Balance in the classroom

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Balance in the classroom

Post by cnobrien » Sat May 04, 2013 12:46 am

I fear not having a good balance in my classroom.

We know that, as teachers, there is a lot of pressure to put more emphasis on writing. While in reality, we use writing the least and we know our students need more work with listening and speaking.

Any suggestions on how to please people and fit the speaking and listening skills into the school day?

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Post by Sally Olsen » Sat May 04, 2013 11:35 am

Don't forget reading.
Make a chart and have the students put down the minutes that the do on each for a week or two and then you can balance if you are off. Get the students to suggest ways to improve whatever is missing.

However there is a lot more to learning than the four major and often emphasized skills. Sorry to make it more difficult.

Here is something to think about:

Michael Halliday came to visit UBC in May, 2007 and gave an evening talk to a general audience. He said that he had taught Chinese for a number of years. In his first adult class he had 20 students and being nervous thought that there were 20 ways to learn because he found so many differences. After a number of years of teaching he narrowed that down to 8 manageable ways of learning. If you include these 8 ways of learning in your classes you will cover all the ways needed by an adult foreign language class.

1.Some people learn by ear. They are speech oriented so you can give them lectures and talks or have them hear others speak in person or on tape.

2.Some people learn by seeing. They are writing oriented so need to see everything they hear. You can write on the board while you talk or have notes prepared for them to follow along. You can show them pictures, tables and graphs to make things clearer for them.

3.Some people learn from the top down. You can give them a course outline, let them see where they will be going. You can present the overall idea for the individual session so they can see where they are going.

4.Some people learn from the bottom up so you can start at a place they can see is the beginning or is simple and add on for them. A review of what they have learned will help build up their idea of where they have been.

5.Some people attend to sound or form and are expression oriented. These people need things to be broken down for them and to be given reasons for the language. They are usually searching for patterns or rules.

6.Some people attend to meaning and like to learn things that go together to make meaning immediately. They want sentences or whole texts. They want to know how to say, “How much does it cost?”
You can use the details to expand what they want to learn.

7.Some people are actors. They want to perform. They want a chance to practice and want practical situations.

8.Some people are planners and they want to reflect on what they learn before they use it.

If you use all 8 ways to design a lesson, you will have covered what adults want in a foreign language lesson. You can separate people into groups according to their ways of learning and provide more experiences in their desired method of learning. You can allow them to reflect and not to perform according to their comfort level and so on.

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Post by KatrinaB88 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:14 pm


Students need to learn to speak, read and write. We also know that people learn best in different ways or in a combination of different ways. My suggestion is to simply mix things up in your classroom and try to incorporate an element of each skill in each lesson.



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Balance - Speaking

Post by Gromit » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:46 pm

I would tend to focus on developing the students ability to speak at this age. It's important to make the lessons enjoyable and achievable. I would disagree that a strong focus on reading/writing is necessary or advisable at these ages (although it may be suitable for an advanced class). Get them enthusiastic about learning first, this often comes in the form of verbal interaction. There are some good (yet simple) verbal activities at - including some free materials.

Remember that if students are having fun with balanced educational activities then that's great. Placing pressure on students to read and write when they may only just be learning to do so in their own language (perhaps having different script) might put a lot of children off.

Elementary aged teaching may cover 5-11yrs so it really depends what age you teach as to your focus.

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