Friday, May 11, 2012

Smart Ekselensia event of "Enriching High School Teachers Competence Through Modern Teaching Methods" May 8th 2012

Hi Guys,

A bit of an update here.

This week on Tuesday I gave a talk at a local workshop & seminar.

For all those who attended the Smart Ekselensia event of "Enriching High School Teachers Competence Through Modern Teaching Methods" please enjoy the photos and included below are a few points from my presentation and discussions with the English teachers:

1.  Aim at your bottom three students for 100% success.

A lot of the time the problems that begin in the first year last. If a student decides that English is too hard and impossible then it doesn't take long until the lessons truly are. Everybody wants star students that will make them and the school proud but unfortunately sometimes this "want" will lead to the bottom students building a strong wall (or affective filter) against the strange foreign language. The longer that wall is up, the further away from the class standard they get. It is a big mistake for a teacher to assume those students simply "aren't gifted with the ability to acquire languages" because those students have all acquired a language pretty well until now (their L1). So aim for the bottom three and those analytical students who usually get good grades will still get good grades - the only different will be that the other 90% will get them as well.

2. Increase student exposure to the "real" language, even though it won't be tested.

Tests, especially summative tests are a nice and relatively simple way to test student progress. They are however also very limited in their scope. Young children learning their first language don't get "tested" on it until they have acquired a very satisfactory ability. A year 1 student for example (8 years of age) will probably know around 12,000 words before they really start any "tests". They will have also of had years of experience to all of the grammar points under the sun and tons of language brewing in their subconscious just waiting to get out (an adult speaks around 15,000 words a day so children listening to adults have tons of exposure). This means if you want your students to have the best chance possible in not only succeeding in the tests language but also excelling in the actual language, exposure is the key!

3. Allow a language rich and more complete silent period for all the students to instill confidence and understanding (sometimes 'false beginners' need take a step back into the silent period)

 If you aren't prepared to call of the dogs of demand for at least 6 months you better reevaluate your priorities. 6 months is the least you can do for your students to give them the foundations to build their strong construction of language on. If you are expecting language production in the first 6 months expect language fossilization and poor foundations as well. The first 6 months is their time to be exposed to lots of comprehensible input with zero stress and no demands. If you can do that expect magical things to happen before the year is up. Especially teaching high school students. Their exposure to English is already so much and their knowledge of the world already so solid that they can pick up the language like never before. Just give them constant opportunities to speak and make sure the silent period truly is silent (don't let them use their L1 any more than is needed for engagement) and you'll see them coming out with language left right and center before you know it!

Okay guys, keep changing lives out there and good luck! ^_^

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