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hunterofpeace
April 4th, 2013, 15:49
For those of us lucky enough to have this rousing textbook for our English Expression classes. If you are afflicted with this textbook, let this be a sounding board for your VQ woes. Share your coping mechanisms with like-minded saps in a safe environment. We shall overcome.

(For serious though. Ask questions, rant and btch if you need to, and post successful lesson ideas. Let's expressing English!)

Cytrix
April 4th, 2013, 16:07
Brilliant. I am still to talk to my JTEs about what they want me to do with this book, since I'll only be taking 1 out of the 3-4 'communication' classes they will have using it every week. I'm hoping I'm allowed to base my activities off of the 'expressing' section of each unit. I really do NOT want to tackle the grammar section at all.

Are you using the 'Standard' or 'Advanced' book with your classes?

With the standard we've basically got...
Unit One: Introducing yourself
Unit Two: Interests and favourites
Unit Three: Travel Plans
Unit Four: Have you ever...
Unit Five: Ordering Food
Unit Six: Sights around the World
Unit Seven: Hobbies

There's more but that's all I'll probably do (probably even less than that) in the next four months. At least for the first two classes I'll have my self introduction and then get the students to introduce themselves with a 'shield' and 'interview' activity.

hunterofpeace
April 4th, 2013, 16:34
Standard. And I'm expected to teach grammar. Buhhhhhhhhhhh. I had this nice 2-day approach (1 day grammar, pronunciation, intonation 1 day conversation) but then I realized that some of the sections have 1 grammar page, some 2, and some have 3. What's a shield activity?

Gizmotech
April 4th, 2013, 16:35
If you haven't already, remind your teachers that their first lesson isn't lesson 1 in the book, it's the first page of the book. They need to be retaught this.

I suggest making student pairs (or groups of 3....) where they practice these phrases and one acts as the teacher while the other(s) ask questions/perform actions.

If they are hesitant, also include a basic introduction component to the activity, which they might appreciate given that it's one of their first classes together as a class.

When I brought this up, my teachers basically when "ohh shit, we forgot about that. Right!"

Gizmotech
April 4th, 2013, 16:39
Working on Standard, but we've also got the advanced books kicking around if this goes fast (they think the content is less than previous grammar books we've used)

Cytrix, your order seems about right... I haven't looked at it too much yet though, been relaxing this week more than I should :P


They're using me for the model conversation then the expression after they've done the grammar teaching themselves.

There's absolutely nothing useable in the workbook.

If you guys get a second, ask your teachers to let you borrow the team teaching book that is in the teachers set. Give it a quick look over, and see if your teachers are cool with that model if this is genuinely something new.

Cytrix
April 4th, 2013, 16:43
My shield lesson is just basically an introduction activity to the class and students (since they're all new to the school/class). It's a blank shield divided into 6 and each section has a title e.g. 'my hobbies' 'my family' 'my pets' 'my favourite subject at junior high was...' etc. and the students fill them out (I provide glossaries to help them out) and make them look cool. It's one way for me to get to know what makes the student tick (e.g. their creativity level, a hint at students that need extra support or extension based upon what they write/how they write etc.).

Antonath
April 4th, 2013, 17:28
We're using Standard. My JTEs aren't happy about it, but apparently it's the most popular Expression textbook in the prefecture (which I suspect means the company selling it got there first and handed out envelopes full of cash).

Like Cytrix, I'll only have one of 2-4 Expression lessons in a week, and my JTEs have told me I can use the whole lesson for "activities" to reinforce either the expressive stuff, the grammar, or both. I've also been told to lag behind the JTE-only lessons, so they've had a chance to explain the grammar before I reach it. All in all, I'm in a fairly good situation, even though the textbook sucks. I suspect many of my lessons will only have the barest relationship to the book.

