City Centre Murcia
One of the cool things about my job is that I get to see all sorts of different teachers teaching in all sorts of different ways and in all sorts of different countries. It is quite an experience.
This week is my first presentation in Spain so today we were out going round the local schools finding out what help the teachers need with teaching English, what sort of issues they have and of course if there are any cool things we can learn to share with you guys.
As with all countries the overriding concern is getting rid of the ancient, underperforming grammar translation types of teaching. Yep, this still is the norm in just about every country.
Luckily the teachers I mostly deal with are the cool new ones who are trying new things and want to make a difference.
This region is also trialing a huge bilingual education programme where the kids learn other subjects in English. In general I’m not a big fan of bilingual lessons as although their English skyrockets it often has a detrimental effect on the actual subjects they are studying. But they seem to be keeping on top of it here.
The challenge, as always, is getting started as the teachers often struggle a bit with the English and the kids are brand new so it takes a while to get going. Which is where Genki English comes into its own because I designed the focussed nature of the current curriculum to get non-English speaking kids speaking, reading & confident enough to go into all-English classrooms as quickly as possible. It all seems to be working well with the only problem reported being the 5th grade kids who haven’t been through the programme and how to bring them up to the level of the younger kids who have. I guess some form of intensive course for them might be the best option.
Am I doing it right?
The biggest things that came up today were teachers who were wanting to learn more methodologies and generally just to learn more themselves so that they can be more confident that the things they are doing are right, or indeed need changing.
You often see this with the very best of teachers, they try things, see it working, but we often tend to look at our own shortcomings too much and often miss just how good we are compared with everyone else. And in general the teachers today were really, really good. They just need to see it. Which is of course where the workshops come in.
Ninja Tip: If you do see a good teacher teaching, do tell them, it will make their day.
One new teacher was really great saying how she is blown away by just how good the kids coming into her 2nd grade class are and would love to be able to teach so well herself. The teacher responsible was sitting next to her and I think it just made her year to hear that.
Is that phonics?
A few problems came up with some teachers not quite understanding what phonics is – it is rather too technical a name isn’t it! – one teacher was doing a days of the week song and then saying things like “So everyone, Monday, EM OO EN DEE AY WHY” She caught the look on my face and then went back to “correct” herself by saying “Oh no, MMM, O, NNNN etc.” but of course Monday is a phonetic exception, it’s not “Mon”day, so you do have to be careful and leave the phonics till much later.
Plus I was also asking about interactive whiteboards. In most countries I’ve been to where they have interactive whiteboards, it’s very rare to see teachers taking advantage of any of the actual interactive features. (Apart from the drawing programs, which of course you could do just as easily on a chalkboard. ) And today was similar where they were playing Youtube videos. Which is of course a fantastic resource but you’re just using it as a big TV without any of the interaction. So that’s good to see and they’ll love it when they see what the Genki English software does for an interactive board.
We also had a few other things like not knowing why it’s important to teach in full sentences, a few complaints about resources (Floppy phonics anyone??) but in general just lots of good stuff.
Plus we’re going to have loads of Genki English fans at the workshop so that always impresses the primary school teachers when they see what you guys can do – you are amazing!
So it’s all looking very good so far.
See you soon!
P.S. I think we are full now for this weekend’s Murcia workshop. But if you haven’t paid yet and still want to join, get in touch with Juanjo and he might be able to put you on the backup list just in case there are any cancellations!
Press the "+1" button if you like this!