REaChing for the stars
Empowering English Language Learners
Does English matter?
In my fourth year Advanced English class, students were asked to complete a questionnaire inquiring about their feelings about English in their future, the purpose of education, and their learning preferences. Of the 12 students in the class, 11 felt that they would use English in the future, and that they would use it in the work place. That's great! They're English learning goals included high TOEIC scores and fluency for communicating with people from other countries and for travel. Despite a lack of focus on pronunciation in class, many students feel that pronunciation is an important skill, to be able to be understood, others felt that confidence and not being shy were more important. Half of the class felt that the purpose of education was to learn skills that would help them in the work place, while three students felt it was to remember lots of information to pass tests and get jobs. Another three thought it was finding challenge and opportunity in learning and thinking about new things about the world. And one that it was understanding new knowledge and skills to make ourselves and the world better. Students had various learning preferences, with a quarter of the class preferring lectures, active learning, group work and computer study. Five students each preferred project work and partner work. Between one and two students preferred textbook work, journal writing and authentic reading. Good support for mixing up activities in the classroom frequently and for providing student-centered opportunities for collaboration and hands-on learning.
International Agent Training
In my second year skills classes, all of my students have been assigned agent numbers, 0 + their students numbers, which will be used to identify them through the final weeks of the school year. I have two "double-o-sevens." The goal is to pass an international agent interview test. First, students need to gain knowledge about the world, countries and languages, and to gain virtual experiences traveling around the world via classroom activities. This week, students were in India, and they learned basic country information to record in their "passport" notebooks. They greeted each other in Hindi each day and learned about famous landmarks and popular Indian foods. In addition, an "eye test" one-on-one with the teacher, was used to test the previous unit on prepositions of place and pre-assess knowledge of other countries. A "roaming gnome," positioned carefully in postcards from various famous places around the world, provided the visual (under the Eiffel tower, in the Hawaiin sea, etc..) He gradually got smaller so students had to eventually squint to locate him. In each picture they had to tell the teacher where the gnome was using practiced prepositions of place, and were challenged with identifying the famous world landmarks. Students have also done an information gap where they had to ask each other the nationalities, languages, and capital cities in various countries, they had a computer listening lab where they learned the pronunciation of various countries and nationalities, and they labeled a world map. All of these expanding on their geographical knowledge. There is still lots to be done in training, but students are on their way to discovering more about the world outside of Japan. Next week, we'll visit Peru, and have a visit from Karina, our Peruvian English teacher here at KTC. As a final test, they will be asked to create an agent CV, an alias identity, that outlines their various travel experiences, languages spoken, country knowledge, and then classmates will assess their skills via an interview. If they pass, they will be issued an international agent ID. Good luck agents! - Agent S.