Cytrix
April 4th, 2013, 17:43
Yeah I'm basically going to try to use as much as my previous lesson materials as much as possible, since it appears I'm being loaded with more classes this year, so far less planning time.

hunterofpeace
April 5th, 2013, 09:30
Would you say it's more important to start with self-introduction stuff and then teach the classroom phrases the second (or third) lessson? Or go straight into the classroom phrases? I'm thinking letting the kids get to know each other first is better but I know they need to learn the classroom phrases as soon as possible.

Gizmotech
April 5th, 2013, 09:50
I think you can merge basic self introduction stuff they learned in JHS into the classroom phrases. Both should be review, low work classes.

Cytrix
April 5th, 2013, 12:26
I'll be doing my self-introduction first, and then probably classroom English. And then move on to self-introductions. Mine are low enough that it'll be newish to them (some are coming in without the alphabet apparently).

Gizmotech
April 5th, 2013, 12:28
I'll be doing my self-introduction first, and then probably classroom English. And then move on to self-introductions. Mine are low enough that it'll be newish to them (some are coming in without the alphabet apparently).

Jesus... WHAT!?! Without the alphabet? What are their feeder schools doing for three years?

coop52
April 5th, 2013, 12:44
The school across the street from mine occasionally has kids that need to review the alphabet. It's not even the delinquent school. The kids manage to get into the school by squeaking by with scores on the other subjects' exams, interviews, and being good in certain clubs.

hunterofpeace
April 5th, 2013, 12:44
Cytrix, are you doing 3 different lessons for those topics?

Antonath
April 5th, 2013, 12:53
My JTEs are taking half the first term doing JHS English stuff, because they got together and realised how many kids have been coming to our school without it (I'm guessing they studied and forgot it after the exam, but either way...).

I'm going to do self-introductions straight away while they don't know each other, then my own introduction. After that, stuff to reinforce the JHS-level lessons (noun, adjective, verb, basic tenses, etc). I won't hit the Vision Quest material until mid-May. Having already done introdcutions, I may have to think of a different activity to start with.

Gizmotech
April 5th, 2013, 12:56
I guess this is where I'm the worst ALT in the world, but I don't really do the self introduction thing at all. It's like 2 minutes. Hi, I'm me, this is where I'm from, lets get to work cuz you really don't care.

Antonath, I kinda agree with that approach, except for that is the first two units in VQ. First is basic question grammar, second is SV/SVO/SVOC structure. In fact, I'm rather impressed by the sluggish pace the book sets at the beginning.

Cytrix
April 5th, 2013, 13:08
Yeah my kids have VERY basic English. My friends thought I was exaggerating how bad their English was, until they met a graduated student from my school and he thought the appropriate answer to 'how are you?' is 'faito' (I didn't teach his class so no blaming me). They all basically seem to forget English they've learned previously when they arrive here.

I'm hoping to get some clarification with my teachers at our meeting this afternoon because it looks like I'm not even taking the 'English Expression' class (instead of the Communication) which looks like it'll be the expressing part (THANK CHRIST).

My self intro quiz thing (largely about NZ but it helps me to gauge their ability to understand sentences/pick up key words) takes about half a lesson so the other half we go over useful classroom phrases and then test them on it during the next class. Then I'll move on to their self-introduction. I don't like skipping those 'getting to know you' classes for the 1st graders, since it's vital to build the class culture. I've found the classes have been much better this last year since I really pushed doing those introduction activities with the classes (my JTEs were happy to not do them).

Gizmotech
April 5th, 2013, 13:16
Ohh yah, those comm activities are huge at the very beginning, especially when they don't have a class dynamic yet. That's why I skip the whole Hey, I'm the gaijin and come from somewhere not here so I must be cool, crap, and just rock straight into them getting to know each other through English.

Antonath
April 5th, 2013, 13:47
I use my introduction to get them used to things I do in other lessons, like group work, getting them writing on the blackboard, etc.

