary and playing games to consolidate that vocabulary. I like to think of it as "tricking children." Sounds rotten, but making them think they're having fun when they're actually learning makes me giddy.

My third lesson, a lesson completely out of the blue which left me utterly unprepared, also went well. Forced to adjust my teaching style due to small class size, this lesson was an exercise in winning the trust of the class. A small group, they were reticent to accept a newcomer (and a foreigner at that). After familiarizing myself with their names and playing some games, I'd like to think I won them over.

It was fun, all-in-all, but next time I'll definitely need to be more prepared.

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