Sunday, 21 April 2013

English as a Second Language 2

Backs to the Board

(Image courtesy of Creative Commons)

I would like to share another English language resource. It often takes second language learners time to develop the confidence to speak. This is totally normal and I would never suggest you put pressure on a child to speak during this period, which I have seen last a couple of years.

One fun way to develop speaking skills, however, is by introducing a game called Backs to the Board. The game is played by splitting the class into two or more teams. One member of each team stands with his/her back to the board. The teacher writes a word or draws a picture on the board which the student cannot see. His/Her team can see it and the objective of the game is to get the student with the back to the board to say the word. One point is given to the first person to say the word. The rules are as follows for the team describing the word.

  1. You cannot say the word or spell any of its letters
  2. You may not use your mother tongue 
  3. You cannot use your hands or any body gestures
You will soon see your class shouting as they try to explain the words on the board. "It is a country in Asia, next to Vietnam, there are famous temples there". There are lots of variations to the game too and the teacher can use it to assess understanding of common nouns, verbs, pronouns etc. 

Have Fun!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

English as a Second Language 1

I have been teaching English to second language learners for nine years now and would like to share what have been some successful strategies for me.

The first one is a 'Singing Cloze' activity.

Each week (or every second week), I identify a song that interests my class. I then print out the lyrics, but use white out (tipp-ex) to delete about 10 words. With a black pen and ruler, I draw a line where the word should be and then photocopy the sheets for the class.

I will then play the song via Youtube and have the students listen for the missing words. We then discuss new words in the song, the theme, genre and composer. We will sing the song together twice a day. This can be a nice transition between lessons and gives the students a fresh burst of energy.

By the end of the week, most of the students will know all the lyrics of the song. A lot of new vocabulary! Two favourites with my classes have been Big City Life and I'll be Missing You.

Keep on learning!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

IBO Research Skills

I was reading the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) document titled 'Making the PYP Happen'. I found the most beautiful little section which outlines the kinds of research skills the Primary Years Program (PYP) seeks to develop in  learners. It calls these transdisciplinary skills.

I had been worried that I was pushing my Year 5 class too hard in the area of research by asking them to create surveys and analyse the data. However, after reading this document, I see that I am right on track and will now delve deeper into the interpretation of data.

Research Skills
Formulating Questions - Identifying something one wants or needs to know and asking compelling and relevant questions that can be researched.
Observing - Using all the senses to notice relevant details.

Planning - Develop a course of action; writing an outline; devising ways of finding out necessary information.

Collecting data - Gathering information from a variety of first- and second-hand sources such as maps, surveys, direct observation, books, films, people, museums and ICT.

Recording data - Describing and recording observations by drawing, note taking, making charts, tallying, writing statements.

Organizing data - Sorting and categorizing information; arranging into understandable forms such as narrative descriptions, tables, timelines, graphs and diagrams.

Interpreting data - Drawing conclusions from relationships and patterns that emerge from organized data.

Presenting research findings - Effectively communicating what has been learned; choosing appropriate media.

(International Baccalaureate Organization 2007)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Vietnam Technology Conference

In March of 2013, I traveled down to Ho Chi Minh City with colleagues from Singapore International School, Concordia, UNIS and Wellspring. We attended the first Vietnam Technology Conference. I delivered the first session on teaching research methods to children. My PowerPoint is available here. I have also shared the videos I shot via my YouTube channel. I hope they are beneficial to some educators out there.

Next year the conference will be in Hanoi so start planning now to attend. Lots of learning!