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A very UNGENKI Class. 
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Post A very UNGENKI Class.
I have been teaching 4 classes since January. 3 of the 4 classes are great and the students always are very genki and try very hard. They are my best classes of the week. However, there is 1 class that would rather not be there and they are so ungenki, no matter what we do, they'd rather be at home or playing with their friends. I could probably leave the room and they wouldn't say anything or have any different reaction!!

I have a curriculum of sorts to follow and the phonics book we use is not all that interesting(I can't remember the name of it at the moment) BUT it works with the other classes. :?

There are 6 students usually, ages 8-10 and there English level is beginner. They have been studying since last year sometime.

Even on game day, once a month, they have no energy and are not interested. I am at a loss what to do. I have tried so many things to get them to participate in class. Even just asking "how are you", "how old are you" takes them 2-4 minutes to respond because they don't want to answer. :(

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get them to particpate more or at least come to class wanting to try, rather then just sit there with a bored'I don't wanna be here face'!! :smt100

I only have 3-4 more months to teach them but I want to try to make it memorable!

Thanks in advance
ERIN


Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:20 am
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Hi Erin,
Sorry to hear about your situation! It's tough when other classes respond to material, but one doesn't. I must admit that I'm not very familiar with the genki method and have only read about it a bit online.

My first thoughts are that perhaps the students in the class which is less/not responsive to genki are almost absolute beginners? Or, they need more time to process info than other classes? Maybe they don't feel comfortable speaking yet.

Perhaps slowing things down and doing activities where the students respond/move to English but don't necessarily need to speak will be in their comfort zone. Have you done much TPR or games like "slap" or picture bingo with them? I've read (and experienced) that beginners take a while to speak sometimes. I know this is true for me when learning a language! Often, people need to hear a word 40-50+ times before they're ready to say it.

Actually, I use to work at a hagwon (private language school) in Korea, and there was a rotating schedule for the teachers, so I might see a new/different class every afternoon. One class was of very basic, beginning level, but I didn't know that. I was given material to cover, and couldn't understand why no one was writing/responding, and students were starting to goof around. Something clicked about 1/3 way through the class, and I realized the students were at a lower level than the other classes I'd been teaching, so I slowed down, explained things calmly, and the students responded.

It seems that different students respond to various methods, so changing things up and experimenting to see what clicks with these students might impact them. :mrgreen:


Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:17 pm
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ERIN - I didn't know my Sat. 9:00 class was coming to you too :shock:

It's really tough when a class loses all of it's energy, but the truth is they probably would rather be outside playing.

I think there are really 2 courses of action you can take to try and beat this. One is to stop teaching them English. Instead start trying to do other things, activities, nature walks, mini-science experiements etc. You can then try to engage them and bring them back into the class and add the English little by little once you get a smile or laugh. They know you're trying and they appreciate it down deep somewhere.

The second way (which I usually do) is just to power through regardless of the response. Keep your energy level and possitivity and they may draw from you eventually. Sometimes kids go through stages and they eventually grow out of them.

There's also a real chance that the problem is severe and it's with one or two of the students. They may be having problems outside of class, at home, with peers, etc. They may need someone to help them. It may be hard to check that but you might ask the parents about their children's performance at school if it continues to get worse. Basically, check if it's just English school or if it's all across the board.

(Richard Graham has a system called GenkiEnglish but the word 'genki' is Japanese and means 'happy, energetic and active' all at the same time. It's a great word!)

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Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:56 pm
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How old is this class, it is important, if you want more help.


Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:54 pm
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I mentioned the ages Damon :) they are between 8-10 and usually 6 students.

Yes I meant Genki as Happy, Energetic and active :) I should have put that hehe and yes Genki is a great word :lol: all of the English teachers use it.

The class is really slow as it is and if I slow it down anymore, we would be at a stand still!!! They rarely answer the questions and just give me the 'I dunno look' on their face :smt021  Once a month we do do games of sort(that is all that is allowed)...I am not really in charge of the class.

My English school has been hired(meaning me) by a lady in town to teach classes for her so we have to follow her instructions to the ' T '. She wants them to do so much every class, which is why I think they are so unresponsive. She's now asking me to think of something that will get them more energetic. But at this point, I think it is almost impossible. :cry: (we use the Let's Study Phonics book by Matsuka Phonics Institute and two other books in class)

Thanks for the suggestions Mark and Morning Calm! I'm just so at a loss because in the 5years I have been here, I've never had a class be like this for soooooooo long. :? oh and Mark, Good luck with your class too!!


Wed Sep 06, 2006 7:08 pm
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I am sorry, I obviously need to read more carefully.

Is there any possibility of splitting the class up? At least this would give you an idea of whether the difficulty is the students themselves or with the students as a group.

Can you, or someone else in the English school, talk to the lady who has hired you about letting you experiment with different ways of teaching the class to get them motivated? If you were to explain to her why you need to do this, you might get her support. I have had parents, on the first day of class, tell me what they want me to do, how they wanted me to do it etc... and, where I disagreed, I would just explain to them what I was doing and why.

Different problem classes have different solutions. For many just keeping your attitude positive and the energy level high is good advice. Some students, particularly in the second half of Elementary school and Jr High School, find an overly energetic teacher intimidating. Do they respond better to activities that don`t require their direct participation?

