Recently a group of former students who celebrated their tenth graduation anniversary came to visit me. They presented me with a nice bouquet of flowers, then exchanged quick glances, formed a circle and sang, “You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out...” That was the very first song, the first game we played in class when they were eight years old! This little episode reminded me a simple truth I learned thanks to them two decades ago: with the young children anything goes.
We had a great teacher at university who helped us activate our vocabulary and speak in our lessons on a large variety of topics. Later I realized that she had one very simple and effective technique which I used regularly with my own students. She would sort of step aside once we all started speaking, and allowed us any deviations from the theme if she saw that we all took part in a discussion.
When I was a school child and began studying English at the age of eight, I was fortunate to have a great teacher who spoke English to us since day one. There was our mother tongue used at home and at school during all the lessons, and then there was this exciting new subject where we learned how to speak a different language. Nobody used abbreviations like L1 and L2, nor were we aware of the modern classification into levels A, B, C. It was a reflection of real life: everybody around us spoke the same language, and then at school we learned a foreign one.
Routine Is Important!
Discipline and motivation are the staples of our life, the ever-present topic of any educational discussion. I used to treat them in a very simple way. One, I have never had any discipline problems, or if there were some I could always cope. Two, motivation was not an issue since I could always learn what a student needed and create an individualized approach.
I live in the academic research community with a large number of research institutes, a well-known state university and several schools. Until recently most students would come from families of scientists and teachers. Both parents as well as grandparents having a Ph.D. degree is still rather common. It is often said that there are more brains per square meter in our town than anywhere else in the country.
Young children will often rush into the classroom shouting out their news, or they may come up to the teacher during a break or simply hang around waiting for their chance to share something. Importantly, they only do this with adults they trust and what if they need to share something personal that we feel needs to be taken further?
“I know English already” and “Why do you use a dictionary, don’t you know English already?” Those are among my favourite phrases which I rather often hear from students and colleagues alike. I believe they explain the situation with intermediate and upper-intermediate levels quite well. Let us look at some common problems and some helpful motivational strategies.
ICT is perhaps the fastest-growing phenomenon, the inherent characteristic of the third millennium. For today’s children and now even for their parents, the internet has “always existed”. They are truly a new dot-com generation, and as such they cannot even begin to imagine life without instant communication and access to information tools. Thus the question of whether to allow the use of phones and any other mobile devices in the classroom seems to have become rather academic. As with all the more traditional and simpler teaching aids some strict guidelines are usually in place.
There are several new trends in ELT which are developing right in front of our eyes today.