And Giz, I agree I'm going to be doing similar activities in the pre-VQ lessons as for the first few lessons on VQ. The introductions bit is the only one I can't easily swing a second activity for.

hunterofpeace
April 5th, 2013, 15:23
Yeah, I am just planning on a 2-3 minute self-intro for me and one for the JTE as well and then we will go over class rules, make their stamp cards/ nameplates, review classroom English, and then do a self-introduction activity for the rest of class. The first lesson in the book is also self-introduction stuff so after 2 lessons of that they should be good and... introduced. I want to set up a structure that we will follow pretty rigidly. Last year my pred did stamps as a reward for speaking English. I'm hoping to make it known that English is the minimum and stamps are for trying hard (good homework, expressive voice, volunteering, translating for the class, etc). The greetings will be done in English. I think I'll also print out a list of common classroom questions in English with the Japanese translations and put it on their bulletin board and if they try to ask me something, point to the list to see if it's on there. I'm also hoping exposing them early to presenting/ answering quesions publicly will make my life easier in a few months. I'm also going to try explaining the grammar with very simple English and lots of examples and only supplemental Japanese from the JTEs. I would like to call on students to come up with their own examples for the grammar. My hopes my be dashed within the first few classes but we shall see. Going for the strict but fun teacher approach this time.

tl;dr I have no clue what I'm doing and these are my guinnea pigs.

coop52
April 5th, 2013, 15:26
I think I'll also print out a list of common classroom questions in English with the Japanese translations and put it on their bulletin board and if they try to ask me something, point to the list to see if it's on there.

This is good, but maybe give them all a worksheet with the stuff instead so the kids in the back won't have to strain their eyes. You could even make them glue it inside their notebooks or something while you do all the other first day stuff so they don't lose it.

Cytrix
April 5th, 2013, 15:40
Yeah I have a list of common classroom phrases I give to them to keep in the back of their folders like a glossary.

Gizmotech
April 5th, 2013, 15:59
The ones in their text book aren't bad, but I do like the idea of having something larger to keep in the classroom.

I wonder if I could use our big plot style printer for something like that....

hunterofpeace
April 5th, 2013, 16:18
This is good, but maybe give them all a worksheet with the stuff instead so the kids in the back won't have to strain their eyes. You could even make them glue it inside their notebooks or something while you do all the other first day stuff so they don't lose it.

Ahhh, good point. I wanted to give them a worksheet but I figured that, yeah, they'd just lose it/leave it at home. Having them glue it to their notebooks would be a good alternative, thanks. Might do that with class rules too.

It would only include questions that aren't in the textbook that I get asked a lot. Like "Do we have to write that down?" or something

Vietnamazing
April 9th, 2013, 14:46
Just had my meeting with the head teacher of 1Nensei, and I was stoked to see that other people were dealing with this lovely textbook... The head teacher doesn't like it much either, but whatevs. I'm just wrapping up my 3rd yr at this school, and even though the setup of the textbook looks crappy, the phrases themselves aren't so different from the others! If you all want some advice, just ask whoever's in charge of your TT time if you can have creativity with this, and just focus on the phrases in your own personal classes, and give kids worksheets. If not, the grammar itself isn't so bad, and DEF use your JTE since the ideal is to be split anyway:) Maybe their role can be to explain it, and you give examples etc.

For me, it looks like My first three lessons will go: 1)self-intro 2)kid self-intro 3)classroom English scavenger-hunt. Apparently my teachers will be teaching them the expressions in THEIR classes, and I'll be coming in briefly to help them pronounce them correctly, then I am just supposed to review them super quick in the beginning of class and stuff like that. Have any of you done anything fun for an entire lesson on Classroom English? Or have you done Classroom English/ Self-intro?

hunterofpeace
April 11th, 2013, 11:56
I'm doing mine in the self-intro lesson. My self intro is basically "Hi, my name is hunterofpeace and I am 26 years old. I am from America. I have been in Japan for 8 months, and I really like it here. A few more bits of info. Nice to meet you." Then we move into class rules, make name cards, and practice classroom English. Finally they do a paper airplane self-introduction by writing some info into blanks and throwing them around the room. They then introduce the person whose airplane they got to the rest of the class.

