Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Is that really a solution?

Just replied to Blinger's post about the textbook 'SMILE'. I just couldn't help to say something good about it because I did have very good experience of using that textbook.

Blinger also mentioned that the author of the SMILE suggested that for each level it usually takes 3 months. This just made me think of the time when I was teaching English in Taiwan. Sometimes it was such a despressing situation that you couldn't make your students learn at the same pace. Older children are certainly quicker learners than younge children, especially for grammar and vocabulary. (I am not talking about long-term language acquisition situation because if we are talking about long-term learning, younger children seem do better). However, in Taiwan, or other EFL countries, language schools arrange their students to class according to their English ability, without regard to age differences. This just makes teaching become so difficult.

I used to have one EFL class, in which the oldest child is 12 years old whereas the youngest one is 7 years old. That class was certainly the toughese class that I had ever taught

At that time, I could notice that Janet (that oldest child) sometimes felt bored in class because I kept letting them practice the same sentence structure in different kinds of activities. According to the textbook syllabus, I needed to spend at least 2 weeks (that total 6 hours) teaching one lesson. However, at the same time, I also noticed some younger kids or slower kids had hard time to catch up.

I do believe many language schools have this kind of problem: not able to make the whole class learn at similar pace. Schools just couldn't do anything about it. I remember at that time I told my boss about this kind of situation. The answer was 'because of the budget, we need to have at least 10 students in one class'. At that time, I did understand the situation.

But... is that really a solution? We slow down fast learners' learning pace and at the same time we need to spend more time helping other learners who can't catch up.

If you have some ideas or similar experiences about this, please feel free to give me comments. By the way.. you can write Chinese here. 寫中文也可以唷!


Blogger paul shih said...

Hi again,
Did we slow down fast learners' learning pace and at the same time we need to spend more time helping other learners who can't catch up? I am sorry I have to disagree with that. I think for the fast learners, they tend to make big step no matter how you might slow your pace. I remember seeing a old movie where adolescences and little children were taught in a class in Canada. Now, I teach a class with large discrepancy. I try different words, simple and a little complicate, for different level through a period. The fast learners can absorb the knowledge by themselves, whereas slow learner need more time to repeat those new vocabulary. There is a saying, we learn fast by teaching others. During the period, it is proper to ask students to group and work together so the whole class can make progress without regarding their levels. Don't blame for slow learners and think about this, we all learn more from the poor people, don't we?

5:57 AM  

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