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The following report will take plan A as listed down in the assignment details. It will be divided into three parts of which each part will be a report of a class I attended and recorded my observations.
The teacher of the first lesson that I observed was Emma on 16/10/2013. The number of students in the classroom was nineteen. The students were of different nationalities as well as academic levels. Their nationalities were Chinese, Brazilian, Spanish, Saudi Arabian, and Thailand. The academic levels of the students were under-graduate as well as masters. The main aim of the lesson was to equip the students with academic writing skills. With regards to the observation that I made for this class, the most suitable topic would be instruction giving and checking. The following section will report on the topic with reference to what happened during the class.
Giving instructions in a class setup is a very important thing because it determines how well the teacher will be able to achieve the aims and objectives of the lesson. According to Hutchinson, Mayes and Moon (2013, p.163), success is determined by various aspects of instructional techniques. To begin with, instructions should be given clearly and the instructor should check if the instructions have been clearly understood. In Emma’s class, she began by giving a brief introduction about academic writing and what the lessons would be about for that particular class and the next class as well. The introduction she gave was by word of mouth. After this introduction, she passed a paper around that had questions in it. The questions made the students discuss with each other and Emma instructed them to talk with students of a different nationality from theirs. This was done to bring a balance between the instruction and classwork and at the same time ensure that the instructions were understood clearly (Hutchinson, Mayes & Moon, 2013, p. 163).
The instructions that the teacher gave referred to different things depending on the section of the lesson. At the beginning, the instructions were giving an introduction of the lesson. Later on in the lesson, the instructions referred to the procedures of how the activities of the lesson should be handled. Some of the instructions were written on the paper she passed around the class while she wrote others on the board and for some she used the electronic board. The teacher gave instructions at different levels. At the beginning of the class, she gave instructions to the whole class. This is where she explained what the lesson would be about. She then told the students to work in pairs. In this exercise, the students discussed amongst themselves as they tried to explain some of the questions to each other. According to Scrivener (2012, p. 137), group activities are a very important part of giving instructions as they help to determine how well the instructions given to the students were understood. After the group activities, she went round the class to check if all the students had understood what she had explained and she also answered questions that the students had and where they did not understand.
Emma’s instruction techniques were effective. This is because the students were able to achieve the objective of the lesson by the time the lesson came to an end. However, as she came to conclude the lesson, she made her instruction slightly ineffective. This is because she did not stick to the initial technique of giving instruction which was writing on the normal board. She told the students to narrate the sentences they had constructed without writing on the board. Murray and Christison (2011, p.145) state that depending on the composition of the class as well the aim of a particular lesson, it’s better if a teacher sticks to the instruction giving technique they employ at the beginning of a lesson.
The second class that I attended and recorded my observations was held on the 17/10/2013. The teacher of this class was Clair. Just like the Emma’s class, Clair’s had students of different nationalities as well as academic levels. The academic levels represented in the class were masters as well as under-graduate. As for the nationalities of the students, there were Chinese, Egyptians, Saudi Arabian, Greek, Italian, German, and Barchalonian. The class had nine students in total. The aim of the lesson was to equip the students with academic vocabulary. As this was the first lesson that they were having, the teacher had to make the lesson as interesting as possible. The most suitable topic for this class was the use of teaching aids.
In the International Visual Informatics Conference (2011, p. 43), it was noted that in a lesson where there are no teaching aids, the students attention was lost much faster. Teachers therefore dedicate themselves to finding the best teaching aid possible to help keep their students attentive. In this class, the 1st teaching aid that Clair used helped set the mood of the class. She began by Introducing herself then introduced me to the class and then she asked all the other students to introduce themselves to the class. This teaching aid is commonly referred to as an ice breaker. The purpose of this aid was to help the students feel comfortable and at the same time exercise their English vocabulary.
After the introduction the teacher proceeded to the next part of the lesson. In this part, she decided to use the instructional aids that she had prepared. Instructional aids make the teaching process easier since the students are able to use them as references (Mukalel, 2004, p. 151). In Clair’s class the instructional aid she used were papers which she had the written matching words with their meanings. She went round the class checking if the students understood what the exercise was about. While this activity went on, she decided to group the students in groups. This way, she went round group by group listening to the discussions as they went on.
As this was a vocabulary class, the teacher needed an aid that would help the students understand the meaning of various words as well as show them how to look up the meanings of words as well as know how to pronounce them. For this purpose, she introduced and recommended the Cambridge Dictionary for the students. Various teachings are used to impart different skills to the students (Sing &Sudarshan, 2004, p. 233). This particular aid was to help the students learn how to look up words and choose words from the dictionary. In addition to these teaching aids, the teacher used body language as an aid to describe. Such aids help the students remember the specific subject being explained as they will remember the gestures (Niżegorodcew, 2007, p. 48). Clair also used the computer as an aid to the lesson since she also had the electronic board at her disposal.
The aids did work because they helped the students to be able to apply their vocabulary under different situations and at the same time they were aids that they would easily remember.
The final class that I attended for this exercise was on 24/10/2013 and the teacher in charge of the class was Maria. The class was smaller as compared to the others since there were only three nationalities namely Chinese, Spanish, and Thailand and the total number of students was seven. The academic composition was similar to the other classes I reported about. The class’ aim was to show the students how to be critical reviewers. For this reason, it was necessary that the teacher used phrases for the lesson. In view of this, the topic chosen for this class is phrase-level teaching.
The lesson began with a roll call. The teacher wanted to know how the attendance of the class was for that particular day. After that, the teacher went ahead and told them about the critical review and how it involves arguments. After that, she pointed out the specific lesson of that particular day as it was about flaws. She then proceeded to explain what a flaw means. From this, it can be noted that the aim of the lesson was expressed in a word. According to Nattinger and DeCarrico (2005, 46-48), teachers can choose to express the aims of their lessons in a phrase or in a word as expressed by Maria. A good percentage of the student output was phrase-level. This is because the activities which the teacher used in the class required the students to use phrase-level communications amongst themselves. The teacher passed papers around the class that had statements in them. She explained some of the statements to the students and gave the some of the students a chance to explain the phrases to their fellow students.
This activity gave the students a chance to argue. This was an aim for the lesson as the teacher began the lesson by telling the students about arguing. Through this, they were able to practice their critical reviewing skills. Class discussions as well as debates help students to become critical reviewers since they are able to think quickly and independently and at the same time be open-minded (Nieto, 2010, p. 215).The teacher used phrases that were new to some of the students. This was to help broaden their knowledge of phrases and at the same time be able to challenge themselves. The teacher then gave the students some questions. Since she wanted to make the activity as interesting as possible, she gave the students clues to make the exercise easier for them. During this exercise, the students argued amongst themselves and gave their opinions and this was in line with the aim of the lesson. Before the class came to an end, the teacher mingled the students again and changed their groups to help them be able to adapt to their environments faster.
The phrases that the teacher and the students used were effective because at the end of the lesson, the students had shown that they had gained the skill to express their opinions in the best way possible.
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