Unrelated to VQ but still to the general topic, I decided to let them make their name cards in groups so they can talk while they do it. I want to build a good classroom atmosphere early because it was the biggest deciding factor in how well classes went last year. Students in my favorite class always supported and encouraged each other, weren't afraid to speak English at all, and always had a good time. My class who hated each other (some huge drama happened before I got here apparently) sat in silence for fear of screwing up in front of people they didn't like.

Also, I'm going to get on the baseball boys' good sides early this year because they were so popular that if they got into a lesson, the rest of the class would too. It's easy to spot them because of their hair.

Gizmotech
April 11th, 2013, 12:04
I wish I could to team building stuff like that, but it's entirely pointless in my school. They are together in their class for about a month then they are separated by level during the same period (2 separate classes become three classes based on level, and smaller class size).

Fun, but entirely pointless to my teachers.

coop52
April 11th, 2013, 12:40
That's why I'm glad the first year kids are getting split up this year. I'm hoping that it'll help foster a more encouraging atmosphere, especially for the shy ones, since it'll be fewer people.

Cytrix
April 11th, 2013, 14:53
Douche-sensei is still avoiding me so I haven't been able to talk to him about what he wants me to do with the VQ book. Seriously man, if you don't want to work with foreigners (something he has said aloud), don't be an English teacher.

I have my first two classes next week with the first years where we'll just be doing my intro/info about the exchange (since the NZ students arrive next Friday) but we probably won't tackle the actual book for a while yet...maybe after Golden Week/Sports Day?

hunterofpeace
April 11th, 2013, 15:47
For the Classroom English in the front of the book I was thinking of having them role-play being teachers and students in groups of 4. Would it be better to just give them a general rule of you must use at least ______ expressions before you can switch roles and let them have their way with it or structure it with a worksheet? My school is a moderate academic school but I have no idea what the levels of the new kids are. Could be one way of finding out I guess...

Jiggit
April 15th, 2013, 13:31
Vision Quest is so terrible it summoned me from the abyss to post once more.

My advice is to use your JTEs collective utter confusion to dictate to them what you actually want to do in class. Just give them the finished lesson plan and materials without consulting them and if they can be bothered to question you about it wave vaguely at how it corresponds to some chapter of the textbook. No-one in my school seems to know what is going on at all with the new curriculum and since none of my teachers have told me what to do or even apparently spoken to each other about it all I have to do is seem like I know what's up and everyone follows along.

Gizmotech
April 15th, 2013, 13:57
Vision Quest is so terrible it summoned me from the abyss to post once more.

My advice is to use your JTEs collective utter confusion to dictate to them what you actually want to do in class. Just give them the finished lesson plan and materials without consulting them and if they can be bothered to question you about it wave vaguely at how it corresponds to some chapter of the textbook. No-one in my school seems to know what is going on at all with the new curriculum and since none of my teachers have told me what to do or even apparently spoken to each other about it all I have to do is seem like I know what's up and everyone follows along in disbelief.

Not a bad suggestion at all Jiggit. That's basically what is happening at my school now as the teachers don't have a clue what to do....

Antonath
April 15th, 2013, 15:20
That seems to be the approach a lot of schools are taking. Use the JTE-only lessons to teach the grammar in the book, and then let the ALT do something that may or may not fit when it's their turn.

Gizmotech
April 15th, 2013, 15:38
I just asked on FB how many people are using VQ for their classes.

We're working really hard to try and figure out a good system for teaching/integrating this VQ into our existing models. The expression part and some of the "activities" are being tossed onto me, and if I happen to line up w/ the model reading I'm used, but otherwise it's CD for the kids.

