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Do you use a course book? 
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Post Do you use a course book?
I don't use a course book. I created my own curriculum and these resources.

I have in the past put students in the Let's Go series (after 1-2 years) to add some structure to what they can already say, but now the worksheets take its place.

Anyway, I wondering if anyone else is doing the same.

If you are using a book,
what book do you start beginners in?
do you give them a book from day 1?
are they expected to read or look at written words right away?
are you pleased with the book?

I do use some readers for the students once their phonics level is high enough. I feel that gives them enough exposure to structure and there are questions and writing that go along with those.

If you are free handing the whole thing,
how do/did you decide upon your curriculum?
do you supply anything to the students? what? handouts, readers, worksheets...
what do you use for reading and writing?

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Wed Feb 28, 2007 10:43 am
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Post The course book I use
My youngest learners are sometimes four years old but usually five years old. I use the Cambridge for young learners books. There are at least 4 of them. I start with the yellow book. It has the vocabulary for the unit on the bottom and also the Chinese character. I don't know if they are printed for Japanese but my guess is that they are. I use one unit per class. There are two books and about 30 lessons. Most of the students can write the letters, but some can't and so we work with the writing, speaking and repeating the words and then the sentences.

They are illustrated well and introduce the alphabet, numbers, names, some animals,nouns, simple verbs, prepositions and gerunds. I find that they work very well.

I had used the Cambridge for schools series, beginning with the starter book, but my class started attracting younger students so I started using the Young Learners series. They have tapes and a workbook as well. I have had good success with them and integrate the great materials from this site, thanks Mark.

By the time they are in the last book they are reading and learning about uploading to a computer and to be honest some of them read better than some college students I had the misfortune to teach. I like getting them young when they learn at such incredible speed.

worldtour aka Larry


Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:51 am
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Post making my own stuff
at the moment i work at a big kids english speaking company, so i have to use the textbooks they provide- 1. phonics/grammar book 2. main textbook 3. picture dictionary 4. homework book for the main textbook.

i dont intend to stay at this company for the rest of my life, so i am currently making my own pages that i want to turn into a textbook (well, just printed out paper, binded together-not professionally published), rather than just individual handouts/worksheets. ive looked around for commercially sold stuff, but none of it overly impresses me.

i want to implement my own stuff from first grade children. i tried to do this thing before (i made 4 textbooks- 1st year english, 2nd year english and so on, but the lessons just seemed to be random(i did use them a bit, they were ok, but couldve been better), so now i am trying to make it one continuous story (ie two kids meet and they become friends, and the topics or activities that they talk about or do makes up a 40 lesson textbook), but of course i dont want to make each lesson dependant on another. i'm still in the pen in paper mode for these newer ones.

my older ones just had the vocabulary pictures and plus 2 sentence structures that i wanted the kids to learn, now i want to develop a role play situation textbook, with the following sections-
1. vocab- 5 words with pictures
2. conversation section.
3. role play section (same as above, but with gaps for the kids to put in their own choices. (i want them to learn 2 sentence structures per lesson to create variety)
3. listening quiz- basically a picture of a person on one side and the vocab on the other side and the kids have to listen to me and draw a line to the correct answers.

here is an example of a conversation for a lesson on "numbers" that i want to use in a first year english book
Ken: How old are you?
Miki: I'm ___ years old. How old are you?
Ken: I'm ___ years old. Wow, let's be friends.
Miki: What's your telephone number?
Ken: Umm. It's ____________.
Miki: Ok, I'll call you later.

(admittedly, the convo is kind of forced, but then the next lesson would be Miki calling ken up and turning into a "May I" lesson. "may i speak to ken, please".....and then other "may i" questions- may i go to the toilet, come in, have a drink etc)

i dont expect the kids to be able to read the convo, or even remember the convesation for that matter-i only want them to remember the key targets for that lesson, which were- How old are you? I'm__. WHat's your telephone number? IT's_______, but i think trying to make the situation as real as possible helps keep the kids interested and something they can associate with.

of course, i want to use a separate phonics/grammar book to compliment each level, so this is where we would focus on reading and writing-kind of like marks fun fonix.


Mon Mar 05, 2007 12:45 pm
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I used the English Time series from Oxford at the English school I worked at. They thought it was a good idea to save money by not buying the accompanying flashcards. :( They also strictly enforced the curriculum and anything outside of the lesson plan in the book was frowned upon. It got old fast, because books really are limited.

At my school I write mini books for the kids and make 25 lesson books for the teenagers. They speak above the book, but the book reinforces the grammer and vocabulary in a written way. With the kids (9-12) I usually plan a month and a half to two months at a time and create a mini curriculum for that time period and then make the 6 lesson booklets.

Honestly I am just winging it. My school is more of a social project in a rural town. In the future, I may open a school in the city and actually charge more than seven dollars a month. (my average price)

Mark, you mentioned on the podcast that you are getting a copy of the potato pals books. Are you primarily interested in the readers or what?

