Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sloggin' Through it

Hi All,

Well, Unit 1 is done. That means I just have to finish my afternoon curriculum to the end, and it's all recycling the material from then on out.

Challenge is, of course, to make it communicative and interesting for students. One thing any ESL teacher can tell you is how fast it becomes boring to just rely on drills all day to teach the material. The current model that's taught in TESL Canada classes is to find ways to create dialogues, roleplays, conversations, etc. that encourage and facilitate integration of the language more effectively.

Of course, nobody tells you that creating lessons that do so requires a lot of experience, time, and patience.

I enjoy my classes, overall. The students have, so far, been quite good, and I enjoy the level I teach. I would rather it be a bit more beginner--I'm far better at designing more basic activities, and I suspect I remain intimidated by the lack of control one has in an advanced class, but that's normal at that level.

Still, despite the workload, it's going well, and it's what I want to do, so I'm sure I will become accustomed to it.

Have a good weekend, everybody.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Almost done with the first Unit

Hi All,

So, busy lately. I've been slogging through my first run-through of my unit with my two new schools, which means I've had to spend most of my evenings lesson planning and prepping and tweaking. Gah.

I'm two days from being done with the first unit for my morning school, which means that when we start back over again with a new class, I can keep my lesson plans, and just make small edits. A lot easier.

The second, afternoon school is about half-way done, but it's becoming less painful. Having finished one unit will make the going less rough for them, too.

Unfortunately, I had to fail a lot of students in my afternoon program. I can see the argument: better that I do it now, than when they get to University and the professor cans them for plagiarism, or for a lack of English ability. There were some really strong students whom I fought to let through, since it was just a matter of time before they reached their full potential, but for some of the others... it wasn't fun.

Failing students isn't why I got into this business. As an ESL teacher, one gets used to doing everything one can to help them--I don't just let people pass, mind you, but the most important thing to me is their ability to use and make sense of the material we teach. If they can do that, but they have a bad test score, so what? I've had bad test scores, but last time I checked, I know how to communicate in English, and in French.

What can you do?

Saw District 9, and Valkyrie, finally, this weekend. It's funny how many movies we didn't bother watching, since we were abroad.

I thought Valkyrie, ironically, was the better of the two. Yes, it was Hollywood-ish, and yes, it was a Tom Cruise vehicle, but take away his eye, and one hand, and suddenly he acts a lot better. There were dozens of brilliant British actors in the show, and it was well-put-together.

District 9 is as subtle as a brick thrown at your head. It's well-done, if low-budget, and yes, it asks some important questions, but it really is blunt. That's part of the point, I suppose, but I can understand why it generates such polarized responses.

All the best,