Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The other TOEIC

Today I had my second TOEIC class. The ultimate goal of this class is for students to achieve a score of 550 or higher, but unlike Friday's class, where they must reach the goal or risk failing, in this class, students do not have to worry about such pressure. As a result, this class is also much bigger than Friday's in that there are 22 students in today's class as opposed to only 4 in the other. It is interesting though that there are some students in today's class who already have an A standing as long as they maintain their current score, but that these students did not join my Friday class, again probably due to the pressure of not achieving the required score or maybe they do not need such a high score. Furthermore, today's class is registered as a different class, which means that for some students it is a required course for their major whereas Friday's class, so far as I know, is not.

Well, I started this class like the others asking them what my name was and then having them make name cards. I then took their photos. However, this time instead of looking at classroom English or having them ask each other questions, which most of them has already done in my other classes and therefore needn't be done again (only 7 of the 22 students in this class were new), I went straight to the syllabus. I had two students hand out the syllabus and the absentee slip, and I began explaining it to them. However, at around 9:17 a student arrived, so I took this time to explain the rule for being late; I did not punish the student this time because it was the first class, but I reminded him (he is in another of my classes, so he should already know this rule) that next week he would need to come on time. I then went back to the syllabus and I introduced the textbook. I told them that it hadn't arrived yet, but hopefully it will have by next week. It is really unfortunate because I ordered this textbook at the same time as the other TOEIC class textbook, but while the latter ha arrived, the former is yet to come. Again in the end, there is no one to blame but myself because I should have ordered all the books a month or so ago and I didn't, so I just have to deal with the consequences; no use crying over spilled milk, as they say!

I also asked them to write down which examination, TOEIC or Eiken, they have taken, when they took it and what their score was. I did this to get an idea of what they will need to get to receive an A. However, I noticed that many have not taken the TOEIC test, so it may be challenging for them to reach 550. Of course, they don't have to get 550, but they do need to get more than 400 or they will lose the credit. Since I don't have experience taking the TOEIC, I can't say how easy it would be for someone to get 400 while never having taken it, but I do no from my experience teaching it that their is a format, a layout to the test that students have to get used to and I think that is what I will have to try to focus on this semester.

Next, I asked them in pairs to think about ways to learn a new word, what kinds of information they can write down about a new word. I asked them this because for the TOEIC test vocabulary is really important and they need to know at least some of the ways of learning vocabulary. I also told them that they did not have to use all the information and that they should try and choose what works best for them. This activity turned out to be harder than expected, but it may have been due to my explanation; perhaps a handout or a written example could have helped clarify things. However, one student did tell me she did not understand, which I really appreciate, and I gave them an example. I also used some Japanese, but I think the example worked better because most of them started writing as soon as I had given them the example. I gave them about 5 minutes, but it probably took longer due to the misunderstanding, and afterward we looked at their answers writing them on the board.

Finally, I did a similar thing with classroom English. I chose to do it this way because many of them had done the handout in other classes this past week, so I decided to try the activity orally, having them in paris think of different English expressions to use in the classroom. I think this was easier for them probably because many of them had done it already. It was therefore a good review for those students, and they could also help me by explaining the activity to the new students who may not have understood the activity. Once finished, we wrote them on the board and I encouraged them to use the expressions as much and as often as possible.

I have to say that I am a little worried about this class because when I ordered the book, which is all in English, I was under the impression that the required score to take this class would be higher, but later I found out that it actually had been lowered, so I am not sure how students will react to the book. I think that for many it will be difficult because there is no Japanese support, unlike in most TOEIC books, and there will be a lot of vocabulary for them to learn. Again I could be wrong as this is the first class, but I can't help feel that if many of them do not put in the effort and work hard, they may not be able to obtain a better score; I hope they prove me wrong.

Next week I plan on looking at the first two units. They are really short actually, so I think two may be possible but then again I will have play it by ear because this will be the first time to teach TOEIC to so many students and with a book I have never tried before. Wish me luck!

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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