One hour plus one hour makes a hundred hours


(The American actor Tom Berenger, The substitute -1996- a film directed by Robert Mandel)

Teacher´s notepad: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

The ideal period for teaching a Foreign Language consists of lots of activities.

One student must receive information, get examples, do a little reading, practise, listen to audios from the textbook or wherever, and above all, writing words and phrases in their notebooks.

The teacher tests oral skills by motivating students to speak aloud, read and pronounce well. One way is by means of choral repetition.  Some people are shy and need the help of a group to sing or talk. And this could be the way for them.

If possible, a pack  of paper copies to unify criteria, exercises or basic concepts-a kind of Parallel Papers– should be another opportunity for extra work in class and revision at home. There the teacher might show lists of words, false friends or explanations on how to  tell the time, etcetera.

The textbook is the basic activity but not the only one: there are texts, audios, exercises, grammar, lists of vocabulary, tips, and a variety of topics to deal with such as dialogues and reading comprehensions. There are more activities, of course. One must get the students involved in the work of the activity book or workbook.

It has been observed that some students are not good at communicating their feelings or just saying what they need or want. The exploitation of writing grammatically correct sentences and the memorizing activity of getting new words should not be forgotten.

If the students are being evaluated with marks they make an effort to learn words or to make sentences in the right way.

These sentences might be called SMS or Short Messages and dictated or copied on the blackboard in packs of seven or ten, for example. Mini-tests on vocabulary is another possibility to keep their interest and tension at the highest level.

Most teachers know that creating habits in the student can transform a passive pupil  into a participative individual and the other way round too, of course.

Good habits for study are listening actively to podcasts (BBC), listening to the BBC radio programmes online as one is doing some work on the internet or just listening to the Vaughan radio programmes on a digital FM radio gadget.

(There is a new link on the blogroll at BBC radio online)

The relevance of listening and speaking is essential to be good at English language and to communicate. There should be direct, short Question & Answer exercises between teacher and student and between students.

Dialogues, situations and drama. Using images from magazines or newspapers to learn vocabulary and get the students´attention. Anything, from a new film to a pop star new song, the latest gossip or a piece of news on a newspaper makes the best of the learning a foreign language.

Moreover, dedicate some days to dictation, translation and reading. Try to make of writing opinions onto slips of paper a routine. From these notes the essay writing becomes an easy activity.

There is also something in a class of great importance, namely, the correction of all exercises. Students must learn lots of things and learn them academically right.

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