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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 8th, 2008, 11:52 am
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Default English through communicative activities

Hi everyone,
I'm Yessica from Chile and I will start teaching English for the fisrt time in a few weeks. My students will be teenagers from 12 to 17 years old and there will be from 40 to 45 students per class. Their English level is really poor. They were taught English in Spanish with the grammar translation method.
My teaching philosophy focuses on communication. I believe that English must be taught in English through communicative activities in order to be acquired by the students.
However, I'm a little scared because I have lots of ideas but I dont' know whether they will fix students' interests.
I would like to receive some pieces of advices to start this challenging task.
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Unread Feb 10th, 2008, 04:10 am
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Default Re: English through communicative activities

try...fix...try again.

A PERFECT teacher doesn't exist. However, good teachers are always trying new things in the classroom if they think it will help their students learn but the new things don't always work the first time out. My small piece of advice is never bomb on a new idea that didn't work the first time in the classroom. Think about what went wrong, fix it and try it again. Some of my best activities are those that sucked the first time out.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 11th, 2008, 01:07 am
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Default Re: English through communicative activities

welcome to the site and good luck.

What do you think you'll be teaching for content?
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Unread Feb 22nd, 2008, 09:10 pm
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Default Re: English through communicative activities

You might use pictures, magazines, catalogs, and picture dictionaries if they are really low. How large is their vocabulary? That will be the key factor - along with their motivation (passing a standardized exam? getting a good grade? traveling to an English speaking country?).
I've had students create collages to expand vocabulary and share stories. You can also pass out postcards and ask them to write a message, in English, to someone. That helps you assess their language skills, provides a practical application, and should be within reach for high-beginning students. You could also have students create their own flashcards of nouns, verbs, etc. I learned this technique from my co-teacher in a high-beginning adult ESL class. I was sceptical, but her predictions of student engagement were correct. It also allowed the students to choose what 25 words they wanted to learn.
You're facing a large class so this sort of group activity offers a few advantages. Students can work together, help and quiz each other. They will learn by doing...as you circulate around the room offering help and gentle corrections. You might also want to download some of the free worksheets available on this website too.
Will you have class sets? Or will you be copies your materials? That will heavily influence the type of materials used. The school should provide picture dictionaries. Do you have a preferred textbook? If not, you might consider the Side by Side series which is so popular in American adult schools. They also have a huge amount of support material making your life easier. The downside of Side by Side is that it seems a bit juvenile at times, but you're teaching teenagers so they might enjoy the same aspects that used to bother me. Another possibility is the Interchange Series, but they target a slightly older group of students (university). There must be a solid multi-skills, communicative style textbook for EFL high school students, but I don't know its name.
Good luck! Remember the goal is progress, not perfection.
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Unread Feb 23rd, 2008, 04:15 am
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Default Re: English through communicative activities

An approach that almost guarantees a poignant, engaging course is to:

1) spend the first class truly getting to know your particular students and their current interests and concerns, and then
2) weave these topics into the syllabus as much as possible

Also, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of saving the lessons you create and keeping a notebook where you can reflect upon them. Through this, over time you will:

A) amass your own personal library of lessons that have proven successful
B) be able to develop a lot faster as a teacher by virtue of such detailed reflection and deep contemplation
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Unread Feb 23rd, 2008, 06:37 pm
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Default Re: English through communicative activities

If they've been taught with the Grammar Translation Method, I'll bet that any activity in which they stand up and use English (interview games, bingo, board races, etc) will take them by surprise. This will generate interest, whether you've found topics of interest or not. In fact, they may at first be slightly reluctant because of the huge switch in how to learn English. Use these first few sessions to determine what activities work well, where their interests lie, etc.

Good luck, and welcome to the profession!
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