Sunday, November 5, 2017

British Council TaiwanTask-Based Learning Certificate: Lesson Planning and Microteaching

"This is actually the third TBL workshops I've attended. Ever since the first one, I started putting what I learned into practice and did many teaching demonstrations within and outside of my school. On top of that, I'm an English teacher who loves to create an authentic environment for my students to really use the language. I've conducted several Skype exchange projects with my partners outside of Taiwan. As shown this morning, we began making English videos to introduce the beauty of Taichung with this lesson plan and its tasks. It works like magic."       
Final reflection at the workshop by Guo-jhen

Working in groups of two to three, we worked collaboratively on a lesson plan and actually did micro teaching for thirty minutes, including the Pre Task, Main Task, and an introduction to the Post Task. By doing so, we got to examine each others' lesson planning carefully, appreciate the strengths of well-scaffolded tasks, and also reflect on the areas that require improvement.

We used a specific format of giving feedback, with each participant assigned to four different roles in terms of Interaction, Presentation Skills, Language, and Pronunciation. After fully discussing with each other, we were required to provide the Praise Sandwich as well, with sincere and positive praise for the start and finish parts and constructive criticism in the middle. 

This lesson plan and its tasks have already been implanted in the International Cultural Exchange Club to help my students complete a paragraph to describe any famous tourist spot in Taichung of their own choices. On top of that, we began making English speaking videos to introduce the beauty of our hometown this week, which proved that the scaffolding was effective. However, their English level is obviously higher above the average, so I can totally understand how other teachers might have second thoughts about the big gap between the main and post tasks.  

After participating and observing all the teaching demonstrations, I have developed a lot more understanding of this amazing teaching approach, especially the importance of modeling, clear instructions, and concept checking. Last but not least, I'll keep on learning by doing with TBL to enhance my teaching effectiveness.

A School Visit to Taipei European School
When it comes to teaching demonstrations, most Taiwanese teachers, including myself, would prepare for it in a way like some sort of performance assessment, which would put you under a lot of stress because you don't want to lose face in front of everybody in the classroom. However, teachers at TES seemed to care less about strangers watching in the back and just did not bother to make it look like a show whatsoever. I was assigned to a class which there was actually very little for me to observe because students were just doing their own stuff.

The Taiwanese style focuses on bringing the best of the presenter's know-how with regard to English teaching. There are usually a lesson plan, worksheets, and other teaching resources included in a well-organized literature for everybody to take home. Students would go through a series of tasks, which showcases the teacher's great knowledge and skills. However, it is usually not the case in the real world because you have to make sure everything is covered before the midterms, and the best way to ensure that is to lecture and overwhelm your students with lots of tests and homework.

The Western style, if I may say so, is a lot more spontaneous and authentic. I've been to a few school visits outside of Taiwan in Australia and the United States. I guess the idea is for the visitors to just take a look and experience what the teachers would NORMALLY do. They probably won't take time to work on something unique for you. Then, if you are assigned to a class where the teacher just allows his or her students to look for information online or work on their group presentations, it is very likely that you just want to leave for another class because there's nothing to see or learn.  

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