We've modified a few parts of the expression activities to fit the shorter time frame I have in the classes (the 20-30 minute model) and they are working pretty well so far, but really it's JTEs teach grammar, ALT and head of 1st years figure out a way to introduce production into the class by modifying/using the stuff in the book.

hunterofpeace
April 16th, 2013, 15:12
I have to teach grammar and expressions. :(

My first grammar lesson is Thursday and I'm completely unsure how to do it because I never got that far in grad school before I came on JET. I learned how to plan conversation lessons and activities, but not how to teach grammar.

So far I've designated grammar day to also include pronunciation, shadowing, and listening. But I really have no clue what I'm doing here.





Also, hi Jiggit.

Gizmotech
April 16th, 2013, 17:09
Grammar. Hmm, can you read the Japanese on it and will you have a support teacher in the class?

hunterofpeace
April 17th, 2013, 10:31
No to the Japanese, yes to the support teacher. They expect me to teach all of the grammar from a unit in a single day. Some of these units have up to 8 grammar points. The team teaching book doesn't have the grammar section because even the makers of this blasted textbook didn't expect the ALT to teach the grammar.

How Lian would I be if I just flubbed up the grammar on purpose so they teach it themselves like everyone else's JTEs?

Gizmotech
April 17th, 2013, 11:18
No to the Japanese, yes to the support teacher. They expect me to teach all of the grammar from a unit in a single day. Some of these units have up to 8 grammar points. The team teaching book doesn't have the grammar section because even the makers of this blasted textbook didn't expect the ALT to teach the grammar.

How Lian would I be if I just flubbed up the grammar on purpose so they teach it themselves like everyone else's JTEs?

Hmm, well the Japanese part makes that much more difficult for you, but not impossible. The grammar in the first few lessons isn't particularly hard to teach I don't think, but w/o the Japanese your explanations won't match the textbook I imagine.

For instance, my explanation of the copula (be and become) for lesson 2 grammar 1 section C wouldn't teach it as "complement" structure, but a really basic "this is special, it means equals or equals in the future". I would show it in the class, but not use their grammar explanations. Same w/ grammar 2 section B because some of those "SVOC" verbs aren't actually SVOC, but SVOO. That's just a difference though between how Japanese grammar sees complement structure (they don't double object), and linguistics sees complements (complements contain a verb... ie they are clausal).

Jiggit
April 17th, 2013, 13:43
JTE: "Have you seen this?" *hands over the team teaching textbook*
Me: "Why didn't anyone show me this before?"
JTE: "I guess... it's boring ka na?"
Me: "Have you read it"
JTE:"No..."

Gizmotech
April 17th, 2013, 14:10
Boring? It's probably the best idiots guide to "how to TT and ALT" in a classroom I've ever seen.

Jiggit
April 17th, 2013, 17:51
Boring? It's probably the best idiots guide to "how to TT and ALT" in a classroom I've ever seen.

I have no idea, I'll read it through when I get time. My teachers aren't particularly bad at TT this year and have mostly been happy to let the ALT plan and lead the classes for years now anyway.

Gizmotech
April 18th, 2013, 09:52
I just flipped through the entire book and they do not teach reported speech once in the entire book. WTF.

Looks like that might be lesson two for me given how piss easy it is, and useful in comm activities.

Jiggit
April 18th, 2013, 11:54
I don't even know what "reported speech" is.

coop52
April 18th, 2013, 12:03
Isn't it "He said that blahblahblah"?

Gizmotech
April 18th, 2013, 12:13
Exactly coop. [He said that....] [he said,....] ["....." said xxx]

They're pretty basic conversions, which they should be able to get, but can be difficult. Especially if it's from a question with a 1 word answer straight to reported speech.

Tyr
April 22nd, 2013, 10:18
This book....before I didn:t use a textbook, had to discuss what a good subject would be then go and make the lesson materials myself. Had just gotten to the stage where I had a years worth of stuff ready, had a few of my best set out for the new kids before I leave. But now I:m teaching from a textbook and...yeah.
My successor will have the easiset job in the universe, my already very small amount of teaching hours has been cut even more as they have rearranged the classes to make them bigger and there is little preperation or actual teaching, just doing the practical activities part of the text book. Rather odd stuff.

