I have tried many different topics and ideas for my English wall with varying success. Even when I post an Enlgish free-write space, I am always unsure of how students are receiving the information — is it interesting? Can they understand? Is it too easy? Or too difficult? I have never been able to find an answer to any of these questions, so it has remained as one big mysteries of my job as an English teacher here.
Recently, though, I did discover a new way to add coherence to my English wall (and make it easier for me to produce material). The first is to divide the wall into two sections: travel and culture. The second is to use a color printer and word processor to make print out sheets of the material I want to present.
For my English wall I now have three sections: 1) Free-write space 2) a space for posts about culture 3) a space for travel posts
Using the word processor to arrange photos and add captions turns a job that usually takes one to two hours to produce from scratch, to one that takes about 30 minutes, depending on how long it takes to find good photos. I decided to use ‘culture’ and ‘travel’ as organizing themes because they cut to the point of the things I want students to learn about, while being general enough to accommodate many kinds of topics.
In this example of a 'culture' post, I present about graduation traditions in America
For the culture section, I have presented about many different topics so far, from the typical American holidays, to graduation traditions in America (as pictured).
Planting the desire to travel by showing interesting places to visit
For the travel section, I feature a new city or country that students can visit someday. The title for my page is ‘sightseeing in…[country/city name]’ and I give suggestions for the popular attractions to visit in that place. In the example above, I am telling students about all the places in my hometown of Seattle, Washington (USA) to be sure to visit. I don’t have a picture of it, but for the travel section, I also include a page about popular food to try in the featured city or country.
The English Free-Write Page
As a last touch, I give students a place to write anything they feel like writing. I am really happy if students ask questions or comment about the English wall, but regardless of what they write, I try to respond with my signature. I can start conversations with many students that way.
Elliott Hindman, Yamagata-shi