Young Learners, Level 1: I spy, with my little eye ….

24th May 2019. Lesson Sunday 26th May.

One of the best things about staying with the same company and at the same campus, is the possibility of teaching the same lesson to different students, thereby cutting out a lot of planning time. Such is the case this Sunday, when I shall re-teach a lesson I previously planned in March.

However, this is will be my last class with this group; I have a new work schedule and my manager has kindly, not to say humanely, insisted that I have at least ONE day free. She also brings me tea when I am ill (a constant threat in Vietnam where the weather switches from unbearable hot to torrential tempests … and back again. Furthermore, the corridors can be over 30 degrees, while the classrooms are cold enough to store ice cream. I tell the powers that be to turn UP the room temperature (the students also sit there shivering or wearing jackets) to 28 … I tell them every lesson … every lesson … to quote Kurt Cobain, “Oh well, whatever, never mind.”

But now, without further ado, the lesson plan. Let’s kick off with:

What can you see ? This tests the ability to form a basic “I can see a …..” sentence.

Marc Chagall
Arcimbaldo
Vietnamese folk painting.

Next up, ‘When the band comes marching in ‘, a kinetic exercise and also a way to introduce new vocabulary; here it will be musical instruments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vpvFx0-uyI

We can use this for musical statues. The class size is very large, (20 students) the space limited, but the march tone will suit the limitations.

Moving on, back to seats, and I will teach them ‘I spy’

I look around the room and see something that they have learnt in a previous lesson (such as classroom accessories or animals), and say, “I spy, with my little eye … something beginning with …. ‘c’ “

The students then have to think of all the vocabulary they know (at this stage, somewhat limited), so the words will be ‘chair’, ‘table’, ‘pen’, ‘book’, ‘bag’, ‘teacher’, ‘student,’ and then pictures of animals that have been previously taped around the room.

Leading on from that, and time for more movement (or madness depending on your point of view), a flash card hunt. I will have various pictures of creatures taped to the wall, behind desks, under chairs … then ask, “What has eight legs … ?” then, “Six legs, four legs and a shell, four green legs and jumps ?” In twos, the students have to find said card.

Then it’s Grammar time. I drill and conjugate the verb ‘to have’

First I practice with my TA, then select some of the top students to model. They will be given a flash card and say, for example:

I have a cat

You have a dog

He has a frog

She has a spider

They have a monkey

We have a card.

By giving cards to groups of six, all the students can participate at once.

Some students can come to the front and hold their cards. I will ask, “What does he have ?” and expect the answer in a sentence, “He has a ….” and not just shouting out the single-word noun.

Moving on up, it’s time for the a /an distinction. I’ll simply board the vowels and elicit words that begin with each one. Then I’ll show the grammar, ‘It is a cat, it is an elephant.’ I’ll board ten or so words and the class must shout out whether the article is ‘a’ or ‘an’ AND say the answer as a full sentence.

Next up, a quick writing game. In small groups, the students have to write words that they have recently learnt. These will be:

bike / kite / rope / ant / bear / frog / spider / turtle

Time for a wee break, so a short video of funny animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpNXHJGfGYo

Can start from 01:17 – 02:12

Finally, a chance to boost their use of adjectives. I’ll ask for them to describe animals, miming to help them, until we have basic words such as ‘big’, ‘small’, ‘fast’, ‘slow’ and then introduce some more: ‘tiny’, ‘scary’ and ‘massive’. They have to write down the new words in their notebooks.

I will then ask them to describe an ant, an elephant, a spider, a cheetah

Furthermore, I want them to start using the common adverb ‘very’ – a spider is very small and very scary !

We then have our school’s spelling contest, student book work, workbooks and worksheets for the quick-finishers.

And then … lesson over and I say goodbye to this class. They can be VERY noisy … but also a lot of fun.

Young Learners: It’s all happening at the zoo.

9th April 2019

I’m getting a head start on my weekend class planning, and here’s the projected plan for my early morning class of nineteen young learners (13th April). It’s a mixed bag; I have some ideal students, some good but hyper-active students, some ultra-shy students, some recalcitrant students, some who are learning nothing, some who want to learn nothing, and some special-needs students. Thankfully my TA is amazing, but we both end up with vocal chords ripped to shreds, and questioning the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of doing this job. And after, we have two other classes.

One technique is to use one student as class captain, usually the meanest and noisiest. The responsibility can make that student an asset in the un-winable war on noise. I also have recourse to employ John Bercow, Speaker of the House in the UK Parliament for assistance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4v7wddN-Wg

John Bercow has it easy; he only has to control 650 politicians. I have 19 Vietnamese kids … no contest.

And so, without further ado, the plan (and the best laid plans of mice and men …)

In small teams, the students have to write the name of an animal that can fly, one that can swim, then jump, then hiss. This will help review names of animals and give writing and spelling practice.

For this, we pass out small, wipeable boards and marker pens. We also make sure that a different team member writes each time. I know some students will NOT participate, so I will make a note of their names and pass the information onto to Student Support.

Following this, I want to see if the students can use the prepositions ‘on, in, under’. We have 14 flashcards of animals. I’ll ask one student per team to put a flashcard in a certain place e.g. ‘Put the elephant on the board’, or ‘Put the turtle in the bag.’

After I have given one or two instructions, I’ll use the best students to act as ‘thay’ and they can continue giving instructions.

I also want to revise ‘Do you like ?’ and the response, ‘Yes, I do’, or ‘No, I don’t.’ In pairs, the students can ask each other this question, relating to various flashcards that I hand them. Again, I’m sure some students will refuse to open their mouths, and again, their names will be taken. Hopefully, once the parents are informed, the students will start to work in the class.

