Friday, October 14, 2011

Classroom Vocabulary

We here at the English department are trying to enforce a "Speak English Only" rule during English class. For those of you who've studied a foreign language you know how difficult speaking in your L2 can be. But for second graders, this is next to impossible. I can give simple classroom room instructions like "Get pencil", "Cut", "Write" orally, with physical motion, and with pictures and a student will nod in reply "cut, ah ha" and then rattle off a paragraph in Turkish with the gist being "I don't have any scissors." So much for the Speak English Only rule. I could buy a classroom set of scissors to carry around in my already super stuffed portable office (a plastic basket) to avoid this frantic conversation, but instead, I decided we could use this opportunity to learn some manners and English at the same time. So, I made a poster with two hand-drawn students (OK, I lied...I traced some flash cards of students because I can't draw) and word bubbles. The conversation reads like this:
(Girl)- (actually, I should have made "her" a "him" because the "hims" never have any supplies and the girls always do, but I was trying not to be sexist) "May I borrow your_____, please?" (There are pictures of classroom supplies at the bottom of the poster below the boy.)
(Boy) "Yes."
(Girl) "Thank you."
(Boy) "You're welcome."

This poster actually works so well, that I will probably make some more conversation posters explaining things like the word "interrupt" as in "don't", and "throw pencils" as in "don't", etc.

Here's a poster I want to make, but, for obvious reasons, won't:
(Student) Teacher, Teacher!* (This means "I want to be your helper" but the student doesn't know any more words to explain his eagerness, and then that student scoops up all my flash cards, lesson plans, magnets, pens, pencils and dumps them in my basket and fights with another student to be my helper and carries everything out of the room)
(Teacher) Thank you for wanting to help, but I'm not ready to leave the class room yet, and when you scoop everything into a pile, even though you mean well, I won't be able to find anything and then I will lose control of the next class in the middle of an activity because I will be digging through my basket looking for a picture of a kite (the kids say something like "key tay"... the "i" in Turkish is pronounced like a long "e" in English and there are no silent letters in Turkish) and I won't be able to find the kite and then we won't learn this week's vocabulary word or have today's pronunciation lesson.

Here's the conversation that really occurs:
(Student) Teacher, Teacher! (same scooping action as above)
(Teacher) Thank you for your help. That's so nice. (forced smile)

*The phrase "Teacher, Teacher" can mean just about anything depending upon who's bored and needs a trip to the bathroom, who hasn't listened to one word of instruction, who's crying, or who has just suffered an grave injustice.

No comments:

Post a Comment