Thursday, January 14, 2010

I need a vacation to recover from the vacation I took to recover from my vacation.

Well, this post will probably be shorter than usual because first of all we followed the recent pattern of book followed by pronunciation and second, today's class went fairly smoothly, perhaps ideally may even be a word I could use to describe it. We started with the review test, and then I dictated eight questions about the dialogue. As I asked students to repeat the questions, I wrote them on the board so everyone could see them in case they weren't sure. After getting the answers and writing those on the board, too, I had them repeat once after the CD with books open, and then with books closed, the latter being harder, which was to be expected. Next, I had them do the exchange; I gave them between 5 to 7 minutes to practice and memorize the dialogue before having them present. I did do something different though - I chose which dialogue each pair would do because often you have most groups choosing the same dialogue, and it's always a good idea to have different patterns. After their time was up, I had several groups present, some doing better than others with regards to memorizing the lines, which I can and cannot understand because the conversations are short giving each partner about 3 lines to remember, but then again, short-term memory can easily vary, but perhaps the main reason is lack of concentration in trying to remember the lines. After finishing the presentations, I told them that we would do the pronunciation next because I wasn't sure if we would have time to do both that and the listening in the textbook. I told them that if we had time we would come back to the book. As in Friday's class, I simply reviewed the handout from before the break, well actually, we hadn't finished part B of the handout, so it was necessary to complete that, but we also reviewed part A because it had been a couple of weeks since we last looked at it, and by the time we finished, it was time to go. I think today's lesson went surprisingly smoothly, but it was probably due to the fact that I did not stray from the content, and I made sure I had time to complete what I had planned.

As for the textbook situation, I still haven't decided whether or not I will continue using this book next year. I'm really can't make up my mind because, honestly, the themes are not so interesting, or even relevant at times, and since there are only 12 units, you can't really skip them, right? Also, you can't really modify the units, or well, maybe I could, but then it leaves me wondering if I really need to use a textbook, especially if I am going to modify the unit or add my own units to replace those that aren't so interesting. I should mention here though, that I will get the students' opinions at the end of the course and see what they thought of it, but when I say that the book is not interesting, it really is my opinion that I am expressing, so as long as the students are interested, there should be no problem, right? But then again, if the teacher finds something boring, it may affect the way he or she teaches that particular lesson, am I wrong? However, I do find the dialogues, the listening activities and the exchanges good for the students, and considering the time it would take to make such materials, the textbook is good in that sense. Another problem I have been having with the book is that I am only doing a quarter and sometimes less than that each week. This is mainly due to the pronunciation practice I include in the lesson, so in the future it may be an idea to eliminate the pronunciation and focus more on the textbook, but I think the pronunciation is quite important for students especially for listening to music etc and honestly, repeating such activities in several of my classes is not a bad idea because the more you practice the more you should retain, right? I think I'm rambling because looking back at this paragraph, my thoughts are going all over the place, but this is what I feel when I think about the textbook - it has good points and bad points, and despite its bad points the potential for this book to be a better than usual textbook is there. Now, it is interesting that while I was writing that sentence, I was thinking the opposite, and actually thinking that perhaps a book that focuses more on conversation strategies may be better as the chances of students actually using such strategies are higher in an EFL setting than going shopping or eating out or giving directions. Wouldn't you agree? I guess I had a lot to say after all, and it also seems that the book debate is still far from over.

1 comment:

  1. Am no fan of textbooks either! I tend to practice something called dogme ELT instead.

    Take care,