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Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:13 am
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smy2brazil wrote:
Mark, you mentioned on the podcast that you are getting a copy of the potato pals books. Are you primarily interested in the readers or what?


I'm still on the look out for some actual books for students to read through. After speaking with Patrick Jackson, the co-author of the Potato Pals books, I decided to pick those up.

They're great books, but weren't really what I needed. For my purpose, they were too short and simple. However, I use them to read to younger students and I liked them so much I bought the second series as well. They're great for younger children and they come with a CD of potato songs!

My students are getting to be great readers. They can read almost anything I give them, but I'm hoping to find some books with graded stories that they can read through and feel like they accomplished something. Right now I use a reader workbook through Spectrum. It's good but it takes a long time to get through. I think they'd be pretty satisfied to read a real book cover to cover.

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Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:48 am
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I'd like to add how a textbook adds structure, which several of the posts allude to. It's a given that we must supplement a textbook, as no book created for a general audience can perfectly target your specific class. But it's relatively easy, I think, to change a reading exercise into a listening exercise, or a pair discussion into an extended interview with 3 or 4 classmates.

That's where the structure comes in. In a good book, each chapter builds on previous chapters, and vocabulary and grammar structures are recycled. This gives students the chance to remember and reuse past material, and tie it to today's lesson. Creating 100% original material for each lesson, and trying to accomplish the above, proves a very difficult task. As a result, key points or words may not be covered, or maybe not covered well enough, resulting in back pedaling.

Experienced teachers with years under their belts, or teachers with boxloads of materials may not have this problem. But for the average teacher, already pressed for time, pick a good book and add to it.

Chris Cotter
www.headsupenglish.com


Tue Mar 06, 2007 2:48 pm
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I agree that there's no need to reinvent the wheel. I use course books for adult students and just supplement in activities, games and vocab. where they would be appropriate. I didn't make my own system for adults because they comprise only 10% of my students. Also, as Chris said, because I just don't have the time to devote to another project.

The reason I set out on my own with children's materials is basically because unlike adult materials there's just not that much out there. Especially when it comes to conversational skills as opposed to test taking performance. There are a few good series, but it seems most of the scholars go for the adult books. I didn't like the jumps and gaps in a lot of the children's books. And, for the most part I tend to follow a first language mimic-model. Just as I wouldn't give my 6 year old a book and say, 'Read it.' I won't give a 6 year old student a book and say, 'Read this dialogue.' Both groups need introduction to many things prior to that; the alphabet, phonics, a vocabulary base and more. But that shouldn't mean and 8 year old student should be using a pre-kindergarten book.

Adult series seem to assume some level of competence prior to the start of any book, even an intro book. In Japan, that's fine because all adults have studied English for at least 6 years in school.

I think children's books tend to make the same leap in judgement.

I seem to be on a soapbox here and that's not my point. I actually want to say that using a book for children is a great idea. I'm not against it and I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I just haven't found a book that suits me as a teacher and my goals. I7m curious what other have had success with and why.

I don't think you can go on just a speaking only curriculum for very long either, not in an EFL setting where exposure is limited. Students benefit from the structure exercises and grammar lessons. In my experience, they reach a threashold where they need to back up what they know with more concrete activities. They also serve as visual confirmation for what they have learned.

You can see from my worksheets that they pretty much look like a textbook. I made them because they suited me, and because when I started out I only had 6 classes a week. You can only play 'Bejeweled' for so long before you feel like you better get back to work or something...

Which reminds me ...

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Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:11 pm
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i know this is going off from the responses that you want, mark....but i don't think that making your own textbook material is reinventing the wheel. i like to think of it as "improving the wheel" so that you can make something that is more appropriate to your own situation. every teacher has a different style of teaching or they have different ideas on how best to teach something, so making your own text material allows you this freedom. admittedly, this is not going to happen overnight, but if people intend to stay in this business a long time, then i think its best if they teach from something that satisfies their own needs....if only a published textbook could fulfill these needs.

i agree with HUE that the perfect textbook is one that develops and builds on previous chapters and this is essential for adults. This is also the ideal for children as well, but practically it proves more difficult. If you teach the child everyday, then this is both ideal and practical...but if you only see the child once a week for a 50 minute period, the focus from the textbook needs to be one or two new structures to add to their memory bank. when i was doing my own private stuff, i always kept the last 10 minutes of the class as a general english section, where i would randomly select ten or so previously learnt question and answers and ask the kids. if one question proved to be difficult for all the kids, then i would ask it the following week and then the week after that, until eventually it was mastered. then every 10 weeks or so, i would just have a general english lesson, where we would use all of the sentence structures that we had learnt up until that point. if this is done, then even though the textbook for each lesson is only focusing on a couple of targets, the kids are still being exposed to all the other targets in the general english section at the end. as a few people have mentioned, with any textbook, supplements are still required.

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Last edited by Azza on Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:34 pm
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Bejeweled?

