Why should it be boring? Part 2

In Why should it be boring? we discussed some advantages of using games.

Let´s now see other examples to make other points.

Trying to study opposite adjectives by heart can be boring and not very promising. But, what if we prepare a simple game such as Memory Test? This will be not only fun but highly more effective: apart from extending short term memory, it will help lay the foundation for long term memory.

Ordering words written in the textbook is definitely not the same as ordering cards with words. We can manipulate them, trying different positions easily until we find the right one.

Look at what happened at a conference organized by APIZALS. I asked teachers to order sentences referring to the processes of learning according to Piaget. They know English, they teach it. I kind of cheated just to make them experiment how a student feels when facing such task. Have a look at those faces denoting extreme concentration.
            One of the teachers exclaimed: “Poor my students!"

When I asked if they gave up (some of the sentences were so long and had so many tricks that the activity was taking too long, and my point had been made), another teacher said: “No way, I have to be able to do this!”

It was her challenge. She just needed more time.

The most important goal was for teachers to realize the frustration that they can cause and thus hinder or even impede learning.

Emotion is a primary catalyst in the learning process.

EMERGENCY: What to do after working with a story

I am sorry but there´s an “emergency”: a teacher´s asked for help so I´m not writing the second part of “Why should it be boring?” now but some ideas on what to do after working with a story.

Let´s say the story you read was about an animal, you could divide the students into groups and have them make this animal as they imagine it. Don´t forget to provide them with the necessary material.

You could also have them:

Ø                 Listen to a song connected to the animal and play Popcorn

Ø                 Draw a picture story

Ø                 Watch a segment of the movie if it´s available or the trailer and ask them to see the movie

Ø                 Watch a segment of a film connected in some way

Ø                 Interview the author

Ø                 Interview a character

Ø                 Make a semantic web

Ø                 Change the ending

Ø                 Write a missing scene

Ø                 Write a discarded scene (if they see the movie)

Ø                 Imagine a character´s thoughts: write, mime, tell…

Ø                 Illustrate

Ø                 Narrate what is communicated by making a dialogue

Ø                 Survey: Who likes (animal)? What do you know about (animal)? And then you could have “stations”. Students move from station to station to learn about (animal). Each station represents a different aspect of the (animal) life (pictures and written information are provided at each station). Students then have five minutes to complete an activity, say a MIND MAP, at one station before they move onto another station.

Ø                 Research in internet

Ø                 Make cards with new vocabulary to play with

Ø                 Fill in a crossword

Ø                 Work with half a crossword

Ø                 Solve an acrostic (write the animal or the name of the main character on the board for students to write an acrostic in turns, maybe you could divide the class into two groups an have a competition writing the name twice on the board.

Ø                 Board game for the fun of it (anyway they are reading and deciding whether they can continue or they miss a turn) or a specially made one with characters to be described, for example.

Ø                 Write a dialogue between two characters and have two students play the roles moving their mouths or speaking gibberish English while two dub the dialogue, or have students sing their dialogue

Ø                 Riddles with animals

Ø                 Chants

Well, I really hope you like some of these ideas, Bibiana. I mentioned some activities for older students too since I was at it . Let us know what you do and how it works out.  = )

Can anyone add more ideas to help Bibiana and the rest of us?

Why should it be boring?

In general people think that studying is boring and, in fact, it should not be. The great challenge is to make a class a fun experience to make motivation flourish, pleasant to engage students, and enjoyable to favour the  emotional response in learning and thus develop memory. For more information, read The Challenge.

In this recipe there are no exact ingredients but there are some that cannot be missing: dynamics, diversity, movement, entertainment and a dash, at least, of culture to achieve a most serious objective: learning English.

There are hundreds of games we know and can be adapted to teach.

It is definitely not the same to practise numbers by repeating them in order or writing them dozens of times than by playing Yatzee. There are people who think playing is a waste of time. But what do we do when we play Yatzee? We USE numbers and thus we learn them.

Games make us use the target language  for a purpose different from practice itself. They catch our attention so naturally that students make a bigger effort to concentrate and memorize because they want to win. Is this bad? Dr Gwen Bailey Moore says “Winning produces a feeling of success. Success and winning in games can be transferred to getting an A, B, or C in the next test in school. For example, a child´s thought pattern might be as follows: Paying attention helps me to win. Winning makes me feel good about myself. I am not so bad. Better grades make me feel good about myself. Paying attention can help me achieve better grades and have better feelings about myself.” Not bad at all! Games provide marvelous ways for students to improve their ability to attend. “Strategies, to be developed through the thought processes and manual manipulation of games, are the framework on which attention spans expand.”

To be continued…

What are the main advantages of using films?

·      Students experience real English: different speakers, voices, accents, styles, and registers.
·    Students come into contact with diversity: cultural varieties, social awareness, psychological questions, and international issues.
·     The world is brought into the classroom: the English language is alive, its existence going beyond textbooks.
·     Films go hand-in-hand with entertainment, thus being extremely appealing and motivating to students of all ages.
·     Using films in the ELT class helps develop students’ self-esteem: when teachers choose segments carefully and work on them properly, they arouse in students feelings of achievement, pride, accomplishment, self-satisfaction and happiness. Students realize that they are able to understand parts of real films.
·    Favourite actors and actresses are part of the students’ learning process, becoming language models.
·    Students are exposed to a mixture of language and gestures, a combination of situational language and “spontaneous conversation”. Therefore, they are asked to decode linguistic and paralinguistic messages.
·    Films provide students with both visual and auditory input, thus supporting the different learning styles and/or strategies of students.
·      Language is presented as a whole: Realia is neither segmented nor graded, as is  the case with videos specially designed for the teaching of English.
·      The use of films is a wonderful tool: an audio-visual aid which together with the proper activities helps develop the four language skills -- even though teachers sometimes wrongly believe the focus is only on listening comprehension.
·       An inviting way to learn...

Changing Paradigms by Ken Robinson

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.
Where do we start the change?

The Challenge

At present we know that our brain is plastic, it continuously remodels itself, sometimes within a remarkably short period of time (these biological changes are the result of outside experience); certain intellectual functions are restricted to one cerebral hemisphere; emotion is a primary catalyst in the learning process; memory is not stored in a single location in the brain or static or unitary; there are multiple intelligences, different learning styles and emotional intelligence.
It is obvious that we cannot continue using the same methods as those of our ancestors´ believing that all our students learn the same way.
The great challenge is to create new resources which accelerate the acquisition of the language making the most of each student´s abilities and strengths.