Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fun with English: Self-introduction and A Little Happiness

This tenth teaching demonstration of mine was performed at Mingjian Junior High School on May 21. By the request of the event planner, the main idea was to create opportunities for students to USE English and to showcase how activities can be set up also using the language as well. In other words, it was more like an English camp, which I was given total freedom to decide on what to teach and enjoyed watching students busy applying what they've learned from textbooks. Teaching procedures are stated as bold and highlighted:

The first class was aimed at boosting confidence to do self-introduction in English. Students learned how to ask questions that help get to know a person and immediately applied the skill in getting to know who Richard and two of their two randomly picked peers were. To make the flow more dynamic and exciting, the activity, Snowball Fight, required students to write down six facts about themselves on the back of the recycled paper and crumbled it into a "ball" to throw at each other. When I called time, those who didn't have a ball would have to introduce one of the students in English. Following that, they were told to come up with two more questions in the survey so that they went to interview people in English outside of their groups. With the completed survey, I would call on some of the students to speak more by sharing who they interviewed and what the questions and answers were.

The second class was to use the English version of A Little Happiness cover by my students to conduct intriguing activities to not only motivate their interest of learning but Do something meaningful with the lyrics. I started off by playing the song followed by activities like unscrambling the lyrics and filling in the blanks, which create an opportunity for the students to familiarize themselves with the lyrics. Then, with a discussion activity centering on questions like "What does a little happiness mean to you?", I hoped to elicit answers like " A little happiness is less homework or doing a good job in the basketball game. Next, with a deck of cards containing twenty-one phrases, their job was to find those that rhyme with each other, such as "sweetest candy", "bitter tragedy", "greatest memory", "truly happy" and so on. Following that, with the lyrics squeezed together like "Yourgentlenessandtenderwordshavebecomemymosthurtingmemory", they had to know where to put a slash between words and read the sentences out loud. To wrap up, the whole class sang the English song together, along with my sharing of how USING the language in a more meaning context helps with English learning.

How did those activities work? Well, some of them worked out just fine, but some of them didn't. Those students were shy and probably not very used to speaking English in class, and I didn't provide enough opportunities for them to practice or sufficient scaffolding to help them try speaking the language. Overall speaking, I wasn't quite satisfied with myself. During the class discussion with the teachers there, I emphasized the fact that students' lukewarm response to some of the speaking activities was absolutely not a direct result of their English levels but their shyness and my insufficient scaffolding. If I had another chance to make it right, I would need to do something else.

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