Evening 15 (Tues 2012-03-06)
1. Observation of a Professional (90min)
This was an evening mostly spent observing a 90-minute ESOL class. It was pretty impressive but I noticed that the teacher broke some of the rules we’re being taught. I’m not really sure what conclusions to draw from it.
The students were the same level as the ones I’ve been teaching – Upper Intermediate – only these were more advanced. There were more of them too – a class of at least 12. Some were very vocal – the Italian guys seemed to be trying to make up for their lack of stature by speaking from their diaphragms! BIG voices. They all knew each other and worked comfortably together. A couple of younger girls spent all the time chatting, some of which was on-topic but the rest could have been anything, but the teacher didn’t shut them up. Overall it was pretty noisy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The main theme concerned the process of applying and selecting for a job. I didn’t understand how she set it up – some students were job applicants with pre-defined histories, others were interviewers, and perhaps some were both. At the end of the day the employers had to make a selection and the upshot was a unanimous choice for the job. It was fun – everyone appeared to have a good time, and there was a lot of interaction.
I noticed that the teacher wrote up the stages on the board beforehand. It must have been for her own benefit, to keep her on course. There were no timings and I spotted that the last activity didn’t get done (write a formal letter).
The teacher tended to be giving out the handouts either at the same time or before the instructions were given. We’re being told to read out the instructions and check the students understand them _before_ we dish out the handouts. Perhaps that’s less important with these able students than it would be at a low level.
Rarely did the teacher state times for timed activities, and not always did she give countdowns. Sometimes she would give word definitions even before seeing if she could elicit them from the students. But there was some checking of meaning sprinkled throughout the lesson. After a multiple-choice activity she gave a summary rather than asking for replies – presumably she based it on listening in and observing during the activity.
There were other non-conformances too, but I guess the bottom line was what mattered – there was lots of talking in English! It was fast-paced and fun for all. It took some setting-up; I’m sure it wasn’t perfect but it was pretty effective.
2. Preparation for TP (45min)
On Thursday there’ll be teaching practice for three of us and , this time, I’ll be one of them. With 2 hour lessons that’s a 40-minute session for me and the other two. I’d originally decided that I’d like to try using presentation-type software (LibreOffice’s Presentation) but had half made up my mind to forget it because there were to be gap-fill controlled-practices and I wasn’t convinced I could do them effectively electronically. The tutor persuaded me to give it a go and also gave me some tips for Phonology and Form of the phrases I was to teach: looks, looks like, looks as if & sounds, tastes, smells, feels etc. It was a productive session and our tutor was very helpful.