Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Typical Lesson

Here is a typical lesson. This week we've had some interesting discussions in the Grade 3 classes. Teenage pregnancy, advantages and disadvantages of girlfriends and freedom of speech!

After a multilingual hello, we get going with a long word - disestablishmentarianism! Nine students have to come to the front and each take a syllable (or part of). Practice speeding up until they can say it. They have never been taught this method of reading new words as they rely on the complex phonetic system.


Hello...; Long Words!

Next I have an optional mood lifter - depending on how tired they look - a crazy hopping, vertical twister sort of thing - just to make them laugh and wake up!

Then it's about 15 minutes of me droning on. Trying to give them a balanced view of the UK and what it's like to live there. I think it's important to build an awareness of the problems in 'rich' / 'western' countries as these are rarely portrayed on the imported media that they are exposed to.

The UK: Good or Bad?!

For the alcohol one, I tell them about excessive drinking and the inevitable accidents. For the Salary one I get them thinking we're rich until I tell them about the cost of living which is almost exactly 10 times greater than in Beijing. We all end up with zero, wherever we live in the world. For old people, the sorry state of caring for the elderly in the UK and the lack of interest shown by many families to their Grandparents (as compared with here!). For young people, I try to explain the problems and shock them a little with the teenage pregnancy problem. Unfortunately that then leads to the question: "Do you have any children?" "Errr... No!" They confidently tell me it's not a problem in China. Hmmm.

The next part is for them to choose a topic, think of some good and bad points and then have an argument! For me, this is the most interesting part. The topics vary from school - the easiest and most immediate choice; to girlfriends - one guy telling another that girlfriends were good because love makes you happy! I was also pleased to see some of them discussing China. Good - beautiful; friendly people. Bad - overpopulated; polluted; poor. I think one group listed freedom under bad. The power of suggestion!

Choose your Topic!

Getting them to argue is also fun. I go around shouting, "You're wrong" ... "No, YOU'RE wrong!". Some really get into it. Some, I suppose are just scared!

The last part of this lesson is a poem. I'm trying to get them to have a more natural spoken style - a more undulating pattern to sentences. Mixed success - it's something for them to work on.


Romance by Robert Louis Stevenson

Then, it is just to say goodbye (also in 5 languages!) and I'm off again. Normally to repeat the same lesson to a new set of unsuspecting 15 year olds.

Adios! Auf Wiedersehen! Au revoir! Goodbye! Zaijian 再见!


  • At 9:20 pm, Blogger sarita said…

    Hey Henry,
    I really like to read your blog entries, your teaching seems amazing!
    oh, and can you tell Sabi to also post poems for me please? ;-)
    Hugs from Geneva, Sarah


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