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Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:39 pm
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I haven't used a coursebook yet with any of my classes, mainly because they are (were) very young and my classes are very play-based. I use a lot of flashcards (all MES cards!!!), some songs (Super Simple Songs and Genki English), phonics worksheets (Fun Fonix) and lots of educational toys and games (Discovery Toys and Leap Frog). Many of my kids have been with me now for a year or more, are getting (a little) more mature, and have long since reached a very (too?!) comfortable stage with me.':smt100' We need more structure.

For that reason, I'm thinking of introducing a coursebook with my older classes (grade 1 and 2-3), and maybe even with the kindergarten group, as they are the wildest, and if I can get them to sit for even 5 minutes a class with the book, we might make a bit more progress. I am looking at the Let's Go series, as it looks to progress fairly logically, and seems fairly easy to supplement. I plan to to A LOT of supplementing. I think the book will be more for me to find a focus, and for the parents to get more of a sense of progress.

I don't think I'll be doing a lot of focusing on the words in the book, but rather using the images and activites. I love the Fun Fonix books, and can't wait for the third to come out (hint hint!!). I am quite frustrated with the workbooks that accompany the coursebooks, as they focus so much on writing full sentences basically from the very first level.

I'd love to be creative enough to make my own materials, but I'm not, and as I also work full time outside my kids classes, I really don't have the time. I still think that a coursebook should be used only as a guide, and only for a short section of the class time. For the rest, I'm very grateful to all of you wonderful people who share your materials and ideas.

*My older students have started to notice the MES-English labelling on all my materials, and think I have a sister school in Nagano!! :smt038


Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:46 pm
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smy2brazil wrote:
Bejeweled?

http://zone.msn.com/en/bejeweled/

actually, it wasn't this game that I used to play all the time. Ican't remember any more but it was something from MSN games zone.

Quote:
i know this is going off from the responses that you want, mark....

Actually, it's very interesting.

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Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:45 pm
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Post Related to reading
When my children learnt to read in school, from age 5, they already had a grounding in phonics. The books were simple and repetitive and targeted at their age group. The teachers would read the book in class and students repeated, read by themselves and then again at home. The repititon being the key I think. I don`t know how you could tap into the publishers for those reader books but they would be very useful for beginner readers here in Japan.


Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:04 am
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Have you looked at the "Tommy Tales" series from learningpage.com. There are about thirty 15-page booklets in .pdf for downloading. They are sequential, so one book picks up the story where the other ends.

Quote:
Tommy Tales are downloadable and printable
books only available on the Internet
from the following Web sites:
www.learningpage.com
www.readinga-z.com


Here's an excerpt from the first book.
Quote:
Thomas A. Tomkins is in third grade.
His friends call him Tommy. Tommy has
a dog. His name is Taffy. Taffy finds things
and brings them to Tommy.
Taffy found a hat and gave it to Tommy.
Taffy found a box and gave it to Tommy.
Taffy found a ball and gave it to Tommy.

“One day, Tommy was playing with his
friend Lucy. Taffy ran to them. He had
found a TV remote control. It was not
an ordinary remote control. It was purple
with red stripes.


I think they slowly grow in complexity, but I don't remember. I haven't tried using reading in my English classes yet.

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Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:22 am
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The Tommy Tales are a part of the Reading A to Z program.
Some books are available for free, and if you pay to be a member you can download hundreds of books. It isn't very phonics friendly but personally I prefer them to regular phonics books because they introduce language as it is used and not how it fits with the letters students know. They may not be able to read them aloud on their own at first and will need some assistance. If you join the RAZ kids (I think this is what it is) students can actually choose to hear the books read aloud and then answer questions at the end of each book. You can click on the question and answer choices to hear them as well.
It takes some time to print out and make all the books but they are short and give students a sense of accomplishment. There are 27 levels aa to Z. I believe Tommy Tales are about a level P to give you an example.


Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:37 pm
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I have used 18 of the Tommy Tales so far with a 12 year old student, in private lessons. There are also Worksheets available www.learningpage.com
and I find that the books are good opportunities for instructing students on subjects that are not usually dealt with in EFL books, like carnivores, herbivores, invertebrates, insects, map skills, geographical features etc. I simply read out the book at the end of the lesson, then we discuss the story, and make sure that it has been understood then I give out some of the worksheets as a homework.The worksheets are really nice too, with illustrations. Then the Fact Files are mighty interesting too. It takes about 15 minutes. THe books are good opportunities for introducing or revising any type of grammar point, from tenses to passive voice or reported speech, so by the time we meet those points in the textbook, they have already been dealt with through the Tommy Tales. I have recently started using the Tommy Tales with another student and again they are something the kid is looking forward to. I feel that extensive reading really helps students improve their fluency.
Btw, the textbook I do is Treasure Hunt 3.
I teach classes of over 25 at school so I really don't know how I could provide each student with a Tommy Tale... But I'd like to try those books out in a large classroom as well.


Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:44 am
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