Joined: 05 Apr 2008
|Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:40 pm Post subject: Exposing students to English during the after school hours
|This presentation was submitted to the Ministry of Education in my country. The site I presented is strictly for educational purposes and non-commercial use or financial gains.
Syl's English Corner
My site was created based upon what was done in class, what children like to do after school, what hobbies they have, even the graphics were a result of their tastes for colors and animations.
Therefore, this post doesn't have the purpose to advertise my site. The purpose is to share it with my colleagues because I see this project as a means of enrichment in the learning of English, as well as an opportunity for either weak learners, high flyers or any other kind of English students at all to be attracted to the English language; my experience with the children since the beginning of the project has shown that many of them started being involved in the process of learning motivated by the various activities in the site.
BACKGROUND to the project
Before deciding to develop a website in English without a single worksheet in it, and at the same time, a website that teaches English "without pain", the question that troubled me most was: What do English teachers do to have their pupils getting in touch with the language after school, besides giving them homework, in a spontaneous, willing way and which could make them learn? Which means, the most part of the pupils leave school leaving their materials too, and don't remember the existence of English lessons until the next time, unless the teacher gives a specific task as homework, or a test is supposed to take place on the following lesson - in which case the pupils will remember to do that task or prepare for the test late in the evening, and even in the last few moments before the lesson at school.
To provide pupils the opportunity to have that "something more" at an afterschool environment or beyond the learning framework, being exposed to the language as much as possible, and also producing language, in a willing way; to provide this contact with English regularly, which is different from watching movies or MTV, or listening to their favorite pop artists in a CD.
I had in mind these questions: Is teaching online different to teaching face to face? Do students really want to learn fully online? What most attracts the students when surfing in the Internet? The main answers to these questions are: unless teachers require the pupils to perform as obligatory homework online tasks, such as language exercises or any other kind of learning activities, children won't carry out this kind of work by themselves (probably only if encouraged by their parents). They prefer sites with games, songs, online radio listening, and most of them in their mother language.
Taking all this into consideration, I got to the conclusion that they must break up learning on a dry subject-matter basis, for example after a hard fill-in-the-blanks exercise as homework, it might be appropriate for the learner to play a "memory game" or "snakes 'n' ladders" in English.
And then I came up with the idea: why not create for them this opportunity, concentrating in one site all sorts of fun activities, as games, riddles, jokes, songs and their lyrics (listening to a favorite song while following the words), quizzes, and even a possible interaction with other pupils in schools abroad.
There are many different types of learners and every student has different learning needs. There are native speakers who can't read or write, there are kids with learning disabilities or highly gifted pupils. The site is accessible, reachable to all of them.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SITE:
The site contains pages with:
- popular songs in their original versions, requested by the children (with lyrics);
- a form containing a list of top hits, with the possibility to choose a favorite song;
- games in English (a large variety in all levels);
- easy and readable jokes, with the possibility for the children to send their own;
- easy and readable riddles, also with the possibility for kids to have their own riddles published;
- funny pictures - pupils send titles, captions, dialogues, etc. through the email form displayed on the pages;
- stories written by the kids: they send their stories and decide which pictures they want to change certain words (through the email form on the page);
- all sorts of funny pages, tricks, funny clips, quizzes;
- a section dedicated to their creations (Your Corner) - pupils fill in a questionnaire about themselves, their hobbies, favorite artists, etc. and all of it is published.
If teachers have the opportunity to take their students to a computers' classroom, there are several activities with different purposes that can assist improving their skills in the language. For example: activity in pairs - funny pictures page, pupils write captions or dialogues, or whatever their imagination might create, sending the result of their work through the email to the webmaster that will have it published in the site. What better motivation can there be?