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Amparo Bertram

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07:09 am: Warm fuzzies
Update on yesterday: I went shopping and bought some smallish mens' sweats, since they were the thickest and softest available. (Why were the womens' PJs all so thin and not-very-warm-looking? What's up with that? The women have to buy separate vests for insulation.)

I also bought a six-drawer plastic cabinet for organizing my craft supplies. Getting the hunking thing home on my bicycle was a real pain, but my craft room is significantly tidier. The cabinet also has a faux-wood top that can support up to about 70 pounds, so I can stack things on top of it as well. I am quite happy with it.

Since I have a few spare minutes, I'll take the opportunity for a bit of criticism of one of my classes. I meant to post this earlier, on a day I actually had the class, but my mind flitted off to other things.

In theory, the students come into the language lab with their textbooks and put on their headphones. The teacher starts the CD, the students listen to the conversations and answer the questions in the text. First, I will say that it is important to give the students practice listening to native speech. I admit this. The problem is with the way the class is run.

1. The students don't always bring their textbooks. There are two girls in particular who never bring their books and instead sit in the back of the class together chatting.

2. The teacher only plays the CD. He doesn't do any warmups, or any other activities, he just sits at the front of the room playing the CD. I try to walk around the room watching the students, not that I can really do anything about it if they're just staring blankly at their books without writing.

3. The students don't bother to answer the questions in the book. Only about six students actively do the lessons. A large part of the class will put their headphones on and a) immediately plop down for a nap, b) chat, c) draw pictures or decorate their purikura notebooks, or d) do absolutely nothing.

I will mention here that during this week's class, fully half the students did nothing but chat. My team teacher and I had to tell them to be quiet roughly every five minutes, but it had pretty much no effect. I don't have the authority to do any kind of discipline, and my team teacher doesn't seem inclined to do anything. So we just repeated reprimands over and over. <sigh>

4. After each activity, we answer the questions on the board...essentially only calling on students who wrote something down. I try to engage the others, even the ones who didn't bring their books (I show them mine and give them hints), but it's agonizing and takes forever. The students who didn't do anything can then copy down the correct answers from the board.

Here's the kicker:

5. The exams are taken directly from the book. Does the teacher bother designing an activity similar to the book for me to read a conversation about? At least that way the students would actually have to listen. But no, he photocopies the textbook and plays the exact same CD that he played during class.

Thus, it is entirely possible for a student to show up to class, do nothing but copy the answers off the board, memorize the correct answers, and pass the exam without having to listen to English at all. Is it just me, or is this perhaps a serious waste of the students' time?


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Comments

From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 28th, 2004 08:23 pm (UTC)

This is so hard.

(Link)
The student behavior you talk about is very similar to what I observe in my classes, too. The students who do take advantage of the opportunity are probably getting something good out of it. I have to always remember that. I also try to remember that I can't *make* anyone learn anything. There's a big element of student engagement involved in the learning process. The surprising part for me is that even in elective courses this is an issue. At some level, I thought that if a student chose the class there would be more internal motivation to learn. It's not necessarily so. An Adrian College professor told me that even holds true for his students...when a student is paying big bucks to be in the class. Go figure!
Love,
Mom
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