The Perfect English Classroom + How to add Extras

As we had quite a few people staying over after the workshop yesterday, this morning I did a quick “breakfast chat” in English going through more great questions.

One of the questions I was asked was “How would you set up your ideal classroom?” My answer was “give each kid a laptop!” Of course the problem with that is that the kids would whiz through the GE software and would end up speaking English too quickly, then you’d have the problem of what to do next.

But that’s how I would do a classroom if I had a completely blank slate. In each lesson, first they run through the computer game on their own, then they listen to the song a couple of times, then they close the netbooks, everyone sings the song together and you all play the classroom game to get some speaking practice. The “teaching” is all done in the computer, the “teacher” is there to decide which topics to do and to give the kids feedback. They’d graduate in no time.

We also had lots of other questions, for example how to include other subjects into the English lesson (the girls were teaching at a religious school). The trick here is to make sure the other material is as engaging as the GE part. there’s no point doing GE then giving the kids a lecture in the additional material you want to teach, they’ll just fall asleep and not learn anything! A few things to think about are:

1) What is the English level of the extra material? – Keep it at “L+1” i.e. the kids’ current level plus just a little bit.
2) What one simple idea do you want to get across in each 10 minute slot? – keep it simple
3) How do these simple ideas build up to a bigger picture over the year? – here you can be adventurous, reach for the stars!
4) Engage the kids with how you teach, lecturing will send them to sleep, but try writing your own songs or games to let them remember and then use the idea you present, the GE method works for any subject, not just English!

Then it was on the train to Tokushima, in the worst August rains we’ve had in a decade. So much so the trains were cancelled and it took me quite a few hours to get there. I did however come up with a brand new way of motivating your zero confidence teachers. More on that tomorrow – stay tuned!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

4 Responses to “The Perfect English Classroom + How to add Extras”

  1. Carol

    Sounds like you’re busy as usual, and got some really good questions!

    A classroom full of laptops is only as good as the software the kids will use! Of course for GE I think it would be really cool!

    (I was wondering how everyone that’s in Japan is doing since I’ve heard in the news about a typhoon and an earthquake… )

  2. richard

    Yeah, the tricky thing is how to justify a load of laptops but then only run a few select pieces of software including GE of course!

    Got woken up by another earthquake this morning, plus the reason the trains were cancelled was because of the typhoon. We get used to it though!

  3. Martin

    Yeah, justifying laptops to run only a few apps is hard. It would be awesome if GE worked on all tablets including Apple…then the parents could let their kids use the tablet during class…have a few extra on hand for less affluent students.

  4. susan

    Dear Richard,
    May I tell you my opinion?Looking back at my school days i remember with much love some of my Teachers….they were mentors for me and our relationship mentor student was really encouraging and awesome even if i didn’t realize then…but i got it after..what i want to say is that the tecnology even if it is captivating and should be used ,in my opinion, should Always come afer the mentor, or the next generation would only remember a “screene” and not a smiling face.It’s only a matter of balance I think.Much love

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