Journal: Demonstrating Understanding and Gender Equality

I just love it when they seem to understand and then they prove that they really do.

What surprised me:

  • Our defacto party planning committee is kind of reminding me of The Office.
  • A couple of the students were getting sassy with each other in a language I don’t understand. The woman told the man in English to shut up. The man said, “You shut up, you’re a woman.” I ended the conversation in my low assertive voice (“Ok, this ends right now.”) and took the man aside at a break, clarified what he’d said, and explained it had insulted me, my mother, my grandmother, and every woman. He apologized and said it won’t happen again. Damn right it won’t. At least not in English.
  • The writing activity I had them do was a little confusing, but most of them did it as I’d intended, and those who didn’t still got a ton of writing practice in PrCo and SiPr. And most of what they wrote used the appropriate grammar correctly. So exciting!

What went well:

I was happy with the party planning conversation, though toward the end of it we got to the unpleasant display of chauvinism that I squashed as firmly and calmly as I could.

I’ve been making little PowerPoints (well, the Open Office version of Power Point) about once a week for large-group work on grammar. I was particularly happy with today’s because it made them differentiate between when to use SiPr and PrCo and gave them good practice with a common test question format that tends to be baffling to adult ESL students:

“She (teaches / is teaching) right now.”

I especially got a kick out of using animations to help explain how things were related to each other. I also enjoyed claiming with a smile that I was really tired last night and wrote some bad sentences that I needed help fixing. 🙂

Also, there’s no other way to put it: I modeled the crap out of the grid activity and the follow-up writing activity, and it really paid off. They all understood that they were supposed to write sentences using the information they’d just collected from each other.

What needs improvement:

One of the students asked what a pronoun was, and I should not have answered on the spot. I think my answer was Ok, but it was too long and too verbal-only. I’m sure about three students really got it, about three think they do but don’t, and two felt lost. I could have done better if I’d promised a mini-lesson on it tomorrow instead.

Though they understood the flow of information from their grid to their sentences, the way I had them write sentences had them hopping between SiPr and PrCo which was counter-intuitive to them and made it hard to get the grammar straight. I think these were needless complications, but almost everybody showed me they understood when to use SiPr vs PrCo.

Also, one student clearly didn’t get the different meanings of the different tenses, but I didn’t have time to go over it again with him from the beginning. He still got practice but I think it was very much like “The Chinese Room” as opposed to meaningful practice.

Thoughts for tomorrow:

I think we’re ready for Episode 1 of the listening. We need more speaking, some reading, and lots more deciding when to use which tense and how to form them properly.

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