Learning English is Hard Work

There are a lot of hours that go into preparation to teach, there isn’t much question about that.  Creating the lesson plan is just the first part of the process.  Once the plan is in place, one has to run it through the mind in order to see how it fits, not only with what one has already done, but also with one’s teaching style and the group of students one will use the plan with in class.  Needless to say, we might use the same lesson plan four times in one week, but the lesson will never be quite the same each time.

Before the lesson gets taught, the head is wandering all over the place imagining scenarios of what might happen and how one would respond.  It seems as though the lesson is just an excuse for inner brain-storming so that the lesson begins to take on life.  Since Maureen and I work together in planning, the brain-storming also takes place outside of the head with all kinds of “what if’s” and “I wonder if this will work?” thrown in for good measure.

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is.  But, that is what is needed if we are to enjoy teaching and provide our students with an opportunity to actually learn.  Unfortunately, most Foreign Teachers don’t make this investment and as a result they don’t get to enjoy the teaching experience – and their students suffer with another “dancing monkey.”

Here is a group of my students involved in acting out a scenario from life in the dorms.  The idea is to represent a problem in dorm living and to find a solution to the problem.  Of course, the students have fun with the acting but struggle to find the words in English to “fit” the scenario.  Maureen and I use this activity as a way to create rules for the English classroom so that we don’t find ourselves on both sides, battling problems all semester long.

Needless to say, after 45 minutes of intense acting, listening and speaking, the ten minute break is a welcome time to recuperate and dig in deep for more energy.

The teaching week is now done for Maureen and I as we negotiated for Friday’s off so that we could have three-day week-ends in case we wanted to spend time travelling in the relatively closer areas.  Our next teaching week will even be shorter as it’s going to be the Mid-Autumn festival beginning on Wednesday.  Of course, you will get to hear more about this in a few days.  For now, it’s time to enjoy the week-end.

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2 responses to “Learning English is Hard Work

  1. Using real life scenario ,which is very often used in your two classes, to get students involved is a very efficient way to help students learn English.They can learn and understand English in an unconscious way.

    • Robert G. Longpré

      This is the way one learns a second language the best. Second-language learning theory tells us that one needs to build a second language on things that a student already knows so that the amount of new material is not as overwhelming. The student knows what he or she wants to say and learns to put words into that framework. Other students know what is being said, even if they don’t yet know the words because of “context.” This is what makes learning and teaching more fun rather than teaching memorized lists and patterns.

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