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Amparo Bertram

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09:41 pm: Stay tuned to find out if I am being sentenced to a year of living hell
This week has been rather gray and rainy and cold. But that's not the problem.

Thursday the English teachers got together for a departmental meeting to discuss the current third-year students and how their classes have gone this year. I waited through about a half hour of debate over whether a particular student deserved to flunk. Finally, we got to give feedback on classes, and I brought up the misery that is Listening class. It's a waste of time, for the most part. Only about five students actually try to listen. I pointed out that, considering the naughty behavior of the current second-year students in their Listening class, nothing is going to improve next year unless serious changes are made.

My suggestion was to make Listening an elective, so that only those who want to practice listening will take it. Apparently, however, that's not an option.

Someone then suggested that the problem might be that the class is too big. (There are nearly 40 students in the second-year Listening class.) It was proposed that the class be divided in half.

For those who might not immediately understand the ramifications of this, here's a little math. I teach Listening two hours per week for both the second-years and third-years, for a total of four hours per week. Dividing the class in half effectively doubles this, because I would have to teach each half separately. In other words, this plan means I would have four extra hours of work per week...teaching the class I hate most.

I was not exactly jumping for joy.

It's not any better for the other teachers, either, since some poor soul will have to share my suffering in the extra four hours of Listening. On top of that, the remaining teachers would have to shoulder the burden of teaching EIGHT more hours of some other class to keep occupied the half class of students who aren't in Listening. This problem may result in the change not happening, though I won't know for a while.

Personally, I think making Listening an elective would be far simpler, but oh well. Also, I highly doubt that making the class size smaller is going to improve behavior. However, I made the request that at the very least the class should be moved out of the computer lab (with all its distractions) and into the seminar room instead. The only reason it's in the computer lab is so the teacher can play the listening CD over the computer headphones...but why bother? Why not just use a regular CD player? Or, failing that, why not just have me read the script? That's the whole point of having a native speaker in the class, after all.

Anyway, I'll have to wait and see how this turns out.



[User Picture]
Date:February 3rd, 2006 01:32 pm (UTC)

What about a different format?

If a listening class is required, could it be a listening class where they have to show they are listening? I hope it moves out of the computer room. If it stays, can you require all the computers to be off?

In college we had to do the listening on our own time, but at least that way we could go at our own speed. We had to go to the library and check out a tape (yes, reel to reel. It was back in the day.) We were assigned an anecdote to listen to, which we had to transcribe exactly. If we missed a tiny word like "a" we got marked down.

If you stayed in the computer room could there be a CD for the kids to listen to with earphones and they write what they hear? Maybe they could grade them in class so the teacher wouldn't have to do all that. Would there be a computer way to grade it?

Listening is very difficult work. If there is nothing to do to help them focus, I can see why they lose interest. If they had to do something like transcribe it or act it out or draw it from the beginning of the course, would that make a difference? I know the students did not respond well to the request to draw or answer questions about what they were hearing.

I'm frustrated here, too. The bottom line is when a student doesn't want to learn, one really can't force him or her.

I hope it comes out well for you.
[User Picture]
Date:February 3rd, 2006 09:53 pm (UTC)

Re: What about a different format?

If it stays, can you require all the computers to be off?

That defeats the purpose of being in the computer lab. Plus, then the third-year students wouldn't be able to have class, because theirs is video-based and there's no TV in the room, just the computers. (The seminar room has two TVs hooked up to a VCR and DVD player.)

If you stayed in the computer room could there be a CD for the kids to listen to with earphones and they write what they hear?

That's what they're SUPPOSED to do. They're supposed to listen and write the answers in their textbook. But they don't. They just stare at the blank page and wait for someone else in the class to answer, then they just copy down the answers as they're written on the board.

That's the problem...they don't TURN IN anything, so they're not individually accountable for doing the work. All the answers are gone over verbally and then written on the board, so the ones who don't want to make any effort just copy.

I could, however, suggest that we don't go over the answers in class, but instead they have to turn everything in at the end of class. That would also solve the problem of students not bringing their books/handouts, because they would all be collected. I would have to grade it all, though. Hmmm....

The bottom line is when a student doesn't want to learn, one really can't force him or her.

Yep. That's the long and the short of it.
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