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tiddlywinks Donating Member (210 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-13-09 01:16 AM
Original message
Are you a language teacher? Would you like to recommend a book or three on
teaching? If so I would appreciate it.
I'm looking for a book I could check out from the library or get at that helps you to become a better teacher all around. I teach ESL and am always trying to improve how I teach. I teach allllllll ages preK through adult. I want to make learning languages easy and fun for all my students and I want ideas on how to go about it. How to plan, what to plan, activities/games that enhance certain types of lessons for language learners.
I've read Harry Wong's (is that the name?)First Days of School
Dummies Guide to Rookie Teaching
I've read some theory/academic books in graduate school on 'The Teaching of Languages' and "How Languages are Learned" and "Making it Happen"
I've got at least a dozen 'in-progress' books i'm reading/ using as resources. My high school kids use High Point ESL textbooks and workbooks and I use other books too. At the other three schools I go to we use Scott Pearson ELL supplemental materials for most of the ESL pull-outs.
sigh, i really hope to get some good ones!!

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'm an ex-language professor who mostly learned on the job and
by attending seminars for teachers.

Here are some pointers I picked up:

1. Use visual aids as much as possible, especially funny or otherwise memorable pictures. Use a calendar to teach dates and years, a clock to teach time, a city map to teach giving directions, fake menus (or better yet, real ones) to teach restaurant routines.

2. Try to conduct the class in the target language as much as possible. Make up a list of common things a student might say ("How do you say that in X-language? May I leave early? Is that on the test?" etc. and write it up on poster-sized tag board. Post it on your bulletin board. When a student starts to say one of those phrases in English, cough and point to the appropriate phrase on the chart.

3. Some teachers make the mistake of saying a sentence in the target language and immediately restating it in English. What you're doing then is training the students to wait for the English and not listen to the foreign language.

4. Some students want to write interlinear translations on their reading materials. Try to break that habit as soon as possible, telling them to write the new words on a separate piece of paper. Remind them, "When you go to X-land, you can't go around writing English translations on all the signs."

5. Be a ham. Use lots of gestures. Some students like to role play.

6. Refer to current events and pop culture as much as possible. For example, when I was teaching in the early 1990s, I used to teach family terms by referring to the Simpsons. "Bart is Homer and Marge's son. Bart is Lisa and Maggie's older brother. Does Bart have a brother?" When teaching comparatives and superlatives, ask, "Who is a better singer, X or Y? Who is the most beautiful actress? Who is the most handsome actor?"

7. Polls are an interesting and enjoyable exercise. For example, when you teach dates, have the students ask one another their birthdays to find out if any students in the class have the same birthday. You can have them ask any questions that are pertinent to the material you are covering.

8. If you have a native speaker assistant, have the students play "interpreter." Get together with the native speaker in advance and make up some questions and answers appropriate to the students' level. Then tell the students that they are studying in country X, and you are a neighbor from home who is in the country as a tourist. The students are going to be your interpreter. You can say, for example, "I want to know how much those postcards are." The student asks in the target language, and the native speaker answers. The student then tells you what the native speaker said.

9. For vocabulary practice, you can play, "I went shopping." Say you are learning the names of items of clothing. You start by saying, "I went shopping and I bought a pair of shoes." The first student says, "I went shopping, and I bought a pair of shoes and a pair of socks." The second student says, "I went shopping, and I bought a pair of shoes and a pair of socks and a hat." And so on until you run out of items or the students' memory banks are full.

10. When you give tests, don't ask the students to do any task that you haven't practiced in class.

11. Oral tests are less intimidating if the students take them in pairs.

12. Avoid translation, even on tests. Instead, have the students complete dialogues. For example:

A. Where are you going?
B. ______
A. I've heard that's a good movie.
B. ______
A. I'd love to, but I don't have time.

Alternatively, write out a situation in narrative form and tell the students to make up a dialogue:

A and B are planning a trip. A wants to go by car, but B would prefer to fly. Have A and B discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each means of transportation.

13. For more advanced students, "elicitation" is a valuable real world exercise. Each student is given a fairly obscure English word and must explain it in the target language so that a native speaker (if you have one handy) comes up with the corresponding term in his or her language. (When I was learning Japanese, I once was asked to elicit "ejection seat.") When I actually went to Japan, I found that this was a valuable skill, because I often had to say things that I didn't know how to say.

Alternatively, if you have native speakers handy (foreign students, perhaps), write a list of obscure words in the target language and have the students find out from the native speakers what they mean. (Write instructions to the native speakers telling them NOT to explain the word in English.)

14. Speak at normal speed, but start with short sentences. Repeat as many times as the students need it, but don't slow down. You don't want the students to learn to understand only Slow Language, because no one in real life talks that way.

15. Don't call on the students in any set order, or else the students will space out until they think it's their turn. Be unpredictable. One of my colleagues used to throw a pair of rolled-up socks at the student who was supposed to answer.

I hope these hints are helpful.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-06-09 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I'm not a language teacher,
but I have taken a couple of foreign languages in recent years, and you've outlined exactly how the best language teachers I've had conducted their lessons.

I found that my fellow students, when given the assignment to write a short paragraph in the new language, persisted in figuring out what they wanted to say in English, and then translating it to the new language. I kept on telling them they should instead simply say what they knew how to say the way they already knew how to say it. They didn't understand that they didn't yet know the verb tenses they had in English. They'd look up a word in their dictionary and never notice that there were often more than one translations into the new language.

I also think that it would be useful to use simple children's texts at the beginning, rather than trying to get adults too quickly into reading the equivalent in the new language. On my own I went off and bought fairy tales in my new language, and that was very helpful at building my vocabulary, in part because I already knew the stories, so I'd recognize lots of words because they were in a good context for me. Those same words in some random adult reading level text would have sent me to the dictionary.
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