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Really bad textbook - help!!

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Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 6
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 2:26 am    Post subject: Really bad textbook - help!! Reply with quote

I am required to teach a book of 900 sentences to my Chinese Junior Grade 2 students (about 14 years old) who really cannot get beyond "my favourite food is...". The book consists of sentences grouped by categories such as 'Making a Telephone Call' and 'Giving Suggestions', with sentences such as "I have always loved these types of heavy metal bands" and "This gift will always remind me of my stay here and your great hospitality"! This book should be used to supplement proper English lessons, not as a basis for them, in my view (well, in my view it shouldn't be used at all, as it's full of Chinglish!).

So far, I have been selecting the few good sentences from each chapter, adding in my own, and trying to create texts (written and spoken) to give the sentences some context. This approach has been largely unsuccessful because the students have no basic grounding in the English they need to be able to use the sentences. But if anyone has any more ideas about how I can make the most of this textbook, or how I can do some different activities without spending ages writing a text before every lesson, I would really appreciate it. Or, how have you dealt with having to teach a book you thought was total rubbish, and/or too advanced for the students?

Thanks for any help at all!

Nic, depressed in China Crying or Very sad
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Wiener Neustadt, Austria

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, first I think I would investigate what it is that the students are primarily lacking in.

I'm very fond of vocabulary explanation exercises, the kind that require you to explain a word using what's at your disposal.

I would give them a list of professions, for example, and have them explain what each and everyone does, or a list of tools, and have them explain what you use it for, and then sort of link the two up, using a variety of contexts, such as a bricklayer walking underneath a scaffolding, being hit by a hammer, and then the ambulance comes, ambulance vocabulary, what do you find in an ambulance, and so on and so forth, linking the words into stories of my own.

One way of making explanatory exercises fun is by having them create crossword puzzles for each other, something you'll find at , for example.

I found that students of the age-group you're teaching find nouns and concrete expressions much more accessible than "ways of saying things" - so I suppose I would choose the words from your dreadful textbook for that purpose.
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2004 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know about your situation but I thought textbooks were national in China and everyone who is 14 and in Grade 2 has this textbook and the teachers are supposed to use it. That their final test will be based on this textbook. If that is the case, it is hard to throw it away or use something else. It is great that you are trying to make it more relevant for them and you should save your stuff and send it to the Ministry of Education and try to get them to publish it as a teacher's manual for the book. I know they have limited funds to replace these the student's text but teacher's manuals are cheaper and they don't have to make as many as student's books.
Do you have contact with any teacher and class of 14 year olds in an English speaking country? Send them the book and let them at it. They can make exercises, videos of real conversations, tapes, get songs with these sentences in them and so on. It does sound like the book has themes at least and they can develop these themes for you, make plays, worksheets, write their own experiences of the situation. Going to the post office in Greenland is different than going to the Post Office in Canada.
I would be careful about dumbing down the language and not expecting them to understand the sentences that you described. If the sentence is in the right context, it is just something to be remembered or memorized and can be as easy or hard as memorizing something simpler. I have memorized sentences in many languages and had no idea how to put them together myself at the beginning but was able to communicate with people which was enormously motivating. At some point I would say, "Oh, yes I remember that word from my pat phrase. That is why it has this ending." and so on. As long as they know the meaning of the memorized sentence from translation to their own language (through the good students if necessary), they can attempt to use it in the right situations. If they are going to stay in my house in the future, I wouldn't mind them knowing, "This gift will always remind me of my stay here and your great hospitality." I find it hard to believe that anyone would ever say, "I have always loved these types of heavy metal bands. " though.
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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, ""I have always hated these types of language excercises..."" Wink

However, maybe you can use some of these sentences to play with sentence forms. For example, showing how to change an affirmative sentence into a negative sentence, or into a question. So, 'I have always loved...' becomes 'I haven't always loved...' (or, I have never loved... or, I have always hated...) and becomes 'Have you always loved...?' for the question.

Even if they begin learning 'by rote', the ability to manipulate auxiliaries in English will be very useful for them as they make further progress.
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