Teaching Assumptions

Assumptions are like attitudes. They are important because they shape your behavior and your approaches. So, when developing a communication class at your school it is useful to consider the assumptions you have going in. Here are some of the assumptions I had going into our Talk More! Communication class. Feel free to adopt them or remix and modify them for your purposes.

1) Language Improves Through Communication.

No matter what level your students are, if they are given the chance to use what they know, their English will improve. I have seen this demonstrated all the way from special needs students in my school (where  I teach in 90% English) to adult Eikaiwa classes. This assumption leads to two priorities: 1) create a safe environment for speaking English 2) ensure that you provide many opportunities for speaking (it is a communications class, after all!)

2) Speaking is a Game

Some teaching materials will insist you need to have games. “Games! Games! Games!” They shout at you from the page. Of course games are fun and they have their place. But what I’ve seen is that this advice operates most when an ALT is struggling to fight the boredom of the typical grammar-translation English class. If you are teaching a communication class, that battle has been won and you don’t need games. Speaking is a game, and it is more thrilling and useful to your students than you can even imagine.

3) Trust the Language

All too often we don’t let English speak for itself. Mr. Japanese always has to come in and speak for Mr. English. Whenever Mr. English tries to push ahead, Mr. Japanese always jumps out with his explanation. While it is useful sometimes for Mr.  Japanese to give that snappy, quick explanation, Mr. English also has a language and the ability to make himself understood. Providing context and cues makes this job easier. But most importantly, sometimes just trust that Mr. English can provide just as useful an explanation (if not more) when he gets to speak for himself. In other words, use English as much as is reasonably possible.

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve found a great breakthrough when teaching lately. I’ve been trying with earnest to remember my kids names. Sometimes I will only have 2 or 3 classes a day and so I spend that day memorizing all the kids names for the two classes and further I look up the Kanji for their names. When class starts it becomes a phychological experiment of sorts. Does the meaning of their Kanji match their character. I teach over 500 students on different days and so I’ve had to rememorize classes over again, but it makes the class personal. I love the advice! How do you make a effective English worksheet? Keep it coming!

    • That is awesome! You’re not only creating connections with students but connections with their kanji and their character. You accomplish great feats with your meditation, so it doesn’t surprise me you’ve set such a great goal for yourself at work. I wrote about connectiong with students and colleagues on the ” preparation” page yesterday. I think your idea is a good strategy for fulfilling that goal.

      As for worksheets, I’ve been experimenting lately with making them for our communications classes. I’ve found that providing more structured, step-by-step worksheets are great for 2nd yr JH students, while a little more open-form styles are better for 3rd years. How about you?
      I’m gonna upload some examples soon, so please check back later this week!

      Thanks for commenting and visiting the site! I hope to hear more of your ideas!

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