Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Storytelling, Second & Third Classes

by AJ

I did more TPR Storytelling with my Mihara classes today and it went well. This time the stories seemed a little more personalized. In two (of three) classes, students shouted out the names of other students as characters.

I feared this would cause embarrassment... and it did, a little. But the students whose names I used seemed to be OK, a little embarrassed but hopefully not too much. And the rest of the class loved it. Of course, next time I won't use the same students... spread the embarrassment a little. I don't want students to dread my class, I want them to enjoy it and I hope they will want to come.

I also exaggerated the story. I made the characters more larger than life-- the boy became a drinking gambler, while the girl became sweeter and more sensitive. This also made the story more interesting, compared to the version I used in my first class.

Another modification: I used more gestures. I tried to convey the basic meaning of each sentence with actions. So if I said "I want to spend more time together", I pointed to my watch to indicate time. This seemed to help, though I should do more of it. I wish I could draw, because that might help too.

Needed Improvements:

I did get the classes ooohing and ahhing, which seemed like an improvement from my first classes. But I did not ask enough questions. Most Japanese students will not shout out answers in my class. If I address a question to the class, no one speaks. And I dont want to call on individual students because that makes them nervous. So Im not sure what to do. Maybe I will try to take a small step by using multiple choice questions.... set the stories up like those choose-your-own-adventure books I read as a kid.

If you want a large class to practice speaking, you feel almost stuck doing pairwork. My choice-- I wouldnt do this much, if at all. But the university classes seem too large for me to speak with directly. I try to move around a lot and listen to everyone, but doesnt feel like enough.

When Im not near them, some students speak Japanese rather than English... so it seems like they get no practice or input at that time. Some teachers force this issue... they demand ONLY ENGLISH... but I dont want to force speech. I consider my mission to relax them enough, give them enough understandable & meaningful input, and give them enough repetition that they feel comfortable trying to speak.

Most students do. But a few dont... and thats my challenge. At least these students get a lot of authentic input from my story repetitions and (sometimes) from other students.