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Thy classes shalt be lively and dynamic

Category: Methodology

Beep, beep, danger, danger: one of my classes today was a drudgery. I’ve violated one of the cardinal rules of English language teaching: thy classes shalt be lively and dynamic, at least a good bit of it.

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William Christison
William Christison.

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Lets start from the beginning. This is a new class I got in a good company, which basically offered English classes to its employees, so I suppose they asked them, “Who wants English classes?” Five of them signed up, they found me on Madrid Teacher, the pay is pretty reasonable, definitely better than through an academy, it’s not too far from my home, so viola, I’m on it, I meet them, they seem like nice people, and now I’m their “profe”.

They said their level was basically intermediate, and that in fact is a pretty good average, because their skills range from pre-intermediate to upper intermediate. Therein lies the main difficulty. The weaker students have a bit of a complex, in fact one of them spends most of the time furiously taking notes and is reluctant to surface to answer questions and participate. The stronger ones end up dominating so I have to “nominate” the weaker ones to force them to participate. I also find myself slowing down for them, so things take longer than I anticipate. In fact in today’s class the main problem was I didn’t get to the fluency activity at the end.

This is actually a pretty good group in the sense that when they told me what they wanted they said mainly vocabulary, listening comprehension and speaking. That sounds pretty good to me, but again the problem is getting bogged down in the language input phase of things; that’s the part that ends up a drudgery. But at least they understand the importance of that phase. Yet here in Spain opportunities to put your English into practice are not abundant, so the fluency stages are important.

The way I see it, the upshot here is that I’m not really going to be able to use the book “properly”; that is, the group goes too slowly to get to the fluency activity in the book, so I’ll have to bring in my own, which may not necessarily always tie in with the book thematically, grammatically or lexically. But supplementing is as old as the hills, or as old as English teaching.

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