Saturday, February 09, 2013

Practice Lessons for Pre-service English Teachers

Today was our last day of classes at the university. In my English teaching methodology class I have been experimenting with different ways for students to do practice teaching in the class. It is extremely important for students to experience teaching because that is the only way they can link such theories as learning strategies, communicative competence, etc. to English teaching. However, practice teaching is not easy because I have 43 students in the class. This means that it is not feasible to have one or two students do their practice teaching in class and have the others pretend to be students. If we did this, then maybe each student would teach no more than one 10-minute lesson a semester. Therefore, I have decided to have students do their demonstration lessons in small groups. Here is what I did for our practice teaching day:

First, I chose four activities from the Internet TESL Journal:
Lesson 1: The Bragging Game
Lesson 4:  The Syllable Game

Then I divided the class into 5 groups of 8 students. Each group had 4 teaching pairs.
Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4
Group AKota and AiriMay and YuiHaruka and EmiMiki and Saki
Group BMai and ChikaKotaro and ShoheiHiroki and MakotoHamaya and Matsun
Group CShunsuke and HikaruMasato and TatsukiShunta and SatoruTakumi and Eiki
Group DTakahiro and AiFlowers and MachikoMarin and YurikaYoshi and Ryouhei
Group ESatoshi and WataruAyu and MoeShiho and KanakoYui U and Takayuki

Then, each student was given the following blogging assignment (taken from our class blog):
I would like you to write the lesson plan in your blog specifying the following. Next week, you and your partner will conduct a 10 minute lesson based on your plan.
Activity:  What kind of activity is it? Adjust the activity so that it encourages acquisition, interaction, or focus on form. Your activity can cover more than one of these.
Strategies: What kind of learning strategies does it encourage?
Learning styles: What kind of learning style is most appropriate for your activity?
Communicative competence: What kind of communicative ability does it encourage and why?
Procedures: Write the steps you will take to carry out the activity. At the ending of your activity, there should be some kind of reflection to help students realize the skill/strategy you wanted them to practice. 
See my sample lesson for an example 
Although you will be team-teaching, you should write the lesson plan in your own blog. It is ok to write the same thing as your partner.
The text books we use are the TKT Course and 新しい時代の英語科教育法と実践 . The items that I asked students to specify(Activities, strategies, learning styles and  communicative competence) were concepts that we studied in the textbooks. When we did the actual practice lessons, all groups did Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4 in that order. We were able to finish on time easily. What impressed me was that each pair of students taught their lessons differently depending on their goal. This meant that they were thinking very deeply about their teaching which I think is great. The problem areas were first, with five groups teaching at once it is hard to understand what each group is doing. I had two other teachers come to class that day to help me but I will not always have these kinds of resources. Second, I was not able to look at all the blogs before the class and give feedback on the lesson plans. I was just too busy. I was fortunate in that one of the other teachers volunteered to read the students' blogs. Third, sometimes when you are so busy orchestrating students' group work, keeping time, etc. it is hard to give students good comments on their lessons. Despite the problems, I am going to continue to use this format next semester. Although I need to think of ways that I can follow the students' lessons better, the most important thing is that the students, themselves, learn from this experience and determine themselves how they should improve.  

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