Category Archives: REFLECTIONONTEACHING

#8: MOBILE ASSISTED LL

What is Mobile Assisted Language Learning? What can be considered MALL? It actually means using your mobile for teaching and learning purposes. Personally I as an English teacher use different applications on my phone, but my favorite one Mirriam-Webster dictionary.

Why to use phones when you have a computer and a tablet? Simple. Phones are small and can be carried anywhere. Besides, you carry them with you anyway regardless of your intention to use them for language learning. Official numbers say that much more than the half of Armenian population outside the capital have mobile phones connected to the internet.  So they can make use of this for education purposes. MALL can be used to supplement a language course, to make shots of texts, access dictionaries, use as a tool for distance learning. For more complete information visit this link.

QR codes was something new for me and here you can get some interesting ideas how to use them in teaching English.

So get the fullest of your phones and also help your students to do so.

 

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#7: 3D VIDEO GAMES IN TEFL

You have probably seen people sitting before a PC with their headfones on and murmuring something into the mike. If so, most probably they are playing a simulation game such as Second Life. If you have played such games you know that it is a three dimensional space, where each player has their avatar and is able to interact with other players while completing tasks and missions.

When I downloaded the software, registered, chose my avatar and started to play the game the first thing I wanted to understand was how people felt when finding themselves in a virtual reality. You probably experienced the same: it is a strange feeling as you start identifying yourself with your avatar from the very first second on the game and when you fail in the game you percieve it as personal failure, and when you fly in the game you feel like you are flying. When you interact with people and talk to them this is the same as you met those people in real. The only difference is that there you are safe: say, you will never get drowned for real if you sink to the sea bottom in the game.

Well, how to relate it to teaching? No clues? I had none before I read an article about the virtual reality classroom!!! This is something so strange and unknown for Armenian reality. So, let me tell you what it is like. You meet your students face to face to get to know each other and to explain what they are supposed to expecet and to do in the vidtual classroom. They meet in the space at the settled time and conduct their lesson, only they have their avatars instead on themselves. This can create unlimited opportunities for many different academic subjects. For instance the teacher and the students may travel to different countries, find themselves in the WHite House talking to the governement member, take different professions and work in different places.

I have a wish to implement this in English teaching. But before that there is a lot of work to be done, starting from exploring all the opportunities that the game creates and finishing with getting studensts to effectively use this yet not completely explored educational tool.

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REFLECTIONONICEBREAKER

After 3 class observations at EEC, I was to conduct an activity at the next lesson. I was thinking and thinking what kind of activity to apply so that it fitted in the lesson and was meaningful to them. At the same time I needed an activity that would be totally independent and autonomous. I couldn’t just continue the lesson that their wonderful teacher had been teaching.

I remembered one of our method classes back in 2014 when we were discussing icebreaker activities. I went online, watched several videos and my love for knitting pushed me towards an icebreaker that used a ball of yarn! I had to sacrifice a yarn ball of mine, but surprisingly enough this time I felt ready for it. Even more, I was enthusiastic to use my yarn for a fun activity creation.

I wrote the activity: the idea was to revise all the grammar points they had been targeting at classes I observed, which were I can/can’t, I like/don’t like doing, sports vocab, family vocab and so forth. I also wanted to build a relationship with the little people who could be really destructive if they wished. I needed to create a friendly atmosphere where I would still be the leader.

I wrote the activity and sent it to my cooperating teacher. She, as usual, encouraged me and said it was a great idea. However, she asked me to include some more language points to revise in it. I made the necessary changes and was ready to go there the next day with my yarn ball and a pair of scissors.

The teacher conducted her lesson and left the final 15 minutes for me. During the lesson she had written some sport vocab on the board. So, she drew the Ss’ attention to me and took her seat. I introduced myself once more, in case there were students who didn’t know what I was doing in their classroom during the last 3 classes. I asked them to stand up and make a circle. The teacher asked if she could also take part. She did this to support me and cheer me up. I welcomed her in our circle.

I explained to the kids that we were going to make a big web of friendship: I would tell some details about myself and throw the ball to any of the participants. The one who caught it would need to keep in mind what I said and in his/her turn tell the class some information about his/her personal life. We should continue doing so until the yarn ball was unwound.

The next step was to wind the yarn ball back by passing it to the person who had thrown it to you. It was easy to trace where the yarn had come by following the thread. And when you passed the ball back you should remember and tell the class what that person had told about him/herself.

I noticed that the kids were the most enthusiastic about the things their teacher and I had said. Everyone remembered what we had said word for word, even those who didn’t remember a single word from their peers’ speeches.

It was going quite well and the kids were so calm and attentive until the yarn went tangled! We didn’t manage to untangle it! Such a situation would create a panic for many novice teachers, but not for me. I was surprised how cold-bloodedly I cut the yarn, gathered the whole big web we had created and squeezed it into a ball and right into my bad. I just asked the kids to stay where they were and go on telling all the info they learnt about their classmates. I used cold-calling: I called a name and asked him/her to recall the words of the next person I named.

