Lesson Focus- speaking/conversational ability
EigoNoto.com Additions: word families; I don’t know.; What’s this OO?
Conversation Skills: Production & comprehension of meaning using gestures, natural & man-made sounds, drawing and oral description/paraphrasing (describing something without using the unknown/secret word); Word Families.
Additional/Alternate Activities: Interview Bingo, Pictionary (a variation), Dictionary, GTP (Get The Picture) and Black Box pair adaptation.
Lesson 7 targets a very important question for beginning language learners: “What’s this?”. This very simple question empowers one to learn new words naturally using conversation (ie., not by studying).
It is an obvious fact that the words a new learner doesn’t know far outnumber the words the learner knows; the importance of this question cannot be emphasized enough. But like too much of English education, this question -really just a language tool- is taught without something very important. Students also need to be empowered to use it with skills and strategies. In addition to the ability to ask ‘What’s this?’, the ability to produce AND comprehend answers using a variety of strategies is also very important to language learners at all levels.
Considering these points, I think there are several ways the contents of Eigo Noto Lesson 7 can be improved. In terms of developing students’ speaking ability, too many of the activities are full-group activities. Many or most students soon fail to say or repeat ‘What’s this?’ during these kind of whole-class activities. To insure students practice saying ‘What’s this?’ as much as possible, I have included a pair conversation activity in each of the EigoNoto.com lessons.
In terms of comprehensive ability, the Eigo Noto lesson activities include visual clues (pointing to parts of pictures, looking at silhouettes) and touching/tactile clues (feeling objects hidden inside a box). As humans, we have 5 senses; these activities don’t include clues via hearing, taste or smell. A hearing-based activity is included in the EigoNoto.com lessons. If a teacher would bring, or ask students to bring, objects that have characteristic tastes or smells, these could easily be included in the activities as well (blindfold a student, then place something under his nose, or in her mouth. Or for a bigger challenge, try pinching someone’s nose and then placing something in their mouth.).
Why is it important to focus on learning via the 5 senses? There are many reasons discussed in pedagogical theory; however, 2 suffice to convince me. As humans most of us have 5 ways of perceiving the world- sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. It is common, however, that each of us is stronger in some of the senses than the others (which is/are yours?). So I think is it very important for students to be able to practice perceiving the world around them in as many ways as possible; not only in the ways they may already be strong at, but also to exercise their weaker perceptive abilities in order to strengthen them. (As a direct corollary, you can also think about this in the way that you do demonstrations in the classroom. Does your style of demonstration allow as many students as possible to be able to understand you? Do your demonstrations target only one or two methods of comprehension?)
The same simple reasoning can be applied when considering expressive abilities as well. And in practical terms of conversation, pointing with your finger, or drawing a picture to describe something while talking on the telephone just doesn’t work. So empowering students to use as many tools as possible to become competent communicators no matter what the situation becomes a very real, practical goal.
To this end the lessons have also included gestures, sounds, drawing pictures and paraphrasing skills (done in Japanese at this level, but directly transferable to any language) in Lesson 7. From Lesson 6, lessons began introducing the concept of Word Families (red, blue, green = COLOR), and continue to practice this in Lesson 7.
With a little imagination it should be very easy in these lessons to engage even the most disinterested student. The Pictionary, Dictionary, and other games are perennial favorites in my classes. If you haven’t tried them before, you’re in for some great language learning fun!
The content as I’ve described it for Lesson 7 is really, for me, the essence of communication. As such, this proves to me again that the Eigo Noto lessons can be a great shell within which to develop lessons and lesson plans that allow us to teach not only language but also language- and communication- skills, the keys to Life Long Learning.
I try to remember what 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.’
Start the New School Year HERE!
Check out these posts for LOTS of classroom ideas to get your EigoNoto classes off to a great start (and finish)!
The Eigo Noto Class
- The Goal of Eigo Noto Lessons- Simply
- What Do We Teach?
- Pro Says Eigo Noto Can Be Used Flexibly
- Focus On What Students Already Know
- Where Do We Go From Here? Notes on Culture
Teaching Conversation and Communication
- Should We Call It COMMUNICATION CLASS?
- The Students Don't Have to Speak English, But...
- Teaching Conversation Skills in Your Classes (Why)
- Teaching Conversation Skills (How)
- Communicating With Sentence Patterns
- Team Teaching Made Easy
- How to Team Teach Video
- Things Your ALT Should Know
- Things HRTs & ALTs Can Do (English list) (日本語のビデオ, part 1)
In the Classroom
EigoNoto Videos on YouTube!
Lesson Focus- speaking/conversational ability