Here are a few approaches you might try to see if you can find something that motivates the class:

competitive games

problem solving activities

games and activities that involve movement

written work

reading children`s fiction

drama activities

Sorry, again about not reading your original post more carefuly.

damon


Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:21 am
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Hey Damon, No problem :wink: I actually had to read through my post again to make sure I did write the ages!

There is no possiblity to split up the class as there is no time on that day to put in an extra class and the students are too busy on other days to come to English school.

Two of the students are twin brothers, one of the other students, supposedly has a learning disibility(but I have never noticed it as his English is better then the other students), two of the girls are very quiet and I guess one cried when she had to come to class because she was not enjoying it( I found this out this week) and the last girl, who is the youngest, will talk, but not if you ask her a question!!! :smt017 I'm not sure even if we do separate the class it would work! Then I'd have two unresponsive classes :shock: and I think it would kill me hahaha

The lady who has hired our school asked me if there was a way to get them motivated, but I still have to use the books she provides. She understands there is a problem but does not know what to do about it either.

I have tried competitive games, they just stand there and only give the answer needed, not even trying to help their teammates.
Written work would be impossible as they can barely do what is in the textbook or phonics book that we have now.
Reading Books has been done, but they aren't interested in the books! (I've tried really!! They just look and think 'omg, she's reading again'! :roll: )
The rooms in my school are too small for any type of large movement games.

I'm not sure problem solving activities would work as they don't understand enough English.
What kind of Drama activities would you suggest for ages 8-10??

This is why I am becoming so frustrated because nothing seems to be working! Even passing out Souvenirs from my holiday in Canada barely made a flicker of excitement on their faces. :smt089


Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:07 am
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Hi,

Since you can`t split the class, pay extra attention to how class dynamics change with different absences.

I only started using drama after I became a kindergarten teacher so I don`t know how it would work with 8-10`s. After reading a story my class and I would redo the story together. I would narrate, and while volunteers acted the story. Sometimes, I would get the players to speak an easy or frequently repeated line (usually whispered in the ear a moment before). I don`t know if this activity will work for this particular class, but it is a great way of stretching the language used in a story and it motivates certain students who aren`t interested in stories on their own.

I can`t remember what activity book that they are from but there are a series of elimination activities with names like "16 Cats," "16 Monsters" that work well with young children. The basic idea is that you have a grid with pictures of 16 dogs, for example. There are four attributes (like big/small, black/shite, happy/sad, striped/spotted) that differ for each dog, giving you 16 possible different dogs. At first, the students don`t even need to speak, you just choose one dog and read out the attributes until they have eliminated all but one. You can expand the activity by having the kids ask "Is it big?" or "Is it big or small?" It is also a good idea to let a student lead the activity, under your supervision.

Have you tried asking the children? is it possible to speak with the parents?

Where in Nagano are you? I lived in Nagano city until last April.

damon


Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:13 pm
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Hi :) Well I will give you a hint to where I live, I'm about two hours South of Nagano City by train and my city has a very smelly lake*it's pretty bad hahaha*! Can you guess?? :wink:

Even with one or two students absent the class is still the same. They just don't want to be there. I know some of my other classes change if someone is missing, but this class doesn't.

The one textbook we use, has dialogues in it and I do get students to read outloud and try to act it out but there is no emotion, so I'm not really sure that drama would work.

I honestly think it is just the age they are. 5th year and 6th Year Elementary students and I really don't think they will change their attitude anytime soon!! I'm going to keep trying and hopefully something will come along. I'm going to Tokyo this weekend, so I'll be looking in the book store for some interesting textbooks and/or activity books.
ANY SUGGESTIONS!?!?! :D :wink:


Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:19 am
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I don`t usually like teaching that age either. If you ever get the chance, find a teacher who does that age well and see if you can learn something. It helped me a little, but some people are just better at connect with children of a particular age. One teacher I knew made unruly boys smell his socks--they found it hilarious, and yet listened and respected this teacher more than they did anyone else who tried to teach them.

Suwa? ha, ha.

I highly recommend the story-books by Nakamoto Mikiko from Apricot press. Most bookstores have her text-books, which aren`t all that good, but it is a little more difficult to find her story-books.

damon


Tue Sep 12, 2006 1:22 pm
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hahaha :shock: Good guess!!! You've been near stinky lake I'm guessing! :wink:

Well I've never had problems with that age group before... and my other classes that are that age, are great! So I think it might just be that class. Oh well! I'm frustrated but will try to find something that works:)
Which is why I wrote here!

I'll look for those books this weekend :) Thanks!

ERIN


Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:39 pm
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Hi Erin,

I have found that money talks. Money injects energy into the most boring activity. I have a wadfull of monopoly money which I put into a bag and each child has to draw a note before answering a question and at the end the winner is the one with the most money.

You could also try using a video camera or a digital camera to film them and then show it to them. Although most children find this very amusing there are the odd ones who refuse to be amused.


Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:40 pm
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Thanks for your idea... is there any reward for the winner?? I'm not sure it would work if there wasn't!!


Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:44 am
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If they expect an additional prize then they're really jaded! Winning is the prize.
I try not to get into the trap of giving things because it works out expensive and the children begin to expect a prize for everything.
On special occasions like Christmas or Easter, I give them something small but incorporated in an activity like a Chocolate Santa Clause hunt or an Easter Egg search following clues or instruction in English.

Good luck![/u]


Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:47 pm
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