Here’s a post from Maya, my wife.
Classrooms across the world are becoming increasingly diverse with Diasporas, many of whose primary home language is not English. Teachers are often at a loss on how to adequately assist students to learn English in a class where individual attention sometimes is a remote possibility. The call of the day is to adopt new techniques and devise novel ways that will help all the students learn English irrespective of the home language.
It’s often difficult for children to comprehend stories, poems, and plays if their imaginations are not fully developed. Warm-up activities, or more popularly known as immersion activities, help students a great deal in prepping up for what’s about to be taught. Immerse children in a range of English games (both original and borrowed from online sources), activities, role dramas, drawings, music classes (related to the literature that you plan to teach) and other similar exercises so that they are ready for what’s about to come and wait eagerly for it. Such activities will give their understanding and reading of the language a fresh meaning and purpose.
Have you ever attached any importance to professionally publishing the works of your students? Publishing students’ works provides them with a real incentive and makes them feel their works are valued. Plan a publication exercise where you can publish each student’s writings. Consider breaking up the publication broadly by sections – primary school, middle school, and high school – to avoid bulking up the edition. You can also consider supporting the writing with amateur illustrations! It will be a great way of rewarding the hard work and effort that each student has put in. The publications will be enjoyed by parents and other students for years to come!
The powerful teaching potential of plays is often undermined. It’s a good idea to hire a full-time theater teacher who will, besides training students, will also train teachers on how to explore characters, read situations, and push the boundaries while reading plays. Reading plays in the way they should be will in turn inspire students to broaden their imaginations and encourage them to impart that extra flair and spark in their writings.
Edgy grammar teaching
It’s unfair to teach grammar as a standalone activity. How will the kids understand the applications of foundation grammar concepts if they are not taught with familiar examples, ex: familiar poetry, stories, rhymes, etc.? Children automatically begin to understand grammar and subconsciously implement it in their writing but the real learning happens when they internalize the grammar and produce it in their writings effortlessly. Assign them lot of editing and reading homework that will help them constantly apply the concepts learnt in the class into practical use.
Peer and self-assessment
Which child doesn’t like marking somebody else’s work! Set them transparent marking keys and well-defined success criteria to help them assess their own and peer’s writings. Remember a teacher’s correction patterns and marking standards are also closely followed by students. They’ll be well trained in searching for spelling errors, typos, wrong grammar, and other glitches if you have set them good examples. It’s one of the greatest achievements in a teacher’s life seeing her students learn from one another and promote an environment in the classroom that’s conducive to learning.