Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hip hip vocabulary! Hip hip vocabulary!

Today was our first class back from the break. We started with a vocabulary review, but unfortunately many, if not most of the students had not finished, so I had to rearrange those who were with those who weren't so that everyone could get some practice. I wish students would take vocabulary learning more seriously, but alas they do not, even after explaining to them almost each week the importance of vocabulary for such a test such as the TOEIC. I told them today to register for the test because they have to take it, but I am worried that some will be cramming for it, which is not such a good idea.

After we finished the review, we looked at their homework, again many were not finished or so it seemed. I first had them repeat the words after me before correcting the homework.

Next, we started unit 21, another chapter focusing on Part 7 of the test. This time we looked at the 'NOT' questions, the hardest type on the test. The strategy for these is to leave them to last and do the other easier questions first so that you can get some information to help answer these questions. After looking at this strategy in some detail, we did the mini-test. Finally, I gave them the rest of the class to study vocabulary from the unit that they did not know. I told them to review the lists for next week, but I am not so confident they will. I also assigned Unit 21 Quiz for next week. Next class will also be the last class and we will focus on Part 7 one more time; the last two classes will be for the mock test.

I think I've made my decision regarding the textbook – I am going to try another. I feel that this textbook is too long for 15 classes, and it may be better to have a little more Japanese support. I think though that it will be a good idea to keep teaching the test strategies found in the text, so it may be challenging to incorporate such ideas in the text that I am looking at because it is structured in a much different way. For example, there are no strategies at all, and each chapter is not just one part as the current book; actually, the chapters are not divided into parts at all, but each chapter may have a listening and reading part and the rest is made up of vocabulary and other activities. However, there is a little more Japanese and it is structured so that one can finish in a semester. Another thing I will do, which will also be challenging, is to give them tests and make them part of their score because this semester I have been going with a marking scheme that is based on their actual test scores, which means that even if I assign homework, many are not doing it perhaps because they feel that it is not part of the grade. Maybe then, having homework and quizzes part of the mark should encourage students to actually do the work. The only setback is that to give them such quizzes I would have to make the tests when really, the students should be learning words that they do not know, not words that I give them; something that I will have to work out if I choose to go this way.

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