Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching the group for the first time. Ben and I had organised the distribution of classes with him teaching the majority at the start as he will be leaving before me. Anyway, that meant that apart from having observed the first class, I’d not been in too involved in the classroom.
This class was also an exam for the group, so we could gauge their level. The exam is based on Cambridge and is a very accurate placement test. It covers all skills, as well as lexis and grammar and the majority of the learners got a score of about a high B1, which is what we’d expected. However, before we did the exam, there was some conversation to be had..
We started with a quick chat about me, reminding the group who I was and sharing some details about my life, etc. Part of this included a discussion of my employment history and current job. Now, I was once a waiter while I was at university and the group found this quite interesting as it doesn’t appear to be the same here. Leading on from their interest in this, I asked them in groups to think of some characteristics that a good waiter would need to have. This they did and then we changed the groups and they compared and justified what they’d written until they had a list of at least 7 things they agreed on. During this, I was buzzing around feeding in lexis as appropriate and joining in the conversations, inputting ideas from my own experience too.
Anyway, once we’d conversed about their ideas, I elicted them to the board and made two lists, one in black for “a good waiter needs to be…” and the other in blue for “a good waiter needs to have”. The learners then read out their lists and the class agreed on which column they should go in. This revealed quite a lot of problems with word formation, particularly with words like “responsible/responsibility”, which is something we’ll be following on with a forthcoming class. We also re-formulated some of their ideas and focused on collocations and pronunciation too. Having done this, I then asked them to find the opposites to each using their existing knowledge, smart phones or dictionaries and we got these up on to the board too. It was at this point that the lesson ended as we had to start the exam.
So, the question is, was the first 45 minutes useful? Well, yes, I believe it was. I knew exactly what emergent language I would focus on – morphology – but didn’t have time to do it. The groups also got some natural phrasing and new lexis out of the activity and we’ll be referring back to it as the course progresses. They also got to know a bit about me and I more about them. The time constraint made it not an ideal class as I had no time to go over word formation tendencies nor include sufficient practice, but I do now know an area of need and will try to structure conversations in that direction in future classes. And I finally got to teach them, which was a real pleasure as they’re an excellent group.