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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 5th, 2007, 09:13 am
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Default How to teach without wild games or activites?

While looking for ideas for a class on this and other sites, it's become evident that I'm in a fairly unique situation i think.

My students (French, aged 8 and 9) do not need any encouragement to talk and teachers struggle to keep them contained, so any games/activities where they sit in circles or run around the classroom to 'find an object' or even team games are all out.

Before I taught teenagers or adults who were often too cool to express themselves or perhaps self-conscious about making mistakes. So they needed warming up! These children are neither. They are lovely kids - open, enthusiastic - and things that work with them are songs, recitations or written/colouring work. But as soon as I introduce an 'activity' the teacher groans and demands 'quiet'. I'm aware that there are other classes next door. Bingo works well if it can be contained. But other games are too loud. Written work is fine but I don't want to do too much.

Anyone else in this situation?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 5th, 2007, 07:14 pm
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

teaching using pictorial worksheets for the students to fill-out could work wonders.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 6th, 2007, 12:42 am
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

Quote:
Quote Pernickety View Post

Anyone else in this situation?
Sounds like you got it all figured out. You really lucked out. How's your French? Are you working on the gov't assistant english teacher program?

I'd love to switch places.
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Unread Dec 6th, 2007, 07:09 am
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

englipatrick,
yes all worksheets are good, but i do worry about doing too much 'written' work and not so much oral. Most of the materials to encourage oral work seem to be in the form of games, and that's my problem.

dearscotty,
yes i'm working for the national education but only 3 hours per week. I was lucky in that I had already moved here and my local school needed a teacher. i do speak french and use it far too much in class but the pupils are complete beginners so i think it's necessary (or easier in any case!)

you are in fukuoka, have you been there long? I taught in kyoto for a year but i thought it was tough getting the kids motivated, or brave enough to speak!

the french do have a system where they employ foreign assistants in lycees/colleges and possibly primaires? i did this back in 1992 and had a good year but i'm not sure where you would get info on it as i applied at the time through my uni. maybe someone here will have info on that. it's not as well organised as the jet programme - they don't pay your travel bill and not all schools help with accommodation.

thanks for the replies all, love this forum!
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 6th, 2007, 06:58 pm
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

If the kids are really that "genki" then you have the chance to employ all the activities we can only dream about doing in Japan. You might also be able to use online resources that aren't specific to esl, but primarily aimed and young learners. I wouldn't be surprised if you can find help on adult esl sites.

You should try role plays, turning the class into a restaurant, movie theater, theme park, etc. The kids could also try performing skits, puppet shows, plays.

I'm on my 2nd year of JET in Fukuoka inaka. It's a nice area, but the job really sucks. I usually spend most of my day on the computer. I'd like to go back to Europe someday. sigh...
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Unread Dec 6th, 2007, 11:20 pm
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

So you have two goals, right?

1. Keep the kids in their seats.
2. You want to focus on speaking and listening, rather than reading and writing.

How about having the kids work in groups, is that okay? Within those groups, they can play all kinds of speaking games. There are board games; THIS game is old but still pretty popular at elementary school. There are worksheets that only have pictures on them, maybe in a calander format, where you choose a date and the students say the picture or form a grammar-specific sentence using that picture.

There's all kinds of cool speaking things you can do that keep the students in their desks.
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Unread Dec 7th, 2007, 09:44 am
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

I teach in France also. I think it is ideal if the kids don’t know that I speak French. That way they are never tempted to speak to me in French. Why would they if they think I can’t understand them. I warn the teachers and parents at the beginning of the school year that I will speak to them only in English if any of my students are within hearing distance.

Since I have the English only rule, in order to help convey meaning, my lessons are bimodal (voice-aural/gestural-visual). In other words, I use sign language (SEE* not ASL) simultaneously with spoken English. The iconic nature of signs conceptualizes the word’s meaning. However, I initially began signing to slow myself down when I spoke. One can speak nearly twice as fast as one can sign so if as in my case you sign complete English you will slow down significantly and it also allows the kids to see, hear, and feel the words. But the real bonus of signing is that it gets and keeps their attention focused and the fact that their hands have something to do seems to calm them down. For more about using sign language with hearing children, I recommend the following book:

Amazon.com: Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children's Literacy: Books: Marilyn Daniels


*SEE (Signing Exact English) is an English-based sign system. It adopted much of the vocabulary of ASL but added grammatical features of English such as articles, verb endings, etc. and signs by English word rather than by concept.