The teacher and my classmate, who was observing me, both said that the activity was a success as everyone was engaged and no-one was lost or distracted. And they also appreciated the way I saved the situation after the yarn went mad!

The activity had several advantages: it was meaningful, as the Ss spoke about their real life; it was authentic, as there were no rules and the Ss just spoke naturally, though several times they referred to the vocab on the board; it built a relationship between the students, between the teacher, and me; it was fun and it was kinesthetic, as they touched the yarn, could visually see from who the thread had come and to whom it went; it was rational, as it enabled it to engage all the students in a single activity at the same time.

Now I would like to say a few words about the cooperating teacher. At the very beginning I asked my classmate to trade the practicum time with me so that I could commute to my hometown easier. She was willing to help me and thus, the cooperating teacher, initially assigned to me, changed automatically. I don’t even know the other teacher, but I do know that because of the change I had the best teacher possible. Why do I think so? During these 4 times of me teaching at EEC she has been willing to share her knowledge, her experience, and her books with me. She gave me her books and took copies and photos of pages instead! She asked to call her any time I wished. She always picked up the phone and talked to me as much as I needed. She encouraged me in every initiation regarding activity choice, lesson pace. Even when she thought something needed improvement, she told it so tactfully that I didn’t even notice she made me change something in my lesson plan.

When I was conducting my first activity, the abovementioned icebreaker, she was in the circle. When the students were speaking they were making mistakes. She never interfered to correct a mistake, and whenever her students asked her for an English word she tactfully asked them to turn to me. When the yarn ball went all tangled she felt even worse than me, she wanted to help me out somehow, but at the same time didn’t want to take the initiative in her hands. She gave me the opportunity to feel like a real independent teacher in her class. I wish I could be so open-hearted and generous when I have my own practicing students in my class one day…

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INDEPENDENTTEACHING 4

And here is the 13th of May, the day I had been looking forward to, the end of the practicum. I felt relaxed, as this was the time I would be observed by my cooperating teacher. I knew she would concentrate on the highlights and successful moments in my lesson rather than flaws. This lesson was hard to compile as it fell on the same day with a final exam and a poster presentation of a research project. I was not prepared for my class until 4:10 pm and I had to conduct it at 5:30 already! I was thinking about the option of skipping it and getting a 0 for that lesson, or just dropping in, taking the course book and following it without a lesson plan. This would earn me at least some points!

But no, I loved these guys, I couldn’t disappoint them. They would certainly expect me to do something creative, just like what I had been doing at all the three and a half lessons I taught them.

It is a quarter past five and I have my lesson plan. I have all the handouts and all the fun ideas in my head! But there is no self-confidence. I don’t believe I could have made a worthily lesson plan in less than an hour, which does not include any activity from the coursebook, yet covers all the language points from the unit scheduled in the syllabus for this particular lesson. This is a really independent lesson from all perspectives.

Today was the day I realised I am a cool teacher. I am not afraid to sound boastful. I really believe I am great in class. Today is the day I realised I was born to be a teacher and I am on the right track. Don’t believe me? Come and see me teach!

My lesson met all the objectives, which were connected with the pronouns one and ones. After revising the clothing vocabulary and phrases covered at the previous lesson I had my students elicit the rule for one and ones (having students elicit the grammar rules is something I have been practicing since I started studying at AUA, and this is something that one of my supervisors loved to see me doing. No explicit grammar teaching!). Then I went from controlled practice to guided and communicative. I spent more time on the communicative practice this time. Though, I felt that the students would need more practice before they would be able to internalise this rather difficult topic for them.

I would like to speak about the class management. My cooperating teacher had asked her students to behave as well as they could not to affect my grades adversely, so I could admit that the exemplary behavior at the lesson was due to her request. Well, but on the other hand, I believe the young people are the most honest ones, who react naturally to different stimuli. They cannot keep in mind the fact that they need to respect a teacher if they really don’t. So if you feel respected, then you sure are. Secondly, a teacher receives exactly what he/she gives. So if you want love and respect, just give yours to the kids.

I can speak  more and more about this lesson, but to sum up I would like to say that if I were to conduct this lesson again I would do everything the same. And the only thing I would change is I would never panic because of the assumingly poor lesson plan. The lesson plan is already there  in my head. I just need to put it on paper just the way I did this time. This time only some 45-50 minutes were enough to creat a cool, meaningful, authentic, and well organized lesson. If I haden’t paniced it would take me even less!

When u walked out of the class I felt so proud of myself. Then I wanted to recall the moments and points that made my class a success. Several sentences about me, Mrs. Gohar, and the students themselves were used to create a meaningful and real-life practice of  grammar. The flow went from controlled to communicatve. The class was managed by encouraging the exemplary behavior rather than pointing out the bad ones. These are some of the points that made my lesson a success and gave me the feeling of achievement. These are the things that I have learnt from my great teachers at AUA. For the feeling of victory and for the sense of being empowered and confident I am thankful to my university and the faculty. This university has given me a great base to build the efficient, respected, and sucessful teacher aspect of my personality on. And I know I will do better and better from lesson to lesson.

