Monday, December 14, 2009

Sometimes putting your pants on backwards can be rewarding.

Today I tried what I said I would do last week – change the order of how I did the lesson. Well, I think it worked well. I first started with the conversation, then key expressions followed by a fill-in-the-blank-dictation question in the chapter. Next, I had them do a sentence pair work dictation activity before I had them make a conversation. Once we had this completed, I handed out the linking sounds worksheet, but due to having to pass back their tests, and the fact we only had 10 minutes left, I decided to leave the second part of the pronunciation – the listening component – to next class, thus further providing evidence against trying to do too much pronunciation work in one class. Of course, if I hadn’t passed back their work and tests, and if I had started earlier – it took me a couple of minutes to set up my computer, again proving that I need to be there a little before 9 – I probably would have had enough time to do the listening. However, I will do it next week, and it will be a sort of review for them, so it’s not that terrible.

I think that doing the class this way will work much better because the main focus is on conversation and since they bought the book, focusing on that should technically be my first priority. Furthermore, doing the pronunciation first can be risky in that I tend to take too much time on it. I also think that working through the textbook first when students still have more energy, and then the pronunciation may be better because they need more energy to concentrate on the conversation and the grammar involved in the expressions being learned whereas with the pronunciation, it takes less effort as the activity usually only involves highlighting pronunciation. Furthermore, since we have less time to work on it as it towards the end of the class, there is a little more pressure to work through the task at a faster pace. Therefore, students have less time to dillydally and get off track as they may do if we had more time. Also, as the activity is mainly to familiarize the student with the pronunciation, this length of time is optimal as it now becomes a supplementary exercise to the conversation practice and not the primary focus. I will now try this in my Thursday class and see how it goes, but so far the results have been quite promising.

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