21st May 2019
Lesson Notes for Saturday 25th May. I’m going to be buzzin’ for this lesson, on cloud nine, ripped and raring to go. Also, a big shout out to my teaching colleague Ms Han, who incidentally is as cute as a button, for being so friendly, so positive, so darn wonderful.
As you can see, the above paragraph was full of vernacular, similes, modern slang and idioms (and ended with some poetic repetition). It’s not the kind of language one would encounter in a school book, but it’s exactly the kind of talk that takes place every day on the streets of London, of New York, Melbourne, Singapore … all over the world where people try to emulate the language of English-language TV, film, music and the internet.
Taking my cue from David Crystal and his magnificent book ‘The Stories of English’, I use the classroom to teach Englishes; that is, both standard and ‘natural’. What qualifies as natural would fill not just a blog page, but an entire book, probably without a satisfactory resolution, but let’s take it to mean what would be heard in my home town, London.
A great boost for students is to learn expressions as opposed to just single words. This helps them develop a natural flow, and introduces them to the treasures of language available. So how to develop these ideas into practical activities … piece of cake !
This class have an average age of 11, so they have quite a good command of English without the teenage moodiness (that will come, have no fear). Our theme over the last weeks is ‘creativity’, and my aims are to greatly expand their vocabulary and the opportunities of speaking English to each other.
Therefore, I always board new words or phrases, then allow time for the students to write them down. As previously stated, this is not a common practice in Vietnam, so I have to encourage the students to find paper, take out note books, writing implements, sharpen pencils, in short, everything to do with writing except actually writing.
My board can look like this:
The students have to write down these words and then learn the meaning and be prepared to USE THEM. Both the TA (again, a first-rate chap, top notch) and I will then say these words endlessly, to help them sink in, and encourage the students to use them whenever possible. Therefore … our first warm up game is …
Here, I will just reinforce the new words: / useless / bland / genius and our friend Dali.
I will then hand out boards and, in small groups, the students must write four positive adjectives (e.g. handsome, pretty, clever, etc) and four negative adjectives for a bad student (e.g. talkative, noisy, sleepy etc).
Last week they learnt some new words. For a more kinetic exercise, I shall describe a type of art (painting, sculpture, mosaic, photograph) and two students have to run to the board and write the word. This is fun if I assign a certain colour marker to a team, then hide the markers around the room, pretend to throw them out of the room etc.
Last week, the students were split into small groups and had to produce a short, illustrated story. They can continue this, and it will give us a chance to enforce appropriate classroom behaviour, namely, listening politely when other students are presenting work. This is also not a popular activity in Vietnam, from children to adults: if THEY are not involved, they have no interest. It’s not just the teacher that gets ignored.
Our centre is having a major spelling contest, and this will occupy the quarter hour before break. After said break (when something is guaranteed to be broken), we do book work which, this week, is rather minimal; it’s basically a list of jobs and asking what people want to be when they grow up. Some of the jobs are in the arts such as actor or musician, so … to engage the students and get them producing English and having fun, we can make a US-style talk show:
This is a compilation of clips from David Letterman, who speaks in a very quick, New York manner. We can start around 2:41 and play about 30 seconds. Drinking the perfume should amuse my students.
In groups, one person can pretend to be famous, either in arts, science or sports. The rest of the group have to interview him, each member asking a question such as:
When did you start (acting, playing sport, learning an instrument etc)
How long did you practice or How many hours a day do you rehearse ?
How old were you when you won your first award or medal ?
Tell us about yourself – where were you born ?
Do you have any brothers or sisters ?
What do you want in the future ?
Who do you like or who inspires you ? Why do you say that ?
Next, we need to create a studio set. We’ll do a ‘word bomb‘ or ‘mind map’ game. Who works on a TV show ?
We have a host and of course, we need a guest.
But we need someone to work the camera (cameraperson), the sound (sound engineer) and a director to shout ‘Action !’ We’re in HCM City, so we need a great backdrop for our show:
Tonight, live from Ho Chi Minh City, it’s The Late Show ….
This will hopefully make my students energetic and not sleepy. We shall see.