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Today I am going to focus on how we do our English lesson. Normally for non native English speaker, people would take English as a Second Language programs which are very common in many institutions and schools. Although there are reading, writing, speaking and listening, this program will focus more on the grammar and vocabulary sessions. I learnt English using this method at school when I was a child. In the end, I had a very difficult time dealing with more complicated reading and writing. Moreover, I had difficulties in listening and speaking too. You might think that speaking and spelling should be done in daily life. Yes, they should, but I was not in environment where someone spoke English around.
I was very embarrassed with my English when I was in the university. Although my English at school was not bad, when I came to the university, I just felt how horrible I had been. I could not write paragraphs as I was to busy with the meaning and grammar. I could not speak either. From that experience, I started to be interested with another way of learning English. I started learning English from the scratch in an English letter department. I found that it was more effective. I learn reading, writing, speaking, listening, linguistics, and grammar separately. I found that English as first language students overseas also have similar pattern. Those language lessons are usually distributed under reading, writing, spelling, and grammar. I try to adapt the method altogether with some ESL materials.
Here are our circulation of lessons we've got this year 2013-2014
We have 30-40 minutes of reading everyday. Children take different levels of reading ability. We don't have any certain textbook for reading as kids are really easily bored. That's why we take different resources in turn:
- Abridged classical stories
- Kids read one chapter in a day, underline the difficult words, copy the new vocabulary and define the meaning by guessing based on the context or retell what the dictionary said
- Kids do either oral or written narration in their reading journal pages.
- At the end of the story, we discuss some critical and significant part of the story.
- To close the story, kids make a very brief book report
McGuffey Series (McGuffeys Eclectic Readers Series) (Boxed teachers ed) 8 vols.
and revised readers
Before kids start with new story, they need to have one week reading aloud time as a transition. Kids read and answer the questions classically. The skill emphasized is to answer written questions using both skimming and scanning methods. I assign some new vocabulary for them to write the meaning and to use it in sentences. Reading aloud enables me to control their pronunciation and intonation.
- Reading Eggs
I choose a book for them from the library to read in lesson time based on their reading levels and they do some online activities. Sometimes I get them to do comprehension gym
- Reading some popular kids story books. We will share you some children books that kids like later. After reading we follow up with some comprehension activities.
- Some ESL reading passage materials
I sometimes use them to check whether kids are acceptable in common ESL test. I think they should know what their friends are doing at school.
We don't take them at once, but in turn. By reading kids can learn vocabulary at the same time. They are faced to the real experience of reading, rather than the artificial ones.
We had twice a week writing lesson using Writing With Ease series to help kids reconstruct sentences based on classical stories. This seri have students book and instructor guide. We really love the stories a lot. When kids are interested in the story I read for them, we try to get the resource books. The process in general:
- I read some paragraphs taken from a classical story, talking about vocabulary
- Kids answer some questions based on the reading orally in complete sentences
- Kids write two or three sentences summarizing the passage.
- There is a copy work and dictation sessions.
We had twice a week lessons using Writing Strands to help kids constructing longer sentences so that they get confidence in real writing.
We had a couple of grammar resources which are used and paired along with the writing resources used.
- First Language Lessons
This seri is recommended by The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition)
What I love from this resources are
It has memorizing poem lessons. Kids really like reciting english poem
It emphasizes parts of speech approach which is applied in sentence diagramming. It looks like my syntax course when I was in university. It makes kids know what to do with writing longer sentences without guidance of parts of speech basic.
- Grammar Time
It is typically an ESL model of grammar lessons. We use it to catch up with other ESL students. There are also some listening sessions to review the chapter.
We have two different kinds of spelling methods. Ken and Tom use Spelling Workout Series as it is recommended in the Well Trained Mind. We don't have special vocabulary lesson for them. Our spelling lesson also plays role as our vocabulary lesson. Spelling just take 4 times in a week with 15 minutes each. Spelling Workout has:
- Reading session, very shorts, contain spelling tips and spelling list related
- spelling tips related with spelling list underneath
- one page (consists of 2 sessions) of spelling list vocabulary understanding
- short proofreading and writing sessions
- dictation test
For Jim, the youngest one, we use Look, Cover, Spell, and Write method and he has ESL vocabulary lessons which demand him memorizing bunches of words. However, he has phonics lesson with reading eggs.
LCSW (Look, Cover, Spell, and Write) sounds very common.
- Jim look at carefully at the difficult or new words. I always ask him to take picture of the words in his mind. It seems like his eyes are his camera and radar.
- He cover the words and close his eyes, imagining how the words look like each of them. I always tell him that he is planting the word seeds in his mind.
- He spell the words in his mind out now
- He writes the words on his book, board, or he prefers using his movable alphabets.
The process will go on for many times. We use some variation of course. On their spare time and as enrichments, we use some
- word shape
- word search
- word riddle
- word ladder
Oral language will include speaking and listening. We don't have special lesson for this one yet. There are some listening lessons in the Grammar Time. Sometimes we play listening game like simon says. Listening and speaking are merged in lessons.
Learning language is a process indeed. We can learn written language, but the ability of oral language will be boosted well when people are surrounded by supportive English speaking environment. Therefore, I am not worried about oral language as it will go automatically once we dive into the language itself like what I did.
When I was in university I could not speak well. I was not confident at all, but when I had to teach a national plus school, I was forced to do so. I had to communicate with my English teaching partner and I sometimes hung around with their family. It was the time when I started my oral language. Later, when I have business overseas, I don't have any other language to use other than English.
Do you use foreign language? How many language do you speak?
How did you learn about it?
Do you often use it?