Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How many arms do you have? (We need ten!)

Four students is a very nice number to be working with. Ever noticed how most board games & activities are designed for four players?!

We have heard this song a few times now in class and at home, and have pointed/stabbed numbers on the table. Thought we'd warm ourselves up the other afternoon, and get physical with our numbers from one to ten. The song is one of the delightful tunes found in the Everybody Up (Starter) book from OUP - haven't really come across a bad chant yet in it. What I do like especially about the songs is that they are long enough (and repeat the same verse) that we can change around in the middle ie assume a different 'role' - in this case two new numbers. This does mean children are adapting quickly/being more flexible with the vocabulary, and putting it 'in order' in their heads.Catchy music gives them 'hooks' to hang this all on, and as long as it is a mutual giggle and not a command performance, everyone will try; brave ones might even sing.

I know a lot of inexperienced YL teachers panic about 'losing control'...a class out of control is a nightmare, to be sure. The key I find is to know what you are trying to do and have a number of options handy; plan A might not be suitable if the children arrive tired or hyper; plan B might not work because the cheerleader in the group is absent or 'the monster' is on form; plan C might not work due to missing CD or xyz malfunction. Whatever. The children will give you a break if you give them a break! If they can laugh with you and about themselves, then you can be the focal point of mayhem rather than one of them, which gives you time for transitions/finding the CD track, flashcards etc. Involve them in your problem eg "Where's my book?"

Compare that with "Sit down. Next we are going to talk about animals. This is a cat. Repeat. This is a cat. Do you like cats? Yes I do. You say that. Yes I do. What's this....."

Another thing children love to do is test the teacher (linguistically, rather than emotionally!). Using numbers is important, but one of the easier things for learners to pick up I think. The question bit is what they need to use just as much!  Gang up on the teacher? Even better! After they have exhausted a picture with each other asking eg "How many.......s?" and you are happy with the monitoring you have done gently - challenge the teacher. Make a big deal of being confident, and get the answers wrong :) This will generate plenty of student talk ha ha!

What games do you like to play with numbers? Love to hear about them!