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INDEPENDENTTEACHING 3

This is the third independent class I am teaching. So I should be somewhat more confident by now.

However, this was the time when I felt most nervous. The two previous classes were a success, though my supervisor mentioned that I had been asking questions and answering myself a few times! This is what I usually do subconsciously. This time the topic was clothes and it seemed a fun topic to build a class on. My third class was to be observed by a teacher who

1) was a native speaker (I was so stressed not to make mistakes in my speech),

2) had taught me all the courses connected with teaching (and now I should try my best to create a nice flow, to go from controlled to guided and communicative, to give good instructions, to allocate enough time for Ss to answer my questions. There is so much to keep in mind when teaching!).

3) was not Armenian and would be more sensitive about the timing. (The Armenian time is totally different, and being punctual means being only half an hour late 🙂 ).

But now I consider my class not bad at all. I think there were many and fun moments. The kids were enthusiastic about playing with real clothes I had carried all the way from Ashtarak. I was able to target most of my objectives but left one out because of the time. The Ss were to learn/reinforce plural and singular clothing items; the expressions put on/ take off / wrap round”, use “he/she is wearing” to describe their peers; spell the names of the items, their size, and color correctly. These are all the objectives we were able to cover during the class. The one objective left out was to learn/revise and use expressions of shopping for clothes.

The last and the most engaging past was “the market”. Here the students were to revise and reinforce all the material covered at this class and practice the spelling of clothes and colors. Each group received several clothing items to sell in their market. But before that they should make real tags for them. if only you could see how cute those tags were with a few spelling mistakes and some at sky-high prices!

Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to sell them, as the time was up. But still we were able to practice some expressions as there was no class after us and we stayed in for some 10 more minutes.

What would I do the same if I were to teach this class once more? Everything.

What would I change if I were to teach it again? I would use two hours to complete this class. We seemed to be rushing through the activities. Moreover, all the Ss wanted to take part in each activity but because of the time constraint, it was not possible. I felt bad when I looked at these cute kids’ disappointed faces after they realized that the activity was over and they didn’t have chance to take part in it.

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INDEPENDENTTEACHING 2

And so the second day of independent teaching is behind. It is time to look back and reflect. What achievements did I have? What flaws were there that need working on? What was there I liked most about my teaching? What was there I wish I hadn’t done?

This time I was just as decisive to rearrange the Ss in the classroom as the last time. I knew my cooperative teacher had spoken to the disruptive girl. I knew I would succeed this time.

The students came and seated themselves. I reminded them about the lot drawing practice. The girl looked at me with despise. I went up to her and asked if she didn’t like making new friends. She said she did, and she blushed. I answered: “I knew you would say yes, I believe that you will work better this time. I know you will cooperate better.” She had no choice but to pretend she liked her new group and the people there. To create relationship between all these people and make them share, cooperate and interact I deliberately print out one copy of each handout with large letters. Now I can say without any hesitation that we succeeded in this. There was a clear cooperation among the members of each group. The greatest achievement for me was the discipline and cooperation, which we lacked at the previous class.

During my previous lesson, I noticed that Ss were much more enthusiastic about out-of-coursebook activities. Moreover, the reading material and exercises from the textbook were not interesting and not related to armenian reality by any means Thus, I was decisive to create a whole lesson on my own, though sticking to the grammar and vocab from the textbook. I printed out a pile of handouts. The first ones were for consciousness raising, which pushed the kids to deducing the grammar rule. And the Ss did it! Then came guided and controlled practice of the grammar item and vocab. Lastly there was communicative practice where the Ss interviewed their pairs. Afterwards I randomly picked up a number and asked the student under that number to tell me a certain info about his/her pair that he discovered through the interview. The Ss loved this activity! They took it very seriously. As the number of Ss was odd, i urged the left out student to interview Mrs. Gohar. He felt very privileged.

What I would change in my class was the way I introduced each next activity. Though each of my activites was the logical continuation of the precious, I failed to create a nice flow from one to the other by introducing and making logical connections orally. After the class I had a feeling of a choppy lesson plan. The last part of my class was based on an activity we watched at one of our TEFL 302 class. In the video, the teacher had the students group word pointing out that there was no right and wrong answer; any categorization was correct as long as the Ss could support their choice with logical reasons. To revise the vocab from the last 4 classes I printed out and cut all the words, and asked my Ss to group them. I pointed out that they were free to put them in any type of group they find reasonable. However, I was surprised to find them narrowing down the criteria for each group to say, days of the week, or names of the months. Some of them were annoyed as they were trying hard to find the “right answer”. They were surprised to hear me saying that I would put days of the week, names of the months, parts of a day, and other time adverbs all in one big group as they denote time.

If I were to conduct the same lesson again, I would still use all the handouts I had prepared, I would conduct all the activities, however, I would try to feel more at easy and guide the Ss from activity to activity more fluently.

I wanted to say that my cooperative teacher is the best ever! The most caring and supportive teacher I could ever have dreamt of. Thank you, Mrs. Gohar.

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