Jiggit
April 22nd, 2013, 12:49
Do you actually have to use it? Like they're forcing you to follow it? That would suck, luckily I'm still being allowed to do my own things. I'm just following the textbook loosely and using the topics/target language to make my own activities.

Looked through the Team Teaching book finally. I can see why Japanese want to use it, it's far more in depth and detailed in explaining what is necessary than any other I've seen. Though the content of the actual textbook is still strikingly mediocre. It also still has plenty of those instructions which make you question if they have ever been inside a Japanese classroom, or even Japan, in their life

Gizmotech
April 22nd, 2013, 13:06
Do you actually have to use it? Like they're forcing you to follow it? That would suck, luckily I'm still being allowed to do my own things. I'm just following the textbook loosely and using the topics/target language to make my own activities.

Looked through the Team Teaching book finally. I can see why Japanese want to use it, it's far more in depth and detailed in explaining what is necessary than any other I've seen. Though the content of the actual textbook is still strikingly mediocre. It also still has plenty of those instructions which make you question if they have ever been inside a Japanese classroom, or even Japan, in their life

Mediocre content, but certainly a step in the right direction. As for not being in the class, have you noticed that the TT book assumes all the students will actually work and their timing is super strict? I couldn't do shit in my classes at that speed even with the genkiest students.

I would really hope noone is being forced to use the textbook exclusively, and especially as designed. So far I've changed every activity in it to match the classrooms and dynamics of the teachers I have, which has made each activity very different than described in the book. Also, who has time to make 40 students do a show and tell. I just turned that into a writing activity instead.

Jiggit
April 22nd, 2013, 13:44
Yeah it does. What I find dumb is the level of English they expect students to have. It's like "explain this word means this other word" when the students won't know either. But then all the activities are super hand holdy and only require students to read off a list of expression. I guess that's just how they run english education in general though...

Gizmotech
April 22nd, 2013, 13:59
Yeah it does. What I find dumb is the level of English they expect students to have. It's like "explain this word means this other word" when the students won't know either. But then all the activities are super hand holdy and only require students to read off a list of expression. I guess that's just how they run english education in general though...

They're expressing. Not communicating. There's a huge difference there.

Tyr
April 25th, 2013, 10:29
Do you actually have to use it? Like they're forcing you to follow it? That would suck, luckily I'm still being allowed to do my own things. I'm just following the textbook loosely and using the topics/target language to make my own activities.

Looked through the Team Teaching book finally. I can see why Japanese want to use it, it's far more in depth and detailed in explaining what is necessary than any other I've seen. Though the content of the actual textbook is still strikingly mediocre. It also still has plenty of those instructions which make you question if they have ever been inside a Japanese classroom, or even Japan, in their life

Only had one lesson so far but yeah, mostly had to follow the text book. Was able to convince a teacher to do an introduction activity that I did last year and know works because it was vaguely similar to one in the book but otherwise the same easy as hell stuff from the book.

Gizmotech
April 30th, 2013, 14:17
Okay...

So my school is running into a bit of a problem, which last year I just avoided entirely by not asking kids for their opinions and desires on shit.

How are you getting your kids to actually fill shit out? How long is it taking them to do stuff?

For instance: I've just completed Activity 2 (pg 97) with all my first year students now. Getting the students to answer 4 of 8 questions was taking almost 4 minutes. 1 minute/ question. The JTEs are just as stumped by this as I am, and we all tried different ways of encouraging the students to answer. Lying, exaggeration, timing (30 seconds / question w/ the teacher calling it), full blown sentence translation into Japanese before hand... nothing is getting the kids to answer this shit in a reasonable time. 20% answer the 4 questions in like a minute (because fuck it's that piss easy) and the rest are sitting there with their thumb up their asses. The last thing i wanted to try but didn't have time for was to just write a whole bunch of answers up on the board for the questions, but then that takes it from stupidly simple to just pointless...

