QW 090612 “60/40”

I believe that every teacher knows how important it is to start a new class with positive energy. So do I. Whenever I see my students on Day 1 in a new class, I talk to them in English for the half of the class time or more. There are some legitimate reasons for doing this; one is that talking to them only in English for 30 or 40 minutes without any single Japanese word reveals how further they could go in receiving instructions in English, meaning how comfortable they’d feel in learning English IN English. While talking, I carefully monitor their reactions, levels of attention and interest, and spontaneity to react my jokes. Another reason is that I’d like to set English as a default language to be used in my classroom, which, in most cases, are welcome by the students who’re learning English intensively as well as aimfully in this language institute. Of course there’s this simple and basic reason; I just want to speak English in order for my new students to know who I am in speaking English.

A new class began yesterday. It’s the class for those who’re aiming transfer to universities after they’ve learned English in the language institute for two years. I’ve been teaching this course for almost three years, and I like doing that. This morning on the way to school, I was thinking what to say to those people. I ended up, however, and as always, not being able to think of something nice and organized. You may not believe this, but I kind of a spontaneous teacher who prefers feeling the vibe that the students are sending and responding to such invisible messages in order to make the best possible choices of what and how to say in class after having carefully planned and designed how the class would be conducted. So, as always, I decided to go into the classroom with no plan. And it turned out, my spontaneity was again, endorsed by students.

Can you tell what 60/40 means? This is the ratio that my new students requested me to talk in English and Japanese. I personally like teaching English in English because I believe it’s way simpler and more effective to students. I’m also aware that I need to consider students’ preferences and capacity in receiving instructions in their target language. That is why I did a classroom survey on how much ratio of instructions in English the students would like, and on what classroom activities they’d prefer instructions in English for. See? 60/40 is the result. 14 out of 23 students prefer 60 in English and 40 in Japanese. 7 out of 23 students chose 80 in English and 20 in Japanese. Isn’t that nice? They’re willing to push themselves further by choosing English-dominated learning environments in order to improve their English proficiency. They prefer being taught grammar and reading tasks in Japanese for the sake of efficiency in the limited class time, but for the rest of the activities, such as listening tasks, they chose to learn English in English. Isn’t that nice?

I heard a couple of students were saying “Time flies in this class” as they left the classroom. It was an assuring message from the students that I’ll be teaching and learning with until they successfully transfer to universities they’re hoping to be enrolled in 2014.

(40 minutes / 564 words)




English learner


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