Diary submitted by Mathilde S, Erasmus+ internship in Madrid
As a young EFL teacher, one of my biggest fears when I started my internship was that students don’tenjoy my classes, feel lost or bored. As I was working in a language academy, students were always keen on learning and improving, so boredom was not a big issue. Yet, the responsibility of the teacher always lies in providing an interesting and dynamic lesson.
On a Tuesday afternoon, the topic of a speaking class was ‘single life’. I had a sheet with questions askstudents, but I didn’t find these questions neither relevant nor accurate.
My challenge was to make the class lively and interesting, so I decided to twist the lesson. Only three students joined the class that day, but a small group facilitates participation and interaction, especially for speaking classes. Starting with a quick brainstorming, I asked students what comes to their mindwhen they hear ‘single life’ in order to trigger their interest for the subject. After giving them avocabulary booster, notably discussing the difference between ‘single’, ‘lonely’, ‘alone’, ‘unwed’, Iasked them some questions:
- Are you single or in a relationship?
- Do you like being alone sometimes?
- What do you usually do you are alone at home?
- What are the pros and cons of being alone?
Speaking classes are a rewarding moment for students, because they can practice everything, they have learnt so far, including different tenses, grammar structures, vocabulary, the use of phrases or idioms. It also offers them the opportunity to speak freely about their experiences, give their opinion or let their imagination speak.
Before moving to the second part of the lesson, I asked them what two objects they would bring on a desertic island, and why. They all told me similar objects such as a knife, a bucket, a blanket… Then, the second activity I planned was a game. Even though most of my students are neither children nor teenagers, I have noticed that adults also like playing games when it comes to learn a language. Indeed,games are a great way to vitalize a lesson, catch students’ interest and making them both practice andenjoy learning a language. The game consisted of writing three pieces of information on three different papers:
What would you do if you were stuck in this strange place, on your own, with this object and this magical power. Then we mixed the papers and each student randomly chose three papers. I left them a few minutes to think about what they could say. The stories they came up with were really funny and interesting. At the end of the class, the three students told me how much they enjoyed the lesson, which made me really happy. It was therefore a successful lesson. From then, I realised that asking students for feedback is key for improving your teaching practices and creating a positive learning environment.