Monday, August 20, 2012

Tell Me a Story

Teaching conversation to me is a bit like teaching someone to breathe.  I have done it all my life without much thought and coming up with new ideas each week is still a challenge to me.  A few weeks ago, Nee found a website for a US company called Effortless English, not that I am advertising the fellow but he does have some interesting ideas.  One is something he calls the Question and Answer story.  An example of it is here on Youtube.  My understanding is that if you have the vocabulary in your head and some basic grammar, the next step is learning to understand and answer questions to wake up your conversation brain cells.

Loaded with that, I attempted to tell a story.  The first time it bombed.  They didn't get the idea and I wasn't sure I did, either.  I tried to get them to respond in the same way I saw in the video.  When I made a statement, they were to say something like, "Oh Wow!" and when I asked a question they were to shout out the answer.  Trouble was my story was terrible and I wasn't sure where to take it.  Still, the technique was starting to get through so I persevered.  As I have 14 different classes, I get to try out my ideas again and again until I start to see some progress.  The school gives me no curriculum or plan to work from leaving me free to do as I please so long as I am able to keep the class relatively quiet and I have something to grade them on.

Talking to other teachers, I found that Thais don't know western fairy tales like the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and so on.  I used to tell these stories to my sons and they enjoyed them as little guys, and Thai kids enjoy simple stories, which lead me to my next step.  I decided to present an interactive version the Three Little Pigs.  Teacher materials for such things don't exist.  I was going to have to improvise.  For several days, I pondered how I would use for props as I prefer something three dimensional than just my own voice.  Then I saw my landlord's son walking to school with a box in his hand.  My landlord is also a pharmacist and he seems to go through many boxes each week, though I have not seen the volume of customers to justify it.  I decided to get some boxes.

I cut them into pieces and wrote various words and pictures on them.  The idea was to hand out the signs and then call on the student holding the sign to stand up at the appropriate time.  My first attempt was in one of my more challenging classes.  I hadn't seen them for three weeks due to endless special occasions here at school and the last time I saw them, the drove me crazy.  I handed out the signs and gave the Big Bad Wolf to the kid who annoyed me the most.  He loved it.  I went through the story, asking questions, pointing to this sign and that and the class loved it.  As I started a bit late, I had to cut the story off early and they were actually disappointed.  Thus, I felt like I made a breakthrough.

I still have much work to get my storytelling down and incorporate questions and answers but this seems to be a good path. 

1 comment:

  1. Great idea!! I will remember this one and hope to get the same reward as you did