Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The letter "R"

As promised, on the brighter side of things, I'll take a moment to share some gold from my Monday / Wednesday after-school groups.

These students are high-level - high enough anyway for us to communicate in English with relative ease, and for them to confidently express themselves, if not verbally, than certainly in their writing.

Though I do recognize the value of having any language learners exposed to a native speaker of that language, there are certainly situations that are more appropriate for native speaker interaction than others.

I realize I came down a bit hard in my entry yesterday regarding my low-level class. I certainly feel for them - I know how hard it can be to sit in a room where nothing is understood because of lack of familiarity with the language being spoken. That being said, I know that there is very little that can be accomplished with that particular group of students, if at the helm is someone with very little skill or ability in Korean language - said person being yours truly. It's more about trying desperately to steer both parties out of the vortex of frustration, than it is about teaching, I'm afraid. With my other classes though, I feel like there is some actual teaching going on. Again, this post is mostly about teaching, so read on if you're interested.

Last week, I edited my students' brief St. Patrick's Day story paragraphs and decided that it would serve us well to focus our energies on a couple of things: the proper use of dialogue in a story, and the use of past tense verbs when telling a story set in the past.

This week, we looked at an example of student writing and corrected it together. Then, we set-up for the game portion of the class.

What we did is played a round of Scattergories - this is the game where teams get a list of 12 categories (types of breakfast food, things that are cold, world cities, etc.). A letter is picked (we chose "R") and then teams have to find a unique word beginning with the letter R to fit into each of the 12 categories. Only original words count as points while any words that are shared between more than one team get discarded. The team with the most original words wins. Categories were described through powerpoint (visual and Korean language aides before lists begin). Students used dictionaries and cell phones to help them find the words.

Here's how I turned it into a creative writing assignment. Out of the "R" words that remained as original words on the board at the end of the game, I chose 10 key vocabulary words. These words were defined and then recorded on a sheet. Each student was then to take 5 of the 10 words and fit them into a story that needed to be past-tense, and include dialogue.

Our words included the following...

1) A boy's English name (Raymond)
2) Something that is cold (refrigerator)
3) Furniture (rack)
4) Furniture (radiator) *I was very lenient
5) Something found in the ocean (Ray)
6) Something found in the ocean (Regatta)
7) A president (Roosevelt)

A lovely grade 7 student with the (admittedly odd) English name of Shelvy wrote a story that made me smile. Here it is, for your reading pleasure...

One day, Raymond was hungry, so he opened his refrigerator. But, there wasn't food - there was Roosevelt!!! So, Raymond closed his refrigerator, and kicked it. Roosevelt came out of his refrigerator and he cried. Raymond was amazed. Raymond threw the rack at Roosevelt. Roosevelt cried again. Raymond threw a ray on Roosevelt's face. Roosevelt cried again. Then, Raymond's father, Rain came in the kitchen. Roosevelt fell in love with Rain, and they got married and went on a honeymoon. Raymond said, "They are crazy!!!"

Min-soo, a grade 3 boy, gave Shelvy a run for her money...

In Roosevelt's house, there was a rack, a radiator, and a refrigerator. By the way, in the refrigerator, there was a ray and some meat. Roosevelt was so hungry, so he mixed the ray and the meat. He started to cook. Soon, the food was completion. He ate the terrible food. "Oh, my god!!!" The taste of this food is so crazy!" said Roosevelt. Accordingly, finally, he died.

I know this isn't half as entertaining to you as it is to me, but it's just so refreshing to sample the creativity of my students. I love this stuff. It's so rewarding to be communicating with students at a certain level where they can understand and use humour. Honestly, I love reading these stories, and it seems like these two classes each week are going to truly give me something to look forward to each week at school - students I see regularly who enjoy their time in my class and enjoy the work they are doing, and the English they are using to do it. In these classes, I am feeling like a legitimate teacher for the first time since my days at Youngdo with Pig's class. It feels good.

1 comment:

Mr. Genius-Face said...

If it's crazy for TR to have a romantic honeymoon with Rain, then I don't wanna be compos mentis.