I just returned to the Kyobashi lounge from a lesson two green students and one yellow students, feeling really elated. In terms of student talk time, development and stretching, it was the ideal lesson.
At times it can be difficult to balance a lesson of high level students who don’t know one another, but this was one of those amazingly balanced lessons, where each of them had a lot to say.
We started the lesson with a review of three different one points, and they were all prepared for this, being used to the way we do things at Smith’s, and had them ready. One of them was “I wish I could learn all the languages of the world because then I could speak to anyone!” which led us into a discussion of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, babelfish, and the online translating program bablefish.com.
As a routine I used routine question flashcards four Routine 11 The Restaurant 2), and asked them each to think of a restaurant experience from the past or future. I had heard one of the students talking to Gavin in the lounge about plans to go out after her lesson, so I asked her to be the story teller and the other two to be questioners first. As she answered in extended form I wrote up any mistakes she made on the board and let her correct them afterwards. We found out her hopes for the evening plans, and when the next student answered the questions we found out that he’d been teaching basic English grammar in a restaurant nearby to a friend. The third restaurant story also let a lot of personal detail emerge, and at this point it made the atmosphere in the classroom really friendly. The students were definitely more comfortable with one another, having learnt and shared something about one another and themselves, and this could be seen in the amount that they were talking.
We did a let’s talk item in the last twenty minutes, and I encouraged them beforehand to ask questions and talk if they had anything to say. And they all did! We talked about the environment of Japan, and they were all interested and had different stories and issues that they wanted to talk about.
It wasn’t just the topic of environment, but mostly the classroom environment that let these three students delve into spoken areas they hadn’t before. It’s exactly this kind of atmosphere in the classroom and the students’ English speaking adventurism that I think coaching and learning at Smith’s is all about.