I will take into consideration one aspect of teaching which I’m concerned about and during some period of time (let’s say one month) I will describe, analyse and work on it in order to make my teaching more effective and also to create a habit of conscious teaching.
Starting from this week I’m going to work on setting tasks which is one of my weakest points in teaching.
Yesterday I had a grammar focused lesson on countability and expressing quantity in my Business English Upper-Intermediate group. There were only 2 students yesterday.
I am going to analyse a freer practice task setting.
This is the task from the Business Result coursebook:
Work with a partner. Compare these situations using as many of the phrases in 3 as you can.
- Working for a multinational company vs working for a small family firm
- Communicating by email and text vs communicating face to face
- Working with an experienced colleague vs working with a trainee
I’ve chosen to work with the third situation as an example anticipating possible difficulties with coming up with ideas or having strong biases towards the first option. So I described the situation asking students to imagine themselves in conditions of working closely with a colleague and questioning them whether it’s better to have an experienced person or a trainee. The students started to come up with ideas and they had a lot of them considering the situation from different points of view.
Then I gave other two situations to the students so that everyone has one situation to consider and they had 3-4 minutes to prepare. I also draw their attention to using target language. At ‘Teach’ stage they have chosen the words that were new for them or difficult to remember how to use it, so by the freer practice task they had all these ‘problem’ cards in front of them.
After that I asked one student to describe her situation and her point of view while another student was given a task to listen and say which points she agrees with. The first student used a lot of items of the target language though making some mistakes, I was nodding and noting the mistakes and good items in my notebook, another student was listening. When the talk was finished I asked another student for content feedback i.e. to answer the question and after that we listened to the second student with the first one having the same listening task. This time the target language was hardly used and by the feedback I found out that all the mistakes were from one and the same student. When we finished discussing I conducted language feedback where we paid attention to some difficult cases. I just wrote the issues with mistakes on the board actually.
The task is not very communicative but it’s a topic for another analysis since I’m looking at setting tasks now. The problem was that one student didn’t use the target language a lot. It might have happened because she was too concentrated on the ideas and not focused on the language and also because we hadn’t used it in the example situation. That was a really big mistake. Another problem which came up during speaking concerns the mistakes which stems from poor controlled practice and though it’s not the problem of the task set up again, I think if I had set up a peer-evaluation task it might have become better.
I’d prefer to have it in bullet points.
- It’s important to monitor while students are preparing their ideas and remind about the language to be used or help to generate ideas if necessary
- It might be a good idea to discuss how to use the target language before they start preparing, but it depends on the task and interaction patterns
- Asking students to notice which of the target structures their partner have used and to note some mistakes (depending on students’ personalities – sometimes it’s a bad idea) might help to concentrate on the language and practice listening and correction which may lead to self-correction
- It’s essential to work on the example in such a way that I want my students to work on their situations providing a good model of both content and language
- Don’t forget to monitor and help, students might not have questions but they might be mistaken at the same time. It’s better to make sure once again that they are doing the task and using the language you want them to use
- Work better on the examples and demos while preparing for lessons, don’t count on your ability to give a good example on the spot
- If necessary elicit how to use the language you need to practice in the situations given
- Try to implement peer-teaching and peer-correction if appropriate
- Make tasks more communicative
PLEASE, please, please. If you see that I’m doing something wrong, or making some crazy senseless conclusions or anything like that – feel free to let me know in comments as I’m sure it will help me to become better. Or just write me something))) It will definitely be pleasant for me.