Antonath
April 30th, 2013, 14:40
Have you tried getting them to give someone else's answers? Like a celebrity or anime character? I don't have the book in front of me so I'm not sure what the questions are, but they might be happier (not to mention quicker) making stuff up for someone else.

Gizmotech
April 30th, 2013, 14:50
Ya, but then they can't ask another person for their answer. Unless you're talking about like an organized 8 questions "who am I" style game?

Either way, the entire book is filled with this self expression stuff, and I need to find a way to get the kids to come up with it quickly. Especially as my lessons are about to be reduced from 25 minutes to 15 minutes in 2 weeks when they divide the classes.

I'm getting really tempted to just blow off the book entirely and make all my own shit again that doesn't require them to self express. Reading/listening/comprehension exercises go over a lot better, and can be more tightly controlled. (Worked quite well last year)

coop52
April 30th, 2013, 15:01
Why does it take them so long? Do they not have the level of English to express themselves, or are they just really embarrassed about saying anything personal?

Antonath
April 30th, 2013, 15:09
They could ask other people for an answer, even with made-up people. After all, the kids will forget what the answer was the moment they've finished writing it.

Your teachers might not like dropping all the self-expression; it is an "expression" textbook, after all, no matter how poorly it handles it. I think your only choices, particularly with that time limit, are either to drastically change the activities while keeping the intent (which seems to be the approach most JTEs are taking), or cut down on the number of things you're asking them to express. Maybe two or three questions instead of four, particularly if you can figure out which ones are likely to give them the most trouble.

The other thing to keep in mind is that some (many) of the kids will be deliberately dragging their feet, because the longer they spend writing, the less time there is for speaking in English, especially if you only have 25 minutes available.

Gizmotech
April 30th, 2013, 15:29
Why does it take them so long? Do they not have the level of English to express themselves, or are they just really embarrassed about saying anything personal?

I wonder if it's about level of English, or if it's just general apathy. I mean, these questions are not rocket science, I'm sure the kids have answered them more than once before in JHS.


They could ask other people for an answer, even with made-up people. After all, the kids will forget what the answer was the moment they've finished writing it.

Your teachers might not like dropping all the self-expression; it is an "expression" textbook, after all, no matter how poorly it handles it. I think your only choices, particularly with that time limit, are either to drastically change the activities while keeping the intent (which seems to be the approach most JTEs are taking), or cut down on the number of things you're asking them to express. Maybe two or three questions instead of four, particularly if you can figure out which ones are likely to give them the most trouble.

The other thing to keep in mind is that some (many) of the kids will be deliberately dragging their feet, because the longer they spend writing, the less time there is for speaking in English, especially if you only have 25 minutes available.

Interesting idea. 4 was actually reduced from 8 on the page. I really do think it's a lot of feet dragging, which is why we were trying various things to get them to respond faster (the 30 second version was by one of my JTEs who noticed the problem in the previous class we did the lesson in and decided it needed to be fixed. didn't work). I think I'm gonna have to drastically change most of the activities more than I want to unfortunately.

Ya, they're on the fence about the expression part to be honest. They want it to continue, but I think they're also realizing they've over booked me this year in a way that just won't work. (15 minute lessons just are a non-starter half way through a lesson.) That and they're not that keen to actually do them themselves as they're primarily grammar teachers.

coop52
April 30th, 2013, 15:34
Do you tell them they have X minutes to answer the questions, or do you just let them go until you think they're finished? Is it possible for them to fill out the questions ahead of time for homework? You could confirm that they understood the assignment real quick, then have them speak or whatever.

Edit- you have only 15 minutes?! Jesus Christ, what's the point of even having you there?

Gizmotech
April 30th, 2013, 15:54
Do you tell them they have X minutes to answer the questions, or do you just let them go until you think they're finished? Is it possible for them to fill out the questions ahead of time for homework? You could confirm that they understood the assignment real quick, then have them speak or whatever.

Edit- you have only 15 minutes?! Jesus Christ, what's the point of even having you there?

