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Here Below you can check out the feedback (for one of our units) of one of the 16.000 students that last year took an online course with ITTT!
As the last lesson, appropriately, this unit focuses on establishing a comfortable learning environment--one in which the teacher and students are on the same team, working together to accomplish tasks and acquire new language.
In a language-learning environment (not unlike other types of environments), it's so important to set off on the right foot. On the first day of classes in elementary school and junior high schools, I typically give a multi-media self-introduction. I show pictures and videos about my home country and my interests. I throw in quiz questions for the students to work together to answer (offering prizes from my home country to the highest scoring group), or other times ask them Yes/No or open-ended questions. (For example, I show them a point-of-view video of my favorite roller-coaster, ask them if they like roller-coasters, what their favorite amusement/theme park is, etc.) After my introduction, they ask me questions about me and my country. After each question, I ask them a question on the same topic. All this to say: The first class/encounter is always casual but productive. It allows me to evaluate the English levels of different students; it gives students plenty of conversation-starting material to approach me with; it puts us all on friendly terms. After that, it's so much easier to move forward as a team and encounter any "troubleshooting" problems together.
Even after such a productive start, it can be hard to keep that momentum going. As the text indicates, some young learners can be unmotivated because they didn't choose to study the language, or they can't see its immediate relevance to their lives. Sometimes they slip into using their native language (and sometimes it's hard for me to remember not to respond when they do so!). Sometimes the students who take private English classes after school get bored and become disruptive. Sometimes the students who find something difficult just say "I don't understand English!" again and again. In all of these situations, it's so important to be attentive to students--to talk to them as individuals, and let them know you're on their team. I'd like to be able to do that more, though the language barriers often prevent me from doing so as much as I'd like. I hope to keep learning through experience, and by looking up to more experienced EFL teachers, about how to help students here in Japan recognize both the importance and the joy of learning and communicating in English.
Thank you very much for the helpful course. I've enjoyed reading through and reflecting on the materials.