Next it’s back to old-school grammar drill, and we’re still on the verb ‘to have’. I’ll choose four students and hand them an animal flashcard. I shall model first:

I have a tiger, you have a monkey, he has a turtle, she has a lion.

The students repeat the pattern, while the cards get changed. This helps them learn animal names and the subject-verb agreement.

Finally, before the book work, a chance to practice ‘Can you see .. ?’

I shall model one question: Can you see the rhino ? Where is it ?

After, the students can come up and ask. I’m looking for the students to answer in sentences with correct prepositions.

Then we hit the books and do a project. Fast-finishers can do a work sheet learning new vocabulary and doing a word search. This gives me a chance to hear as many of the students as possible read a few lines from their work books and assess how they are improving, or otherwise.

This weekend, I have a break until 13.00 … and no doubt I shall need it.

Kindergarten:Surfin’ Safari Level 1

2nd March 2019

Last week was my first meeting with this class, so I had to familiarise myself with what they studied so far, what they could and couldn’t do.

The TAs at my centre are amazing, and I am assigned two for each of these KG (Kindergarten) classes. They informed me that the children could speak but not write. In a nutshell, they knew basic colours, numbers and instructions (‘hands up’, ‘sit down’ and the like). Also, the ABC was still being learnt, so last week I began with a great video using characters created by Richard Scary. The ABC starts at 3:20, ending at 4:00: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nog9FBW9cTo&t=284s

I was given a book by Richard Scary back when I was four (I’m NOT saying what year that was !) and still have it. I made the class sing along, then do a ‘Run ‘n’ Write’ game, each student running to the board to write an assigned letter. It is a kinetic activity and involves all the students.

Some characters from Richard Scary.

The pattern for young learners is to do many different games and types of games, to maintain attention and interest. It’s the ‘montage of attraction’ I’ve referred to in previous blogs; basically how the separate parts all fit together as in engineering or film editing.

The advantages are that the students like routine and repetition, so the same games can be played most weeks, allowing for some variation. The objectives are to get the students producing English: speaking, writing, listening and eventually reading. Listening cannot be under-estimated. At this age, the students are like sponges – they absorb everything, so learning occurs at at much faster rate. This dwindles with age, hence I’ve been in Vietnam over three years and can barely form a sentence.

New vocabulary, expressions and pronunciation can be acquired just by listening to the teachers, so I ask my TAs to use key words repeatedly (e.g. ‘excellent’, ‘good work’, ‘well done’) thus expanding their lexical resources (sorry, I just didn’t want to repeat the word, ‘vocabulary’). Music too has a tremendous impact. An inane Europop song can be a wonderful learning opportunity as the lyrics are repeated AND are learnt in a fun way. As such, last week I used this song, which, I have no shame in admitting, I actually LOVE: Eiffel 65 with ‘Move Your Body’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nog9FBW9cTo&t=284s

Clip from the original video. Repetition of basic sentences is a great learning device.

And so … to tomorrow’s lesson:

It’s a basic class; the students know some vocabulary, colours and numbers, and we’re developing their sentence-forming skills by making them say their names (either ‘My name is …..’ or ‘I’m …… ‘ featuring the contraction of I am).

First, it’s good to do a quick and energetic warm up. We did Musical Statues (Freeze) last week, so today we’ll try Musical chairs. This class is not so large (about 11 or 12) so we’ll have the class in two groups walking around their table. The TA will make sure they understand the rules, but we are also drilling common classroom features such as chairs and tables. This seems a great video, as today we’re introducing the word ‘train’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYhKyqQ3zXg

When the music stops, the students race for the chairs. Thos who are unlucky have to answer a question, then we continue. While the children are standing, we can do a ‘Teacher Says’ game, basically a ‘Simon Says’, but here used to drill simple expressions such as ‘clap your hands’, ‘sit down’, ‘stand up’ etc and then acting out animals (which is always fun).

Leading on from this, another game and a chance to learn new vocabulary. I’ll prepare a slide of new animals. The children form two teams and have to throw a sticky ball at the board, aiming for the names animal. The aim (ah-hem) is to get one team to tell the other at which animal to throw. Ideally they’ll be able to say, “Throw at the chicken,” but it may just be, “Chicken !” It’s a start. My new animals will be:

Water buffalo, common in Viet Nam
Panda to practise the plosive ‘p’ sound.
Shark to practise the ‘sh’ sound.
Chicken for the useful ‘ch’ sound.
A tiger, so they can learn different types of big cat (they already know lions).

Moving on, we come to the lesson and focus on numbers. Around the room, I’ll stick various flash cars depicting numbers. I’ll ask for two students to find me a number from one to four. They will run like little nutcases and grab the card. They then have to bring it to me and say, “Here you are,” and then write the number (just figure) on the board.

I like to make the students speak to each other in English as much as possible, and it’s fun to make one student ‘thay’ or teacher. That student will hold the flash card and ask the class to show him or her 1 or 2 etc and the class will hold up the right number of fingers.

The book work reinforces new vocabulary and numbers. To break the book work, they will colour a train picture I have prepared for them:

I also like to play a short video to show life outside of Vietnam. Here’s the London Tube at rush hour:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8LRlwCx4yY

There is no underground system in Viet Nam, so this should be an eye-opener. We can also see if the students are able to understand any of the instructions the guard say.

If time allows, we can watch the ABC video again, or just focus on some of the letters, giving the letter, the sound and an example:

B – bbb (sound) – ball.

At this age, we can’t overload them with work, so there could be some colouring, but still looking for any opportunity for the class to speak English.

And then, my weekend is over and I can go home … to prepare lessons for tomorrow, my last IELTS class before their oral test but that, as they say, is for another blog.