Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Two secrets to life and learning English

Every year I try to pick a theme for the first day of classes. They are sometimes related to news events, "Welcome to the Major League" when Ichiro first went to the States or "Just Talk" based on a home-made video of a bar full of foreigners all riffing on the word TALK. The past few years I have used one phrase for each grade:

中1- Think Big!,

中2 - Be an 'I can do it' type,

中3 - Last Chance (to get the basics),

高I - A Fresh Start (your turn to lead),

高II - Express Yourself (speaking and writing),

高III - Polish, Polish (step into the world)

This year, I've decided to go with one theme for all six grades. I guess it's the result of all the reading I've been forced to do for the MA TEFL course.

I'm just starting to work on it now but it'll be something like:

In Life,

1. If you make an EFFORT the RESULTS will follow.

2. If you find the right BALANCE in your life, you'll also find HAPPINESS.

In Learning English,

1. If you make a big EFFORT in my class you'll get top marks.

2. If you can BALANCE English KNOWLEDGE and English USE you will be successful. School will give you plenty of KNOWLEDGE about English, but many people in Japan fail because they don't have any balance; you must also USE English in order to improve.

I'm hoping to change my grading system in such a way as to maximize points for EFFORT and minimize points for test results. This is based on my belief that tests are motivational for maybe 20% of the class and de-motivational for 80% of the students. I will claim that if students truly make an effort, the results will come naturally.

Any comments or suggestions are certainly welcome...


JH said...

I really liked the themes you had written for each grade. I think it is the way English in schools should be.
In the schools I worked at 中 3 was not the last chance to get the basics. It seemed to me that by the time students reached 中 3 they had absolutely no chance of catching up if they fell behind in 中1 and 中2. Perhaps your school is different from the schools I have worked at.
In the high school I worked at the theme fpr 高III would have been "study, study, study for the exam".
Just out of curiosity, what kind of school do you teach at?

Regarding your new theme, what do you mean by right balance in life? Balance between work and play?

I am looking foreward to hearing more about your new grading system and how it wors out.


Steve Herder said...

Hi Jimbo,

Glad to hear from you. I'll address your points on my blog soon. I've read quite a bit of your stuff and think we're pretty much on the same page. I'd welcome keeping in touch and sharing ideas back and forth. Do you ever skype?