Ya. I started out giving them all 8 in 4 minutes. That didn't work. Dropped it down to 4 in 2 minutes. Didn't work (averaged 4 minutes at least). Always have a timer in class for these types of things that is quite loud.

I can't assign this type of stuff as "home work". They already have "too much" of it doing their workbooks for this class and reading apparently.

Ya, 15 minutes is entirely pointless for a comm activity. The TT manual says if you do the expression page exactly the way they say it can be done in 17-20 minutes, and I think that's a bit optimistic in a real class environment.

I'm really tempted to go back to my scripted conversations (a/b partner pages w/ listening comprehension questions for the other side of the convo) based on their word lists. I can do that in 10 minutes no problem, and have a "hard" dictation practice included.

coop52
April 30th, 2013, 16:08
Sounds like a really crap situation. I agree, without even seeing the book, that they're probably overly optimistic on their time estimations. My kids are pretty low level, and even a basic expression activity takes 20-25 minutes once you explain what to do and check that they understand.

I will say that 4 questions in 4 minutes is pretty absurd. My dum kids can even do more than that, provided they're JHS first or second year level stuff.

Antonath
April 30th, 2013, 18:05
I've had some of my kids take half an hour to come up with three adjectives to describe something, when allowed to use their dictionaries. Most students take as long as they're given, especially if they're given longer than they need.

With only 15 minutes, I'd go back to the scripted conversations too, especially if you can change the content a little to match what the textbook says they're supposed to be doing.

Jiggit
April 30th, 2013, 22:43
I wonder if it's about level of English, or if it's just general apathy. I mean, these questions are not rocket science, I'm sure the kids have answered them more than once before in JHS.

It's definitely apathy. The problem is once a critical mass of students not bothering is hit nearly every student feels it's ok to do the same and they just collectively shut down. This isn't helpful at all but yeah a lot of kids have the mentality that if it's ALT lessons and they get asked to do something that isn't so mind numbingly straightforward that they could do it in ES (like the rest of their classes) they have a valid excuse to just sit there and stare dumbly into space.

Gizmotech
May 1st, 2013, 12:24
Soo.... we sat down this morning and hashed out a new plan.

Each expression page / unit can be broken down as such:
1) Listening or planning
2) Questions
3) Presentation

We decided that I can probably do steps 1 and 2 in class as a "communicative" activity as per the book in 15 minutes (It'll be tight, but it should be doable). We figured out a good way to incentivize the planning/question asking part by turning the presentation into a long writing activity. The students, to complete the homework, will have to get good answers from their partner(s). I'll have to rework the 3rd part into longer homework activities which the students submit, and we'll attach a grade to them like any other homework. We'll give em a week to write them (not that they should need a week), and I'll visit the class once every 2 weeks to do these "expression activities".

It's a pretty shitty situation, but the teachers have decided that this model matches their "requirements" better than introducing anything else to the course. One was keen for listening/comprehension practice like my scripted discussions or even just me talking for a few minutes on random shit (ie, news, culture, international stuff,etc...), but the others were more concerned with staying on target and having testables from whatever I do in the class.


I REALLY dislike this "testable" culture that is in my school some days. I wish they would stop caring about these monthly tests and realize the students need to actually practice MAKING and USING English, rather than just doing the textbook math.

Jiggit
May 1st, 2013, 12:54
I REALLY dislike this "testable" culture that is in my school some days. I wish they would stop caring about these monthly tests and realize the students need to actually practice MAKING and USING English, rather than just doing the textbook math.

yeah it sucks but exists in all too many places. It's basically how the entire education system works anyway. I mean it's all very well the Japanese government to say they want students to communicate/express themselves in English and do more speaking, that teachers should only speak English in classes etc but so long as they judge their entire English program on complex grammar and comprehension of written material that far exceeds their expressive abilities then even teachers who want them to "make and use" English are gonna have to settle into that grind of drilling them to pass tests.