Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Morning Communication

It's Monday and I've now had 5 of my 7 classes. Today I have only one course, my other Foreign Communication class. I have 36 students, but today I had only 35 and one of them I noticed is not registered for my class, so at least two were absent; I need to check to see if there are any other students who are registered for another class, hence the reason I say 'at least'. However, it sometimes happens that someone makes a mistake and comes to the wrong class, but it is usually only one or at most two; I don't really remember ever having a big number of students suddenly coming to me saying that they are registered for another class although I would never say that it never happens because during the first week anything can really happen.

Like most of my classes so far, I have many students who took my class last semester whether it was my communication class or my reading/writing class. I know that it is too early to be thinking of next year's classes, but if I decide to go with textbooks from now on, I probably should look into books that have two or three levels, but then again it is not that I have all the same students, so what I really have to do is just modify the course somewhat so that those students who have already taken my course won't encounter the same material. Of course, that is easier said than done. Actually, it might be an idea to use the same book twice, but have different activities for both semesters so that past students can review without repeating exactly the same thing. It may also help me in that the more I use it the more activities I can produce to supplement the textbook. It may be something to consider.

Today's class followed the same pattern as Friday's. I was debating at first to have them fill out the questionnaire in class, but in the end I decided that it would be best for me to see the students in a more private setting where there are fewer distractions.

I started the class asking them who I was and how to spell my name; many of the past students were really quiet, but as with most first classes they tend to be that way. Of course, some students are always quiet even when you meet them in private. After having written my name on the board, I asked the students to take out a piece of paper and to make a name card to put on their desks. Again many of those who had taken my class before had no problem following the instructions, and they also helped by explaining to their partners, which as I have mentioned in a previous post, helps me out a lot. I then went around taking their pictures in pairs, except for the last four because my batteries were running low.

Next, we did the classroom English. I first asked them what was really important in an English class, but no one was willing to answer, so I told them that classroom English, expressions to use when they have a problem, was really important. I then gave them 5 minutes to do the activity (refer to Friday's post for the handout). I then went around asking them individually for the answer, then writing it on the board. I also explained the importance using some Japanese to help them understand what I was saying, and then I had them repeat after me. One thing I just realized though is that I forgot to look at the final question – which of the ten expressions is for the teacher and not the students. I have to be careful next time not to let that happen again.

Once finished, I had two students pass out the handout with several questions. I then gave half the class A and the other half B and told the As to find Bs and vice versa. I then gave them 15 minutes to ask and write down the answers, telling them to write complete sentences. Again this was to get an assessment of what they could do, and to see what mistakes if any were being made. Of course, I don't mind if students make mistakes because that is how they learn; it is not important to get anything right the first time; if they did they would not have to be studying English in class would they?

After collecting the questions, I had two more students pass out the syllabus and the absentee slip and I explained it, again using Japanese and English. What I usually do is speak in English first and then if it is something I consider important, but may be complicated for some, I try to translate it in Japanese. It also lets them know that I can help them in Japanese if necessary, but of course I encourage them to use as much English as possible. Finally, I passed out the questionnaire and asked them to bring it to my office by tomorrow.

I think today's class went well. I had several students who were quiet at first, but once I put them into pairs, they started talking, although not completely in English, which is probably something I will leave to another time. I also had some students speaking in Japanese with their friends while they should have been paying attention, but it wasn't really that much of a problem. I simply called out their names (Thank you name cards!) and told them that what I was saying was important and that they needed to listen, and they did. After we had finished the questions, students were a little noisy, but they had just finished the activity and had to wait for the syllabus to be handed out and that took a couple of minutes, so it was OK for them to talk during that time, but once everyone had the syllabus, I told them in English and Japanese to listen because it was really important and they soon quietened down.

Well, I think that is it for this post. If you'd like to leave a comment, by all means please do!


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