I would like to share with you some great lessons that it was a huge success in two groups of students during this month. Actually, I’m always on facebook or twitter looking for activities that could engage my small group of students. This time I was searching for something different from their coursebooks. Needless to say, I have to follow the school curriculum but this semester, we are allowed to engage our teenagers with different kind of materials, I mean authentic ones.
The first time, I worked with these kind of materials, it was with my adult class in 2010, specially conversation class (A2-B2). That time, I usually started with something that they had already learned in their coursebook, and then I used to engage them in warm-up or review activities. There were articles, videos, ad from American and British tvs, some podcasts and so on. Some of my students were really afraid of trying this new things. They couldn’t realize that things like ‘Friends’ , it was a real moment of learning. Because there are some myths towards Brazilian learners that ‘if you don’t learn from a book, you didn’t learn at all’. It took some patience and time to reconstruct this point of view, but finally, after some lessons they got the idea and, it worked pretty well.
Then, I decided to work with my very young learners projects using this book ‘Pete, The Cat’ , it was a huge success. The kids simply adored him (Pete) and we had a lot of fun. It was the moment that, I brought the concept of adapting materials for students with special needs to my institution. Besides, adapting the material was a perfect moment to work with an inclusive curriculum and environment, my students were able to interact with all during the school time and why not saying outside as well.
Thus, most of these materials were there, ready to be use and it was not difficult to find them. Today we have many sources and platforms that are available to help us in our classes. Actually, all those materials I have been using with in my classes are on twitter and facebook too. Just a big deal!
Once I caught myself wondering, how my teachers used to prepare their lessons? Teaching english as a second language nowadays in Brazil is not the same way that I learned 30 years ago. Back in the 80’s , I used to have penpal friends from England and USA, it was suggested by one of my favorite teachers that time. It was amazing the feeling of those letters arriving in my home. They used to describe their lifestyles and so did I – it was a kind of authentic material that time. There were no internet, just the traditional post office! And surprise (I still have two postcards from them). To tell the truth, both experiences had helped me a lot to understand about culture, language and friendship.
Today, when I am in class, I can relate some situation within my students. The use of technology has helped us a lot to use what is surround us – The more we use our reality, the more we create opportunity to learn. That is why authentic material are made for. Thus, I would like to suggest you two great people who create amazing things to improve and motivate our students.
#1 – Phil Wade creation :
Since He has started to share his #minilessons, I have been using quite a lot. His materials are really great to lead a good conversation class (from music to divergent topic as refugees). Instead of using games all the time, I decided to work with his minilessons because of the skills (speaking and writing) presented there and of course my students’ needs. Our free lessons happens once in a month, so I was supossed to bring some fun to them, using things about the target language. That was the moment that I saw his post on facebook and voilà. It has been my #1 sources this semester.
#2 – Natural English
I was tweeting some ideas and activities, when I came across this wonderful material and I got really impressed with its lesson. First of all, we had worked with the target language presented previously on the lesson and the title caught my attention ‘Sometimes Bad Things happen to good Robots’ (it is a full sample). In fact, I couldn’t use the whole lesson, but I worked with the video and also the text. During the class we saw the video in pairs, my students discussed about the video and then in a different peer group, they read the text. We did the exercise 4 about vocabulary. However, I didn’t use all the lesson, I didn’t have enough time for it. So, I selected to work with them just some parts, otherwise we couldn’t have time to explore some words in the vocabulary part that it was new for them. Besides, exercise 6 – as suggested by Natural English it was not appropriate to my group (13-14 years old). This lesson worked during 1:15min. I assigned them the homework part to hand me back in a week. They described some things that happened with their family members and friends. I decided not publish here on the blog their composition, because it was too personal. Anyway, It was a wonderful lesson that raised some very important issues that many people have faced in life, unfortunately.
I would like to thank Phil Wade and Natural English for taking the time to prepare such great lessons. I hope this post can help other teachers to understand and how authentic materials can improve their way of teaching . A hint for newbie teachers – try to introduce little by little in your classes, starts as a warm up then you will be giving an entire lesson.