Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Bad witches - excellent warlocks

 My lads are startlingly good at recognising patterns...because I have given them time to see them, and argue about them (and these lads DO argue!) and been consistent. Sean Gallagher (Happy English Club) in Nagoya has meetings with his teachers to keep them consistent (phonetically) which I think is tremendous.

In the course of our text book enquiries (English Time 3), we came across the way we need to add a syllable to some words when they get an 's' on the end.No real need to explain the 'why' (as usual) just "That's the way it is" (sorry Bruce Hornsby)

They key to any learning is making it your own - shifting it from your book into your head, from your classroom into your bedroom etc. I still don't think OUP have realised what a Titanic-sized contribution the Story Tree (yes, that's right, the Story Tree, not the relaunched Reading Tree) has to offer EFL. It so kicks ass for me!

Consider this wonderful "coincidence". At the exact same time my chaps have stumbled across this extra /IZ/ sound in our class books, we are reading "Castle Adventure" featuring some nasty pasty witches and a wicked collection of extra /IZ/ sounds. Believe in coincidences?!

No, me neither! Colour-coding certain grammatical highlights is something I occasionally ask my students to do (a 2D version of Cuisenaires if you like), but it also works for contrastive sounds. Today, blue for no extra sound (no matter /s/ or /z/) or red if the word got longer (an /IZ/ sound). They'd been asked to listen to the CD and get familiar with the story. Yes, extra to homework assignment; when we have only an hour together  every week...we won't pick up much English 48hrs a year. Anyway, today read the story back again with red & blue pencils primed. Weaker students, we'll do this with the CD and stop a lot! Then, we read it together.

Follow up? Subliminal of course (but we can always go back to our red/blue page/reader!) To finish off before the Golden Week Holiday, and to motivate them to finish the last book in the bundled pack in one go...we jumped onto Quizlet and bettered each others' "scatter" times with vocab from the last unit we had finished (find all our work there "lunateacher" or "lunajim")

Wake up OUP - we adopted Story Tree to because our YLE candidates were not doing as well as we wanted in their reading/writing paper. Reading Tree is fun, but aimed at native speakers - the Story Tree is already there. And so are my students :)

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