Back to the old school

We always try to make lessons as engaging as we can for students with interactive starters, plenaries and collaborative working wherever possible, but sometimes, for reasons often beyond our control, it isn’t possible to prepare the lessons we would like to deliver in an ideal world.

Last week I had planned a lesson with my A2 group on the cultural topic we’re studying but there were IT problems and so I had to resort to plan  B … a lesson which I had half planned for the following day on verbs and prepositions.  I had produced a list of verbs followed by a preposition and a series of 20 translations into Spanish, each containing a verb requiring a preposition.  At the start of the lesson I highlighted the fact that prepositions change the meaning of certain verbs and then got students to read the list and start translating.  At the end of the lesson we went through the answers on the board as a class, with students giving their translations.  Pretty uninspiring stuff so I was expecting a lot of moaning, but to my surprise, all learners were 100% focussed on the task and actually appeared to be enjoying it.

Since the lesson I have been reflecting on why students enjoyed this lesson so much, and why it seemed to be more effective than a lot of other lessons which we have done this year which I thought were a lot more exciting and engaging.  Here are some possible explanations:

  1. Students felt in control of their learning.  They had mentioned previously that they wanted to go over verbs and prepositions and it is something which many of them have difficulty with in their written and oral work. Maybe the fact that students were conscious of their mistakes with prepositions made them engage more in the lesson.
  2. It involved translation.  From my experience translation is something which students always enjoy.  It enables them to combine their grammatical knowledge and vocabulary and they feel a sense of achievement.  Translation is definitely something I want to start doing more with my AS students.
  3. No need for higher level thinking skills.  Everything students needed to complete the exercise was on the sheet – all they had to do was find the right verb and then put it into a sentence.  They didn’t have to come up with ideas – something which this particular group often finds difficult.
  4. It involved a different form of learning.  My students are not used to being given a worksheet and told to get on with it, and I think that is is definitely true that lessons which break routine always keep students on their toes.

So, my conclusion is that even though I won’t be changing my teaching style any time soon, maybe I won’t feel quite so bad when on those rare occasions I have to revert to less inspiring teaching methods!

Y ahora,  ¡a manifestar!

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