Saturday, June 8, 2013

Baseball in Turkey

This is my second year teaching baseball during the last two weeks of school. Exams are finished, class sizes dwindle, and the motivation for "academic" book work is zero. This is my second year of being amazed at the way baseball ignites student effort to speak and understand English. This is my second year of ending a school term with my least favorite classes becoming some of my favorites. In other words, baseball is a great way to both motivate learners and increase understanding and memory.

Here's my first example: Middle school student #1 who lost most of his books and supplies in November, never wrote anything but scribbles on his paper, and threw paper wads and talked most of the year loves baseball. He listens to, repeats, and comprehends each new rule. He was the first player to "catch a fly ball" to make the batter "out." At the end of class he walked up beside me beaming and said, "Mrs. Jansen, today I hit a home run and caught a fly ball." (That was his first complete spoken sentence of the year!) And, I'll never forget the time he asked if he could be the catcher. I said "yes", and he was crestfallen when he saw that he wasn't the pitcher. "But you asked to be the catcher," I said. It was a perfect natural consequence for not listening well to the names of the positions and you better believe that next inning he got that straightened out.

Here's another example: High School student #1 (a boy) and high school students #s 2 and 3 (girls) were not particularly interested in going outside and playing a baseball.  They were OK playing BINGO with baseball terms and eating their M&Ms markers if they got a BINGO. But physical activity is not a favorite past-time. As a matter of fact, they are pretty good English students but  typical "non PE types." They even asked if they could just sit in the shade and watch.

Me: "No, you should at least 'give it a try' and 'be a good sport'. Besides we needs you. It's hard to play baseball with only 5 players."

After all three of them got their first hit, (yes, for the first several innings I pitch them balls they can hit.)They were hooked on the game. The boy said to me, "This is the only sport I like playing!" The girls asked if we could play again next week.

I philosophize about "why" baseball works so well to teach English (and American culture)  I can come up with lots of  reasons. But the bottom line is, we all have fun!

Baaaaaaat-ter Up!

1 comment:

  1. I forget who it is (but it's someone famous), who said, "What is learned with laughter is never forgotten!"