I sign a word a fraction of a second before I say the word. I encourage the kids to say the words with me, i.e. they read the signs out loud. Eventually I stop speaking and just sign and the kids do all the speaking.
I sign everything I do. For example: “Today I want everyone to listen to a song. So, I take the CD. I open the CD player. I close the CD player, etc.”
But mainly, we create stories together TPRStorytelling style. Or, we talk about what we did over the weekend, how Camille broke her foot (dancing with an elephant, of course!) or how to get rid of the mouse that has moved into my kitchen for the winter.
I also read (sign) a lot of books.

This approach develops a basic level of fluency by introducing essential, high frequency vocabulary in context (stories and meaningful conversations) and recycles it throughout the year so the students hear this vocabulary used correctly many, many times in many different contexts.

There is a popular method in Canada, called AIM, which I’m currently piloting here in France with great success. It is similar to TPRS but is based on plays and music. It uses gestures extensively. There was a report about AIM on a Canadian TV show (francophone) similar to 60 minutes. You can watch it here. Enjeux

If anyone is still reading, I hope you find something useful.
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Unread Dec 7th, 2007, 10:24 am
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

I love the snakes and ladders idea, could be adapted to include any vocab/structures. I will try that with smaller group. With the larger group, when divided into teams, I can only be with one or two teams, the others will be going wild!

I'm beginning to think a class activity like a restaurant scene or a play would be a good idea. Any links for VERY simple plays?

I would love to be able to put together a play for the end of the year and present it just to the class, but tape it and put it on a dvd for the kids with the words of the play/songs, must enquire of the school if it would be possible.
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Unread Jan 9th, 2008, 10:05 am
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

I use a lot of picture worksheets and have the young students right smiley faces (the partner likes it) or frowning faces (the partner doesn't like it), write names of partners who like/have the object, inscribe the object in a circle and write the name of partners who like it/have it inside the circle, etc.

There are various ways to allow the students to talk to each other and move around while at the same time controlling them. It make take a bit until they get used to your specific style, but it works well. With my second graders, I have the students stand and find a partner. When I say "go" they janken (rock, paper, scissors) with their partner. The person who wins asks first. They record their partners' answers. I start counting backwards from 10 and the students know to find a new parter. At the end of the countdown, I say "janken" and they start over.

You can use music and turning the lights off and on to signal that it is time to change partners also.

With first graders, I arrange the desks in pairs. Instead of choosing their own partner (which inevitably leads to more commotion), they talk to the person next to them. When it is time to change partners, one person moves to the next desk in the row.

You can arrange chairs/desks so that there are two rows facing each other. Then play a sort of musical chairs game, except no one gets "out." The students do the communication activity with the person who ends up sitting in front of them.

If the students getting up and moving around is a problem in and of itself, you can arrange the desks in groups of four. If they students sit in groups of four, they can do partner-conversation activities with 3 other people without ever leaving their seats.
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Unread Jan 23rd, 2008, 03:48 pm
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

I'm not a teacher in your area, but have you thought of talking to the other teacher to try and work something out. Maybe your not at fault. As far as advice goes, and again I don't know the customs where you are, I would say take the students outside. If a field trip is out of the question, why not just take them somewhere on the school grounds?
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Unread Jan 26th, 2008, 02:06 pm
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Default Re: How to teach without wild games or activites?

Just an update on this situation.

The teacher demands absolute silence while I'm teaching and kids must put up their hands when they want to speak.

At first I thought I'd never get them to enjoy English, but actually they're used to this discipline, and they don't need warming up. So it's working very well.

We do play a few games but never ones that involve more than one or two standing at the same time.

So, it is possible to teach children without resorting to games ALL the time!
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