Though my students are all doing really well with their Genki English software homework, it gets tough at the point I start telling them to read at home.
As there is no one to tell them wether they are right or wrong, and they can not figure it out themselves yet it decreases their confidence and motivation~the last thing we want to happen.
I don't just want to give them a recording with the correct reading, because then they would just listen to this until they know it by heart, instead of really reading the words/texts.
Finally last week I started a model with one class:
I asked THEM to record THEIR READING for me, and send it. If possible every day.
Now~this was just brilliant!!!
One mom wrote:
"I am just amazed at how much my daughter can read with 9 years. I'm looking forward to the future."
Another one wrote:
This style of homework is just perfect for my daughter. I don't have to tell her "do your homework" anymore, she doesn't get irritated if she isn'T sure about something but goes on. She is so happy to see that you are listening the recording so soon after she's send it, and is looking forward to your corrections and questions. In a few days her reading got so fluent. Thank you so much for this great idea.
We are using LINE, an app that is really great for this occasion, as we can make our own group (the parents, the kids and me in this case) and we can video or record right there and send it just as it is.
This year in elementary school I'm teaching three 6th grade classes of about 30 kids per class.
Compared to previous years only few kids learn English outside school.
However they want to learn a lot and so their attitude is amazingly good.
They are listening well, are very concentrated, do what I suggest, wether it is singing, gesturing, moving, presenting. Really almost perfect.
What is missing:
They are afraid to make mistakes, they are not used to think beyond the things they are told.
I had a boy (let's call him Peter) jump to England. (Flag of England)
We do this every week with all kind of actions, and then I ask the kids:
WHERE is... or WHO is in...etc
So today I asked another boy "WHERE is Peter?"
I added gestures to the same question:
I didn't make a Yes/No question on purpose, as I really wanted this boy to tell me, what is his problem. Why he does not answer.
But he didn't even say anything in Japanese just looking at me with ?marks.
So finally I said in Japanese:
"Please, communicate your problem to me. You have many options to do so, I do not force you to speak English here, but communicate."
OK, here I finally got a Japanese "Don't know"
so I said, "Look, you need to be specific. What is your problem?
Do you NOT understand my question?
Do you understand my question but NOT know how to answer?
Do you know the English you need, but NOT the flag's country?
Or: Do you know all this, but NOT who Peter is?
So, after I had made this point he got it, (he didn't know the countries' flag) and after his friend told him he could make the sentence.
I was quite picky today, but finally they got it. After this encounter I asked
How do you say "..." in English ("What's your name")
The girl said right away,
"I understand you, but I don't know how to say it in English."
Of course I did NOT scold her for not knowing such an easy thing, but helped her on the spot with some gestures.
She got comfortable, even having the courage to try though she was sure that is wasn't the perfect answer yet. Every try I praised until she finally had the answer. In the end of class she came, looked me in the eyes and said "Good bye". It was more than "thank you".
If I get one kid per week like this, I will be there when they graduate!!!
Today I had my first skype meeting with Julia in Russia.
It was very exciting and we are really looking forward to our first skype event with our students.
No promises- but I really want to try to video it.
I'm sooooo curious at the kids' reaction.
Thanks a lot- I'm still kind of blown away by your perfect German!
And looking forward to our exchange next Friday!!!
Everyone interested in this, could you send me your mail address via CONTACT and I'll send you a pdf with my ideas.
I think there are very different teaching situations from country to country so I am trying to make it light and easy, without too many restrictions.
What I am still pondering about is, wether there should be a "finish line" or not. Some schools seem to have yearly class contracts so it is difficult for them to go beyond the time there. However the school years start at different times from country to country; it will be disappointing for the students to be told "no more video letters" all of a sudden, so I guess that a clear timeline would be better.
If you write me, please add some comments on what you think here.
Thanks a lot.
We've received an answer from Julia's kids in Russia to our "What are your treasures?" video letter.
If you are new, you can check all the Russia~Japan video letters HERE in order.
And here is our latest respond, having checked all the interesting looking food and drinks for homework:
Right now I'm working on a structured project plan for these video letters, hope I can share them soon.
If you have questions or ideas share them in the comments.
Else, I'm working on a video for Dacha in France as well.
And a new Spain video letter is HERE.