I had my first elementary school classes since winter break today. The 6th grade class went well, but the 5th grade class went amazingly. Today we started a new chapter. It has 26 vocabulary words, so I made today a lazy play-with-words day.
I make a lot of stuff for my classes. Some of it is great, some of it sucks, some can be reused, and others are just one-time things. The ones that can be reused aren’t always things I feel others would want. I have come up with a few things, though, I’d like to share in case my fellow ALTs — JET or otherwise — can make use of them.
I was going to upload three things today, but LibreOffice hates me, so there are only two.
At the beginning of every one of my classes (at all levels of education from preschool to high school), I ask each student, “How are you?” This would take too much time if I had more students. As things stand it’s a good, regular way to start the class. All the students knowing it also gives me a way to use English with them every time I see them around town. Unless a kid is obstinate and doesn’t want to respond — which happens sometimes — I’m guaranteed to be able to toss some English back and forth with every kid in town.
Rather than just teach them the stock “I’m fine. (And you?)”, I teach them to respond with things like, “I’m happy,” or “I’m hot.” I got this idea from the 5th grade textbooks. It seemed like a good idea, because rather than just teaching them that sentence A in English is the same as sentence B in Japanese, the interaction between question and answer must be explained. In Japanese, if you ask the equivalent of “How are you?”, what you’re really asking is “Are you healthy/energetic?”, to which the other person answers in the affirmative or the negative. Skipping the stock response and pointing out that you can really answer in any number of ways sets the students up to realize that learning a foreign language is more than just substituting the words in one language for the words in another language.
Several weeks ago, Googly Ears made me really proud by connecting a couple of random dots on her own. One day, during recess, I asked her how she was doing.