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6 Advice to teachers of teenagers 6.1 Teaching...

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6 Advice to teachers of teenagers 6.1 Teaching English to teenagers It is important for teachers to be aware of some of the characteristics of teenagers that affect teaching and learning. These have been taken into account in the design of this course. General characteristics and how to respond to them: (i) Clearer personal goals: teachers need to tap into the positive aspects of their students’ goals and encourage the students to shape these goals for their long-term benefit and the benefit of society. (ii) Firmer opinions: teachers need to understand and acknowledge the opinions of the students, while at the same time introducing them to alternative ways of thinking. (iii) Greater interest in the outside world: students can be motivated to find out more about the world and make use of this knowledge in classroom discussions. (iv) Importance of peer pressure: teachers need a clear strategy to identify students who have influence over their peers, so that their leadership qualities can be used for the good of the class. Educational characteristics: (v) Understanding of abstract concepts: this is a key aspect of educational growth. Students should be encouraged to take an interest in the underlying concepts and rules of English. (vi) Critical thinking: the ability of students to evaluate alternative courses of action can be harnessed to promote spoken and written skills. (vii) A more reflective attitude to information: students should be encouraged to interpret the meaning of listening and reading texts in their own way and to discuss the interpretations of others. 6.2 Lesson planning It is advisable to read the teaching notes for each unit before beginning to teach it. This will give a clear idea of the content and activity types in the unit well in advance. It is also a good idea to plan blocks of lessons at a time, for example, a week’s classes. This will make it easier to gauge the students’ progress and to prioritize. Individual lessons should be planned at least a day in advance, to allow time to gather the appropriate materials and become familiar with the content of the lesson. Planning a lesson in advance will also result in greater confidence during the lesson. This confidence will facilitate appropriate decisions during a lesson. It will also be easier to manage time; for example, knowing which activities can be left out if time is short, or when to stop an activity if it seems to be taking up a disproportionate amount of time. Note that approximate timings are provided for each stage of the lesson as guidelines for the expected duration and relative importance of each activity. However, it is left to the teacher’s judgement to manage class time. The key to good time management is to have a clear idea of the essential aims of the lesson. Plenty of time should be allowed before a lesson to plan the following important areas: • classroom language • use of the board in the lesson • layout of the class (arrangement and movement of furniture, organizing the class into groups, etc.). Using objects, photos and authentic materials such as leaflets, books, posters and timetables in English lessons is a good way of keeping the students’ attention. Although the use of realia is not essential (because the texts in the Course Book are designed to be as realistic as possible), learners respond well to three-dimensional stimuli. The time taken in finding realia will be well rewarded by the opportunities for practice and stimulating discussion that objects, pictures and articles provide in class. 6.3 Recycling language The teaching notes for some lessons include ways of recycling language from earlier units. However, it is assumed that teachers will take every opportunity to do this throughout the course. There should be a variety of regular routines for revision, so that it is both repetitive and varied. For example, get the students to ask their partner questions, then report back to the teacher. Other points that can be revised during a lesson include: • Social language and ways of keeping a conversation going, including question tags: Really? That’s nice. Was it? • Phrases for asking for and expressing opinions: What do you think? I think … I agree … I disagree. Maybe you’re right. • Describing location and giving directions: Where’s the new shopping centre? How do I get to the library from here? • Adjectives to describe experiences and places: What was it like? How did you feel? Was it interesting? • Using a range of tenses: What did you do? What happened next? What was your friend doing? Have you ever been to Egypt? • Talking about timetables: What time does the sports centre open? When do you have basketball practice? • Imperatives and polite requests (including lend and borrow): Let’s work in groups. Could you help me, Zeena? Can you lend Nadia your book? Can I borrow your pen? 6.4 Organizing pairwork and group work Activities in 21st Century English for Libya, Preparatory 3 frequently require students to be organized into groups or pairs. It is important to ensure that this organization happens as smoothly and quickly as possible, so that it does not disrupt the flow of a lesson. Since the students’ attention will be distracted once they are sitting in groups, it is a good idea to explain or demonstrate an activity before you split the class up. You can then be sure that everyone is able to see and hear you. Give clear instructions for rearranging furniture or moving seats around. If the students need their books, notebooks or pens, make sure that you tell them to take them when they change seats. If you are dividing the class into two groups, either draw an imaginary ‘line’ down the middle of the room, making sure there are equal numbers on each side, or give each student a letter A or B. Then tell the A students to sit on one side of the classroom and B students on the other. It will save time if you think carefully about your students before the lesson. When dividing the class into smaller groups, you should generally try to ensure that students of similar ability are working together. The more able or confident students will, however, help less confident students, so it is useful to have a mixed ability in each group. If you know that some groups or pairs will finish early, have some extra work ready for them to do, or a game for them to play. This will allow you to give the rest of the class the help and encouragement they need, as well as giving all the students time to finish the set task. For pairwork, it is easiest to ask students to work with students who sit near them. However, pairings should be varied sometimes to make language practice more interesting, so from time to time ask students to make new pairs. The interaction will be more genuine if students are talking to someone they don’t know very well, e.g., if they are exchanging opinions or talking about their hobbies and experiences. Moving students to a new seat also keeps them interested and alert; rearranging the classroom helps to signal a new stage in the lesson. When you want to return to full-class activities, or stop an activity to give instructions, make sure you have everyone’s attention and that all the students have stopped talking before you begin. It is a good idea to use a regular signal, such as clapping your hands or ringing a bell. 6.5 Continuous assessment There are written tests to help assess progress in listening, vocabulary development, reading and writing in each unit (see Components of the course). In addition, assessment of students’ progress should be incorporated into normal lessons. It is a good idea to keep a written record of individual achievements in reading, writing and speaking. Teachers are advised to record their students’ progress in a way that is suited to their own teaching situation. In the case of reading, it is useful to listen to students reading texts at regular intervals throughout the year. Writing can be assessed while students are completing writing activities in class, or when the Workbooks are collected in. Written work can be graded, but this should be carried out sensitively (see below). As well as using the speaking activities suggested in this book, the teacher may want to assess speaking by choosing four or five students to concentrate on before a lesson begins. Particular attention can then be paid to their participation in open-class situations or in pairwork. It is possible to assess students regularly in this way, preferably while they are unaware that they are under assessment. Note: It is important to assess a student’s effort, not just the results that he/she achieves. In choosing materials for students to read, or when asking questions to assess speaking, it is important to pitch assessment at an appropriate level. If students are particularly able, they can be given challenging texts for reading and asked more demanding questions; if students are struggling, they should be given tasks appropriate to their level. Your assessment of the students over a period of time will then genuinely reflect their progress, rather than their ability to attain unrealistic targets. 6.6 Homework Depending on the educational policy, you may or may not assign regular homework. But some independent study is useful in encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning. If you do give students tasks for independent study, it is important to keep a record of the students who complete the work on time. If you make it clear that you are keeping track of those students who fail to hand in homework, the students will be more likely to make an effort. Correction of independent work should promote positive reinforcement at the same time as giving constructive criticism. At this level the students can be directed towards areas that require improvement (in the case of written work, for example, they should be advised if they are not doing enough planning, if their work is not organized satisfactorily or if they need to proofread their work more carefully before they hand in a final version). Instead of correcting errors of grammar, spelling or punctuation straight away, it is a good idea to highlight mistakes and get the students themselves to work out how to correct them. Self-correction is a valuable skill that needs to be developed if the students are to improve the quality of their written work. To be fair to the students, make sure that you set and explain homework clearly and that students know the deadline for handing in their work. The students need clear rules so that they can successfully organize their own time.

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