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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Learning English at 1 hour a week...

Here in Florence, working with a teacher that floats around to different classes and schools throughout the week, teaching English, I feel I have seen a very different side of teaching. It is a tough position to be in, because my CT cares very much about the children learning and speaking English, yet she only sees the students for a very small time, in the younger classes an hour a week, the upper elementary grades it increases to 2 or 3. 

There are a couple things I have come to notice. At the beginning, I thought that the students were a bit more rowdy because it was as if they had a substitute in the room. There were differences from their established classroom teacher and therefore could "get away with" more. While I still believe this is partly true, I also think there could be some different methods my CT could use to combat this. A large part of this I think is in the structure of the English language course. My teacher and the students follow this English learning workbook from the first graders to the fifth grade. These books are complete with words, songs (on corresponding CD's), activities, etc. I think often in the routine of this book, a lot of children's interest is lost. While I know my CT has very good intentions, I have begun to think maybe she does not know other ways to engage the students than to follow the book...but the book is not a teacher. It also may be a cultural difference that makes it hard for me to understand the teaching style. For instance, in my past pre-pracs and in courses at BC, I feel there is emphasis on using what the curriculum books give you and then supplement/make it your own in order to maximize student's engagement and which hopefully maximizes their learning. Where as here, at least with my CT, there seems to be a lack of that. 

I have been trying to think critically about this and in lessons add in exercises or activities that will capture students' attention and get them all to speak or write in English. I hope I can take what I have been learning about teaching a second language, and learn more for the future as I am realizing what an incredibly difficult task this is! 

1 comment:

  1. Katie, I think you make a lot of good points and I agree with you ideas about curriculum books and teaching. The books are great for ideas and a basis for lessons but good lesson are tailored to the students and that class. Having to always be adapting and changing lessons keeps teaching interesting anyways! Who wants to teach the same lessons over and over? Also, being a teacher requires knowledge and skills - using solely the curriculum book degrades yourself as a teacher. Each teacher has some knowledge that no book can tell you.


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