What a beautiful day in Santiago, Chile! The sun is shining brightly and it is hot, the middle of summer, the skies are as blue as can be, and not a single cloud on the horizon. And yes, get this, even the birds are singing. But poor me, I’ve got a class of teenagers to teach, inside…
Wait a minute. Who says I’ve got to be inside. The day is perfect, inviting, tantalizingly attractive, so what is keeping me inside?
My students? No. Their parents? No. Technology? No. My lesson plan? No. My boss? No. Then, why am I inside, surrounded by 4 walls, on such an incredibly beautiful day?
Answer: I am being kept inside by my beliefs. If I believe that teaching and learning of English can only take place inside a classroom, then, I’m a prisoner of myself.
Wait a minute: I don’t believe that. Actually, I believe that English is real. It is used for communication, it is used for understanding our world, and also to describe our world. English is to be experienced, fully, with all the senses.
So, what did I do?
I met my students at the door, and we did the following activities, outside 🙂 :
1. Imagine you are blind. Close your eyes. How would you enter this building, without help?
Student 3: “You show us”.
Me: OK. (Taking off my glasses – now I’m really blind) “First, I count how many steps from here to the door. When I’m close to the door, I move cautiously, feeling my way inside. Piece of cake. Now, it’s your turn.”
Student 1: No problem. He does it easily. (I am clapping)
Student 2: No problem. She does it easily. (I am clapping)
Student 3: “I don’t want to do it.”
Me: OK. Let’s do some line-ups to get to know each other better. Line-up from oldest to youngest.
Result: Student 2 – Student 3 – Student 1
Language Produced: How old are you? 15? Me too. When is your birthday? February? Mine is in June. And what about you? July? So, you are older than me, I’m the youngest, and he’s the oldest.”
Next we did: tallest to shortest
Next we did: amount of time to travel to school – closest to furthest.
After this we walked onto the outdoors basketball court.
Me: What can you see?
Student 1: I can see kids playing.
Student 2: I can see birds flying.
Student 3: I can see a man cutting the grass?
Me: Why is he cutting the grass?
Student 1: haha It’s his job.
Me: haha haha OK. So how often does he cut the grass?
Student 2: Every week.
Me: (smiling) So, are you saying, for example, every Wednesday this man cuts the grass?
Student 3: Wait. He cuts it every time the grass gets too high, about once every 2 or 3 weeks, maybe.
Me: (Turning to student 1) What’s this?
Student 1: It’s a bush Mr. Baker.
Me: How often would you cut the bushes?
Student 3: I know. Every time the bushes get too high.
Student 2: Can we go into the shadow Mr. Baker?
Me: (pointing to the shadow of Student 2) We were just about to go there. What’s that?
Student 2: It’s my shadow… Oh, can we go into the shade?
Me: (:-) smiling) Give me five. You got it. Let’s go into the shade.
(we walk out of the sun and into the shade of a nearby tree)
Me: What’s that?
Student 2: It’s a football camp.
Me: Football field. Repeat please – football field.
All: Football field. Field. Football field.
Me: Great. (pointing to the basketball court) What’s that?
Student 1: It’s a basketball court.
Me: Great. Give me five. Repeat please: basketball court.
All: Basketball court. court – basketball court.
Me: (pointing to three recycling bins) What colors do you see?
All: Red, blue, yellow.
Me: What’s this one for?
Me: This one?
Me: This one?
Me: What comes in Tetra-pack?
Student 3: Milk and juice.
Student 2: Milk and juice.
Me: Is recycling a good idea?
Student 2: Because it saves resources.
Me: Excellent. (pointing to a closed kiosk) What’s that?
Student 2: A “kiosko”?
Me: Almost. Kiosk. Our students come here to buy snacks. Let’s walk to the gym. Which way shall we go.
Student 1: (pointing to the right) That way.
Student 2: (pointing to the right) That way.
Student 3: (pointing to the left) That way.
Me: haha haha OK. (pointing to the right) Let’s go that way.
(Arriving at the gym there are a million 3 to 4 year old kids coming out)
Me: How many kids do you see?
Student 2: 29-30-31-32-33
Student 1: 33? There were 35.
Me: 36. Look. (pointing to one last child coming outside)
All: haha haha
(We go inside the gym)
Me: What were the children doing in here?
All: They were playing games.
Me: (pointing down to the gym floor) What’s that round thing on the floor?
Student 1: It’s a hula-hoop.
Me: Can you hula-hoop?
Student 3: Yes, I can.
Student 2: Me too.
(turning aroung to leave)
Me: Time is up. Before we go, who can tell me what we did today?
All: Today we…..
Me: Great. Today we experienced English. We used English naturally to talk about our world, the world around us. English is easy to remember when it becomes something you did, your life experience. You will remember everything you did. Tomorrow, we have a test. There’s nothing to study. I’m going to ask you what we did today. OK? See you guys tomorrow.
All: Bye Mr. Baker…
Dear reader(s), thanks for dropping by.
Did you like the class? Why or why not? If these were your children, do you think they learned anything today? What did they learn? How did they learn?
What about Student 3. She’s special isn’t she? What do you recommend I do to try to get her to participate more?
I look forward to reading your comments.