quinta-feira, 31 de março de 2011

The chairs disappeared!!??

Last week I had to present new vocabulary to two of my students - one of them is 7 and the other one is 9. The vocabulary consisted in simple words, such as: chairs, doors, beds, lamps, tables and windows. I had printed some images from Google previously so that I could work with some "handmade flashcards". I placed all the pictures on the desk and taught the words one by one. After doing it I asked them to close their eyes because I'd take one of those pictures out so they'd have to guess which picture was not on the desk anymore by saying the corresponding word. So, for example, I'd take the picture of the tables out and they would have to say "tables!" and so on. As kids love participating actively in games and most of the times they love being the "game leader", after showing how the activity was it was my turn to close my eyes and they were the ones who were going to take pictures out. Getting students really involved in a class activity and even in its preparation, like simply helping the teacher organize some flashcards, makes them feel part of the whole environment where they simply learn without even noticing it. Simple and great activity! See you, colleague!

quarta-feira, 16 de março de 2011

Teaching "What's this/that?" in a very different way!

These days I found a great idea in one of the books I use for teaching kids at my mini school. I'd never thought of that before but I got to the conclusion it could be a wonderful way to get my students involved with the content I had to teach. The subject was "What's this/that?" and its corresponding questions and answers such as "Is it a book?", "Yes, it is" or "No, it isn't". Guess what! All we need to use is play dough! Yes! Play dough in the classroom! So I bought it and this afternoon I had the chance to try the activity shown by the book. It was great! Kids love playing with different kinds of material in class so I asked them to create something using play dough about the vocabulary we've just learned. For example: school material, just like: pen, pencil, pencil case, etc. So students had to keep asking each other in order to guess what they were creating. Student A asked Student B: "Is it a crayon?" and the other one would say: "Yes, it is" or "No, it isn't" and so on. Notice that we can work on not only on the structure of questions and answers but also vocabulary. Reeeeally nice! See you, colleague!

quinta-feira, 10 de março de 2011

Where's my chinelo?

That's what my friend's son, who lives in the US, said during his vacation here in Brazil.This fact reminded me of a polemic subject we all have heard at least once: Should we, English teachers, use Portuguese in class? If so, what are the occasions we can do it? I found on the Net a nice article about it: "Using Portuguese in the teaching of English" from Ana Frankenberg (http://anafrankenberg.synthasite.com/resources/FG2000UsingPortugueseInTheTeachingOfEnglish.pdf).The writer says that some time ago English should never be used in class and after a while the usage of a first language became acceptable in classrooms. Nowadays, the idea is that we should not use our first language in class but in proper situations it's okay to do so. According to Ana "it is acceptable to use the first language to translate abstract words which are difficult to mime or draw, to check whether students have understood something which has been previously explained in English, and to give instructions and explain things to beginners who otherwise wouldn't understand." I agree with her. I really think that using English in class is much more effective and advisable. Students get even more motivated when they feel they can understand the language they're studying, and it's obvious that their listening improve a lot because they start getting used to English in first place. But we cannot deny that there are certain situations in which we just can't use English at all, and the article above mentions them brightly. So, in my opinion, using English in class is always the best idea, but we got to keep in mind that using our native language is sometimes necessary in order to transmit the content we're supposed to and help our students reach their main goal - learning English. I wish you a great class, colleague!