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The no-L1 classroom - What do the students need? 
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Post The no-L1 classroom - What do the students need?
I've recently began switching some classes over to all English. No L1, not at all! It has been a mixed blessing. Some behavior issues have subsided and then classes are pretty quiet. But, now, the classes are pretty quiet! :smt087

I have worked on some language for expressing thoughts, asking for information, classroom language and asking for permission, on top of what they already know.

I'm hoping in a month or two it will get better. Right now the students are just doing their best not to speak Japanese. I hope in time they'll be more comfortable, but has anyone else been doing this or done it? What are some things the students need?

Thanks - Mark

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Sat May 20, 2006 8:44 pm
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I have been slowly limiting the amount of Japanese that the students speak in class. I taught them how handy a dictionary could be to formulate a sentence or question. I use "World Cup Soccer" as a common theme which gets them motivated to speak. I also bring in gossip on famous celebs. I hope in time that I can get them to bring in a current event and make a short presentation.


Sat May 20, 2006 10:19 pm
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Post Body Language
I wonder if encouraging body language would help students realize they can communicate without speaking Japanese. The body language might fill the gap for whatever English they're still acquiring, and sort of go-between to speaking English.
For example, I taught a lesson on verbs. For a practice activity, students broke into groups. I explained that they would be like actors on TV and act out words (like charades). Then I gave each group slips of paper with verbs written on them. Each person in the group took turns. One person would take a paper and act out the verb. Whoever guessed the verb correctly first got to take the paper with the verb. Each verb = one point. Whoever collected the most verbs got the most points and was the winner. This class is very physical, so they had a lot of fun acting out the verbs. I think it could also work with professions or sports, etc.
Also, I remember finding a lesson on Paralanguage -- noises we make like "Ouch" when we're in pain or "Phew" when we're relieved. Maybe such words could be incorporated into a lesson and would be interesting response 'noises' the students might use to react...
I guess it's a bit like TPR...
Just curious -- are the students in your English only classes fairly fluent in English, in regards to comprehension? I limit my students from chatting in their L1, but if they're explaining directions or concepts about English to each other in their L1, I don't stop them. Of course, this is because the levels of English comprehension vary widely in the classes I teach, so some students understand more than others and I don't want anyone to feel too lost.
I've taught other classes before where I knew the students could speak enough to respond in class but weren't putting forth the effort. In one such class, which was of only 5 students or so, I had a really relaxed atmostphere and a good relationship with the students, so finally, out of desperation, I said, "Please speak English. It's rude if you just talk to each other in Korean. I can't understand Korean and I'm lonely!" This was quite pathetic of me :roll: , and I'd never say it to another class, but it did work with them :lol: .


Mon May 22, 2006 11:17 pm
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Post Re: Body Language
Morning_Calm wrote:
... Also, I remember finding a lesson on Paralanguage -- noises we make like "Ouch" when we're in pain or "Phew" when we're relieved. Maybe such words could be incorporated into a lesson and would be interesting response 'noises' the students might use to react...
I guess it's a bit like TPR...
Just curious -- are the students in your English only classes fairly fluent in English, in regards to comprehension? ...

Thanks for that. I had been working on giving as many examples of paralanguage as I could for the students and I'm sure they recognize it. I probably should have a lesson that gets them to use it, even if scripted.

My students aren't fluent at all, but they understand pretty well. These classes have been going on for 3 years. So, the kids are pretty used to the class routine. They 'can' say a lot but often just don't. So, since they don't try, they just never feel comfortable. One problem is I can speak Japanese and they all know that. (I don't speak Japanese, anymore :oops: in class) I'm hoping I can encourage them to speak English and quit relying on Japanese.
Mark: What did you guys do yesterday?
S1: I watched TV. Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese ...
Mark: :smt022

I actually just want to get the environment changed a bit and then I might be less militant about the whole thing. I think my students need to be re-educated as to what I expect from them and want them to do, ie not just do what they are asked of in English and then japanese is OK. These are small classes, 4-6 students so they're easy to control, monitor, encourage...

Anymore advice or lesson ideas are really appreciated.

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Tue May 23, 2006 7:16 am
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Mark,
I understand about students having the English ability but after they initially answer your question, they elaborate in Japanese. I constantly remind them to try explaining what they said in English. I have been inviting foreign guests to my classes to try and create an All-English environment but it is hard to keep it up. I have been encouraging the parents of my students to speak more English at home, in the car, at the dinner table, etc. I think with thier involvment the students can be more comfortable on elaborating in English.


Tue May 23, 2006 9:35 pm
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I can relate to what you say -- it's sometimes a matter of re-training to get students into the mode of speaking English. I don't speak my students' L1, but living in Korea for just over a year now, I understant some words, and sometimes I answer my students questions when they speak in Korean without even realizing it -- like, I understood what they said, so I think they spoke in English :? For me, I try to remind myself to pretend that I don't understand, even if I do, since my students know I can't speak Korean.
I don't know if this is an "out there" idea, but I thought I'd thow it out there in case it'd help generate better ideas :lol: :
Maybe the students and you could make paper "English" hats...students could write their name using English letters, or their English name if they have one, and write "English Time" or something like that. When you and the students have the "English hat" on, it's time to speak English. In turn, if you have your English hat on, and a students speaks to you in Japanese, you could say "Sorry, I don't understand you. I have my English Hat on". Then, if you need to explain something in Japanese, you can take your hat off and that's the time to converse in Japanese.
My students laugh when I do goofy stuff like that, even the high school students. They realize that it's a procedure to help them, and that I'm not trying to be mean or difficult. I guess with anything, if there's enthusiasm for it, it'll work. So, if the students are at a self-conscious age, I could see the potential for this totally back-firing, too, 'cuz it's not "cool" -- So, the "English Hat" could be anything: pins, stickers, candy that's taken back if Japanses is spoken... just something physical that's symbolic of the cause: speaking English. :D Hope this is of some help!


Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:50 pm
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How old are the students?

If they know you can speak Japanese that makes it harder but I think making sure they know basic classroom English helps because some students want to talk but get tied up on something unrelated like the answer they want to say isn't an option or that days target language and don’t know how to communicate it. so teaching them How do you say ~~ in English, I don't know, pardon , I'm sorry, excuse me , and so on it can be more complicated depending on the students age and level like can you explain that a different way. Anyway I found if they have some simple basics and noises ummmm ahhhh nailed down they will use them and won't freeze. At first you might get allot of I don't know I don't know but they will feel comfortable communicating in English even when they don't know what’s going on.


Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:31 pm
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I have worked at a private English school where the only language spoken there in English . Since the first day of classes we teach students "key" words (with their translation) so they can understand what we say. We also use Cognates a lot which are very common between English and Spanish (I don't think that is the case with Japanese :( ). And using circumlocution helps a lot too. Acting things out as someone mentioned before, and even drawing whenever they want to express something they don't know in English. Some people find it harder than others but most of them react possitively to it as an English environment is created 100%.

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Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:35 am
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Many of my students know that I study language. I don't like to use any other language than English in the classroom and for the most part I do well with this. I have a very simple secret when it comes to learning language (learning anything really): Use what you know. I don't tell my students that they have to speak only English in class, but I do tell them that they must use what they know. I would rather have them speak mostly English with a few words of their native language thrown in because they don't know them in English then to have them say the whole sentence in their native language. For them it sounds strange at first, but they do get used to it. The real goal is to communicate using as much L2 as possible. I don't like the phrase "100% English" as it limits the desire to try to say more than is currently known. If my student says everything except one word in English and I understand (from context or because of my own study) then I can help him/her learn it. If I don't understand then we can go through the process of discovery together. Many students don't understand the idea that most words can be explained using other words. And if that doesn't work body language and pictures can make many things clear.

It can be frustrating for them (especially at first), but it is all part of thinking outside of the language box. In order for English to become more than just a silly game that is played at school, the students have to fully understand (from experience) that real and meaningful communication can happen without L1.


Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:16 am
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Post silent period
I'm jealous of your English only classrooms! Everyone knows i speak Japanese (I screwed up by letting the students know) and at this point I think it'd be very hard to move back to English-only.

The silent classrooms are to-be-expected in an English-only environment. Your students are probably in what linguists (not me) call the silent period. With no help from L2, your students revert back to the way they were when they were babies... all they can do is listen. A lot of new research suggests that you shouldn't even try to ask for responses until their comprehension is at a higher level. This can take a while... longer for weaker students, of course.

Here's an interesting essay on the silent period: http://homepage3.nifty.com/park/silent.htm

Asher, the "creator" of TPR, also points out a silent period of 3-4 weeks before students start spontaneously talking.

People who advocate a silent period tend to say that language is best learned in a stress-free environment. Especially in an environment where the L2 is banned, just make sure that you're not forcing them to speak English when they're not ready.


Tue Nov 07, 2006 2:21 pm
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In my classrooms, I tell my students that I speak only a little Japanese, whereas I'm actually fairly fluent. I like secrets!! This way, they don't rely on me to translate for them if they look blankly at me. Instead they have to work it out for themselves. In Junior High classes I tend to use a little more Japanese than in Senior High ones. Explaining how to play new games can be a bit difficult if you don't use their language, but usually we get there. If I have a Japanese teacher assisting me, which is often the case with Junior High classes, I use him or her to help explain activities, and this is better than the students knowing that I could do it myself.

I find that generally the kids appreciate the fact that I have taken the time to learn some of their language and this somehow inspires them to study more English.

I really like the hats idea. That sounds like it could be both fun and effective, even if only the teacher had an English hat.


Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:01 am
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How do you explain the rules to games to the kids without using their L1 language. Eigomon, for example, can be pretty complexed for beginners.

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Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:21 pm
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Basically, with any game I make sure they understand the cards and language. Then I keep the rules as simple as possible for the first round. Sometimes I play verses the whole group/class for the first round. Once they understand the object of the game and what language to use, I let them go at it.

For Eigomon: I usually blow up 3 cards to A4 size (legal) or bigger for large classes. Then I use those to explain the parts of the cards.

I'll place them on the board and start asking the questions to the group.
'Which one is faster?' ...

Once they know how to read the answer from the cards, I work on the game.

I give one large card to a student and I keep one. We put our cards face down just like the game. We play rock-paper-scissors and if I lose, I just change my hand so that I win (the kids don't argue to much about this since they know it's explanation.) Since I won, I ask the question. Since we've already reviewed these cards I know what question to ask so that I win.

Then we have covered how to win and the loser doesn't do anything in the game, so we've also covered how to lose :) .

I generally play the first time with just 1-2 question possibilities. I drill the questions and answers just a bit so they feel a little comfortable and then let them go.

Once the game starts I go around and help out those that are struggling with the game or the language.

After you played one time you can play the second time with the full range of questions, minus stamina, agility and power since they use 'have more.' I usually add those in much later on.

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Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:15 am
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Responding to the intial question, I say "Just hang in there." Once you establish that you won't accept L1, they learn strategies to be understood. I work with 10 year old kids and they love competition. I turn everything into a competition and they really get into it. When they get into a game they start speaking in English and they really don't even realize it!

I also speak the students L1, but I tell them that with them I only speak English, in and out of class. People, especially kids, develop a language reference with a certain person. I NEVER speak L1 with the students so that I can be their reference for English. Obviously I do it in a fun and playful way so that they still want to speak to me!


Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:50 am
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