As I was planning this week’s lessons, I started to get nervous that I’m not teaching a wide enough variety of lessons. I was worried that it was lazy to not move on and incorporate more into this grammar point, or to move to a new one.
Today’s class restored my confidence. They remembered what they’d been studying last week (Present Continuous). They can all identify subject, to be, and the verb. They’re much more accurate when they say simple sentences during chain drills (I’d say close to 80%, up from maybe 40%). I noticed that even the students who struggle more than the others are significantly more accurate when they write or speak using this tense. It’s awesome.
And to top off their success today, one of the students who has been in the class for at least a few semesters said that this used to be very hard for him, but the way I’m presenting it and doing a lot of examples, he understands it. So they’re learning and they know it. Yay!
Countries of Origin: El Salvador, South Korea, Dominican Republic
What surprised me:
- a student was telling about going fishing by the river this weekend, and that there were a lot of rehneh there. I said I didn’t know what a rehneh was, and asked him to explain. He said it’s white people who don’t like people from Latin America or China or anywhere else…. ooooooh, rednecks.
- that learning PrCo questions didn’t confuse them even though who takes statement grammar instead of question grammar because it’s a subject. (Seriously, they’re amazing.)
- SWBAT ID, construct, and correct PrCo sentences.
- SWBAT ID, construct, and correct PrCo questions.
- (we had a pronunciation objective, but flat-out didn’t get to it)
What went well:
I was really pleased that I stuck to a good order: introduction, a ton of examples as a big group, a very structured practice for comprehension and accuracy, and a less structured practice that was still mostly for accuracy but required they supply more of the knowledge.
I wrote our reading exercise. It was about 10 sentences long and had 5 sentences in PrCo. One of the other sentences was in future conditional – in other words, it was only very subtly different. 1. They proved to me that they knew what PrCo was by making a fine distinction, and 2. it spurred a few to realize what they already knew, that PrCo isn’t the only way to write a good English sentence, but that it’s just one way to express a couple of specific meanings.
We did two parallel lessons when it came to introducing PrCo questions. First we reviewed PrCo statements with examples, scrambled sentences, and a chain drill. Then I introduced PrCo questions and we did a bunch of examples, unscrambled questions, and did a chain drill. By repeating the activities with different content, there wasn’t too much new information coming at them at once.
I was also proud of myself for correcting a mistake I made Thursday. Thursday (when I didn’t post, sorry), I had given them a worksheet and completely missed the fact that they had to use PrCo statements and questions. We simply hadn’t learned question grammar yet. I let people who knew it try it, and steered people who didn’t know away from it. Today, after we had worked together on both statements and questions, I gave them back their worksheets to correct, focusing on the question examples. It was great practice for them – a couple who had been struggling pretty hard really showed improvement when going back to this worksheet.
What I’d like to improve upon:
I’m reverting to my old habit from TEFL class of fearing the fluency activity. We need more fluency practice – accuracy isn’t enough.
I need to make sure that we’re not losing sight of what exactly PrCo means, i.e. that it’s not for habitual events, or the past, or to say “maybe.”
I could support spelling better.
It was sloppy to teach that you switch the helping verb and the subject for all questions because for who questions, you generally don’t (because who is the subject). It happened because I didn’t double-check my assumptions carefully. I think I handled it fine, and I checked for understanding and they got it, but it was preventable.
Thoughts for Tomorrow:
We need to identify questions vs statements (maybe with sentence fragments, like “Are we meeting at…….” ). I’d also like to get to some phrases like “driving me crazy” (I think some still think it has to do with a car) and “it’s making a funny noise” and other complaints of gadgets not working. This content and grammar will tie into the listening. I need to make a decision about pronunciation as well.