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Making Sentences 
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:04 am
Posts: 66
Location: Chatan, Okinawa, JA
Post Making Sentences
I teach K -6, and although I dont expect my K-2 to make any sentences, I really would hope that my older students would. At the moment, I think Ive mustered `One more time, please` out of them. But I would really love to have them talk more. I believe they have a decent vocabulary on different subjects, but no way to put them together. This is my first year at the school, and I believe the teacher that was here the 3 previous years might not have taught them so well (they all were on the same lvl, probably a 2nd grade level imo). Anyway, now that they know something, I would really like to speak a lot more English to me (I know its in them), but am not sure how to get them to do it.

Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:27 am
Profile YIM
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Do you mean just general classroom language? Or you want them to be more conversational?

When they are ready, what I do is try to create an all English environment.
The English Only Classroom

Once the students are over the initial silent period, they'll begin to try and express themselves or make their requests in English. You'll need to teach them some general requests and questions but you can do that in your first 'all English' lesson.

You'll need some incentive system for speaking English and punishment for those breaking the rule and speaking L1. I don't think you can control a large class on simply the 'it's good for you' principle.

You don't have to go all English. You could just require that they say something in English before anything happens.

Can we start the game?
Can I look at my cards?
Can I go to the bathroom?
Show me the card, please.

Once in the all English environment for a while, students will start to try to tell you things. Then you get more conversation out of them.

I'll admit that I haven't tried it with large classes, but in theory, it should work.

Here's a thread on the types of rewards people give

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:12 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:04 am
Posts: 66
Location: Chatan, Okinawa, JA
Maybe I just have a stubborn bunch. I have two problems:

1. If I single a student out, there is the possibility that they will start crying.

2. I have a few students that try hard, and they will be the only ones answering.

Most the students could care less for rewards (which really sucks), and therefore, I don't know how to get them involved without singling them out. Some of the games I play will get them excited and answering in English, but its not likely there is much retention.

And to answer your first part, I'm trying to get them to use things I've taught in English sentences. A simple "Want to play?" or something would be awesome. The only sentences my students can remember are "How are you?", "Whats your name?", and that might be it :cry:

Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:10 pm
Profile YIM

Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
I think one of the key things for learning (in any subject) is getting them over the fear of making mistakes. You are in Japan so it is not so easy.
Because you have just started this may not have been the norm in the past and the kids will be learning about you and your style as well.

It is important that you create a climate where mistakes are praised for the attempt and that way students are encouraged to have a go more often. Art Costa (Habits of Mind) says that you should say thank-you to anyone who responds, for the act of responding. He says that if you really praise someone for a correct response (more so than an incorrect one) then students who may have responded incorrectly, but were waiting their turn, will not be so keen to respond next time. Hope that makes sense.

As you said young kids all learn at a different pace and so give them time, keep encouraging them and modelling what you want in the classroom. Don`t single kids out for correction but repeat what they were saying back correctly. May take 1000 times but usually they catch on.

Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:52 am
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